August « 2015 « Tidepool News

Just made Tidepool 0.2.2 and posted a screencast explaining what’s new.  One step closer to the public alpha!

Hi all,

The next version of Tidepool, our multiplayer programmable game world for kids, is releasing next week.

We’re finalizing our alpha invite list.  If you want to try Tidepool for free, signup before September 1st to reserve your spot and become a “trailblazer”.

You’ll earn a badge that’s visible in game, and you’ll get special perks when the game releases.  You can also reserve your username.

Starting Tuesday, you’ll need to contribute to October’s Kickstarter to get early access, so signup now.

(14 days till alpha 3 — 106 days till beta — 216 days till gold)

Just finished the improved roster, which lets you start, stop, and step one agent or many, depending on the checkboxes.  I’ve also split players from agents in tabs.

This took an hour and a half less than expected, which let me put some issues back into this release, which is always cool.  I won’t hold my breath though, since later issues will likely take longer too.  The give and take of a timebox, as discussed on today’s podcast.

In other news, I spoke to the first of ten courseware authors last night about Tidepool and the units we plan to create in the next six weeks.  I’m speaking with each individually over the next week, then we’ll start building with the alpha 3 release candidate.  Bless these fearless teachers for agreeing to create lessons with a shaky alpha.

(15 days till alpha 3 — 107 days till beta — 217 days till gold)

After being heckled on a mailing list last night, I started my podcast today feeling daunted at the prospect of publicizing Tidepool myself.  Though I was raised by the original Don Draper, I don’t quite have the stomach for bragging through a megaphone, all appearances to the contrary.  My mood didn’t even improve as I started some fun UI work, so I decided to accompany my wife on a drive to nearby Easton, Pennsylvania.

Easton is home to one of the world’s most recognized childhood joys: Crayola.  About a year ago, I decided to use their 120 colors as the palette for Tidepool, simply because it was fun looking through a big box of crayons to find a color to use in game.  I also have fond memories, like every other kid on the planet, using them to draw.  For a while now, I’ve been cruising the Tidepool world with these colors all around.

Today I walked into the Crayola Factory and was surrounded once again by these friendly, familiar colors.  My mood improved immediately.

No, I don’t have formal permission to use these colors, and no, I haven’t asked my intellectual property lawyer (or Crayola) just yet.  I suspect anyone’s allowed to use the colors, though perhaps not some of the color names.  If prompted, I could easily rename “razzmatazz” and the rest, though it’d be nice for kids to still be able to type in their crayon color names.

Either way, that store, those colors, and Tidepool simply make me happy.  Thank you Binney & Smith for bringing your dream into being.

(16 days till alpha 3 — 108 days till beta — 218 days till gold)

Yesterday I finished the rule box, which pops up when you edit or add rules from the director.  Rules have a name, a list of conditions, and a list of messages.  Conditions are boolean expressions that can be and’ed and or’ed.  When the conditions are met, the messages get sent.   Messages can be sent back to the agent itself, or to any other agent or item in the story.

Yesterday, I also did my first cutting … bumping seven optional issues to the next milestone to keep to the timebox.  It felt awful to give up some of these, such as trimming the installer size and adding a splash screen on launch, but they’re not strictly necessary for an alpha and I’ve committed to maintaining these dates.  Perhaps if a later issue takes less time I can add them back.

Today’s podcast talks about a few upcoming issues, such as polling for conditions and the revamped roster (list of players & agents).

(17 days till alpha 3 — 109 days till beta — 219 days till gold)

I’ve been finishing the “director” box, which is the primary UI for coding your agents in Tidepool.  As you can see, it has four panes … agents, properties, rules, and timeline.  In Tidepool, you hire and fire agents in a story, which lets you choose which of your sketches becomes codable.  You can then use the director to add & change properties (variables) and rules (methods) in each agent.  The timeline shows recent messages involving that agent (or future ones).

You can also do all of your coding in the message bar (command line).  The director is meant to be an easy place to see the big picture.  In other news, today’s podcast was about publicity … audience, outlets, message.

Hi everyone,

I’ve been making great progress on Tidepool, though haven’t talked much about it this summer.  Yesterday I resumed my development log, with daily details and screenshots for those interested.  The programming interface is really coming along.



We’ve also picked some solid release dates.  For too long, I’ve treated Tidepool as a pet project with “when it’s done” aspirations.  From here on, I’ll timebox each release as I would with a client.

So, mark your calendar … beta release on December 1st … official “gold” release on March 20th.  These dates will not change.

We’re planning a release party on March 20th with an equinox bonfire in our backyard, so if you’re able to make it out for the weekend, we’ll make room for you.  One way or another, my twenty-one months of work will be done, so come celebrate or commiserate.

(18 days till alpha 3 — 110 days till beta — 220 days till gold)

I’ve been working on Tidepool steadily, though haven’t made a devlog post in four weeks.  No real reason why.  I did keep the podcast going.  Alpha 3 is coming along, with the coding IDE almost done and agents looping and bouncing to their own rules.

Yesterday I committed to a final release schedule.  Come what come may, we’ll ship a version on the 1st of the next four months (Sep/Oct/Nov/Dec), then the 20th of the next three (Jan/Feb/Mar).  The feature-complete beta will ship on December 1st (in 110 days) and the gold version will ship on March 20th (in 220 days).

EDIT: The dates are now the 20th of each month through March.  Beta on Dec 20th, gold on March 20th.

I’ll be timeboxing these dates, so we’ll slip features, not time.  No exceptions.

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