Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m thankful for my family and friends, and of course for all the players who have supported the game through Early Access. This was a short week, development-wise due to the holiday.
What I’ve been up to in development:
Unity (the engine used for the Starcom: Nexus’s development) is a great tool, but one of its limitations is that it’s not terrific at handling branches and merges. A branch, in software development, is where you use your source control to work on a side “copy” of your project with the intent of later merging your changes in with main project. It’s a well-proven workflow method with code, but with non-code assets it has limitations. For example, Unity’s prefabs and scenes even when stored as text files are mostly illegible to humans. As such, if a branch changes an asset (and Unity sometimes changes asset data for no obvious reason), there’s really no safe way of merging it back in.
So during the period in a run-up to release, it is inefficient to work on the Unity project except to make bug fixes. If I start creating a new piece of content, I have to do it in a clone of the project so that I still have the ability to do hot fixes to the release version. Then manually port any hot fixes to the clone.
Fortunately, there are always lots of tasks outside of Unity that need doing. There’s marketing, game analytics, taxes, feature planning, non-Unity asset creation, content brainstorming, etc. One area that I often struggle making time for is keeping my skills updated. The world of game development is constantly changing and as an indie dev I need to keep my skills updated so I know how to use the tools and technologies that are currently available.
I’m taking advantage of this enforced development pause to practice with the updated version of Blender (the 3D modeling tool I use) and learn Substance Painter (a tool for texturing models).
Once the game graduates to full release in a little less than two weeks I’ll return to work on quality of life improvements and content updates for the game.