Junction Gate Dev Update 06

With this development update, we'll take a look at the overall status of Junction Gate and talk about some upcoming changes to development, testing, and communication.

Delays

As you might have noticed, it's been a while since the last beta release. While progress has been made, it's been much slower than I would have liked. There have been a number reasons why development has slowed, including travel for work, a family emergency, a house renovation, and other personal projects and events.

Going forward, things should be less busy and I'll also be making some changes to make it easier to focus on development that I'll outline below.

What's New

Work has continued on switching the engine over to Babylon.js. As it gets converted, I'm going to be exploring it a bit to see what improvements can be made, both visually and in terms of performance.

I've also begun exploring an entity object system. While it's still in the early phases of planning, it would enable every entity in the game to share common attributes. An entity could be anything from a star system to a ship to a faction to an NPC to a component. Common attributes could include things like history, location, status, assets, available actions, and AI. By having a common interface to develop against, it'll be easier to reuse code and develop tools to accelerate development.

On an unfortunate note, the artist I had started working with didn't work out. I'll be evaluating other options, but for the next few releases at least, expect some placeholder art for the 3D assets.

Communication

In order to facilitate a greater development velocity, communication around the game is going to change to include more frequent social media updates and fewer blog posts. For now, official development blog posts will only come out for major milestones rather than at the regular intervals. However, to offset that, you'll see more updates and sneak peeks on Twitter, Facebook, Discord, and Reddit, hopefully on a weekly basis.

Lore posts are also temporarily being suspended until the game is further along in development. There will be a lot of lore-based storytelling in the future, but for now it doesn't make sense to expand it too much until there is an actual game to play.

I also want to increase the visibility of the status of the game's development and what is currently being worked on. I'm looking at some options for doing this, so stay tuned.

Testing

I know many of you have signed up for the beta but haven't yet had a chance to experience it because of the development delays. I had wanted to send out the next batch of invites on the next release, but have instead decided to invite everyone currently on the list. The invites will be sent out early next week, so if you want access, sign up before then.

If you do sign up to be a beta tester, be warned that there are visual bugs on the Chrome grid, making the facilities appear flat. Also, the beta game is still very short and does not yet match the length of the alpha, so you won't have the same amount of gameplay.

Going forward, I'll also be breaking out some aspects of the gameplay for focused testing before fully integrating them into the game. This will include some individual features but also some mini-games. At least a few of these tests will be made available to the public in addition to the beta testers.

Development Going Forward

The next few weeks will be spent looking at ways to accelerate development including building tools, optimizing the development environment, and more detailed planning. Also, I will be spending some time looking for one or more 3D artists to help with the art assets, so I will need to map out the art plan in further detail.

After everything is setup and planned, I hope to do releases that are smaller in scope but more frequent so that there isn't another big gap in between releases. The next release should contain the updated engine and the new hex map with placeholder graphics for facilities.

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