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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers?

 
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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/6/2019 1:20:02 PM   
IainMcNeil


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It isn't really possible to pick up a half competed game. Only the team that built it can complete it. Its far easier to build a game from scratch than complete someone else's game! Its just far too high risk and sole destroying for the team as its horrible work.

If the team is gone the project is really dead unfortunately.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/6/2019 1:40:06 PM   
pzgndr

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: IainMcNeil
It isn't really possible to pick up a half competed game. Only the team that built it can complete it. Its far easier to build a game from scratch than complete someone else's game! Its just far too high risk and sole destroying for the team as its horrible work.
If the team is gone the project is really dead unfortunately.


I think there is some opportunity for folks crazy enough to pick up an old project and continue development. TOAW, Campaign Series, World in Flames, and Empires in Arms are examples. Proprietary rights to old/abandoned source code is a hurdle, for sure, but if Matrix can help facilitate matching up code with interested code developers then perhaps something good could come of it.

I'm doing what I can with Empires in Arms. I wouldn't mind taking a crack at the old Third Reich DOS game if anybody could get the source code. It's a crying shame to have so many almost-complete games that could use some TLC but nothing happens except they gather dust...


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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/6/2019 5:36:08 PM   
Lobster


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Competent and proven volunteers are hard to come by.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/7/2019 11:39:51 AM   
DonCzirr


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There's also a young fellow making old Avalon Hill style war games - that has a ton of promise : Yobo Wargames is the company.

I think the Dev - Lance drops in here now and then ....

Maybe he could benefit from some of the Slitherine shared art / music assets etc

And also with the Beta Tester system?

He also publishes to mobile - so Slitherine could keep a foot in that market as well without Iain throwing sharp things at his iPAD screen

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/7/2019 11:49:25 AM   
zakblood


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games like Neverdark

http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=90655

imo aren't a step away from war games, just another direction, same as Battlestar Galactica Deadlock & Warhammer 40,000 Sanctus Reach

for any company to survive, it has to adapt and also try something new every now and then.

and while you have mentioned Lance and his company, he to also does more than just war games, as his latest game shows
Invaders from Dimension X etc

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/7/2019 12:15:38 PM   
Capitaine

 

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Personally I have no problem with sci-fi wargames as a segment of product. What I think the OP was getting at, though, was a distinct diminishment in high quality historical wargame projects that people get excited about. There's Grigsby (how much longer?), the PzKorps guys, and there's the Strategic Command guys who also put a a pretty good quality product. What's interesting is that there are significant numbers who have "issues" with each of these product lines. These are the lines I consider, because the modern stuff or its style doesn't light my fire and, as I said above, we get no real stab at any H&M battalion level games as worthy today as John Tiller's Battlegrounds were back in the day. And people always clamour for them.

So I buy some of the Sci-Fi on occasion. But I'm missing historical era topics from a design team as worthy as Grigsby et al. I remember Koger being such a name, but has anyone ever tried to lure him to Matrix/Slitherine for another Age of Rifles? Like, if Grigsby can do another Steel Panthers right?

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/7/2019 12:36:37 PM   
DonCzirr


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Right - I am on the same wave length - where I tend to look at my "War Game Companies" for my war games and my sci fi / fantasy games I look to my RPG type companies. Beamdog etc

But I have no problem with some cross-overs - like Sanctus Reach etc

And sometimes having a war game company do a Sci-Fi tactical is good as a little more expertise on tactics / strategy elements may be brought to bear on the project.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/7/2019 12:55:18 PM   
ringoblood


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Welcome back Zakblood. Have not seen you for a few. good vacation i take it. Good to you my friend. I see your point. I guess, i'm just old fashion. I see myself like i always do with war games. Down stairs in the basement with my Step dad and friends playing Flames of War or Naval or something. This NeverDark is Foreign to me; sorry.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/7/2019 1:37:51 PM   
zakblood


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yes first holiday of the year ty, only 14 weeks more to go

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/10/2019 6:46:23 PM   
DonCzirr


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DonCzirr

There's also a young fellow making old Avalon Hill style war games - that has a ton of promise : Yobo Wargames is the company.

