ORIGINAL: Red Prince
I'm going to try to respond to this, not on Steve's behalf, but of my own volition. Since I am not Steve or a Matrix employee, I have to adhere to the Non-Disclosure Agreement, and that might make what I have to say seem a little cryptic, so I'm going to apologize for that before I say anything.
I think there have been a lot of signs that MWiF is closing on a release date over the last 6 months. A good example of this is the work that Steve and the beta-testers did to finish up the Players Manual last summer, and his announcement in the Montly Reports that it had gone to the Matrix Games editors. You can't have a manual without a game that works the way you expect it to work, can you? Other indications are the Barbarossa AAR that Orm and I ran in the early autumn, the one I am running now, and the fact that bugs have started to trickle down to the "rules violation" variety instead of the "game crash" type. Also, some of the most annoying large-scale issues have been dealt with: supply, Vichy Declaration, and most of the Production Planning issues are now cleared up. Yes, a few remain, but there's still time to finish those up.
If you look back through the Monthly Reports, there are even more indications.
In November, Steve announced the addition of sound effects to the game. That's pure chrome, and that kind of thing can only mean that the game is coming close to completion. How close, I can't say. That isn't just due to the NDA I signed, but because there still could be bumps in the road ahead.
In July, Steve settled on the Optional Rules that would not be included in the initial release. He also listed the ones he hoped to include if he could. That's another good indication that things are winding down to a finish. Unfortunately, Steve had some serious health issues the next 2 months, and that limited the time he could put in to some extent. I have to say, though, that the entire beta-test team did a good job picking up the slack.
There are, however, a lot of things that remain to be determined. Which rules are going to be included and which aren't going to make the cut? How quickly can we finalize all of the standardized screen layouts, tutorials, and "educational" material? (Some is completely finished, but some isn't). There is a lot of work still to be done. Much of this work relies on volunteers, and there are any number of things that can interfere with a volunteer's ability to contribute to his potential (pneumonia, for instance ).
I'll tell you the truth. It was a surprise to see Steve post his expectations here, but I don't truly think it was unfair of him to say that he wouldn't speak more on the subject. He has more important work to do than to try to describe everything that will be included in the initial release. I don't mean that to be offensive. Just ask yourself which you would prefer: Do you want a full accounting of the product Steve expects to deliver? Or would you rather have Steve spend that time finishing the product he expects to deliver?
Steve reads through everything that is posted in this forum, and he responds to as much as time allows. Believe me, it is a very time-consuming endeavor. In the work I've been doing on the Global War AAR, I'd say that anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 of my time is spent creating detailed explanations of what is happening, not only for posting in the forum, but also for the notes I take on the progress of the game and any bugs I might encounter. Only about 1/3 of my "MWiF time" is actually spent running the game itself. I don't actually know how many lines of code MWiF has, but I know that Steve inserts notes on ideas he has for coding certain aspects of the program, and also on how some of the bug fixes were created so that he can reference it later if something should go wrong again.
Steve is also responsible to Matrix Games, himself, and the beta-testers for what he says (as we all are), not to mention the readers of these forums. None of us can just shoot off a quick post to answer questions, especially Steve. We have to put serious thought into what we say, so that we don't end up misleading anyone. That also takes time.
As to the level of involvement the people from Matrix should have in the forums, I really have no opinion. In my work as a beta-tester, I've found them to be fairly responsive to my needs, but I've had little need to contact them. Most of the questions or suggestions I've had went to Steve, and when it was appropriate, he referred me to the Matrix people.
I count myself very lucky to be involved in the process of helping to build this incredible game. Steve would not have said anything if he were not confident. (I think he learned his lesson on that one back in 2009 -- no, Steve, that isn't a dig). But I do know, based on my involvement, that Steve works daily, with a passion that I've never seen before, to get this finished as elegantly as possible. Please accept that, and know that your curiosity will be answered in time.
Thanks for reading this, and I hope it helps to clear up some of the confusion surrounding Steve's comments. I will apologize once again for anything that may have sounded cryptic, and I'd also like to apologize to Steve if I have said anything to mis-represent his views.
First, I’d just like to let you know where I stand on a couple issues. One, I am a very patient person. This product can be released in July 2012 or July 2014, it makes no difference to me. Two, the important gameplay option to me is Netplay, an AI would be nice but Netplay is what is important. All I want is a successful release that makes Steve rich, Matrix a lot of money, ADG whatever they get out of it, and me...a game that will continue to be supported.
Now to respond to a few things Aaron mentioned.
Aaron points out a lot of indicators that a release was imminent. I will just show you one item’s progression that told me a release was not.
ORIGINAL: Shannon V. OKeets
January 1, 2012 Status Report for Matrix Games’ MWIF Forum
Here is 2011 in review.
Accomplishments of 2011
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Peter finished the geographic breakdown for the AI Opponent. To go with that, I revised the documentation on the AIO command structure so each element of the geography has a corresponding decision maker. There are 16 Theaters of Operation (TOs) that span the global map. Within each TO there is a breakdown for naval units into Sea Area Groups (which contain individual Sea Areas) and for land units into Areas of Operations (which contain Land Regions).
