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Empire Deluxe Development Status


Update: September 1st, 2003 - This Report Retired
This update has been retired. Check the Status Page for the latest active reports.


Update: June 30th, 2003 - Fixin' Stuff
Next Update by: September 1st, 2003

This is an update to let you know what is happening with the next patch, EDIE version 3.511.

It has been discovered that when players try to play online under have diverse conditions, games can have difficulty getting started. The diverse conditions are related to the difference in bandwidth, the difference in CPU speeds, and the size of the game. It is possible for the master player to totally saturate the client with messages to where the client begins to thrash (meaning, he spends all his time receiving and confirming the receipt of messages that he has little time for anything else). This will cause the client to appear as if he has not responded to some messages and things go down hill from there.

I have been working with a few groups of ED online regulars and ex-beta testers under various conditions to ferret out these issues, and they are now resolved. There will be a patch released very soon to address this issue.

This patch will not affect saved games or maps and scenarios, however, players wanting to play online will need this version to be compatible with each other.

Online play will change now slightly as well. The master player has been throttled back, and will methodically upload its data to each slave before it begins. Although this is not the most efficient way to do it, it is the most stable and effective given the existing source base.

The new procedure will be most noticeable in games with more than two people. Now the slave will only receive the game parameters dialog when it is his 'turn' to receive the game data from the master. He also must confirm the dialog by hitting the "OK" button before the net player gets to receive the data.

More descriptive status messages have been added during the loading period to let players know where in the setup process they are.

This patch will also fix an "old game bug" dealing with spotting that was recently uncovered.

If all goes well with the patch testing in the next couple of days, look for it late July 3rd or on the 4th.


Update: June 16th, 2003 - Moving On
Next Update by: September 1st, 2003

The patch is ready and is now in final testing. The trial patch was downloaded by several dozens of players, and very few issues arose from it. I should be able to release the patch as early as Tuesday Night COB, which seems to happen around midnight for me.

The patch itself will change Empire Deluxe Internet Edition from version "3.50 001P" to "3.51 003P". The demo already had most of these changes incorporated in its release a couple of weeks ago.

An important change in what I was saying about the patch before is that Saved Games from version 3.50 WILL work with version 3.51 . However, 3.51 games will not be able to be loaded in the 3.50 binary. This means, if you are playing a PBM game with a buddy, you both must upgrade to continue the game.

If you encounter issues with the installation of the patch or problems with the game after the patch, please let me know. I definitely want you to enjoy the game. That is important to me.

As far as another patch for EDIE goes, only time will tell. I am sure over time more issues will arise, due to the size, age, and nature of the program. I will address them and do my best to get those patched up in the future. Supporting this game is also very important to me.

As far as the future of "The Empire Deluxe Series" is concerned, active development on the series will take a break while The Perfect General Internet Edition is finished. PGIE went through quite a lot of changes last week, and it is starting to look pretty good. Still a lot of work to do, and I would like to remain focused on it through production.

Another aspect of the revival of Empire Deluxe has been spreading the word. The majority of my time to this point has been spent focusing on the games themselves, to insure that they are fun to play and work right. I have really been depending on the word of mouth message from fans to let people know that Empire Deluxe is back and its more fun than ever to play. I thank all of you who did post to forums and tell your friends about the game.

I am now beginning to actively spread the word about Empire Deluxe. The demo has been uploaded to www.downloads.com this week, and a lot of interested people have downloaded the demo from there in just a few days. (It's odd, because the numbers at downloads.com are not correct, and say much less than my logs reflect). I plan to visit more conventions and forums and spread the word, as well as pull some advertising and pursue some other plans.

As you know, the game certainly is not for everyone. I have no flashy cut scenes, no hot 3-D graphics, and the game is something many people may have played a decade ago. If you see all the lack of flash and the age as a barrier to your enjoying the game, then this game is not for you. But if you look beyond those things, and look for a truly challenging game, based on strategic planning principles and execution, that will maintain itself on your hard drive for a long, long time, then you should look at Empire Deluxe Internet Edition.

However, regardless of what I say, people will understand that my perspective is slanted towards wanting them to buy the game. People are more apt to trying it out and expecting more honest answers to questions about it if the comments about the game come from someone like you, a person who enjoys Empire Deluxe. I would ask you again, as I did in December when I first made the announcement about the acquisition, to continue to spread the word and tell people how much fun you are having.

I believe this status report has run its course, and I will stop regularly reporting here with this report. However, there will be a report for Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition beginning in September. So I will put September 1st as the next reporting date, though it will be on a different page. If events happen with EDIE before that time that I feel will be needed in the log, I will place them here. Feel free to continue to send me mail with your thoughts and comments at mok@killerbeessoftware.com .


Update: June 2, 2003 - Squish/Squash
Next Update by: June 16th, 2003

It's been very busy working towards the Perfect General Internet Edition Beta, but that time has finally arrived, and I have now gone back and worked on the first patch for Empire Deluxe Internet Edition.

The patch is essentially complete, though I am still corresponding with a few individuals who have experienced issues to make sure they are corrected. People have been helpful reporting problems, and reporting them I such a way that it has not been too difficult to track down and correct them. Usually, an attached save game or screen shot is very useful.

The most difficult thing about debugging Empire Deluxe issues is that the interface is quite complicated, allowing for many different styles of play, from virtually full keyboard use to full mouse use, and everything in between. What one user experiences is directly related to how he uses this interface.

This complexity increases the risk to the program when it is time to make changes. It is not possible for me or even a few people to test every aspect of the game to make sure fixes have not broken something else. This is why the patch is first going to be released as a "beta patch".

As I have said in a previous report, the beta patch will essentially be the real patch, but it is not released as official. Users who download the beta patch will need to make a backup copy of the Empire.exe executable, so that they can "roll back" if it is not satisfactory. those using the patch will need to check a bulletin to see if there are issues with the patch. Also, those downloading the patch need to be ready to report problems they see, so that those problems are not carried over into the final release patch.

My plan is to release this beta patch this week, and then wait a week or so to see if there are issues that need fixing. If so, they will be corrected, and another beta patch would be released if the corrections were serious, or the full patch will be released.

When the full patch is released, the version number will be changed to 3.51, and SVG from version 3.5 will not work, nor will players be able to connect via the Internet between 3.5 to 3.51. These are due to the security concerns in the patch.

I am aware that PBEM games do not stop on a dime, do users may need to be aware of when they should upgrade. However, players can simply make a copy of Empire.exe and rename it to Empire350.exe to finish the pre-existing SVG and PBEM games if needed, and then apply a patch if they so choose. Do note that the file Empire.exe will need to exist in its proper place for the patch to be applied, for it only applies the differences and will not drop a new executable.

