Happy New Year

A happy new year to everyone! This has been quite a year for me, so what better opportunity to recap the birth process and evolution of Grid and set the plans for this year?

How it all began
One day I was sitting at my computer, trying to place blocks in Unity, thinking how great it would be if there was some sort of extension, a framework if you will, that would auto snap objects to a grid of my choice. Unity already has some form of grid built in, but it's rather poor to say the least. Unfortunately a quick Google search didn't yield anything useful, so was left waiting for someone who knew how to program a copmputer to make such an extension. Then it struck me: I am someone and I know how to program a computer!

The first draft
So I sat down, took out some pen and paper and started deriving th formulae. After a while I had a plan and I wrote a nice simple makeshift solution. It worked but in my head all sorts of great ideas popped up. What if the grid was in 3D and could be rotated? Would it be possible not to just align objects but construct an entire coordinate system out of it? What if the origin of the grid was not the origin of the world but any point in space? Would it be possible to have more than one grid in the scene? How about entirely different grid shapes than just squares? And if all that was possible, wouldn't be possible to use the grid for more than just aliging? Could the grid be used for actual gameplay?
The idea at the time was to get the makeshift solution polished up a bit and then give it away for free and ask for a small donation or sell if really cheaply. This idea was humble, if you want to be nice, or stupid, if you want to be realistic. Essentially, it wouldn't have made any user happy nor would it have made me money. No one would win. Fortunately the Asset Store submission got lost somehow and remembering the awful drawings I had for the Asset Store pictures, it really was for the best.

This Time For Real
The lesson I leared was that if you want to do something do it either right or don't do it at all. People will remember a halfassed effort and you will never be able to shake it off. Instead I decided to get serious this time, I switched my language from JavaScript to C#, dug into the deepest depths of the Unity documentation and learned many new things along the way. At times it was infuriating, at times it was fantastic and at times it was plain boring. Nonetheless, if I had the chance to travel back in time I wouldn't do anything differently (except for some lessons I had to learn the hard way), the experience alone of crafting something on your own and working towards a goal is very rewarding. I don't think there was anything left from the first draft, and even if it was it is all gone by now. Good riddance.
If it had been just the coding part it would have been enough already. Being a one man team however, I also had to write the documentation, design a logo, create the Asset Store promotional material and write descriptions for the Store and the forum thread. I never learned anything about marketing, but I did work in retail, this is where my exerience came in handy. On the internet I can think all day about the description text, but when it comes to talking face to face with real people your brain has to act very quickly.

The First Release
If you were to ask me what the hardest part was, I would say finishing it. There comes a point when you have to draw the line and stop adding new features so you can iron out the remaining bugs and wrap up the lose ends. There were still some left after the release though, mainly the integration into Unity's interface, no cusom inspectors for the grid classes and the complete lack of rendering. I decided to tackle those as quickly as possible, for I was running out of time.

The 1.1.x Line
I had no idea how to do the rendering and at one point I was considering imitating Vectrosity's behaviour (after asking for permission of course). Anyone who owns Vectrosity and who has taken a look at the code will be blown away by all the work of the author, there was no way I could just rip out some parts and call it a day. Instead I decided to write my own rendering solution and offer Vectrosity support as an option, since I already had a license and the two looked like a perfect fit. Both solutions work in fundamentally different ways, so users can choose the one they like best. Yay for choice ^^
After getting rendering, the biggest missing feature, and Vectrosity support out I had two things to do: many small improvements like a custom rendering range or additional functions and of course hex grids. This was during the summer when I was busy studying for exams, so my work on Grid Framework slowed down to a crawl after the first few 1.1.x releases.

Version 1.2.x and hex grids
After the exams I was finally able to devote time to Grid Framework again. The hardest part about hex grids was not so much the math, although that wasn't easy either, but how many possibilities there are to do hex grids. I already discussed this topic a few months ago, but this was a real pain. It was clear I wouldn't write several classes, so I had to design my code to accommodate for all the cases. In the end the solution was not really hard, it was the journey there, I just couldn't find anything on the internet or in any book about how to do it. What really matters in the end though, is that I was able to deliver one class for all cases, fitting right with my design principles established in the first release.

The Future of Grid Framework
Well, that's it for last year, but what can you expect for 2013? First of all, I'm working on my own website, so far it has only been this blog and the forum thread, but I would like to give Grid Framework a proper web presence. I had to learn HTML and CSS from scratch, but the site is almost done, just a few finishing touches and it should be up soon.
Hex grids have the same feature set as rectangular grids, but there is more we can do with them, most notably more coordinate systems. Expect more updates for hex grids after the site has launched. There are also a few minor features I would like to get done all across Grid Framework, so I'll add them inbetween the more important releases.
Triangular grids and path finding are next on the priority list, I just haven't decided which one would be more important. Triangular grids sound easier, but path finding seems more useful. I'll have to think this over when the time comes.

Well, that's it for this time. Have a good year 2013 and thank you all for your support :)