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Starsector 0.97a is out! (02/02/24)

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Author Topic: Vapourware?  (Read 4275 times)

Ryan390

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Vapourware?
« on: March 02, 2022, 06:14:58 AM »

Is this game still being finished towards 1.0? As in story progression etc?

I see we are adding new ships and features like the slipstream lanes, is the story progression actively being worked on?

Roughly if so how close might that be to a 1.0? I know you can't give a date, or possibly even a rough estimation..

But in terms of are we years off or months off? We've had a close to 1.0 product for a while now.. Except maybe the skills system needing constant refinement, every other mechanic is pretty much there.

I think a steam release with a 1.0 would really give you a nice new wave of sales too, not sure if you're planning a 1.0 steam release (or why you wouldn't) but there would certainly be money in that.

12+ years of development you probably want to be financially compensated for that.. A 1.0 would give you that.

Not saying to rush development, I think we can safely say if anything it's been anything else but rushed. As mentioned it's been close to a 1.0 product in look and feel and polish, for some time now, albeit an evolving skill system.

I don't see why finishing the story off and getting a release out should be a problem, or take many more years to do.

Sometimes you can keep trying to change a formula so much that you end up breaking it, it's a bit like body dysmorphia. Sometimes there isn't a problem there but you believe there is.

Before you know it you have Michael Jacksons nose?


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Falcon_BR

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2022, 07:22:19 AM »

I don't think you are on the same page that everyone else is.

Ok, the sandbox is kind of ready, the developers are working on the other parts of the game right now.
After we finish the main quest, finish exploring, starting colonizing, so what now? Yes, it can take 40 hours to complete that, but sandbox story focuses games, like rimworld, the story would continue until you reach what you consider the end of the game, escaping for the planet, killing all enemies, controling the empire, it is your decision, but we still don't have an endgame goal on starsector, we can just glass everyone so they stop raiding you and recolonizing the planets with AI cores, and that is it.

So, if you want a sandbox, the game is ready, but I don't believe this is the goal, and I love to play it again once a year when the game get a huge update.
I did chat with Tynan (rimworld developer) and the rest of the community a lot, and I love when he respond to my and other members suggestions, I am still hated for some people for proposing the game to migrate to 64 bits only, because BF3 was 64 bits only and it was 5 years older, and nobody complained about it! Tynan always said the same, we don't need more them 3 gigas of memory to play rimworld, and I proved him that if I am, like a lot of community members that install +100 mods, we can easily reach the end of the memory, so he accepted and now rimworld is 64 bits only.

I am kind of new here, so I don't know how is the community evolved in the development of this game, but in rimworld, QoL mods were incorporated every single new release, I can't believe I need a mod to use the move all items to storage, also, why we don't have a folder with custom portraits? Maybe with subfolders for each faction, it is not hard to do it, if we have a github if the code, I can do it in 2 hours max.
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Yunru

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2022, 09:45:41 AM »

Also I think you need to check your definitions. By definition Starsector can't be considered vapourware, since there's a playable product.

geminitiger

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2022, 12:57:17 AM »

OP, see attached.

[attachment deleted by admin]
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Euripides

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2022, 10:24:24 PM »

It's not vaporware but the game definitely doesn't get the development attention it used to get years ago. It is, quite honestly, borderline abandonware. I think the guys working on it really do so on their off time and when they feel inclined, so it's not unusual to see the game get no blog posts or updates for 3-6 months at a time or longer.

Updates that do come along seem to be more spur of the moment type of things rather than dedicated systematic work, and there's no roadmap showing the community what milestones are being met and what timetables are being kept to like I see with other early access games, so its impossible to even know if there's actually work being done or it's now a one-day-a-month project.

It's a good game, but it's basically finished. I wouldn't hold my breath on much else being added to it.

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pearagon

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2022, 03:50:49 AM »

I would not be so eager to productize Starsector. If the team’s goal was maximizing profit, we would have a product already, and whether or not that would result in a better game by any heuristic besides revenue is doubtful in my opinion.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 04:00:01 AM by kintsu »
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David

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2022, 06:04:35 AM »

As a dev, it's generally a bad idea to respond to threads like this, but... (here we go!)

Disclaimer first: these opinions are my own, not those of Alex or Fractal Softworks, Inc. etc.

I think the guys working on it...