I will also not overwrite your existing INI file, ED.ini. Instead, a new file will be dropped, Eddist.ini which will have the changes from the original. All INI file changes were typos in the commented sections.

Here is the list of fixes for the patch at this point.

-Fixed Discovered Security Hole in Network Play

-Certain redraw issues with some Windows 98 machines 
 fixed. (aka smoke trails)
 
-Activate Button in info-orders menu now works properly

-Save Secure PBM File Dialog Now Says "Save".

-In terrain all visible with neutrals on, city info is 
 revealed in double click.
 
-User Preferences- Default Production Combo Box Turned 
 into Drop List to prevent default production corruption
 
-Can no longer replace cities or resize map with units

-Can no longer redesign cities with units in them

-Resumed remote games no longer can have units that 
 appear as if they are on Sentry but are active
 
-German users able to insert ß ü characters. (Along with 
 a few others)
 
-Set Production Box No Longer appears for cities over 
 200 production efficiency.
 
-"wake @ " only displayed in the advanced game

-Combat Stats were covering World Explored in Basic and 
 Standard Games in status report.
 
-Tabbing focus to "Set" button then changing production 
 types was locking up "No -Production" button when user 
 uses keys to navigate.
 
-End turn could occasionally prompt plane ditch request 
 when a plane had in fact landed safely.
 
-An Old Sighting would not disappear if a sub was under it.

-For Windows 98/ME Users, if you minimize the program, it 
 could freeze the game in the minimized state

---- Changes in Release Only ----
- Added EDDist.INI File for INI Fixes:
	Red Unit Set width and Height Sizes Fixed
	Replaced Word NULL with NONE in sounds explanation
	Removed References to Empire98.exe and 
	   EmpireXP.exe (old beta artifacts)

-Map stat utility added

-Icon Specification added to the manual

-Various Other Manual Fixes and Changes.

-Convert.exe was failing silently for non-relative file 
 names.

So look for the beta patch in a couple of days, and look for the full patch to be released hopefully by the time of the next status report.


Update: May 19th, 2003 - In Loving Memory
Next Update by: June 2nd, 2003

The release has gone very well, with very few hiccups. The response from people has been wonderful, and I am glad they like the product.

I have begun working on a patch, but the release date is not certain yet. I anticipate the beta patch and subsequent full patch release sometime in June, but it is dependent on the start of the beta for The Perfect General Internet Edition. The issues being addressed in the patch are pretty minor, though there are some things that need to be fixed. If you have found some things that need to be addressed, definitely send me a mail so they can be looked at before this patch comes out.

The patch will be initially released as a "beta" patch. I will have a sign up list for those interested in downloading the beta patch at some point. This signup list will enable me to email you the special instruction on how to apply the patch. Any and all registered users will be able to download and apply the beta patch upon request.

The patch will include all the fixes scheduled for the patch, but needs to be vetted out for a week or two to see if any adverse affects were caused by the changes. The old source base is a strange beast and sometimes reacts in strange ways, and even today there are still places in the code where I am not too familiar. So it is best to give it a trial go first. Those that participate in using the beta patch will not have to do anything special, except backup the older copy of Empire.exe, just in case they find they want to roll back. When the beta patch has proven stable, the full patch will be released.

Saved games and network play will be compatible between versions of the beta patch and the original release version. However, the released patched version WILL NOT be compatible with saved games, and the older version of Empire Deluxe Internet Edition will not be able to play via network with the most recent version. This is unfortunate, but necessary due to some of the changes which are security oriented in nature that will take place. If you are in the middle of a big SVG game in the original version, you may wish to first look at the change list that comes with the patch release and finish it before upgrading. Maps and Scenarios will not be effected.

So in the next report I should have more information on the patch, and it should be nearly ready for the 'beta' patch to be released. These reports will continue, at least through the next patch.

I feel compelled to discuss my father, Richard Kinkead, within this report. Last week he passed away. His death was not unexpected, but it was sudden and very disappointing. He had been ill for quite sometime with a heart condition and was not able to walk around much, but his mind was still active.

He had contributed greatly to the quality of the release of Empire Deluxe Internet Edition, faithfully playing it everyday even in its Alpha stages in early January. He had a great deal of input and valuable comments about the game, including the suggestion of many features you are enjoying now if you have seen the game.

Like probably a lot of other people's fathers, mine introduced me to the world of fantasy, strategy and war gaming. He was a computer enthusiast and programmer as well, and it was on his Atari ST that I first was introduced to Interstel's Empire, Wargame of the Century.

His presence will be missed very much.


Update: May 5, 2003 - Looking Back…Looking Forward
Next Update by: May 19th, 2003

Well the time has finally come. The game is ready for download. Within 48 hours you will have the opportunity to buy it. Looking back, it has been quite a long haul in quite a short time. I am quite pleased with all that has been added, and I am pleased with the final result.

It certainly is not perfect. The release of the demo has exposed a few things that will need to be cleaned up in a patch. Some of these currently are:

  1. If a plane has landed in a city with movement points left, and the player hits "End Turn" [F10], in some situations he is prompted to ditch aircraft still awaiting orders. The work around for this is to click ok and go on. The aircraft will not be affected.
  2. In the Production Window: If the "Set" no production button is brought in focus with the TAB key, and the user then selects a unit to produce with the mouse, he will then be unable to select "No Production" until he hits the TAB key again. Work around - hit the tab key.
  3. Transport displays units after a unit on board takes a city and the transport is empty. The transport is then shown as empty next time it is selected. This is an old bug, and there was risk associated with fixing it, so it may remain as is. But someone brought it up and I will take another look at it. No real work around required, just a visual annoyance.

None of these bugs listed require an immediate patch. I plan to wait for the release to see if anyone experiences something that prevents them from playing. It will be interesting to see if any issues come up. There are so many playing styles available to the user, I wouldn't be surprised to see this list grow a bit. If they do, I will do my best to address them quickly. If nothing does surface, then I would expect a patch towards the end of the month if not slightly later.

The demo has been well received. I have had a large number of downloads and have received a good amount of mail. People seem quite pleased with the demo, and if so, they will be quite pleased with the game itself.

BMT Micro, the online distributor now has the game and it is in place, ready for downloading. I opened up mail orders early to get a head start and some people have requested to go the mail order route.

It is beyond my control as to exactly when the online distributor will release the game for download on Wednesday. I was told the setup binary would be available sometime after 9am EST Wednesday morning. I will activate the ordering link before that time, but it will be then that you can actually download the software. I will pester them Wednesday and have them tell me when it is up. They have been wonderful in setting this up, and definitely believe in customer service.

