The Last Mile…

We’re in a funny stage of production where there are a zillion things to do, but half of them aren’t outwardly visible and the other half should probably wait, just because we’re so close to shipping it’d be a shame to break everything at this point.

breaking-and-entering

I did find a rather gnarly security hole that I’d intended to plug months ago but forgot.   (“Use the bug-base, Luke…!”  😉 )  It was a bit scary, since I had to re-do both login and save and, if I screwed it up, it would mean everyone’s farms would be reset until I could manually fix them, which is a long and tedious process.

Fortunately, the the change was also small and straightforward, and I was able to do it in little bits and test along the way.  In the end, it was a lot of nervous-paranoia over nothing, and now farm security is substantially improved.

I also took some time to tackle power (robot-battery) usage, which was still stuck in the placeholder-numbers phase that I set back when the on/off switch was implemented.  My changes came as a bit of a shock to the most circuit-intensive beta tester, but we agreed that they were, overall, an improvement, and much smaller changes could be made going forward, if needed.

But, as a result of all that, I also implemented “you can upgrade your robot’s battery”, this afternoon.  It’s the only upgrade at the moment, but it’s an important one and, as things progress, now the infrastructure exists to implement other robot-upgrades, as we decide to implement them.

So, the main thing we’re waiting for now is final art.  I’m expecting the last of the trees and other misc art in the next few days, then it’s just the icon, splash and avatar.  To be honest, I’d be ok releasing v1.0 with the current splash and a minor tweak to the icon that I can do myself, so it’s really just the sprite-sheet for the robot.  I’m told that’ll be a week or two, so I’ll look to have some productive time while waiting for that.

Unfortunately, I sort of have to wait until the final art before I can re-do the help animations.  Maybe I’ll just put those off until after v1.0.  Or maybe I can do them during the week-long review period, and just push them as an update immediately upon release.  Or something, I’m not sure, yet.

Anyway… I just wanted to post a quick “what’s up”, since it’s been a couple of weeks.  Things are happening, but it’s mostly just “getting ready to submit” stuff.  And the few items I mentioned.

“Soon!”  🙂

P.S.  It’s been “7 bottles of beer on the wall”* for a while, now, but they’re all paperwork things like “integrate the final artwork” and “update the web-site with the App-store URL” — stuff like that.


* “_#_ bottles of beer on the wall” is the phrase I’ve been using to mark the countdown of the number of tasks left on my to-do list until we ship v1.0.

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The Swag Is In!

There’s still a little ways to go on the final artwork, but we have enough pieces that we were able to cobble together the start of the Robo-Store.  (Check back often over the next few weeks, as we’ll be expanding as more final-art rolls in and adding more products once we get some spare time.)

Worfc author, Ted, enjoys a hot cuppa while putting the final touches on the game before we ship.

Worfc author, Ted, enjoys a hot cuppa while putting the final touches on the game before shipping (“Soon!”)

Impress your friends with your amazing good taste — both in clothing/jewelry/dishware and in games — with some super-stylin’ worfc-gear!

“On the list!”

For the next couple of weeks I will be mostly doing chores related to wrapping-up the game and getting it ready to submit to the iTunes store.  For the most part, the bugs are fixed, the features are in and things are nearly ready to go; from here on, it’s 99% paperwork and pencil-pushing to get vsn 1.0 out the door.

Paperless-Office1

I’m going to be starting a thread in the worfc-forums to cover “on the list” items on an ongoing basis, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts here for what is planned for immediately following the release of World of RoboFarmCraft v1.0.

First, I plan to do regular releases for the foreseeable future.  The current plan is weekly updates for at least 4 weeks, then every-other-week for at least 8 weeks, then regularly scheduled updates based on the needs of the game at that point.  Of course, this plan is open to change based on user feedback and there may be a hot-fix or two in there to deal with crises, but that’s the basic plan as it stands, today.

So, what’s coming up in the next few updates…?

* Beta-5  (in a couple of days.)

  • I recently implemented the ability to give “Login rewards”.  It’s not set-up for regular use, yet, but the idea is to give little daily “treasure chests” at first login.
  • The game now saves an “offline” version if the farm can’t be uploaded to the server.
  • There is some new artwork; most noticeably the logic-gates.

* Final betas and v1.0 (over the next 2-3 weeks.)

  • As mentioned above, this is largely paperwork chores.
  • We’ll be integrating all of the “real” artwork from the art department.

After v1.0, the high-on-the-list items are:

  • Continue to tweak game balance, which is largely the price of crafting and the time it takes for crops to grow.  What we have is pretty good, but I want to check the game-progress telemetry against the first bunch of public players.  My goal is to present activities and challenges, while continuing to provide a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • Continue to make the UI run more smoothly/easily.
  • Additional circuits to further the cause of farm automation.  Some ideas:
    • Chest-O-Matic: place a chest into it, and it has pins for select-next, drop-on-ground, add-to-inventory.  Basically, this circuit allows programmed-access to a chests’s inventory with pins similar to what you have on the robot’s inventory.
    • Select-O-Matic: (These are just working names 🙂 )  A 3 or 4-slot item into which you indicate either tools or inventory, and it allows you to select that tool or item.  So, for example,  you could use pins-1, -2, -3 to select Hoe, Dibble or Saw.  Or you could use them to select Iron, Copper or Silicon seeds.  Etc., whatever you like.
    • A “thumb drive” to allow saving/restoring robot/chip circuitry.
  • A way to visually differentiate chips-in-inventory.  Maybe by colors (dyes made from flowers?), or maybe a 4-char “label” that can be read by a Text Comparator.  Then again, the Select-O-Matic might make this moot.
  • Deep-inventory — so you can craft using materials that are stored in chests, stored in your inventory.  I haven’t yet decided if this should be always-on or if you craft a (consumable (but cheap-to-make)?) deep-search circuit that allows this behaviour.
  • Allow multiple-stacks of the same type of item in inventory (incl. chests), as a switch.  When active, you could have multiple stacks of (currently) 200 of something, they would just occupy multiple inventory slots, as if they were separate items.
  • Improvements to soldering.  These are many and varied and not-clearly-defined, but the soldering UI is definitely a weak spot in the app.  Some ideas include:
    • “Modes”, so connections can be made/broken with fewer taps
    • More user control over trace-paths (possibly including segmented traces.)
    • A “probe” that can be put on traces to display the signals passing.
    • Single/10-step mode to aid with debugging.
    • A separate “lab” where circuitry can be tested/explored without altering existing circuits.

There’s actually quite a bit more, but that’s what’s near the top of the list, and should keep us busy for a while.  Again, I’ll be updating the forums on a regular basis as the list evolves.

P.S.  25 bottles of beer on the wall!  🙂

The eye of The Beholder.

I have finally managed to contract an art team and get to them all of the details they need to begin churning things out.

Robot modern-art

Robot modern-art

It turns out that describing something fantastical, modern, robot-y, yet warm, believable and endearing — all in written specification — is something of a challenge!

But I think we did it, and things are underway.  Yay!

In other news: there have been no major bugs or problems in the past several weekly releases.  The bulk of the updates have been either adding UI-niceness (still plenty to do there, but things are shaping up nicely!) or adjusting the cost/reward structure to make for a balanced, challenging but fun progression.  Oh, that and…

“30 bottles of beer on the wall.”   🙂