If you are unsure about some aspect of development, you can ask. You can do it on this forum, on Twitter, or via email. If you ask in good faith, it's very likely you'll get a good faith answer. Please, don't just say answers you think feel right. When someone else reads it and repeats it elsewhere like its truth it becomes a big pain to get correct information out.

To address your points directly: Alex works on this game full-time. It is his job. I work on it part-time, alongside a couple other indie game projects. I am a contractor.

The feature milestone list is here by the way, and I concede that it is very abstract. The last remaining point is basically "add a story you can finish". We're doing that. (And much more.)



I've got some general statements and thoughts on indie game dev publicity; please understand that these _my_ perspective rather than Alex's.

This is a job I did at Gaslamp Games. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it was awful. Depending on the project and release schedule I could spend from 10% to 90% of my work-time doing PR/marketing stuff. In a small company, that adds up fast, and quickly begs the question of "do you want to be marketed to or do you want the game to be worked on?"

Publicly released milestones are marketing, not necessarily indicative of the actual state of affairs or of useful work that is done or will be done. Further, it increases risk to a project to release speculative plans because these are commonly interpreted by customers as a set-in-stone promise to deliver precisely described features. If those features turn out to be unfeasible for some reason the developer has to put PR time (costing development time) into explaining exactly why and doing emotional labour to make sure the news doesn't hurt community support for the project. Or the developer can martyr themselves by pursuing an infeasible features-set that lowers the quality of the product, their working-life, and risks burnout and bankruptcy (I ended up in something vaguely including all of this and it was hell. The high-communication indie dev marketing strategy wasn't the only or even key reason for failure, but it didn't help).


Backing up:
Alex's approach is to announces features after they're finished. There's no risk of failure! It does take a long time, however. And unfortunately this does not work very well with story features and secret content that can be spoiled. Like if we do a blog post detailing the end-game content, that somewhat ruins the fun doesn't it? In short, most of the really exciting stuff we're working on can't be talked about if we want to maximize player enjoyment of the game. There's other stuff happening too, but it'll necessarily entail finished chunks being revealed on a slower schedule from an outside perspective.

So the question I would ask is, do you like what you've gotten out of the process so far? There's proof that it's been - yes, slowly - delivering for, uh, something like 10 years. It's totally fine to take a break and pick up the game later; if you put your email on the email list you'll get a notice when the next update is released.


And if there is something you would like to know about development, all you have to do is ask. Maybe you won't get an answer, but maybe you will.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 10:29:25 AM by David »
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Falcon_BR

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2022, 06:57:55 AM »

As a dev, it's generally a bad idea to respond to threads like this, but... (here we go!)

Disclaimer first: these opinions are my own, not those of Alex or Fractal Softworks, Inc. etc.

I think the guys working on it...

If you are unsure about some aspect of development, you can ask. You can do it on this forum, on Twitter, or via email. If you ask in good faith, it's very likely you'll get a good faith answer. Please, don't just say answers you think feel right. When someone else reads it and repeats it elsewhere like its truth it becomes a big pain to get correct information out.

To address your points directly: Alex works on this game full-time. It is his job. I work on it part-time, alongside a couple other indie game projects. I am a contractor.

The feature milestone list is here by the way, and I concede that it is very abstract. The last remaining point is basically "add a story you can finish". We're doing that. (And much more.)



I've got some general statements and thoughts on indie game dev publicity; please understand that these _my_ perspective rather than Alex's.

This is a job I did at Gaslamp Games. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it was awful. Depending on the project and release schedule I could spend from 10% to 90% of my work-time doing PR/marketing stuff. In a small company, that adds up fast, and quickly begs the question of "do you want to be marketed to or do you want the game to be worked on?"

Publicly released milestones are marketing, not necessarily indicative of the actual state of affairs or of useful work that is done or will be done. Further, it increases risk to a project to release speculative plans because these are commonly interpreted by customers as a set-in-stone promise to deliver precisely described features. If those features turn out to be unfeasible for some reason the developer has to put PR time (costing development time) into explaining exactly why and doing emotional labour to make sure the news doesn't hurt community support for the project. Or the developer can martyr themselves by pursuing an infeasible features-set that lowers the quality of the product, their working-life, and risks burnout and bankruptcy (I ended up in something vaguely including all of this and it was hell. The high-communication indie dev marketing strategy wasn't the only or even key reason for failure, but it didn't help).


