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Killer Bee Software
General Development Status - 2005

(RETIRED)


Update: December 27th, 2005  (Late) - Anniversaries!
Next Update by: January 30th, 2005

The Enhanced Edition has been out for a full year now. I always like the fact that the release of EDEE coincides with the announcement of my acquisition of the rights to Empire Deluxe and The Perfect General three years ago.

This has been undoubtedly a labor of love. These are my most favorite games. I have definitely enjoyed the challenges that both have presented in bringing them back. I know they certainly are not perfect, and certainly are not fancy, but I personally feel indisputably the Empire Series and the Perfect General bring a fantastic combination of abstract strategic computer gaming. It has been my pleasure and my privilege to bring them back from where they were and am happy to say they will continue to exist as long as I can help it.

I have not decided when it will happen, but I am currently reviewing the "Advanced Game" version of Empire and will eventually put out an updated version of it, with some of the things incorporated from EDEE. Not the rules changes, but the larger maps and player numbers, as well as possibly some new orders. Also, I would like to add features such as the connection service, and a more straight forward PBM method that is secure.

I am currently beginning to work on a patch for EDEE. There have been several feature requests that I would like to honor, as well as some bug reports. I appreciate everyone's input that has given it. I hope to add as much as I can. I suspect it will be the end of January before the patch is sufficiently tested and ready, possibly longer due to the amount of stuff going in it.

I traveled last week to review another game title that I am interested in acquiring. I am not ready to give any details, nor do I even know if anything will come out of it. If it does happen, it will be different than the games I already have, and may not appeal to some current KBS gamers. It hopefully will build up the base of KBS customers. If something new does appear, do not worry…though I may spend some time developing something different, ED and PG still are very close to me, and they will continue to live.

I was very excited when some members of the forum tried to use the new Microsoft VC 8 express compiler to make an AI for EDEE. Unfortunately, there seem to be issues with this compiler, and I get the impression Microsoft has changed how libraries interact. I will continue to look into this matter, but I am not very satisfied with it as an option at this time.

I do want to say that this report is late. I should have realized that stating the delivery of a report on the day after Christmas was a mistake. I post the reports to show, in the least, that there is a heartbeat still out there, and to give you a little incite into what I am thinking. I see other small game companies such as mine not respond or show they are still interested in supporting their games, and I always want folks to know that I will not stop communicating as long as I can.

Communicating with those that buy the games (or those just considering them) is a double edge sword. I am very pleased to have met and corresponded with many of the people that play the game. However, it also leaves me open to abuse by others that sometimes take what has been done here for granted. Fortunately for me, in the past three years, such cases are rare.

So this should be a quiet month of January as I work on the EDEE patch and work on some more designs. I will post another status report at the end of January. Until then, please help spread the word about Empire and The Perfect General. Help build the community so there can be many more anniversaries
 


Update: November 28th, 2005  - What Will Happen?
Next Update by: December 26th, 2005

There really does not seem to be a lot to report. The Linux errors with Galacticards have been resolved. I upgraded the build to GCC 3.3.6 . I had been using a 2.96 version on Red Hat 7.3 . It had been a while since I had worked with linux, and I thought if I stayed low in version numbers there would be some upward compatibility.

But I got slightly burned by that. GCC has changed too much between versions, and the gcc that went with the RH7.3 install was not even an official release build. Very bad.

Fortunately, some Linux users were able to set me straight and test the new build for me. Garage Games made a comment on their website stating that they are considering toning down their support for Linux, with so many different strains and all. That would be bad, but it does appear that Linux maybe has run amok the past few years.

An issue with the Remote Client for EDEE has been identified and fixed. There are also a few more minor errors in EDEE that have been repaired, and the Yahoo group just dumped a huge wish list in my mailbox. I am reviewing that and my have  patch at year’s end. I certainly would not expect it before then.

It has also been brought to my attention that in EDIE if a player abdicates after playing his turn out in PBM the next player may be skipped. I have yet to confirm this, but be advised that if you are planning on abdicating, do it at the start f your turn in EDIE.

I am currently prototyping a concept that I will not quite reveal as of yet, except to say that it is Empire Deluxe related. This coming year may be exciting for Empire fans. I also have another design that is Empire related, but a different game. I am purposely vague about all of this at the moment because I still have not decided what should happen next, though I am busy working on those two things. Again, there should be some news after the new year.

So I will report back with more status right after Christmas, but probably will not have a great deal to say then. A lot depends on the work I will be doing the next few weeks. Hopefully, it will begin to come clear around then. For now, enjoy your holiday season, play some games, and buy an extra copy or two for your relatives this year. ;>


Update: November 7th, 2005  - Moving Forward
Next Update by: November 28th, 2005

Galacticards has been released. It seems to have successfully gone out on all three platforms. There have been some minor issues with Linux, as it seems the Linux version needs to be up to date with gcc 2.96, otherwise you will receive an undefined symbol error. But for the most part, there have been very few hiccups.

