After the Storm Episode III: General status update

Since the first three scenarios of After the Storm: Final are already out (0.8.0), I can now talk about my plans for the campaign to ensure we are all on the same page later.

This episode’s final scenario count is preliminarily advertised as twelve in the campaign menu entry, but the number may change as I see fit. More importantly, the final seven scenarios will be published as an atomic batch instead of separately. In fact, it’s very likely they will not enter the SVN repository until they all are finished.

For now, two more scenarios are expected to land in SVN trunk during the upcoming months; Outpost of Hell (E3S4) and Pass of Sorrows (tentative name for E3S5). Anyone who has been paying attention to the story and dialog sequences found in E3 so far will be able to predict the events taking place in E3S4 and E3S5. However, these scenarios (E3S4 in particular) require new units for gameplay and story reasons, and—since I am the only dedicated ‘artist’ working in the campaign—this part may take some time.

The campaign’s overall structure has resulted in decidedly slow storytelling and I don’t regret this design; basically, if you don’t like this, this campaign is not for you. However, things are going to get far more complicated after E3S5 as we approach the conclusion. Getting the finale right—in regards to code, prose, and art together, but especially art—may require a greater amount of energy than anything done before for AtS; hence, once E3S5 is out you may rest assured that unless a miracle occurs, the rest will take a large amount of time to be properly finished and released as After the Storm version 0.9.0.

Writing the finale is not a big deal per se since I’ve always known where the characters are going. The problem is making sure it’s worthwhile to play and read. I’ve always been flexible to plot changes in that regard since I resumed work on E1 last year; after all, this is a game, not a novel. The execution of the plot is also a touchy subject since the matter of the campaign doesn’t really fit neatly in a turn-based strategy game, and compromises must be made.

As usual, art is an ever-present issue as well. The finale requires more new units, props, and terrain graphics. When it comes to unit art, I have always been able to manage by reusing previous assets, making minor modifications and calling it ‘new’; but terrains and props are uncharted lands for me, which is why I fear art will take up most of the production time for the finale. And this is all not taking portraits into account; ideally at this point all major characters from this campaign—as opposed to those introduced in IftU—would have their own portraits, but that just hasn’t happened yet and is unlikely to happen in the near future.

In any case, this has been a very interesting journey. I hope it comes to an end soon and Final can be completed before the end of the year, but I’d not be surprised if it takes longer than that.