Backing up:
Alex's approach is to announces features after they're finished. There's no risk of failure! It does take a long time, however. And unfortunately this does not work very well with story features and secret content that can be spoiled. Like if we do a blog post detailing the end-game content, that somewhat ruins the fun doesn't it? In short, most of the really exciting stuff we're working on can't be talked about if we want to maximize player enjoyment of the game. There's other stuff happening too, but it'll necessarily entail finished chunks being revealed on a slower schedule from an outside perspective.

So the question I would ask is, do you like what you've gotten out of the process so far? There's proof that it's been - yes, slowly - delivering for, uh, something like 10 years. It's totally fine to take a break and pick up the game later; if you put your email on the email list you'll get a notice when the next update is released.


And if there is something you would like to know about development, all you have to do is ask. Maybe you won't get an answer, but maybe you will.

Thanks for this, I already love the game, but this community is great!
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Ryan390

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2022, 08:16:00 AM »

Also I think you need to check your definitions. By definition Starsector can't be considered vapourware, since there's a playable product.

Well done for using google, the term might mean slightly different things to people. However my understanding (and it's original intent, it seems):
From Wikipedia:

"Vaporware" was coined by a Microsoft engineer in 1982 to describe the company's Xenix operating system and first appeared in print in a newsletter by entrepreneur Esther Dyson in 1983. It became popular among writers in the industry as a way to describe products they felt took too long to be released. InfoWorld magazine editor Stewart Alsop helped popularize it by lampooning Bill Gates with a Golden Vaporware award for the late release of his company's first version of Windows in 1985.

The meaning and context might have morphed and evolved over the years but I was of course referring to software that's 'taking too long to release' I guess it also depends on your definition of a release.
Is beta a release? Is Early access a release? Technically yes, but is software actually only 'released' (fully) when it's completed? As-in a 1.0 version..

I think when the title is done / finished / 1.0 who knows lets say 6/7 years from now.. then it's truly fully released isn't it? Ready to be enjoyed in it's fullest, so to speak. If that's the case and we was living in 1982, would that get you awarded a "Vapourware" award from Stelwart Alsop?  ::)
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Ryan390

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2022, 08:20:53 AM »

OP, see attached.

Seen that plenty of times my friend over the years, working a a software developer for 11 years.. :)

My personal favourite:


« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 08:22:45 AM by Ryan390 »
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Ryan390

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2022, 08:28:42 AM »

I don't think you are on the same page that everyone else is.

Not sure what you mean by 'not on the same page' there's a few issues with that statement:

- You're new to the community, possibly the game, how do you know what 'page' people are on?
- Even if you somehow did know and people were on said page.. What page do you mean exactly and what relevance does that have to a title that's been in development for 12 years?

Personally if everyone in the community, including the developers themselves happened to be exactly on the same page, it'd probably make for a pretty boring, cookie cutter title.
I think having people on different pages and with different views and opinions is what gives us diversity, different ways of thinking and working.


« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 08:56:48 AM by Ryan390 »
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Ryan390

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2022, 08:54:24 AM »

Appreciate the time for you to message back, as a developer. Any response from a dev perspective makes a post worthwhile (however clickbait it might of been)

As a dev, it's generally a bad idea to respond to threads like this, but... (here we go!)

It shouldn't be in a closely knit community or (IMO) ever an issue with any software release. This isn't Cyberpunk, it's not Stalker 2, It's not Starfield, you're not going to get corporately slammed or risk a billion $ share price tanking if you speak to the community.

If you was working for 2K, Rockstar, EA, Ubisoft etc.. It'd be a different story. The whole point of indie development teams having a stronger footing, than triple AAA software houses, is they are afforded the luxury of candidness and openness with their customers. Without significant financial ramifications and / or hitting deadlines.

Obviously CD Projekt Red didn't have that luxury, they released too much marketing, too many promises, too many deadline promises.. The game was a car crash on launch.
That's obviously how NOT to release software or run a software house. That's not happening here, not ever happened here, nor runs that risk. Again this isn't a corporation that sinks millions/billions into a title on marketing alone, let alone development.

This is a job I did at Gaslamp Games. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it was awful. Depending on the project and release schedule I could spend from 10% to 90% of my work-time doing PR/marketing stuff. In a small company, that adds up fast, and quickly begs the question of "do you want to be marketed to or do you want the game to be worked on?"

