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The Perfect General Development Status


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


Update: August 18th, 2003 - In Play and In the News
Next Update by: September 1st, 2003

What a fun kickoff for The Perfect General Internet Edition. I was contacted by a producer at CNN and they asked me a few questions and took some camera footage of the game, and showed the game on Headline news on the release day. It was very exciting.

The release has gone well, and no doubt players are playing through the scenarios right now. The vast majority of people have opted to purchase the combined product with the WWII Battle Set. Those scenarios are really nice and challenging, and I am sure they will not be disappointed.

There have been some people who have had trouble with the demo. The trouble always seems to be related to the graphics and the map window not updating. The common theme amongst those who have problems and cannot resolved them, have cards that have not had their graphics drivers upgraded for at least a couple of years, and the cards are no longer supported. It is very frustrating to not be able to do much about these situations, but that is part of the trouble with using a package like Direct X.

I have had a couple of reports of the game locking up while playing, and I am looking into those. This problem is very intermittent and not very repeatable, and is related to how the user uses the interface. If you experience this problem and have more observations about it, definitely contact me. There will be a patch to fix this problem soon. There is an auto save option, and it should be used.

It is always important to me that this software be properly maintained and issues get resolved. I think the EDIE community has seen this philosophy in action in the past 3 months.

I have not seen any maps yet, though it has only been four days since release, hopefully our creative players will conjure up maps and scenarios soon. I have a few ideas I would like to put down too. There have been some questions about the editor in the forum. There seems to have been some confusion because the Editor manual is a completely different manual. It can be called up within the Editor program, or found in the manual directory.

So I will comment in a couple of weeks. This status report will most likely be molded into a general status report until the next projects have been formalized. Around September 1st I do plan on starting do discuss future plans and designs here at KBS, and some of that involves an enhanced edition of the Perfect General.

It has been very satisfying to see this project from beginning to end. Some thought it would not be pulled off, and others thought no one would care. Fortunately, they have been incorrect on both accounts. I could definitely use the help of those who enjoy the games from Killer Bee Software through your continued efforts to spread the word about these games, and that they are back and here to stay.


Update: August 4th, 2003 - Home Stretch Time
Next Update by: August 18th, 2003

The beta is running along smoothly, and the testers have also managed to look at the demo as well.

I asked for various reflections from the testers, because it has been a very long beta, with several bumps, and I wanted to make sure the group liked the final product. They appear to be as pleased with it as I am. With no major issues holding us down in the beta for the past couple of weeks, we are now ready for the home stretch.

The demo should be out shortly after this writing. I am waiting on the licensing for the new sound, which is supposed to be at my door today. If all goes well, we could see the demo as early as tomorrow.

Of course, distribution of the demo will expose the game to many more configurations, systems, and user interface styles than were possible to track during the beta. Issues are bound to arise. When they do, please contact me at mok@killerbeesoftware.com and I will address the problem.

The number one issue encountered with the beta was graphical in nature, and resolved by the user updating their version of Direct X and their video drivers.

After the demo is released, I will begin working towards making PGIE gold. I suspect this event will occur sometime at the end of the weekend or on Monday. After that, it will be prepared at BMT Micro for distribution, and if all things go as plan, sometime between 9am and 10am central time Thursday, August 14th the game will be released.

As I stated in the previous report, the game itself will sell for $20.00. The WWII Battle set will be sold separately for a price of $10.00, or you can buy it bundled with the game for the price of $25.00. If you really enjoy the demo and plan to buy the game, I would recommend you buy the WWII Battle Set as well and save $5.00. These scenarios and maps are very nice and make for some challenging play.

BMT Micro will enable you to purchase the game with credit card. As I did with EDIE, there will be an opportunity for those of you without a credit card to order the game. The license will be a single machine license, so you will need to purchase a copy for every computer you intend to play the game on.

The will most certainly be a patch out sometime after release, to handle the issues that have been reported. These patches are free of charge. The editor that comes with the game will be patched more informally, and I would not be surprised to see several "beta" patches for the editor available in between patch releases.

By the time of the next report, the game should be released. All in all, the time has come for TPG to come out of its long sleep. This game is great, and I am sure those of you who play the demo will see it still retains its charm. Make sure you spread the word around by talking with friends and posting on forums about the game.


Update: July 21st, 2003 - Picture Perfect
Next Update by: August 4th, 2003

What a great couple of weeks for PGIE development. Last Monday started with Wydraz delivering the Terrain Graphics two weeks early, and this has allowed me to begin to prepare the final product. The terrain turned out fantastic, maintaining the appeal of the old game, yet having a much better look than the old EGA graphics the beta testers have been playing with for so long. I am very pleased with the graphics.

Wydraz has also been able to handle some terrain special requests for me, so I have been able to add some paved road icons as well as a few other cool looking things. I suddenly realize how few 3000 icon combinations are. Fortunately, there is a feature in PGIE where each map can add up to 800 additional unique icons. I will probably distribute some sheets of icons that could not be included in the final set of 3000 after release.

The beta folks have been moving along playing the game, and the engine has become quite solid. Very few changes are now occurring to the game itself. It is such a blast to play, and definitely has retained the excitement of the old game. I find hidden mines a particular challenge, and your strategy definitely changes in these situations.

Most of the technical effort is currently split into two subject areas. One area is the sorting and preparation of the icons and assuring they are properly placed on the two dozen or so maps that make up the release and the WWII scenario disk.

The other is focusing on the editor so that others can create new challenging scenarios for human and computer play. I have written a tutorial for both map making and scenario creation this week, and have all the basic editor features in and ready to go.

Everything that is done in the game scenarios can be done with the editor (even more!). Using this editor is slightly more complex than using the editor for Empire Deluxe, where you just point and paint terrain. In the PGIE editor, you have the power to literally make up new terrain (the tutorial does this as well).

I am not ready to predict the exact date for the demo, but it will be built sometime next week, and should be released the first week in August after the beta folks have looked it over for me. It's hard to believe "demo watch" time is almost here for PGIE. And shortly after that, it will be time to go gold…

So I would anticipate within two weeks to be under "demo watch", and the next report may be the last report before release. Seems like it's been such a long time, yet I also seems to have gone so quickly. I am sure you are ready to see the game. It won't be much longer now.


Update: July 7th, 2003 - Preparing for the Home Stretch
Next Update by: July 21st, 2003

The beta is chugging along, with some exciting events occurring this week. Wydraz and I have agreed upon a plan to produce new terrain for the game by the end of this month. Today he has delivered new unit graphics, which I will get to the beta testers this week. I also hope to get you some screens shots of the units this week. They are, of course, a work in progress, but they are nice looking. Those who really wish to keep the old graphics will have the ability to do so through the editing of a configuration file.

