Anti-Feature creep? That’s a new one. Plus various other bits, in this year’s update of my .plan file… ;-)

Well, I just plowed through the forums (mainly focusing on the Torque SDK areas.) I didn’t realize how long it had been since the last time I LOOKED at the forums in general until I noticed that I had 6500+ messages marked as unread. Ug. I had glanced at the resources and code snippets about once every two weeks (mainly because Eric Forhan would send me a link to something interesting that I should check out)
Wow – I knew I was starting to isolate myself a bit, but this is rediculus – I used to cruse the forums on a daily basis, if only to see if Melv May had released a new FxMelv recently 😉 (Hey, and what is this shit Melv – concentrating on game development, not releasing uber-cool FxMelv’s? Sheesh, I’m disappointed in you! ;-) 
By now, anyone who knew about TrajectoryZone probably assumes it’s a dead project.
Guess what? It isn’t. In fact, well, an amazing thing happened recently… the existing punch list for it is now 3 lines long on the programming side, along with 2 ‘optional’ ideas to explore. The single player mode now has a fairly vicious AI in it, that also exists for use in Multi-Player mode (called Alien Invasion.) 
I also just did something I didn’t expect – I performed an “Anti-Feature Creep” on it. No, not putting a freeze on new ideas, but instead, removing some unfinished features or buggy features that I deemed unimportant to core gameplay concepts. When I was done, I ended up with something that reminds me more of older C64 era games – no, not shitty looking graphics. A game that concentrates on it’s core gameplay principals, and is very easily accessable to anyone who just walks up to it and picks up the mouse. The game can now be played mouse only in ‘Static Bases’ mode, or mouse + keyboard in Moving Targets mode.
My big task for the last week or so was tweakin’ the Alien Invasion mode AI (for those who don’t know – the AI mode could be considered a 3D version of Space Invaders, complete with Multi-Player options.) I finally got ’em where I want ’em – they are now easy enough at the begining not to be frustrating (though they do get a lucky shot in from time to time), but at the high end it becomes a real challenge to keep you cool as you are lining up shots to get ammo cause you’ve only got 3 shots left, and aliens are peppering the area around you. I LOVE IT! It’s exactly what I was wanting out of the single player experience 🙂
I’ll be sending the team a new playtest version shortly (it’s only been, what, 5 months since the LAST version, and then I got feature happy? 😉 I’ve got some multi-player testing to do first here on the local LAN, then play testing with the dev group, then the LAN party test (if anyone is in Wichita, KS or nearby, post on here – I’ll be sure ta’ tell ya when the test is if you are interested in checkin’ it out.)
Oddly enough, I’ve got another puzzle game completed – haven’t released it. The MidnightRyder.Com site went down HARD one day, and I’ve yet to restore it. I’ve got a buddy working on it, but, he ended up getting distracted with other (paying) projects that I had come up (some consulting stuff – good money for decent work.)
I’m still employed. I’m working 5 days a week most of the time. It’s a bloody friggin’ nightmare really – they laid off my sidekick, then moved me to 4 days a week. Then 3 days a week… except I’ve yet to work a 3 day workweek. I’ve been to busy. Funny how that worked out. I shouldn’t complain – it means I’m getting a steady paycheck. But the stress of stuff like this (not knowing if I’m going to continue to work, or if I’ll be able to make bills for the month), and NOT getting my days off so that I can work on games (in fact, working a couple of weekends ta’ boot, which I don’t get paid for if it’s in-town work!) really put a damper on my game development work. It also put one hell of a damper on life in general – but things have recovered considerably. Hopefully the trend will continue 🙂
One thing that ended up being a casualty of my Anti-Feature Creep campaign – I just cut out Terrain Deformation. Randomized Levels are probably still in (since that works on a slightly different theory), but TD is on my list of Trajectory Zone 2 items. However, when I do it, I hope to be using the 1_2_0 branch (wonder when that’s gonna be done?) and plan on doin’ some SERIOUS work on not just deforming the terrain, but, relighting and retextureing. The current implementation works, but, is too slow for lots of players, and produces too much network traffic (not a problem for LPB’s, but, modem players would be ticked!) I’ve already got plans on how ta’ implement it – but I’m not gonna do it until I’m workin’ full time for myself (I’ve got a whole list of Torque ToDo’s – I want to do more work on Particles (Just noticed a post where someone asked why my Particle LoD wasn’t part of Head – wow, I didn’t think it was THAT important of an issue.) There’s soooooo many cool things that could be done.
Ok, time ta’ close this novella I’ve written (gee, ain’t that what all my .plan’s are? 😉 I had to laugh at the appropriateness of David’s closing line in his .plan – enough that I had to steal it…
“Never give up! Never surrender!” –Peter Quincy Taggert 😉
Melv May   (Jul 08, 2003 at 14:03)
Sorry man,
I must admit that I miss doing such part-time work on objects and I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll be back at it when we’ve completed this game. Talk about hard work! If this is the last game I work on, it’ll be worth it.
I’m putting in about 20-40 hours on top of my work to get this done and it’s really starting to show now. Feature creep? Naw, feature sprinting!
– Melv.
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Jul 08, 2003 at 16:17)  
No need to apologize – I’m mainly ribbin’ ya because while tryin’ ta’ slog through what I had missed, I had read a couple o’ people’s .plan files, yours include. I’m interested to see what ya’ end up with game development wise – give some of the too-cool contributions you’ve had before! 🙂
Hope it’s not your last – it gets easier if ya’ can get to that sweet spot where you can work on your own games for a living 🙂 (Ok, so I’m told – I’m not there. Yet 😉
Justin Mette   (Jul 08, 2003 at 23:28)
I’m ready to play Trajectory Zone! I was a huge Scorched Earth fan and wanted to make a game like this myself. Go team go!

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