State of the Game #176 : Ramblings

Welcome to another state of the game! This week, I want to dedicate this post to random ramblings, mainly because this is what happens when you take a game developer and tell them to make a website, and the other part is because I haven’t ‘loosened up’ in a post in a while.

So, for the first part, I really am starting to hate web development. I am tired of debugging dynamic variables and functions called through strings and not being able to easily step through code. I also am upset that I am having to do the web development stuff in the first place, but I CAN say, there is NO WAY I would have ever gotten something of this same quality from a developer at the budget I had. With the current features I have implemented, along with the custom code work, I can say I have saved ~$40,000. Considering a slapped together site of just plugins and terrible design can easily be $5,000. So, I have to keep that in mind as I once again set up an elaborate email system to send me debug data from my ajax queries. [Also, web development is likely easier than this, but my lack of expert experience is likely why it’s so painful. Either way, I have a new found sympathy for all web devs]

In other random news, I see Steam is offering refunds now. It was actually really surprising to see this, because I found out about it at the same time as the public! I would have thought they would have messaged something out to the people actually selling on Steam, but I guess that is what happens when you give up some control of your product.

While I don’t openly support refunds for M.A.V., the ~4 people that have contacted me for them have all got them. Software refunds can be real touchy subject with some developers, but I feel steam did a good job with the requirements they put in place. I will ALWAYS advocate trying the free demo of M.A.V. before buying it [and same goes for any game, especially early access games] to ensure you know what you are getting. Unfortunately, I have seen some developers create some very misleading demos, so refunds will always have a place.

Speaking of refunds, kind of, it was brought up in a refund thread on Steam about the time between updates. My response was fairly simple: Time between updates is my biggest concern as well. With that said, the time between updates is likely to get WORSE before they get better. The reason for this is because the project is in a very important transition stage. It is changing from Alpha to Open Beta [I think these terms have lost all meaning] which means everything in the game is getting groomed with a fine tooth comb to remove bugs, improve polish, and basically solidify everything in place. Alpha is the land of quick iterations, blue sky ideas, and generally sloppy but passable work. Beta [in this case] means we have found the ideas that work, at a minimum level, and it’s time to shore them all up and present a slice of what the finished game will be. In traditional development this is called the Vertical Slice, and it would normally represent a single level in the game, normally from mid-game, and taking it to release quality to serve as a measuring stick for the rest of the game.

In real news, I am continuing to make [slow] progress on the site. I have a unified login for the site, the shop, and the forums. I have a working achievement system and have replicated most of the current forum features as well. I have also integrated the shop with the current gift code system and the steam key system. I am now working on the ability to redeem keys and making some special pages for the higher level kickstarter backers to start submitting for their rewards. Once that is done, I have some formatting / design tasks to finish up, then I will hook the game login system up with the new site. Then comes the content migration and the transition between user systems [which I haven’t figured out how to do yet]. Yay!

See you next week!

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