I hope to see the new terrain sheet in a couple of weeks. I have to rebuild my terrain compiler to perform some alpha blending of the terrain. The terrain graphics will be compiled off line and prepared for the game using this tool.

Just when they'd thought they'd played it all, the beta testers also received the first draft of the WWII scenarios. These scenarios were originally compiled by White Wolf Productions, and have some very challenging games in them. I am getting reports of beta testers having a lot of fin with them.

The beta has stabilized and is rolling fairly smoothly. There are still some issues with the Direct X for various configurations that are being worked on. It seems like the best solution for folks having issues with Direct X is to update two things. Your version of Direct X, and the video drivers for your graphics card.

The main focus of this month will be content. The manual, artwork, the scenarios and maps all need to be prepared for the release. Also, a lot more testing needs to be done with the game itself and with the network mode, to make sure it is running correctly. This will be a busy month, but come the end of it there will be a game just about ready for you to play.

I have added some rough utilities in the editor for making roads and mountains and such. The editor will definitely be a work in progress even at release time and beyond. I hope to build a simpler editor, not quite as powerful as the current one, but easier to quickly build maps and the basic terrain features.

Today I am able to announce the release date for The Perfect General Internet Edition, which will be August 14th, 2003. The price will be $20.00 US, there will be no multiple license discount.

The game will be available online on August 14th from BMT Micro, same folks who are helping distribute EDIE. Players will be able to purchase with a credit card for immediate download. There will also be a procedure for mail order, but all delivery will be via download.

There will also be an additional scenario pack, The World War II Battle Set, available at release time. The scenario pack will be available separately, and there will be a bundled package deal with this scenario pack and the game itself. Details on this will be announced before the release date.

I hope to release a demo of The Perfect General Internet Edition a week or so before its release. This may not occur, depending on the circumstances at the time. The demo most likely will include all functionality of the game, except for network play, and only one scenario will be available. The demo will be a good opportunity to see how it will run on your machine. I do feel it's very important to have a demo for people to observe before the release date, so I will try my best to get this done.

So in less than six weeks time, the game will be ready for you. The beta will continue at least until August 10th. Hopefully by that date, a demo will be out for your review, and the game will be ready to go gold.


Update: June 24th, 2003 - The Bump and Grind of Beta
Next Update by: July 7th, 2003

It has been a very rough two weeks in the beta test for "The Perfect General Internet Edition". Two major technical events took place during that time, and only one was anticipated.

The first was the transition to Direct X. The windows GDI calls were just not cutting the mustard good enough, so I decide to transition the game to Direct X. The transition went fairly smoothly, though there was some difficulty making sure the application performed properly when a screen saver kicked in. However, the users on lower end machines are now experiencing much better performance out of the game. I am very pleased with this transition. The game uses Direct Draw, so it will be compatible with Direct X 7.0 and up.

The second event is what really caused the bumps in the beta over the past couple of weeks. The testers were experiencing several crashes in the program. The vast majority of the crashes were occurring (though not limited to) with the Computer player during his placement and movement phases. Most of the crashes were intermittent in nature, which indicated memory issues.

Upon investigation of these problems, I had discovered a dozen or more separate places in the code where bad array references were taking place. For those not technical enough to understand that, it basically meant the program was trying to use data that did not exist and therefore could potentially crash.

And crash it did, and a good part of last week was using specialized tools and chasing down and analyzing these issues. After the analysis, I determined that the crashes were in fact occurring in the old code. I believe several factors contributed to the cause this event. First, the compilers are very different (my VC++ 7.0 and the one used in 1990), and so the use bad references would react differently. Second, the program is able to carry on if it succeeds in making the reference without crashing, because in almost all of the cases uncovered, the bad reference occurred as a result of not finding data that can cause an action (like there not being a unit that can return fire), and in the end the call was ignored anyway. Third, the zoom factor had an effect. More of the map is now exposed to the player than the original 12x12 hex map. The beta testers requested and received 2 additional zoom levels, making the total number of zoom levels for the game 6. With the small levels, a great deal of the map is displayed, and so the calls to test for LOS conditions, etc. are made more often. Thus, the potential to run into such a problem was greater.

In the end, I did a full review on a large portion of the older code still in use, and the program is now stable. That rough phase of the beta test is over. The beta testers have really persevered through this and have done a great deal to contribute to both the quality of the game, and the shape of it. It is very different than it was when the beta first began. They also understand that betas can have their rough points, and we certainly experienced one.

With the smoke clearing from this, I am now able to begin to turn my attention towards the content portion of the game. This is verifying and validating the scenarios and maps, as well as preparing the web briefings. I am also now working on improving the editor, adding the Direct X engine to it as well, and providing a few other features I believe some of the testers will appreciate. And as planned earlier, I have also added about five more testers to the group this week, and am eager to hear their impresisons on what has been done.

Very soon in the test we will reach a point where the game program itself will no longer be subject to a lot of feature changes that the beta testers may suggest. I anticipate this happening within the next week or so. I do not plan on having such constraints on the editor, and will most likely still add capabilities to it even after release.

I am currently discussing the graphics with Wydraz regarding how much of the terrain can become original. He does seem to feel there is a decent chance the terrain could be completely new, but the delivery of this terrain would be late in July. As I have stated before, it is possible I will slip the release date by a couple of weeks if this will insure the game will have new terrain graphics, but at this point I have not changed the planned release time of early August. I have been told the units will be delivered before the terrain. When I receive them, I will make sure you get a look.

So I would expect the testing in the next two weeks to be less eventful than it has been, and begin to see the game start to take its final shape. The WWII scenarios should be available to the testers at the beginning of next week, as well as an editor with more features.


Update: June 10th, 2003 - Using The X Files
Next Update by: June 23rd, 2003

My apologies to those who checked yesterday looking for this report. It is very important to me that I meet my delivery times, and it is important to me that I continue to communicate what is going on with the development of the game. But sometimes things happen that prevent delivery. You can plan against some of them, and sometimes you just get left hanging. Such was the case yesterday.

The Beta of The Perfect General Internet Edition is in full swing. There are currently about 20 people working with the beta, and I plan to add a dozen more in a week or two.

The beta has gone very well. Many users have discovered some things that have been repaired, and I also have more stuff to do. We are still working with the old graphics set, and that gets interesting reactions. I hope to make the old graphics available when the game is released, so that those wishing to use them can.