Publicly released milestones are marketing, not necessarily indicative of the actual state of affairs or of useful work that is done or will be done. Further, it increases risk to a project to release speculative plans because these are commonly interpreted by customers as a set-in-stone promise to deliver precisely described features. If those features turn out to be unfeasible for some reason the developer has to put PR time (costing development time) into explaining exactly why and doing emotional labour to make sure the news doesn't hurt community support for the project. Or the developer can martyr themselves by pursuing an infeasible features-set that lowers the quality of the product, their working-life, and risks burnout and bankruptcy (I ended up in something vaguely including all of this and it was hell. The high-communication indie dev marketing strategy wasn't the only or even key reason for failure, but it didn't help).

I can imagine that is frustrating, when you're technically minded and you get dragged into meetings and requirements gathering, doing anything other than what you're really good at (development)
Had it myself over the years, being a developer in a medium/large company has it's downsides and it seems physically writing code is only a small part of the role.

However in those kinds of companies you are expected to have working software out the door in a timely manner. Dashboards / Alerting / Unit + Integration Tests. New Relic Monitoring on servers, etc..
You can (and we do) still release quality working software in a relatively timely manner if you:

- Take the MVP approach
- Modularise the code, slow down and discuss and agree a nice architectural approach, avoid working in silos,
- Have a close relationship with your stakeholders and listen and demo early and often
- Avoid reinventing the wheel and use what works

In terms of corporate level development (can't speak for the games industry, but I imagine it has the same paradigms)
Projects are filtered down by the CEO / high level project stakeholders, I.T as a function is a delivery function to turn those ideas into reality. When you work for corporations that have millions of ££'s of sales on the line, you have to get something out the door.
We literally couldn't take 12 years to develop something, it's just not possible. Most modern day dev teams work in sprints, some still adopt waterfall, it just depends on the team structure and the type of work they are expected to release.

You guys aren't in that position, your a small indie team with as much time as you see fit, I guess my point is it's just been 12 years and the only major story update was the latest one with the Provost And 'Zig' etc..
it was nice to see that update and it was a pretty beefy one, but its seems to have stalled again.

Could be wrong, I know you say you're working on 'interesting features' - that's been the narrative for as long as I've been following Star Sector, (roughly 11+ years)
Really the modding community (praise them) has kept this community alive (IMO) and without them I think you would of struggled to retain a large part of the community and interest.
You're pretty fortunate to have such a strong and faithful dev community.

Going back to the marketing angle, I guess StarSector markets itself, it's got strong interest because it's a good game, my OP was really just a nudge to see where your at with regards to mindset and a 1.0 release.
It's obvious you can't / won't give a timeline, not really asking for that or even details of upcoming releases as I agree it would spoil the game.

However a 'rough' high level roadmap of what features might be coming up, could be useful.

- Tweaks
- Balancing
- Tweaks
- Tweaks
- New Content
- Tweaks
- Story Progression
- New Content
- Balancing
- Balancing


etc..?

Apologies if this already exists!  ::)
« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 10:22:54 AM by Ryan390 »
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2022, 09:09:09 AM »

Also I think you need to check your definitions. By definition Starsector can't be considered vapourware, since there's a playable product.

Well done for using google, the term might mean slightly different things to people. However my understanding (and it's original intent, it seems):
From Wikipedia:

"Vaporware" was coined by a Microsoft engineer in 1982 to describe the company's Xenix operating system and first appeared in print in a newsletter by entrepreneur Esther Dyson in 1983. It became popular among writers in the industry as a way to describe products they felt took too long to be released. InfoWorld magazine editor Stewart Alsop helped popularize it by lampooning Bill Gates with a Golden Vaporware award for the late release of his company's first version of Windows in 1985.

The meaning and context might have morphed and evolved over the years but I was of course referring to software that's 'taking too long to release' I guess it also depends on your definition of a release.
Is beta a release? Is Early access a release? Technically yes, but is software actually only 'released' (fully) when it's completed? As-in a 1.0 version..

I think when the title is done / finished / 1.0 who knows lets say 6/7 years from now.. then it's truly fully released isn't it? Ready to be enjoyed in it's fullest, so to speak. If that's the case and we was living in 1982, would that get you awarded a "Vapourware" award from Stelwart Alsop?  ::)
The following post will severely date me. :)

I'll point out, back in 1982, products didn't have alpha or beta releases to the entire public at large.  You bought your software on a floppy disk, and there wasn't an easy way to simply patch or download a new version of the commercial software, without going back to the store.  If you could buy it, it was by definition released.