I think the Dev - Lance drops in here now and then ....

Maybe he could benefit from some of the Slitherine shared art / music assets etc

And also with the Beta Tester system?

He also publishes to mobile - so Slitherine could keep a foot in that market as well without Iain throwing sharp things at his iPAD screen



Very interesting .... when I now look at my Yobo Wargames purchased on IOS ... they now come under Slitherine.


Did my prophecy come true ?


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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/12/2019 11:41:01 AM   
JudgeDredd


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quote:

ORIGINAL: ringoblood

Well I pose this Question as a debate due to the announcement of recent games and pull back on game genres like Civil war games and French Civil war and American Civil war Games, which has not been Developed for many years now and more and more game in the Scifi area now. I understand its a business and they need to go where the money is but there leaving a big chuck of there customer base out now, i feel like i need to go away and live with John Tiller now bc only he is producing Civil war games now have not seen a Civil War game come out of Slitherine since Tide, in 2015.

Any thought or comments?

It might not necessarily be to do with going where the money is.

There's a whole lot of extra work that has to go into research for a historical game. Perhaps we've (wargamers) destroyed our own gaming potential by being super scrupulous and pointing out inaccuracies - however small.

Just saying - it may not be the developer/publisher at fault here.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/13/2019 3:18:42 AM   
tevans

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: IainMcNeil

It isn't really possible to pick up a half competed game. Only the team that built it can complete it. Its far easier to build a game from scratch than complete someone else's game! Its just far too high risk and sole destroying for the team as its horrible work.

If the team is gone the project is really dead unfortunately.

How is it any different with a fully completed game? I'm looking at the TOAW series and the Campaign Series. Koger did TOAW and Tiller did the Campaign Series. Yet both of those series have had or will have revamped Matrix/Slitherine versions. What's the difference? Seems to me it would be easier to work with a half completed game and basically make something from nothing than it would be to use an existing series or game and pretty much do nothing more than shoehorn new features into it.

I had this discussion on the Campaign Series forums where the development team insisted that they were creating new games. Sorry but I just don't see it. Maybe new theaters and conflicts but the existing game is still there. All that's really happening with TOAW and the Campaign Series is somebody added on to existing ideas from the original developer. The basics of both games are still the same. To me that's the definition of modding. It's not creating a new game from scratch. Like I said it seems to me it would be easier to take a half completed game and go from there instead of trying to add new features to an existing game.

Somebody made a point in the other forum that I never got around to responding due to having the flu. If it's okay I'd like to respond here. The point they tried to make was that with my definition of modding every new version of a game would be nothing more than a mod. I disagree with that. If the original developer who came up with the ideas, systems and code for a game adds more to that game system then I see that as a new game. Not a mod. But when other developers or development teams take those original ideas and add to them then I see that as nothing more than modding. The original game and ideas had to exist to allow them to do what they are doing. That's why I claimed they weren't making new games. Nothing wrong with what they're doing. TOAW IV and CS Middle East are great games. But they really aren't new games. Telling people they are is misleading.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/13/2019 12:19:31 PM   
Crossroads


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quote:

ORIGINAL: IainMcNeil

We are developing the following wargames internally :

Close Combat
Steel Tigers
Field of Glory Empires
Helping with Field of Glory

There are also a number of big wargames in development but they take an awfully long time to do. E.g. War in the East 2.

The rest of the games are designed and developed by external teams. We never go out and ask developers to make a game about X (except in a rare situation where we acquire a license such as Battlestar Galactica and then we look for someone with a suitable engine to fit the required genre). The developer has to have a passion and vision for the game or it doesn't work so we can only pick from what is out there to publish. If you think we're missing some good wargames we'd be very happy to find out about them so we can contact the developers. We would love to publish a good new Civil War game is anyone wants to make one :)

Neverdark was not commissioned by us, we just saw it and liked it so signed it up. It does not in any way indicate a move away from wargames. If we see any interesting wargame projects you can be sure we'll try and sign them up too!


