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Michael's Blog Bytes
Mar
03

March already?

Why does February only have 28 days? It has no business being that short – always feels the lack of those two extra days when I’m busy. Anyway – a little bit of the current status.

I’ve been trying to release new screenshots/graphics regularly each week, but this weekend just got too busy. I’ll try to resume with that this week or the next. Apart from that, the first few months this year have gone into heavy development.

Much of January was spent working on the code in Dwarf King. Most of the framework for the game is now in place, although there remain some parts that are still not fully developed. I’ll have to go back through some of the code there; but I don’t want to build a lot of functionality in there that I might then decide to throw away. At the moment, I’m pretty much waiting for some of the content for the game to be produced (i.e., maps, storylines, etc), while I work on other aspects.

An important milestone for Pirates and Traders 2 was reached, when I received the new in-game map. That required some re-work of the game engine as I ran into some unexpected performance issues, but most of those should be solved now. I love the new map (which I posted on FB), and work is now progressing on filling in the map data. Unlike the original game, the P&T2 map will be a grid map, so every space on the map needs to have data encoded (name, description – if it’s an interesting place, special features, etc). It’s a lot of work – unfortunately – but I think the result will be worth it.

Finally, I’ve been working on a major “rebuild” of the Small Battles combat engine. Combat is an important component of Dwarf King, and it is of course not irrelevant in Pirates and Traders 2 either. I experimented with a couple of different combat models, but I’ve now eventually – I hope – settled on the version I’m going to use. Assuming things work the way I want them to, it’ll be a simple turn-based combat system, played out on a hex grid. I’ve been putting the finishing touches to the new version in the past weeks, and assuming I soon get rid of the last bugs, I might do some alpha testing of that soon and integrating with the Pirates and Traders as well as Dwarf King engines.

Next Stops:

  • Finishing the Pirates and Traders 2 map data.
  • Integrating the combat engine into Dwarf King and P&T2.
  • Finish up the next Pirates and Traders update.

Now, back to working out the kinks in that battle engine.


 

Jan
29

New Years Update

Happy New Year, everyone. I had a long Christmas vacation this year, and it’s taken time to catch up with the backlog of e-mails, messages and work since coming back. Way too long, to be honest, but that’s sometimes how it goes with the indie life, when other commitments interfere. In any case, I am slowly working through e-mails, and will try to respond to any posts that may be lacking a reply. If you have sent me a message and haven’t gotten the expected reply yet, please try again.

In the meantime, work has been progressing on the games. Much of the work has focused on Dwarf King in the game algorithms and UI, and I’m hoping to soon have the game in a playable version. Specific work on Pirates and Traders 2 has been fairly limited, although a lot of the things that I am doing on DK will transfer to P&T2 as well. The biggest task that is going on with P&T2 right now (and almost complete) is the development of the new in-game map. I’ll be posting a sneak peak of the new map sometime soon.

Still not sure when either game will be ready for the first public testing, but I’m working as fast as I can, and if I have my way, there’ll be something out in the near future.


 

Jul
29

Hot July

Well, at least here in Norway. Which is great, because it means lots of time out and about in the sun, playing with my sons. It does mean that I’m doing a good deal less programming than it if were rainy and dreary, but I’m not complaining. Even if the good weather means slower progress, there is always progress.

Most of my work on new games for the past month, has been focused on Small Battles. This is because I intend the Small Battles game engine to form the core of the land combat engine for most of my future games, so getting this right is important. Keeping this in mind, has caused me to make some important changes to the game engine. The original design called for simultaneous turns, but the initial play tests and my own experimentation convinced me that this kind of phased movement (first issue orders, then see the results) is a step too abstract for many. Consequently the turn sequence is now standard I Go, You Go turns. I also streamlined a few other  elements that needlessly complicated the rules, without adding any appreciable depth to the game. It’s still not as simple as I would ideally like it to be, but I think the new version is a lot more intuitive to play than the original.

