Feature freeze!

Jan 182016

Hello all and welcome to this first update of the year 2016! 🙂

We’ve reached feature freeze! Simply put what this means is from now on we stop adding new features. This is so we don’t fall into a loop of “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this…”. It is always very tempting to add little (and sometimes not-so-little) features and get caught up in what’s called in development terms “feature-creep” (which itself can ultimately lead to “vaporware”).

We now have a very clear idea of what the pre-release needs to be –as well as what it can live without. So rather than attempting to cram in every idea we have, we’re going to make sure that each feature which gets into the pre-release actually works as expected. I prefer the early access game to feel solid rather than overly ambitious and half-broken.

ScreenShot 2015_11_13 18;27;46001

Unity’s new scene management system (introduced in 5.3) is a boon to us; as you may remember from the previous update it was a hard pill to swallow but it was worth it in the end. For me specifically it means I can now work on any area as needed and when saving my work, only the changed scenes are saved. So I don’t have to wait for the entire game world to be saved anymore; it’s a great time-saver. And it’s also much cleaner to manage.

Cyrille has recently completed his work on the trigonometry code for our new map system. To be honest at first I was thinking of doing away without a map; huge games like Dark Souls don’t have one. But watching some people attempt to play GoaT without a map system turned out to be an exercise in frustration for all involved.

So we now have map items in the world that you need to discover. Once picked up they allow you to see a 2D representation of the current area and to know where you are. It’s neat and it doesn’t make things too easy either. This is not an always-on-screen minimap; it takes a big part of the screen and you can’t see what you’re stepping into when you look at it. 🙂

Paul did a lot of work during the last few weeks polishing the quests and dialogs. It’s all coming together quite nicely! For example in this GIF, Tilo finds a mysterious message that triggers a new quest (sorry the picture is rather small, but that way you won’t be spoiled!).


Finally in terms of work left to do, the big chunks are: AI, 2D art, UI, animations and a couple of game mechanics that still need to be implemented.

But from week to week Ghost of a Tale looks more and more like a “real” game; I mean a professional-looking, pretty good gaming experience. And that in itself is quite rewarding! 🙂

  33 Responses to “Feature freeze!”

  1. Feature freeze sounds like a good idea. From what we’ve seen so far, it seems quite satisfactory at it is 🙂 Can’t wait for it to be finished!

  2. Ahhh soo kool. Glad to hear its locked down. So now would be bad to suggest this great idea i had?! Lol

  3. You guys are more professional than some other, much bigger teams! I pull my hat to you and sit tight until the prerelease 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m so glad I don’t have to report to some producer and/or publisher when making decisions like that. The perks of being totally independent…! 😀

  4. Awesome news! Can’t wait! I’m very excited for this game! I keep talking about GoaT during Streams every time I hear new news.

  5. What I’m wondering is how you know when its time to feature freeze? I’m really afraid of going too far with my own project.

    • Basically it comes down to being reasonable and making decisions based on objectivity rather than exclusively through the prism of your wishes and dreams.

      The experience of having already worked on products that actually hit the market is also a big plus.

  6. AWESOME glad its moving along quickly

  7. I love maps, so im very happy with what you put in! it’l feel like he’s looking at a map!

    • Yes, it was indispensable! Although at the start of the game you won’t have a map of the jail. It’s only later on that you get to find one…

  8. Soooo glad to hear there will be seasons and tides and dynamic quest- and dialoguesystems implemented! And an undergound earthworm-city! And seamless transition from space right down unto the smallest blade of gras! And a fps-module! We NEED a fps-module! C’mon Seith, you know you want it too 😉

    Congrats to reaching this milestone! Isn’t this what’s commonly called a BETA, or am I confusing things? Still as hyped for this game as I was two years ago!

    • Exactly! The game’s been renamed to “No Mouse’s Sky” and is entirely procedural!

      Yes, it’s getting close to beta. While all the features have been defined they have not all yet been implemented. A beta stage would mean the game is completely playable from start to end; getting closer but we’re not there yet. 🙂

  9. Everyone knows Thief had the best in-game maps 😉

  10. This gem of a game keeps getting greater.. Double thumbs up guys!! 😀

  11. Cool always nice to see your progress!

  12. I like the sound of the map system, much better than the always on radars that you end up spending more time looking at than the lovely visuals!

    Also glad to hear the upgrade was worth it… Good start to the new year : )

    • Yes, the idea was to allow for a map but not a minimap, which could make things to easy. Also, Dwindling Heights is not a continent or even a city; there’s no risk to get lost in the middle of nowhere.

  13. I need tech support! I’m throwing money at the screen for month now, I still can’t start the game!

    • Oh that’s a common mistake; you need to locate your monitor’s ventilation slits (usually at the back) and carefully insert the folded bills in there. That should do the trick.

  14. When you thought of your features, did you have a huge list? Or, is it like you said, you just think one day: “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and then you’d implement it…?

    Either way, can we get a list of some features that are being left out?

    • Paul and I clearly defined a list of features (gameplay mechanics) from the beginning and I implemented them one by one. Sometimes I would think of something and implement a new feature if I thought it was a good one and didn’t require weeks of R&D.

      So “inspiration” is definitely a factor here; you can’t plan everything in advance. Often you discover new ideas while working on something else and because there is no decision committee involved (I just do the thing) there’s not a lot of wasted time.

      A list of non-implemented features wouldn’t really make sense at this point as they will all eventually find their way into the final game (at least that’s the plan!).

  15. I cannot wait for this game, ever since I seen the original concept of this game I have been so excited for it, it is my most anticipated title of this year by far! Glad to see you guys are really making some progress and are happy with where you are at. Can’t wait! Keep up the amazing work! 🙂

    • Thank you Josh! Just keep in mind that it is being made by a minuscule team on a shoestring budget and you’ll be able to enjoy it for what it is… 😉

  16. Hey brother! Glad to see the update… I was starting to get worried. I’m crazy excited for this game brah, the first thing I thought when I saw the trailer at the 2014 show is ” dude… it’s Redwall!”, I don’t think anything could be quite as rad as playing a game as a minstrel/warrior rodent in a redwall inspired stealth action game. Keep on keeping on guys, I’ll definitely be picking the game up! God bless

  17. Thanks for the update! I definitely find map systems helpful.

  18. Umm… If I can’t create my own custom character and generate my own unique plot line or even simply fly and shoot lasers out of my character’s butt then I don’t think it’s ready!

    Jk, this looks so much cooler than I dreamed when I backed it on Indiegogo. You’ve come so far! Dream big and get stuff done!

  19. Freeze-dried foods are pretty much usesels, you wouldn’t get as much nutrients from it as you would with live or frozen. Foods that should be fed to BGK are frozen or live bloodworms, black worms, tubifex worms, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, earthworms, ghost shrimp, feeder guppies, fairy shrimp, daphnia, mussels, chopped krill and chopped prawns. All live fish and shrimp should be quarantined and gut loaded for at least 2 weeks before feeding. Live fish and shrimp should also only be used and an occasional treat.experience

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