This means that the Torque 2D engine gets good grades, and I would not mind using it again. I am very interested in working towards an Empire with this engine, as I have received mail from many people wanting to have the Empire series include the MAC platform.

At the moment though, it is not clear what the next project will be. I will be spending the next few weeks looking over my current design proposals and hopefully start work on the next project by the end of the month. But there still is a lot of consideration to go before a decision is made. This is because I have several ideas that I think are good, but they need to be flushed out more so that I can make an informed decision about them. In the end, the one that is clearest in my mind when it is all done will be next.

So for now there is quite a bit of thinking and writing to do. I don't really have to much more worth saying right now, as it has been quite busy with the tri-platform release. But I will post another report in three weeks time with an update on what I am doing. If you have any comments please bring them to the forum, and as always feel free to send me mail at mok@killerbeesoftware.com.
 


Update: October 24th, 2005  - Looking Forward
Next Update by: November 7th, 2005

Galacticards is here. I am very pleased to see the game will be available in Windows, MAC and Linux. I am very happy with the Torque 2D Engine thus far, and looking forward to seeing how it behaves with a wide audience across many different hardware configurations. I will be evaluating the results of this to determine if I will use the engine again for another project.

Hopefully, you will try the Galacticards demo. If you do try it and do encounter some technical difficulties, I would hope you will take the time to let me know about it, for I may be able to fix it up and get it working better. Reviews amongst the beta testers were very good, and the problems were few, so I do not anticipate a lot of trouble. But given the range of people's systems, something is always bound to come up.

The full game of Galacticards should be released in about a week. I will take a few days to see how the demo is settling technically out in the "wild", and then build the "gold" version. I always like the Gold time, for it really gives you a sense of accomplishment…and on that vein, I will say that producing EDIE, PGIE, EDEE, and Galacticards over the past (nearly) three years have been very rewarding to me, and I would like to thank those of you that have supported my efforts by purchasing a game or two or have sent me comments and issues for me to consider. It has been challenging work, and I find overcoming challenges rewarding.

So I have currently been actively trying to decide on what to do next. I know I have mentioned some ideas in previous reports, and I have a few others. I have not yet decided and probably won't for a little while yet. If anyone has any comments to make in this regard feel free to send me a note.

So it has been quite busy here preparing for the release of Galacticards, but I don't feel I have a great deal to report about at this time. So this will be a short status report, but I will report back in two weeks, and by that time, Galacticards will have been released and I will be even more 'forward looking'.
 


Update: October 10th, 2005  - And Another Patch
Next Update by: October 24th, 2005

There has been an excellent, but at the same time, frustrating turn of events regarding EDEE. The patch was released in the last week of September. There was a lock up issue that was rare, and I had spent a great deal of time when working on the patch trying to hunt it down. But I was not able to, so I added some code to try and prevent it in the areas I suspected it might be affecting.

Wouldn't you know that after the patch came out, I received another report about the bug. Essentially, under rare circumstances, the game would lock up in combat. I had a few saved games from the individuals that reported the problem, but I had never been able to repeat the error. It turns out the reason why was because I usually use the keyboard to move units for combat in Empire, where as the people reporting the bug used the mouse to engage other units in combat. The bug was related to the mouse use.

The excellent news is that it was finally trapped and has been fixed and EDEE will receive another patch this week. The frustrating part is that it IS another patch, and not part of the 4.004 patch which was released recently. Ah well…the fox for this error does need to get distributed, so there will be another patch this week. this will be version 4.005.

It is important to me that my games be working as they should for you when you play them. As can be learned from the lesson above, even though the application may appear simple to the untrained eye, it is quite complex. But overall I have been pleased with the stability of the game, and closing out issues like this only makes it better. I can only hope owners of the game can appreciate the continued maintenance of the game. If you do happen upon an error, please send as much information to me as possible. This includes saved games, error messages and any other thing you think may be important to note. The more details I get, the higher the potential for being able to effectively fix the problem.

On the Galacticards front, the game is just about ready. The beta has gone well, with users of all three build-able flavors (Windows, MAC OSX and Linux) playing the game. The game should be ready soon, there are some finishing touches that are being worked out now as well as a couple of logistical issues. I would look for a demo before the end of the month, and the release shortly after that. As one of my play testers said the other day, there's not much else to be done with it but release it.

I have begun to think of the next project, as I review my "development" books and re-read the design ideas I have already written down. I have not come to a decision yet, and it will probably be a while before I do, but I will announce it when I figure it out.

