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 while since our last post. It's really tough holding down a job and family with kids while trying to develop a game on the side The last couple of months hasn't been easy, personally I've been a little low on energy and not having much time to getting down to any real Ilkor development.
However I'm now back in the thick of things again and I feel we are making traction again.
Chris on the other hand has been working furiously on the character creation process and it is now basically finished, bar the saving of the actual character and artwork from Simon. The artwork doesn't prevent the game from functioning, but cosmetically it would be awesome to have all the portraits and avatar facial parts that would complete a wonderful player experience. However, understandably the artwork is a very time consuming task and if it means we have a wait a little longer than so be it, it will certainly be worth it.
Having said that, we might well release an alpha version of the character creation page in the next week or two. As soon as we do, you'll be hear about it here.
Next we'll be tackling the mapping engine and character homepage.
The core of the mapping engine has already been designed and developed. It was however put on hold late last year to focus on the character creation process amongst other higher priority tasks. We are really hoping you'll like the approach we've taken with the maps. You've most likely seen the amazing (illustrated) maps that Jon Roberts created for us which we'll be using to drill into. The mapping engine will use tilesets created by Jon to hopefully recreate these illustrated maps in a 2D tiled structure, zooming in to a much more detailed scale. Each tileset will roughly represent 1km or 2km. That is the type of scale we feel will work nicely.
The character homepage is really the area of the site that you'll arrive at each time you log-in. Here you'll be presented with a summary of your character (character sheet) along with summaries of the state of play, turn & phase numbers, deadline date, weather, season, etc.
As for our growing team of GMs. They have been working hard at populating the Gazetteer of Arcadia which is the game's wiki. Although the game isn't live yet, the wiki is up and running and growing in size almost daily.
Will thats it for the moment.
Here's the third regional map from Jon Roberts. It is Argyll, the Yellow Region, situated to the west. Now remember, this is just a thumbnail map. For each regional Jon has also designed a highlydetailed map which will only be revealed to players once their character arrives on its shores.
So thats 3 down, 2 more two go. Then we're going to reveal the highly detailed map of Caledon. We've decided to do this ahead of the game going into beta. Players will be able to start 'exploring' the region in preparation of game launch. Remember you can also go over to the Gazetteer of Arcadia where a whole wealth of knowledge is slowly but surely starting to
More maps to follow very soon.
We've had a very busy week. There is much to report. So here goes:
Website Update: ilkor.com has just had an update. Please go and check it out. There have been numerous bug fixes, enhancements and new content. The most visually and obvious enhancement must be the browser requirement indicator that appears in the bottom right of the page. It will detect whether your browser is going to be able to run the game successfully. Ilkor requires browsers that support HTML5. Most of the new browsers that have been out in the past 6 months or so should be fine. To check, go to ilkor.com and look at the indicator.
If the globe is green then your browser will have no trouble running the game. An orange globe indicates that you may have some trouble and it is advisable to update your browser to the latest version. A red globe will require that you upgrade your browser before you'll be able to play. You will still be able to signup however.
The Gazetteer of Arcadia: For those of you who don't know. The Gazetteer is a wiki that we're in the process of populating with the rich world setting information and background. GM Senyors and Lord Vega are both busy at work here. Please spend some time here, it'll help you get a better understanding of the game's setting and prepare you for when the game starts. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us.
We've recently added some of the game maps and very soon we'll be including a number of new hand-drawn portraits of races and classes, supplied by Simon Lee Tranter.
Maps: Jon Roberts is very close now to completing our various versions of the world and regional maps. They have been some time in the making for a number of reasons, but the wait is proving to be well worth it. I've already shared some of these maps with you via Twitter, Facebook, this blog and the Gazetteer wiki. The big one we are now waiting for is of course the detailed map of Caledon. So watch this space, it will be appearing here soon.
Character Creation: This is really the most exciting area of development. This is because, beside the GameMaster sections of the website, this is the first real functional areas that we are starting to see and it really is looking amazing!! Unfortunately we can't share this with you yet, not even screenshots, but soon we will do just that followed by an alpha version of the website where you'll be able to experience the character creation process for yourself and supply us with feedback. This will be our first real playtest request. Please consider joining in!
Thats it for the moment. Hopefully I'll have more news in the coming week.
Just some brief news. Behind the scenes of the Ilkor development we have actually partnered with a gaming engine company, HeroQuest Pty.
They have a website heroquestgaming.com. it isn't much to look at really as the're not really 'player facing', at least not for the moment.
They are developing alongside Ilkor a gaming engine that will be generic in nature, targeted at the fantasy rpg genre. The idea is that the engine will be used to power Ilkor: Dark Rising.
It's proving to be an interesting partnership, basically all the world setting, history, maps, artwork, theme etc will remain the property of Gad Games while the engine itself will belong to HeroQuest.
After the beta playtest (which we imagine will take up the better part of 2012), the HeroQuest Platform should be stable and mature enough to then be offered to other interested companies who might like to host a game.
The engine is proving to be quite configurable. Although it will come with a standard set of maps, data, etc, it can all be customizable. It's quite an interesting concept. Ilkor will not only be powered by the HeroQuest engine, but will also be hosted on their infrastructure. This means as a gaming company we only need to worry about the GameMaster duties, player service and ensuring the game world is rich with background history and a theme. HeroQuest will ensure the servers are up and running, that there is no connection issues, upgrades and new features will be introduced in a structured and controlled fashion. They are even putting together a payment gateway where various value added services can be purchased.
Anyways, enough rambling. I just thought it worth informing you guys.
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.