I have received some questions and comments about licensing. I have chosen a single user license for the game. There were many issues involved in determining the licensing for this program, but most people naturally only look at it from their perspective. People are also used to Empire Deluxe being virtually free for the past five years or so. I am aware that regardless how I license the game, someone will be affected in a way they hoped not to be. The license discussion and questions I have received have prompted me to set up a product FAQ, which can be found here.

So in a few weeks there may be a patch for Empire Deluxe Internet Edition…but what about beyond that? The plan was to first get Empire Deluxe back into an active state with support for technical issues that come up. I feel I am at that point now. Empire Deluxe Internet Edition is virtually finished.

The next step for the "Empire Deluxe Series" is to begin design work on "Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition". However, there is some unfinished work, and that is "The Perfect General Internet Edition". TPG has experienced some schedule setbacks due to the effort to release Empire Deluxe Internet Edition on time with quality. Before work can be started on the Enhanced Edition, some time has to be given back to TPG development. The beta for Perfect General is scheduled to start the first week in June. That is going to be a tall order, but it will be possible.

Once the beta is underway for TPG, the preliminary design for Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition will begin. At that time I will be looking back over the feature requests in the forum and the mail to see what is feasible, and begin to set the shape of the game. So if you still have ideas, or if, after playing EDIE somewhat you gotten some new ones, make sure you share them if you would like to see them implemented. Of course I'm not promising anything will get in. Serious design work for the Enhanced version will not begin until August or September. I am unsure as to when the release of EDEE would be, but it most likely will not be at the end of this year. There is a great deal that I want to do for the Enhanced version. Expose the AI, make the AI programmable, expose the unit attributes, add a unit editor, add weather, and various other features. The real challenge will be to keep the balance and the flow of the game. It's quite an exciting challenge, and one I am looking forward to.

So I will write another status report in two weeks time, and will probably have a good feel for what will be in a patch and when it will be needed. That may be the last status report for the Internet Edition, I am not sure, but I will let you know. If it is, there will be design status report for EDEE starting sometime late summer, after The Perfect General is just about at this same point.


Update: April 21st, 2003 - The Objective is On the Horizon
Next Update by: May 5th, 2003

The beta group had received another patch last Friday, and this might just be the last one for them. There were very few items that were added, the vast majority being changes to the manual. I believe there was one code change, covering a presentation issue.

The version that the beta testers have is not a release candidate for the final version. To be able to deliver the game program on May 7th, I have to be "gold" and have it to the distributor by May 2nd. When the final version has been built and ready for distribution, I will make sure that news makes it to the web site. Look for that announcement May 1 or 2.

I have been having some difficulty with the manual, but the beta testers have been quite helpful. The manual is a single html page with some 140 images. (The manual in this form is intended to be loaded on the machine locally, not via the web). The main problems have arisen with using a Microsoft Product to edit the manual and Netscape Navigator being the default browser for some of the users. It turns out certain versions of Navigator can be picky about what types of images it wants to view, and this has caused the images to be converted to several formats to find the best way to view them. Also, the web-editing package I used for this had an error in that it would not properly generate JPG files that were under a certain size. A couple of beta testers use Netscape and their input has been helpful in resolving these issues. Ah…the browser wars live on.

The first attempt at a demo has been constructed. The demo will restrict users to a 30x30 map (20x20 for the Basic Game). However, one can produce large maps in the editor. Nothing can be saved, and there is no networking or PBM available. The sounds were shortened somewhat, and though most of the text remains, the vast majority of the images have been removed from the manual. There is also no ability to customize it via different graphics or an INI file, and I have put in some shameless plugs for the game and The Perfect General when you close it. Early next week it should be ready for you to check out. I will make sure that gets announced as well. I can't promise anything, but look for it next Monday.

So though things are technically finished, there is a lot that will soon be happening. By the time of the next report, Empire Deluxe Internet Edition will be gold, a demo for it will be out, and we will be looking forward to the release on that following Wednesday.


Update: April 7th, 2003 - Preparing for the Endgame
Next Update by: April 21st, 2003

Empire Deluxe has really come together, and is getting ready to go out the door. Development wise it is completely done, and I am now looking for errors or inconveniences that can be repaired.

The beta has been cruising along. Some minor issues have been found and fixed. A couple of aspects of the game have been reshaped. The testers have been quite helpful in their suggestions and comments. Wydraz's face-lift has helped tremendously as well. I have been able to look at all sorts of saved games that various testers are using, and to me it looks as if the testers are having a great time with the game. The biggest complaint I get has to do with lack of sleep and the addictive nature of the game.

The release date has been announced (May 7th). It really seems like yesterday when I announce the acquisition of the rights, and now I am approaching the end game. Several things are needed to prepare Empire Deluxe Internet Edition for market.

One is setting up with my distributor. I have not announced the distributor yet, but have done a lot of research on distributors, and narrowed it down to two. Then I hunted down and inquired about them from people who are currently using them to make a decision. I was looking for one that could provide the customer with immediate satisfaction. You pay your money and you can get the game right away. This was important to me. Also important to me is a distributor that can 'fix' things if the download goes wrong. Based on my research I feel I have found this.

Another aspect is licensing. I do not want to restrict Empire Deluxe to a single machine. Instead, I will restrict it to a single user. This means that if you purchase a license of Empire Deluxe Internet Edition, you can put it on and use it on multiple computers, but only you or other licensed users will have permission to use the software.

I will take this moment to discuss piracy. Empire Deluxe Internet Edition is a great game, as you shall find out very soon. Remember that I am a small shop on a tight budget. If you or others refuse to support this program as it should be, then it will quickly fall back into darkness, and a great classic will be lost again. I would encourage you all to discourage piracy when you can.

There will be a demo, and I should know by the next report if it will be out before the 7th of May or not. There is a strong possibility it will be. If not, it will be shortly there after. So those of you timid about purchasing without seeing some of the product may have to wait a little bit.

It really is amazing that I have really only one more status report before the game is 'gold'. I am looking forward to the release. I am sure there will be "issues" upon release as the install program and the game itself enters configurations that it has yet to see. I would ask you to be patient if you have issues. It is very important to me to get those resolved for you as soon as possible.

So the next report is in a couple of weeks, and I really have no idea what there is to be said about it. Hopefully I will have a better idea on the timeframe if the demo at that time. I am unsure how or when this status report will be wrapped up either, but that will most likely occur at the end of May. I am sure immediately after release there will be some things to talk about here.


Update: March 24th, 2003 - Smoothing Out The Road, And Preparing To Drive
Next Update by: April 7th, 2003

The testers received a new full install over the weekend, and this one has quite a face-lift attached to it. The sounds have been re-mastered. The compressed installation file is now nine megs (not the six I thought it was going to be) as opposed to 24. Total footprint of the game installed is currently around 14 megabytes.

