Sarcose wrote:Fixing pathfinding is an obvious answer
Yep, and luckily we were able to do that. I wish I would have found that bug months and months ago. I'd spent about 15+ hours since launch and achieved a whopping 2-3% performance in pathfinding when I stumbled across that bug. It was cleverly disguised as to give technically correct answers and have performance characteristics that didn't raise an eyebrow. What the bug did was change the shape of the decision tree into one that performed very badly in our pathfinding algorithms. Once that was fixed, it opened up many new avenues for improving pathfinding (which you' may have already seen if you download from our site - if you use Steam, hopefully tomorrow, whenever Valve releases the build).
Sarcose wrote:but I've noticed things like the game is still too hard to distinguish graphically (a stylistic choice),
We did the best with what we had. Our miniscule art budget was about enough for us to bring on art students and only a couple of professionals here and there for specifics. Believe it or not, TC, our art director, did a commendable effort with what was available. Unfortunately, many of our artists were not good at taking direction, and TC was only one person (due to budget constraints, we couldn't afford him full-time for the full duration of the project, and yes, he invested a lot of his own time into this). As one example, the carefully designed color palettes for the species were ignored and instead we ended up with a lot of browns and grays. One artist in particular gave us a whole bunch of textures before he had to go back to school and so we didn't even have the option to have him go back and fix them. Shawn spent many many months trying to recruit artists on our limited budget and profit sharing. With a few exceptions, our community efforts here weren't able to fill in the gaps.
That we used Blender to import our models restricted us further. When we started up the art development, we didn't have enough money to pass around licenses for the commercial 3D modelers to have that as our primary pipeline (but we could read in that stuff from Blender). We also don't pirate stuff (i.e., infringe on other's copyright) - I'm a stickler for making sure we have a valid license for everything - and I hope people do the same with our stuff.
That all this resembles a stylistic decision was due to TC's efforts to try to bring together the disparate techniques of our artists together under one umbrella. We initially pushed for highly stylized models instead of grit and realism, but none of those experiments worked out very well in practice. Largely, we weren't able to get the artists to match styles well enough.
The one stylistic rule that we did stick to was that I wanted the Achron universe to be scientifically plausible. Many games, including many military themed ones, are outrageously implausible and impractical in their graphics (there's a reason military vehicles don't have headlights on during battle with super glossy finishes and why continually moving parts are bad). Perhaps the style suffered a little because of that rule; if it did, I'll take the blame for that. As someone trained to be a researcher, I feel it's a moral obligation to have movies and games get the science at least mostly right to increase public awareness and knowledge of science instead of further cementing widely held fallacies.
Further, yours truly created many of the terrain textures (and for all of my textures, I either took the picture myself, wrote a program to generate the texture, or used hand techniques to create them from scratch). TC did over half of them, but we edited some of them back and forth. We weren't able to find a terrain artist.
Sarcose wrote:the UI has wasted space
Our UI has come a long way, but our UI designer was planning one last revamp before he didn't have time to contribute anymore.
Sarcose wrote:even that the game balance and unit design is lacking
I agree that the visuals that relate what a unit can do to the player could be improved significantly, but what specifically about the balance?
Sarcose wrote:Do you have any drastic gameplay changes, rather than mere tweaks, on the backburner?
We have a list of well into the hundreds long of things that we'd want to put into Achron. How many of them get implemented is a function of two things: how well Achron does and, if it does well enough, what fits better in a patch to Achron and what fits better in an expansion pack or sequel (because it'd change the game so much)?
Sarcose wrote:Are the graphics still on the table?
Sure, but as of right now we don't have the funding to redo them. Yes, we're earning revenue on the sales, but the way our profit sharing is set up in the company (basically the contributors helped fund it by investing their own effort into it), a lot of that needs to pay for the development. If there's a rich benefactor or team of artists with a lot of free time out there that wants to help, we'd be open to it.
None of the main criticisms of Achron were surprises to us. What was a surprise to us was just how unforgiving most
of the reviewers were in light of the core game, and how little time many of them spent with multiplayer. We knew that some reviewers would take issue with those things, and we expected a wide range of scores. We were surprised at the difference between our samples of how many people (including many reviewers, for example http://kotaku.com/5820164/a-game-called ... ime-travel
) were willing to overlook the things that we didn't have the resources to do on-par with games that have double-digit million-dollar budgets and those that were not. We knew there was selection bias going on there, but it was more than we anticipated.
We sort of had to release Achron now due to a combination of budget and commitment reasons. And we had to release it at the price we did because of other commitments as well.
Do we wish we could have made it better? Of course! (If a game developer doesn't answer yes to that on a game they've shipped, that means their budget and resources far exceeded the game.) But we're proud of what we've created, especially under the financial and technological constraints we had. We think it's a lot of fun to play.