Ok, so it's been a while for my posting on the blog... but I've been bus getting Ultima 4 out the door. It turned out that Dungeon and Combat took a little longer than I wanted. But some things take a while to get right. I pretty much had to create most of the combat algorithm out of whole cloth. I mean people pretty much know what to expect from a turn-based RPG combat system. But then you've got to make the whole thing data driven, and you've gotta tweak all the stats and stuff.
So I hit Alpha in the main game on Friday March 12th. I then hit Alpha for the complete game on Sunday March 21st. This milestone included all of the functionality which existed outside of the main game: saving/loading, intro main menu, create new character, and the 'endgame' sequence. I then took two days to kill a few of the 'critical' bugs, and reached the Beta stage on Tuesday March 23rd. YAY!
So for the past week and a bit I've been bug-killing everyday while my Beta testers try to break things on their end. So far so good! Things seem to be fairly stable so I think I'm pretty close to final.
Stuff that remains:
1) One of the most annoying things I found out was that the game wouldn't play for the Flash Plug-In for Firefox and Opera. It worked in Internet Explorer since that uses the ActiveX plugin, but what was really weird was that the Flash Plug-In worked in Chrome. So before I'm 'done' I wanna make sure the game works for most of the current browsers. This may require a bit of 'twiddling', but I'll continually experiment over the next couple of days.
2) I have a static main menu at the moment. This is gonna change since I'm looking to do all of the intro animations like the original game. I mean... this is what Flash is designed to handle. (I might also redo all of the original Codex animations using After Effects. This would give me a good reason to learn a bit of that program for doing 'snazzy' animatics in Flash.)
I think once I've got those features in place, and I've been able to play through the whole game (without using cheatcodes) then I will consider the project to be at a firm Beta status.
So that's the plan (for now). Originally I wanted to write Ultima 4 in one month. Wow.... was that optimistic. ;) But I've learned sooooo much while I've worked away on this project. It feels kinda cool to have built something, by myself, from the GROUND UP!
Cya in Brittania,
Blair (Lord Legster) Leggett