Wydraz has delivered new graphics sheets and they are really looking good. He also has fixed up the logo and I feel both new and old players will be quite happy with the work he has done. I used to think I was going to be 'old school' and still prefer the 'classic sheet', but now I definitely prefer the Wydraz sheet. I am very much looking forward to what other artists and fans will come up with.

The manual is now in its first draft form. This manual has been done in HTML and can be called up in a browser while the game is going. I am sure my less experienced testers are rejoicing over this. I have been able to include many more screen shots to give the reader a feel for how things work. There are definitely some sections that still need work, but it is definitely coming together nicely.

Network play is being more intensely scrutinized. This weekend I participated in two separate LAN sessions, one with three players, the other session with four people. Both were enjoyable, and it was quite productive to have a gather of fans both familiar and not so to the game and play for several hours. I obtained some good feedback and am very please with people's impressions.

LAN play in game is very solid, but there is still some roughness around the edges - the edges being appropriate feedback to the user in failure scenarios when the game is started or when a player leaves by choice or by timeout/connection failure. The main reason why there is roughness is because of the fact I am using the networking infrastructure of the 3.11 game. This was done to manage risk to the whole source base, because the net-code infrastructure is very coupled to the game engine (it appears it may have been added in the middle of the development of the game). Some concepts like allowing a player to linger and chat after losing are simple in the abstract, but there are subtleties within the code that make it a challenge.

One capability of the game that has bit the dust because of this is the ability to hot seat players at multiple remote locations. I had believed this capability could be left in, but it over complicates several exit situations. If two players want to play a third party over the Internet from the same machine, they can simply start two instances of the game and run them on different ports. The "master" player is still able to have hot-seated players.

The game itself definitely survives the failure scenarios, as all players can save at anytime and the game can be reloaded and continued. Also, I had discovered last month several cheats in live play involving the discovery of unsighted units (subs especially). Those exploits have been cleaned out and are not possible in this version.

The efforts of the testers have really helped to clear away several situations that could of caused possible confusion amongst players when starting a game. There is also definitely more work to be done in this area, though I will have to accept that due to the unpredictable nature of failure scenarios it will never be perfect. There would be some really nice things which would aid in the starting of game where you are not in the same room as your opponent, like a finder service or a built in chat room, but it is important to keep the perspective that this is an infrastructure that was developed over ten years ago before "standard practices" of what many games do today, so some things are just not possible.

Playing the game itself is very enjoyable. I am quite pleased with how the additional features aid in play. I have received a great deal of positive feedback from the testers, and have also gotten a chance to look at some of their saved games. It is obvious some testers are spending a lot of time playing and are not experiencing difficulties. One player has told me he has left the game up on a machine for over three days, something that he could not do with the older version.

As far as logistics are concerned, I believe I have located a source for sale and distribution of the game. Purchasers will be able to by the game via a credit card, and then it will be available immediately for downloading. I understand there may be delays in delivery for users that use hotmail and yahoo mail accounts for confirmation. I will have more information on such things at the appropriate time. The price is all but confirmed at $27.50. North Carolina residents will most likely experience the long arm of the taxman as well (6.5%), for that is where the online store is based. With release only about seven weeks away, I do not anticipate a presales period.

A demo is being planned, and it will be crippled in several ways, though I have not decided exactly how. I suspect no saved games will be allowed, there will be no editor included, there will be no network play (just single player versus computer) and games may be limited by map size and number of turns. The graphics will be built in (non-configurable) and probably be limited in sound to reduce the footprint size. When exactly it is to be released is just a question of how busy I will be at release time…but it will be out around then.

It is hard to believe how little time there is left before release. Everything seems to have been holding to schedule, and there should be an announcement as to the exact release date very soon. Early May is still the target. There is very little change/addition wise that is needed for the game to be released at that time, and I hope for it to by the time of the next status report, I will be about to begin the process of determining release candidate. It is all very exciting as the future of Empire Deluxe is about to begin.


Update: March 10th, 2003 - Beginning the Bumpy Beta Road
Next Update by: March 24th, 2003

It is hard to believe Beta has only been going on for a week. It seems like a lot more because it has been so busy. The 30 testers are working very hard at playing the game. I believe they are having a good time. Several things have been cleaned up and changed slightly, and the build is now looking real good.

Testers have been scrutinizing different aspects of the game and some seem to be 'specializing' in various areas, including secure PBM start up and play, the new editor features, network play, map/scenario conversion, and game customization. Everyone seems committed to make the best out of the game they possibly can. I have received various comments regarding the interface and additional features. I have implemented the interface changes when it made sense and the risk to the code was low, and some of the additional features have been included.

The suggestions that are not added often have merit, but with the scope of this being an old source base, the ability to make adjustments is sometimes limited. Things that appear to be easy are not always that simple. Changes to certain aspects of the game that are dated (the way networking is done for example) are not really feasible for this version, due to how closely coupled some infrastructure elements are to the game engine itself.

The largest amount of confusion amongst the testers has come from the older players (those who played the game in the 90's) on the subject of player colors. It appears that took a little getting used to, as they thought they were "assigning" colors to their PBM opponents, when in fact, your opponent makes his own color choices. Also, color preferences are no longer associated with a game, so when a game is saved and the program closed, it reverts back to your defaults set in the INI file. It seems to me the testers are used to it now, and I am beginning to see evidence of testers playing around with the color customization and custom images, as well as the variable zoom ranges.

The lowest grade system that the game is being tested on is a P133 with 48Meg of memory. We have seen a few issues at this speed and memory size, but the folks running 200+MHz machines seem to be quite happy, though they feel the game loads a little slower than it used to. This is to be expected, because of the custom graphics and sound capabilities.

Some of the impact to such a small machine is the current size sound files. Like the graphics, the sound is not complete, and the music portion of the sound that used to be midi files are now WAV files. However, these files have been mastered in a high fidelity stereo mode for the moment, which means they take up much more space than they need to. When I get the chances, these will be transferred to smaller, mono samples.

I am also back to one binary, which seems to be supportable on all the operating systems This is a great move, as it will avoid the maintenance required for running two executables. The 95 and 98 operating systems appear to not be having any more difficulty with them, and ME is behaving itself. I hope this remains the case. There was one issue at the beginning of Beta specifically related to Windows 98 that has since been cleaned up. Now the Win98 users are not experiencing any more problems.

A test is also being conducted using Connectix Virtual PC for the MAC. If this works, it is good news for those MAC users wanting an Empire fix. Wine(linux) testing is planned as well. At this time, I will not be able to fully support the game in these two environments, but it is still worthwhile to see if the game will work within them.

One feature on the features list had to be cancelled. This is the SVG processing mode, where a player can skip his turn and have the machine run it given his password. In the end several security conditions had come up concerning this feature, and it was scrapped. A utility to extract general information from a SVG (like whose turn it is) is being discussed.