With the release of Galacticards, I will be asking fans of Killer Bee Games for a favor again. I am going to want Empire fans, Perfect General fans, and those that like what they see in the demo of Galacticards to spread the word about these games on different forums that you participate on. The word of mouth praise from non-affiliated users of the games is the most effective means of getting more people to play the games.

Everyday people are still discovering and buying either the Internet Edition or the Enhanced Edition of Empire Deluxe, as well as The Perfect General. They are great games, and they now do have a future, whereas it felt a few years ago they were about dead. I have been very pleased with that turn of events, as I hope you have been too.

So in the next report, the version 4.005 of EDEE will have been released, and we may even see a demo for Galacticards by then.
 


Update: September 27th, 2005 (Late) - Patch and Beta and Rita
Next Update by: October 10th, 2005

It has been a very busy time here. The EDEE patch has been released and Galacticards has entered beta.

During all of this, the hurricane that has been in the news so much threatened to visit Houston, where I live. While I was not one of those that bugged out, some time was spent preparing the house for the coming storm. This took about two days off my schedule. There was also concern about being able to release my two deliverables, and receiving my build platform for the MAC version of Galacticards.

Fortunately, the patch for EDEE had essentially been tested enough, and I decided to release it a day early when the track for the storm stated looking bad. Everything seems to have gone well with the release.

This patch fixes several things, as well as adds about six or seven new flags to the unit database. The addition of these flags were a result of discussions I had had with Ted Green regarding his UltraDB mod for EDEE. I was very happy to support this mod as best I could, without risking the core rules set or the program itself. Mods such as UltraDB give the community an opportunity to look at Empire in a different perspective, and I encourage them. A day or so after the patch release, a new version of the UltraDB was released taking advantage of the new features.

There are some issues that I addressed in the patch that may or may not be resolved, because I never had enough information to simulate them. I will continue to watch these and if you find something please send it on to me. I do not anticipate releasing another patch till at least year’s end, but I am very interested in maintaining the game, as well as EDIE and PGIE as best I can. I have seen some other “independent” strategy game projects apparently abandon their users lately, and I can assure you this will not be the case with my stuff. I have a very long term out look on all of this, for these games have been around a very long time, and I want it to continue that way.

And then there is exciting news on the new game front, namely that the beta for Galacticards has begun. Well, sort of begun. The storm threat has prevented the delivery of my development system for the MAC and so only the Windows testers were able to start last week. I do have a Linux build available, but I have not gotten any testers for that yet and did no get the time to canvas the Linux forums. If you are running a Linux box and would like to give it a spin, definitely drop me a line. Or if you are a member of a Linux forum somewhere where you think folks might be interested, please spread the word for me. Make sure the read over the promotional stuff first to see if the game interests them.

From my own testing of the Linux version, I have been very pleased with how well the port has gone from the windows base. Again I am impressed with the Torque 2D Engine’s capability in this regard. I am hoping the MAC port goes just as well.

So the beta is out and the game is “in the pipe”. This means it could be released at some point around the end of October, but more likely the first week in November. That is subject to change of course, but things are going very smoothly. In fact, this is the smoothest beta I have had yet.

The reviews form the beta users have been good. Only one tester looked over the game for a day and then expressed a lack of interest, while the others have shown a great deal of interest. I can understand this, for the game is new and is not Empire, and definitely different that and the Perfect General as well. It definitely will not appeal to everyone that likes those games. As with all my games, I do intend to release a demo before release time. I have not decided on a presales period yet, though that seemed to work out well enough last time with EDEE. Keep an eye out for more information on that.

The engine I am using has definitely proven that it can be shaped to be used in a game like Galacticards, and I suspect I will seriously consider it for my next project. What that will be yet I have no idea. This summer I had an opportunity to work on the design for an Enhanced Edition for Perfect General, I have some other Empire ideas, other PG ideas, then there’s the mother of all space games, and some other different ideas – oh just so many ideas and so little time.

The engine has proven itself useful in giving me the ability to reach out to other platforms as well, and that is a definite plus for both KBS and the community as it will enlarge the community of players.

So the future is always fun to look forward to and I hope the beta continues to go smoothly. By the next report, I should have some Linux testers rounded up and playing, as well as my MAC’ers having fun. We should be starting to get a real good idea as to when the demo and subsequent release of Galacticards will be.


Update: September 12th, 2005 - Hurtling Towards Beta
Next Update by: September 26th, 2005

Time really flies quickly in two weeks when you are deep in development, and Galacticards is quickly becoming ready to turn into beta.

The play test group has been playing the game for about two weeks now, and I have gotten some good feedback from them, found a few bugs, and have made a couple of minor additions. The game is really fun to play and several play testers call it "addictive".

