Well another week has gone by in the blink of an eye. I can't believe we are almost 1 third of the way through the year!!
The Cape Town based development team (wow all 3 of us! - myself, Chris and Mark) had a very productive design session last Wednesday evening. You guys might not know our setup, but all three of us are developing Ilkor in our spare-time, trying to find the odd hour here and therefore during the day and spending what time our families allow during the evenings and weekends on Ilkor development. It is tough going but extremely rewarding.
Mark and myself work together in the same office for our 'day job' while Chris is about 10kms down the road. Mark and I therefore manage to talk 'Ilkor' on and off throughout the day, at lunchtime and at any spare moment we find in the day when out 'day job' is a little slow. We tend to work long hours at the office so we are able to do both.
I mentioned last week we have our own VPN which all of us can access from anywhere so it doesn't matter, day or night, we can all get access to documentation, source code, etc.
We run Ilkor using a development methodology called Scrum. I'm not going to get into the details of this as it'll most likely bore you to death. However we have been working like this for many years. It basically involves splitting sizeable chunks of work up into small pieces that can be completed in a short period of time. We work on a 2 week cycle. Each cycle is called a sprint.
Our sprints start every 2nd Wednesday. Infact we start a new sprint this coming Wednesday. Part of Scrum involves having a short meeting every day to track process etc. We do this at 7am over Skype. It works very well indeed and sets us all up for the rest of the day.
Anyway...as for the design session. The agenda was to really go over a number of topics. We reviewed the database model, which as I mentioned the other week, and is really taking shape. It's not complete but a large section (specifically the metadata) is now fully designed.
We also reviewed the map engine and editor. Chris demo'ed what he has achieved to date and it is going to be completely amazing. I really want to share this with you guys but not until we have the finished tilesets, world and regional illustrated maps from Jon. To show this off before then will not do the engine justice. Anyway we thrashed out some of Chris' concerns, mostly technical around terrain transitions and the approach to both roads and rivers. We settled on a great solution which Chris is well into implementing already.
Finally I gave a presentation around the player interfaces, the pages that will be served up to the player while he plays the game. Between Simon and myself we have come up with a great navigational structure that we feel will be very intuitive, something I believe more than 90% of the text-based browser games fail to achieve. The session went well and I was happy to see that both Chris and Mark managed to understand the structure. With some feedback I'm now revising some areas before Simon will then take the brief to work on the design drafts further until we are happy. This includes the 'look and feel' or the theme of the site, which in many ways is equally as important.
All in all we've had a hugely productive week. The artists are making alot of progress, especially Jon who has taken our comments regarding the initial map snippet that was given to us. The final finished world map is expected to arrive sometime this week, we are all very excited, maybe next week we can share a small snippet of the map to you! :-)
We've now got just over 2 months to go before we intend on launching the ilkor.com website that will really just be a holding page with some info on the game and the ability to join the playtest. However this is going to be a huge milestone for us. If we can make it, it'll mean we are finally live, will have a real web presence and then have only 6 months to complete what is needed to launch the playtest at the end of 2011.
I'm really hoping that early into May we'll start to have some nice illustrations, maps and screenshots that we'll be able to give you a sneak preview of.