Once I’m done testing it, and fixed some more bells and whistles to it, I’ll probably put it up on Google Play using the alpha test system.

In the meantime, I’m back to work on Dwarf King and Pirates and Traders 2. The former is getting a bunch of the graphics done at the moment, including some (in my completely biased opinion) really ace portraits. I’ve posted one on the facebook site, and more will come later. On Pirates and Traders 2, I’ve mostly been playing around with the map lately, ensuring that map elements display correctly. The next step will be to add actions and the status screen; or possibly to check out how big a map I can really use. I would really love to have a map including the Gulf of Mexico so that we can get places like Campeche on the game map, but there’s always the thing about app size. At those size, one can easily end up with a map that fills 15Mb all on its own – and Pirates and Traders is already a pretty big app to begin with.

I’m not completely done with vacation this summer yet, so if responses are a little slow during August, my apologies in advance. If you send me an e-mail and I don’t reply during the weekend, do feel free to ping me again.

Hope you all are enjoying the weather.


 

Jun
24

Summer Blues

The time before summer holidays is often a busy time, and so this year has proven as well. For the past few weeks I’ve been working on a variety of issues (including fixing a bug in Pirates and Traders), but my time has been pretty limited due to a number of reasons, mostly work related. Worse than the slow progress, though, is that my response time on bug reports has been pretty slow. My apologies if you’ve sent me a bug report, and haven’t got a timely reply, or posted a question on FB and suffered the same fate. It is, unfortunately, the sort of thing that happens when operating a one-person operation on a part-time basis.

Anyway, a few things have been happening during the past few weeks.

Pirates and Traders 2.6.7 was released, containing a new (infrequently) recurring mission that can earn the player a native banner. I think this was needed, since previously you could only earn the banner in two unique missions, and your chances of either of them succeeding was not very high. I’ve also started exploratory work on Pirates and Traders 2, and I hope to write a little bit about the ideas I want to implement in that game on the facebook page soon.

A lot of time has been devoted to Small Battles. I wasn’t really happy with the first alpha version of the game, so I’ve made some important changes to the game mechanics. Currently putting in some effort there, before I return to work on Dwarf King. Just received the first of (hopefully) many character portraits for the latter, so things have been happening on that front too, albeit at a slightly slower pace. In either case, I hope/expect to be able to devote more time to development over the next couple of months, as well as sharing some of my thoughts with respect to the projects I’m working on.

 


 

May
12

I/O’s Ahead

So, version 2.6.6 of Pirates and Traders has gone out, and no serious new bugs seem to have been introduced beyond the troubles with the locale settings. I’m still seeing reports of OutOfMemory errors in my dashboard though, which is disappointing – I was hoping to put a bigger dent into that problem with a small fix in 2.6.5. We’ll see if that improves over the next couple of weeks, while I prepare the next release.

Work this week has otherwise been focused entirely on Dwarf King. I built up the Fortress UI, decided I didn’t like it, and will soon tear most of the code down to rebuild it in a simpler format. The problem here is that we (Ashton and I) have a lot of ideas that we’d like to put into the resource-management game, but keeping all of the information and decisions visible in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the player is difficult. Think of the trade goods in Pirates and Traders, and imagine that you now also need to administrate the production and consumption of all those goods, as well as build the facilities to produce them, and you’ll get an idea of the difficulty of doing a good interface to this.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to hear what new developments turn up at Google I/O. Something I’ve been hoping for to happen for several years now is the release of GameCenter-like service by Google for Android; that development seems to finally be happening this year, judging from the rumors. There are also strong rumors – supported by a Google I/O session on the topic – that this new service will support multi-player gaming. That would be very good news for Small Battles, which I really consider to be more of a multi-player game than single player. It also means I might dust off some of my old multi-player designs, and see how they fit into my development schedule.

Actually, on second thought, that’s not really positive – I have way more things to do than I have time to do them in. Why does converting an idea to an actual product have to take so much work?


 

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