SITREP - 3, 2015
published Thursday, 23 April 2015, 00:00 by ZPSPhyrefli
This SITREP covers how Hell Week development is progressing, and looks at some of the levels that are being created.
The new SITREP is an ongoing progress report where we publicly talk about what we've recently been working on, and what we're aiming to achieve over the next few weeks.
Briefing - week ending April 24th, 2015
For this SITREP I'd like to digress a little from the normal format and focus on how things are going with Hell Week development.
Last night Update 18 was released, and by and large it's gone down very well. We have a clear issue on spawn points which we're looking to address, other than that though we're very pleased with it - and it is a great feeling to bring back the old game modes we have. It's like greeting old friends!
As we've been working on Update 18, we've also been working on Hell Week. Our first production day for Hell Week was March 11th, and since then we've had almost all our team working on it, with occasionally people working on Update 18 as and when needed.
(Early version of the Industrial Zone)
In the same way we work in Updates, or sprints, when developing Interstellar Marines, we're also working in sprints on Hell Week. Here's where we are now in terms of the larger coding systems and tasks. In addition to these tasks there are many, many other tasks that are on-going:
- Sprint 1 - started March 11th. Unity 5 conversion started. Server architecture started. NGI keycard bug fix started.
- Sprint 2 - started March 23rd. Inventory system started. Unity 5 continues. Server architecture continues. Skin manager started. NGI keycard bug complete.
- Sprint 3 - started April 13th (Copenhagen games, and the Easter holiday affected the start date). Unity 5 postponed. Skin manager postponed. Server architecture continues. Inventory system complete. Pickup and crate spawn system started. Mission overview screen started.
The level designers have been working together on the 10 zones that need to be created. Each zone is 400 x 400 mtr and is a completely unique environment. The level designers have had two major milestones:
- Milestone 1 - March 27th. Initial test of moving between 9 zones. Partially successful.
- Milestone 2 - May 15th. Second test of moving between levels using the server architecture. Levels should be fully constructed in terms of buildings and terrain. After this work starts on adding the gameplay elements.
So by May 15th the level construction will be done, and the coders will have created enough tools for the level designers to then add gameplay elements to the maps, such as spawn points, ammo drops, personal pods, intel crates etc. After that the level designers focus on adding gameplay to the zones, while the coders focus on adding the additional features.
(Early version of the Hotel Resort)
We aim to have a working version of Hell Week ready by the end of May. That will be for internal testing, and potentially for some Spearhead testing depending on how far we get. After that we build on that platform, add more features and more content, until we release around June 12th.
The zones which are being created are:
- Norwegian Forest
- Hotel Resort
- Industrial City
- Moon Base
- Hell / End Game
Hell Week has an incredible amount of potential to be a defining moment in the development of Interstellar Marines. There will be many additional features and tweaks we want to make after the first version is released, so we will be aiming to have new features and content released fairly soon after the initial release.
Converting to Unity 5
At the start of production on Hell Week we began converting Interstellar Marines to Unity 5. Due to a combination of factors this has taken a much longer time than we expected.
The code base for Interstellar Marines is now quite large - it's not an easy process to convert to a new major version of Unity. As the code base is converted, it cannot be merged with the live project as it would mean the game would stop working. So we have to take a copy of Interstellar Marines, and convert that to Unity 5, while the other coders carry on working on the Unity 4 version. During the conversion process development on the main branch carries on, meaning that the code which has been committed between taking the copy of IM for conversion, and when conversion of that copy is complete, then also has to be converted.
When we converted to Unity 4 we did not face these issues as we only had 1 coder - so when we were converting, work on production simply stopped. Now we have several coders working at the same time, and we can't stop them working while we convert.
Since we have a finite amount of time before we launch Hell Week, and a finite amount of coders to code, we've had to look at the amount of time Unity 5 conversion is taking and weigh that up against other, more critical tasks. Hell Week will work without Unity 5, but it will not work without pickups, ammo boxes, server architecture etc.
So we've taken the very, very hard decision to postpone work on converting to Unity 5 for now. We are hoping to be able to complete it before Hell Week launches, but there's a chance we will not be able to manage that. If we're not able to complete it before releasing Hell Week, then we'll complete it afterwards.
7 weeks to go
It's around 7 weeks until the launch of Hell Week, and all our production is now focused on making it the most incredible, fun, exciting and suspenseful game that we can create. It's a mammoth task creating all the levels and coding, but the team is working as hard as it can to pull everything together so when we release it is tons of fun to play.
We all hope you enjoy it as much as we've enjoyed creating it!
FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME,
Paul (Phyrefli) & the team at Zero Point Software