Hi everyone! This is going to be my "end of the year" posting where I'd like to reflect on the past twelve months and ponder the planned activities (relating to ADOM) for 2014, so this is going to be a bit longish. It's also the final time to remind everyone that the last minutes of the "Roguelike of the Year 2013" competition are running and you can do us (Team ADOM) a favor by voting for ADOM at http://roguelikedeveloper.blogspot.fr/2013/12/request-for-votes-ascii-dreams.html (which has problems with mobile browsers - use desktop mode please). And please note that the competition has been reset - so if you already voted, please vote again!
2013 in review:
I don't want to go into details once more but let's just say that I could have done without this year and will try to forget it as soon as possible.
On a professional level the personal experiences of 2013 sadly took their toll - I worked much less on ADOM than I had planned… simply due to lack of time and energy. Luckily I am blessed with some of the greatest collaborators imaginable helping out to resurrect ADOM - my valiant buddies from Team ADOM who worked all year to produce amazing enhancements to the game and thus I once more should refer to my Christmas greetings which give them some credit.
All in all ADOM has moved forward greatly in 2013 with some of the major new enhancements being:
- the support for sound and graphics with tons of amazing tiles created by Krys, loads of compositions by Lucas and an awesome graphical interface made possible by Zenos NotEye and his and Jochens work integrating it into ADOM. This really turns ADOM into a different kind of game and the plans we have in the drawer for 2014 hopefully will breath eternal life into ADOM. By now I am firmly convinced that we have the most beautiful tile set of all rogue likes out there and the sound support also is shaping at in an amazing way (here's once more the link to the latest Mad Minstrel song).
- tons of bugs fixes, balancing modifications and new features (among them duelists as a profession; other professions were already added at the end of 2012).
- the ADOM Lite RPG is getting finished. Final proofreading has started and I expect to refresh mail addresses for everyone in the next couple of weeks.
- the implementation of network code, new highscore formats, achievements and other things. Most of this is not yet visible to you but the effort required was highly important to move towards a Steam release in 2014 (see below).
- huge enhancement to ADOM usability, especially while playing with graphical tiles (mini map, health bars, etc. pp.)
- lots of stuff from ADOM Sage got integrated into the game
- we had several public releases to allow everyone to see the progress and give us feedback
- we implemented the prerelease access program if you want to take part in closed beta testing
Now it's getting interesting: We have huge plans for 2014 and barring any new major catastrophes striking I have very high hopes for what we are going to achieve. By the end of 2014 we are going to review my statements below and then we'll see ;-) So what are the major points for 2014?
- We will provide licensing rules for using ADOM images and sounds in fan created material (sorry for not yet responding, those waiting know who they are). Legal things never are trivial but I believe that we by now have a very simple and useful ruleset in mind. I'll post something soon.
- The promises from the crowd funding campaign are going to be fully fulfilled. This entails a number of things detailed below.
- The ADOM Lite RPG should ship in the first quarter of 2014. I will get back to everyone eligible regarding mailing addresses, so don't fear. Proofreading is going on right now and the next step will be to handle packaging, shipping, etc. Here's another preview of some revised pages:
- The ADOM RPG boxes will be sent out in the first half of 2014. I need to write one more supplement for that and then only the physical work (components, putting everything together, shipping) is left to be done.
- Right away starting with the 1st of January I'm getting back into coding new features in ADOM. The most awaited additions probably are new quests and maps and I have laid out a master plan for the five new quests, the Rolf quest, the volcano quest, the extra special new boss monster with a special new map, 2 new artifacts, 4 new minion monsters for said boss and 16 new items that only will be recoverable on said special level, the immortalization of the mega-legend donors, 6 mini map quests, the ultimate nihilist ending and more. This really should be a lot of fun to do :-)
- Many half-done things need to be finished (artifacts from donors, statues, etc.).
- Steam integration (yes, another crowd funding promise, but it deserves special mentioning). This is a major step for us and now we need to get things moving to get ADOM green lighted on Steam. As TOME managed to do so I'm also pretty optimistic for ADOM. We'll look into other gaming platforms, too, as originally announced.
- This website finally will get a graphical update. We also need to move it in a direction that mirrors both ADOM and ADOM II.
- The old ADOM website will get a relaunch in order to mirror the future directions we are going to take.
