RE: MWIF Monthly Reports (Full Version)

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Shannon V. OKeets -> RE: MWIF Monthly Reports (8/3/2019 3:12:45 AM)

August 2, 2019 Status Report for Matrix Gamesí MWIF Forum

Product Releases
The beta testers received a few new versions in July, but there were no new versions released to customers. Iím working on getting a Hot Patch out early in August for customers with the same changes that the beta testers have already had for the last few weeks.

Program Development: Delphi Rio (version 10.3)
My new computer system is fully functional except for a couple of rarely used applications still on my old machine.

The Delphi Rio Interactive Development Environment remains a little flaky. It compiles all the code cleanly and then builds a new correct executable (MWIF.exe) but ends the process by crashing the IDE. On the old system it did the same thing and I thought it was because I was running both Delphi EX8 and Delphi Rio on the same machine. But the new machine was a virgin when I installed Delphi Rio. None of the files from Delphi XE8 is on the new computer system, Iíll have to go back to Embarcadero and get them to look into this some more. After all, Iím paying them $800 a year to provide customer support for Delphi.

IĎm still maintaining two copies of the MWIF source code. One for the old version of the Delphi Interactive Development Environment (IDE) called XE8. That is on the old computer. I run it when I need to make a version for release to customers. The beta testers are working with the version created using Delphi 10.3 Rio.

If I can build up enough confidence in the Delphi Rio executable, Iíll make a MWIF,exe version using it for the next Public Beta. However, that version requires a new set of BPL files be included when it is installed on the customersí computers. BPLs are the Delphi/Borland equivalent to Microsoftís DDLs.

Bugs
This past month I have done some work on my task list for emailed bug reports. But every time I catch up, a few more dribble in. Mostly I have been fixing bugs reported by the beta testers over the past couple of months. With that task I have been somewhat successful in cleaning up a variety of weird/unusual problems.

Next up is to go through the bugs reported in the Tech Support forum and correct any of those that are reproducible. With NetPlay bugs I have found converting the GAM files from NetPlay mode to Head-2-head play works more than half the time. That lets me debug the problems without having to set up and run a second computer to recreate the problem.

As of today, Slitherine has partially fixed the problem with creating New Posts (for the Seeking Opponents data base) in the NetPlay Private Forum. We almost have that fully functional again.

Missing Optional Rules & Half Map Scenarios
Nothing new in July.

AI Opponent (AIO)
Nothing new in July.




Shannon V. OKeets -> RE: MWIF Monthly Reports (9/6/2019 10:33:55 PM)

September 6, 2019 Status Report for Matrix Gamesí MWIF Forum

Product Releases
One Hot Patch (version 3.0.3.0) was released in early August for customers. Meanwhile, the beta testers received a lot of new versions. We are now up to version 4.0.0.29 for them testing MWIF compiled using Delphi Rio (version 10.3). I am presently working on creating another Hot Patch for customers using the old version of Delphi (XE8). That will be version 3.0.4.0. A comparable version (4.0.0.30) will be available to the beta testers compiled with Delphi Rio.

If those two versions run cleanly for a week or so, Iíll send off version 4.0.1.0 (created using Delphi Rio) to Matrix Games for release as a Public Beta for customers. My expectation is that will appear for all players in mid September. It will require players to install a set of BPLs besides the usual MWIF.exe. But because it will be a public beta, the installation of the additional files will be handled automatically as part of the install.

In addition to fixing a bunch of bugs in the game, I added the 2 Die 10 Land Combat Results Table to the Help menu. See the screenshots below.

Program Development: Delphi Rio (version 10.3)
My new computer system remains fully functional except for a couple of rarely used applications still on my old machine.

The Delphi Rio Interactive Development Environment is still a little flaky. I have learned that if I merely do a full compile - and NOT a full build - the IDE creates an accurate MWIF.exe without trouble. The difference between the two ways of creating the MWIF.exe, is that a build also creates all the BPLs for the MWIF specific libraries. BPLS, are Borlandís file extension for what Microsoft labels DDLs. Basically, they are binary library files that the primary program (i.e., the executable - MWIF.exe) accesses when it executes. I only have to make changes to the MWIF specific libraries once every couple of years, so leaving the BPLs unchanged is perfectly fine.

