We develop SpellShokked! using an industry-standard development system (“IDE”) that pulls together artwork (models, textures, materials, animations), audio (music, effects, voice), design (color palettes, fonts, narrative), UI, and logic (code, flow of control, shaders, network). Like most professional development systems, it gets updated on a regular (yearly) schedule. Support is guaranteed only as long as we keep current (and pay the fees, of course). With each update come changes. Some changes are small, others are big, and some are breaking with regards to backwards compatibility. Keeping current is the price you pay to get access to new technologies and support. That’s not to say we are complaining: some of the new features are really, really good: much better VR integration, better support for parallel processing (so we can take some of the workload off the main thread), support for GPU offloading (for another potential speed bump), and more advanced shaders.
SpellShokked is now in its third year of development, and we must upgrade our IDE to stay in support. We currently lag two full versions, and the newer versions not only provide some tantalizing benefits and performance boosts, it also fixes some long-standing issues that we can’t fix ourselves (some network issues come to mind).
That being said, here is a partial list of the changes involved:
With a project that exceeds 27 GB of source material, managing this is anything but trivial. We are currently exploring a migration, but the first test results were somewhat frightening: more than half of our shaders no longer compile, the visuals looked drab (thanks to HDR), previously flawless source code ran into hundreds compiler issues, and our neighbor’s cat started barking.
We continue to explore this upgrade, because there’s some nifty stuff we want to add to SpellShokked that we can’t until we are on the new IDE, so there is some great incentive for us right there. Also, we must upgrade to keep being supported, so we have little actual choice.
We expect the migration to be rolled into the August release which will remain fully playable (all levels, including network). But this will push out some other planned changes into fall. Migration itself will be complete in August, but we are currently planning to re-integrate content in phases, together with other content:
This is going to be ugly, and may not happen at all. Our current network implementation is nowhere near where we want it to be, and this may be a chance to get a much better foundation) – note that networking will remain at its current level, but not improve until we have re-sourced it.