Beta Blitz

Crazy times…

I’m hunkered down in my home working remotely as we wait out the worst of the coronavirus. Even though our original plans to attend Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle were cancelled, we did end up doing a “hotel staycation” that was very fun and timely; many of the places we went are now shut down for the rest of the month.

You’d think that would mean I’d have plenty of time to work on the game, but my more immediate concerns were making sure that all of us had the supplies we needed to weather the coming weeks without having to use spare socks as toilet paper. šŸ˜‰ Hopefully that should change this week, as I pick back up on the work.

Beta testing has been ongoing for just over four months now, and we’re up to build 27, and 28 should be coming soon. My “major” version number indicates that a new saved game is needed, while “minor” means that only the program binaries and support files need to be changed and that saved game files can be preserved.

That was something I hadn’t honestly anticipated. Having testers have to play through the same content over and over again quickly erodes interest, even when it’s critical to do, such as when a major change to the engine is introduced that fundamentally affects gameplay at all levels.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid. Because I may add or remove text or mob data for fixes or expansions, every single internal address updates as well. This means old saves end up wildly inaccurate and wrong. Plus, saved games actually alter and change the data as they go along, which makes conversion difficult and not worth the time to do.

I’ve also discovered, to my own disgust, that a LOT of scripting is just not working right in places, or has small annoying issues. This is because I never had a chance to play through it and bullet-proof it. I was hoping the beta testing could expose this and make it easier to fix, but in practice because it often blocks the testers and forces a restart, it’s been better for me to just play the content myself and make sure everything is working right. Then anything they find are the small outliers or details that just slipped by but aren’t breaking.

However, I’ve been very pleased with the progress with the game’s improvements. Lots of excellent interface changes made their way in, based upon feedback. I re-wrote the monster pathfinding to make boss monsters move more adroitly and with greater challenge. And several dungeons got major overhauls to make them easier, harder, or just more interesting.

So my next steps are to drop my “super party” (who are max level and can blow through monsters easily; I’m not focused on testing combat/game balance) into some new areas and make sure all the scripting is solid and working as intended. My goal is to make sure in beta 28 there is no areas I haven’t personally checked out.

My goal was to be done by May, and that may still happen. It all depends on how things go! Everyone stay safe out there.

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3 Responses to Beta Blitz

  1. PeteE says:

    I think you meant “boss monsters /move/ more adroitly”. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying watching King Lysandus’ beta testing videos on youtube. Can’t wait to get my sams sidecar so I can finally play for myself.

  2. Ken says:

    Are you accepting any new beta testers to help deal with the issues you address?

    Someone who played Ultima II and III religiously back in the day available to step in. šŸ™‚

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