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More thoughts on Pirates and Traders 2

I’ve posted some more thoughts on Pirates and Traders 2 over on the Facebook page.



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.




Thoughts on Pirates and Traders 2

So, Google I/O has come and gone, and along with it came the announcement of something I’ve been wishing to see for a very, very long time: Google Play Services with highscores, achievements, cloud saves, etc.

The big question that this leaves me with, of course, is what to do with Pirates and Traders. High scores are easy to add; I can simply use the existing high score tables in the game and move them into G+. Achievements are a bit harder, but absolutely doable (biggest problem is adding achievements in the first place). Cloud saves… that one is probably a bit tougher; messing around with the save games is always dicey. It is not an impossible proposition; it is just a lot of work that could perhaps be better spent elsewhere. It all adds up to a significant amount of work, though; work time which might be better spent elsewhere?

The alternative (other than to ignore it completely), is to put that work into readying Pirates and Traders 2. I have already done a lot of work refining the RPG system for Dwarf King; adding that would not be a big deal. The graphical engine would be practically exactly the same; even a lot of the GUI work (e.g., the character status view) would be reusable. The land combat engine still needs refinement, but would also be shared between the two games. Having said that, there is still a lot of work that needs doing before a P&T2 effort is even at the same level as the existing game. I would need to rewrite the entire way that the game deals with ships, in order to make it even possible for it to recognize the possibility of multiple ships. I want to make characters more persistent, so the way the game deals with ports has to be rewritten as well. The ship construction/modification system also wants an overhaul. Not to mention the stuff that I’ll need to commission externally. I’ll probably reuse a lot of the artwork from the first game, but there are some things that will probably be needed:  a new map, for instance (bigger!) and more character portraits.

But reading your feedback, it is obvious that this is something that most of you want (at least those of you who write on the fan page). So… I won’t make any promises, but I am looking into the possibilities.



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?



May thoughts

Whew… time passes fast when you’re busy like crazy. I’ve been sharing the past couple of weeks between completing the write-up for the “Hunt for the Treasure Fleet” story line (including testing it – and killing off an innumerable number of pirates), and working on the game framework for my next game(s).

The storyline is completed now, and the game update should be making its way to your phones/tablets. Hope you enjoy it, and may you have better luck against the fleet than I did. Having gone up against them several times, I have some thoughts on how they can be handled, but it requires a lot of luck and a perfect ship and crew. If anyone – ever – manages to take down the entire fleet, please send me an e-mail to let me know. With screenshot evidence.

On the coding front, I’ve been working on the game and user interface code for Dwarf King, as well as testing out a few things on an old design that I’ve had lying around. The latter is necessary, because it lets me see how things work in a slightly different context from the main project, and thus allows me to catch some bugs that I would otherwise not notice. Though I have to say that I am tempted to do something with that spin-off code – perhaps if I get a little free-time after the user interface code for Dwarf King is done. But then again, I have another couple of stories for Pirates and Traders to write too…

Time to get back to work.




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