There is very little left to work on game-wise. I am beginning to set up secondary development platforms for MAC and Linux, with the hope that those versions of the game will be released at the same time. In theory, my code should easily carry over to those platforms using the Torque Engine, but the proof will be in the pudding. I should be able to build a Linux version in a couple of days, followed shortly by a MAC version.

Which leads me to believe that I am very close to beginning the beta test. It is very possible that I will be sending out a request for people to volunteer at some point this week, though it is hard to tell for sure yet. But I suspect by the next progress report posting, the game will be in beta.

What is fascinating about the play test is that some people are playing fairly short games, about thirty turns, and others are playing much longer games, around 100 turns. The 30 turn games seem to last the better part of 45 minutes to an hour. You strategy is definitely different depending on the length of the game you intended to play. Of course, the game is open ended and you can play as many turns as you wish. If victory is achieved by a player, the game pauses and shows the winner, but you have the option to continue playing beyond that point.

Adding the AI has really made the game slightly different than it was before. Previously, only the "Unpredictable" player personality was available. I have since added the following: Aggressive, Expansive, Defensive and Friendly. There is still some tweaking going on, but the AI does seem challenging enough, depending on the types you choose. I usually play with two Expansive and two Aggressive AI's. The Friendly and Defensive are easier fair, and Unpredictable players usually leave cards lying about one would otherwise want, so they are probably the easiest. Friendly is just that though, he tries to encourage spreading helpful events to other players.

Though I had not made it a requirement for the game, the computer player does not cheat. Nor does it trick you and make it harder for the human. This has not seemed necessary. The logic files for the computer players will be exposed, and you will be able to enhance mine or add your own. It won't be as involved as making an AI, not will it be as simple as editing variables in a script. Players will have to know how to code in the "Torque Script" language, which is very similar to C++. You would edit the script and run the game. It gets compiled when the game starts up.

The pending patch for Empire Deluxe Enhanced has hit a bump in the road. The final test has been prevented for the moment by a hard drive meltdown on my Windows 98 machine. It will need to be replaced, and I will do that soon as I concurrently set up the Linux and MAC environments.

I have managed to fix several AI issues, a couple of game engine issues, and have added several new flags to the Unit Database Unit Schema to assist the creative Ultra DB mod. I have received word from Ted Green that he is very satisfied with the changes, and those of you that play Ultra DB will get to enjoy them as soon as I change that Hamster Cage known as my 98 box and run a few final 98 and network tests. These tests are important because 98 can behave differently than XP.

So that's the word currently. Keep an eye out this week for a beta signup announcement and next week for an EDEE patch release.
 


Update: August 29th, 2005 - Forward With Galacticards
Next Update by: September 12th, 2005

First off, it appears I had entered the wrong date on the status report, setting it to Friday, August 26 instead of Monday the 29th. Those of you that actually read these know that I usually post on a Monday. Of course, there was no great flood of mail asking where the report was. ;>

Half of this month was spent on vacation.  I did manage to make one evening in Denver and did have the pleasure of meeting Mark Baldwin and Bob Rakosky for dinner. That was a lot of fun, as I had never met with the face to face and had only ever talked to Mark Baldwin on the phone once. Ah, the power of the Internet.

Wydraz did do some art work during that time, and he and I decided that Gary Stump's suggestion of "Galacticards" would be an excellent choice. Gary must have been inspired. When I got back, I worked on the game adding a tutorial window and some other changes. I also have opened up a playtest group of several people, most of them only got the game yesterday. I am hoping they get some time over the Labor Day weekend to give it a whirl.

The response from the play testing group has been good, and the game has a good amount of stability to it. After I give the group a little more time, I am sure I will begin looking towards beta.

Galacticards is definitely not vaporware anymore. There are only two major components missing. Actually three, the third one being networking, but it has been determined that Network play will be added at a later time. It is probably just as well, because then I get to focus on the other two items. Hot seat play will be available.

One item is the sound within the game, which is beginning to come together. The other is the various AI personalities that will be in the game. The game has five players, with the computer taking over any positions not filled by human players. Currently, the AI in the game is what I call the "Unpredictable" personality, for he makes a lot of random decisions. Surprisingly enough, sometimes these are the correct decisions and you can wind up way behind or even losing the game.

But it is obvious the game will be much harder with an opponent that has some type of strategy. I hope to add some aggressive, expansive and defensive types as well.

A great deal of work has been done on Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition in the past couple of weeks. A patch will be coming in September. It is built now, and currently being tested. This patch will feature some bug fixes as well as some additional unit attributes that have come by request of Unit Database authors. Hopefully we continue to see more interesting unit sets as time goes by.

For Perfect General fans there is the exciting news that while I was out of town I did work on the design for a PGEE of some sort. I believe I now have a solution for air and sea units in the game without breaking the scale or method with which the game is played. I am very interested in another chapter of the Perfect General at some point in the future.

