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Milestones, Sub-Milestones, and Publicizing Progress (Dev Diaries?)

Discussion in 'Civ3 Future Development' started by Quintillus, Nov 9, 2021.

  1. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

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    This has been mentioned a few times, but I've been thinking about it a bit as I organized the milestone threads. Specifically, adding sections in the opening posts reflecting my understanding of where we are progress-wise towards them. I was pleased to find we appear to be closest to the "Aztec" milestone.

    I think we should probably decide on an intended cadence for C&C forum-facing updates. That might be time based, or it might be milestone based. Time based is hazardous since there may be periods of inactivity. But if we do milestone based, we might want to have sub-milestones, decided on as we go rather than upfront like the high-level milestones we have now. The high level milestones may have a lot of time between being completed.

    For the milestone approach, I'd propose each high-level milestone has sub-milestones based on city names. So, the first "Aztec" sub-milestone might be "Tenochtitlan", and then we have "Teotihucan." If we decide that the next sub-milestone is in the realm of "Babylon", the next sub-milestone would be "Babylon", then "Nineveh".

    I like the dev diary format for updates. A lot of games that I've seen use it (Victoria III, Galactic Civilization IV, etc.) use it to share mechanics, and we have inherited most/all of our mechanics. But it could still be a good way to share UIs in progress, updates on which mechanics are working, perhaps a video of new animations or gameplay as Puppeteer has done with his FLC exploration, and at some point some overviews of how the AI or networking is progressing. As well as links to downloadable binaries, so the audience can see the progress as well as reading about it. With the usual disclaimers of "don't expect a fully working game" for as long as that is needed.

    As for "when is the first one", two thoughts are competing in my mind:
    • We haven't shared much since WildWeazel's 10/30 post. We don't want it to appear to be vaporware.
    • We're progressing quickly enough that even a day can result in a noticeable jump in things you can do.
    I'd propose we share an update no later than Thanksgiving, which is November 25th in the U.S. (and probably in the past in Canada), regardless of what our decision on cadence is.
     
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  2. Flintlock

    Flintlock King

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    Regular progress reports are a must. We should try to put one out at least once a month. Even if the project's not moving very quickly it's better to have small updates than silence because if the project looks dead no one will want to join up.

    IMO our goal for the near future should be gameplay, any gameplay no matter how simple. What I'd like to see is (1) two players on a map (2) who can build cities (3) which can build warriors and more settlers (4) and the players can throw the warriors at each other until one of them wins by conquest. We should be able to accomplish this before Thanksgiving to show it in the first progress report.
     
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  3. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    I agree, monthly sounds about right for now. We need to show momentum, and things that users will care about. Lots of pictures, real graphics, interaction, etc. I do enjoy writing those kinds of posts but it's probably best to rotate so people see that it's a team effort. Thanksgiving seems like a good target at the rate you guys are moving. (I want to help too!)

    Cities as smaller milestones is a fun idea, the question is are smaller milestones important enough to name. My thinking was that each named version would be fairly stable and "worth playing" but with breaking changes; while iterations between them would yield minor revisions with incomplete features, of interest only to dedicated testers. Naming only major milestones would make it clear which feature set you're playing with and when it's time to upgrade.
     
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  4. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

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    Great point that silence makes things look dead, even if they are actually lively. I also like the focus on gameplay as king at this stage, and a warrior fest as a good goal to work towards.

    I was thinking, WildWeazel has a certain panache with the updates that'll be hard to emulate. But rotating, at least among those who want to partake, is probably a good idea. I'm reminded of when I was at a client, and we realized the weekly progress demos were always being shared by our team of consultants, and the client team was implicitly encouraging that by never volunteering to do it themselves. We realized that this was probably because we were doing a good job of it and many of them weren't comfortable talking in front of bigwigs, but also that it was bad that the client never did it, because we weren't going to be there forever and they needed to have competence at it, too. So we brought up that they needed to do it, scaled back our participation and coached them on how to do it, and before long several members of their team were pretty good at it. Similarly here, we should make sure that if WildWeazel is unavailable for a period of time, that doesn't mean dev diaries/wider communication stops.

    It will be a balancing act on which updates we should advertise as worth playing. I might see what Stardock is doing with GalCiv IV; I know they are making alpha updates available but don't know the frequency, whether it's every dev diary, etc. We might have some people who want to try a new build every month, and others who want fewer but more significant updates, but can figure that out as we go. As for breaking changes, that will be an interesting consideration once we have save games. For now, I'd be inclined to not focus too much on compatibility with older releases in this super early stage. Instead, we can direct folks to go to the Betas tab in Steam to download the older version to continue their old game stick with the older version if they want to keep playing a save.

    Actually, I'd be pretty thrilled just to be at the point where someone wants to continue a save, and that's something we're considering. That will also be a significant sign of progress.
     
  5. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    We could also try a round-robin format where everyone submits a short update on what they're working on and compile it into one big post. At least for the pre-release updates.
     
  6. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

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    That could work well too. I like what Paradox does, which sometimes is one person will do a whole diary, but sometimes they'll hand it off partway through, so someone who's been focusing on an area, say sound balance, can talk about the updates there. IIRC they tend to do that more when the secondary topic is significantly different than the main one.

    I've been on teams that did it both ways in (live) demos, too. Sometimes it's nice for the person who focused on an area to be able to show it; other times the handoff isn't worth the overhead. *shrug*
     
  7. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    I'm impressed with how quickly the prototype has been coming together. Well done everyone! It's just about to the point where I'd been wanting to reveal it, which suggests we're almost due for a dev diary. I think at that point it will make sense to open this forum to start talking proper milestone planning and get it in the hands of non-technical users. Thoughts?
     
  8. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

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    I largely agree. There's been the talk of the "founding a city" point, and I'm going to see if I can get the city founding popup working tonight (prior to leaving on my outdoorsy trip), since I've been making progress with popups lately.

    We should note that some things are still placeholder, e.g. the unit graphics are from the units_32.pcx, and the "selected" effect on buttons isn't working right. But considering the forum denizens have generally been around for awhile, I don't expect that to be a significant issue.
     

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