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Dev Diaries #19 - Calamitous Development

September 20th 2022 10:09pm — Calamitous Development - a Devlog by Fred Toms, Programmer - @Tommy2Doors


If you were unfortunate to have read through my previous devlog, you may notice Symbiosis Games' apparent magnetism for issues, in our development and otherwise. That has never been truer than it has since returning from PAX.


Preparing for PAX included me ripping out a lot of the network code for a blissful LAN experience. And that worked out great for PAX! Along the way, Jordan got really sick, I got really sick (still am), and my whole family is sick. Recently, I've experienced two real-life friends die unexpectedly (not connected to one-another) and, to add to the misfortune, development has not been... smooth.


To preface, we've been really busy preparing for the Steam Next Fest - a digital game show where people can download SPECTRE and play across the internet. Well, therein lies the problem. Since returning from PAX and attempting to restore our normal internet non-LAN connectivity, we've been unable to have any games connect in Steam. Not once. Sure, the listen servers are receiving client connection requests (and even displaying their Steam user names), but they can't actually play a game. Why? I can't explain it. My numerous google and Discord searches have turned up nothing either. Previously we had zero issues establishing connectivity; but now, something has gone off-side. This obviously doesn't bode well for us given our demo is a week and a half away. It's not much of a game if nobody can connect to one another. So, we hit a crossroads. What now? We investigated shifting our connectivity subsystem from Steam to EOS (Epic's version of Steam - don't worry, the game is still "on" Steam but uses an Epic connectivity system), but it turns out our engine version was too out of date for that to be a viable option. How problematic would it be to upgrade?

"Hey Jordan," I said. "Any interest in moving SPECTRE to Unreal Engine 5?"


What does that mean?

The good news:

  • By moving to UE5, not only will we be able to take advantage of the state-of-the-art engine features that EPIC has offered, but it may just improve our ability to establish network connectivity (via Steam, preferably, or EOS).

  • SPECTRE will no longer be running on yesterday's engine and instead will be cutting edge just in time for beta and release.

The bad news:

  • Probably more bugs for the Steam demo.

  • Probably more crashes.

  • Definitely less demo features like inviting friends, matchmaking, etc.

  • Our voice chat was also tied to Steam.

  • Also, possibly slower development for a short period of time as we reorient ourselves to the new tools (hopefully not too painful).

This was all spurred on by our sudden, inexplicable ability to connect any Steam games in a listen server type of setup. I've been using Steam to connect games for years and have never had issues - it's a straightforward process. But our clients kept timing out, timing out, timing out. So that's what we've done. Know that we are working balls to the wall to get this demo out and in a really awesome state. But also know that it hasn't been smooth sailing. Regardless, it's our privilege to keep everyone updated on our progress.


In other news, we'll be featured on another podcast that will be releasing October 3rd (the same day as our fateful demo!)


Thanks for sticking in,


Fred Toms


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