My attention has turned towards the manual, which currently is a huge mess. However, it pleases me that White Wolf Productions wrote most of the original manual, and so I have a strong base to begin with. When I add it up, there are a lot of new things that need to be documented. The manual right now is included with the game as an html document, but it certainly is not in a readied state. I have already begun work on it, and have finished up the tutorial section.

Wydraz has sent me an update of his terrain sheet which I have distributed to the testers. We currently have two terrain sheets, what I call the "classic" one from the 3.11 for the old look and feel, and the "Wydraz set" for something different. I have not presented any screen shots of his terrain set, so I will put up a sneak preview on the Beta Page for people to look at soon. Many people are using this terrain sheet in the beta and have had many positive things to say about it.

There have definitely been a few bumps for the testers, which is to be expected, but I am very pleased with both the beta group for their efforts and with how the beta has gone so far. The bumps already appear to be smoothing out, and I can see the final game is going to be excellent. This test is giving me a lot of confidence in the stability and quality of the game and its delivery system. Hopefully some of the testers will be inspired to share what they have enjoyed about the new version in the coming weeks.

Over the next few weeks, the status of the game will not really change much. It will still be in beta, though it will be a little closer to its release time. I am unsure as to what will make up this report in the next two weeks, but I will still log another report. I will also continue to post screen shots highlighting features within the game.


Update: February 25th, 2003 - Marching Onward
Next Update by: March 10th, 2003

The feature list is about as complete as it can be given my schedule and my focus this week is preparation for the beta. I will be happy when the game is in beta and my focus can turn towards polishing the game and testing it. Testing it is fun. I was afraid I would get bored with the game, but quite the contrary…

There has been a lot of work on getting as much in the feature list as I can. Some things were dropped, and I know that is disappointing. However, the overall package is very exciting to me.

The recording of a game will not be a feature in the Internet Edition. However, I have been able to add the ability for the player to dump his own game state to a text file. Someone else may get inspired to use this raw data for playback purposes. Direct Play (ie playing on "The Zone") has fallen to the cutting room floor as well. Both of these features were anticipated to not make it last report.

As I have stated on the website, I have managed to increase the allowable map sizes, the maximum number of cities and maximum units available. I had hoped for bigger map sizes, but changing the sizes of the variables themselves would be very risky due to the way the maps are structured and locations are used. Just upping the limits for map sizes to 254x254 exposed several issues involving making and drawing maps. Those have all been worked out, and any other oddities that crop up should appear in beta.

254 is an odd number, but I am a believer in not hard coding limits if possible. That's why you also have the ability to generate 32,500 cities and 32,500 units. I can't image how long a game would take to play with those types of parameters, I do not want to prevent you from trying them if you wish.

To facilitate these changes and introduce the map-making variables roughness, altitude and wetness into the game in a semi orderly fashion, two new options have been introduced in the map creation dialog, and one option has had it's name changed.

"Generate Random World 3.11" is the old world building function (by Baldwin). I have tried to guarantee that this function will still behave as before. Therefore, you cannot set parameters on it, and the maximum number of cities that will be laid on the map is 199. However, you can use the extended width and height sizes to 254 when using this function.

"Generate Random World 3.50" is the old world building function with parameters allowed, and a few slight changes. It is here that you can produce a very random map. Unfortunately, I suspect we will have a period of experimentation before the best ways to obtain satisfactory result are discovered. But it does give you something to play with.

"Generate Random World with DLL" is the option for those who want to take a stab at world creation themselves. There is a single function call DLL that is linked to during runtime. The API of the c++ version of the function currently looks like this:

extern "C" __declspec(dllexport)
BOOL  WorldBuildDll(
	LPSTR my_map,           //map array (size is map_length * map_width) (output)
	INT map_width,          //width of map in terrain squares (input)
	INT map_height,         //height of map in terrain squares (input)
	BOOL wrap,              //map wrap on/off (T/F) (input)
	LPSTR city_prod_eff,    //indexed array of city production efficiencies (output)
	LPSTR city_prod_spec,   //indexed array of city production specialties (output)
	INT city_array_length,  //length of the two city arrays (input)
	INT wetness,            //wetness factor from user gui, between 0-100(input)
	INT roughness,          //reverse of green factor from user gui, between 0-100(input)
	INT altitude,           //altitude factor from user gui, between -100 and 100 (input)
	INT num_cities,         //number of cities factor from user gui between 0 and MAX_CITIES (input)
	INT num_cities_var,     //variance factor for number of cities from user gui, 0-100%, (input)
	INT prod_eff,           //city production efficieny setting from user gui, 1 to MAX_PROD (input)
	INT prod_eff_var,       //variance factor for city prod efficieny from user gui, 0-100% (input)
	INT city_special        //specials percentage from user gui, between 0-100% (input)
)

The user will see the same parameters dialog before this function is called. The parameters obtained from the dialog are passed to the DLL call, but it is up to the author of the DLL to use them or ignore them. The array my_map is the map itself, with character values for the basic terrain types. The city_prod_eff and city_prod_spec arrays describe the production efficiency and specialty values. The first entries in those two arrays represent the first city terrain icon encountered when walking the map array from the beginning. Upon return, the game program takes this information, validates it, then makes the map look pretty (adds a shore line, etc.).

Sound is in, but midi sound is out. This is due to various issues, some not so technical…but all the sounds and songs are being translated into WAV files (sound was already wav). These will be exposed and the user may change these if he cares to. Unfortunately, the WAV files for the music can be quite large, and will increase the size of the package considerably. The first alpha wrapped with sound was 25 megabytes, though that will be reduced and is still puny by today's standards, but my binaries are still bearing a footprint of around 500K. The exposed images and sound make up the rest.

I have added a SVG processor, and it appears to be able to run through a game. This is an extremely difficult feature to test, but hopefully most of the situations that might keep it from completing a turn have been resolved. Essentially, it will run through a saved game and treat the turn as if the player has not moved at all, even if he has standing orders. Standing orders would have been too intrusive to add. However, it does check the range on planes and sends them home or destroys them when needed. Syntax is:

                 game [infile][outfile][password]

The password is the password for the player whose turn it is. The infile is the SVG to be read, and the outfile is the SVG to be saved. A report file is also generating indicating success or failure.

Since I have been unable to catch the Long Name City bug, I have decided to rework the way name labels are stored and accessed internally. This should prevent such bugs from occurring. I have also resolved the issues with subs and loaded TR's being drawn for the enemy to see when a plan is in a flyover attack. It turns out there were a myriad of ways to detect a sub when a plane flew over it. The majority of these bugs were only occurring during live play.