- ADOM II will have to remain on the back burner (as much I would love to work on it right away) until the ADOM promises are fulfilled.
We have brainstormed many ideas internally where to take ADOM and besides adding details and stuff to the game we feel that we can quite a lot of value and fun to ADOM by adding community and networking features. Jochen and I particularly have been brainstorming many ideas, among them
- shared highscores
- variant highscores (according to game and play modes)
- weekly or daily high scores
- in game chat and information exchange
- shared achievement lists (another detail from the crowd funding campaign)
- a kind of event stream with events being created by players around the world
All in all the major difference between the free standard ADOM and the commercial ADOM Deluxe probably will be networking features, community features and add-on packages. Details still have to be decided and we will start to experiment with these things in 2014.
Accessibility for new players:
This really is concerning me. I want ADOM to appeal to more players. IMHO the new graphical mode is a big step forward in this but ADOM needs more. A simplified game start, an in-game tutorial, a hint system for newbies, simpler quests, more in game information in order to reduce the need for spoilers and so on.
Ugh, yeah, the money thing. People probably will be frothing again (well, a few). Let's keep it simple first: ADOM always will be free. But there will be a commercial variant. Why? Because we all need to eat and live. And by "we" I primarily mean my compatriots from Team ADOM and only secondarily myself. The guys from team ADOM (Jochen, Krys, Lucas, Zeno) are spending lots of time on ADOM - free time that is. They all need to earn money to live and I would like to try to fulfill a dream: founding a kind of ADOM studio in which I can pay everyone in Team ADOM their deserved money for their work and which would allow us to continue creating loads of new features for ADOM for a very long time. I believe that Team ADOM by now has proven that we are able, willing and capable to move ADOM forward in many directions and as far as I am concerned ADOM once more has the opportunity to be the very best roguelike out there. Naturally a lot still can be done and we have lots of ideas in mind including
- many enhancements to the graphical mode by Krys (for mass appeal), among the features being discussed beautiful menus and interfaces for the various screens, customized and personalized PC avatars, more customized map sets, a lot more animations for monsters, spells and other effects, beautifully hand-drawn images for special locations, enhanced information displays, etc
- lots more sound from Lucas, among them special sounds for all kinds of in-game events (dripping water, traps, other noises), voice overs for the texts in the game and the monster speech and many more compositions for various locations, quests and events
- the above-mentioned networking and community stuff together with Jochen
- even tighter integration with NotEye by Zeno, maybe more attention for other graphical modes (more 3D anyone ;-) ?), a lot more enhancements to the usability and playability of the game, etc.
- tons of new content (quests, quests, quests, more races, advanced classes, moddability for certain aspects of the game, etc.) And naturally I also want to work on adding new features, maps, quests, items, monsters, story lines, etc. to ADOM. The code has seen quite a bit of cleanup and although many parts still are pretty frightening by now I see a path where ADOMs live can continue for a very long time.
All this requires time and thus in the end money. Less money means less progress. Basically I see two venues for the monetization of ADOM:
- The development speed of the free version can be influenced by donations (I'll set up something new for this at the beginning of the year) and maybe by another crowd funding campaign (but that's far away - we have enough to do with the first one ;-) ).
- The Deluxe version will be affected by commercial feedback. We will try to sell it through Steam and other gaming platforms and at some point there probably also will be mobile versions for tablets (but Steam first). All those will cost money in some way. And they probably will come with in app purchases of various kinds (but take great care to divide highscore results between purists and more commercial gamers).
Opinions are varied about this as I know but in the end to make ADOM a very long lasting success story there probably is no way around some of these issues. And I also don't see anything inherently bad in them. As I said: ADOM always will remain free but the Deluxe version might add features for very distinct tastes (and focus on graphical and networking features).
Hopefully we will manage to address all interests in the community and as usual I am very interested in getting feedback on all the things mentioned above. Community feedback always has been of prime importance to shape ADOM and its Fate and this won't change. So please report bugs and enhancements, join us in the forums, follow me on Twitter (personally and for ADOM updates) and Facebook and comment these blog posts!
In summary we now are going to focus on finishing all the crowd funding promises and then will try to create the future of ADOM.
Thanks for staying with us along the way, thanks for all your support.
A Happy New Year to all of you. May blissful and happy times be ahead for your and may all your wishes be fulfilled!