I started Bitphoria in April of 2014, focusing solely on how the world was generated, represented, rendered, etc.. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted the engine to be capable of, and I feel I have achieved that.
Yesterday I finally reached the 20k lines of actual code that I predicted Bitphoria would have by its release date. The scripting manual for making games out of Bitphoria is complete. I'll be uploading the game tonight for release. It's a public beta version that has all of the features I wanted but are not fully polished and probably have some bugs. The goal is to see what kind of feedback comes from releasing it in the state it is in. I haven't been actively promoting Bitphoria very much at all, and figure that if it's any good it will sell itself by spreading via word of mouth. People will post screenshots, youtubes, start making games, playing against eachother online, etc..
Only time will tell.
|Bitphoria's source code folder, comprised of 20k actual lines of code.|
Tomorrow I will be sharing its release on Reddit and other various online communities, so we'll see what sort of response develops. This blog itself has just been a place for me to share my thoughts, and it does get a few dozen hits a day now, but nothing I would consider a great internet success, not by a long shot. I hope some people have found enjoyment and value in my blog, and perhaps if more people knew about it there would be more people that did find value in it.
Bitphoria's future is in the hands of the people after today. Once it's out there I'll probably stop working on it altogether unless it starts developing some kind of following or fanbase and I begin receiving feedback. At this point, it will serve as a great portfolio piece that demonstrates how well-rehearsed I am with all aspects of game development, from graphics programming, to networking programming, procedural techniques, and everything else in-between. This is just what I could do by myself in a limited amount of time, and I could do a lot, because I always dreamed to.
Bitphoria avoids issues like asset management and art pipelines, because I didn't plan on having artists, I planned on the players being the artists, almost in the same way that Quake and Half-Life were made popular by Team Fortress and Counter-Strike respectively. It wasn't the base game that made the game famous so much as it was the creativity of the masses. I'm counting on this, somewhat, with Bitphoria, and the fact that people like to make stuff. Bitphoria is meant to serve as a platform for people to create and share their creations, by abstracting things in a highly simple fashion that is easily accessible through a simple script-based construct.
|Bitphoria's initialization function.|
My goal was to have three separate games for players to play that were somewhat fleshed out. I will probably flesh them out in time, but I spent more time in the engine code than I had thought I would, so this first release will only really feature the deathmatch game, and the two barely-started CTF and instakill games that are far from complete. Fortunately every functionality of the scripting system is utilized by these games, for I had to test each one while developing it, so they appear somewhere in at least one of the three games' scripts. Hopefully this, in combination with the scripting manual I toiled to produce, will allow someone to start making something more inspired than the default games. The capabilities required to make a great game is there, that's a promise.
The master server will be running once I upload and link the release. I haven't fully tested it yet, so if you're one of the first people to download and playtest with a friend, please let me know if you encounter any issues immediately, so I can rectify them as quickly as possible and get something that people can fully dive into without having to worry about being able to connect with other players.
This is going to be a sort of Wild-West time if Bitphoria picks up and people start taking interest. There will probably be bugs and simple tricks to take advantage of the game, perhaps malicious server-crashing bugs, etc. that will be discovered and exploited. If these are found I will solve them just like everything else throughout the game's development, and they will only be found if people are actively trying to enjoy it. If people want more from Bitphoria, I will work to provide it, and it will be a process but we can get it there. I've been developing Bitphoria in a virtual vacuum, without much outside influence or suggestion, aside from the few comments coming from my long-time friend Paul Hindt. Other than that, this is the first time Bitphoria will see the light of day. This is going to be the worst Bitphoria release yet, and better ones are to come if enough people are interested.
If the game is DOA and nobody takes interest, I will eventually release the engine's source code as well, because I feel it is important for people to have resources to gain inspiration, insight, and ideas from. I took a lot of inspiration from the Quake engine, and the original Cube engine, insofar as some of the conventions for game logic are concerned.
Following in the same vein, Linux and MacOS ports will not be hard to produce being that the game runs almost entirely ontop of SDL2, but I don't plan on doing the necessary steps to releasing ports unless a demand arises. The only platform-specific code involved in the engine, as a matter of fact, is the code that lists all of the games in the games folder. There is no platform-independent method for listing the files in a directory so I wrote a simple command-line that performs a 'dir' command and dumps the result into a temp file that is loaded and the names of the game files are then extracted from. Other than that everything is occurring through SDL, so it shouldn't take very much time to compile ports.
All-in-all this release could have happened sooner, but I didn't want to have an Alpha release that lacked many features from the final product. At least at this point they are present and accounted for. There are maybe two or three little things I'd still like to add in, but at this point the project needs to get into the hands of the public so we can see what happens with it and where it should go next, if it is something that's bound to go anywhere at all.
Ultimately, if Bitphoria becomes somewhat popular, I will be pushing for actually selling it. To mitigate piracy I will be selling online player accounts, following the Minecraft model, which will integrate with the master server and be required in order to play on servers that are listed on the master server. That's down the road, but is solidly the plan if, again, people show interest.