The only other "Old Game" issue I still am dealing with is the complaints that people have regarding the random generator. The more I look at this, the more I feel a lot of this problem is perception. I have statistics being taken on the combat mini rounds, and right now they appear to be as should be expected. These stats are currently exposed, so during the beta the testers should get a chance to look at the stats and comment on what they see. One thing I had never realized was that, when you exclude neutral cities, a single game actually has very little combat. Therefore, we as humans may tend to focus on particular events that do or don't go our way. I have seen a fighter run through several units, but I have also seen people win several times in a row at Blackjack, it just never seems to be me. I have no conclusive evidence that there is a problem with the random number generator at this time. This will continue to be examined during the beta.

There are various other smaller features that have been added, but stating those here would make this report longer than it already is…I will be enumerating these for the beta crew, and will probably post them on the site at the same time. I am sure I am leaving something out, feel free to ask about it in the forum.

This week has started with me preparing for the beta. I have roughly two dozen people who have agreed to try out the game. My apologies that this could not be an open beta, but it would not work out logistically. Also, I am sorry I have had to turn down so many requests for beta. I assure you I will try my best to get the game to the state of quality it needs to be at and released in a timely fashion.

Hopefully the beta will begin Saturday. I have started to prepare by making sure the game operates on my test platforms available to me. These are W98, ME, 2000 and XP. It looks as if there will be two binaries delivered with the game. I could go with a UNICODE approach, but there is risk involved with preparing the code for that. Two separate binaries are built from the exact same code base and will be sold together. They will be something like Empire98.exe compiled on Windows 98 for 98, ME and 95, and an EmpireXP.exe compiled on XP for Win2000 and XP. I am unsure if Windows 95 will be a supported platform or not at this time, though it will be tested. WINE/linux testing has been planned, but it will not be 'certified' on WINE either.

I had added some techniques to try and make the GDI code more efficient, which involved the preparation of certain bitmaps during startup, but this had to be removed. The GDI resource constraints on Win98 and ME are just too small to do anything like this. Everything worked well on XP and 2000, but Win98 and ME choked. ME has been an extra pain, because the default transparent color (which was purple) used for bit masking explosions and such, would not work on ME. However, the color has been changed and it now works. I am sure once the game goes to the beta testers, I will find other nice surprises such as this.

My Win98 platform is a Pentium III 500, and I do not see performance issues while in the game at this time. I have not gathered stats on the beta platforms yet, but I know at least one is a 350.

Besides the beta, there is documentation and the exposed elements of the game that need to be cleaned up so they can be released early. I hope to release the DLL code and sample graphics sheets this month to give those who want to tinker with them time before the release to do so.

I am excited about entering the beta, but there is much to be done to be ready. So by the next report the beta will be well under way and it should be apparent how much work is going to be necessary before release time. With this month we should be seeing more screens of the new features in action and hearing from others about the game.


Update: February 18th, 2003 - The 'Ad Hoc' Report
Next Update by: February 25th, 2003

This status report is not going to be too detailed, but a lot has happened to Empire Deluxe in the past week and I would like to share some of it while it is still fresh.

The feature insertion phase of development for Empire Deluxe is quickly coming to a close. I have worked hard to get in as many features I feel are worth the risk to the code and worth the time it takes to put them in and stay on schedule. There have been various temptations of feature creep as I see things that could be added, but there is so much more that needs to be done just to produce the game in its current state that I must move on. When it is time to complete the design for the Enhanced Version, there will be some great ideas to add.

Waypoints have been added to the game, as well as a city production status chart and a unit organization chart. These charts may be sorted by any column and unit information may be filtered by land/sea/air. Options also exist to jump to the unit in question.

Waypoints are just labels on a map. The user can give a unit a "Move To Waypoint" command. The waypoints can also act as notes. Each point can store up to 100 characters of text.

Waypoints, Movement Paths, and Unit Orders are also now stored in remote games and will be preserved regardless of who is saving or loading the game.

Patrols have been expanded to 16 legs. Aircraft now can maintain longer patrols as long as they stop in cities or airbases to refuel. So you can have one plane fly completely around an island while on patrol, as long as it stops at a friendly AB or City to refuel. .

Sound has been added to the game. All sounds are now wave files, and are replaceable by the users. Set your favorite song up for the prompt if you choose.

Secure startup for PBEM has been added to the game. This is a new file format that turns into an SVG file once the first turn has been started.

I still have not caught the Long Name bug, though I have not yet analyzed svg files sent in by many players. Thanks to all of you who sent me a file. I have determined that the "Black City Bug" will not appear in the game, due to the addition of custom icons.

I suspect recording a game will not be put in, nor will Direct Play. These would be nice features, but recording presents several security and logistical issues, not to mention building a playback interface, and I have not been able to schedule time to try and install Direct Play. These things will have to wait for the Enhanced Edition.

With the time remaining this week, I want to squash the outstanding Old Game Bugs, (Long Names and Loaded Transports/Subs Revealed on Flyover Attacks), as well as try to increase the game size limits and add a SVG processor to facilitate timed PBM play sites. There's also the never-ending quest to make the network code as solid as possible.

Sometime next week I shall prepare for the beta. So although one exciting time is coming to a close, a new one is coming round. Soon release time will be here!


Update: February 10th, 2003 - Knowing Just Enough to be Dangerous
Next Update by: February 24th, 2003

Well, it's been a really busy week for Empire Deluxe. I have implemented a ton of stuff, and still have a ton of stuff to implement.

All in all it's going quite well, as you can tell by the updated features list. I have added most of the things that I feel would be the most intrusive features to add, and have squashed many of the old bugs. I must take care now, for I am at that point in development where I know the code well enough to find things pretty fast, but don't know it well enough to understand the impact some changes may have on the functionality of the game. I must be careful and not just stumble through the changes I am making.

The features list has been updated with items for the games, some features have been added, some have been implemented, and some have ended up on the cutting room floor. The ones that aren't making it usually are because either too much code would change (hence risking problems) or it would take too long to implement (thus delaying the game's release). If you wish to discuss those features that I have cut, feel free to do so in the forum or send me a mail.

Two notable features that did not seem to make it out of the gate are "Adding More Players" and "Master Reassignment" during a game. The additional players would affect too many areas in the code to insure stability, including the interface, and the steps involved in reassigning the master would be a most difficult and complex problem with the existing protocol, and even if it did happen correctly, it could not be guaranteed because the network setup/firewall issues of all the players could not be predicted. It's best that the humans decide who the master player is going to be. Any player at anytime can save the game and restart it as the master if necessary. This seems satisfactory enough.

Time is a huge factor in the decision to drop a proposed feature. The beginning of May might seem like a long time, but the changes put in will affect the game in ways not yet known, Because of this, a long and stable beta test is needed to insure the game is more stable than it was in version 3.11.

