Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ADOM 2.3.5 released as Steam beta!

Hi everyone!

Finally. Finally. Finally. We are getting back to full speed :-)

Team ADOM is very proud to announce the release ADOM 2.3.5 as a Steam Beta to the general public. Effectively this means that - if you have bought Steam on ADOM - you now can play ADOM 2.3.5 as beta version. The process to access the ADOM 2.3.5 beta is described here: http://www.ancientdomainsofmystery.com/p/adom-beta-steam.html


The general public release (which will be ADOM 2.3.6) hopefully will follow very soon - we just want to get feedback on stability, first impressions, etc. for a couple of days before it will be launched.

Note that ADOM 2.3.5 still is a beta version - there might be bugs, crashes, etc. that we didn't discover in our tests. So be prepared for a little bumpiness - experience has taught us that general public releases are very different from prerelease test releases, which in turn yield a very different experience to our local tests.

ADOM 2.3.5 is the culmination of more than a year of development (one year and one day today - our last release was ADOM 2.2.6 on October, 16th, 2016). We are still very sorry for the long break but it's mostly my fault as I severely broke my hand in December last year and it took a very long time to recover.

But the good news is that we now are up to full speed and will be much faster due to being full recovered and having our GIT infrastructure well up and running. While ADOM 2.3.5 has just been released, we already are working on
  • ADOM 2.3.6 - which will bring tons of additional UI/UX enhancements as now finally have installed a real UI/UX lab and are doing supervised playtesting with new ADOM players (from all kinds of folks - ranging from people who never before have played a computer game to people who have logged thousands of hours into casual games, 3D games and/or indie games). The results so far are humbling - and extremely helpful. You can follow the progress in our special UI/UX milestone.
  • ADOM 2.4.0 - which will finish providing all remaining crowdfunding promises and is well on track. We hope to finish ADOM 2.4.0 by end of October.
Both versions have have been - together with ADOM 2.3.5 - under parallel development and this is working very nicely for us.

What can you expect in the Steam Beta of ADOM 2.3.5?

Tons of changes and new stuff. You can read the full change log here (and you need to read all changes from ADOM 2.3.0 up to ADOM 2.3.5). Thus I'd like to highlight a few of the more exciting changes:
  • We have completely redesigned the graphical HUD - it's much more beautiful, functional and elegant now.
  • There has been lots of graphical fine-tuning. Especially noticeable will be that many monsters now are animated (and we are working on the remaining monsters and the PC as you read this).
  • We have worked a lot on being able to play by mouse and general making better use of graphical assets. This should be a lot more convenient now. Additions include much better context-sensitive menus, smart tooltips (which no longer require you to enter look mode in the graphical game), smarter click interactions, variable mouse cursors indicating the next left-click-action, speech bubbles, a dialog system, a menu when pressing the ESC key, graphical quick hints to better introduce you to key commands, many tweaks to the UI (the inventory e.g. works much more conveniently now), many more screens now are graphical, etc. pp.
  • A new "easy" game mode has been added that should make it much more fun for new players to get introduced to ADOM (and you won't be missing any content in easy mode - the game is just somewhat nicer to you).
  • Point-based character generation now should be a lot of fun and offers many more options!
  • The long-awaited Rolf quest and the volcano quest (crowdfunding promises) now are in the game.
  • 117 new items and 22 new monsters have been added.
  • New immunities, resistances, item abilities (e.g. levitation) and a whole new category of items (rechargeable items) have been added.
  • Quests now have a much more elaborate and detailed status screen.
  • The configuration settings now have a menu system that makes it much easier to configure many aspects of ADOM.
  • You now can configure if you want to use talents as all, if they should be preselected by ADOM or if you want to manually select them. Additionally you can configure "your luck" during the game (e.g. cause ADOM to slightly fudge die rolls in your favor).
  • Missile stacking/reloading has been greatly simplified. Additionally picking/dropping stuff has been completely revamped and now is much more powerful.
And that's just some of the highlights :-)




What about the prerelease testers?

