Do it for the Earth!

by Kyzrati on 20130601 , under

The project will be going on two years soon. Wow.

Interestingly enough this is the result of a... slight deviation from the original plan. I started with the intention of making a simple, quick X-COM project--after all, the game mechanics are widely documented, and I could've made a complete clone in a year if I stuck to that plan.

But after only the first few months of development it became apparent that this could be much more epic, and therefore much more meaningful (on its own, an exact remake in ASCII has gimmicky appeal at best). So it's taken a while to get to this stage as I created a flexible engine and tested it with a long series of increasingly feature-rich demo missions. While there's still a long way to go, we now have a strong foundation to build on and the potential is evident.

And there's been a lot of fun along the way--the semi-regular blog posts have been well-received, and at least some of you have already gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the alpha demos. I know many more are waiting on the sidelines for the geoscape and sacred 1.0 release. We'll get there.

In the meantime, I'm finally opening the project to donations. Check out the new "Donate" page for more details. Tell your neighbors! Tell your parents! Tell your rich uncle! On second thought, tell people who might give a damn ;p  (Later that day...: Okay, I changed my mind for now. No donations. They were available for about a nine-hour window but fortunately (?) no one took advantage of that, so this change affects approximately 0 people. After thinking it over some more, I don't think donations will be significant enough to enable me to continue putting lots of time into development (big assumption but I don't want to take the chance), and a lack of progress would rub people the wrong way. So from here on out things might slow down a bit while I work on something that will actually be at least a little profitable for a change. But hey, though short-lived at least donations were a good reason to finally put up the associated post containing my first geoscape mockups--now back to that post...)

And because I do try to have something visual for you with every post, here's a little peek at what I've been researching lately. (Plus it was a good tie in for a post title :) Keep in mind these are MOCKUPs (and rough ones at that) thrown together with a combination of REXPaint and Photoshop. The geoscape still doesn't even exist in the source code aside from that global pointer I wrote in when I first started the project. (FYI: It is currently NULL ;) The geoscape will most likely end up looking very different from these, but hey, they were fun to make!

There's the obligatory terminal green map. While simple, it's nice that all the important dynamic stuff is easy to spot.

This one just looks neat. And besides, land is where most of the important stuff is anyway (this not being TFTD), so having it clear is helpful, too. Unless of course you want terrain details...

A colored terrain-based map is useful, though this version doesn't yet look very ASCII-ish (or X-COM-y). (Each terrain should have its own ASCII, but I did those you see manually using PS patterns, and I wasn't going to spend forever choosing ASCII and placing them properly!) Ideally the foreground (character) would have the primary color, and the background would probably be black, but since it currently only contains two different characters that version is *very* hard to read, so I tried this one out.

The geoscape isn't a near-term development goal, mind you, but it's definitely something I've been researching a lot lately because getting it right will take some time--there are a lot of issues to consider, mostly surrounding how to best store and display Earth data (everything else is trivial by comparison).

I'll start an in-depth discussion of the geoscape once the forums are up and running.

In case you haven't seen it yet, there is an ongoing discussion regarding a new name for X@COM. See the previous post, and the Bay 12 thread starting here.

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