All the steps for M4 have been completed. On to M5!
Content generation for Milestone 4 has just finished!(More)
M4 Content Generated
What does that mean, exactly?
The milestones mark major stages in development, and also large shifts in what sort of work I'm doing. M1 was the most basic prototype to test architecture, and M2 a more advanced prototype trying out game logic. M3 filled out the game content to the level of star systems, and M4 has been aimed at generating planets and bergs (spaceside settlements).
So, what this means is that all the planet surfaces for the game are now more or less final. M5 aims at cities, and city development affects planet development, so there will be more changes still... but the basic maps are now fixed.
It doesn't mean M4 is done, but I can now confidently say that is at most a few weeks away. Onward!
Work on the new Character system has finished for now, all experiments for M4 are done, and server advances continue.(More)
As we near the end of 2017, I wanted to fill you in on what's been happening this year.
First, I'll answer the question some are no doubt dying to ask: Yes, the game will be playable by Christmas. It already is up and running, and can be played in a very basic form now. From here on, it's a matter of adding gradually more and more to it while keeping it all running.
In 2016, most of the work lay in basic content development; mapping out planet surfaces, listing and detailing the game factions, charting spaceside settlement and similar things. 2017 has been very different; the effort here has been to clean up all the past experiments and prototyping and bring it all together, while merging some planned and new features.
This spring, I updated the client code and the launcher/installer system — which has been working even better than expected since then. Along the way, there have been several updates to the web server.
The job for summer was mostly the new character system and the avatars that go with it. This was a relatively late development, whose need and value became apparent as the planned parts evolved more.
Since August, I've been rebuilding the server code and finalizing its architecture, combining the results of years of experiments and adding new systems.
A big part of this effort doesn't show in the plan. Since we first launched long ago, computer hardware has progressed enough that some of the original design choices no longer made sense. Back then, I planned for servers with 4 cores and 8 GB of memory, networked together. Now, a single machine can have 16 cores, 128 GB of memory and multiple GPUs to help with numeric processing. The gains are too big to ignore, but reworking key bits of code to benefit from these changes can be time-consuming.
Looking ahead:... Once the server updates are done, character-based play will gradually evolve with more and more complex possibilities, gradually leading into management and colonization of game worlds. At that point we'll finish off whatever remaining minor jobs there are for M4 and then move on to M5. The time scale for this is probably a few more months but, as always, we'll take the time needed to do things properly and not rush.
The web site has been secure for a long time. Now it's certified as well!(More)
Now secure and certified!
Behind the scenes, web sites use a system called SSL/TLS to verify whether your connection is secure. The system allows both "self-signed" certificates, which work for encryption but which anybody can create, and "certified" certificates which are checked by an independent outside source.
To summarize a complex subject: self-signed certificates are good enough to stop people from spying on what you send and read, but they don't guarantee that you're actually talking to the right web site. So, you wouldn't want to trust the sites using them with your credit card details.
For years now, during development, this web site has been running using such a self-signed certificate. Today we've upgraded to a full certificate, signed by Let's Encrypt. That means you should never again receive a dire warning that the site is insecure.
Since this is brand new, however, there is a good chance of bugs. Please report any problems you see, and especially any cases where your browser warns you about insecurity.
Milestone 3 was reached on December 30th!(More)
M3 is done!
This has been a long time in the coming, but now it's here. The last details of the architecture have been finalized, the map of the galaxy is complete, history charted.
All that's left is to fill in the details, three more milestones worth... and we'll be starting with that right away.
New 1920x1080 wallpaper is up!(More)
Check out our new image gallery!(More)