Hello there. The above title usually isn't something I like to say at all and it usually is followed by me making a big sob story about how stressed I am and how demotivated I am. Then a few days later I somehow get the motivation back and kick it into high gear. That's not the case this time. This time, I have a few legitimate needs to delay The Peacenet for the sake of the game's playability. So what's going on?
Earlier this month I released a build of the game to itch.io. It was meant to be a test build so people could take the user interface for a spin and provide feedback. Instead of feedback on the UI's usability... I got perhaps the worst bug report I've ever gotten since the first alpha of ShiftOS 0.1.0 back on Christmas of 2015.
To summarize: @kaylinDevelopment (REALLY wonderful guy :D) tested out the game and could not get it to create a new Peacenet Identity. Unreal Engine 4 would pop up a dialog box telling him that the engine had crashed with an access violation.
For the non-techies: What's an Access Violation? Your computer has something in it called Random Access Memory, or RAM. This RAM is used by your computer to... well... remember what it's doing. When you run a program, it's given its own area of RAM to store its code and its internal data. However, a program is only allowed to access its own area of RAM. If it tries to access another program's area of RAM, your computer doesn't like it and will tell the program that it had an Access Violation.
Essentially, Kaylin could not run the game because it was accessing an area of RAM that it wasn't allowed to.
I've long since fixed the bug - in some areas of the code, especially the area that was causing Kaylin problems. However, during testing, I noticed many more bugs in the game.
The issue is these bugs only occur in standalone builds of the game, so, since I test inside the Unreal Editor (though, not anymore!) I had no idea they existed until releasing a build and I never thought to test it out.
Just today, I figured out exactly how I want gameplay to work in the game and i'd like to fully implement it. Though I haven't figured out enterprise hacking yet, I have figured out basic hacking of personal systems. With the help of @Ivy and a few others in the community, I've also planned out "Peacenet Hubs," which are sort of like in-game bulletin board systems that you can hack.
I've come up with the main exploits, the general gameplay loop, I've revised the way Government Alert will work, I've decided on my final UI, and so much more. I really need to clean up the code to do it, which I can do, but I want to have the time to do it all right so we don't have a disasterous release.
It's exam time - all of us have either already done or will soon do our exams in highschool. College folks may be lucky since their semester has likely just begun. But, I'm not very lucky at all. I'm actually in both highschool and college - I'm taking a dual credit course in game development. So I have both the beginning of a college semester and the end of a highschool semester happening at the exact same time, and I really need to put time into my school so I don't fail an exam/final assignment.
I really dislike school (other than dual credits and computer-related courses), it really gets in the way of things that actually interest me, but it's something I have to do. I have to put my focus on it, so I can keep working on Peacenet afterwards and not have to deal with school for longer than I have to.
When I set the date of the alpha release, I completely neglected the fact that it would be my exam time - which I cannot honestly handle.
I really want some time to do some world building and lore writing in the game. I want to make The Peacenet both an interesting game in terms of gameplay and an interesting game in terms of story.
One of the ways I want to do it is by adapting the game to be in the same universe as ShiftOS, allowing me to add some extra mystery to ShiftOS's unfinished lore. Trying that has really honestly inspired me to write lore for the game and it's a lot of fun. However, it does take some time to think about and plan out.
So, basically.. there's a lot of issues in Peacenet and a lot of things that I want/need to get done both in the game and outside the game that are taking up a lot of time. Therefore, I need to delay the game.
"A delayed game is eventually good while a rushed game is forever bad," says someone I can't honestly remember the name of. But I definitely agree with that quote, and I'd rather delay Peacenet's alpha rather than rush it so that the game is eventually a lot better. Thanks.