This is a very good beta group. You can tell they really have a love for The Perfect General. They have communicated several things that will help in the shaping the game. The users are also telling me they are having fun. They are excellent testers and have uncovered several issues. But overall, they are getting to play the game.

One issue early on was we seemed to be having trouble with mines, and at this time not all the mine issues have been cleared up. Because of the introduction of hidden mines into the game, some of the mine code had to be changed. This has the risk of causing unintended events, and we have encountered a few friendly units running over mines when they shouldn't, or the enemy being aware of where hidden mines are placed. Also, an old game bug was discovered and fixed which would cause units to get confused it a mine was directly North or Northeast of them.

The largest issue of the game so far has been performance on lower end PC's (those sub one gig and running Windows 98). I had been unsatisfied with the performance of the GDI with this game, and the comments and suffering from the testers was the last straw. I decided to remove the GDI calls from the map and add Direct X to the game. When I had tried to reuse some of the GDI code from ED, I had prepared the game to be switched over to Direct X with minimal pain if need be, and it needs it. I had held back on it because it can cause its own set of issues with users and their configuarions. Now I already have a working copy with Direct X, and there is an obvious performance difference. The beta testers should receive this version on Thursday or Friday.

Another advantage to adding Direct X to the game was it now removes a barrier to adding Direct Play to the game (playing the game in a chat room on the MSN Network). This may become a feature, but if it does it will be in addition to the capability to connect via IP addresses and hostnames over the Internet. In other words, you never have to get near MSN to play your friend if you don't want too. This is something I hope to look into soon, and TPG will should be a lot more susceptible to using Direct Play than Empire Deluxe was. This is basically because one independently connects with an opponent before the game is started in TPG, whereas in Empire Deluxe, the game is set up before the first connection is even made.

On a different but related front, I still am not sure if the terrain is going to be something new or just touched up from the old yet. Wydraz and I plan to discuss this and decide by the end of June. I know he is very interested in doing new terrain, and that tells me he has ideas of how it should be done, which is exciting. But I will know if it can be reality by the end of the month. Factors that could contribute to the art completely changing have to do with the amount of time he is able to put it, and the status of the units icons. I am willing to push back the release date for new graphics by a week or so, especially if I can see a benefit to extending the beta due to this.

Speaking of release dates, there still is not one yet, but my target month is August, and I am hoping for it to be the first week in August. As I mentioned, this may turn into later in August if there is the prospect of getting the original Wydraz graphics. In regards to releasing the game, do let me assure you that I have every intention of not releasing The Perfect General Internet Edition until I am satisfied that it is of a high quality. I will probably not announce an exact target date until I am into July. I cannot speak to the price as of yet either.

So for the next two weeks, things won't change much status wise. The beta will continue, the Direct X build will be tested and should be working well. The bugs that get revealed by this wonderful group will be repaired, and a few more people will get a look at the game. Hopefully by the next report I will have a better idea on what the fate of the terrain graphics will be. I will also try to get some more screen shots up this week for you to review.


Update: May 26th, 2003 - Beta Time Has Arrived
Next Update by: June 9th, 2003

The Perfect General Internet Edition is just about ready for beta. I shall begin the process of assembling the beta team this week. I had originally hoped to begin the beta this coming Friday, but due to the death of my father, (see Empire Deluxe status report if you wish to see more details), the beta will now be scheduled to begin about June 3rd or 4th.

I plan on doing this beta only slightly differently from the Empire Deluxe Beta. The users selected will be placed into two groups. One group will receive the beta June 4th, the second group will most likely receive it two weeks later. I believe it will be advantageous to get a fresh pair of eyes on the game after the first go around with fixes and improvements have been done. However, I definitely want to get them in early enough so that they can help to shape the game as it needs to be shaped.

At beta time I only plan on releasing the game itself and the scenarios, not the editor. The editor will probably be given to the beta group within a week after beta begins. The editor is a completely separate program, though it will use the same INI file and graphics as the regular game. If you have read my previous status reports, you are aware that there is a huge issue with classifying the nearly 3000 images that will be standardized with the game. There will be a filtering mechanism within the editor to make selection of icons simpler for the user, and I will need a little bit of time to improve on that mechanism and write the filtering rules for those 3000 icons.

The icons themselves will be presented in 3 sheets that will be loaded with the game at startup. Each map is then allowed an additional sheet with up to 800 more icons on it that will be unique to that map. In other words, each map can have up to 800 custom terrain squares the map creator will draw.

I am currently bringing the original maps and scenarios over to these new sheets, and the beta testers should have all the original scenarios that were included with the game. At some point I will convert the WWII scenario disk, which I also own the rights to, and will sell this for an additional price or bundle with the game.

Wydraz has sent me a sheet of terrain icons that have been touched up. It is unclear if he will be able to create an entire new look to the graphics or not. The task of generating the new art for this game is a huge one, and he is facing some demands from his other professional work. We plan to know for sure which way we will go by the end of June. I personally like the touched up icons, for they maintain the old look and feel of the game without looking pixilated. But Wydraz has definite talent and if he has the time should come up with something good as well. I will report more on these developments as they occur.

The game itself has just about all the features I plan to put in and has been tested to work with Windows 98. Several network games have been played between a Windows 98 machine and a Windows XP machine, testing various features of the game. This week, before beta, besides finishing up the scenarios, I need to add more error checking in troubled network game scenarios to insure players receive the proper feedback from the game if there is a problem.

Two features have fallen to the cutting room floor. The first was a feature to provide statistics at the end of each turn. It was obvious upon further examination that this would reveal too much information to the enemy player. Often times in the game, you know that a unit was hit, but not what it was. Explicitly pointing it out at the end of the turn would affect game play.

The second feature dropped was password protection for Remote saved games. This is not needed because when saved, both players retain a copy of the game in progress and both copies are required to restart the game.

The features list has been updated to reflect the status of all the extra features for the game. The game is definitely a lot of fun to play, and I am quite excited about bringing it back. Hopefully, players will also generate new maps and scenarios to go with the game, and share them.

So the beta time for The Perfect General Internet Edition is finally here! By the time of the next report, it will have been in beta for almost a week, and it will be quite exciting to hear when the beta testers feel about the game.


Update: May 12th, 2003 - Kicking Into High Gear
Next Update by: May 26th, 2003

The Perfect General Internet Edition is now the primary project at Killer Bee Software. Empire Deluxe Internet Edition has now been released. Best news is that EDIE is in good enough shape to where a patch for it is not immediately necessary. There most definitely are issues, but they are minor or obscure, and therefore will not steal attention away from The Perfect General.