Also, summer soldier has moved along rather sleepily and is obviously going to move well into the Fall. I was thinking of renaming it "Fall Fighter".

So despite the vacation, it has been a busy month. The next two coming months will be even busier, as Galacticards moves toward beta and release. In response to this, I am moving up my next status report to two weeks time.
 


Update: July 25th, 2005 - What's In A Name?
Next Update by: August 26thAugust 29th, 2005

Well it has been a very quiet month for news. But those that have followed my development for the past few years know that that is usually because I have crawled off into a hole and am "beavering" away at coding the next creation. If you guessed that, you were right.

The Space Game development is going very well. The alpha is very far along, even farther than I thought it would be, though not completely playable at this point. There will be a slowdown in work on it as I will be away from the machine after this week for a bit. But to this point in time it is really looking good, very stable, and is turning out at least as good as I had hoped it would if not better.

When I return, the game will be moved towards beta very quickly. I can easily see a call for beta testers in early September. If that is the case, the game could be released in October. As with other KBS games, there will be a demo released before the game is sold.

I am having a very difficult time settling on a name. "Planet and Stars" is still the working title, but if you would like to offer up a name for a space exploration game please send me a mail at mok@killerbeesoftware.com. If I do use the name, I will make sure you receive a line in the credits section.

To possibly get your "muse" going, I will explain the game in a little more detail. There will be five players, and each player starts with a home world and a handful of security forces. On each turn, the player will need to choose cards from his hand, one to give away, the other to use as an "action". The actions will allow him to do things such as research, mine, explore, and colonize to name a few.

The card that he gives away will affect a player. This can be good or bad for the recipient. There is a chance that you will be the one to get the card you send, so you always must consider that risk.

The overall winner of the game is the player who has the largest group of population for his species under his control.

When I get back in August, I will open up a new forum area for the game and it will be open for discussion there.

There is one technical issue with the game. I am using a third party engine within the implementation. As I may have mentioned before, one of the goals of this project was to learn the engine and see if it could be used for future projects. The engine has received very high marks from me.

But the group working on the engine has fallen behind in their delivery. Given the complexity of the engine, this is not due to them slacking off. The quality of the existing engine has been outstanding and is very impressive. But it does mean that one feature may be absent from the game when it is released, and that is network play. If they have not been able to deliver the basic networking by mid-August, network play will not be added to the game until the first patch.

I do not see this as a show-stopper for the game though, as the game should be a great deal of fun to play with the computer players or via hot-seat. Adding the network protocol should be easy enough, as it has already been stubbed in, but I would like to give it ample time to prove it's stability. I do not see myself justifying holding this game back several weeks if not longer for network play. So I would say it is a better chance than not that it will not be network playable when it is first released.

Wydraz has been working on the art for the alpha for about two weeks. He has come up with some very nice stuff. There are some dynamic images that we have to create, so there has been a good amount of conversation spent trying to coordinate this. I plan to give him another "drop" this week, which will include much of his work.

So I would expect things on this game to really ramp up once I get back from my small trip in early August.

The Summer Soldier tourney has been slow moving as well. One player has had to drop, and the competition is moving at a snail's pace. I suspect summer vacations are really hitting us hard. I hopefully it will gear up a little better as well in August.

The hot seat test appears to be going very well. A second version of it has been released and very soon it will be time to finalize it and path up the server as well. I would look for this in the coming month or so. Again, thanks to all of those that have sent me input.

So I would expect things to still be a little slow news-wise for a few more weeks. Then there should be a lot more information coming on the game, and it will quickly be ready for release.
 


Update: June 27th, 2005 - Tourney, Hot Seat, And Alpha
Next Update by: July 25th, 2005

Summer is here and that means it's time for Summer Soldier. The online tourney has started off well, sporting eight contestants for PGIE and twelve for EDEE. The assignments have been out for about a week and I have gotten a few results.

If you have never tried either game live, you are really missing out. I was always captivated by how truly balanced the games are with human players. They are really challenging. Being turn based strategy, I know it is it is difficult to find the time to dedicate to playing online. But I would recommend it.

I hope people are not thinking EDIE has been forgotten. I definitely want to hold a PBM tourney for EDIE and EDEE at some point in the near future. Keep you eye on the site for the sign ups. I have no idea how it will be structured yet, but it will be a tournament for fun, and I am sure will have some round robin play in it.

And speaking of human play, something that I left out of EDEE was hot seat play. This was an intentional move. I did not realize to what extent people have been playing hot seat. I had always been given the impression that it was too time consuming to do and not worth the development effort. Since release, I have received numerous mails from people describing how their hot seat situations are set up. I know the lack of hot seat play was a disappointment for some people. I had recommended using a remote client to play hot seat, but that is a type of kludge in the end.

