From: metro Chicago, Illinois, USA
Coder Diary #17 -- Past, Present & Future
Was it really only 13 months ago when I first, meekly approached Jason with an offer to program the Campaign Series/Modern Wars? And soon after that signed an agreement with Slitherine to assume the role of Lead Programmer for the series?
Was it really only a year ago when I first took possession of the code, then
first receiving the CS source code
making hundreds of edits/fixes to that source code
learning how to operate a new (to me) Integrated Development Environment (the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE)
importing the source code into the IDE, and organizing projects
struggling through dozens of attempted builds, all the way: editing/tweaking code, puzzling through many dozens of obscure compiler error messages, researching fixes in book & on-line references, downloading and applying hotfix updates to the IDE, ...
and once even
borking my Windows installation by way of a malicious Microsoft SDK install (thank God for Windows System Restore!)
since then I have
successfully built (compiled, linked, etc.) the main program .exe's: edorg, edmap, edit (scenario editor), game engine, and what I call "frontend" (the scenario selector/game launcher program)
removed legacy cruft (took out the "garbage"), reducing the code folders/files counts from 274/3209 down to a current much more manageable 73/802 (yes, there really are/were those huge numbers of folders and files!)
moved far along familiarizing myself with and learning the vast amount of code
finalized my hardware/software development environment
set up separate Windows XP & Windows 7 test systems, and soon to be also a Windows 8 test bed
fixed the first legacy bug
Time flies when you're having fun. Or not, when you're puzzling to fix some obscure bug.
Fast forward to a pivotal episode last August, Coder Diary #5 -- Code Merge Mission Accomplished!
And more gain. By merging now, we have greater flexibility in our release schedules. (Hint, hint. )
Among other considerations, the ability to advance the release schedule of 1.05 is one of the biggest reasons for my undertaking the CS/MW codebase merge described in my Coder Diary #4. For that reason, future post-1.05 patches should come out faster too.
How long do we all have to wait? It's not for me to decide. But it's assuredly a matter of months, not a year or more. That I think it's safe to say.
Soon after that, Jason, the dev team, and I decided to advance the JTCS update schedule, ahead of Middle East. The earlier plan had been to release ME mid 2014, then the JTCS "1.05 mega patch" late 2014 or even early 2015.
So we get down to work on the JTCS update patch, all the while debating: Is it 1.05? 1.50? 2.00?
Work goes on, life moves on, until this, from the private dev forum mid last November:
At the The Blitz CS Forum, Ivan the Big wrote:
I fear that the CS in general may be loosing ground to life, other games, the upcoming holidays and waiting for the long awaited 1.05 update and Modern Wars. "Geez's its been so long for an update or new game!"
I even noticed what appears to me as a recent slowdown of support over at Matrix on their forum. I like some of the post that berto has over at Matrix about possible upgrades to the system but until I get a chance to use some of them hands on I'm like a kid looking in a candy store window.
I'm not sure what the answer is to continue to spark interest in CS but I have to believe if Modern Wars or the 1.05 patch were out the forums would be humming again.
I like surprises as much as anybody, but is it maybe time to open up? To say that we had planned to release 1.05 for Christmas? That it's been delayed somewhat, but we're still aiming for a mid winter 2014 release?
With the Coder Diaries (also with Crossroads' recent Developer Diary), I still believe it's best to be doing that. But I'm beginning to feel conflicted, like I'm the candy store owner, putting on display mounds of scrumptious candy, looking out the store window at the kids assembled outside, and ... giving them the nose thumb:
I don't think that curtailing the public Diaries is smart, because that would cause player despair.
And yes, my my, there are lots of new game releases. Probably a good thing that we aren't releasing for Christmas. The marketplace, the space under the Christmas tree, is crowded enough already. We might get lost in the shuffle. Still...
There are risks, sure. But is it time maybe to come clean, and announce that CS 1.05 is coming Real Soon Now? (as in: a few months down the road)
(That's Hizzoner, Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, BTW.)
A few days later, Jason pledges publicly to release the JTCS 1.05?/2.00? patch on Valentine's Day, Feb 14, 2014.
Which strikes terror in the hearts of the dev team.
The pace of development picks up, testing intensifies, ably assisted by some new dev team members that I had requested specifically to help out vetting the (then) "1.05 update".
We are a team, and I am just one member of that team. The other team members have been, and continue to be, hard at work developing OOBs, scenarios, campaigns, graphics, rule extensions, etc. They deserve all credit, praise, and thanks for taking the game so far, before this Johnny-come-lately (I) joined their hallowed ranks. Onward!
A special bow to Jason, Mike (Warhorse), and other old-timer scen developers and testers who have been working on developing Middle East and Vietnam for years. And it was a great day when Petri (Crossroads) joined the team. Apologies if I don't mention all the rest. You know who you are.
Beyond the holiday season and into the new year, it's feature freezes, bug fixing, "testing, testing, testing, and "All QA All the Time". Alpha releases giving way to beta releases followed by release candidates (RCs) and culminating in the Gold Masters.
So here we are, at the point of release.
And what do we have here?
JTCS 2.00 -- the "2.00" being a "bold statement" (Jason's words) about the game series' future.
A work-in-progress, a snapshot in time, of something continually in development, even now back to alphas, as I move onward correcting "foundational issues", implementing new features, and fixing bugs.
Many thousands of bugs, many if not most of them fixed -- It's no exaggeration, no lie.
Have we discovered and squashed all bugs? Hardly. There Will be Bugs. And
Have we made a good faith effort to debug this game, its code and its data? You bet!
Bug fixing and QA -- what we've been focusing on in recent weeks. Thankfully nearing an end. For now. But you can be sure that in future it will continue, with as much seriousness and ingenuity as we can muster.
Remember all that, as you play the game, and sooner or later most probably encounter a glitch or bug or, Heaven forbid, a crash.
Remember too: The 2.00 Update is a freebie, offered at no charge to purchasers of the original game. You're welcome.
Big, big plans ahead for this series. New features, spiffed up graphics, improved A/I, better QA, new games in the series (Middle East, then Vietnam, then ... who knows? we do, but we're not telling! ).
Until the next time...