I have been able to dedicate a good amount of time to the Editor this week, and have cleaned it up a bit and added some functionality. The "mini map color" has been added to the editor so that the designer can decide what color will be used in the game's mini map to describe the terrain in that hex. Unfortunately, there is a limited number of colors that can be used for this value (this may change). These colors currently are predefined colors within the game (up to 256 of them).

The editor now also has a filtering capability. This is a must to manage the thousands of icons that are available to you in the editor. Now, if you need to find the image that has forest in it running North and South with a road running Northwest to Southeast, just set the appropriate filters and the icon is displayed for you. Also, default values will be initially entered into the specified terrain part for your convenience.

Maps in The Perfect General Internet Edition now also may have a special icon sheet, unique to the map, which will hold the images of the extra terrain squares you have created for that map. This icon sheet will need to adhere to specific standards which have not yet been finalized, but users will be able to add at least 800 more unique icons to map if so desired.

It is now time for work on The Perfect General to kick into high gear. Over the next few weeks, additional features will be added to the game. I have released a list of what additional things I feel can be added to the existing code base and still maintain quality and delivery. Since the beta period is approaching, this list is quickly heading towards being locked down. However, I am still interested in your suggestions for improvements. Some of these features from the list are described below:

As mentioned in previous reports, there definitely be head to head play via IP/Internet play. Players will be able to connect and battle it out in a networked environment. There will be no modem support or COM port support offered with this version.

More detailed statistics will be available in the Player History and the Scenario History. This may include information on unit kills and task organizations. Other information such as friendly fire artillery kills will be tracked as well.

Along with the additional statistics will come additional scoring opportunities. Set up as optional enhancements for victory points in the Scenario Rules, players can choose to have units destroyed count towards the victory point totals. Players can also get points for destroying a hex, or from preventing a hex from being destroyed.

Players will now be briefed on the scenario conditions by an HTML (web-based) presentation that the person designing the scenario develops. The Long Description will be displayed in an external browser, but initially invoked from within the game. This will enable serious scenario designers to add graphical content to their long descriptions.

Instead of there being only two movement and fire sounds, there will be individual sounds for each of the unit types for movement and fire. These sounds will be interchangeable as well.

An intriguing scenario option is the addition of probabilistic weather. By this I mean when a scenario is set up, a weather event can be assigned a value which represents the chance of the weather occurring on the turn specified. For example, a scenario may call for a "50% chance of rain on turn 5". This means that on turn five there is an even chance of rain occurring.

An optional time clock will also be added to the artillery phase, the movement phase, both direct fire phases, and when a user decided to return fire. I have not decided exactly how these clocks will be configured yet, but it will be dependent on force strength in some way, and can be configured via the Scenario Rules. If a clock expires, the phase automatically ends for that person.

So Empire Deluxe will no longer affect the schedule, and there is still a good deal of work to be done on The Perfect General Internet Edition before it is ready for Beta. My hope is to be heading towards Beta the first week in June. I will have a real good idea of this schedule is realistic by the next status report.


Update: April 28th, 2003 - Connected and Moving Forward
Next Update by: May 12th, 2003

Well, there has been a great deal of progress in the past two weeks to The Perfect General. This weekend I found I had to pry myself away to get Empire Deluxe ready for distribution. I am eagerly anticipating getting back and continuing to move it towards Beta.

I included the following screen shot of two instances of the game playing against each other in last week's news update, and I would like to speak to that in more detail.

The biggest advance is that Network Play has been added to the game. I did manage to find time to play the scenario "A Simple Little War" over the Internet. I chose this scenario because both sides get a lot of buy points at the start and artillery is available. It was quite a slugfest. This was done with one side behind a Linksys Router, and the other side using the Zone Alarm Firewall Software. It played quite well, with most of the issues discovered having to do with the presentation and drawing. TPG is a ton of fun to play head-to-head.

Essentially, the two programs can connect via IP. One person waits for a connection, while the other connects using a host name or IP address. These players can connect and chat before they choose a game. Either connected player can choose a scenario at any time and examine it. Either player can also choose to try and initiate a game. The other player has to load the scenario in question and validate the scenario rules (delays, handicaps, LOS rules, etc) that the initiating player has chosen. Once all of this is done and verified, the game can begin.

The infrastructure for receiving messages has changed from the modem serial code that was there before. I was concerned because I recall playing many modem games back on the old 2400 baud that would freeze or hang up. Changing the plumbing has done a lot for the stability in head to head play.

In the screen above, you can see that the window on the left is zoomed in more than the window on the right. I believe the higher zoom is 48x48 pixel hexes, and the one on the tight something like 24x24. I currently have four zoom levels built in the game, and they will be configurable through an INI file.

The mini map is functional, and can be clicked on for fast amp location changes. It also displays the known enemy locations, and has a box defining the area viewable in the game screen. The colors in the map are a little funky right now because this data is stored in the map file and it has not been properly set yet.

Under the flag, there is that funny yellow circle and a lot of buttons. The yellow circle is supposed to be a sun, designating no special weather effects. As you can see from this example, it is best that I leave the graphics up to Wydraz. There will be an icon for Clear Skies, Rain, Storm (Heavy Rain), Fog, Mud, and Night. You will have the ability to edit and replace these graphics, as well as all of the graphics used in the game.

The buttons are a control pad that essentially contains all of the commands for the game. With this pad displayed, it is possible for one to play the game without the keyboard, but via the mouse. I have found this quite a useful feature. Of course, the keyboard works as well.

At the very bottom of both windows is the chat bar, which shows up when players connect via IP. Chat can take place regardless of whether or not a game is being played.

Please remember that this is a view of the alpha, and the graphics are the 13 year-old graphics from the original game. Wydraz is working on the new set now, and I am looking forward to the results.

The only major function that is missing from the game is the ability to load and save games. I also have not added the ability to save game histories. Both of these functions are not very difficult to add.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done. The network play needs to be scrutinized, and the presentation aspects of the game still have some cleaning to be worked on. But the game itself is now all there and it is solid.

By the next report I should be finalizing the list of additions to this version of The Perfect General. I would not expect the list to be too large, but there should be some pleasant surprises on it. After that I can get those features in before the beta, which I still hope to start beginning in June. This should mean I will be quite busy the last three weeks of May as I move it towards Beta.

I also have to revisit the game content somewhat this month. It appears Wydraz is going to add some paved road icons, and I have to set up the tools for him to do this. Also, I would like to examine the icon sheet structure, finalize it as much as I can, and then make sure the old scenarios use the icons from the new structure. Currently, to play the old scenarios, you have to use the old icon sheet with the icons is a disorganized and chaotic array. This is fine for playing, but it makes map making virtually impossible. It is important I bring the old content in sync with the new icon set layout.

