Author Topic: Frozen Depths: cool! :-)  (Read 38277 times)

Essegi

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Re: Frozen Depths: cool! :-)
« Reply #45 on: June 19, 2014, 01:02:07 PM »
Another update!
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18.Jun.2014
Hello again. I'm here with the monthly progress update I promised, and with good news! The development has gone amazingly well after the last news update. There are 30 new items in the version changes file now, which means I've finished almost twice as many tasks by now than last summer. And the tasks were larger on average. That's great! Even better, there are only about 8 tasks left on the to-do list before I can start alpha playtesting by myself. I estimate that I need 10-12 development days to finish the tasks and do the first round of alpha testing. Do note that not all days are development days, so it's going to take longer than 2 weeks.

In fact, I'll probably be finished with alpha playtesting in early August, likely the first week, or at least that's my internal deadline. This is because I'll be travelling around Finland and be generally busy for the next month. I expect I can do a few development days during the next month, but most of the work will be done during the last week of July and the first week of August. I don't mind, I'm well on schedule and I don't expect to come up with too many new development ideas.

After I'm done with alpha playtesting, I'll move to a closed beta. Closed playtesting is a lot easier to control, the feedback is more direct and it doesn't feel like a release. I'll be offering the beta version to friends and other likely playtesters in a limited way, but it won't be completely secret. In fact if you, dear reader, are interested in playtesting the game and finding the last bugs before the official release, I welcome you heartily! I appreciate any feedback and help that I'm offered. The easiest way for you to get in to the closed beta is to drop me a message via email or the contact page. Remember to add your email address if you use the contact page so that I can send you a link to the game and other possible instructions once the closed beta begins.

That's it for this progress update. The development is going strong and I can now say with confidence that version 1.05 will be released in the latter half of August. I'll post the next update around the beginning of August, after alpha testing is finished and the beta testing begins, or if something weird happens and the schedule changes. Have a good time until then!
So we can expect 1.05 before fall! Also, if someone is interested, there's the chance to be a beta tester...
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 01:05:18 PM by Essegi »

Essegi

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Re: Frozen Depths: cool! :-)
« Reply #46 on: August 05, 2014, 04:17:32 PM »
Another update, maybe the last one before announcing 1.05
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1.Aug.2014
Good morning. It's been more than a month since the last post and it's August now, so I thought I'd do another progress update even though beta testing hasn't started quite yet. This day does, however, mark the beginning of alpha testing! I managed to finish the last development item from the to-do list a moment ago, so after a weekend of rest I'll move on to testing by myself for a week. Or that's the plan, which could change if the game is still terribly buggy after the first week of fixing. I don't wish to bother outside testers with the obvious and easy to find bugs, hence the alpha test phase first. So, about a week till the beta testing begins. Awesome.

As we can see, I'm very well on schedule. This doesn't mean that I estimated the workload accurately, though. I did a fair bit more development last month than I anticipated, and came up with a few more additions to the to-do list, but all is well as long as the project stays on schedule, right? I'm very happy with the end result, I just hope that alpha testing doesn't reveal too many unwanted surprises. You see, during the last month I did perhaps the largest single change to the overall internal workings of the game ever: I dropped the total number of floors from 50 to 35. This had major implications for numerous features as well as the whole balance of the game. The content is in a lot tighter, more compact package now and I really like how action packed the game is, but this is also the reason why I had to reserve a lot of time for testing.

I'll repeat the open invitation to beta testing: If you're interested in helping me with a pair of fresh eyes or would like to suggest something that's missing from the game, send me a message via the contact page, include your email address and whether you'd like a Windows .exe or a Linux binary for testing (an OS X version will be compiled for the main release, but won't be available for beta testing). You'll likely get your hands on the game a week from now when I deem the game ready for outsiders.

The next post here will likely be the release announcement of Frozen Depths 1.05; I won't be doing any more progress updates unless something weird happens. The earliest possible release date is 23.8.2014, that's three weeks of testing, but I can't promise that it will be that particular Saturday. I might be busy, or there could be technical difficulties with the OS X version for example, but I'd still say that August is The Month. Until then, have a good time!