Well, I had originally thought it would take a great deal of effort to build in a hot seat client, but I realized I had approached the problem incorrectly. So recently I worked on a new hot-seat client that behaves very much like a Remote Client, but it is hard-wired to connect to the serve on the local machine. I also have changed the blank screen mechanism to offer some privacy for a player's window when it is not their turn.

So to play a hot seat game, the server will be started and a hot seat client will be started for each player playing hot seat. They will have their own dedicated window, The server can also be used for a player or it can be used as a dedicated server. When it is a player's turn, they will manually un-blank their screen, play the turn, then blank it back before stepping away. The window will be named for the commander, so it will be easy to differentiate which window belongs to which player.

This hot seat client will be ready for testing very soon, most likely this week. I just have to write up the instructions for it. The test will be an open test for any and all interested in giving it a spin. The client itself will be considered part of the server distribution and will not cost anything for those that purchased an EDEE server. There are some people that purchased a Remote Client for the specific purpose of playing hot seat. If you were one of those people, please participate in the open test when it occurs and give me feed back. Also, contact me in regards to the Remote Client license you purchased.

Eventually there will be a patch for the server and remote client to include the screen blanking capabilities as well. I have received a couple of other bug reports that I want to work on and get into a patch as well. But I suspect a patch is in the near future.

The rules for the Space Exploration Card game are pretty much set. I have set a couple of versions of the prototype to Wydraz. With this prototype, there is very little he can do from an art perspective, but the game itself is very playable. The purpose is more to give him an idea of how the game will flow. The prototype has been an excellent exercise in flushing out the rules for the game, learning the graphical engine it is coded in, and experimenting with some ideas along the way. Over all I am very pleased with the results, and will begin alpha development work next week.

The alpha development will be started from scratch, as the insides of the prototype have been worked, hacked, reworked, re-hacked as rules and requirements change. It would be unwise to not draw a proper design for the game. I do not know how long the project will take, but it should not be too long. I plan to have some time for other things this year as well. I hope to make it multi-player, and it is possible it will have a programmable AI. It should  be available on Windows, MAC and Linux when it is all said and done.

So as summer rolls along, there is a lot going on here. I suspect that when July is over, I will be well into the development of the Space game, and hopefully we will have many results from Summer Soldier in. I also hope to have this Hot Seat Client released, as well as possibly a patch for EDEE.
 


Update: May 30th, 2005 - The Online Tourney and the D.O.S. project.
Next Update by:
June 27th, 2005

Well a month has passed since the last status report, and May is typically a very slow month as people graduate and finish things, but things have not been slow here. I am preparing for the online tourney, and I now have a working prototype for my little space game.

The online tourney is Summer Soldier. Signups are still good through this week, and it appears we have a good crew signed up for the games. I find competitions always exciting. In abstract games such as thee that many of us play often, the greatest challenge comes from playing another human. Winter Warrior was a PGIE only event, and now Summer Soldier will be opened up to EDEE. Every participant in the previous tourney really found the competition quite tough, and I think it will be interesting to see how tight it is for EDEE.

I still have not determined the format yet, because that is dependent upon the number of people that ultimately sign up. For PGIE, it may be another round robin event, followed by a seeded bracketed event. This will enable players to play something like five to seven games over the course of the summer. For EDEE, it may be the same type of tourney.

There has been a good discussion on the PGIE board about expanding the scenarios to those beyond just the basic ones, to include some that have been produced by players. I think this is a wonderful idea and plan on doing that. If you have more to add to that discussion, please visit the PGIE Yahoo group and do so.

For EDEE maps, I think I am going to take advantage of a little feature that evolved during the beta phase. If you design a map, and place neutral capitals on the map, these will be the starting places for the players in the game. So I will probably make a couple of maps with four or so starting positions (I have already made one of these). That way, even though some aspects of the map are known, it will not be clear as to the starting position of your opponent.

I mentioned in the last report that I have been evaluating a graphical engine for future games. I have been pleased with the results, and have made up a prototype of my space exploration card game, which I will describe a little bit here. The game has the 'working title' of "Disasters of Sorion", a.k.a. DOS. I do not know if I will keep that title, and yes, there is a joke in there...maybe even two.

The objective of writing this game is to learn the engine and move towards a different interface and graphical approach than has previously been used in the other games. I feel the best way to get familiar with the nitty-gritty details of an interface is to prove it out with a project. So far I have been pleased with what I have done and see no evidence of any real problems. I picked the space exploration theme because it is of great interest to me, and I hope to some day write a 4x space game to rival the great ones that are out there. DOS is not that, but I believe it will be fun.