Several features have been implemented and are now in the game. This week I attacked two basic areas, those affecting the Networking Piece, and those that had to deal with players starting and ending the game. Map editing and player statistics/history as well as several other general requirements have not been touched so much as of yet, and will be addressed soon.

A lot of work has gone into the Internet Play part. The chat menu has changed quite a bit. Those who have played multiplayer LAN Empire Deluxe before are familiar with the little edit box at the bottom of the screen. This edit box had a button that would flash when you received a message. When pressed, the message would appear in the edit box, which was quite inconvenient because that is also where you sent messages. Often you could get confused as to what you sent and what was sent to you. Also, when you sent a message, you had to send it to everyone. There was no filtering.

All this has changed. On the main window, the little button has been removed. There is now a little edit box for sending messages, and next to that, a little list displaying the last message and who sent it. This is displayed in the picture below:

In addition to this on the main window, there is now a separate chat window which displays a large portion of the chat buffer, and allows you to set the players with whom you wish to chat. Here is an example of the current chat window:

Now, in multiplayer players are allowed to hot seat at a remote client. Those inclined to send secret messages of their yet to be executed evil deeds will need to remember that messages are really being sent to the client, not the player. In other words, there is only one chat mechanism per client, and there is no way to hide messages intended for just one player on that client. The chat window will always indicate who you are sending messages two via activated push buttons for each opponent.

I am very pleased that players may now switch freely between PBM and Live games. Used to be, once you went PBM, you could not go back. Players now are also able to "Abdicate" their positions, and let the Expert Computer try and do a better job. In an online game, when a player abdicates, the computer player lives on the Master's machine. On the networking side, players can now lose/win/resign/abdicate in the game and still chat with others and remain connected.

During IP play, if a player exits a game without resigning/abdicating, the game will force all players to exit (with the option to save beforehand). This decision was made due to security concerns in a game. In an online game, if all players abdicate, and only the computer players are left, the game will stop.

Old game bugs are also being smashed quickly. Air Craft Carriers can no longer go on land, the infinite air range bug has been squashed, a bug was discovered and fixed in the AI which could prevent the computer player from aggressively attacking transports and carriers, the dreaded Resignation cheat has been fixed, and the soon to be infamous Neutral Cities Reveal Capture bug has been fixed.

Neutral Cities Reveals Capture has been a dilemma for me. I view it as a cheat, but others see it as game play. I have it currently as an option when you start up a game, but I still may take it out. As soon as more people start playing online, the less enamored people will be with this method of play, IMHO.

Stepping away from the feature list, Wydraz has given me a test strip of his terrain sheet. It definitely gives the game a new look. However, I understand that some of us have been playing the game for ten years and like the old terrain the way it was. If you are in that group, do not worry, for a sheet with the original terrain will also be provided.

So this coming week or so I plan on working with the statistic and the map editor. It seems like work never stops on the networking piece, and this week I hope to test several bad socket scenarios. After that, knocking off many of the other general features on the list.

If I get enough time before the end of this month, I plan to look at some of the features that I see still on the list, but are in danger of falling off. These are:

  • Adding Direct Play
  • Processing SVG games for Skipped Players
  • Saving player remote orders in a LAN game
  • Adding Waypoints
  • Recording a Game.

    Although all these features are cool and would love to put as much in the game as I can, they are all in risk of not being implemented due to the effort and risk involved, as their percentage ratings reflect. If you wish, drop me a line and let me know how you would prioritize this short list.

    The mail and support for this project continues to be great. I want to thank those who have made efforts to post in other forums about the activities here. As I have said, it is by your word of mouth discussions that will keep this game alive.

    By the time of the next report, I will be very close to a beta (though I hope to sneak an extra report in early next week to tell you how the other features are going). We should have a very good impression of the exact shape of the game. Then the remaining effort will be to add those little things left for such a time, insure quality and stability, as well as document and prepare for delivery. Next month will get to be exciting, because others will get to see it and hopefully will get to share some of their impressions. Very soon after that, you will all get to play it.


    Update: January 27th, 2003 - Now you can reach out and crush someone...
    Next Update by: February 10th, 2003

    Work on Empire Deluxe is still moving along very nicely. The alpha prototype has now turned into an alpha build that is moving its way towards production. All large-scale features of the game have been implemented in this build to some degree, except for sound. This does not mean the build is almost finished, instead it means real work on making it what it needs to be can now begin.

    The name has changed from "Empire Deluxe: Ancient Edition" to "Empire Deluxe: Internet Edition". I believe this is more descriptive as far as the new aspects of the product goes.

    And in regards to Internet play, it has been implemented. IP games are now playable amongst up to six opponents. Play has taken place over the Internet between a machine running the Zone Alarm Firewall software and between a machine behind a Linksys DSL Router. Both machines took turns hosting games. I have played games with all six players on my single machine as well. There is obviously more testing that is required, but preliminary results are very good, and it plays better than with COMT in the middle.

    There are issues with Internet play that need to be addressed. There are some minor display bugs that appear to have been introduced when the player starts his turn, and the appropriate place where refreshes are required need to be determined. The current message window is grossly inadequate by today's Internet Play Standards (sic). You are supplied an edit box with one line which both sends and receives messages, and your messages are broadcast to everyone in the game. A new detached chat window will need to be constructed and a filter for sending messages will need to be implemented.

    The way network play works will be slightly backwards from other games, because I had fit it into the current architecture of the game. Basically, the Master server player gathers the IP addresses of all the client players, enters them into the player selection dialog when choosing players. Meanwhile, the other players set their games up as "Remote Slaves". Then the Master Server connects to each client, and uploads the game information and the game begins. In most other games, the Master player would start a server, and the clients would connect to it before the game would be formed.

    Currently under the hood for Internet play, all clients are connected to the master, and the master acts as a router between the various clients. This can cause a problem when the master loses a game, but there is still a game to continue. This scenario has not yet been flushed out, but currently, the master would have to keep his program up to allow the other players to continue play. Hopefully there will be time to come up with a method where a new master can be elected will be worked out. However, there may be stability risk involved, and without completely reworking the way the game flows, this may not be possible. It may be better for the players just to save game when a master is defeated, then restart the session without him. Another issue is that currently players disconnect as soon as they lose, and are not allowed to linger and chat. I hope to address this as well.

    So there is still plenty of work that needs to be done to the Internet Play feature of the game. Direct Play is still being considered, but there has been no effort to put it in at this time. There may be too much risk associated with adding it to the existing architecture.

