Well it's been a while since the last dev blog post, so I figured it was time to update a little as to what's going on with regards to R1.5. R1.5 is the planned big multiplayer release. The idea is to get multiplayer working well enough that we can start to regular gaming sessions on Diaspora rather than the haphazard, occasional gaming experience we have now.
So here's the plan.
1) My first goal is to convert the entire main campaign (with the exception of the optional mission, which is inherently a single player mission) to 12 player multiplayer. Mission 2 has already been converted as a test of this.
2) Next is a community issue rather than one just affecting the team. The Diaspora team is simply not big enough to playtest multiplayer missions like the planned campaign in-house. For this reason, we'll be releasing beta and alpha versions of the missions as soon as they are done to the community for playtesting. If we get a lot of good feedback, we'll be able to fix the missions so that they reach our standards and we might consider adding more new missions to multiplayer.
3) Once the missions themselves are working, it will be time to work on the code. Unfortunately FS2_Open has rather poor net code. The code was written 14 or more years ago and with the exception of bug fixes, has been barely touched since. Furthermore the standalone server has been rather neglected (although work is in progress to rectify that, and Linux or Mac OS X versions of the server were recently implemented). Improvements to the net code are obviously required but so far the biggest problem is the lack of good playtesters (another reason why step 2 is so important).
4) Once the missions are suitably tested, the plan is to release R1.5. If we've seen sufficient interest from the community, we hope to add some new missions in R1.5 with voice acting. This probably won't mean the end of the multiplayer beta though as multiplayer missions will continue to be developed with help from the community.
In the meanwhile, we're continuing work on R2. Progress has been somewhat slow of late but it is still moving.