|Current Status||Private||Alpha||Closed Beta||Open Beta||Version 1|
Apparance is long term project and there's lots to do, but an actual release is long overdue. Initially there will be a small Alpha release to a few friends, then a Beta release to a wider audience, before a full public Beta release of the tools for evaluation.
Development will be ongoing, guided by feedback and the grand plan, until at some time in the future a game has been built and released with it. At this point I will be happy to label it Version 1 and come out of Beta.
The approximate timeline goes like this:
- February - Alpha release to a few friends for some initial impressions and assessment of fundamental premises. Question to answer: Is this boat going to float?
- March - Closed Beta release to anyone I know personally who would be interested in looking at the project. Aim to get feedback on everything from tool UI to documentation. Question to answer: Is this boat going to carry people?
- April - Open Beta release to anyone who will listen. Really want to see what people think, and open discussions for projects and collaborations around the system. Question to answer: Is this boat something people want to race around in?
The further these dates can be brought forward, the better.
The initial release is going to be quite small. I want to let a few of my more technically minded friends get the first proper look at the tools and engine. The plan is as follows:
|Release||Alpha (invite only)|
|Schedule||1st February 2017|
|Audience||Small. Trusted friends.|
- Alpha -
- 0.7 - Initial release notes for the Apparance Alpha
- 0.7.1 - Win 7 test release notes for the Apparance Alpha (Windows 7 testing)
The second release will be a bit later. I want people I know to have a good look round, open it up to more technical people, start discussion project future. At this point I need to start thinking about project direction, including pitching a game, and collaboration and funding.
|Release||Closed Beta (invite only)|
|Schedule||1st March 2017|
|Audience||Medium. Any friends and ex-collegues. Acquaintences who've expressed interest in procedural techniques.|
- Alpha+Beta -
- 0.8 - Initial release notes for the Apparance (closed) Beta
The final beta stage will be the public release, open to anyone. This is likely to be the holding pattern for some time as the technology is matured to the point of fully supporting the first game release.
|Audience||Large. Any interested party.|
- 0.9 - Initial release notes for the Apparance Beta (public)
Available via the itch.io Apparance page.
A hugely important part of the project and probably about half the effort so far has been in developing the tools and engine editing support. Built from the start with the goal to enable the Apparance philosophies of interaction, immediacy, flexibility, and exploration, the tools remain a focus of development effort.
The editor is the place you will start, the place you will spend your time, and the place you will create your worlds. A lot has been done to ensure a smooth experience, that doesn't hinder building, but there is still a huge wish list and collection of ideas to improve it further.
Every development release will include the editor to allow anyone to fully explore the procedures that make up all the demo projects. The best way to learn and understand Apparance (or indeed anything) is to play with it, to view examples, tweak parameters, and try stuff out.
Check out the documentation available on the manual page for details, or take a look through Apparance blog posts about editing.
This site can be considered a release too, especially as it was build procedurally using the very same systems as the demo and game related content. I blogged about it here:
Pictures of examples and a video of the interactive editing in action can be found in the Apparance gallery.
- Since launch -
As a new technology, it is crucial to have show-cases for Apparance that demonstrate it's range, power, and features. Not in a position to build fully fledged games yet, this needs to be in the form of visual examples. The primary focus in the few months running up to the Alpha has been to build such a demo, something for people to fly around, explore, and learn about the characteristics of the engine.
Brief: A sprawling future metropolis, covering 100 square kilometres. A mixture of buiness, industry, and space-travel interspersed with a variety of residential and leisure areas. Showing off the size and detail obtainable using Apparance. Multi-layered procedural algorithms build a unique, richly detailed city from its starting seed.
Visit the Future City section of the Apparance gallery to see how the demo is progressing.
Or visit the Apparance development blog for many entries featuring the Future City demo:
- The Demo Plan
- Future City: Update 1 - Divide And Conquer
- Future City: Update 2 - Get Yourself Connected
- Future City: Update 3 - Blocks & Detail
- Future City: Update 4 - Down To Business
- Future City: Update 5 - The Fencepost Problem
- Future City: Update 6 - A Balancing Act
- Future City: Update 7 - Building a Better Skyscraper
- Future City: Update 8 - A Mixed Bag
- Future City: Update 9 - Apartment Construction
- Future City: Update 10 - Progress Gallery
- Future City: Update 11 - Block Interfacing
The primary goal for Apparance is to provide a powerful new way to make games. At the moment there are two game concepts I want to build to prove out the technology further. One based around the Future City demo assets (it would be wasteful not to take advantage of all the effort put into it), and the second a more ambitious sci-fi prospecting game.
Brief: The first game will be set in the environment created for Future City. It is likely to be an exploration game, with goals around finding objects around the city. I want to include vehicles, to help cover the large area, but they also enable pushing the technology towards detailed, intricate, interactive objects.
Brief: The second game will be planet surface based science-fiction game. An opportunity to flesh out the full texturing, height-field, and 'data-scape' plans and driving the landscape and biome generation ambitions for Apparance. Again an element of exploration, and vehicles, will be involved, but also prospecting, industrial mining complex construction and operation. Lots of automation, robotics, and machines to bring the place alive.
Last November I took part in the Guildford Game Jam for 2016, deciding to take Apparance for a spin to see what I could make in a weekend. I joined the crowd at the Rocket Desk offices in Guildford for game-dev (and pizza) around the jams theme of 'Two Choices'. It was fairly intense, but the company and camaraderie was great and I managed to come away with a small game demo based on some earlier procedural dungeon prototyping.
I managed to build in a puzzle element to the dungeon maze, using a series of procedurally generated glyphs to give clues to a final do/die decision. Apart from not managing to get any collision/physics in I was pleased with the result. As it was also Proc Jam weekend I sneakily entered it in that as well.
You can download it from the Apparance itch.io page.
I also blogged about my Game-jam experience on the Apparance blog:
- Since release -