THE BAD NEWS: Reaching the point where I was finally able to recompile the game code I was given, I deployed the latest version of IW to a server and logged in to see what we have here. I was horrified, dismayed, and disappointed to see what a giant step backwards this version was in terms of game functionality and stability in spite of all the additional content contained in its source compared with the current live server. This is a hot mess. It will take forever to untangle all the problems in the source code. The entire thing needs to be taken back to formula.
THE GOOD NEWS: I’ve decided to abandon the entire previous plan and start moving this game to a new engine immediately. I believe I can port to a whole new engine in less time that it would take to fix the existing code. I’ve also decided to stop screwing around with “other” game engine options and go straight with the obvious best choice for serious game development – Unreal Engine 4. I can write an entire blog post on why I believe Unreal Engine is the best choice in nearly every single way, and sometime later I will probably do just that.
What does this mean for the development roadmap? A complete rewrite also. Here are the next few steps..
1. Database migration
This will be my last and only real contribution to the Ogre3D source for IW/IT/KITO based servers. Currently all the game data is stored in the file system which is not secure, a mess to manage, and slow to access. I still plan to migrate all this game data to a proper database first and foremost. I am doing this to make it easy for me to then port the database directly over to the new engine, but this will have a potential side benefit for other servers still running on the Ogre3D based source. If anyone running a server built on a branch of this same Ogre code is interested in a database update like this for their server, please leave a comment and let me know. If there is enough interest I can package this in a manner to be reusable by others, but won’t spend the extra time otherwise.
2. Asset migration
Moving the character and item models over from the Ogre source to the Unreal Engine actually looks to be pretty straightforward. Even just using the same models with some new textures and shaders in the new game engine will bring a vast visual improvement to the game, I hope to have some early screenshots up soon! I also want to port over all the existing maps so there will be a nostalgia factor for old players to see the same content they already know updated in new beautiful graphics!
3. New character builder
Building and customizing your characters is obviously a very important component in IW, and the first thing I am building on the new engine is an all new character editor. Improved UI, more options, more models, prettier graphics! There will be a standalone IW Character Builder app available for players to try out and give us some feedback on while I start working on the world editing after that!
What’s next for IW? There is some network code to be written and a new dedicated server to build in order to host the game on the new engine with proper multiplayer support. That’s more complicated than it may sound and I think I bore you guys enough (like anyone even reads this in the first place, ha) with the technobabble. From there it’s all world building and content creation! (And bug fixing, I’m sure…) If you are interested in an IT database migration tool or early alpha access to the IW Character Builder alpha, leave me a message in the comments!