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Killer Bee Software
General Development Status - 2008

Update: October 20th, 2008 - Slow Summer

Next Update by: December 28th, 2008

There is some exciting news for Empire Deluxe that I can share in a non-specific way. A fan who is a professor at a University to be named later is interested in starting a research project using the EDEE AI interface to communicate with a large, established learning AI project. Evidently some grad students will soon have a job writing a new AI to interface with EDEE. I am unclear of the details yet, but will let you know more as I learn more and as they want to make it more publicly known.

Graphitti Entertainment has released their first Nintendo DS game, Mazes of Fate. I did pick this up at Amazon and have played it a bit. It is fun, and very old school. Those that like the RPG’s of the 90’s should like this title. I am finding it a nice way to pass time when I am out somewhere with idle time. I think the interface works well, though there were a couple of things to get used to (I find the close window button in the upper right corner very small – I must be getting old).

This is more good news for Empire Deluxe, as they should be hopefully moving towards Empire Deluxe DS now. As those that have followed previous reports know, ED DS was originally slated to be out in Sept 08, which just happened to be the true release date of Mazes of Fate, and is now slated for March 09. . . I believe Mazes of Fate was originally slated for a Feb 08 release, so about 7 month tardy. Applying this math, I would hope we could see ED DS early next summer.

It does prove that Graphitti Entertainment can get a DS product though their pipeline, so hopefully now whatever pitfalls they had to encounter in this process are a little more known. I am still skeptical of the March release date, as I personally have not received indication as of yet that the game is nearing production quality. But again, I am pleased that they have managed to get their DS pipeline primed. And the game is pretty cool.

Not a great deal of other development has taken place at Killer Bee this quarter. I had been involved a contract at an Investment Bank. I am sure those that keep up to date on the economic new know what that can mean…and sure enough that contract has come to an early hectic conclusion. I seem to be part of the regular news broadcast lately, first IKE and now the ‘economic crisis’. I am now in the middle of working on starting the next project, which does take time away from gaming ideas. And in the previous gig, the system had just gone into production and things had been calming down. So all of this has definitely thrown a wrench in development plans.

Looks like World of Warcraft has released their next upgrade patch in preparation for their Lich King release. This of course breaks the little mods I generated for it. I have already received some mail asking for it to get fixed. I will do my best to get it done soon...it is always frustrating how often they change the interface…they do allow you to check out the changes on their beta server though, but I do not have time to spend setting up for that.

Other than that, I have still received many emails from people about ED and Perfect General and such. As always, feel free to drop me a line if you have a question. I will post another report around the holidays. Next year we will see some interesting things.
 


Update: July 21, 2008 - Slow Summer

Next Update by: September 27th, 2008

Things have been slow moving it seems from the Empire Deluxe world as the lazy days of summer come into play. I will look at a few items of interest, namely the Graphitti version of Empire Deluxe, the movements in the Empire community, and some design thoughts. All of these items are moving slow it seems, but I would like to explore each one.

It looks like Graphitti Entertainment is running behind in their projects, as the proposed release date for their version of Empire Deluxe has now been pushed back to March ’09. This should not come as a surprise from anyone reading my previous comments on this subject, as I felt their timeline was very aggressive. It is comforting to see that they are willing to reschedule items instead of uphold false promises and buggy releases.

I have no details what-so-ever in regards to the hold up, but I do note that their first DS product, Mazes of Fate, has not quite made it out the door. So it is very possible that they are still getting their pipeline issues worked out. Being a DS game, the road to release goes through Nintendo. The current release date is now early August, which is just a few weeks (at one point was mid-Feb, then July). However, the news on the distribution capabilities for Graphitti have been quite encouraging. They will be able to distribute in stores such as Best Buy and Walmart, and just this week have announced some advertising deal with MySpace. This will translate into community growth for Empire Deluxe DS when it is time for that release. Hopefully it will bring in more old familiar faces and new friends, and help us reach critical mass in the modding and tournament communities.

