Welcome to the year of the Rabbit! This month had a lot of changes in preparation for Steam Early Access. When I look back at what was done, it was pretty insane and busy.
The two big ticket items this month were switching the underlying engine out from MonoGame to FNA, which was quite an endeavor. The other was successfully porting everything to Mac OSX and Linux officially. There are still some issues with Linux that I need to look at, but the demand hasn’t been particularly high and there have been workarounds, it seems like.
Let’s talk about switching out MonoGame to FNA. I had said this a few times before — switching the underlying engine would take about a week. I think it was right around that amount of time. Thankfully, the RPG Architect engine is written with a “virtual machine” kind of thought in mind — the underlying engine is written to abstract most things out — so you never play with it at a high level if at all possible. This won’t necessarily be guaranteed to anyone who eventually writes a plugin, since shader code, etc, might change — but it should be true for the most part. This bodes well, I think, for eventually porting to other platforms, if for some reason that FNA doesn’t port well to them. I think it also bodes well for the future of RPG Architect as well, and my plans for the “10 year lifecycle,” (and perhaps longer?) since it seems like the concepts work.
The other piece was porting and debugging on OSX. I purchased a Mac Mini M1 (from CostCo, the best store ever) and started tinkering with it and debugging. I managed to clean up a LOT of the problems we had and diagnose some of the multi-platform issues internally. I had to actually rewrite some of the internal editor previews (coupled with the FNA port), but it made for a better experience. I think OSX is actually a smoother/prettier experience (though the fonts look off to me) compared to Windows. I still get confused as anything trying to work on it as an OS, but the experience overall is very clean and smooth when I do.
Linux hasn’t gotten as much love. There’s an issue with mouse interactions in the Editor, somehow, with AvaloniaUI that I need to investigate — so that’s something that I still need to look at and throw a VM together for. Judging by demographics, I think there have been a grand total of two or three people who have wanted a Linux build, but were fine on a Windows build as enabled by Proton thru Steam. As the initial bugs slow down, I’ll look into it — or if someone requests it on Discord and asks really nicely. It only hasn’t been a priority because nobody cared that it should be as such.
The engine seems to work great on all platforms. If you have a RPG Architect game you want to distribute, it should go to all of the major PC platforms without a hitch. Windows is always a given (since that’s my development environment), but Jason has put in dozens of hours testing and playing with the OSX version. Nathan has spent some time in VM’s testing on Linux and playing with demos and internal projects. Everything seems to work well.
There have been a ton of bug fixes. The way “sticky” collisions occurred when using collisions (primarily for 2D) have been cleaned up. The entire editor had most of the rendering switched out for something faster and more responsive using SkiaSharp. At some point, I’ll probably try to move it to an embedded FNA scene — but not now. Battle encounters now have their own regions that can be drawn and set, along with the encounters that occur there. The dice formula in statistics had a problem “sticking” the value, which has since been fixed. Numerous physics and battle system bugs have been addressed. An internal “upgrader” now exists for porting your maps and database forward, in the event I need to make a change to the data structure — you won’t have to do anything special as it will handle it for you. A ton of icons were added to the toolbar and internally for different editors, such that you have a visual cue to leverage.
Most of the focus for the latter part of January has been to put out as many fires as possible, as quickly as possible.
From a “business” standpoint, we had roughly 150 purchases in a little over a week (there have been some returns, so the true number of purchases was higher). Our Discord has grown significantly by probably close to the same amount. Our wishlist numbers have multiplied by a factor of ~7. I’ve personally seen three or four new projects that folks are working on, already. I’m excited to see the RPG Architect community growing. Thank you to all of our early adopters — and thank you for your feedback and reviews.
There has been some skepticism (and we even got a troll or two — we must be doing something right!) about if I could (or would) really keep on working on this, or if I could sustain myself. To clear that up — I have a full-time job and a number of other responsibilities that I juggle. This is not my primary source of income. I share the numbers above to give some transparency into how our community is growing (and it is growing nicely!). My ability to work on RPG Architect is not going to be impacted by anything, nor will I drop it because it’s “not profitable” or something like that. The dream goal would be to work on it full-time one day, but that doesn’t have to happen. I’m very happy, truly, with the friends I’ve made along the way (see the Acknowledgements post), and the work we’ve done together. Seeing the community grow, the bonds that are forged, and all the like really fuel me to keep working on it.
I hope that dispels any questions about my own motives. The real goal is community. I’ve said that so many times, and I’ll iterate it again — we’re building a community. That’s the only way RPG Architect is going to thrive.
Presently, I’m obviously working on putting out any remaining fires related to our initial early access release and things that otherwise show up and are requested. Everything is usually documented on our Steam updates, per what was fixed or changed. Outside of that, I’ve been working on testing/debugging the on-map battles (they work!) and preparing for battle escape and item usage. Ambulation will be coming soon, I promise!
That’s all for January!
Thank you so much for your support so far. I’m looking forward to building this community further and giving you the engine you may not have known you always wanted!