Campaign Series Legion is working - with great passion and vision I might add! - with coming Campaign Series: Vietnam 1948-1985 game.

Campaign Series: East Front 1939-1941 in the works too, with other fronts and years to follow too, God willing.



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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/13/2019 12:45:14 PM   
Lobster


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quote:

ORIGINAL: tevans


quote:

ORIGINAL: IainMcNeil

It isn't really possible to pick up a half competed game. Only the team that built it can complete it. Its far easier to build a game from scratch than complete someone else's game! Its just far too high risk and sole destroying for the team as its horrible work.

If the team is gone the project is really dead unfortunately.

How is it any different with a fully completed game? I'm looking at the TOAW series and the Campaign Series.


The two games you mentioned were complete fully functional games. To pick something up that is half done is asking for a world of hurt. How can you possibly know what the original author had in mind? You have to go through someone else's work and try and deduce what was intended and how what is done works? It would likely take less time to start from scratch. It's like picking up a half written novel and knowing how the original writer intended to complete it. You can't know because two people will never do the same thing.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/13/2019 1:23:30 PM   
DonCzirr


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Thinking about it further and taking those considerations into mind, it does seem like it would be best to start the programming from scratch.

Luckily, the actual (board) game was fully documented - even with errata, more errata and some errata on that ... Not sure who has the rights to it now though.

Perhaps a remake of the computer game may not be warranted ... I still need to give Bill's SC3 mod a whirl - but I believe he already stated that it can't exactly match the old Third Reich mechanics ...

But perhaps this path of the discussion is best for another thread ? We seem to be moving away from the OP's original content.





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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/13/2019 6:01:01 PM   
ringoblood


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quote:

ORIGINAL: tevans




TOAW IV and CS Middle East are great games. But they really aren't new games. Telling people they are is misleading.

!00% Agree this is true, Iain, Tevans is right, I hate to say, but its okay, but we do need transparency when it come to this this.


< Message edited by ringoblood -- 3/13/2019 6:49:03 PM >

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/13/2019 9:23:02 PM   
pzgndr

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JudgeDredd
There's a whole lot of extra work that has to go into research for a historical game. Perhaps we've (wargamers) destroyed our own gaming potential by being super scrupulous and pointing out inaccuracies - however small.


FWIW, there's like no extra work involved for adapting classic board wargames to PC. The research and addenda and other mods/variants have already been done! Just port them to PC, which of course involves code work and AI development. Still, it should be easy enough to take classic wargames like TRC, Afrika Korps, and others and make them playable. And fun. Keep It Simple Stupid. Let players just play the games and focus on strategy and tactics, without micromanaging everything down to a gnat's ass...

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/14/2019 2:46:21 AM   
tevans

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Lobster


quote:

ORIGINAL: tevans


quote:

ORIGINAL: IainMcNeil

It isn't really possible to pick up a half competed game. Only the team that built it can complete it. Its far easier to build a game from scratch than complete someone else's game! Its just far too high risk and sole destroying for the team as its horrible work.

If the team is gone the project is really dead unfortunately.

How is it any different with a fully completed game? I'm looking at the TOAW series and the Campaign Series.


The two games you mentioned were complete fully functional games. To pick something up that is half done is asking for a world of hurt. How can you possibly know what the original author had in mind? You have to go through someone else's work and try and deduce what was intended and how what is done works? It would likely take less time to start from scratch. It's like picking up a half written novel and knowing how the original writer intended to complete it. You can't know because two people will never do the same thing.