I am hoping that the public beta version 4.0.1.0 runs cleanly and I can put Delphi version XE8 firmly in my rear view mirror, never to be used again.

Bugs
For the first two weeks of August, I focused on fixing bugs reported in Tech Support and by the beta testers. I was able to clear more than 20 of those, which was roughly 2/3rds of those reported in the past 4 months What remains are either obscure bugs or quite difficult to reproduce. For the following 3 weeks I spent all my time on NetPlay bugs. Some of those were way more difficult to resolve than I would have preferred. Here is one fix:

Substantially modified the routines for naval air combat, specifically for the air-to-air combat dice rolls. By splitting some routines into their component parts, I was able to better control when messages (i.e., Game Record Logs - GRLs) about dice rolls and other events are sent from one player to the other. The main problem these changes corrected was that at times the computer wasnít rolling the dice for the attacking player (the defending player rolls first) - or rolling twice for a player. Other fixes include: (1) correcting the program halting after the first player decides whether to Abort or Stay in an air-to-air combat, (2) eliminating a spurious second prompt for a player to decide whether to Fight or Abort after a round of naval combat, and (3) getting rid of an occasional extra display of the Anti-Aircraft Fire form (the player owning the attacking bombers should always decide which bombers suffer the damage of the AA fire - and only once).

For a short period of time in August, the Seeking Opponents data base in the NetPlay Private Forum was working correctly again. But when Slitherine modified the overall appearance of their web site, it again became inaccessible. I need to send them some information so they can get that back in working order. For now, everyone can continue to able to play NetPlay games normally. It merely requires ignoring a single message when starting about being ĎDisconnectedí, which only applies to the Seeking Opponents database.

Missing Optional Rules & Half Map Scenarios
Nothing new in August.

AI Opponent (AIO)
Nothing new in August.


[image]local://upfiles/16701/ED97FDD380A7420EBBFE422862AB8CC1.jpg[/image]




Shannon V. OKeets -> RE: MWIF Monthly Reports (10/4/2019 7:35:42 PM)

October 4, 2019 Status Report for Matrix Gamesí MWIF Forum

Product Releases
As of today, the Seeking Opponents data base in the NetPlay Private Forum is accessible again. They just had to restore the data from backup.

One Hot Patch (version 3.0.4.0) was released in early September for customers. Meanwhile, the beta testers received a few new versions. We are now up to version 4.0.0.32 for them testing MWIF compiled using Delphi Rio (version 10.3).

There were some problems with 3.0.4.0 which I have fixed. Similarly, further testing of NetPlay revealed a couple of obscure bugs that I corrected. My plan is to review the recently emailed bug reports (Mad Excepts) for versions 3.0.x.x and see if I can figure out what caused those problems. It is difficult without saved games accompanied by a description of what the player was doing prior to the Mad Except error. But sometimes a clear vision of the situation arises out of the fog.

Once I have done my best with the emailed bug reports, Iíll post a new Hot Patch and let players run it for a week or so. If all looks well, Iíll send off version 4.0.1.0 (created using Delphi Rio) to Matrix Games for release as a Public Beta for customers. That version will require players to install a small set of BPLs besides the usual MWIF.exe. Because it will be a public beta, the installation of the additional files will be handled automatically as part of the install.

Program Development: Delphi Rio (version 10.3)
My new computer system remains fully functional except for a couple of rarely used applications still on my old machine. Having run it for 3 months I am now appreciating its increased performance for even routine tasks. At about the same time my internet provider changed the layout for their email server. That was very annoying at the time, since nothing was where I expected it to be and even some of the icons had been changed. But after adapting to the new stuff, I now see that it is an improvement and I can get work done faster and with less mouse moves/clicks.