So very little code work is to be done in the next two weeks, as Empire Deluxe is released and sent on its way. Instead, when work is done on TPG, it will be mostly design and planning. But after that, I should be able to dedicate almost 100% of the time to The Perfect General to prepare for the beta implementation, which should begin in early June. The alpha is already fun to play, and with a few additional features and new graphics, the beta will be even better.

Also by the next report, I should be aware of the full impact, if any, the May 7th release of Empire Deluxe Internet Edition has had on the schedule for The Perfect General.


Update: April 14th, 2003 - Got the Mojo Workin'
Next Update by: April 28th, 2003

The game is really starting to take shape with the alpha build. The game is now fully playable with animation and timers. All the features of the old scenarios are implemented and working. I played my favorite scenario, "Going For The Gold", a few times today.

My little tanks are buzzing around, and artillery fire is flying. I went ahead and added sound to the interface. It turned out that no sound with TPG is very distracting. I had not realized how many subtle sound cues there really were in the game interface. I do not like the way all vehicles sound the same, and hope to partition it so that each vehicle makes a separate sound.

The game is now to such a point where it can be examined to see how this version can be improved upon. I am starting to generate a features list which I hope to share soon. It looks like something can be done to increase the way victory points are awarded. Possible points allotted for kills or preservation/destruction of terrain. Also, more stats would be easy enough to collect. TPG has always been good with the player history, and a few more stats would be nice.

A fan of the game wrote me and asked about the possibility of timed phases being added in this version. Such an implementation might also be possible, and I will look into it some more. I was thinking along the lines of adding a scenario rule for # of seconds allotted in a phase per unit owned, or some other such measure. If you time runs out, your phase just ends as if you hit ctrl-P. Also, maybe returned fire situations could be timed. There's no way this should be an RTS or even semi-simultaneous, but a player shouldn't necessarily be allowed to take forever.

Definitely understand that if I got the opportunity to implement such ideas, they would all be optional from the scenario rules, so as to not affect the current game play.

So the feature list is really starting to build, and I am pleased about that. There is a limit to what can be done with this version, but as with Empire Deluxe, I plan to stretch it as far as I can. There are a few other things on my list that are really cool. I'll just leave it at that.

My schedule was jumbled around somewhat with sound being implemented, so Network play has not yet been added, though some hooks have been set in place. It is definitely becoming a priority item, and I hope to add it soon. Another "missing function" currently is the ability to save a game. It always seems to me best to leave such functionality out until the game feels stable in its structure. Yet another thing I hope to add soon.

Presentation is still a huge issue, both in the terrain and unit icon arena, as well as the maintenance of the existing scenario base. There are still some icons I have to add to the terrain mix, and a final format/layout of the base terrain sheet needs to be finalized. After all that is determined, then the existing scenarios need to be brought up to date again and tested with the new icon sheet. These will be issues I think I will be dealing with all the way to the release.

Some of the presentation layer needs to be reworked. Some of the rendering is done in a very sloppy brute force way, and that part of the engine needs to be reworked. Some of this was done intentionally to save time and so that other functionality could be brought online, other parts because the algorhythms I reused worked with the functions available through DOS back in "the old days" and better solutions exist today.

I am very thrilled with how the game is coming up. It is a lot of fun to be able to play a full game through and in the next few weeks I hope to gain the confidence that it will soon be ready for beta. However, I do see a meteor coming, and that is the May 7th release of Empire Deluxe Internet Edition. Empire Deluxe is essentially already 'in the can', with hardly any code adjustments being performed. Most of the fussing is now with the manual…but soon the true logistical issues of packaging the product for download and making sure everything is ready for release and the mechanism for providing post release support will need attention. I am sure in the beginning of May there will be a stall in some of the development momentum for The Perfect General. I have put in a nice cushion of time to deal with ED issues, and hopefully not all of that cushion will be absorbed and some can be used to work with TPG. The best part about it all is once ED is out of the gate and on its way, The Perfect General has my full attention until it's release.

So I am trying my best to get it well on its way towards a beta state before that meteor's impact. It will definitely progress a great deal in the next two weeks, and hopefully shortly after May 7th is over and done I can set my sights on the beta and others can start to play with it.


Update: March 31st, 2003 - Editors are in alpha, but there will be a 2-4 week delay on Beta
Next Update by: April 14th, 2003

The scenario editor and map maker are now being looked at by my alpha team. All scenarios have been ported over, and all aspects of the scenarios can be created, changed and saved. There is still a lot of thought needed in regards to presentation (see below). My focus will now turn back to the game itself. The first two things that I wish to get going are the animation aspects of the game and the networking aspects of the game.

The animation should not be too difficult to do. The timing of defensive fire will have to be looked into. Since it is only a two player game, the netcode should be fairly straight forward, but I have not completed the analysis of how it will happen yet. Though the game will not have serial or modem play, I want to review how modem play was done. As I recall there were stability/deadlocking issues with the modem play that I most definitely want to avoid. How much reuse can be obtained in this section has yet to be determined.

The biggest issue with TPG has not been the porting of the code, but the effort to consolidate and organize the artwork. I have spent a large amount of time trying to organize the 800 plus icons in such a way that they can be effectively drawn and delivered. I have come up with a plan, that reduces the set of icons needing to be re-drawn to below 200, and then, using bit-masking and icon flipping, the entire set can be created. I have received the Wydraz's commitment to work on the art for TPG under this plan. I have been quite pleased with the work he has done on Empire Deluxe, as has the Beta group. I am looking forward to what he does with these icons. From my estimations, the final terrain sheet will have over 1000 icons on it.

I am also still determining the best way to present these icons in the map editor so that a map maker can build a map without too much frustration. Remember, because of the way the game is structured, map making is not as easy as selecting "mountains" and a mountain is drawn for you nice and pretty. Instead, the user has the responsibility to make the map look good. Therefore, the appropriate edge icons need to be presented in a way that enables the user to quickly place them where he wants them. I am sure this presentation will continue to be tweaked even through the beta, and possibly post-release. This is one of the reasons why the editor is detached from the main program.

All the fussing with the art has taken up a lot of time. Also, last week there was a family illness that kept me from working for a few days. This unfortunately is the risk of being a small shop, such unforeseen events that are unrelated to the project can have a definite impact on the schedule, as this has. With the release of Empire Deluxe nearing, and I suspect there will be a support crunch right at release time. I have decided it would be best to delay the Beta for The Perfect General by two to four weeks. This will mean the The Perfect General will be in beta by the beginning of June, and will push back the release to late July or early August.

