Glad you enjoyed the new status update! Me and the team are exceptionally proud of how well it went and we're really excited by the feedback we've been given. People seem to be enjoying the new L1M7 I designed, feeling it addresses some major design flaws present in the version we put out in DM3. Loren is also happy in that the general public feels as if the map feels a lot less generic with the inclusion of new environmental buildings. Jake is dealing with PTSD-esque flashbacks of Shrek 3, but the spoiler feature is helping him cope. We're definitely making progress at this point, and the reception has been very positive. I'd like to take a second to thank everybody for that! I know it may not sound like much coming from me (the dude who lurks in the shadows usually), and we know the wait has been tough, but it's getting there!...For real this time!
Perhaps the best way to begin addressing this wait is indeed with the video production you mentioned early on in this post. You are indeed correct in that this video should definitely not take a year to make! You have my absolute assurance on that fact that it was not in development for a full year. We had actually also released another status update before it, showcasing Fat Tony’s role in Level 1:
The development time of the video was approximately a week, which is roughly the same time estimate you guessed earlier for the average video. The video's production (and delay) began as a combination of things. While we wanted to address some legitimate concerns regarding our projects and wished to clear the air over some things, there were some other factors to it as well.
While it may not initially seem like it, we had actually been wanting to push out an update for quite a while now, but we weren't really certain about how
to push it out, if this makes sense. There was another video concept we had been toying with for a while now that was more ARG-esque, but we decided to toss due to the development time setting it up would've taken, and because we really wanted to showcase something, which is when the development of the current video you see began. I think it was the appropriate choice, as I think everybody wanted some more direct information at this point and was tired of the vagueness of the mod's contents. We might re-explore the concept at a later date, but for now, more "direct" statements with the mod's development are our priority.
A lot of the development time that's been keeping Donut Mod 4 away from release, as you probably figured, is the new Level 4 map headed by Loren. While the map is incredibly impressive, and I don't wish to put Loren's efforts down with this statement, I think we found it a bit difficult to properly showcase the changes and new additions in our videos for a variety of reasons. The videos in question run around a good 4-6 minutes. It can takes ages to model something, but a bird's eye view can basically tell you everything about a map since it's basically a 'canvas' for actual gameplay. It might come off as slightly underwhelming if just a model change by itself was presented in a video, as it'd be difficult to stretch the runtime accordingly. A 30 second video in somebody's feed might also lead to a resounding "meh", to put it nicely (and we wouldn't blame them). Even if this was reduced to something such as a forum post, it still wouldn’t be much to show. People want the complete picture, and we can’t blame them! I place emphasis on Loren’s direction here, as he’s currently the only one modelling and building the map layout in Sketchup on our team.
A mission script, on the other hand, has a lot more gameplay elements that are easier for the casual audience to engage with, which is who we're focusing on the most when setting these things up. It can feature a variety of unique gameplay concepts (as we've seen with Colou's phenomenal work with the storm in SOS, providing a unique visual hazard that the mod created proper buildup to), an engaging storyline/humorous character interactions (as we've seen in mods such as Housewife Duties/Wiggum in Zombieland), or showcase entirely new car/character models (Nightbane's excellent Annoy Squidward Day mod). The best way I can state it is that these missions make use of a 'canvas', when we're still working on a completely new canvas to use.
Loren also wants to keep certain elements of this map a surprise. This map and concept is very much a passion project for him, and there are a couple of little goodies and details he'd like to keep under wraps until it's time for release. We as a team wish to respect his wishes, and won't share anything from the map he's personally uncomfortable with until it's time. While I do understand you had concerns that gameplay footage spoilers don't really ruin the mod, others might feel slightly differently and would prefer to go into the experience completely blind. In addition, there are also some critical plot-related areas in the map that are going to tie into the story we're looking to tell. This is sort of the reason there haven't been many screenshots of the map in more detail. We're trying to find a good balance, and hope others understand. I realize this might not sound incredibly satisfying to hear, but you do have our assurance there is progress being made, the difficulty is just figuring out an attractive way to showcase it to the best of our ability for everybody.
I understand your concerns about it not wanting to seem too professional with our scripting (as it eats up valuable time), but I think our end goal is to properly communicate to the community why we made the heavy mission revisions we went with, since they're familiar with earlier (almost completely different) versions of the missions. We also want to communicate our design goals going forward to make a more polished mod, once we reach that completely original content. A casual passerby might initially be confused why we did away with the Nuclear Buses and chaotic nature of the original DM3, when the simple fact is that it wasn't terribly fun to play due to excessive length and objectives. While you can make the argument Black Vans aren't as cool or give you that healthy green glow like good ol’ Nuclear Buses, we think gameplay is a more important priority, and want people to understand why the missions they've seen before are changing. That being said, we've been discussing some potential more mission showcases in the future in our developer Discord channel to tide people over:
What this means is that we might end up releasing more videos of "new" missions. However, I do want to keep some sense of professionalism and explain why some missions ended up looking a wee bit different from what they were in the last release. We'll going to talk more about it, and see what we can come up with. Currently, Loren and Jake are the only ones with direct access to the YouTube channel, with Jake being the one who puts the videos together for us so we sound presentable. We'll have to work something out with our schedules before we can get this ball rolling, but I honestly found Loren's idea really cute and want to experiment with it further for the sake of the community. Apologies, as some of you might be stuck listening to my nasally voice...
