We've got a new logo for our gazetteer.ilkor.com wiki website. Our artist Simon produced it the other day and we now have to upload it to the website.
If you haven't visited the wiki in a while then now might be a good time to do so. It now contains a fair amount of content but is some way from being complete. I guess it will never be complete as it needs to grow and expand with the game.
By the way from a dev perspective things are really starting to hot up now and we're getting back into the Map development in a big way, hopefully we'll have something nice to show in a couple of months time.
Well its been a couple of weeks since my last update. There has been so much progress in the last few weeks on all fronts. However we haven't really completed a single piece of development that has a visual aspect to show off here. Much of the progress has been rather technical aswell.
At the moment the entire team are working towards the 1st July which we hope will be our launch date for ilkor.com. Now don't get too excited, the game won't be ready, but we think it is important to get a web presence as soon as possible, so we can supply information to potential players and give them the option to sign-up for the beta playtest which will start early into the New Year (we are aiming for the 7th Jan 2012).
Here's the current development progress:
Illustration Map: Jon Roberts really has done an amazing job. The world map is close to completion now. Our previous blog entry went into some detail around the outstanding work that has gone into making this what it is. Between myself and Jon we've gone through a handful of correction iterations and I believe within a week or so Jon will have completed the job. Finally we'll be adding a border, title, compass, etc to the map and then it will be complete. Jon has recently blogged about Ilkor amongst his various other projects.
Map Engine: This is also close to completion, at least the core functionality. Very soon Chris will be working on the engine once more using an actual tileset drawn by Jon Roberts to ensure the game map style matches the illustrated world map. You might not be aware, but when we launch Ilkor we will only be opening up 1 of the 5 regions. Each region will have roughly 170,000 locations for the players to explore. While this is great for the players it means ALOT of work for the GameMasters. We are going to have to not only create and render the region based on the illustrated map but also populate it with various information, items, creatures, etc. So there is alot of work coming up very soon and I am going to be the main one running with this!!
Well thats the update this time around. Hopefully a little more can be revealed soon.
I've decided to share with you a quick sneak preview of our world map. Jon is still working on it however. It's not complete by any means. He still needs to include marshes, which is the last terrain type to add. He also needs to draw each settlement and then label everything such as villages, rivers, mountain ranges, regions, seas, oceans etc. Finally he will then need to plot the trading routes between the settlements. Oh, and currently Jon has only drawn the major terrain blocks, he still has to finish off by including scattered clumps of different terrain types all over the place.
I've uploaded a very low res version of the world map. It is only at 8.33% of the actual size.
I hope you like the style of the cartography. I've always loved the Tolkien style of mapping and we believe this type of map will work very nicely in the type of game we're developing. The lack of colour in the tilesets will enable us to overlay the various moving pieces, tokens and mapping of character movement.
I've also uploaded a tiny snippet of a small area, though this is shown in full res. If you look carefully on the world map you'll see to the west two land masses close together. The southern isle is the smallest and Jon has already started to label it. The snippet has been taken from the bottom south-east coast. That should give you some idea of the shear vastness and scale.
Now these maps are only the illustrated maps. The game won't be played at this scale but at an even lower level. The game will be played on a tiled area which will drill down even further. I can't show you an example of this level yet, the engine and editor is just about complete but we still need to get Jon to supply us with a tileset that will be of the same style as the illustrated. Hopefully by the end of May or early June .
When the game starts we'll just be opening up with one region. If you look at the world map again you should be able to make out 5 main regions or continents. The game will start with the centre region with the others opening up as and when they are required.
There is plenty more I could talk about, but for the moment I believe this should give you guys enough to think about and hopefully look forward to.
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.