With that extra time, the art will be able to be completed and the product will be able to be in the proper condition and preparedness for beta. The beta period may not need to be as long as the one for Empire Deluxe, but I am not willing to risk shortening that part of the schedule at this time. I will make a determination once the beta has begun if some time could be shaved off the beta testing schedule. It is still my intention to first guarantee the best quality of the game before release.

Working on the timing and animation and network play, plus more of my battle to tame the icon sheet will probably take up most of my time with TPG for the next two weeks. Also, I still need to consolidate a features list for TPG. I have had a few recommendations from fans, and I would really like to get them in.

After that, I will need to look into another issue, and that is sound. The sound is still missing from the game. The old sounds are quite poor and new ones will need to be added.

So with some hiccups a lot of progress has been made and things are taking shape, but there is still a great deal of work to be done. Although I am disappointed at the delay, looking at the editor and the game itself shows me that it will be worth it. TPG is such a great game, and with the network capability and new Wydraz art it should be a great deal of fun.


Update: March 17th, 2003 - Moving The Front Forward
Next Update by: March 31st, 2003

I now have an alpha version of a map editor and am working on the Scenario Editor. With this map editor, you can make a new map or load an existing one. All of the maps from the original game can be loaded into the editor. One can also create a new map of any size up to 127x127 (I plan to expand this to 254x254 once the pieces are back together and can be coordinated/tested).

I have decided to build the map/scenario program itself outside of the regular program. One main reason for this is to not complicate the existing source base by supply a map editor in the same process. Another is that it can be updated with additional fixes and patches without having to necessarily distribute a patch for the game itself. After looking at the editor for Empire Deluxe and some of the complications that arise from having the editor within the same program, I am happy I can keep The Perfect General's Editor separate.

As I have said before, the way an editor for TPG can create terrain off of any image would work is quite powerful. With the current editor, one is able to choose an image from the 725 or so icons that were with the original game, and then apply the terrain attributed to it. There will be some defaults with the icons that are delivered with the game, so you won't have to worry about selecting each road direction for a particular road each time.

However, with this power comes a price. Much time is spent setting up the icons for the map itself before the map is draw. It is not as simple as selecting "Forest" and clicking on a mouse square. There will be no logic to make your map look "pretty" or "correct". The map's author will be the one to do this. I do plan to make life somewhat easier for the author. I hope to provide you with the capability to resize maps, so that if you have a map with your terrain defined, you can save that, then resize it and remake the map using the same terrain icons. Also remember you do not have to use every icon you define on the map.

It looks like the basic size of each icon will be 48x48 pixels square. In the original game, they were 24x12 to conserve space, then expanded. I have an sheet with all of these icons on it, and Wydraz will touch them up for me at some later date. This sheet will be exposed, and the users will also be able to 'touch them up'.

The icons on this sheet will be essentially "locked" though, because the maps will use them and indexing off particular locations for them. So the real question is, "How does one add new images, like moon terrain or snow, or even a fancy long bridge?" I have considered several options, ad am not sure which to follow, but the two main choices are:

  1. Build the images into each map file. The advantage to this is each map will be a self contained piece of data. However, changing the look would require a map being "recompiled".

  2. Allow as an attribute of each map to list a "secondary" icon sheet filename, which will be expected to follow a specific format and size, and use that to reference images. I like this option, however, it does create the hassle of having to move two files instead of one for each map (even though multiple maps would be able to refer to one secondary sheet.) But with this option, maps icons could easily be adjusted in paint and then quickly viewed by the creator.

Work has begun on the scenario editor. It should not take too long to set up the placement of regions and the events that go with them, as well as weather events and what little AI tweaks each scenario supplies. I am considering invoking a web browser for the Long Description. I would be very interested in seeing some interesting multimedia briefings…

It is my hope that the Scenario Editor be finished up this week. Empire Deluxe Beta Testing is going very well, but I am currently in the process of reviewing the net code again and have found some protocol issues that also must be addressed this week. But I will try my best to be able to create and alter scenarios so that attention can again turn towards the game itself next week.

The biggest hole within the game is network play. There was modem play available, but that never really seemed stable and there will probably be a lot of rework required for it. However, being only a two player game, I anticipate the network design will not be as complicated as other programs.

I hope sometime in early April to build a features list for The Perfect General. This list will not be very large, but by that time I will be able to analyze what I can get in with out causing the game too much trouble. I have already had a few interesting feature requests, but I invite everyone who has ideas to send me a mail or drop in the forum and let me know what you think would be interesting to have in The Perfect General. Remember that the more complex and possibly game-play altering features will be in the Enhanced Edition.

So in two weeks I hope to be squarely back into making head to head IP play happen within the game, and have a basic map and scenario editor to build and test all the features and functionality of the game. From there I can build a feature list and work towards preparing the game for beta condition.


Update: March 3rd, 2003 - Time to wake up...
Next Update by: March 17th, 2003

With Empire Deluxe in beta, it's time to dust off the alpha build for The Perfect General and begin to move it towards beta. The Empire Deluxe Beta appears to have started smoothly enough to where I can dedicate a good amount of development time to TPG.

Last month I had left the alpha build as a playable game with no animation during movement and combat. The game also has no networking capability as of yet, and there is no map/scenario editor.

The Map/Scenario editor is what I will focus on in the coming week. The first step is to convert the old maps and scenarios into the new format. Basically the same data is used, sans the graphics for the recon map and the mini-map, which will now be generated in the game. Since there never was an official editor for The Perfect General, there really weren't a lot of scenarios out there. Therefore, the conversion program will be an in house utility and never released. The collection of scenarios that came with the game was superb, ad I definitely want to preserve those.

The next step will be to build a working map editor program. This way new maps can be developed, and the disorganization of the terrain graphics sheet can be resolved (this will affect the scenario conversion process as well). Missing graphics will need to be filled in, and new maps produced. After that, I plan to build the scenario editor.

The editors are very important to the development because I need to be able to generate scenarios to test different aspects of the game effectively. Somehow my Ultra Edit hex editor, although an excellent product (www.ultraedit.com), just doesn't cut it as a scenario editor. The greatest barrier to the development so far has been the lack of scenario variations and being able to produce them quickly. After the editor components are in, development can move forward on the game engine, which is already in good shape. The biggest hole then is the networking piece, which will need to be reworked.

So the slow month is over, and the real work begins on making the Perfect General come back to life. If my schedule stays on target, I anticipate entering Beta for the Perfect General in the beginning of May. This should be ample time to get the game into condition.