I would say for those that interested, keep an eye out for the Mazes of Fate release for two things, time and quality. When the time comes, it will give you a good indication that more resources are being allocated to the Empire Deluxe project, and that they now understand the path to production for DS games. The quality of the game will also be a good indicator of the care and effort that went into it. I do plan on purchasing it, as I am very curious as to how it will play. It is just a little dungeon crawl, but hopefully will be interesting. It was previously released by a company in Argentina or Peru I believe, so like Empire, it is a revamp of a popular game. You can easily look it up on Amazon and watch the reviews if you don’t want to try it.

Oh, thanks to you folks that are hanging out from time to time at the Graphitti boards for Empire Deluxe. Its good to express interest and show that you are out there. I would not expect them to make many comments in regards to the game there, as they probably have yet to assign someone to track the community. But it does no harm to talk things up.

Other slightly non-related DS gaming in this area is that Firaxis released the DS version of Civilization this week, called Civilization Revolutions I think. I have yet to play it, but have heard they have already sold out of their first round of production. It shows there is a good thirst for strategy games on this platform.


The community has been pretty quiet as well, though I still receive many emails as evidence a lot of people are playing regularly. I know breaker over at Salient Games recently had his first child over this Spring. I have not received any real issues from users regarding EDEE lately. I do know folks are playing games against each other, and breaker recently mentioned about a tourney he may be having soon. I know many people have been very interested in the WWII mod that is available over there, and I believe I saw Rich posted another version of his mod not too long ago…I remember when he said “this is the last version”, ..that was at least a couple of years ago. ;>

I suspect the rest of the year will be pretty quiet as well. I am currently working on another contract and enjoying that. It is good for the rest of the year. I have been reworking the Galacticards II design somewhat, and have also been putting some thoughts together on a geo-political version of Empire with a technology tree, while not making it Civilization. I am beginning to look around at graphics engines again for GII, still have not been completely satisfied with the Garage Games engine. While it has many capabilities, there is a good deal of things that get built in that I don’t necessarily care for. The quality of the engine has improved greatly over the past year though, and I will be looking over it as well as trying out new ones. I am also going to look into Adobe Flash. I also have some other ideas, like a dungeon crawl type game similar to the old Moria game on the PLATO system long ago. My mind seems to remain in ‘old school’.

I am seriously considering updating the Unit DB files so that they are expressed in XML instead of my own homegrown schema. I may begin looking into that shortly. May also begin to make other formats (such as maps) more universal as well.

So it will remain quiet for a bit longer I suspect. That of course, does not hold anyone back from playing the game. If you have any questions or comments, I always I enjoy hearing from folks that drop me a line. When Fall comes I will post another status report, to show I am still alive and things are still moving, albeit, slow for the moment. Hopefully then there will be more news on this new version.
 


 

Update: April 07, 2008 - Plenty to Say

Next Update by: June 8th, 2008

Well, it has been a while since the last real progress report. I had been holding out due to the RTS comment in the Graffiti Entertainment Press release regarding Empire Deluxe, and then things have gotten busy and I there is much I want to say...which means putting off the report until I have time…which I never seem to have….a vicious cycle occurs and the report only thrashes in my head. Anyway, thanks to the gentle nudging of some of the modders for EDEE, I have committed myself to getting this report out this weekend, and here it is. I am just going to ramble on (yeah, like that has not happened before), so if it is not too structured don't be too surprised.

First off, let me make some comments about the announcement by Signature Devices/Graffiti Entertainment regarding the new version of Empire Deluxe. The most notable item in the press release was the use of the term RTS (Real Time Strategy) to describe Empire Deluxe. I have received indications from the folks there that there is no intention to change the game into an RTS. I did not get definitive word on that from the CEO, but from another one of the officers. I did not pursue the CEO as I believe he is very busy. I do not envy him as I have watched this company somewhat, and I would not want to deal with company shares and stock holders. This is a big time for their company, as they are moving up to the OTC BB for pink sheets, and have to comply with all types of regulatory mumbo jumbo.

