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A Long Overdue Update!

Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:55 pm
by Daniel Pryor
A long-overdue Update.

A quote from the author, "Heruca":
"I've been meaning to post an Update for weeks now, but couldn't seem to quit working on MapForge and it's Add-Ons long enough to do so. Thanks for being so patient during what has surely been the longest time between Updates yet.

This Update will be a bit longer than most, and (brace yourselves) it's not all roses and sunshine, but it is what it is, and the finish line is in sight.

The state of development
I am about 95% done with programming MapForge (yay!), and about 80% done with porting the 50 content Add-Ons (which is to say, I’ve ported 40 of them so far, and they came out great, but the remainder are bigger packs for the most part, so will take longer to port).

The latest Add-On I completed is Vry's free "Halls of Nys" pack (part of Stretch Goal #3), which now holds the record for the largest Add-On to date, weighing in at a very hefty 1.54 GB. Part of the reason it's so massive is that it supports MapForge's Day/Night feature, and because it contains Tiles, Tile Overlays, AND Items. Few other Add-Ons have all three media types in them. This Add-On was a beast to put together, but I love how it turned out, and I suspect it will be among the favorites of the free Add-Ons for most MapForge users.

The problem I'm currently trying to resolve is Compositing issue with transparent filter effects

Part of the reason for the current delay is that I'm having trouble getting the image effects to work properly on the Wall Layer. This is going to take some time and research to sort out, but I don't want this issue to further delay the release of the Beta. I'll need to work on this issue further between the Beta release and the v1.0 release. Besides, the general functionality is working, it's the rendering aesthetics that need sorting out.

The coffer is empty
This may come as a shock to many/most of you, but the 4-month+ delay in being able to deliver MapForge v1.0 has depleted the development funds. In fact, last month I had to live off funds generated from sales of my virtual tabletop software and accessories, and this month I'm working through a $2K loan.

You might be asking "How is it possible that the funds ran out, when $82K were raised"? Well, about 8% went to Kickstarter and Stripe, and about half of the remainder went to the artists and content providers (there were around 10 other people involved, remember). 30% of my share was set aside for paying income taxes. What was left paid for less than 9 months of development, even though I've paid myself a bare minimum. I'm currently working from home, as I can no longer afford to rent a shared office.

Although I've been stressing out about how I'm going to even make it through the end of the year, I have no doubt that I'll be able to deliver MapForge v1.0 and the 50 Add-Ons promised, so don't worry. I also know full well that I can't run another Kickstarter campaign until I've delivered on this one. So here's what I'm planning on doing...

I'm going to launch a short (15-day) crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. This will have several benefits:

1. I'll be able to secure the funding needed to finish this project properly, without cutting corners. Since IGG allows for flexible funding goals, even if the modest funding goal isn't reached, I'll be able to keep whatever amount WAS raised.

2. A lot of backers of this Kickstarter campaign got ONLY a license, and NO Add-Ons. This IGG campaign will provide them another chance to pick up Add-Ons at pre-release prices.

3. Without additional funding, I won't be able to deliver on two Stretch Goals from this campaign (Donjon support and the Crucible utility that will let users "roll their own” free Add-Ons) in a timely manner. I estimate about 3 months of development time in total for these two things.

4. It should help grow the MapForge userbase, since Indiegogo users are largely a different crowd. It's a low-risk proposition for IGG backers since the project is over 90% complete and there will be a full-fledged Beta for them to try out.

The IGG campaign will essentially be a re-play of this Kickstarter campaign, but it will only run for 15 days, and the Beta will replace the prior Prototype. All Kickstarter rewards (license and Add-On registration codes) will be issued to you Kickstarter backers FIRST, and only then will Indiegogo backers get theirs. That's only fair.

Once MapForge v1.0 is shipping and the MapForge Store is operational, that should start producing income, which will hopefully be sufficient for continued development of MapForge, as I intend to continue adding features and improving existing ones long after v1.0, and those additions will be provided in free updates for existing users.

Plans for 2018
Urgent stuff first. I need to get the web store up and running ASAP, which means not just adding a Store (shopping cart) page, but also an illustrated product page for each of the 50 Add-Ons, and that's just for starters. The new web site and store is looking like it won't happen until January. That same month, I also plan on writing the MapForge User Manual.

I’m also already planning for a 2nd Kickstarter campaign to launch early next year (February is looking likely), once I’ve finished delivering on this first campaign. The purpose of the 2nd campaign, which I'm calling "Wave 2", will be the development of many more content Add-Ons, with an emphasis on sci-fi this time around, as fantasy is already pretty well covered (but there WILL be a few killer fantasy Add-Ons coming next year!). I've already started reaching out to new content providers, and some are already on board.

Later in 2018, I hope to find a little time to slow down and not be working all the time with so little sleep. This is not a sustainable pace.

I guess that's it for this Update. Expect the Beta release late next week."