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TOPIC | Beta and Registration Windows!

shorthair black st solidwhiteness: 0neutral eyesObsidian SmokeWhite Wildflower CrownBlue Wildflower Necklace

Squid

The Not-Village

(they/them)

admin

Feb 13, 2022 8:29:11
https://pixelcatsend.com/images/intro/intro_p14.png
Hello hello everyone! The time for Cat's End to enter beta and open up to more individuals has finally come. Read this update for upcoming registration window dates, details about the development plan as it currently stands, and more!

Read more about this update
-- Last edited on Feb 13, 2022 8:29:38
teahug
Cat's End Artist/Developer
Hope all of you are enjoying your cat time!
shorthair black st solidwhiteness: 0neutral eyesObsidian SmokeWhite Wildflower CrownBlue Wildflower Necklace

Squid

The Not-Village

(they/them)

admin

Feb 13, 2022 8:37:51
rally Status of the Site's Development

After years of working on the site, I am thrilled to be able to begin presenting it to you all so you can put your very own little hats on your very own little pixel cats. There is, of course, much to do, but the site has come so far and it is ready to take the next step in its little journey.

At this point, the majority of the core features of the site are complete. You're probably asking "What can I do on the site right now?" and the answer to that is:
  • You can collect not-cats into your village, dress them up, change their names and bios, and give them trinkets.
  • You can decorate your scenes with buildings, cats, and furniture to your heart's content.
  • You can visit Nestor once per day to acquire a new cat or free item.
  • After unlocking the baker occupation, you can cook a meal once a day to feed your cats and give them special bonuses.
  • Each cat in your village can be assigned an occupation, and that cat can gather resources each day.
  • Resources can be used to craft hundreds upon hundreds of items and unlock new occupations at the Crafts Workshop.
  • For every three cats, you can navigate one social scenario per day. These are mini choose-your-own-adventure interactions where your cats talk and interact with each other, make friends (or rivals), start families, and more.
  • You can enjoy the completionist lifestyle and collect sets of collectable items.
  • You can visit the Post Office once a day to receive letters from cats in your village that are out traveling.
  • You can visit the city to buy and sell items for the Paper Notes currency.
  • You can sell and trade cats and items with other users.
  • You can visit the world map and read up on some tasty lore.
  • You can create an adventuring party (but the ability to actually go on said adventure is pending).

Well that sounds like a lot! So, in store for the Beta updates?
  • You can build the village lodge to unlock the ability to purchase new scenes and assign your cats to special leadership positions.
  • You can actually go on your first adventure! This is the more "active gameplay" portion of the site. Everything else is limited to a simple once-a-day task, leaving you with not much to do after you have completed these, but adventuring you can do as much as you want throughout the day. It's big, it's complicated, it's exciting! And it's the bulk of what you can expect from beta.
  • There will be four repeating seasonal events and holidays: Snowmelt (first week of spring, all about collecting flowers and starting friendships and families!), Midsummer (fourth week of summer, accompanied by lots of fun athletic tournaments - think a mini-cat-olympics), Leaf Day (fifth week of autumn, a classic harvest festival all about gathering vegetables and cooking food), Candlelight (fourth week of winter, a quiet event where Ghosts return to Not-Earth to commune with the cats, trading special coins for mysterious gifts and prizes)
  • I will be putting attention into funding the site's servers so that we can expand! I hope to add custom clothing/decor system (so you can make your own pixel art and add it to the site) and some cute underwater/mer-cat themed premium items and species. A kickstarter may or may not be necessary - this is as of yet undecided.

For a full development roadmap, you can visit the Long Term Development Plan


leafhat Registration Windows

As a display of eternal thanks and appreciation to the volunteers who have been helping me with games and events on Flight Rising over the past 4 years, all who have volunteered for Blanket Fort will receive two complementary invite links. One for themselves if they want it, and a second to give away at their discretion to a friend, relative, stranger, or suspicion man on the streets (I don't recommend this option).

This will be the first opening, and will take place on February 19. Emails will be sent to each email associated with the Blanket Fort spreadsheet, staggered every 15 minutes from most to least amount of orders processed. The first email will go out at 8:45AM server time, and the last at 7:45PM server time.

During this day, I will be monitoring the site's performance with this influx of new users. Depending on how this goes, one of two things will happen:

Possible Path A: There is no lag and performance is good -- If this happens, a capped public window will take place on February 26. The window will be open until all of the slots are taken, and the number of slots will be determined by the performance the previous week.

Possible Path B: We are nearing the limits of what my VPS plan can handle -- If this happens, I will not be able to let new users in. Assuming there will be some drop-off in activity over time, the first public capped opening will be delayed to In-Game Spring (Estimated Date: May 7-8)

Going forward, I hope to open the site during two waves in each 'in game year', one in the Spring and one in Autumn. In-game years are roughly 6 months long, so this would mean openings roughly every 3 months. The reason for this is quite simply that Winter is a very difficult time to be a newbie, and containing registration to waves helps to build a cohort-effect and sense of community amongst those within the opening, and also makes it easier on me to field questions and moderate the community. This also helps me to limit the capacity of the site to what can be handled by my server plan.


writing Things to Know for Beta

Downtime: I am in a rhythm of updating around 1-2 times a month. Updates pretty much always happen on Sunday mornings (9-11AM-ish), and because of how much actual codework development entails at this early stage, updates are almost always accompanied by 1-2 hours of downtime/maintenance. A global notification will go out a couple of days before, so you do know to expect the downtime, but don't be surprised when this happens quite a lot.

