For those following this project (thanks!), I wanted to give you an update on what’s going on with the project and where it’s going to go over the next year.
SteamShards will continue to be my “nights and weekend” project. Over the next couple months, I plan on extending and polishing game engine features. This includes improved shadows, placed lights (such as torches and lanterns), better texture mapping, extending texture coloring to include more textures and surfaces, adding ten more voxel shapes, improving the collision algorithm, improved skybox and cloud implementation, distance fog, subvoxel occlusion, and particle effects. *Whew*! Lots of things there.
I want the engine to look really great. I want it to stand out. To me one of the key features of the game is the higher level of detail provided by subvoxel shapes and the smaller scale of the blocks. So far I haven’t shown that off too much in screenshots but that will be my focus over the coming months.
Later in the year, I’ll be improving the terrain generation code to add more mountain, forest, and plains types, including cliffs and canyons and beaches and more. At the end of the year, with the engine features complete, I’ll resume work on gameplay features. Initially that means a focus on usable block placement and digging, and I’ll probably publish an open alpha at that point to get feedback from you, the players, to see how well it works. The sandbox features of SteamShards isn’t just placing blocks, but choosing the right shape and orientation. The result is a lot more detail, but I also want to make sure that it’s easy and intuitive. Look for that in November or December!
Next year begins with work on the steampunk machine features, including (but not limited to): steam engines, ropes & pulleys, gears & axles, levers, water wheels, aqueducts, mills & grinders, and animal-driven power sources. In the Spring, I’ll move on to combat and creature AI. Next summer, focus will move to crafting and tradeskills. Finally, at the end of next year, I’ll devote time to cities and social features.
There’s a few other major feature categories that don’t fit nicely into this breakdown, but they’re scheduled in with the features that I’ve mentioned.
So my focus, then, will be on packaging new features up into weekly bundles and posting new screenshots here and via twitter. I’m still very interested in seeing what you guys will build with my game’s toolset in your hands. See you on Saturday!