NOT UPDATE 15 - UNBEATABLE
What’s the change?
Spilt Milk Studios are moving to a fortnightly update schedule for Tango Fiesta while we prepare for the game’s full launch. As of the start of this week we’ve moved to this new schedule, and are hard at work making the game everything we know it can be.
The current aim is to launch the game in - or just before - December of this year. Obviously this is prone to slippage but that’s what the team here and at Mastertronic are working towards right now.
Why are we moving to this new schedule?
When we started Tango Fiesta we projected features, timings and costs, and these things are inherently inaccurate. In their wonderful-ness, Mastertronic are some of the most sensible and understanding people working in games right now, and rather than beat us up about the fact that we ‘missed’ our promised end date, they recognise the game needs more work, and will benefit tremendously from an extension. Not only that, but they’re helping us out while we make Tango the best it can be, making our lives easier where they can and giving us the exposure the game needs when we judge it to be ready for that.
The initial scope was inaccurate because of unforeseen things like bugs, and systems that took longer to build than we thought (hello online multiplayer!). Also it’s down to some of our inexperience working together as a team. No doubt the fact that it’s our first game of this type had something to do with the inaccuracies in our estimates too, and despite being absolutely unashamedly proud o the progress we’ve made over the past 7 months, we just don’t feel Tango Fiesta as it stands is quite ready for sending out into the big wide world of v1.0.
It was always going to be a tight schedule, and the game (any game!) would benefit from a few more months of work, so we’re very fortunate to be getting that chance. Not to mention, some of the pressures of that weekly update schedule indirectly led to some of the slips that we’ve seen, so it’s going to be nice to have a little less stress and a little more time to think things through as we work towards the final release candidate.
How are we going to structure it?
We’re planning to spend a little less time every week on the game, because of various commitments (more on those below) but over the space of each fortnight we’ll be making the game better, les buggy, more fun and have more features - and hopefully you guys and gals will begin to see the result of all our hard work every second Friday.
This month we’re focusing on AI and online systems. We want to make sure everything working as intended in terms of enemy behaviour and design, and also to give the online stability and functionality issues our best shot. Part of this is down to team availability (again, see below) but mostly it’s because the online portion of the game has been ‘behind’ the offline for too long and we want to make a stand!
The following two months will be carrying on with other small systems we want to add (medals, storyline, that kind of thing), polishing up everything in the game so far (art tuning, audio balance, gameplay tweaking) and as mentioned earlier every second Friday dropping a really nice update on you guys. I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are!
So then, those commitments we were talking about…
As we’re being funded and published by a publisher, we’re being paid to work for all the time we put in to Tango Fiesta. As you may have seen in the news, a month ago Mastertronic almost had to call it quits as a business, but thanks to their strong leadership and some smart decisions, they’re fine now.
What that did mean, however, is that during the period before this we were looking at the schedule for Tango and thinking “umm, we’re not quite going to get it all in by the end of august…” but the team at Mastertronic were understandably prioritising getting their business in order and so the fine details of scheduling were relegated temporarily. Obviously with hindsight it’s because they were going to be fine with giving us a little extra budget, but at the time we were getting a bit worried!
Anyway, that all had a knock-on effect. All of us on Tango have rent to pay. We’re normal human beings like everyone else, and life can be expensive. We needed to make sure that we were all ok assuming the worst - and that meant securing work for after the end of August. We all managed to successfully do that in different ways, but what it means is the following:
Andrew J Smith (Project Lead): on Tango Fiesta ¾ of the time per week than he was before, working the rest of the time on a second opportunity with Andrew Roper.
Andrew Roper (Code): on Tango Fiesta ½ the time he was before. He’s managed to pick up some part time work on two other projects, one with Andrew J Smith
Ewan Brock (Art): for September, he’s on client work elsewhere. From the second week in October and for all of November, he’s with Tango Fiesta full time.
Gavin Harrison (Audio): no change, all good!
This all means that each fortnight we should be able to get the same amount of work done as we were in a single week previous to this change, but without the insane pressure of a weekly update so we’ll (hopefully) make fewer mistakes, introduce fewer bugs and basically do a better job of it all. Which is something we’re very happy about! It also means that, as the other opportunities come and go, this time we dedicate will fluctuate - but again I’ve stated the worst case above so if there are any changes to our time, it’ll be to put more on Tango than we initially thought.
Progress this week
So I should cover what we’ve done already since the start of September.
Well, we’ve entirely fixed the player weapon issues (aiming and drawing depth) so that they should all be hunky dory now, and we’ve also addressed some issues behind the scenes with our level editor which will allow us to create more content and new rooms for placement in each update we do.
First on the list is more Ghoul Squad stuff, then some extra Killionaire work. And finally we’ve also made some progress with a long-standing but not very obvious AI bug. Some people had noticed a lot of enemies had stopped roaming around… well now they do once more! We’re aware of an issue with pathfinding, and we’re half way to a fix.
We’re going to spend as much time as possible while Ewan’s away on the online, as I mentioned. We’re also keen to create new content for you and keep polishing with each fortnightly update though, so expect a few treats in each game update. We made sure Ewan had done a bit of extra work before he left so that we can implement some of that in his absence. We’ll see what happens!
Thanks for reading this really long and picture-less post. I’m sorry if you’re a bit disappointed that we’ve not got a weekly update this week, but I promise this is for the best. We’re working as hard as we can, and are not stopping until Tango Fiesta is the best co-op action game this side of Zelda Four Swords Adventures!
the Tango Fiesta team
(Andrew, Andrew, Ewan & Gavin)