It’s been a month of bug fixing, ending polishing and secrets testing so I can’t show much, but it’s a monthly blog so here it is.
I have essentially one whiteboard worth of “critical” things to fix for platform beta. Mainly this can be divided into these categories.
Free-For-All Mode AI gets broken sometimes, I’ve seen players just sitting there with the ball on Expert difficulty. This isn’t the biggest problem on the list but I need to look into it. This is the only issue I’m worried about for the AI right now.
There are more AI “bugs” or things I want to improve, but as I’ve probably mentioned, this game gets hard so it may be “done enough”.
Hard-to-reproduce things go under this category, or things that only happen under a very specific circumstance. This is stuff like, “what happens when someone has 8 controllers plugged in”. The certification phase is bound to turn up more, so I’m keeping an eye out as I fix other bugs. This list grows slowly.
Quality of life stuff like, not updating the arena type on challenge mode on the UI, doesn’t break the game but makes the experience worse. This list often grows then shrinks, or I’ll fix things before they end up on the list at all.
There’s shop bugs, stats need to be more diligently tested, a couple of cleanup things, achievement code left to nail down, etc. Some things on this list are impacted by more Xbox pertinent fixes.
Yes, there’s pre-platform work that’s Xbox One specific. This is related to cloud saving that I’ve mentioned before. I think the best way to ensure the code is working on Xbox is to first change the way the PC version saves data to something similar. Currently, the PC version writes to the registry in Windows. This was ok when we were only talking about a few settings for matches and such. But now we’re talking about multiple season’s worth of progress, stats, and unlocks.
Sounds like a lot
So there’s a larger project here of converting the PC save/load functions over to serializing the data to a file. This is like a faster version of how the cloud works, so I can make sure as much as possible is in common with the Xbox code as the PC. Currently the Xbox code says if there’s an error, just log it and get on with life. That means you could lose your progress if there was a data issue with the network! So I want to get this done properly on PC, then create a way to simulate network issues to test on both PC and Xbox. That’s probably the largest piece outstanding and there are some things like achievements and unlock bugs that are impacted or caused by how it gets implemented.
The good news is, I aim to support cloud saving on Steam once the Xbox version is out and I update the Windows version properly, and this will mean most of that work will be done already.
There are a lot of known “issues” that boil down to: Does it bug me, the developer, enough to spend the time (delay release) to fix them? The answer is becoming “no” on a lot. Everything on the bug list pretty much is priority 1 or priority 5 now. It’s either getting done, or it’s probably not getting done. There are some things I’ve earmarked for “if it’s easy without breaking anything at the 11th hour” but that’s always a risky move. Here’s a few nice-to-haves that probably won’t make the cut:
Older builds had off-screen players drawn in bubbles to reduce “where am I?” moments. I would really like to try approaching that problem from a few different angles, but since Season Mode is 1-3 players and that’s the primary new content, stuff like this has taken a backseat.
Drop out player option on pause menu: It would be handy if someone wanted to quit mid-match, but this seems like something that won’t be useful most of the time. It might only be useful for me giving demonstrations at exhibitions, but that isn’t happening during pandemic times.
High contrast video option: This one hurts because I’m a proponent of accessibility in games. I envision this would be a checkbox on the main Options menu that would force Home team to be B&W and away team to be a middle-grey for people with trouble seeing any color at all. Getting that all in, tested and working across multiple game modes and the whole Season Mode is a bit much, so I am hoping the variety of color options already in the game means most people can find combinations they are happy with.
With only 2 months to go in 2020, getting into cert before year end is looking unlikely. But the good news is what’s left for pre-platform beta is a known quantity and I’m making progress every day.