Hopefully sharing that will give you the idea of how transparent I'd like to be going forward. You probably won't be seeing any major "mysterious" teases anytime soon from us on our official channel/public Twitter, and that's likely for the better. This includes more general things, like the ASF scripting functions you mentioned. We apologize, but we were initially very excited about expanding SHAR's (very limited) mission objective potential in new and more organic ways. It may not be a complete game changer, but for those looking to make a fairly expansive mod, there's more objectives for them to play with to prevent repetition, an issue I personally feel SHAR starts to suffer from near the end of it's runtime (hello, Alien "Auto"topsy!). Pretty much every objective the game can present is showcase by Level 3, with the Waste Barrel only being the major new one. Somebody looking for an entirely new experience might be a bit disappointed knowing there isn’t much else that can be explored objective wise, and this will hopefully allow already well-designed mods to become more varied. Things such as the derby we did way back in Donut Mod 1 were very hacky, and these new objectives are much less so. Knowing we can play with this game further is a testament to how great Lucas' reverse-engineering skills are. I've already seen people making wonderful use of ASF, and am looking forward to more in the future.
Lucas’ reverse-engineering skills also play a key role in the other tools that were mentioned. A lot of this plays a key role into why we’ve been hush-hush about the model builder as of recent. I will admit for the sake of transparency I have no involvement in these tools, I’m afraid. My current job here is simply as a mission scripter. I have not assisted in the development of these tools in any significant way, and have in fact never launched them, even out of sheer curiosity.
I can say, however, that Jake’s comment earlier about the documentation is accurate. Lucas is very much a perfectionist when it comes to his work, and I fully trust that the inner-workings can get pretty complex. Loren and Jake have been working very closely with him over the past few years to bug-test these builds and give general feedback, and also contribute to the code directly. Because of this, there’s a lot of beta-testing that goes on directly inside the Dropbox. It’s a very exciting process that includes a lot of formal/informal chatter. As a result, we’ve ended up getting excited in the past and announced or teased things as soon as we could, simply because we wanted to communicate with the community that soon another barrier would be completely shattered. We share a lot of the same interests as everybody else here, and want to see SHAR as a fully-moddable game with virtually no barriers. At the same time, much like with Loren’s concerns about the map, we don’t want to reveal too much or give out too much to early. Lucas would really not be accepting of releasing the map builder in a half-finished state because of his mindset, and we as a team wish to respect his choices. He’s definitely the biggest contributor to this scene as a whole! If the documentation isn’t in a state he’d consider “acceptable”, it’s currently hard to convince him to release it otherwise. The documentation just isn’t up to snuff, and Lucas wouldn’t want that stuff being out publicly then.This is probably the best way to explain what Jake had meant about the lack of documentation.
The tasks Lucas is facing and current setbacks with his PC is also why The Mod Launcher update has been delayed for a bit. We apologize for the silence, but Lucas has been running into some PC-related issues that are making it difficult to properly compile the Launcher for release. According to Loren, Lucas just recently got everything back up and running, which probably means development will be back at a steady pace in just a bit. An approximate release date I don’t really want to say just yet since I’m not quite certain about the technical side of things, but I hope this response is more satisfactory.
I apologize if anything I said in here came off as rude or over self-explanatory, but I think there are some valid points here in your post and don’t want to sound as if I’m dismissing them outright. It’s currently a wee bit late for me, and I do have some college work to attend to, so I also want to apologize if my logic here seems a bit scatterbrained!.
I also want to apologize if I misinterpreted anything in the post I was replying to. We’re very eager to share the stuff we have in store, and I can understand wanting the model builder to create your own completely unique content. I can also completely respect the opinion that Donut Mod 4 doesn’t interest you as much as a result. However, you have our assurance Donut Mod is holding absolutely nothing back! If anything, Donut Mod is the reason this stuff exists. The ideas we had for the mod lead to us reaching out to Lucas and striking a deal, and we’ve made fantastic progress as a result that we want to share with everybody. We just also want to make a product that’s presentable when it’s presentable, if that makes sense. We’ve gotten excited in the past, and I want to apologize for it. We’re a bit worried about showcasing a bit too much to the point it might be underwhelming, or simply reveal too much and ruin the wishes of Loren or Lucas.
If you have any further concerns about the mod or anything in general, I highly encourage DM’ing me personally on my Discord account. I’d be more than happy to talk with you there!