Is HaxArena a myth?

Date: January 6, 2016 Posted by: Chris St. John In: Uncategorized

I’ve been spending some time playing HaxBall as “csj@haxarena.com”, and started to get a lot of questions. I’m sensing a fair amount of disdain: players either think HaxArena is an elaborate hoax, or are otherwise simply not convinced the game will be built in their lifetimes. We hear your concerns and we owe you an explanation.

Why is it taking so long?

HaxArena’s development team has undergone a few changes in its lifetime. The game has been built to proof-of-concept stage by at least two other separate teams (that I know of). The latest team built a working prototype of the game, and that’s what you’re seeing on the website at present, with a few small modifications by yours truly.

Progress has been painfully slow from past teams for one simple reason: there has been a disconnect between the project’s owner (Aaron) and its programmers. The programmers were not HaxBall players themselves, and there was a large time gap: the programmers were overseas. Because the communication was so light (emails once a week from an arms-length project manager), the programmers would work and Aaron would be underwhelmed with the result. The feedback cycle was slow, and there they were, months and months later, with little to show.

I started chatting with Aaron a few months ago when I noticed a room called HaxArena ← NEW HAXBALL! I was immediately interested because I had started a HaxBall replacement of my own as a pet project — here was an opportunity to work with somebody who was already established. Many conversations later, I got my hands on the previous work, and here we are. I will be your resident code monkey going forward, so buckle up; it’s going to be a fun year.

Current status

Currently, there is a working prototype of the game posted at play.haxarena.com. Because the game is far from finished, access is limited to invitees only. It uses only a single dedicated server located in Newark, USA. If you are fairly close to that area, and would like to have a look around, shoot me or Aaron an email and we can hook you up with a code — just don’t expect much to be polished.

Short term plan

My current effort is going into reaching more players with a playable experience. This includes two major efforts: a big code refactoring / architectural overhaul, and building support for multiple game servers that players choose between when they first log into the system. At present, the game suffers some noticeable jitter effects due to lag the farther you are away from our server, and this severely limits the number of players we can support at this time. After building in the support for multiple servers, and spinning up more dedicated servers in different parts of the world, we will open it up to a wider audience.

I (cautiously) hope to have this ready in the next few weeks, say late January.

After that, I will be switching my attention to features that are lacking from the prototype: chat, game timers, admin functions (kicking/banning, assigning teams), loading maps, setting game parameters (time/score limits).

Long term plan

That depends on you! I’ve laid out a lot of ideas that I want to add to HaxArena, but we need to hear from you for more ideas, or how important you think the various features are. Our efforts will largely be shaped by your feedback, so please keep it coming.

Please don’t ask me when the game will be done. It will never be “done”. I intend to work on the game continuously and publish regular updates; such is the beauty of web development. In any event, I will be posting regular updates to this blog to keep you informed about our progress and immediate plans.

Summary

I hope this sheds some light on the HaxArena story. I’ve had a great time working on this game so far, and I’m only getting started. My vision for HaxArena is grand indeed and I look forward to collaborating with the community on its future direction.

csj and the HaxArena team

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