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2012/08/24

Making Omelets

There's an English idiom: "you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet". It means that to make something, often it requires destroying something else.

We're doing heavy refactoring of the Flare engine right now. Part of that is breaking things in some places to improve them elsewhere. Just a heads-up for people who play Flare directly from the master source on GitHub:

  • We're seeing a higher number of bugs than usual (Flare is usually pretty solid). Many of these are known temporary side-effects from major refactoring. But feel free to send any issues to the team in case we don't know about it yet.
  • Your save game isn't safe! Example: soon we're going to change the inventory size from 64 slots to either 48 or 32 slots. You might lose items when this change happens. While we're still in Alpha anything is subject to change, and preserving save game data isn't the top priority.
  • All this work and very little new content! I know. Engine changes are happening at a rapid pace right now. The closer the engine gets to Feature Freeze (Beta), the better tools we'll have to create final campaign data.

What kind of work are we doing? Most of the engine has gotten a "second pass". Think of Flare v0.14 as the first "rough draft" of the entire game. Since then we've been making everything more flexible: replacing arrays with vectors, moving options to config files, and optimizing various routines. A few main components are still due some changes, and a couple new core features remain:

  • New system to handle buffs/debuffs. Their effect, duration, name, icon, and visual display will all be defined in config files. These may end up being new Power types, or separate Effect types (the structure is undecided at this point).
  • New system to handle cutscenes. These will be more for chapter interstitials and game beginning/endings. They'll start by using static images with captions and background music.
  • The loot system will get significant refactoring. If we decide to combine base items and affixes at runtime, the loot system will get a complete rewrite instead. Undecided yet which route we'll take.
  • We're actively working on the equipment slot system. We'll probably add gloves, boots, helm slots and make them appear on the character when equipped.