    Graphically the game has changed slightly in a few areas. There apparently was a bug/feature in the 3.11 game when you made a wrap map that had a land square next to the top or bottom edge. The edge square would appear as a sea square, and things would look 'strange'. The icon set in the game included a land edge icon, but it was not used. On the urging of Wydraz, I have fixed this issue and added some more edge icons to make it look nice.

    Also, I have taken a suggestion from the forum and added eight different city icons. These icons will be set when the production of a city falls within a certain range. For example, a city with between 90% - 100% production would have a particular icon, but if captured or bombed, it would have a different icon to show it has reduced below 90%. There are eight different levels, and I would love to hear you suggestions for what the ranges should be. Due to the way the game works, these ranges most likely will not be customizable.

    Players are going to have access to all the artwork (includes units, terrain, and explosion icons) and sound, as well as be able to customize their zoom settings. This in fact is how Wydraz is working with the art. He is able to quickly slip in BMP sheets with the terrain and unit graphics on them to check his work. You will be able to make your own terrain and unit sets and put them in the game.

    I have also implemented a simple label displaying the production value of a city. The display of these labels on a map can be toggled on and off. I say simple, but it was an exercise in discovering how coupled the code is. This feature was more difficult to get right than I thought it would be, and it has convinced me that adding features to this code base will be fraught with peril.

    I can also save maps, scenarios and games. The new formats of maps and scenarios are the same as they were before, however the sizes of some numbers have changed (now 32 bit). Saved Game files are different in the fact that I am not using the compression code to compress them. (This compression code was originally the property of New World Computing and not Mark and Bob, so I have never seen it and cannot use it). The SVG's are still encrypted, and I may not need to compress them any further, since the average hard drive nowadays is in the 20's of Gigabytes as opposed to the 20's of Megabytes 10 years ago. However, it does mean that the possibility for SVG game files to get corrupted due to old bugs still exists, and I plan to review the code further.

    Player history and Preferences have also been installed. The preferences available will change. I have added an INI file which the users can also edit to change certain things. There will be no ECONFIG.EXE to deal with.

    So over the next few weeks the build will need to be shaped into a game. At this point, I believe it will be released in May (hopefully early May), and a real beta on it can begin March 1. Since this report is so long, I will not list the features here, but will post it on a separate page.

    In the next few weeks, I intend to add sound, revisit the IP play, test IP play more intensely, and work on implementing the features in the features list. By the time of the next report, I hope to have my sights set on preparing the build for beta testers.

    There's a lot here to digest, I have left out several details I'm sure. If you have any questions, send me a mail or ask in the forum.


    Update: January 13th, 2003 - We Have Game...
    Next Update by: January 27th, 2003

    Empire Deluxe work is going better than I anticipated. I have already constructed an alpha prototype. This version consists of working versions of the map editor and the game itself.

    The Map Editor has the full functionality of the old version. The only missing feature from map editing is loading and saving maps and scenarios. It does retain the feel of the 3.11 version. Although the code is in 'C', it is being compiled as C++ to properly link with additional code I am having to add. The game portion is fully playable and stable, but I have not addressed all the 16 to 32 bit issues yet.

    Speaking of maps and scenarios, it is apparent that the file formats for these will change. I do intend to create a conversion program which will convert old 3.11 MAP and SCN files into the new format. This logic will not be in the game itself, but as a utility. The formats will not be very different. Save Game files (SVG) will not be convertible or loadable. I have had requests for releasing the new formats for those who wish to make their own map tools, and I plan to make such information available.

    I am surprised with how much graphics code could be removed from the source. There was a lot of fussing with 8 color and 16 color stuff, and resolution logic that is no longer necessary. The Ancient Edition will support 24+bit color I will be able to add more zoom levels as well.

    The game will not use DirectX for rendering, it will use the existing windows GDI code. This appears to be efficient enough for the current task.

    I have discussed the art with Wydraz, but do not wish to go into detail on the artwork at the moment for there is something cool brewing. I'll have more on this subject when I announce a features list for the Ancient Edition. This will hopefully be in the next status report.

    The name 'Ancient Edition' is also in debate. Some find it too confusing, because of games like Civ and Empire Earth that have 'Ancient' Ages. The word 'Classic' might confuse it with Walter Bright's EMPIRE (v1.0), I am in a quandary over the name. If you have any ideas, please drop me a line or throw it into the forum.

    Modem and COM port users will be out of luck, as I do not intend to maintain that portion of the code. Instead, IP socket (Internet) play will be put in. I have not analyzed the possibility of adding MS DirectDrawDirectPlay yet (for the ZONE). The DirectDrawDirectPlay would be in addition to direct IP connect capability if added.

    I have looked over the sound files, and while not the greatest, will be adequate for the Ancient Edition.

    The Old Game Bug list for Empire Deluxe has grown a great deal. In the features list I hope to list the ones I will try to squash. Also, if there is something you really would like to see in the "Ancient Edition", please drop me a line or put it in the forum.

    So with this current alpha build, in the next couple of weeks I plan to investigate IP play, file formats, more graphics fussing and get the sound installed, turn the alpha into a working build, and create a feature list for this Edition. That's a lot of stuff, hopefully I can get it all done or at least well underway. Anyway, it keeps me off the streets.

    Hope this gives you a feel for what I am looking at. If you have any questions about the development status, drop me a line or ask in the forum.


    Update: December 31st, 2002 - Diving In...
    Next Update by: January 15th, 2003

    The code for Empire Deluxe has been received. Analysis of the code can now begin. As explained in the previous status report, it will take about a month to be examined.

    Also mentioned before, there is some code and art missing, namely that which was proprietary to New World Computing. This code will need to be replaced.

    There is also a little - dare I say it - assembly code, which I am allergic to and will therefore need to be converted to 'C' or re-written entirely. How long this will take remains to be seen, but should be clear after it is analyzed.

    I have also had many people request a hook up to Microsoft's "Zone". I have started to look into this possibility as well for the Ancient Edition. In the least, the Ancient Edition should have Direct Connect IP capability. Adding Direct X's Direct Play will allow players to use the facilitation services freely available there (once you give them your name of course).

    I will soon ping Wydraz as well and have him look at the artwork and icons, discussing the face lifts and replacements that may be required.

    It is my hope that when my analysis is done, I will be able to predict a release date for the Ancient Edition, and list the milestones required to get there. But I will report again before that time and let you know how it's going.


    Update: December 27th, 2002 - Ready to get Started!

    The code for Empire Deluxe has not yet been transfered from Mark Baldwin. This transfer is anticipated very soon.

    After the code has been received, it will take about a month to be examined. There is some code missing, namely code that was proprietary to New World Computing. This code will need to be replaced. The purpose of this code was minor, and will not effect game play. It mostly will effect some animation aspects of the game.

    After that month's review, there should be more information as to the exact product to be released and the time it will take to be ready.


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