Keep in mind, TCP/IP was only defined in something like 1981?  ARPA net had deployed it in maybe 1983? The internet of 2022 and how it is used, or even 2012, simply did not exist.  There was none of this, "give us money and we'll give you an alpha product and also keep updating it" for the vast majority of commercial software.  Back then, there was perhaps an announcement in a print magazine, perhaps not.  There was no real way to interact with the developers without picking up a phone or sending them a letter.  Even the the Eternal September of Usenet didn't happen until 1993.  So essentially you had silence during development, and then, the product was offered to sale once ready.  So at least in the original context, vapourware implied there was no code at all in paying user hands.

In my personal experience, I've never seen the term used in the case of software with actual paying customers actively using it.  Certainly for me, Starsector is more fun and feature complete than a number of computer games from the 1980s and 1990s that wouldn't have been called vapourware, even when accounting for computer and software advancements.
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Ryan390

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2022, 10:08:23 AM »

Very true, I do remember buying Amiga floppy disks (games came in big cardboard boxes with several manuals) nice artwork and packaging. You knew the disk inside contained a finished game.
Let's not get caught up too much on semantics and nostalgia though as it's really a bit distracting over the heart of the point(s) made around software release.

Titles back then were very hit / miss as a result, it was either going to be a smash hit (luckily) or it wouldn't be.
We have the luxury now of having incremental releases, customer relationships, the internet, agile processes, etc..

If you look at what David Braben did with the remake of Elite (Elite Dangerous) He got an MVP product out pretty quickly.
Single ship, take off from a single station with nothing much else in the game. Nothing to buy, nothing to trade, no systems to visit.

Demo early, feedback early, get the bug list early. Balance and tweak quickly while it's fresh, consolidate.

Then single ship vs a single ship (first combat iteration mechanic)
- Tweaks
- Add planets to existing system (more visual effect)
- Add light drive mechanic (fly from planet to planet) - no landing or anything yet.

etc.. So you can see the kind of incremental design, he hasn't been obsessing over polishing one feature over and over, it had some bugs at launch but the features were tidied up still.
Not saying you should just release stuff and throw it out, Braben didn't 'rush' anything, but  still found a way to have a good working product. One of the MVP bugs he had (and I had it) was instantly exploding player ship for no reason.. And?
it got patched quickly..

I'm saying you can still have your cake and eat it, if you choose to. You can build quality, incremental working software (in this day and age) and still have a relationship with your community and not shoot yourself in the foot.

I know Braben has a massive team behind him at Frontier studios, but he's also building a 3D triple AAA game with massively higher graphics and complex systems such as anything you can see to you can fly and potentially land on (except stars and certain planets) So the fact they have a massive dev team is kind of offset by the massively ambitious title they are building.

I guess the point is that within a few months they had a ship pilotable, then combat and landing and simple trading a couple of stations. Within a year or two you're looking at inter system travel and combat. Multiple ships / modification, etc.. That's a little different to 12 years dev time, whatever he did worked for him and he still had a quality product, so it's not like it cant be done, even at an indie level.

You even mentioned it yourself, Star Sector is pretty much a finished game in terms of look/feel & mechanics, I agree.. So I see little point in more balance changes / tweaks and would like to see story progression as number 1 on the list.
You can polish an apple forever, sure, but if the teacher dies of old age before you pass it her, what's the point?   ::)

Maybe I'd like to see 1.0 before being hit by a bus?  ::) (Dramatic & Metaphorical, but does that make sense?) We aren't 2 years in here, we are 12..

I play the game, put it down for a while wait for months for updates, or even years. By then had multiple new PC's over the last 12 years, so always ended up buying more copies of Star Sector.
I've supported this game for 12 years and paid for multiple copies, so nothing wrong with wanting a 1.0 especially when seeing all the features are already fine (ok the skill system needed tweaking if anything)



« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 10:25:32 AM by Ryan390 »
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Jaghaimo

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Re: Vapourware?
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2022, 10:26:35 AM »

You can "see" progress being made through changes to publicly available API (which us modders do use daily, much appreciated Alex).

It is only a part of the game, but between 0.9.1a (May 2019) and 0.95a (March 2021) Alex has written 74k LoC and removed 5.6k. Then between 0.95a and 0.95.1a (Dec 2021, with further RCs) he added 30k LoC and removed 1.9k. As of now, API consists of over 1500 files and 182k LoC.

I would hardly call it vaporware (and certainly not abandonware).
« Last Edit: March 04, 2022, 10:35:47 AM by Jaghaimo »
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