Alpha 0.0.0.4 and testing

Alpha 0.0.0.4 was rolled out for testing which is fortunate as 0.0.0.3 was somewhat broken the details of which I'll cover shortely. The second bit of news since my last post is that the pool of testers has been expanded which should help progress the development of the map. I recently decided that I'm going to go back to university to pursue a masters degree. The course work doesn't start for a few months yet but I'm going to need some time to brush up on Python programming so I'd like to wrap this map up fairly soon, no later than the end of May, hopefully sooner. I've been spending more time on the PC-SG forums and one of the members informed me that PC-SG has a dedicated mod test team, so Nagcee is now in their capable hands, as well as Spud Boi and Norm who have been testing for me since alpha 0.0.0.1. I'm spending the majority of my time in GE or Notepad++ and very little in game so having a team to uncover issues is a huge help.Keep in mind the map is still in alpha, there's still a lot of work to be done but testing early helps uncover problems before they become big problems.

With Alpha 0.0.0.4 I finally got the AdditionalMapTypes script updated to v 1.0.0.8 as well as adding Spelt as an additional crop type. Millet, Oat, Rye and Triticale had already been incorporarted. I'd planned on incorporating Sorghum and possibly Mustard as well but ran into so much trouble have decided that neither will be in the initial release. So why are Sorghum and Mustard so much more difficult that the addional crop types I had already added to the game. The additionalMapTypes package includes everything you need (code, textures, fillplanes, and effects i3d's) to get Oats, Tye, Millet, Spelt and Triticale into a map. To added other crop types you need to bring in your own assets. Bringing in the textures and the code was no problem but modifying the fillplane and effects i3d's proved to be more of a challege. I was able to get Sorghum into Giants Editor, and it would show up in game, however I got some un wanted graphical glitches when I tried to harvest the Sorghum. Given my decision to wrap this map up I decided to move on.

So what were the issues that 'somewhat broke' alpha 0.0.0.3? When your actively working on a map the map folder has to be unzipped and its not uncommon for this folder to be quite large in size. The current working directory is over 3GB. When you want to pass the mod of to others, either for testing or as the final release, you want to reduce the file size as much as possible. The first step is to export the map out of GE, which strips away many of the unneeded files. The second step is to zip the file in an archieve, the end result is the 3GB file becomes a more managable 700MB archieve.

I mangaged to frak up both of these steps. As I mentioned before when you export out of GE, the editor strips out most of the files that are no longer needed. Unfortunately it does not neccessarily transfer all of the files you do need, in particular any i3d's that you have in your maps folder. The end result was that the particle emitters for the CompostMaster didn't carry over. The CompostMaster still worked but lacked some of its anaimations as well as producing a number of errors in the log. My second screw up meant that my testers could not load the mod without fist extracting the zip, deleting a file and rezipping the archive. I'm not sure how I managed to jack that up, but I took more care with zipping up 0.0.0.4 and the issue seems to have been resolved.

Both of these issues were brought to my attention by one of my testers and its unlikely that I would have caught them on my own. All in all the journey from 0.0.0.3 to 0.0.0.4 was a valuable learning experience but probably a necessary one to have learned before release.