Data Loss: So in my hopes and dreams this will never happen, but it might. It happened last week for the first time ever, and there's always going to be a chance it happens again. Unfortunately these are the hazards of a site in early development. I will try to hand everyone a little treat or something if it happens in the future, but alas there's not much I can do about it. This is what beta is for - working all of this stuff out.

Server Costs: TL;DR Servers are expensive. The site is currently on a VPS, a fairly low-level plan, because this is what I can afford out of my own pocket. If you want to see the site grow faster, consider donating to my ko-fi, because everything really does help right now. I could near double the capacity of the site with even an extra $20 a month.

I do have some plans for how to fund the site long-term, but these are still hanging on some of the features that are still in development throughout beta. I'm also considering some non-intrusive ad revenue. To be quite honest, I hate ads. I use an adblocker everywhere, and generally recommend others do the same. However, if putting an ad on the site is what will help the site to grow and improve, so I can let more people play and also hire your lovely Community Manager, then that is unfortunately what I must do.

A kickstarter is on the table, but I'm not ready for it yet, because the workload of maintaining something like that would actively take away from the time I have to finish developing the remaining core features.

Bugs: There are bound to be a lot of bugs. I am eternally thankful for my small collection of alpha testers who have been hanging around for the last year, but we have 1000% guaranteed missed things, and there are also pending issues that I still haven't worked out, or haven't gotten around to working on. Since the server changed last week, I've spotted a few things here and there that were working 2 weeks ago but are no longer working now.

I do try to balance bugs and improvements with new features. I know there are infinite things I could be improving, or could work better, or are a tiiiiiny bit broken, but I do need to keep moving or I will never finish the site and exit beta. For this reason, I usually do a day or two of bug fixing after updates and then keep moving. I've got the same agreement with myself for art. I finish it first, and then I will be able to fix it later when things are finished. It might help to think of beta as a rough draft or 'proof of concept' rather than a polished and completed product.

Disclaimer: I am just one (1) guy who works full time outside of this. It's my hobby and I'm entirely self-taught (so there's a lot I have yet to learn). I find it fun to have something to work on, and honestly I love every moment of working on this silly little game. I'm saying this because my pace may not be the same as what you could expect from a small company or team of 3-4 professionals. We're one-man-band-ing it at the moment, but this will change if it becomes at some point financially feasible to add to the team. That said.... I have an absolute insatiable hunger for working on projects, so I'm riding high speed on determination and zest for life. :3


feels Developer Priorities

I just thought it would be helpful if I listed out some of my priorities that lie at the heart of the game's development, so that you'll know what to expect from me as a developer.

Low Time Commitment: I want the game to be manageable to play for someone who is busy working full-time, attending school, and so on. The game will probably not have features that require people to come back throughout the day all day long. I have this problem with pet sites a lot, where sometimes it feels like my job interferes with my ability to play and keep up with everyone else, so I want it to be something fairly lowkey and casual!

This game is 100% friendly to people who only stop by a few days a week, or briefly in the morning or evening. You can drop it and pick it up a couple months later, and it will be like nothing changed.

Lore Focus and User Driven: I am very largely focused on lore. There's a story in this site that will develop over the course of fun group plot events that everyone can participate in. The various adventuring locations will also have a bit of a running theme/story to them.

I would love for the userbase to feel involved in steering that lore too! You'll likely see numerous official polls along the lines of what region we should explore next, or how we should respond to situations. I'm thinking like... the biggest tabletop rpg ever.

This is going to shine a lot more after beta, because at that point I'll have the infrastructure built to do all the things I want to do with it. But know that this isn't the backburner 'it would be nice' type of thing, it's core to my goal for building the game.

Keyboard Navigation: The site can be completely navigated via keyboard controls only. I've got wrist problems that limit my use of a mouse, so I often need to use key controls to navigate the site. It's hard for me to even test and implement things like drag-and-drop, so if you're wondering why things sometimes are done in sort of bizarre ways, it's sometimes because of this (and sometimes being self-taught).

I care about accessibility a lot, and while I know that sometimes people have different needs that conflict with each other, please feel like you can come suggest something that would make your life easier! I am very likely to prioritize addressing these kinds of issues.


tea Conclusion

Anyway, I'm so excited (and terrified!) for people to get to join and experience the cat site experience, and I hope you all have a lovely time :)

Feel free to contact me via email, using the contact page on the site, if you have any questions!
-- Last edited on Feb 13, 2022 9:15:35
teahug
Cat's End Artist/Developer
Hope all of you are enjoying your cat time!
You may not post in the forums.

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