That's my point. Any added features to those two games are basically shoehorned onto original systems. They take Tiller's and Koger's ideas then add to them. Taking a half completed game and working with it may cause some headaches but you can basically go in directions the original designer/developer never thought of. Seems to me it would be just as hard if not harder to do that with a fully functional game because then you have to make sure that whatever you're adding works with existing game systems. In many cases you would still be creating game systems with a half-finished game. The same type of thing has happened with book authors who died and had their books or series of books carried on by another author. Robert Jordan comes to mind with his Wheel of Time series. He died and another author carried on with the series.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/14/2019 6:05:35 AM   
Perturabo


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quote:

ORIGINAL: rico21

I propose to see the problem in reverse, and if it was us who gave up.
We are more and more demanding because of our experience (all seen everything played) but especially our average age is high, young designers make apps for smartphones and do not even know that we exist.
In short the wargamers that we are are a species in danger of extinction.

Was studying CS with a goal of becoming a wargame developer back in 2010-2012 but then my life sort of fell apart and had to drop out due to lack of money.

Also, tfw finding worldbuilding and research for it 100x more interesting than programming.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/14/2019 7:31:06 AM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: tevans


... Taking a half completed game and working with it may cause some headaches but you can basically go in directions the original designer/developer never thought of. Seems to me it would be just as hard if not harder to do that with a fully functional game because then you have to make sure that whatever you're adding works with existing game systems. In many cases you would still be creating game systems with a half-finished game. ...


I'm sorry but you would only say that if you had never coded anything in your life.

Really simple example, late last year I was doing a project and the client, trying to be helpful, gave me an R-stats script someone had half done. They thought it would be easier for me than working one up from scratch. Well it took far longer, not least as I was trying to work out where they had taken elements of the data. It was simple (in theory), certainly no where near the complexity or length of code for even a small sub-routine, but working to someone else's half finished logic was nearly impossible.

Modding a functional game is totally different to dealing with the code for a half finished one.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/14/2019 7:57:32 PM   
Mobeer


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quote:

ORIGINAL: tevans
...Taking a half completed game and working with it may cause some headaches but you can basically go in directions the original designer/developer never thought of....


When you say "taking a half completed game", a lot depends on what you are "taking". I'm not that familiar with game development but for development in general. Are you taking\getting:

- source code?
Are you thinking of just this? It's essential but not enough. Is the code well designed, in a familiar language (both computer and human language)? Is it possible to derived the functionality of the code from the structure and comments?

- project plans?
What has been done, what needs to be done, what is unclear, where is there risk?

- design documents?
Essential to know what the software is intended to do, and even more important to know what it is assumed the software will never be asked to do. With just one developer (or few), then the design documents could just be thoughts in someone's head. Potentially this can point to problems, for example if you are used to one design approach and the existing work uses something different.

- test suites etc?
How do you know what exists already works? Can you tell that what parts of the product developed so far are complete, or is what has been done actually a work in progress itself?

- bug tracker?
What is positively known to not work in the current version? Are there fixes needed that mean the existing design documents (if any) are out of date?

Plus there are lots more things you want from the original developers:
- test tool required?
- what is the build process? software required for this?
- any user feedback?
- promises made in marketing?
- etc

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/15/2019 2:35:43 AM   
tevans

 

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@loki100 and @Mobeer

Guys I realize there might be problems or headaches and I'm not suggesting that it's possible in all cases. But with properly documented source code, why not? Sure it's not going to work all the time but it can work. MS Windows is a perfect example. There's bound to be turnover with people moving on or moving to other projects. But Windows is still pretty much functional to the point that newer developers can work with the existing code. Why can't that happen with a game?

If what you guys say is true then how are teams that worked or are still working on games like the TOAW series or the Campaign Series able to add anything to those games? Heaven forbid if anything ever happens to guys like Tiller or Grigsby because nobody will ever be able to pick up whatever they were working on and finish it. Sorry but I just can't believe that. If it can be done with a completely finished game then why not a half-finished game? All the questions or information that you listed as being needed would apply to both. A fully completed game with poor code and poor documentation is going to present the same type of problems.

< Message edited by tevans -- 3/15/2019 2:38:08 AM >

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/15/2019 3:04:38 AM   
Jason Petho


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Tiller is notorious for not having notes, which is why a lot of the old code is no longer relevant in the new games.

