It makes no sense trying to sugarcoat it – so far 2016 looked like it has been a year of slow-paced progress for the development of WOTA.
Although there is actually a real progress of development those achievements can’t be depicted on screenshots or in movies because I haven’t worked on the artwork or GUI in 2016. But of course it is obviously that all prior estimated release dates have been too optimistic and the progress of the development is by far not as fast as I wish it would be and as I know it could be.
Why does it take so long?
The answer is simple:
Like anyone else I have to pay the bills. When I started the development of the game it was obvious that I would basically have to work on it like 24/7. So I’ve ran mostly on my reserves till they were depleted and to avoid distraction I’ve tried to reduce all other work and selected the more lucrative offers only. This is a strategy that will not last for a long time and unfortunately I realized quickly that it will take longer than expected.
During the early phase of development the performance of mobile devices improved quickly and WOTA had to keep in pace with the new capabilities (much more than today). In this time the main focus of the development was laid on the visuals and the environment. At the end it reached a level of quality I never thought of at the beginning but this also means the necessary work increased even further.
For example I’ve never thought I would add details like this to the game:
Since two years the focus lays mostly under the hood.
Almost everything in WOTA is custom. I’ve created things like my own solution for the hydrodynamics and propulsion to avoid the need of weird tweaking and fakes when adding new vessels to the game. My goal was to create a system that just works out of the box when I enter the correct parameters of the real-life vessels. This system works with an accuracy of something like 90% which is pretty good for a simulation game. Features like this require a lot of testing and optimization – work which you just can’t visualize – many things during development are boring – stuff like memory optimizations, optimized handling of string concatenations etc.. But the worst problem is that sometimes some things just break due to major changes or due to new bugs in the underlaying engine. This is a problem you can’t avoid when working on long time projects: The engine and/or Apple frequently makes changes, the latter forces me to update the engine and things will possibly break. Most time consumptive tasks are the boring ones and often the totally unexpected problems take most of the time.
Sometimes when it feels like it is too much I just stop the task to start working on something else to relax, for example tiny details like shaders for the flags. It is not always certain that things like this will really make it into the first release of the game, that’s why I usually don’t post public movies about those things.
Example: In these videos the flags react to the speed/direction of the wind and the ship (uses time compression):
While last years progress of development was slow the public perceived it as stagnation because no one else knew what I was working on.
What is the current state of the game?
Most of the environment and the physics related elements for ‘WOTA: U 96‘ are finished. I am at a point where the AI will be implemented into the game soon – some of it is already done and other code still has to be written. I’ve already been busy iterating through various AI schemes, there are many things to test and to consider and it all takes time. After this I will step-by-step add the missing GUI elements to finally bring the game into a playable state – this step of the development was delayed on purpose as long as possible. The last steps will be to create the main menu, add missing 3D models and other artwork to the game and to implement all vessels while generally optimizing things.
This means, beginning early next year, I finally should start to frequently show you some new videos again.
This may not sound like it is a lot of work but of course all those last steps still need their time. But as mentioned before there is always distraction from my need to generate cash flow to pay the bills.
This brings me to another point. We all saw others developers successfully crowdfunding their games which gives them the great opportunity to fully concentrate on the development and to outsource time intensive work. Meanwhile I am struggling to survive which hurts the development. I never wanted to start a crowdfunding campaign, the idea of doing a kickstarter felt wrong to me – especially now after such a long time has passed. On the other hand I know it would speed up things dramatically and this is what most of you want. So If you think I seriously should start a campaign then feel free to tell me.
Instead of a crowdfunding I’ve made something different and I hope you will support me.
Some of you might not like it because they think it has taken costly time which could have been used for the development of WOTA, but please remember that I need to generate at least some minimum cash flow.
Apple provided me with a DevKit of the new Apple TV last year. The first thing I did was to try WOTA on it which instantly crashed, well it was still beta time of tvOS so I’ve took the opportunity and decided to try some things on tvOS to learn whats different and how it works. I’ve started to make a little game on it. Despite the fact that the game is just a classic 1980s style shoot-‘em-up arcade title WOTA benefits from a lot of the work I’ve done for it – especially the fully automatic AI vs AI demo which runs when the menu of the game is shown. It was a kind of test bed for ideas for the AI.
Generally it is not unusual for me to develop in external projects first to keep things clean in WOTA – you can see another example of such a simple test project for WOTA here in this video: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/watch?v=-yMbYusRpNk
Although the tvOS game was finished by 90% I’ve put development on hold for a long time. To generate income I’ve took some of the 3D models I’ve made for it, improved them and started selling on them on the Unity Asset Store. Recently, almost a year later, I’ve took the time to went on and finally finished the game. Again this was not a loss of time for WOTA because most of the problems I’ve ran into were related to things that I still have to do for WOTA – a lot of time went into problems with Game Center and other bugs of the engine.
Here comes the shameless advertising for my newest game: Captain Temporium
– to buy the game
– to spread the word about it, to post about it
– to rate it
Because it supports the development of WOTA and each sale will really help!
Of course I would love most if you give it a try because you really like it. It is available for iOS & tvOS and for macOS.
You will find some helpful additional information about the gameplay on the website: Captain Temporium
Thank you for reading this newsletter, thank you for waiting for WOTA!