What’s becoming of 2.1.0 & What to expect of 4.1.8?

Work-in-Progress screenshot

I’m becoming a bit tired of writing political essays on itch.io. Sure, I enjoyed writing them when I was doing it, although frankly, it now feels quite liberating to be writing about the nuts and bolts of Total Rendition instead, because it’s closer to the essence of my being, or at least, that’s how I feel it like. Of course, the themes and concerns I have outlined in several of my essays are going to appear in Total Rendition in a more subtle yet dramatised fashion and to a large extent, already have. I want to make sure that whatever new pre-Gold Status version of Total Rendition is to be released, will mark a major leap in that regard.

Now, I long mooted a release of 2.1.0 on itch.io. I had even created hype for it. As a matter of fact, you will be able to download it from Sourceforge. Although, only the source code. I did not come around to add any significantly new content to Total Rendition and without an environment designer, this is going to be (too) hard to personally realise that for you myself. After all, I’m not merely Total Rendition’s designer, writer and currently lead programmer as well; I also hustle for Schizotypy Games’ behalf, something I hate to do, although there isn’t anyone else up for it (yet). Taking these realities in mind, notwithstanding 2.1.0’s development has progressed quite well programmatically and is still a milestone in terms of gameplay features, I think that for most players, it would be a disappointment compared to 1.0.8. Not only that, it would probably not offer a good proving ground for the newly polished or added mechanics either. So, on both counts, 2.1.0 as a binary release would probably be premature af. 2.1.0 of Total Rendition is pretty much a ‘skeleton looking for meat to wear’ and last I’ve heard, it’s going to be featured in the lyrics of some song!

Total Rendition is very much a story-driven game: Showing too much of the game early on is going might perhaps ruin the overall experience for many players (which could include you!) or at least create completely avoidable disappointments. Frankly, 4.1.8 – now planned to be the upcoming “binary” (that is, oven-ready) release – is still quite an early version of Total Rendition, is still not going to be for the faint of heart, in the sense that it’s quite experimental. Besides, Mac and Windows users alike, provided they have the balls (which is btw totally meant in a gender-neutral way, I swear), can still opt to install Linux to try it out without having to obtain new hardware, or wait for the upcoming Total Rendition release on their respective platforms. I won’t make any hard guarantees I will release 4.1.8 either. However, the first early access version of Total Rendition to become available on Steam, alongside Itch.io, will feature environments, missions and characters where the mechanics being implemented since 1.0.8 and including 2.1.0 will truly shine.

Our strategy of making the game play first, delivering on the visuals after, has baffled investors so far, yet what do they know? I mean, just look at Cyberpunk 2077: Before it was released, I looked both forward to it and up to it. Investors poured millions of US dollars, euros and zlotys into CD Projekt Red. Now, I love to cite CD Projekt RED as both a cautionary tale. How low can you go? Besides, if you’re going to impress people with visuals, the gameplay itself must similarly look the part first: To Epic Games, when prompted about it by them, I basically said as much as that we make a point to avoid creating anticipation with a CG movie that hardly like the game itself at all. While I do happen to contribute a great many things to Total Rendition personally, environment design and 3D modelling are definitely not one of those. Ok, I’m not entirely speaking the truth in the previous sentence: I did most of Villa Therese and I also did actually made a (very bad) 3D model of a door key that is thankfully no longer used.

However, I also realise that insofar I did the level design, it is provisional and intended to showcase the design decisions and gameplay-flow of Total Rendition, nothing more. Unless either by a miracle I suddenly am on par with the best environment designers, or attract such an environment designer into the ranks of the Total Rendition Devteam (far more likely), this will not change. I’d be surprised if Villa Therese as I made it would be fit for purpose in the gold status version and indeed, it probably isn’t: It’s therefore still my intention to have environments in 4.1.8 done by a professional environment artist and I hope to bring you the good news of having inducted one into the Total Rendition Devteam around version 3.2.2. The idea is that 4.1.8 should look visually as good as the gold status version of Total Rendition, or at least come somewhat close to it.

With version 3.2.2 the gameplay mechanics will already be in place and indeed, there will be a Total Rendition Editor 3.2.2. This one will not be publicly released (although you can build one yourself with the code provided if you really wanted to) although the internally available level editor will be used by the environment designer. 3.2.2 is next the milestone following 2.1.0 and will see a wholesale feature-freeze on gameplay features, meaning it is very unlikely if not impossible that new features will be added. Then again, this only concerns game play features; essentially, 3.2.2 means that Total Rendition by then is projected to fulfill the specs of the game play mechanics I had indicated in the general design document. That is to say, what you can do as the player and how and why you would do it in-game. Thus, completing game play feature mechanics is still a far-cry from being finished, which will see a lot of polishing rounds, bug fixes, animations, general user experience features such as localisation options, etc. After that point, game play mechanics will be changed or altered only if there is a good reason to, although to make a long story short, gameplay features should be to specifications I had outlined at that point.

Indeed, after 3.2.2, work will begin on the Koningin Astrid boulevard, because when building a game, one ought to begin with the second-level, nevermind we had ignored this rule of thumb for too long. With this, we hope to be armed to ensure 4.1.8 will give you the vibe the gold status version of Total Rendition is going to bring. Total Rendition’s first early access release on Steam is intended to be Linux exclusive until version 7.1.8, which shall also be available on Mac. And while Total Rendition is eventually going to be available Gold Status planned for Windows as well, there will be no early access Windows release (because KMFMS). Still, the Windows version of Total Rendition’s Gold Status release should be as “World-Beating” as its Linux and Mac counterparts! As usual, done when it’s done.

-Mordechai Gabai