By the next status report I hope to have the scenarios converted and the map editor working, with parts of the scenario editor in place, as well as an idea for how much the ED beta is affecting TPG development. With the building tools in place, I am looking forward to starting on the animation and networking aspects of the game, and really having fun with the game.


Update: February 17th, 2003 - All's quiet...
Next Update by: March 3rd, 2003

Well it's definitely a hibernation time for The Perfect General. There has not been very much development work on it, due to the push to get Empire Deluxe ready for beta.

There are several reasons why Empire Deluxe development and delivery has been scheduled ahead of The Perfect General. The main reason is that TPG had no windows version, so there would obviously be more time required to concentrate on the basic plumbing for TPG, whereas Empire Deluxe already started with 16 bit windows version. The age and technical nature of this older program also demand more time to be analyzed. Also, the age and history of TPG will require more time to bring out the fans of the game.

I have always hoped that The Perfect General's release would be two months after Empire Deluxe's release, which would place it out in early July. At this point in time, everything is still on schedule. The progress I made with the windowing in the last report was more advanced than I anticipated. I the game should be in beta condition by the beginning of May. However, I am aware that that is the exact time that Empire Deluxe is being released, and being a small shop, there is risk that the date for beta could slip a couple of weeks due to logistics. Those interested in just The Perfect General's release should still pay close attention to the beta news and status of Empire Deluxe, for an on schedule Empire Deluxe is good news for The Perfect General's schedule.

The Perfect General has not been snoring too much though. Dealing with the art has been a refreshing break. Wydraz and I have analyzed the terrain graphics, and we are in agreement that all new terrain is not going to be needed. The logistical effort is to great, and the existing terrain is not bad, and can be improved with some simple brushing up. I will reorganize them on the new terrain sheet they way they make sense as well. (ie all roads together, all mountains together, etc.). There will probably be some terrain icons added, but these will just be variations on existing ones if useful pieces appear to be missing.

I plan to have two types of terrain sheets for TPG. The first is the one mentioned above, with the regular terrain. The second will be one that you will add as custom terrain to be used in your scenario. Remember that all terrain information is stored within the scenario itself, except for the image. This second custom sheet will give users the ability to add their own images to use within the game. These images can then be associated with terrain parameters in the game (altitude, movement cost, defense, LOS, etc.) and used as new terrain hexes.

I will have Wydraz work over the units a bit, for they are more pixilated looking than the terrain. However, I am interested in maintaining the same look that I feel is part of the attraction of TPG, so I would not expect them to radically change either. Users who are look for a different look will be able to change all the unit graphics in the game to their liking a well.

So I would expect this 'slow month' to continue through another status report. By that time, Empire Deluxe will be in beta and my focus on that program will change from adding features and functionality, to fixing issues and making it pretty. The serious development work will begin on The Perfect General, and there should be a lot of progress experienced in March.

A couple of weeks ago I had considered saying the next status report would come out in a month, but I feel communication is best and I wanted to maintain this report to show I am still working on The Perfect General, and it will not be forgotten. I have received many emails from TPG fans who love this game, and are ready to see it back into a usable state. They can rest assured that it will happen, and within the first half of the summer or so.

Since I am not afraid to say that not much happened in my status reports, I will present another one in two weeks. At that time, I will list the elements of TPG I plan to focus on for the following period. So again, do not expect too much development progress over the next couple of weeks. But March will be here soon enough.


Update: February 3rd, 2003 - It's come a long way...
Next Update by: February 17th, 2003

The Development on The Perfect General has been very encouraging. I have managed to salvage many parts of the game engine, and now have a working prototype that I can move forward as a build heading for production. It took some work and rework, but the code turned out to be portable enough to preserve most parts of the original game code. This is a huge step for the game, which previously had no real Windows Code in it all. Kudos go to Mark and Bob for coding it the way they did.

My alpha version now plays all phases of the game with most game play features included. The game play item most glaringly missing from the build at the moment is the ability to fire upon units that are moving. The reason this feature is not yet implemented is because I do not have any timers in the game. The hooks to add this phase already exist, and with the implementation of the game timers it will be easily added. There are several timers that need to be set up in the Perfect General to allow time for players to decide to fire on moving units and players to decide to offer return fire when fired upon, as well as general animation timers. I want to make sure these time settings are properly controlled by the "Scenario Rules". The Scenario rules were the preference set that goes with each game you play, like the choice between standard and long games, full or partial kill damage, etc. As I said, the current build has no animation timers and hence no animation. So units are moved instantly, results from artillery fire are also instantaneously displayed in the artillery fire phase, and tank turrets do not turn to fire.

It appears so far that the Internet Edition will have two ways to expose the AI. First, there is going to be an opportunity to expose abstract attributes of the AI players themselves. The dozen or so preprogrammed computer players have two attributes, aggressiveness and conservativeness. I can allow the users to adjust these controls, though I have not studied exactly what they do. Also, in each scenario, there is a chance for the designer to create one or more probability tables which will be chosen randomly at scenario start and determine the force type buildups for initial placements and reinforcements. So you can influence what units he builds, and make it so that he throws something different at you each time you play. I am unsure if any more of the AI will be exposed or not. Look for the enhanced version for more powerful and detailed exposure to occur.

The interface to the alpha is rough at best. I have just put up many dialogs without paying great attention to how the information is presented on them. The basics of the interface, however, are there. These consist of the map area, the menu, the status bar and the side window, as shown in this picture.

The map area contains the map (duh). I plan to add zoom capability to the map to allow you to view more hexes on the screen. You will be able to also using the entire window area for the map by hiding the side window. I currently do not plan to have a recon map, and instead allow the user to see the full map when viewing the scenario. However, I may generate a recon map anyway, and give the user the option to view it in a separate window or in the map area.

There will be the right-side window, which you can toggle on and off during the game to expose more of the map. This window will display the phase and information of the units and target hexes displayed on the screen, as well as hold the mini map. This functionality is pretty much the same as in the original game. I may allow you to choose to attach it to the left side as well.

The status window that displays information like "Select FIRE target for Bazooka" has been moved from the top of the screen to the bottom. This window will always be displayed.

There's also a windows menu up top where you can select commands and set preferences.

The graphics are still the original icons, and I still have not even discussed the graphics with Wydraz. This has been because their organization still needs to be determined. Unit icons are in fairly good shape organization-wise, but the terrain is an unordered sheet of some 700+ terrain images. I suspect they just added a terrain icon as they felt they needed to, since the terrain rules are made up in the scenario itself. Therefore there are certain terrain pieces that I would consider "missing", and would like to have them added to the "Terrain Sheet" before the game is released so that users will have a complete set of forest, mountain, road and other terrain icons. I would not be surprised to see that this will push the terrain images upwards toward 800-900 by release! That's a lot of work for Wydraz, so I suspect we will be discussing it soon.

