Current release schedule, projects, UI Editor complaints, documenation project, and more

Well, things are finally starting to come together on multiple projects now, and the plans have been laid out for my next projects. Right now, my release schedule is:
Trajectory (Torque Engine Based) – Late June. If I would quit tweaking the weapons (26 at the moment) I could release a beta anytime. My latest tweakin’ was to integrate Melv’s kick-butt fxlight and attach it to projectiles for energy weapons. Works good and bad at the moment – the bad mainly because I’m beating the hell out of it by trying to instance 12 of them at once 😉
Gremlin Panic! (Non-Torque Based) – Late July. Game is done, with the exception of about a thousand frames of animation for the title character. Doing most of the work in Poser 4, and editing with PhotoPaint 9 – long time consuming stuff. 😛 This is something like my 7th puzzle game release.
Jumpman: 2049 – Early to mid Oct. Non-Torque based, but, was the reason why I started looking at the Torque engine (Jeff T. suggested that I should use it. The current engine is too far along for it to be beneficial to reverse course – plus it’s a 2D title, not 3D, which means even more work to get Torque to do what I want.) The engine core is pretty much done, with the exception of the integrated VBA editor.
After that, I take a 3 month break from game development entirely, and focus on a couple other things. Marketing the games, working with my wife and sister-in-law on a new wedding company (all three of us are ministers!), getting a couple personal projects done, and building my new home-office.
Then I come back to doing some real work… er… game development (hey, doin’ something that you dreamed of as a kid can’t be considered real work 😉 I’m laying the ground work for my next two project – Wizard’s Future, and Jumpman II.
Wizard’s Future uses the Jumpman: 2049 engine, and is a modernized concept of Wizard / Ultimate Wizard from the C64 era. I’ve got alot in mind for it – and since I’ve got VBA setting on the backside of it, I can pull off anything. It’s probably going to take 3 months to complete – the engine only requires one modification to make it work what I need, the rest is content development.
Jumpman II is the game I’m most looking forward to developing. I’ve talked to Randy Glover (who is the original developer of Jumpman and Jumpman, Jr.), who was originally going to do Jumpman II: 3D. He dropped the project for the most part :-/ However, one night when I was workin’ late programmin’ and listenin’ to tunes, The Muse struck, and I realized how it should look, act, etc. I’ve been doing alot of mental work on it so far, but, no actual work. It will use the Torque engine – though I will have to learn a few more tricks that I’m unaware of at the moment. Some of them are things like how to load scripts from a level (since each level requires a great deal of scripting to pull off properly.)
In my last .plan, I bitched about the UI Editor, and Jeff Tunnell replied. OK, first off – don’t bitch in on here, the .plan files have ears 😉 Second, I wrote up a HUGE thing on the UI Editor. After three tries of getting it to post and failing, I gave up. But I’m gonna post a much shorter version here…
I should probably start by saying that a large part of my day job is (actually was) to develop interface – MMI design and development (Man-Machine Interface, for those that don’t know the TLA.) My job was to develop interfaces that didn’t require training, were consistent, dead easy to use, intuitive, bug free, and looked sharp. (The latter is more important than you might expect.)
I’ve worked with a whole lotta different MMI development systems in the last 10 years or so. So, I know UI design software pretty well, and we’ll call it good there.
Anyway – Torque’s UI editor, as UI design software goes, is pretty nasty stuff. As game development tools go, it’s really good stuff – at least Torque HAS something like this, which is much better than the alternative 🙂 However, it could use some serious improvement. And personally, I’m one of those type o’ people who typically tells someone who’s bitching “You got the source? Fix it and quit bitching.” I’d do just that, but, between a day job, game development, life in general, and tryin’ to help a little with the documenation project, well – I don’t have time to fix it. 
What’s my bitches? I’ll go through ’em quick – if someone wants me to expand on one o’ my bitches, just ask. Inconsistently working objects. Horrible object documentation (I know that’s being fixed, but, it’s an important item.) UI Editor has problems at times with trying to edit text, to a very frustrating level. WYSIWYG editing is important – that way, you know how UI element relate to each other (example – chat hud. Edited on a different UI screen than the play ui, so you don’t see how they relate very well.) Multi-edit tools would be very good for helping with UI consistency. Better editing tools for colors (IE, a color pallet, instead of the type it in, try it, edit it again, repeat until perfect.) Basic drawing elements (IE, line, polyfill – I shouldn’t have to draw a bitmap just for a simple triangle around a piece of text.) Floating pallets – leave the UI screen full size, and just move (or close as not needed) the editing tools.
That’s just a quick list. I could easily get more extensive with it, but there’s no need. I’ve fished around in the UI editor scripts, and all of it could be fixed – just don’t have the time to do it myself at the moment. Maybe after I get done with all my current projects, and get ready to start on Wizard’s Future and Jumpman II I can start looking at improving the situation. Of course, I may well be the only person who thinks things are broken!
Every time I turn around, someone here in the community ends up impressin’ the hell outta me by releasing some seriously awsome work. I kinda feel guilty that I don’t have something similarly awsome to release! I suppose the best I can do is help on the docs.
Right now I’m focused on the weapons documenation – Matt Webster suggested a couple of different weapons I might want to cover (IE, a quick how-to make a rocket launcher, how to make a grenade, etc.) Right now I’m taking the base crossbow.cs, and working from that, and explaining the hell out of it, down to each and every datablock element. The weapons I intend to cover:
Crossbow (duh)
Rocket Launcher
Grenade Launcher
Shotguns and Spread-shot weapons
Laser Weapons
If someone else has somethin’ they would like to see added to it, holler. I’ll see if I can’t figure it out (damned – new weapons are dead simple in Torque once ya know how ta’ do it.) Even better – if you have a complete weapon, email or post it, and I’ll add it to my docs.
I’m also covering:
Multiple-Ammo weapons (need to backtrack and find who did the original work on ’em, since I’m using that)
Spread-shot weapons (I’ve got a little function to do all the work, since I use it for so many different weapons.)
Multi-Shot weapons (IE, fires (x) number of projectiles)
Adding Melv’s fxlight to weapon particles (as soon as I find a better way to make sure the light is deleted! Scheduling a delete is actually kinda ugly.)
Holler with any other topics that ya think need added, and I’ll see what I can do. And again – providing code is good 😉
If anyone is STILL reading this long ass .plan – what’s the best way to find beta testers around here?
Ron Yacketta   (May 21, 2002 at 12:17)
Ask for them in one of the community forums, I am sure their would be many people willing to beta test 🙂
Yes, I did read the entire .plan!
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (May 21, 2002 at 12:18)  
Ron – you’ve got too damned much time on your hands if ya read all of that! 😉
Ron Yacketta   (May 21, 2002 at 12:47)
All that and the documentation you sent me, along with documenting 36 more functions/commands 🙂
all before lunch *snicker*
no wonder why my boss hates me 😉

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