Closing the Game Loop12 Apr 2021
The previous blog post talked about refactoring the code so that the reverse-engineered INF system, collision system, and renderer can all use the original, fixed-point level data. Another goal was to enable caching for systems, like the floating-point high resolution renderer, that need to transform the data in some way. It illustrated the connected nature of the core game and engine code, making it more difficult to split it apart into smaller releases. As I have continued, I find myself reverse-engineering the “Logics” and “Game Object” code - dealing with pickups, AI agents, weapons and more.
The long-term goal of 2021 is to release version 1.0 of The Force Engine with full Dark Forces support. This means that the game is complete and is a full DosBox replacement. Progress towards that goal has been going really well and is on target and even ahead of schedule. But the short term goal of releasing another Test Build has been slipping and so I have decided to change plans somewhat.
The Game Loop
I have decided to stop “fighting it” and set a new short-term goal: finish the core game loop for the next build. In less than a month, I expect to be finished reverse-engineering the entire core game loop of Dark Forces - including AI, pickups, weapons, player control and physics, rendering, and sound. Unfortunately, even after that is finished, there are a few weeks of additional work to integrate all of the code into TFE, finish the refactoring, and get the tools fully working again.
Rather than attempting another in-between test release, the new plan is to finish this reverse-engineering and integration process. This means that the new test release is at least two months away, probably three. But once it releases, the game will be fully playable including mods. It will not be complete, it will be missing dynamic music (iMuse) - though the basic midi tracks will still play, cutscenes, some of the in-game UI, and saves. And that is it, which should be easily finished before the end of the year.
The test release is being delayed again, for two to three months. However, as a result, when it releases Dark Forces will be full playable through TFE, including existing Mods.