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/15/2019 4:39:55 AM   
tevans

 

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That's after how many years though. It's not like the Campaign Series is recent. It's got to be close to or over 20 years old. It started with Talonsoft. Tiller must have kept some notes or documentation when the games were current. They had East Front, West Front, Rising Sun, East Front II and Divided Ground. Kind of hard to believe that he kept no notes or documentation during that whole period. Most likely he didn't have much to turn over to Matrix or to your team because of it being such an old game series. He moved on to creating other games and game systems. If bet you asked Norm Koger for notes and documentation on the original TOAW he probably no longer has much. Grigsby probably doesn't for some of his older SSI published games.

Let me ask you something. If Tiller kept poor notes then how are you able to scrap the old code in the Campaign Series and not come up with a jumbled mess. Even with all the code you changed the Matrix version of the Campaign Series for the most part still plays like the Talonsoft version. You guys added some nice features but for the most part both versions still play the same way. In other words if I played the Talonsoft version of a game like Divided Ground then picking up the Matrix version of CS Middle East and playing it is not that difficult. So if there wasn't much in the way of notes or documentation how did you do it? Reverse engineering? That's my point about half-finished games too. If you can do it with poor notes and poor documentation on a full game, why can't it be done with a game that's only half-finished?

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RE: Is Slitherine Leaving Wargamers? - 3/15/2019 8:50:34 AM   
Crossroads


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quote:

ORIGINAL: tevans

That's after how many years though. It's not like the Campaign Series is recent. It's got to be close to or over 20 years old. It started with Talonsoft. Tiller must have kept some notes or documentation when the games were current. They had East Front, West Front, Rising Sun, East Front II and Divided Ground. Kind of hard to believe that he kept no notes or documentation during that whole period. Most likely he didn't have much to turn over to Matrix or to your team because of it being such an old game series. He moved on to creating other games and game systems. If bet you asked Norm Koger for notes and documentation on the original TOAW he probably no longer has much. Grigsby probably doesn't for some of his older SSI published games.

Let me ask you something. If Tiller kept poor notes then how are you able to scrap the old code in the Campaign Series and not come up with a jumbled mess. Even with all the code you changed the Matrix version of the Campaign Series for the most part still plays like the Talonsoft version. You guys added some nice features but for the most part both versions still play the same way. In other words if I played the Talonsoft version of a game like Divided Ground then picking up the Matrix version of CS Middle East and playing it is not that difficult. So if there wasn't much in the way of notes or documentation how did you do it? Reverse engineering? That's my point about half-finished games too. If you can do it with poor notes and poor documentation on a full game, why can't it be done with a game that's only half-finished?


With enough time and effort, anything can be achieved, I guess. It’s not that simple that you assume, though.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Mobeer

When you say "taking a half completed game", a lot depends on what you are "taking". I'm not that familiar with game development but for development in general. Are you taking\getting:

- source code?
Are you thinking of just this? It's essential but not enough. Is the code well designed, in a familiar language (both computer and human language)? Is it possible to derived the functionality of the code from the structure and comments?

- project plans?
What has been done, what needs to be done, what is unclear, where is there risk?

- design documents?
Essential to know what the software is intended to do, and even more important to know what it is assumed the software will never be asked to do. With just one developer (or few), then the design documents could just be thoughts in someone's head. Potentially this can point to problems, for example if you are used to one design approach and the existing work uses something different.

- test suites etc?
How do you know what exists already works? Can you tell that what parts of the product developed so far are complete, or is what has been done actually a work in progress itself?

- bug tracker?
What is positively known to not work in the current version? Are there fixes needed that mean the existing design documents (if any) are out of date?

Plus there are lots more things you want from the original developers:
- test tool required?
- what is the build process? software required for this?
- any user feedback?
- promises made in marketing?
- etc


Here here!

For the benefit of others:

We started with pretty much the source code, or a set of source codes even, and built from there.

And as you point out, it's not “just” the programming part that’s important, the QA tool set is of equal importance. And the project plan, and documentation, and...

