What's going on? Wheres the updates?
Sorry I haven't been able to post any updates in quite a while. As I've mentioned briefly before on the forums previously I've been a little busy with some personal issues and with real life stuff and thank you to those that reached out by email.
So I thought I should give a little context to what’s going on. Making a game by yourself is a huge task and it's very difficult to do every part well and Sky Nations has certainly suffered from that. Especially with those I have no previous experience in. Some of you may know that Sky Nations is the first game I've created and I did so on my own. When I first started working on it the great tools and engines like Unity and Unreal didn’t exist in the widely used form they do now. So much of it is written from scratch, with that came a bunch learning new skills, a bunch of mistakes and a bunch learning from those mistakes.
I originally had thought and hoped with a lot of work Sky Nations could sustain itself financially. So I worked on it as hard as I could through about first year and a half of its life without breaks, holidays or really weekends. This wasn’t quite all doom and gloom as we had some really fun events with players and a bunch of you may of seen me in-game while I was testing things and we had some great conversations and battles. Unfortunately the game sustaining itself financially wasn't the case. I made some mistakes as the developer, the game wasn’t as appealing or fun as I had hoped and there was also a landfall of great indie games to compete with making it very hard to make a dent in the market. So it had to be relegated to being worked on in my spare time and almost all my free time is where any of the updates came from after that. For the most part this kept up the updates pretty regularly with my goal being about every 3 weeks.
Unfortunately in 2017 I just haven't been able to get anything done and the updates dropped off completely and I sincerely apologise for this. Really this is my fault and a combination between a lot of stuff happening in my life and burnout from basically spending 2-3 years working on something constantly without a real break and really no chance of the small success for a game I had poured my heart and so many hours into.
Making it Free and the Source Code Available
So what does that mean for Sky Nations now? While I haven't got much done recently I have been thinking a lot about what is the best thing to do for the game. Unfortunately I can't work on it any more but I've had a few emails asking about access to the source code specifically for individuals that are interested in adding or fixing issues or implementing mechanics. With a lot of cleanup to the project files I think making all the source code and assets(models, textures and such) available on Github or a similar service to everyone to make changes to is a great idea and currently that’s my plan. There's obviously a lot of suggestions and ideas on the forums people would like to make. Some fit with what I would've liked to have done and some are completely different and great in there own way. With the source code and C# knowledge people interested in those things can implement anything they like or use parts of the code as a learning platform to build similar projects. The code isn’t pretty as it represents a few years of learning rendering, sound, physics and C# so there is certainly some very messy implementations and problematic code, but it is viable to add more things for those that are interested in digging deep into it.
The second thing it means is that I’m going to make the game free. There’s no point having an open code base if you have to pay to play it and I want to make sure everyone can carry on playing the game if they’d like to. This does mean I’m going to have to make some changes to the game first, so that you can play without the game requiring any kind of external account service to identify you for game servers like it does currently. However it does still need a way for you and only you to be able to be identified to a game server for your given in-game character. To that end the current plan is for when players join a specific game server for the first time it asks them what username they’d like and also a password. This is unique to only the game server you’re connecting to and there’s no backend required. This means regardless of if the Sky Nations website is up or not you can login to a game server hosted by yourself or anyone else and it also means servers compiled from the source code can do the same.
The source code and changes to make the game free won’t happen immediately. I still have to fit time into both cleaning up the project files and dependencies so anyone can compile it straight from the repository, which is a very large task and the changes I mentioned above to the core game.
The community server isn’t hosted by me, it’s very kindly hosted by a player named FaceWound. I spoke to him about a month ago and he said he is happy to keep hosting the server. Just as a backup though I’ll upload a server backup available for anyone to download so people's creations aren’t lost or if you’d like to start a server from those files. I’m going to be uploading a recent backup from this shortly.