July 26, 2004 - So... what's the deal?
What, you thought we'd abandoned the project? I don't keep up with all the rumors going around these days, but I think I need to make it clear that no matter how slow we may be progressing, the project will not be abandoned. If it were, you would read about it here and from me.
That said, progress has indeed been slow, mostly due to my relocating to a new apartment in April and dealing with the subsequent almanac of hassles that comes with moving for the first time. Needless to say, my plan to have the move completed in 1 week has been extended by a percentage greater than Millennium's release date and I'm still unpacking and organizing things to this day. In fact, the toilet flooded a few days ago and I didn't have anything to wipe up all the water with so I just turned on the ceiling fan, shut the door and waited for it to evaporate. It's nearly gone now, so I can use the bathroom again. Anyway...
After a lot of consideration, I've decided that Millennium will be released via individual hubs as opposed to one final product. This release plan presents numerous pros and a single con. My reasoning is this:
Millennium has 5 main hubs. Each hub is dependant on the completion of the previous hub to maintain the balance of weapons, ammo, monster and health. This means it isn't possible to start any random hub from scratch. Due to this, the releases would continually build on eachother instead of being available seperately. For example, when hub 2 is released, the previous hub 1 release will be taken down and replaced with a release featuring both hubs.
Such a plan may not appear optimal, but consider the reasons for this plan as well as its benefits. The current progress status of the hubs matches order of the hubs, with hub 1 being nearest completion and hub 5 needing the most work. The hubs will reach completion in numerical order regardless if Millennium is released as a whole or in hubs, so why not release what's complete? I believe it would be rather wasteful to let complete hubs sit around collecting dust while waiting for the remaining incomplete hubs to be completed. Releasing hubs according to this plan allows community feedback, which in turn allows further tweaking of the hub for its next release. Ideally, this will negate the need for any patches or re-releases of the final version. Project organization and management will be much easier on me; I believe anybody will agree with me that managing a few small goals is far easier than managing one large goal. When creating, being able to focus on single theme helps me develop it fully, while constantly changing themes causes general inconsistency due to lack of focus. And finally (and most importantly), SOMETHING WILL GET DONE.
The con is that your end-of-hub savegame might not work with the next release if the last level of the previous hub underwent any tweaking. To compensate, I will include a relatively optimal savegame with the release of each new hub so that the player may continue close to where they left off.
So what's left before hub 1 sees the light of day? Not much, but I could use a little help.
Maps are mostly complete. Espi has done a spectacular job at implementing a consistent theme among these 6 previously random maps. 4 need a few texturing tweaks, 2 need a few room restructurings. We have this covered.
Monsters are mostly complete. 5 new enemies which will appear in this hub are complete; 1 more needs to be drawn from scratch. Overall, 6 new enemies which will appear in the game are complete; 2 more need to be drawn from scratch, and a 3rd needs a death sequence hacked together from its living sprites. As much as I'd like them to be a surprise, that's a luxury I don't have, so here's what I need. The enemy that needs to be drawn from scratch for hub 1 is a Plutonian. As the name implies, you'll typically find it rising out of nukage pits. Darknation designed and submitted a concept drawing a while ago. If you think you can get that into sprite format, let me know. Nukey-looking skin a plus. The other enemy that needs to be designed from scratch will be the mini-bosses of hub 2. More on them later. The enemy that needs a death sequence hacked together is none other than the final boss. Unless Zaldron makes a sudden comeback, the multi-form boss will now be a single-form boss, though certainly still no pushover. It is partially mechanical, so an exploding death could suffice.
Sounds are halfway complete. 3 new enemies which will appear in this hub have complete sound sets; 3 more need complete sound sets. Overall, 4 new enemies which will appear in the game have complete sound sets; 6 more need complete sound sets. All new weapons which will appear in this hub have complete sound sets. Overall, 3 new weapons which will appear in the game have complete sound sets; 1 more needs a complete sound set.
Music is up in the air. Julian was going to work on remixing 6 existing tracks into a relatively consistent theme using a mix of programmed and live instruments, but he went off on a bike trip across the Czech Republic. I'll work on this with him when and if he returns.
If you think you can help with any of this, please let me know. If you're registered on the Doomworld Forums, I'll give you access to the Millennium forum where you can find all relevant project discussion and updates.
Sorry to those of you who were hoping to hear or see more after almost 2 years. This hasn't been an all-inclusive update by any means (more like a semi-emergency finish-the-first-hub update), and there has been plenty of progress made which is going untold or unshown and will probably remain that way until releases are made. Rather than speak of features and specs and stats, I prefer to let the project speak for itself.
However, I have to say that since switching to the Eternity engine, many aspects of the project have become far more manageable and easily attainable. With so many of the features we originally had hard-coded now becoming available and fluently accessible by default, I've gotten way farther by myself than I ever expected to with a team. EDF is by far the best thing to happen to this project in the last year, with many other features not far behind. We're almost to the point of not needing a custom engine at all. Once v3.31 final is available for use, I'll post the results of implementation shortly thereafter.
All in all, things are progressing slowly but surely. There may not be many future news updates, but rest assured that work continues whether we announce all of it or not.