DOS is a different paradigm from the Empire and Perfect General series, as it is going to be presented as a card game type of interface, as if you were to play it on a kitchen table with your friends. Though…I will definitely take a little license with the rules because it is a computer game, so there are a few things that would be cumbersome if you were to actually have to do them physically. But I would like it to be as abstract as many card games are, and hopefully there will be several winning strategies available.

In the game you will have to explore star systems, mine for minerals, control your population, conduct research, defend your galaxy, and launch raids on other players - essentially all the typical stuff one has come to love with space exploration games. I current have a working prototype for it, which save for a few planetary graphics Wydraz sent me back when we were working on EDIE, is all art work from my own hand. In other words, it ain't pretty. But I am pleased with many of the aspects of the game.

Wydraz is chomping at the bit to see the rules and look at the game, and I hope to send it to him soon. But after playing the prototype several times, there are several adjustments I want to make before I show it to him. I am sure he will see it sometime this month though. He has been wanting to do space game art for a long time, and I believe the capabilities of the engine will enable to do a great deal of wonderful things.

While working on the prototype, I have also continued flushing out some design ideas, including several focused on The Perfect General world. I am really interested in doing some things in that area as well. If the DOS project works out the way I want it to, a larger project like a PGEE may be on order. In the back of my mind I am also thinking of another client for EDEE with the engine. Ah…so much to do and so little time.

Anyway, as you can see my mind has been looking at several things, and I am sure with each week more focus will be placed on the DOS project. I should have more to report on it next month. I am really looking forward to the upcoming online tournament as well.

I am extremely pleased to continually hear from many players that they are still playing EDEE an awful lot. I have gotten several letters from people stating that their "addiction is back" and they are playing the game like they did when ED was first released in '93. One player that sent me a small bug report last week had finished 180 games in his player history. I must admit that I am hard pressed to think of other games that provide you with such play value for its price.

So I will remind everyone to continue to spread the word, as that is what will make the community better and the game stronger, as more people work on their owner maps, scenarios, and modifications for the game. And do not to forget PGIE as well, for it has a community that continues to grow, and it is a great game.
 


 

Update: April 25th, 2005 - 'Stuff'
Next Update by: May 30th, 2005

The 4.003 patch for Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition has been out about a month now, and there have been very few issues reported with the game. One annoying bug that crept in was the game crashed when loading saved games from previous versions. This was not supposed to happen, and my apologies to those that found out the ugly way they were loading dated saved games.

There will be another patch for EDEE probably sometime this summer. I will wait a while longer to let the dust settle on this one and see what needs to be done. There will be a few additional things most likely added to the game…I hope to put in a "group move to" and also add some attributes to units to expand the mod making capabilities of the game.

Congratulations are in order to General Turtle, a.k.a. Charles Hoch, who wins the Perfect General Winter Warrior Tourney. He never lost a game, and his opponents frequently commented on his playing ability and tactical skill. The other players I am told were no slouches themselves….with second place going to Karawane, third to General Ferretman, and fourth to General Zaro.

I do plan on holding a "Summer Soldier" tourney for PGIE this summer, hopefully we will get a few others to join this rugged group.

I will also hold a live online tourney for Empire Deluxe Enhanced edition at the same time. It will most likely be single elimination on a preset map around 70 square. More details on that will be coming as the time gets closer.

My thanks to everyone that filled out the survey. The vast majority of players that did the survey felt EDEE was the "best" in the series. That is good news. EDIE is has not been made obsolete though, as many people are still buying it. I know it is a matter of taste, and for some, EDIE hits the spot.

As many that filled out the survey have recognized, Empire Deluxe and The Perfect General fit into a niche that is often best served by word of mouth. Many of the people that play these game do not normally play other more popular games, therefore the normal avenues of reaching gamers are not as effective. EDEE is a little short on scantily clad women and does not exhibit a lot of blood and simple click 'action', which is simply the state of the art at this point in time. So unique methods of reaching out to the right group of people is required. Some of you had some excellent suggestions, which I am looking into. Everyone can help by spreading the word with friends, family, and in your favorite forums, even if they are not gaming forums.

I have looked over future projects for KBS. The two that I definitely want to do at some point are an Enhanced Perfect General and the mother of all 4-X space games. Regarding the space game, I have a design that I wrote Fall-Winter '03 before the implementation of EDEE began. Reading over that design it needs to be redone. I also plan to flush out more of what will be The Perfect General Enhanced Edition in the coming months. Both of these projects would currently take quite a while to implement, and after the marathon run that was EDEE, I do not want to dive in to another year+ long project.

This does not mean I have been and will be idle though. I have decided at this time to evaluate a graphics engine that will improve the interface and visual nature of my games, as well as improve the portability aspects of the games.. I have a small space exploration card game design that I am now beginning to prototype…for I feel the best way to learn the limitations of the engine is to build something with it. I do not have any idea as to when this project will be finished, but hopefully it will not take too long. If the engine appears successful in the project, then it may be applied towards future KBS games.

