Milestone Release 0.5

Milestone “Alpha-Test-Ready” Reached! (DevBlog #29)

Today, I finished the last remaining features for release of Network Traders. When I defined this milestone more than one year ago, this was what I wanted to have for my Early Access or “Alpha” release. Well, I got impatient and went into Early Access in September already, but here it finally is: a major milestone on my long indie dev journey!

Milestone Recap

While the first four milestones were primarily concerned with the technological foundations of the game (1: merchant exchange, 2: vertical slice of all screens, 3: connectivity, 4: production infrastructure) this one was primarily about content. Even if you have followed the development of Network Traders, I am sure it is almost impossible to keep track as updates come so slowly. So here is a recap of what happened up to release 0.5.

  • Version 0.4.1: new design of buildings screen, tooltips and modal screens.
  • Version 0.4.2: range buildings (grocer, stables, garrison, pier), localization, and P2P connections via a new DataServer.
  • Version 0.4.3: persistent data storage in a database with city, merchant, and trade information, player login, and merchant creation handling.
  • Version 0.4.4: usability like Bluetooth activation, settings screen, network view zooming and scrolling, local production selection, and more info in lobby.
  • Version 0.4.5: additional basic buildings (basket maker, town hall, tavern) and their functionality.
  • Version 0.4.6: better player information with tutorials, improved tooltips, and privacy policy.
  • Version 0.5: basic monetization using ads (voluntary ones and for new merchants) and Bluetooth permission improvements.

But not only new gameplay and technical features have been added. From the beginning of this milestone, Andrea added numerous artwork assets, such as goods and buildings icons, buttons, backgrounds, an app icon, and a feature graphic. If you look at the two screenshots below, you will see what great step forward we achieved in this past year.

Comparison of milestone 0.4 and milestone 0.5.
Two screenshots of the same screen. Left: version 0.4 (November 2021). Right: version 0.5 (February 2023).

The Journey goes on

Half empty buildings screen canvas.

But as you may have guessed from the “0” leading the current version number, the work is not done yet. So what comes next?

Another clue is, of course the half-empty canvas to be seen on the building screen. Obviously, I am planning to add more buildings, and the pier at the bottom won’t even be the most advanced one. In the end, there will be more than 20 buildings on this page. Adding all of them will be the main scope of milestone version 0.6.

However, buildings are not the only thing still missing. There are many more features I plan to add. From convenience to more information, from improved layouts to animations.

So while I do not want to reveal too much (and not make too many promises), there is one major thing I intend to change: the scope of each update. I will not combine different features in a version anymore. Instead, each version increment will have the following elements:

  • Bugfixes for the previous version.
  • One major feature (epic), such as one new building.
  • One (or very few) minor new feature or improvement.
  • A minimum number of new test cases.

What’s more, only every second version will introduce a new building, while every other will implement a different feature. So expect more than 20 increments for the next milestone. The first version after this one, 0.5.1, will bring a new building – the wheelwright.

At this point want to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported me on my journey here! Please bear with me, new stuff is coming up. And surely, one or the other feature will be something you asked me for for a long time!

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