Saturday, 11th May, 2019

The Past, Present, and Future

Hi everyone

I wanted to put a news post out to explain a whole bunch of things about this game, how it started, where it is now, and where it is going. I feel like I owe that to the 1,300+ of you who have signed up. In order for me to tell you the story of where we are and where we are going, I need to first tell you how the game started, as it goes a long way to explaining the position we are currently in.

How it all started

A year ago I had a job of technical responsibility, and I needed to "fall in love" with programming again. So I started building something fun, without any of the constraints of commercial or enterprise development. So I started building this game, with no intention of ever putting it live. Enthused by rapidly whipping features together I showed it to a few friends. Those friends really enjoyed the game, and the reward I got from building something which I could see people enjoying convinced me to package it up and ship it out. So I did.

As people started signing up, and we went into partnership with Novogamer, we paid for advertising for a short while, and people signed up, the game thrived. Happy days. The players wanted more features, and I happily obliged, throwing more and more features on top of the game. Since then we've had periods of immense activity, and periods of complete death. That's fine, the game has been live since the 25th of August.

This is not a commercial venture, and I doubt it ever will be. For a whole host of reasons.

Then it died, but how

Well, as developing and supporting this game is not my primary occupation, it has to fit in around my regular life. It doesn't take a genius to find out who I am and know that I am a professional programmer / systems engineer / architect, and I also have a young son. So if my real life is busy, this does take a back seat. Nothing wrong with that, providing for my family will always have to come first, obviously.

What this has meant is that there have been some bugs which have gone unanswered, or UX improvements which could (and should) have been made, which I haven't. Outside of work, overtime and commuting, I've just not had time. If you scroll through the news posts you will notice that I actually enlisted the help of some friends to help make up for the deficit of time I had, unfortunately they've also been busy, and consequently unable to help.

What's changed?

I now have a job closer to home, and a better work-life balance. I have every intention of improving the game, adding new features, and so on.

So, where do we go from here?

You remember at the beginning of this article how I said it was never meant to go live? What that means is a bunch of things which I should have put in place, I didn't. For the technically minded amongst you these are things like Containerisation, Continuous Integration and Deployment, automated testing, things to manage scale (some of you will remember us hitting scale issues a couple of times over the last 9 months).

Additionally, there's no real support system in place to check things, and all administrative functions (like bans and such) have only been put in as and when there was a requirement for them.

Putting all those things in now would be quite hard work, think about the man who built his house upon the sand.

Alright, you've teased it, what is the plan?

I need to do a bit of an analysis, but those things will be implemented; the only reason is that it will make safely adding new features much easier. Either I will port the functionality, a block at a time, into a new code base, and make sure every element conforms to everything I need it to. Or I will work through the existing code base, and implement those features.

What that is then going to mean is the next major piece of work, which is around making the game ready to be an app and delivered across lots of platforms like iOS and Android and perhaps Facebook etc. will become much, much easier.

This work will take some time.

But, once that time is done, we'll be able to really focus on improving existing functionality and user interface, implementing new features, and a whole ream of other work that I would love to do on this.

So, my friends, that is the plan. You might not see anything for a little while but it is happening. I will try to find a decent and safe way to automatically share progress and updates with you about it.


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