Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zarfplan: July: almost done

A month ago I wrote: "I am still fairly confident that I will have a complete, testable game at the end of July." I halfway made it. I have a testable game! ...but it's not complete.

On July 17th I sent mail to the backers who chose the "access to the closed beta-testing phase" reward. (And also to select friends, because what's the point of being in a local IF meetup group if you can't hit them up for some beta-testing.)

At that point I had a version of HL which was playable roughly halfway through. That is, the game was maybe 90% written, but I stuck a barrier at a particular point and said "Play-test up to here. Everything up to this point is 100% complete. Past that, eh, there are a lot of holes."

So for the past two weeks, a few intrepid players have been trying out "chapter one". And sending me transcripts. Useful transcripts! At the same time, I have been pushing forward on the latter part of the game. Filling in holes. Dotting i's, crossing t's.

It's not 100% yet. This game has more i's and t's than an interstitial Italianate witticism about intermittent tintinnabulation at the Interutilitiarian Hittite Institute at Ytterby. However:

All the rooms are done. I couldn't let you folks wait on rooms for another month. As of July 23, the room-counter widget says "93 of 92 rooms are described." ...Yes, off-by-one error there, sorry. The game has a couple of dummy and debugging rooms and I screwed up the accounting. There are 92 actual rooms, and they are all properly described and furnished.

I have almost completed "chapter two". This is where the game scenery starts to change, so it involved some messy things-moving-around code. The code works; I'm missing a few descriptions.

I have done another optimizing pass and sped up a bunch of display code. I've followed up on a bunch of suggestions that came from my testers. I've added a very clever "GO BACK" command which takes you back to the last room you were in. (So you can type "GO TO KITCHEN", grab something, and then "GO BACK".)

What's left?

Three major rituals in "chapter three". One extremely annoying travel bug. A bunch of descriptions pertaining to things that change in that part of the game. Solidification of the ending scene, which I have hitherto only lightly sketched out because you can't write a decent ending without a game to build it on.

There are 109 "TODO" marks in the source code as of this evening. Don't take this as very meaningful; I've never shipped an IF game that didn't have a handful of "TODO" marks left in it.

When I sent out the test emails I promised that a complete test version would be ready in "mid-August". I still hold to that, although "mid" is intentionally vague. I would really like to get a final test going by the last week of August, because that's when I take off for DragonCon.

There we are. If I don't get completely blindsided by something, the next update post will report the completion of Inform programming for HL. There will still be iOS work to do, plus whatever bugs the testers turn up.

(Other words I considered for the "crossing t's" gag above: tripartite, zwitterion, tritium, irritability, invitation, totalitarian, instinctive, titular.)

Comments imported from Gameshelf

Andrew Plotkin (Aug 1, 2014 at 12:45 PM):

A few people asked questions on the Kickstarter page, so I figured I'd copy my answers here:

There has been progress on an Android Glulx interpreter (…) but I don't know how solid it is. I will try to get someone to test HL with it.

I will be surprised if the iOS work takes as long as two months. So a 2014 release is looking good.

I expect people will rate this game as "very difficult". I don't plan to include hints in the game -- that would be a couple of months of work by itself -- but there will of course be plenty of discussion on the intfiction forum. I am sure that players working together will solve it in a few days, and then offer hints when asked.

Tyler (Aug 1, 2014 at 2:06 PM):

Will Hadean Lands be officially released on PC or Android? I would hate to have to miss your game just because I don't own any iOS devices.

Andrew Plotkin (Aug 1, 2014 at 3:22 PM):

I am currently investigating options. More news next month.

(The Android answer above was aimed at backers who got the "CD with portable game file" reward. I should have said that, sorry.)

Tyler (Aug 1, 2014 at 4:18 PM):

Thanks for looking in to it! (If you're looking for suggestions on where to sell it for PC, my preferred store is the Humble Store/Humble Widget.)

Andrew Plotkin (Aug 1, 2014 at 4:49 PM):

Yeah, I've looked at the Humble system. Their developer information was pretty sparse, but it seems to have gotten better recently. So that's good. is the other option I'm looking at. (As you might have guessed from last month.)

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