This’ll be another rather mini-update, at least in comparison to previous ones. Expect a few of these while we’re busy building the groundwork.
Parser work continues well. Now that I’ve gotten some of the bigger things mapped out, I’ve been working directly with Crimson on putting it together. Each tag we implement as we work through each draft of the player description requires the property or system behind it be implemented, so it’s not fast work. For instance, if we want to talk about the player’s upperbody secondary fur colour, the player class needs to have that property first, then the parser needs to be told how and where to get that information.
This is rather a change of approach. My first plan was to make the entire list of tags, which I did, and then go through them building each one. However, we’ve found it to be much more sound to implement tags we need, as we need them. This means no wasting time implementing tags we may never end up needing, or tags that simply won’t work or prohibit certain usage, etc. A lot of tags like those have already been made clear and been changed or removed for that reason, and this way we know that every tag implemented already has a need to be there.
It also means we get the game into your hands sooner, which is something we’re also changing our approach to better support. In simple terms, instead of trying to build as much as the game as possible before release, we’re going to build only what needs to be there first. Then, expand out, add features, iterate.
This will mean the first version will likely be something like a GUI where you can move around a map. Then we add more stuff, battles, a location, an npc, more enemies, items and loot drops, and so on. Instead of only having written update posts to assure you we’re working, you’ll be able to see and interact with it, even if what you interact with is extremely basic at first.
This is usually how small titles with small teams develop their games, and with any luck, it should help reinforce the idea that we’re here, we’re working, and we’re going to make Carnal Souls happen, bit by bit.
Just to be clear, when we officially release the game, we will be releasing a complete game experience. I don’t want this update to sound like we’re backing off of our promises or goals. We intend to provide a lot of access along the way to development builds of the game. Those builds will be of varying degrees of quality, and will have feature sets that sort of appear, disappear, change, reappear, etc. While a whole lot of design work went into this game before any code was written (and before I was even part of the team), it’s important for us to frequently challenge the assumptions made in those early design documents.
The Parser is a good example, where hundreds of tags were planned ahead of time. As we begin to write content for the game, we find ourselves needing tags that weren’t part of the original spec. We further find ourselves looking at other tags and seeing less usefulness for them than was assumed at the start. By producing smaller amounts of content in shorter cycles, we build up a more efficient vocabulary for the Parser and Director.
Most of my recent time has been devoted to the Parser and Director. Both are coming along well. We’ve improved the Director syntax, making it more human-readable at glance. Those two systems, along with the battle system, represent the biggest and most complex set of systems that exist in the game. Getting those operational involves a lot of code and not a lot of visual presentation or interface design, so development is going to seem slow for a while from an outside perspective. Once those three systems are mostly complete, development will become more interface focused. That’s when we’ll be able to start sharing more small demos like the Character Creator while we build up the overall game and connect all the parts.
Anyway, sorry if updates seem sparse. There just isn’t anything visual to present for a while and it’s tricky to make the non-visual stuff appear exciting.
Until next time!