I changed the fundamental map data structure to include information on the geographical breakdown. This should have zero effect on game play as far as human players are concerned. The change to the Terrain data adds a new field to each land hex to store the Land Region ID #. Along with this I added a new field to the Sea Area data to store the Sea Area Group ID #. And as the final pieces, I created simple files listing the Theaters of Operation, Areas of Operation, Land Regions, and Sea Area Groups which hold the details on each of those elements, including cross references. In practice, this means that the AI Opponent code can trace any land hex back to its LR, AO, and TO, and can trace an all-sea hex back to its sea area, SAG, and TO. In order to validate the new data I added a (debug) line under the Main form that shows and updates the TO, AO, LR, and SAG values as the cursor is scrolled across each hex.
The 16 TOs are: Western Europe, Eastern Europe (up to Siberia), Mediterranean, East Africa, West Africa, Middle East, North Asia (i.e., Siberia), South Asia (i.e., India), East Asia (i.e. China & Japan), Southeast Asia, Oceania (i.e., Australia), Pacific Ocean (central), Atlantic North America, Atlantic South America, Pacific North America, and Pacific South America. There are 126 AOs and 320 LRs. The major task remaining is to change the data file for the terrain, adding a digit to the end of the row of data for each land hex. There are 70,200 hexes, each of which has its own row of data. Mercifully, the all-sea hexes do not need to be edited (they use the default value).
The greatest advantage that a human player has over the AIO is the ability to literally ‘see’ the map. For the AIO it is just a bunch of incohesive data. Using the geographical data, the AIO can now assess the strength of the forces on both sides in a land region and decide whether to attack, maneuver, defend, or retreat. The same applies to AOs, SAGs, and TOs. This is my best attempt to mimic a human player simply looking at the map and making a quick assessment of the relative strengths of the two sides.
Another goal here was to provide a hierarchy of decision makers for strategic and operational decisions and a different decision maker for tactical decisions. For instance, decisions about convoy routes span multiple sea areas and are made higher up in the chain of command, while decisions concerning a specific naval combat are made by the Fleet Admiral responsible for the sea area in which the combat is taking place. Likewise army reinforcements are shipped off to various TOs, whose commander designates which AO gets them; the AO commander then designates a Land Region, whose Commanding General decides in which hex to place the new unit.
After completing the geographic breakdown of the entire global map (a massive task which required assessing all 70,200 hexes), Peter worked on the data structures for AIO strategic plans. I had already done some preliminary work on that. The goal is to design variables for holding all the information necessary to define a strategic plan for a major power. The 3 main elements are: (1) objectives to hold/take, (2) geographical areas to defend/attack, and (3) time lines for declarations of war/offensives, with accompanying production schedules.
Some of the strategic plan data defines conditions for when something should happen (e.g., when to start building garrison units). Defining data structures for conditionals is always difficult, but Peter and I already did some of that when we were working on setup scripts. It isn’t easy to take the amorphous advice provided by the forum members and render it into a rigidly structured outline for processing by a computer program. For instance, late in the year he was grinding out the precise conditions under which France should surrender.
Rolf made some progress on completing the parser for LAIO (Language for an Artificial Intelligence Opponent) scripts.
ORIGINAL: Shannon V. OKeets
February 1, 2012 Status Report for Matrix Games’ MWIF Forum
Accomplishments of January 2012
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
We were all here when Steve announced the group of Optional Rules that would not be included. There was not even a ripple of dissent. If the hopeful 7 don’t get included I don’t think it would cause much of an uproar either. So I say the only item that Steve is reticent to mention will not be included is the AI. Even if you look at the posts since the mention of July 1st they have all been about the AI included or not, the other stuff is nice but doesn’t really matter and none have been mentioned. Do you really believe a simple line stating “don’t worry the AI is going to be included” would detract one single minute from programming? For years it was made clear that a release without an AI would not happen. We were told in order for the release to be successful it had to have an AI, and I agree.
Now that it looks like they have reversed their decision what is there plan? Are they planning on doing a soft release without any significant advertising? Basically, selling it to people already with an interest in the game. Now let’s say they sell it to us for $100.00 with no AI. I wonder how many will sell;
- 500pcs for Revenue of $50,000
- 1000pcs for Revenue of $100,000
- 2000pcs for Revenue of $200,000
- 3000pcs for Revenue of $300,000
Even if 2000 units are sold it is a drop in the bucket for a product 8 years in development...especially when divided between the 3 parties. Do you really think 3000 would sell with no AI? So why do it? What happens if it is a total flop and we all wait for the product to come out with the AI included? Does that lead to more bad business decisions.
Now let’s say they advertise a little bit. In this day an age of so many products vying for our money, what happens to the casual observer who finds MWiF, see’s it has no AI and passes…will he come back later?
Like I said in my previous 2 posts, I think it is a mistake to change the release from a development based date to an accountant generated date.
For those thinking that thier plans are none of our business, you are right. They don't have to say anything. But when I see them making what I believe are major errors in judgment I am allowed to say my peace.
< Message edited by gridley -- 2/15/2012 5:16:41 PM >