I wanted to write a post to talk a little bit about my current thoughts about the next version of bitsy: 8.0.
first of all, I want to say a huge huge thanks to everyone who participated in the beta test at the end of last year! ✨ it is an enormous help to hear from y’all - in the end I got almost 50 pieces of feedback via the google form, not to mention all the great discussion on discord ❤️
it’s taken me a little while to sort through everything, and I’m still mulling a lot of it over, but in this post I wanted to summarize some of themes I saw, and talk about what I’m thinking of working on next
the four main themes that stood out to me from the bitsy 8.0 beta feedback I got were:
- there’s so many changes in the beta that to have all that at once would be disruptive to existing workflows, hacks, and tutorials
- general concern about compatibility with prior versions
- additionally, concern about rising complexity (especially whether it would make bitsy less approachable to newcomers)
- some of the new features, such as the secret codes, are fun/quirky but in a way that makes them hard to learn and use
for now, I am pausing work on the version of bitsy 8.0 that I shared in the beta
I’m actively working on a couple of things next:
first, I am planning a v2 of the bitsy 8.0 beta. this will probably be some (much smaller) subset of the features in the current beta, although which ones are TBD
second, I’m in the early stages of exploring what a built-in module or extension system for bitsy would look like. the idea here is that an extension system would allow some new features to be opt-in, reducing the complexity problem I mentioned above. it would also allow you to install additional tools in bitsy that would appear alongside the built-in tools like the room tool and paint tool. in a future post I’ll write in more detail about what I imagine this system could look like ☺️
and one last thing I’ve been thinking about related to the beta:
several of the new beta features relied on extending the bitsy dialog scripting language (aka “curlicue”) to allow dynamic changes to rooms (such as moving or adding sprites). I took that approach because dialog is already programmable, so it seemed like a natural spot for that kind of feature. however, the dialog tool is already one of, if not the, most complex part of bitsy, and the new features added an additional burden to a tool that already has issues with usability and discoverability. I still like the potential for this kind of feature since I think if done right it could make it much easier for folks to make things like simple puzzles and characters that move or change their appearance. but I think first I’d need to think about what usability improvements could be made to the dialog tool, or whether there’s a different, more “bitsy-ish” way to add interactive/dynamic stuff.
thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. ☺️ I’ll wrap up with a couple of questions for y’all:
- what would you like to see in a module/extension system for bitsy?
- do you have any recommendations of small game engines that have a friendly or novel approach to adding interactive or dynamic stuff?