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2011/12/01

v0.15 Timeline

The primary code for Flare v0.15 is done. Already translations and mods are incredibly useful. Mods let me test all kinds of weird stuff without breaking the build.

This weekend I plan to finish up the new raw art needed for v0.15. The grassland tile set will be ready to go. New walking sounds. New NPCs. Art deadline is Dec 4th.

One week of making new content from the assets. New maps, maybe a couple simple quests if there is time. We won't worry about the maps being "final" or part of some grand story. The new maps will intentionally have stubs: e.g. walk into a cave and it's small and empty. These will be invitations for modders to add their own adventures in those locations (overwrite the stub maps with a sprawling dungeon if you want!). New content deadline Dec 11th. There will be a Release Candidate and a string freeze at that point.

A week for testing and translating. v0.15 will be released Dec 18th, or as early as Dec 16th if everything's in place.

After v0.15 release the holidays will be upon us. Good time for brainstorming about the future and for simply enjoying the game. We'll pick up new coding in earnest on Jan 1st.

Peeking at the Future

Wondering where Flare is heading? Here are some goals for 2012.

v0.16 Advanced Enemies

Right now enemies have primitive steering and simple chance-based actions. We'll evolve creatures to have better pathfinding and more variety in movement. Behavior classes will be added that cover new enemy types. Flying creatures won't move like melee creatures; they will swoop and fly in wide arcs. Guardian creatures will patrol and favor blocking. Each creature will be assigned a base behavior, with a few configuration options to add variety.

We'll add support for creatures that drop predictable equipment (e.g. skeleton soldiers that sometimes or always drop short swords). Creature-specific drops could have an assigned drop rate.

We'll also add support for large creatures (require 2 or more squares to move) and try some unique boss behaviors.

Of course, v0.16 will feature lots of new enemy art!

v0.17 Improved Menus

We'll do an overhaul of the menu system. Part of it is refactoring parts into the Menu base class and moving menu configurations to engine/ config files. It should be possible to completely reskin and rearrange a menu without touching the source code. Menu screen size and positions will be configurable.

The Character menu will be built from a long list of display-able stats. The weapon/armor proficiency unlocking art will be removed.

The Inventory menu will support a configurable number of equipment slots, along with rules on which slots are visible on the player sprite.

The Log menu will get improvements from new WidgetTabs and WidgetScrollBox features.

The Powers menu will be completely redesigned. Each level the player will gain 1 talent point to spend, for unlocking or improving a Power. Powers will be arranged in talent trees. The fantasycore mod will supply trees for Warriors, Rangers, and Mages.

The Action Bar will come with several config options: more/less action slots, hide/show menu buttons, and changing the hotkey labels for buttons.

We'll introduce configuration menus and mod-manager menus.

v0.17 will come with cleaner menu art, new/better icons, and new fantasy paintings for the main menus.

v0.18 and beyond

As time gets closer we'll hammer out the theme for v0.18. Here are some features that will be in the pipeline towards Beta.

  • Additions to the Powers system. Better handling of buffs/debuffs, passive abilities, powers that trigger in new ways (e.g. on-block, on-death)
  • More event types, to support simple cutscene-like interactions
  • Animated tiles and map backgrounds
  • Configurable damage types (e.g. slashing, ice, toxic) instead of a fixed list
  • Loot groups (e.g. Magic Loot, Armor Loot) to give creatures thematic drops or vendors limited wares
  • Statistics tracking (deaths, kills, total gold, most gold carried, etc)
Beta, 1.0, and 2.0

Once the above features are in place, Flare (the engine) will go into a feature-freeze Beta. We'll limit work to bug fixes, code polish, error handling, etc. in preparation for a stable 1.0 release.

Major new development can continue on branches and forks. Solid, essential features could be introduced in 1.1 and beyond. The Flare 1.x series will remain committed to simple single-player action RPG gaming.

Flare 2.0, if necessary, would contain a critical mass of large rewrites. Multiplayer, or scripting languages, or OpenGL -- those would warrant moving to 2.0.

Games

All of that future talk is in terms of the Engine. When are the games coming?

Flare 1.0 contains what I personally need to make the games I like. I think my role in the Flare project will shift once Beta kicks in. I'll be the arbiter of decisions for the 1.x series: this will probably mean rejecting features rather than adding them. With less of my time going towards code, I plan to focus on art and game design.

During Beta I'll be focused on building a real game. The best way to test the engine is to put it to actual use. We'll make a short but extensible campaign using many of the current assets. If feasible, Flare 1.0 will come with a fully-playable game.

After Flare 1.0, I plan to spend most of my time building new assets that work with the engine. I want to release all new high-quality art. I might build small game vignettes to show off these assets as they are released. Giving tools to people who want to make Flare games.