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Development Update and Change to Alpha Testing

Friday, March 9, 2012 8:21am
Lead Developer
It's a few months into 2012 now, and every couple months I like to evaluate where we are in development, what's been accomplished and what needs to be done next.

Progress in February

A few key goals were crossed off my list in February, including:
  • Drastically improved server stability, fixing several memory leaks (there are now no detectable leaks), and achieving 48-hour continuous up-time.
  • Improved the client's performance through addition of Shader 2.0 support, additional scene detail options, and several scene rendering optimizations.
  • Added several moderator and administrative features to the client and server.
Also in the process, we also added and improved several game systems:
  • Added player currency and NPC shops.
  • Added a system for playing musical instruments in-game on a bit of a whim.
  • Added new fish to the game, and worked on balancing the catch ratios.
  • Improved the chat window adding colors, emoticons, and player-to-player messaging.
  • Re-designed the mini-map to be more useful with minimal frame-rate impact.
  • Added player tents with furnishings - the first step toward player housing, and an important test in dynamically adding and removing game objects. (A feature required for spawning combat enemies.)
Unfortunately, while this is an impressive list of new features - only two of them brought me closer to the "Immediate Goals" stated in my New Years Resolutions post. Of course, I absolutely love the fact that Antilia now has these unexpected "surprise" features, and I had a lot of fun developing them - at the end of the day having fun developing Antilia is very important to me. But it might be better to have fun while also meeting my goals.

Crunch Time!

In order for Antilia to get back to where I want it and meet my goals, I'm going to make a few adjustments to my work week - and sadly, these will impact the weekly alpha tests. What started as "fix bugs on Friday, test on Saturday" has slowly grown to now taking 3 to 3 1/2 days per week to develop, deploy, and test for 2 days. There is a continual temptation to 'watch the numbers' and try to 'up the ante' in order to keep people interested and logging in each weekend - but unfortunately Antilia just isn't up to providing weekly entertainment quite yet, and I'm afraid too much access to an incomplete and unpolished product is starting to frustrate players expecting a beta rather than an alpha.

The testing has served it's purpose well - helping me get the server stable, improve the client's performance, and establish that the Toi engine, game, and server design are solid and can be extended. After several attempts at building an mmo - I finally have the tech right.

Now I just need to make an MMORPG with it.

Alpha Testing

So for now, however, I need to make alpha testing less of a priority, and give new content and game systems my full attention. I am behind schedule, and I need as much time as I can get to finish up the new character meshes, and add the several core systems that Antilia is really beginning to feel lacking without (equipment, combat, quests, etc.).

In the meantime, to answer a few questions:
  • I don't know when alpha testing will resume - we may hold off until we have all these systems in place, or we may have a few 'social' events to stay connected. I simply haven't decided yet, and things are bound to change.
  • The current plan is to try to preserve the current player characters, their stats, and inventories. When the new meshes are complete, players will have the option to 're-create' that character and continue using it with inventory intact.
I also want to give a big "Thank You" to everyone who has helped test up to this point - and especially those of you that put the long hours in to exhaustively test the fishing and cooking systems. Antilia is much better for it, and I hope to see you all again when testing resumes (with another long list of new features to test! )

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