The CEO of the company is Kenneth Hurley. He is the one that approached me. He was one of the programmers (lead I believe) on the Chuck Yeager Flight Sim produced in the 90's. I recall that being a good product. He has had a good deal of industry experience and seems to have what it takes to make this work. They are currently in the process of developing and releasing several products. They have just created an open sourced game engine (which I am curious to look over), and they are evidently licensed for several platforms, such as XBOX, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and they do coin op arcade boxes.

Though it has not been 'officially' announced, the hand held platform in question is the Nintendo DS, which is a pretty cool device. Graffiti is a licensed Nintendo developer, which is a requirement (Nintendo controls the platform). This is a capability Killer Bee Software could not have on its own, as there are requirements regarding size and revenue and such by Nintendo to be allowed to develop on the platform. They are also going to put out a comparable PC version as well.

What are these versions going to look like? At the moment I frankly don't have a clue. I am not involved in the development of this version of the game. They do have the current EDIE and EDEE source bases. So this could mean anything from a direct port of one or both versions, is could mean anything from a direct port of one or both games, to something completely different. We all will have to wait and see. I have been told I will assist in the testing of the product…that may possibly mean I could fire up my old beta crew, I don't know. There are some things they do have to show me, such as the cover art and such, due to guaranteeing that Walter Bright gets the appropriate credit for "Empire, Wargame of the Century". But really it is possible that I may not see much of anything before it is released.

So we will have to wait and see how loyal to the game the developed product is, and how much quality is in it. Also, how many features get changed or lost is an unknown. Will it have PBM? Will it allow custom maps? How big can the maps be? I could not say.


Even if it is not the best, I see this as a win for the game of Empire in general and the Empire community at large for several reasons. First, it will get the word out to many that have not heard Empire is back in ways that I am not able to do. This will help grow the community. Also it will reach out to a younger generation of players as well, again to bring in growth to the community and increase the player base. I think we should give it a chance, for it could just as well be very good.

Another positive is that in my dealings with Graffiti I have not sold the intellectual property of Empire Deluxe, and I can continue to maintain EDIE and EDEE, as well as generate new versions if I wish. So nothing is lost to a corporate gaming entity that, speaking from a historical perspective, could shelve the game or go bankrupt at some point in the future. So Empire will live on past this version.

What I would like to happen is that this DS version would be a simple introductory version, and the EDEE type of game more for the "power player". That way, we can continue to grow the modification parts of EDEE. And the community would grow in that way as well. The game has yet to achieve the critical mass needed to properly support the efforts of the modding community. By 'support' I mean enough people with enough time to experiment, think about, and try different styles of play. We currently have a nice mod community, but I am sure they would agree they would like to see more different things, for more perspectives. I know I would.

So several people have expressed their unease with another version - I would say overall we should wait and see. Worse case scenario would be that it is not very fun...in which case we still have EDIE, EDEE and the future….best case is we have something on a handheld which is a blast to play that helps promote the game and grow the community. And if the game is successful, we could see this on other platforms. It allows me to take Empire Deluxe where I otherwise would not be able to.

So I think that is what I have to say about it for the moment. When I start hearing or seeing something, I will let you know in a report. Supposedly the release date is in September, but I would definitely take a wait and see attitude towards that, as software projects are often delayed. But you never know, you might be asking Santa for a DS if you don't have one already…

Regarding Galacticards II, my work on that has slowed down for the moment. I hope to pick it up again soon. I have not had the time to finish it up as I have begun another contract job.

So I will try my best to add another report in the first week of June. Until then, you should check out the mod work going on over at www.salientgames.com . There is some cool work going on over there. Also, I do believe they are planning a tourney soon. And Breaker has setup a competitive matchmaker/ladder program there.

 

 



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