Amnekian

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Re: Frozen Depths: cool! :-)
« Reply #47 on: August 10, 2014, 10:19:17 PM »
Nice! So very good that this game is alive and well! I'll be sure to play it some time.

Essegi

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Re: Frozen Depths: cool! :-)
« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2014, 06:44:58 PM »
It's out!!!
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29.Aug.2014
Hello everyone! This is the day! Frozen Depths version 1.05 has been officially released! I did say August would be the month, though admittedly this took a week longer than I planned. No worries, thanks to the extra time I managed to squeeze in descriptions for all the monsters. The testing phase went well, many small corrections were made, but no big bugs were found. The game proved to be more stable than I dared hope, and the business with OS X went rather smoothly as well. Good.

So, 1.05 huh? What's actually in it? I'm glad you asked! Here's the full list of changes: click. The main theme for development was this time playability improvements, which can be further broken down to the areas of polishment, learnability, usability, and the general goal of cutting unfun parts of the game. There was already quite a lot of content in version 1.04, but it required dedication to learn how obscure things worked to get deep into the game. Now if this was ADOM or Nethack it would be tolerable, but Frozen Depths isn't a heavy-weight roguelike, so I wanted to teach the game better, make earlier opaque information more transparent and help the player play the game better. This is why you see a lot more advice, transparent info, an in-game tutorial and UI improvements in 1.05 compared to earlier versions.

Another big thing for me was to drop the number of floors from 50 to 35. When I first started developing Frozen Depths I had no idea how large the game would become. So I just decided to make it 50 floors deep. Now that my vision of the game has been pretty much fulfilled, I realized that 50 floors stretches the content too thin and makes the game feel a bit grindy at times. The solution was to cut 3 regular floors from each dungeon section. This was the first goal I had for this version, as I felt that the game could be a lot more fun. And I'm really happy with the result. To me this pacing feels perfect: there are moments when you can relax a bit, but you're looking forward to something all the time. Even gaining levels is faster now, which is a nice bonus.

While new content wasn't the first priority for this version, I managed to add new things to almost all content categories. The only exception was the handcrafted special floors, of which 50 is enough I believe. The new cold related mechanic, wet clothes, is suitably annoying and adds spikes of warmth loss to the otherwise linear curve. The overall balance felt very good in playtesting as well: finally I can say that an experienced player can beat the game consistently and not only thanks to lucky accidents. We shall see how many players other than me manage to beat the game. Of course there were many bug fixes, hopefully all the crash bugs have been wiped, as well as other miscellaneous additions that you can check from the version info file if you're interested.

I've been hinting that version 1.05 could be the last major release of Frozen Depths. While this may be true, I've reached my vision for the game and the amount of time I have for hobby development grows shorter year by year, I'm not abandoning the game. I like to receive feedback, bug reports and feature requests, and I'm planning to release a silent upgrade to version 1.05 some weeks after the release if you guys find more bugs or have ideas how to teach the game even better. But I probably won't release a huge new version 1.06 any time soon. Smaller fix updates, perhaps a version 1.05b is more what I'm thinking. So do send that feedback if you want to see a better Frozen Depths.

This August isn't only the release month for 1.05. It's also the month when Frozen Depths goes to the double digits: I've been developing the game for 10 year now! What an appropriate time to release the long awaited new version. Exactly 10 years ago I was developing the first draft of the then nameless roguelike game. I had just learned my first programming language, C++, thanks to a friend who was into programming. I liked ADOM a lot, I had no way to get graphics and I wanted to create a game with my new skills. A roguelike was the natural choice. Fast forward six months and I had decided to scrap all the crappy code I had written and start over from scratch. At that time I created these pages, as you can see from the ancient news section. It took me one and a half years to release the first version of the game. I got a lot of good feedback on RGRD and decided to continue the development. And here I am now, many moons later. I would have probably laughed if someone had told the 15-year-old me that I'd be still developing the game after 10 years. But here we are, and I don't regret it!

So, there you have it. Head to the Downloads page to see for yourself what the fruit of 10 years of development looks and feels like. And don't forget to drop me a line if you like what you see. Or especially if you don't like what you see. The next update will be several weeks from now after I've gotten an idea how many bugs were left in the release version. Until then, see you in the dungeon, good luck and remember to dress warmly!