It's Beta Time!

This week marks the end of production as we push on to alpha/beta stage. Only minor assets are being loaded in when needed to fix bugs, and the majority of the work for the rest of this month is testing, testing and testing. The only new things being developed now are the game manuals and box art, as well as finishing touches on the websites.

The museum environment got a much deserved facelift with a new lighting setup, making it easier to see and to cast shadows with the characters. The lighting is now baked in to the geometry, allowing the dynamic lights to be focused on characters so they now have shadows as they wander through the museum floors. The Sovereign has been seated on her throne and is being rigged for animations. She currently provides commentary on the match, commending or berating her Drifters on their performance against each other. Other sound additions include the announcement of the selected Drifter's name on the player select screen, more random comments from the NPCs as they stop at various exhibits, and the Drifters have more sounds including taunts, victory comments, and attack sounds.

The Drifter Vision no longer snaps from glowing character to Drifter form, rather a new light burst transition activates to reveal the Drifter form, letting players know they're now visible as a Drifter. While attacking, there's better response time, so a missed strike no longer makes you as vulnerable to your target. To better assist the player in learning to make better use of Drifter Vision and attacking, the video tutorial which was in progress is being updated with the latest assets and controls.

On the technical side, DevTrack is being used to track the bugs that come up during playtesting. As a bug is identified, a log is created by the player that tells when it occurred, under what conditions, and what the steps are to reproduce it. The bug is assigned a category, and then the QA lead reviews the report, determines who should handle the bug, and assigns it to a team member to work on it. The team is also busy testing on multiple machine setups, including 3 versions of Windows (XP, Vista and 7 beta), various video card configurations, and multiple processor speeds. The goal is to optimize it so the game can run on virtually any current generation machine capable of playing games like Half-Life2.

These next two weeks, Cohort 5 will be conducting interviews with many companies within the video game, simulation and digital media industries. With so many interviews and companies to coordinate among the 49 students, the teams will not be holding their weekly status reports. The final game presentations will take place on July 30th and that will most likely be the final development blog post for Drifters, since we'll be done!  Keep an eye out for final announcements!