May News from Wildfire Games

Dear members of the community, it’s been half a year since I took the lead of 0 A.D. (time flies so fast!) and I would like to give you some news of the team and tell you what we’ve been up to.

Programming

We faced big issues in the programming area during 2016. The game is more and more complete, and, as a consequence, more and more complex to maintain. With each new feature come new bugs, and we must be very careful as it is easy to create regressions, i.e. bugs that were fixed but reappear due to another change. The number of things to keep in mind when we change parts of the code also increased drastically over time. There are several ways to address this, and we decided on a new programming workflow, in which all our patches are reviewed to avoid oversights. On top of preventing a lot of mistakes, the mood has improved as we have clear and, it seems, efficient, rules.
The review process mainly happens on our Phabricator instance. It is integrated with a set of automated tools that help us automatically catch mistakes (with linting) and prevent regressions (with unit tests). Some of those systems have just been set up and we hope we can tweak them over time to continue increasing our efficiency. In the near future, we will look into using our AI to automatically test the game.
This new workflow also proved helpful to handle the stream of patches from occasional contributors. Some of the contributions were especially welcome and we are happy to have a working review process again, otherwise we would have lost the great work. We are looking forward to welcoming some of the contributors in the team when they are ready.
Speaking of which, we are delighted to highlight the arrival of s0600204 in the team! s0600204 made a lot of important contributions throughout the years and the team was unanimous in proposing him to join us, which happened a few weeks ago.

Art

The artistic team didn’t rest on their laurels either. As you already know, the new unit meshes, along with brand new animations, are now in the game! The cavalry units are still missing but they are being prepared and you can expect news in the near future. We also started working on new icons for a variety of units, structures and technologies, and you can already see a lot of them in the development version of the game.
The new units are a great milestone in the development of the game and we already have plans for the future and possible areas of improvement. We’ll keep you updated!

Acknowledging our design issues

Despite all those great news, a few of you have rightfully expressed their disappointment about our need for a better gameplay design.
The original vision of 0 A.D. founders is, naturally, not easy to follow when the project has accumulated more than a decade of various contributions. We received interesting gameplay proposals from dedicated members of the community but none of them met the unanimous enthusiasm of the team, which led to more frustration for both sides…
This is the topic on which we will focus our team discussions now. The ultimate goal is having a modern game design document that revives the original goal of the founders while properly allowing people to contribute to it. Nothing is decided yet, but rest assured that we are taking the issue seriously, even if it takes us time to reach a decision.

A new release is near!

Our next announcement should be the release of a new Alpha version, which is exciting. I’m not going to detail its content, but you are encouraged to test the development version, and help us catch some bugs before we start packaging it. Last minute additions may or may not happen, depending on the nastiness of the bugs that might delay the release, the weather, or the astral conjunction 😉 Just stay tuned!

Thanks for your support, your enthusiasm, and for being the best community we could dream of.