The End of Fief

I have some sad news today for Fief fans. I’ve decided to officially call an end to the project.

I’ve been pouring my spare time into this project for the better part of eight years. In that time, I’ve learned a great deal about programming and game design. Combined with the scientific programming from my day-job, I feel my skills as a developer are at a peak. Unfortunately, no amount of skill can stymie the bleeding ulcer that Fief had become.

I have had a great time working on the game. My passion for the project ebbed and flowed, but predominately was positive. This past year, however, has wrecked havoc with that passion. The codebase was reaching maturity to the point where I decided it was important to improve the visuals of the game aiming for eventual release on Steam Greenlight. So I started looking into artists to help with the visual components of the game. This decision however also added administrative duties to my already limited time for programming. Thus my programming work became quite a bit slower as I spent way more time coordinating with artists on the needs for the project. I had to train them on the image layouts and parameters required by the resources. The turn-over rate of artists was ridiculous! Each new artist would proclaim excitement for the project and throw out ideas. I wanted to give them a lot of say in the visual design, so I sincerely listened and supported the ideas I thought were tenable. However, when it came to actually working on project materials, only one amateur artist, Dino, continued to produce output throughout the time period. The others simply stopped working and/or responding to my inquiries. So I had to find new artists to train on the project, and the cycle repeated.  It repeated at least three times over the year.

The frustration that came with all this came to a crushing point. After the last batch of artists fizzled out, I took a break from the project. I got really busy with work from my day-job and let Fief gather some dust in the corner. I tried to return to the project numerous times, but I just don’t have the passion for it anymore. The eight-year flame may have finally gone out. The project was always too big for one person, and perhaps I thought with enough passion and devotion I would be able to put it together. Without that passion guiding my fingers, I certainly cannot.

Thus I will say good-bye to Fief. I don’t know if I’ll see it again, or if the project will be revived at some point in the future. I’m just grateful for all the people that kept encouraging me along the way. I really appreciate your support!

I cannot leave my hands idle, however. I have begun a new project using a lot of the best features from the Fief codebase. Really its a revivification of an old project, the same project I was working on before Fief took over my life years ago. It is a procedurally-generated dungeon-crawling RPG titled Endless Worlds. My passion for this new project is strong and I am determined not to make the same mistakes I did with Fief.  I intend to handle all the graphics and visuals myself and avoid dealing with flaky artists.  It may not look at good, but at least it will not be susceptible to the same pitfalls.  I’ll post more information in the future as the project planning comes together

Thanks again for all your support over the years and I hope you follow along as I embark on this new project.

UI Updates

Time has been flying by and we’ve been working hard on the game. Most of the changes these past weeks have been aimed at streamlining the underlying structure from my original proof-of-concept designs to more robust long-term software structures. The modular design system is in place, resulting in an easily extensible framework for adding new content and modifying existing content. Overall, I’m quite excited to see how far we’ve come and where we are headed.

I started a new day-job last month and have been trying to work around my new schedule. Meanwhile, we are still looking for an artist to join our team, so if you, or anyone you know, enjoys doing graphical art in their spare time, send us an email:

In music new, Greg informs me he is working on some wonderful combat music and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

So how close are we to finishing this UI update?  Well, if you compare the current screenshot to the mock-up we presented when we started the UI project, we see that we are almost at completion.

Mock-up of the new UI for the main game screen.

Mock-up of the new UI for the main game screen.

Screenshot with most of the new UI elements.

Screenshot with most of the new UI elements.

I have a number of UI windows on my list before I will call this project complete.  Some of them minor (e.g. pick-up item menu, skill tracker) and others a bit more extensive (construction interface, in-game help browser). Then we can return to adding new gameplay elements. While it may seem that this update was all about the UI, there were a lot of underlying system changes that went in behind the scenes.  The UI changes are a lot easier to show than code changes, so here is our status on the major changes:

FWT.  The Flexible Windowing Toolkit is a wonderful new tool for rapidly developing new UIs using the libGDX application framework.  It is a multi-threaded user-interface framework that combines the best elements of Swing and Android design.  Most design elements can be written in XML with seamless integration with the Java behavior.  The FWT Window Manager integrates directly with libGDX for smooth rendering while maintaining high responsiveness.  I’m very happy with the way this system turned out.  I can now easily create complex UIs quickly and reliably.  This project is relatively complete, although I may add new features as I require them down the line.

Modular Systems.  If you saw the last post, you are aware of the extensive system redesign that was underway.  That modular system is now working as expected for construction modules and item features.  Additionally, the new skill system is in place, allowing anyone to add new skills to the game.  Additionally, the new construction system will add deep complexity to large-scale building projects with each specialty builder (carpenter, mason, etc.) focusing on the portion of a construction that pertains to their skill and resources.

UIs.  So where are we with all the UIs?  Here’s the progress report:

Name Description Status  Pic
Container Window Show the contents of a container. Complete pic
Character Status Widget Shows character status and conditions. Complete pic
Equipped Items Widget Shows items in hands with swap button. Complete pic
Message Widget Shows game messages with optional minimal version. Complete pic
Action Bar Widget Shows current action and remaining time. Complete pic
Mini-Map Widget Shows small map of the area. Complete pic
Inventory Window Show character inventory for interaction. Complete pic
Recipe Browser Window Show and browse all available item recipes. Complete pic
Construction Chooser Window Show and browse all available constructions. Complete pic
Construction Phase Window Show components for a construction phase. Complete pic
Menu Widget Show buttons for quick access to game functions. Complete pic
Options Menu Game options pop-up window. Missing artwork pic
Crafting Window Add objects for crafting new items. Missing artwork pic
Examine Window Show elements in selected tile. Near complete pic
Item Info Window Show details about an item. Near complete pic
Action Button Widget Show available character actions. Redesign pic
Skill Action Button Widget Show available skill actions. Redesign pic
Skill Tracker Widget Track XP for marked skills. Concept
Item-Chooser Window Menu for pickup/moving objects to choose items and quantity. Concept
Construction Window  Shows construction modules with interaction panels. Concept
Announcement Window  Show and browse in-game announcements and notifications. Concept
Help Browser Show and browse all game content and concepts. Concept