Killer Bee Software
General Development Status - 2008
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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