Jochen currently is building all the binaries for our prerelease testers, too. Sadly this is a much more involved process than deploying to Steam (especially as it takes a long while to upload all the binaries). Expect the prerelease binaries to be available at some point this afternoon (German time) - i n about 5-7 hours at most. You will then be able to download ADOM 2.3.5 as a prerelease test version from the usual location.

What's up next?

The next major milestone for us is the release of a stable ADOM version in the very near future - which probably will coincide with a general public release for everyone (or be close nearby - we really need to do some more testing on the non-Deluxe version which we haven't started in over 12 months and will probably have some broken parts due to the vast amount of changes... but it should follow on the heels of the general Steam release).

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The ADOM front: Steam, UI/UX & more

Hi folks!

Just a quick update regarding our current work:

  • We'll be on Steam with a beta very soon now - one more bug/new feature to get right (custom mouse cursors for much better left-click interactions) and then we'll be there.
  • We have been spending a lot more time on examining the user experience for new ADOM players. And it's without doubt still horrible (although much better than 12 months ago). I sadly have come to realize that we have been making a mistake (as hard as it sounds) by mostly discussing UI/UX within the existing community. The existing community mostly consists of too many roguelike/ADOM experts who just fail to see (like me) what barriers these games pose to general players. 
  • As a result we have started doing supervised tests with new players of varying experience in a UI/UX lab setting and the results have been staggering: ADOM presents incredible barriers to get into the game (still, despite hundreds of UI issues we already worked on). But the good news is that we believe we now finally are learning the important UI/UX issues (maybe a bit late, but whatever) and will be able to work on them without ruining the game for existing players. Our UI/UX milestone in the ticket database lists our findings and while this stuff won't make it into the next Steam release I really hope that we will be able to include most of it into the release after that: http://www.adom.de/forums/projectmilestone.php?do=issuelist&milestoneid=8&filter=active
So our priorities right now are:
  1. Releasing on Steam.
  2. Improving UI/UX.
  3. Finishing the crowdfunding promises (which we hope to do this month!).
  4. Getting ready for the Roguelike Celebration (meet me there) and big announcements.
Stay tuned for updates!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Announcing the (graphical) prerelease of ADOM 2.3.4

Hi everyone!

Today marks another important milestone to getting ADOM back on track and rolling after this rather bumpy year: We just released ADOM 2.3.4 to our prerelease testers. This release contains the full graphical glory of ADOM Deluxe. Now you will be able to try out tons of amazing features accumulated over more than nine months in our graphical user interface:
  • a new HUD
  • better typography
  • (mostly) animated monsters
  • better tooltips & dialogs,
  • refined icons and graphics in general,
  • many new music & sound effects,
  • a huge amount of usability enhancements in order to simplify playing ADOM by mouse (really important for the Steam release),
  • and more: read the changelog for the full details (and note that many of the changes listed  between 2.3.0 and 2.3.4 will finally be visible in the graphical release - especially in the 2.3.0 release notes)
ADOM 2.3.4 still is somewhat rough around the edges and a couple of features are still under development (e.g. the personalized and animated PC sprites). We also expect it to be buggy (comparably to the ADOM 2.3.0 ASCII release). So expect to meet some rough spots - but we strongly believe that it is one of the best releases ever.

We now need your support in quickly stabilizing the graphical release in the same amazing way you so far worked on making the ASCII version much better as we now want to do the Steam release as soon as possible to then turn over to much smaller and more regular releases.

As usual the prerelease can be downloaded from the usual location.

What's up next?

Starting today I will be working on the remaining crowdfunding promises. I finally have updated the project flowchart for the current state:

From the flowchart you can see that most of the remaining tasks are now the part that is the biggest fun to me: adding content.

There are still a lot of levels, items & artifacts to be designed and that's the part of ADOM I always enjoyed the most. Immediately after this release we will use a two-pronged approach to continue:
  • I will immediately start adding content (maps, monsters, items, artifacts, quests) from a big pool of notes that has been lying for far too long. 
  • The rest of Team ADOM will continue working on stabilizing the current version in order to get both to Steam and to a general public release.
Once we have the next Steam & public release (which will be in October... hopefully sooner than later) we will change our development process to much smaller and more agile releases in much more regular intervals.

And then we'll have some more news at the Roguelike Celebration in San Francisco.