I'd like to share our approach to QA however. We have a very experienced programmer, and as part of the overall effort he built a complete bash based QA script library for the dev team to use in all aspects of QA processing.

As new features are added, this QA library is updated as well. The latest addition to this library is a script that checks our Lua CS Event Engine code for each scenario. It is not enough to check the Lua syntax, the CSEE functions and vars and use of thereof needs to be checked, too.

With this QA suite, we can now ensure the validity of each and all parameter files. Relevant parts of the QA set will also be included in the game, so any modder will be able to use them as well.

I am responsible for packaging, amng other things. We work at various locations and have a cloud to upload each our work. I have built an automated tool that picks all the necessary files for each game in the works (Middle East, Vietnam, East Front, ...), builds the install package, and then another QA script to further check all game exes, graphics, sound files are in place there.

Then, the game engine can also be run on a autotest mode, AI-vs-AI, over and over again. His mancave comes with a good few older PCs as well, and he has a few of those pretty much non-stop on autotest mode, running through the created scenarios over and over again, with latest builds. At key intervals, other dev team members harness our computers for autotest sessions too.

Test early, test often!

As for the development, Campaign Series (CS) at its heart is a tactical scale, action points based game, and we’ve taken great care to keep the spirit of the game the same, despite the complete overhaul.

CS has been around for a good while, we obviously love it to bits, but I was happy to note it still receives nice reviews . There was a lot of good there in the legacy design to begin with.

The bad and the ugly was mostly the aging UI, and how everything was hardcoded and not flexible in a manner that the more modern game engines are.

So we began the development based on a fully working but aging legacy game. The latest flashy Android and Apple phones can be said to be still fully based on top of the unix system developed by the Bell Laboratories in 1970s, so why not.

Campaign Series setup is a vast system, with a full set of game editors, a battle generator, a campaign generator, what not, on top of the actual scenario based core game there.

In our case, ”the source code” is several applications, it is quite a handful, we've got our hands full for quite some time still. But we’ve come a long way, too.

Here's a partial list of game aspects that have been completely reworked so far:

  • Instead of a separate code base for each game (the approach Talonsoft took), we have now a clean, streamlined, configurable CS Game Engine, both for Modern and WW2.

  • For the user interface we’ve added several new zoom options and have redone all the graphics while at it. Support to 4K monitors etc. Still work to be completed there, too.

  • No more hardcoding of parameters. The new game engine runs on top of a new ”Adaptive AI” database. Eras and nations can now be configured so each scenario at different era behaves fundamental to the battle portrayed. Scenario designer can even further tweak these default Adaptive AI values for the specific scenario, if needed.

  • A new Lua based CS Event Engine in place, providing event based triggers and rules for the game engine to take into account during game play. CS Event Engine can also be used to interact and alter the scenario specific Adaptive AI parameters, as part of how it interacts with units and formations in play in each scenario.

    CS Event Engine also makes the AI far more unpredictable opponent. Scenarios can now be scripted, in a dynamic instead of static manner. For an example, a certain AI formation might have an initial order to attack "X" (or randomly, to choose between "X", "Y" or "Z"), but if "A" takes place or "B" rule holds true, it would instead go and reinforce another area.

    It is all pretty neat, I really need to write a few blog posts about the CSEE.

    It's not done yet, there's still a lot we want to add.

    CS Game Engine and Event Engine both are still being developed, with vs-AI game play in particular the major effort under development for CS Vietnam that is in-the-works, per the survey we did as how you guys want to play the game and how you priorise things.

    Finally, as everything is now game engine based, we will provide the latest CS Game Engine as a free update to previous games, so they are not left behind either.

    A long post, sorry about that, but again, hopefully offers some insight to game development as it goes.

    _____________________________

    Visit us at: Campaign Series Legion
    ---
    CS: Vietnam | CS: East Front 1939-1941 IN-THE-WORKS
    CS: Middle East 1948-1985 Fully reimaged v2.0 available now!

    (in reply to tevans)
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