Two major features are not yet in the alpha build: Network play and Map Editing. Also, the build has no sound at all and I have not investigated additional sound for the game at all yet. Most likely the map editor will be added first, so that more complicated scenarios can be produced and old ones ported. The editor will also serve as a tool for Wydraz to view his creations in the map interface.

The alpha build for The Perfect General may not get very much attention in the month of February, due to the crunch-time effort to get Empire Deluxe to a beta state by March 1. However, this does not mean that The Perfect General will be ignored, and I do not want Perfect General fans to think the project is going to be forgotten. My goal for release of The Perfect General: Internet Edition is within two months after the release of Empire Deluxe. That means I have a target date of a May 1st beta and a July 1st release. I cannot commit to these dates yet, though in one to two months I should have a firm date and "features list". The sooner Empire Deluxe is in a full-featured beta, the sooner my time can be committed to moving The Perfect General towards a beta.

So though February may be a 'slower' month in development, I will still report in a couple of weeks to describe what has occurred between then on now. Be forewarned the report may have little progress in it. But within this month I hope to find time to implement some of a map editor/scenario editor, implement some of the timers, as well as organize the terrain graphics and discuss them with Wydraz.


Update: January 15th, 2003 - On A Long March...
Next Update by: February 3rd, 2003

There's a lot of work ahead to get The Perfect General into condition. The code seems to have several things that are going to need to be worked out. I had anticipated this, and this is why it will be released after the first release of Empire Deluxe.

There are several code components written in assembly, and there are a lot of variables that are only a byte in size, with individual bits holding different information. I would like to "restructure" the structures some what, but want to be careful not to introduce bugs, for that will slow down the development.

There is definite positive development progress. I have now an alpha prototype that only displays the map and scenario information after being loaded from a scenario and map file. There is no game play, unit graphics or movement in the alpha at the moment. However, this alpha is establishing the data structures for the game (and it is very data centric internally), and to display the map I have already successfully carried over several algorithms relating to the hex transposition of the map from the DOS code base. This is good because it means the LOS logic and range to hit logic will be preserved. I still would like it to maintain the hexagon-board wargame feel.

Loading both a scenario and a map file is a big step as well. I have given meaningful names to the SCN and MAP files. No more "Scenario00.scn" or "MAP063.MDT" to go with it. Instead you have "FirstBattle.scn" and "VerySmall.map". The map file formats will change, due to the change in data structures. There will be no MDT and MGR files for maps (MGR held the recon and mini maps. The need for these to be stored is obsolete). There will not be any attempt to write a conversion program to go from old scenarios to new ones. Basically, the set of these maps and scenarios is not very large, and with an editor, you can recreate what you want. That being said, I do hope to include the maps and scenarios from the original game upon release. I wouldn't want to miss "Going for the Gold"…

Looking over source code for The Perfect General has been like a walk down memory lane or solving a lost riddle, because I see all the answers to the questions I raised as I was studying and hacking the map files making my editor many years ago. Actually, this knowledge has already helped me, because I understand much about the fundamental data structures of the game. This will definitely save on development time of this version.

Being by the same authors, (Mark Baldwin and Bob Rakosky), the code is very similar to the code used in some parts of Empire Deluxe. The Empire Deluxe code will lend itself well to reuse in this situation. Therefore, I will try to use the GDI routines from the Empire Deluxe code and hopefully this will not cause performance issues. If it does, DirectX's DirectDraw can be added, but that will delay the release.

I hope to use the same code base for the Internet play piece for both the games. I plan to take other parts from ED if they will speed up development of this upgrade (the Ancient Edition). I am almost positive the Enhanced version of The Perfect General will have to be a complete rewrite.

I am certain I will change the name from "The Perfect General: Ancient Edition" to something else like "The Perfect General: Internet Edition". Internet play is a big feature added in this upgrade, as well as a map editor and windows conversion. New Units will come with the Enhanced version.

Speaking of the map editor, I plan to incorporate it into the game interface, and not have it as a separate utility, and so will be released with the game. I really like the way map icons are implemented in this game. The information, including the terrain name and movement data for the icon is stored in the map file itself. What this means is, if I can expose the terrain icon sheet (which I can), you will get a terrain editor! All you have to do is draw the pictures.

The graphics are not in bad shape, but they will need some sprucing up. I have not yet discussed the graphics with Wydraz, due to the fact that I am still trying to determine how they should be organized and how big they should be. Originally they were all individual icons placed in a "mapicons.X" file where X was VGA, EGA or AMI(Amiga). These were in Deluxe Paint Format (LBM), and I will turn them into MS Bitmaps (BMP), and place them on a couple of BMP sheets. The units should look very similar, and I will let Wydraz lose on them and the terrain soon.

I have reviewed the sounds for TPG and I found them most unsatisfactory. I remembered them as being better than that, but then again that was 10 years ago on my Thunderboard. Much has improved since then. I think the sounds are going to have to be replaced, though I may make the old Adlib ones available for download upon release for the truly sentimental fans.

So due to the condition of the source base (a result from the age of the program) and the reuse strategy, the release of the "Ancient or Internet" Edition will be after the Empire Deluxe. How far behind will depend on the progress I make in the following month or so. I will report back in the next status report as to where I am with the prototype. Hopefully, it will be playable to some degree or another. If it is, that will be a good sign that it is not that far behind the release of its sister game. And after that release, we can begin to explore the what will make up the Enhanced Edition of The Perfect General, with new units and an exposed AI.


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

The code for The Perfect General 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.

The Perfect General is going to be a challenge, because it was a DOS game never converted to windows. In my examination I will have to determine how much effort it will take to do this conversion. It appears the graphical aspects of the code (written in assembly) are mostly decoupled from the rest of the 'C' code base, so hopefully this will be more of an exercise of removing code vs. adding code. If it is, then it will be a testament to the programming skills of Mark and Bob. I'm sure there are a few gotcha's waiting though....there always are.

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.


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

The code for the Perfect General 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. TPG is an older product, and the code is not ready for a Windows OS, so I would anticipate there will be some effort in preparing The Perfect General for the Windows world.

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. Even though some concurrent work will be done between Empire Deluxe and The Perfect General, I would anticipate The Perfect General's release to be after the release of Empire Deluxe. I would hope the first release date for both games would be early summer, 2003.


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