31 December 2020

LoSt this year

non-obligatory pic of a big croc
The blog stayed literally dead silent this year, reflecting the equally sad fact that 2020 was a pretty slow year in the development of Land of Strangers. But I did recently tell some interested commentators I'd write a status report for the project, and I have grown fond of writing a little piece to sum up the year, anyway ;)

At the end of last year, I had already started refactoring some parts of the code, in particular the graphics engine. Since then, I've been tinkering on and off with the project; albeit, mostly off, to be perfectly frank.

Early in the refactoring process, I decided while I'm at it to port the whole game to Python 3 (as well as the newest version of Pygame). This has thankfully turned out to be a quite straightforward transition; it's mostly a question of modernizing the syntax of print() statements – whether because I'm very pythonic in my style, or just a terribly primitive coder ;) Anyway, the timing turned out to be auspicious, as this was also the year that Python officially discontinued the 2.7 branch (which LoSt has been using up to and including the current public release). 

In spring, I lay down some coding sessions and got the basic graphic functionalities up, to the point that I have working menus and a "@ walking around the map" interface with basic event handling and such. I'm bringing in the old code in chunks, trying to streamline a bit along the way, and planning to put in some small and big redesigns that have been on the project's Todo-list.

In autumn, I've been streamlining how I add end edit random content, hoping to lay the grounds for more rapid development later on. But I try not to get lost in the here and now of making the engine as flexible as possible – try to keep focus on what is needed for game worlds in LoSt, and accept some quirkiness in meeting those needs rather than put in complex, catch-all solutions.

Once I nail the basic functionality of editing LoSt's so-called kits (≈plugins/components, used to define in-game beings and concepts), I can probably pull in most of the already written content, along with basic parts of map generation, to start building on the game in an actually playable state again. lol almost eight years after the initial release of LoSt as a 7drl.

𝅘𝅥  𝅘𝅥𝅮   distill-ay-shun 𝅘𝅥
𝅗𝅥  can … be … fun 𝅗𝅥
Not directly related to user interface, I will be slipping in some design changes with the ongoing update, though I will probably write more about these another time. Suffice to say, the system for health and time, combat etc. gets the hopefully final do-over, and some fleshing-out of (macro scale) world generation, as well as the AI. I also have been thinking about text generation … We'll see what comes of that, in LoSt and/or other projects … 

A lot of this is related to narrative, as I've been thinking about ways to strengthen the game's original setting, as well as giving more direction to play through «quests» and the like. I think my next milestone release will contain a manual (to get most of the non-generative text out of the way) as well as a themed tutorial, probably a nod back to early releases that cast the player as a revolting mine slave (the tutorial should be notoriously hard to clear in itself, and maybe with simple(r) achievements to unlock the basic backgrounds for the «proper game», eg. fire a pistol for the option to start as a duelist/gunslinger, win at unarmed combat to start as a pit fighter/brawler).

Regarding release #14, it may become Yet An Interrim Release™, or more or less fleshed out in certain compartments. I don't have a current time plan, but believe I will be working more on LoSt in the coming months, so it's hopefully on the not too far horizon. 

At the moment, having said that, I think I'll say no more than a happy healthy new year to you all.

As always,

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