Thursday, 17 July 2014

We've come a long way, baby

From early alpha version, we grew up to expectations and released demo (actually two demoversions, if you like). Almost after almost a year of hard work, our main and only coder MarK decided to leave the project. As he would describe it, it's his time to move forward with his own life, to be not stuck in a past. This shocking news is sad on multiple levels. First of all, Amiga community just lost a wonderful member. Secondly - we can't continue with development in current direction. As you probably know, Chaos Guns are written in PowerD language, which is quite unique and basically there are not so many human beings around, who could pick up MarK's work and continue. If this would happen to me anytime in a past, I would just simply give up.

But not this time!

There are many idioms describing, how tougher times will prove be actually an advantage for you. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. It's my motto, so it's motto of Chaos Guns as well.

Yes, we are officially looking for a new coder.
Before you send me a message "I will do it for you", allow me to update you on this on, just to give you a full picture of what we are dealing with.

Last three weeks I have spent most of my time by pursuing new programmer. I started by contacting people around Amiga E language, as this is most similar langunage to PowerD. I was really surprised, that even after that many years there are still relatively live communities and mailing lists. Via Wikipedia I have found some names - author of Amiga E - Wouter van Oorterssen. He replied, but apologies, that this is out of his scope. Similar reponses were given by Leif Salomonsson and Tomasz Wiszkowski - both gave thumbs up to our project, but unfortunately they cannot board our team due obvious reasons. I also contacted Etienne Marais, but no response so far. Nevertheless, that was just beginning.

Very usefull insight was provided by Chris Handley, who eventually recommended me to contact Samuel Crow, author of port of Total Chaos games (nice coincidence with Chaos Guns name, huh?). Discussion with Samuel was very usefull and we finally moved somewhere.

The situation is - existing PowerD code could be "somehow" translated to AmigaE, which would allow to continue with project with relatively cosmetic changes. However, to do so, it would require a real manpower, because current PowerD source code has more than 10.000 lines!

From the very beginning, Chaos Guns meant to be a project, which is created in truly indie environment. However without MarK, we must think about alternatives. Samuel had a very good point, that porting game to AmigaE would allow us to port it with ease to multiple platforms as Windows, AROS, OS4 (thanks to Chris Handley's PortablE convertor!) and probably some more. It means, that our target audience would be MUCH bigger, therefore there would be real potential to start crowdsourcing campaing, leading eventualy to rasing enough money to pay professional coder.

So that was the question, which I was facing. Is it time to move project to whole new level, which I was not originally planning?

Hell yes.

I mean - I wanted to test my own skills of managing team, developing a game. If we couldn't find any suitable Amiga coder, moving forward to IndieGoGo campaing, allowing us to bring very same game to wider audience, would be certainly a way we shall go!

Because Samuel doesn't like idea of being only coder of the project, which I fully understand and support, I'm currently still looking for more guys like him, so we can create cooperating team again and continue with working. We will surely appreciate any recommendatation on this matter.

But that's still not all.

Within Czech and Slovak Amiga community, I know a few guys, which I contacted as well. To make long story short - Dalibor Javorcek was so kind and wrote skeleton of brand new engine written in C (and assembler) language! While his engine uses chunky graphics, it is VERY smooth (20+ fps) on real Amiga 060 (and probably around 15 on 030 with extra RAM). I can't express my happiness to see this working! The engine from Dalibor doesn't support any switches or enemies (yet?), so it's very static - but it works, which proves my point - there most certainly IS a way forward.

Still - no definitive solition was find, Samuel nor Dalibor didn't signed up yet. MarK's current engine supports around 85% of wanted functionality, while being strongly unoptimised. It can do things, which were never done on the Amiga before (multiple levels at the same time and very very HUGE levels!) So AmigaE is one possibility, which would allow us to port game to "outside world". But it's a tough goal, which I cannot really comment, as I'm not a coder by myself. Having brand new engine seems to be best way to fulfill our dreams, but it's not easy task as well.

Other option would be to optimise the content of the game itself - to cut exteriors in halves (or more), to minimise interactive elements to bare bones. I mean - if anybody would be able to write engine, we should definitely discuss, what kind of sacrifices could be made! Do not hesitate to contact us via website or Google+ or EAB or email!

Still not done!

In the meantime, Tsak started to experiment with GameMaker, with imported original graphics and so far, he made impressive progrees. It's in very early stage, but our in game Drokk guy is running around and shooting. His experimenting lead me to consideration of other existing engines as well. One of the option would be BOH - which is also available on the Amiga. Other option could be to use an engine of fantastic game Teleglitch - but that would mean no Amiga version and slightly different playstyle.

Even if MarK left us, game is everything but dead. At this moment it's very hard to give you more specific updates on content, because all our focus is currently on engine and coders. I'm sure that we will succeed! Thank you for your support!