So for the summer, we have two tourneys coming, and hopefully a fun and interesting little strategy game to help improve all future games. Should be a lot of fun. I am not sure when the "AI" tourney for EDEE will be, but it may happen in the summer as well.

Don't forget to check out the latest Empire Series related website, http://Salientgames.com that opened up over the weekend. My thanks to Andrew Peiman for putting it together and helping to make the community grow.


Update: March 28th, 2005 - Patching Up
Next Update by: April 25th, 2005

The patches for both Empire Deluxe Enhanced and for The Perfect General Internet Edition are almost complete. EDEE's patch should be out this week but PGIE's will be delayed, most likely until next week.

The second trial patch for EDEE turn out to be fairly stable, though there was an issue with using the Scripted AI when restarting games that caused a problematic crash several people reported. The crash was actually occurring in the DLL, but it originated from problems caused by the engine, related to the previous adjustment to fix the problems with using AI's in PBEM games.

The repair of this error has caused saved games to not be compatible with previous versions. This includes forward compatibility. So if you have any saved games now, you will not be able to play those with the patch. Map, scenarios, configs, databases will be compatible.

It always amazes me how complex software can becomes as it grows in scale and features, and the slightest tweak can have undesirable outcomes in other places seemingly unrelated. These issues have been addressed and I do believe they have been patched up.

So the EDEE patch is pretty much done. All that remains are a little more testing, some more manual notations, a proper build and patch construction. I definitely anticipate this coming out around Thursday. I am sure we will see a few more bug reports after the patch...there always seem to be.

Ted a.k.a. Oblivion is still working on his "UltraDB" unit set. He has posted a list of issues that he has found in database creation. I have addressed the ones that are really bugs…the remainder of his list is more in line with changes to the engine or additional attributes for units. None of these have been incorporated into the patch, but will be studied. Hopefully with stability in the patch, adding some of his suggestions will be a possibility in the next patching.

For the Perfect General Internet Edition, there have been some minor fixes that have been pending for quite some time. After working with the connection service for EDEE, I thought it would be wonderful to add it to PGIE. The "Connection service" is really just a set of Perl scripts that enable you to see what games are available to be hooked up to via HTTP. It should save players the trouble of having to share IP addresses. Instead, they will be able to prepare to receive a connection by entering a title such as "Tom, join here". A player looking to connect swill be able to identify a game and connect to it with a simple double click. The connection service does not help with people who have not properly set up their firewalls and routers, and these are issues that still must be dealt with externally.

The connection service is working fine with PGIE, but I am seeing some instability issues with network play and questionable connections. I have made further adjustments to the network protocols, and wish to test this a bit further before release. Such a test is difficult to do within my own network, because latency and other such "real" issues are difficult to simulate. So instead I am intending to recruit a small network testing group to run a few tests with the network play before the patch is fully released. I will be setting this up very shortly and there will be information on my home page about it.

After the patches are released, I will be looking towards the future. I am not completely sure what will happen yet, as I have many ideas. I may take some time off from game development and do some contract work until mid summer as I collect my thoughts and decide upon my next project. I have also considered adding a "Research and Development Page" with some creative ways to allow you to rather painlessly assist in the cost of development. However, no decision has been made on this though, because I do not wish to be pandering or make it appear as if I am desperate for the money. Killer Bee Software is doing fine, but many have asked how they can help further, and this is an excellent way to satiate those desires.

For now, I will still be looking into further issues and patch requirements for the current set of games as well as future works. There are several things that I would like to do, and I hope to have those thoughts more organized in the near future.


Update: March 1, 2005 - Onward
Next Update by: March 28th, 2005

The patch for EDEE is out, at least the "trial patch". People appear to be downloading it and playing it, so that is a good sign. I am sure some issues will come up (they always do), but hopefully this will solve some of the issues with the game. I hope to have the 4.02 patch out by the end of this month.

I am sure there will be other patches. Back in 1993, Empire Deluxe went through several its first year and a half, and as we know it needed more. There is really a lot to the program, so there is a great many different paths people will traverse, some of which will uncover more issues.

With this patch done, it is now time to look forward and onward. There have been a lot of Perfect General ideas in my head, and it is time to write a better design document on those. (PGIE needs a patch now as well). There is one detailed design document for another strategy game, as well as three or four other design ideas. I will think on these in the coming months. There is also the hand-held port for EDEE, and then possibly a Palm ports as well. This will be studied.

So there's plenty to think about and consider. Since development is going to be less intense for a while, I will be relaxing the schedule for status reports. I will post to this report by the end of this month, and maybe by that time I will have a good idea of what is next in line.

 


 


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