I'm a social developer. I tend to get more done when I'm bouncing ideas around with EXU players. It drives my motivation to keep working. But since I've only had time to fuck around with EBM's maps, I've primarily worked on the coop experience for the past year, and it shows: coop is a total blast while SP is behind the times. EBM and I have been in our own little bubble of bleeding-edge EXU development while everything else (save for unofficial stuff like G59) has been frozen in time.
I know most of you guys here like EXU for the SP campaign rather than coop, and there's no current coop scene for it (that I'm aware of, at least). This is largely on me, since I haven't made efforts to foster one, though I would if I had the time. I don't, though, so private coop testing is where the action is, and meanwhile SP has been on the backburner.
EXU's been stagnating under the "I'll release one big fuckoff patch when everything is perfect" mindset. It always seems like an attainable goal six months down the road, then six months later I realize I've made no traction towards that end, shrug, and go back to coding or fixing EBM's terrible texturing / geo work. See where this is going?
So... here's the thing. I'm going to return to my original plan: more frequent small releases, even if that means unfinished shit gets out. I won't release anything that is outright broken, but there may be bugs and rough edges here and there. Some of them will be smoothed over soon after release, while others will remain because they're low priority or difficult to fix. I'm also going to release all the campaign maps as they stand (required for technical reasons anyway), but will not be working on them for the foreseeable future. That doesn't mean never, as EXU is my baby and I want to see the campaign finished one day, but it will be concluded at a tinkerer's pace while other features that take less energy to develop, like new pawns and game features, will see more rapid deployment.
When will this happen? Well, what day could be better for an absurd, irreverent, demonic-themed shitstorm of carnage to explode than Halloween? So fuck it, v6.00 is coming on October 31, one of my favorite days of the year!
It will be unfinished and unpolished in spots, but it will still be a quantum leap ahead of v5.03. It will also contain a huge toolkit for mappers, stuff I've made to make my life easier as a coop level editor. These tools translate just fine to SP, so while my own SP maps will move at a snail's pace, there's never been a better time to make your own! And with EXU, the standards of quality can be much lower for the visuals if you take advantage of the scripting backend and deliver dynamic, replayable gameplay in a solid layout. It's so much easier to do that now than before - you can get a fully-playable level set up in hours, not days.
Some of the goodies to get excited about:
- Offline Coop Mode! You can play "coop" without running a dedicated server and without using any netcode if you want to experience the batshit insanity of coop gameplay on your own. No bot support, though. Not yet, at least. That's tricky to implement.
- ASSController (Advanced Spawner System) for automating enemy deployment map-wide or in localized areas, either as a steady stream, surges, or anything in between, plus automatic load balancing
- An extremely flexible artillery strike system that can be used for off-map bombardments or automatic turrets
- Inventory dispensers that can be used to refresh things like armor, ammo, health, shields, and virtually any other kind of item
- Lots of other new classes that remove the tedium from building complex scripted sequences
- Advanced pawns, such as the improved Hellfighter and its new cousins (including devastating bomber classes), plus ground pounders like the Rage Reactor Heavy Assault Brute
- Improvements to the code framework to facilitate development of your own ridiculous pawns with a minimum of scripting, or none! And when you do need to look at code, it's cleaner and easier to understand and important variables are all documented, so even a UScript novice can figure out what's going on and copy-paste their way to success
- Release of EBM's CA (Coop Annihilation / Corpses Assured / Completely Absurd) unpolished-but-fun-as-fuck maps: EXU2-CA-Urk, EXU2-CA-Lavagiant, EXU2-CA-GarbledGuts, and the yet-to-be-revealed EXU2-CA-CorruptedCorpse, which is pretty much the pinnacle of EXU2 gameplay at this point. It has everything, and then some.
- Shit tons of bug fixes and polish, refactored code, optimizations, etc.
So if you were waiting for the final release of EXU2 before trying it, may want to just dive in now. I don't think there WILL be a final release, because I have so much fun just fucking around with this mod, I will probably keep making new stuff for it as long as I can. I've really opened it up to outside development, too, so you don't have to rely solely on me for new EXU content!
My focus for now will remain on gameplay and developing features for use in levels rather than the levels themselves, but I still really do like mapping and have a couple arena-style WIP maps in the tool shed. One of them is still on the drawing board, but will make use of every last feature I've developed to its fullest. Pretty excited about that one.