On the Road to Alpha

Posted in EpicTable Development on February 23, 2009 at 12:44 am

While pieces of EpicTable have been functional in the lab for quite awhile, EpicTable hasn’t been out in the world for except for some really early proof of concept stuff that pre-dates this site. The really core pieces, like chat and map handling, and the whole UI look and feel have been together for awhile. Other things—like character sheets, the game surface, and the dice roll designer—have been off on their own workbenches. Now, it’s time to integrate them.

All the pieces are built to fit together, so this should be an exciting time. It’s also a time to tie up some loose ends. For instance, just this afternoon, I replaced the very early code that populated the choice of map textures with the new resource loading code that I first wrote to manage game pieces on the virtual tabletop.

Where’s this leading?

All this is leading to an alpha release. The intent of this alpha is two-fold. One is to force an integration of everything I’ve got and an accounting of what’s left to finish. Another is to be able to give people a preview of EpicTable.

Okay, so “release” is maybe a little strong. It’s not so much a release as an “open house”. I’ll be there, guiding people, showing them the new countertops and hardwood floors, and hurrying them past unfinished utility room where the washer and dryer are waiting to be hooked up.

The alpha won’t be something you can download and poke around at by yourself. It’s something that I’ll be showing to people from the EpicTable forum and to other interested parties. And by “showing”, I mean we’re actually going to run some gaming sessions using EpicTable. The point is to let you see what’s coming, even while there are things that aren’t quite finished. Later, there will be a beta release that you’ll be able to download and take for a spin solo.

Timing

By now, some of you will have noticed that I’ve oh-so-cagily avoided any mention of timeframe for this alpha version. I’m not going to draw a line in the sand for myself, but I’ll tell you what I’ve got in mind: I really want to have people using EpicTable in April of this year. I know, that sounds like a long ways off, but it’s practically March now, and if you think about it as five weekends until April, it sounds really close.

More info?

Over the coming weeks, while I’m going to be working feverishly on pulling the alpha together, I’ll still try to leak details here as things come together. I don’t want to talk a lot about what’s in / what’s out of the alpha for now. I’ll definitely be doing so as it nears completion, though. Hang in there—EpicTable’s nearing the end of a long quest…and the beginning of a new one.

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