Peacenet 0.0.2-i: Multiple Workspaces Test
Hey guys! It's Michael here again with a LONG-awaited dev update for Peacenet. This time I'm talking about these new "indev" releases and the latest one, Peacenet 0.0.2-i.
What happened to the previous releases?
The MonoGame version of the game has been cancelled almost a year ago. Around that time, we switched to Unreal Engine 4 and started to take down all the MonoGame releases of the game from this page in order to not confuse you guys when we finally push up the first UE4 build.
When we pushed the first UE4 build a few months in, we didn't have any of the gameplay in. It was just a panel and a wallpaper, and a button that (hopefully) closed the game. It was to test if UE4 packaging worked well with itch.io, which it does. A long time passes and we finally get to a point where we promise an alpha.
...Except that release went awful! There was a game-breaking bug that only affected stand-alone builds of the game without the UE4 editor, and another game-breaking bug with the world generator that only affected standalone builds and certain seeds. We were able to fix it but more bugs started appearing and it was clear we needed to rework a lot of things in the game's code to get it to work right. So we did, but it ended up being almost like ShiftOS 0.1.0 and its first alpha release. Horrible.
We kept working on the game and getting things just right, until eventually, out of the blue, I decided to release a test build yesterday. I was feeling pretty confident about the game's code and wanted to see if it'd run well on others' systems (without the UE4 editor.) So I pulled down all the other releases from this page and put Peacenet 0.0.1-i out.
Things I did differently with this release/things I've learned
- Create a git tag on our GitHub repository for it.
This means that any time we release a build of the game to itch, you can pick up that exact version of the game's code from GitHub. This makes modding a lot easier, if you're into that, since you can mod a specific version of the game and only use that version's codebase - so as long as future versions are compatible with it, the mod is guaranteed to run in those versions too.
- Test the build before pushing it out.
With the MonoGame releases, I always pushed the build out and then downloaded it through itch.io to make sure it ran properly. Don't do this with UE4 games. Always test your standalone builds locally BEFORE you push them out, otherwise you get bug reports from your players that are literally describing the bugs you're already working on. That, and it is a little embarassing.
- It's okay to not have all the features working.
If the build's a prerelease build and you say what's missing and what bugs you know about, people are going to expect them and not fuss over it. That way, you can release updates that fix those bugs/add those features and there's a true sense of progression in the game's development since players get to actually interact with what's new.
The point of these indev build
The point of these indev builds are to give you guys an interactive look at what's being worked on. They're like Weekly Releases from the MonoGame version but I'll release them when I can, and they'll eventually work into the alpha release.
There is gameplay in these builds even if it's hidden behind some debug commands/not exposed to you yet, but that's okay. They're "in development" for a reason, right?
They're not meant as a finished product but rather as a concept for various features that will go into the finished product. So if you see a "-i" on the end of the version number, you'll know I'm experimenting with things and that the build is indev.
What's the experiment for this version?
Multiple desktops. The previous version was experimenting with the mission system, this time I'm experimenting with abstracting out the game's window manager into its own class - allowing the desktop to have multiple window managers, thus allowing virtual desktops (like REAL Linux!). I don't know how the feature will work out or if people will see the need to use it yet, but it's there for those who want it.
I also fixed a few bugs that were listed on the front-page on itch, like the Peacegate menu closing when you click a blank area on the menu.
I'm going to keep releasing these indev builds as I work on more features and fix more bugs. They're not alpha builds, just experimental prealpha ones, and this one's (0.0.2-i) experiment is virtual desktops.
You can pick up the build in the Itch app right now, and get the source code for it at https://github.com/bitphoenixsoftware/the-peacenet/releases/tag/v0.0.2-i.
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