Alpha update – 1 week away

No new feature work or artwork is going into the Alpha. All I am doing now is some last-minute testing to look for bugs. A co-worker friend has successfully loaded the game onto his $35 Raspberry Pi 3 and played a bit with it. There are some incompatibilities in Linux with the sound, but if we find a fix for that it will be shared.

I will be out to town for a 4-day weekend starting Friday, so I literally have just 4 nights to tweak the game before the Alpha starts. In other words, it’s almost set in stone at this point.

I hope to make a final “How to test” video on Tuesday night, as well as a list of features that are included in this version of game and those tentatively scheduled for the next alpha.

Anyway, I want to express in advance my appreciation to anyone planning to test the game starting on June 1st. This is a part-time role for me, and there is a finite amount of testing time I can give the game while I am also developing. I look forward to a month of fixing bugs that I’ve never seen and seeing shortcomings in features I never thought of.

Please use the subreddit at http://www.reddit.com/r/rotp to post any issues or questions concerning the alpha. I really want to consolidate the discussion into one location, if at all possible. It will make my life easier!

There is no ship combat yet, so this game will not really feel like the original MOO since that is such a critical feature to the game. Hopefully we will successfully cross that bridge in the next alpha.

There is also no in-game help. However, the target audience for this game is MOO1 players so hopefully you guys will already know your way around the game. There will eventually be a real manual for the game when we are done, but that is a long way off.

On a related note, mouseover tooltips are dinosaurs and the comet is about to hit. Please don’t ask for them!

Currently, the game takes up about 170Mb in space. The size of save game files will range from 40-50K (for the tiniest maps) to about 5-6Mb (for 2500+ star maps with 15 empires).  Also,  don’t forget to have the JRE for Java 8 installed on your PC. That is required for the game to run.

The game supports touch screens and should work  fine on any Windows, MacOS or Linux PC. It runs within a window using an 8:5 aspect ratio that automatically sizes to fill your screen. Currently it is not resizeable. I’m sure everyone will hate that, but resizing will have to wait until the next alpha, I think.

ROTP requires a MINIMUM of 500Mb of Java heap memory to run. What is “Java heap memory”, you ask?  That is the memory your PC allocates to a  Java program when it starts up. The default is for a PC to allocate up to 1/4th of the PC’s total memory. That means  my 8GB notebook allocates 2GB of heap memory to the game when it starts up. That’s a LOT: far more than the maximum map uses in my testing. Please note that the game doesn’t use all of that memory at the start, it represents the maximum amount of memory it’s allowed to use before the PC tells it “you’re out of memory. Crash now. ”

However, if you have a PC with 2GB (or less) of memory, it may not allocate enough memory to the game for it to play.  Fortunately, there is a fairly easy way around this which allows you to override the default 1/4th and allocate as much heap memory to the game as your PC can spare. My friend with the Raspberry Pi 3 (which has 1GB of memory) has it allocate 500Mb to the game. So if you have a PC with 2GB of memory or less, please look out for special instructions on how to run the game with more allocated memory.

Also  remember that the game will “expire” on July 1st — meaning that it will not start up. There really is only 30 days to play the alpha. Mainly, I do not want such an incomplete version of the game floating around the internet indefinitely.

Lastly, if there is someone you know that might be interested in this game, NOW is the time to let them know. Call, text, tweet, post, or whatever you need to do. Every user who tests the game now makes it better for everyone who plays it when it’s done.

That’s the end of my stream of consciousness. This posts was much longer than I expected.

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