Back to Roots: Back to Business

JC (also known as Fearyourself) has posted a short update to the website of his Ultima-inspired game engine project, Back to Roots. In it, he offers a short explanation for his recent absence and charts a roadmap for what development he plans to do on the project in the coming weeks and months.

A lot of personal things needed my attention and, being the only developer, paused the project. I have now continued where I left off, which is cleaning up the code base and porting most configuration and data files to a unified XML format.

Before we used to have a flat type of file that made each entry necessary or using a integer to say how many sub-entries were coming up. With the XML format, almost everything is optional, which greatly simplifies the data file format and writing.

I’ve corrected a few bugs that creapt into the code due to my lack of testing the U4 and U5 ports after the dungeon implementation. I’m checking that each city loads correctly and that dialogues work. So most likely, there won’t be major new features in the coming weeks but a lot of cleaning and stabilising. To be honest, that is a good thing in the long term.

He hasn’t posted a video this time around, though presumably we’ll be seeing more of those from him in the future. For now, it seems he is content to work on smoothing out his configuration and data files, and on cleaning up Back to Roots to improve its stability and performance. Laudable goals all!

5 Responses

  1. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    Awesome news. I felt you were gone too. Thought you might have been turned off by the new site design or something, haha. Good to have you back.

    Cleaning and stabilizing the codebase, or housecleaning, is the one thing that will truly make you feel good about being a programmer. You absolutely know you’re improving the program, as opposed to pushing new or better features which inevitably result in more bugs, unnecessary complexities and existing stuff not being hardened.

    I think BtR is the next Nuvie or Exult; the missing link to Ultima gameplay dominance with reasonable openness.

  2. Jc says:

    Thanks. I saw the news on your project as well, looking good 🙂 I remember doing something similar for the water level in another project of mine. I like how it looks in your game though, it’s really well done in my opinion.

    And no, not afraid of the new site design at all. But I agree with you, this clean-up is necessary, I’ve found a few data files that should no longer be there, a couple of duplicates here and there. So it’s a good process. It does link my project closer to libxml but that’s ok. It’s an easy change if needed.

    As to comparing BtR to Nuvie or Exult, I wouldn’t go there. Those two projects are light years ahead of what I’m trying to do 🙂

    Thanks for the support,

  3. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    Well, you’re on my short list of people I’d prefer survive an asteroid strike and your project is excellent. All humility aside, there are valid comparisons between yours and theirs. Theirs are more polished and featured, but they’re older too so that is to be expected. Creating an engine that will more or less run Ultima data files with familiar gameplay is the main similarity. Your project is rapidly approaching that goal, and polish is a never-ending task so no biggie there.

    Thanks for the water comments. All this month was network efficiency and OpenGL improvements, neither of which was easy. Despite all the shit I talk about AAA developers and such, I will admit that making a good game (any good game), is hard as hell. You have to be committed beyond OCD levels to get it done. Props to anyone who does that for the love, adventure and promise of it.

  4. Jc says:

    Thanks again for the support. There so much to do and so little time, as for your project I assume. But I agree on your entry, it does summarize it all well and I hope one day that B2R is considered on the same level as Exult / Nuvie… We shall see 🙂