Christmas 2016 Announcement
SPOILER ALERT: this is more or less a text summary (+ some additions) of all the cool things in the video, so for the best Citybound Hype Experience™ watch that first!
What kept me busy in 2016
I moved to Iceland for half a year! It was a pretty unique mix of epic and weird nature, extreme barrenness, a super hard language and involuntary frugality (a currency which hates you)!
I had the hope to be able to do both Citybound as well as a (for me) important work project from there, but the latter turned into a soul-wrecking derailed nightmare. I kept trying to save it for way too long before I finally reduced my responsibilities to the absolute minimum there. That's one reason why you heard so little from me... Oh well!
What I did for Citybound during the year
In the beginning of 2016, I announced that I will reimplement Citybound natively (i.e. not using web technologies). First, I tried C++, but relatively quickly understood that it would both take too long and would drive me crazy - it's just ridiculously difficult to get something simple right there and nigh impossible to get something difficult right without lots of trial and error. Too much friction!
I found out about Rust, a new, modern low-level programming language and decided to give it a try. After getting used to a couple new and initially weird concepts that it brings with it, it just turned out to be perfect: featuring runtime performance both as high and as predictable as C/C++, but with much better and much safer abstractions. This allowed me to implement my crazy high-performance simulation engine ideas in no time and I very quickly felt that it's feasible. More on the concrete results there later!
Changing the way I do Citybound
I always assumed that I would just go the "standard indie route" of a couple alphas, a couple betas and a full release with increasing prices as the "business model" of Citybound. But the more I thought about it, the more wrong it felt.
Especially in the light of a growing number of indie game "scandals" or at least disappointments, I wanted to make sure that we will have a more open and honest relationship than "I will sell you this thing as if it was a physical good and pretend to already know what exactly it's going to be so I can already ask you for money in advance". Citybound is something much more exploratory than that, which makes it even more important to have a sustainable process behind it!
This is what I decided to do:
I decided to overcome all of my fears of theft and piracy and realized that we live in a world where a game can be both open source and eventually commercially sold (in the "me to you" sense, not "sold off to a company"), reaping the benefits of both!
Find Citybound on GitHub and see my detailed progress, tasks, plans, the source code and some fun graphs!
Learning from my bad experience at work, it became clear that in order to actually be able to do Citybound long-term and with focus, I needed to be completely financially independent from any distracting side-jobs (no matter how attractive they might seem to be).
With Patreon, I found a model that already works for many artists and all kinds of creators, where a pretty small but loyal community can generate a good and stable income, just by each member pledging a small amount each month to this project they care about - directly getting any results of the work in return.
This already intuitively felt much more "right" and the more I thought about it, the more sense it made - especially given that I already have such a lovely community, caring so deeply about what I do - and the only thing preventing me from just letting them have my work was this abstract plan of selling the end result to them eventually.
Instead, I decided to try this much more reasonable approach - and it was very important for me to set the precedent, from the beginning, that the imbalance of trust shall be heavy on my side - which means more concretely that I will always deliver something first (in the form of successive prototypes) which you then try out and only then decide whether that's already worth your support.
I trust us all that we can pull this off together and nobody ends up disappointed - and I gave us a head start:
Roads & Traffic Prototype 1
In the last 2-3 months I worked extremely hard (why is it called work-life "balance" again?) to get something interactive going on top of the new native engine for you to try out.
I focused on two things: a revamped basic version of the road planning interface, even simpler and more powerful than the old one, and a demonstration of a high performance microscopic traffic simulation.
It contains all kinds of small and big ingenuities and actually in the end impressed even myself - it really gives a taste of what will be possible in Citybound!
It's best understood when seen, so I would encourage you to watch at least the demo of that, and of course much more importantly to run it on your own computer! (Where it will hopefully work)
There is still all kinds of glitches, crashes and shortcomings in it, but I didn't want that to stop me from giving it to you. So expect something very rough!
At the same time, this gives us the opportunity to actually get an open source workflow going and not only find and fix bugs together but plan and implement the next big topics together!
This is what I want to start with after the holidays (which I really need! What's a "weekend"? What's a "sleep"?), by tackling the next big topic: economy.
Until then, I am infinitely excited about this new direction for Citybound, I can't wait for you to actually try out something that I created for the first time and I'm really curious about what you think!
Have a merry Christmas and a very happy 2017!