I am 8 months into using the Delphi Rio Interactive Development Environment and have gotten used to where its quirks are (ďDonít do this!Ē). I like it better that the old one. Using white text on a black background really helps my eyes. The moral of all this is that changes are a pain - but usually they are for the better.

Bugs
I am up-to-date on all emailed bug reports as of the end of September. Likewise for the Tech Support posts. I need to look at the beta tester bug reports again - itís been a few weeks since I examined those fully.

Missing Optional Rules & Half Map Scenarios
Nothing new in September.

AI Opponent (AIO)
Nothing new in September.




Shannon V. OKeets -> RE: MWIF Monthly Reports (11/10/2019 3:39:47 AM)

November 9, 2019 Status Report for Matrix Gamesí MWIF Forum

Iím really late with this monthís report - sorry about that. I was in California with my chorus for a competition in October and pretty much lost a week of work. Luckily we missed all the fires, though a few chorus members were stuck in Los Angeles over night because of all the power outages.

Product Releases
As of yesterday, the Seeking Opponents data base in the NetPlay Private Forum is accessible again. This problem has been on again, off again over the last couple of months. The latest fix was to remove a Redirect pointer in the Slitherine/Matrix NetPlay server that was referencing a non-existent source for the database. After removing the spurious Redirect pointer, the server was able to Ďfindí the Seeking Opponents database - and all is well. The most recent post I saw was from October 30th.

No Hot Patch was released in October for customers. Meanwhile, the beta testers received a few new versions. We are now up to version 4.0.0.38 for testing MWIF compiled using Delphi Rio (version 10.3). I will try to post a Hot Patch this coming week (version 3.0.5.0) generated using the old Delphi XE8 - which will have source code identical to that used to create the impending version 4.0.0.39.

Program Development: Delphi Rio (version 10.3)
My new computer system is fully functional, although eventually I should transfer over a couple rarely used applications from on my old machine (e.g., CorelDraw).

Because the versions of MWIF created using Delphi Rio require replacement BPL (a.k.a. DDL) files, I am holding off on generating a Delphi Rio MWIF - version 4.1.0.0 - as a Public Beta until I see a version generated under the old Delphi (XE8) running with no issues. Presently, that would be version 3.0.5.0.

Bugs
I made a serious pass through all the remaining emailed bug reports in 2019, without finding anything of note to change. Mostly I inserted a few checks to avoid non-fatal errors (these pop up when quitting the game when the program is expecting a form to be completed (e.g., Choose Action).

After spending a lot of time looking into Supply calculations taking too long, I came up with only a couple of small changes. The program had been trying to find paths between supply sources belonging to cooperating major powers and aligned minors. For example, Germany typically has Italy as a cooperating major power and Rumania as an aligned minor country. All that code was useless. Cooperating major power supply sources and aligned minor country supply sources can never be on the same supply path. Thatís because they do not cooperate (e.g., Italy does not cooperate with Rumania). So I trashed about 1500 lines of code (commented it out actually). That should speed things up a little.

Another bug I explored for supply calculations taking too long was from an old game. 10 days of effort later I figured out that the game was damaged. An old bug having to do with France being completely conquered and then rising from the dead when one of its old minor countries is liberated, left the Relationships data between major powers and minor countries all screwed up. [That bug has long since been fixed.] France was recorded as being at war with a slew of still-neutral minor countries (e.g., Switzerland and Turkey). The program was treating hexes in those minors as possible supply routes for both sides (Axis and Allied). A ton of time was spent searching uselessly for supply paths.

All in all, my time spent looking into speeding up supply calculations wasnít fruitful. I have an internal time monitor for supply calculations, breaking it down into a dozen or so pieces. The amount of time spent on each piece is reported so I can tell where the program is expending the most effort. But that depends on the individual game. In some games, a lot of time is spent determining whether Secondary supply sources can trace a path to Primary sources. In other games, it is the search for Overseas supply paths that burns the time. In yet third instances, searching for Tertiary supply paths back to Secondary is where the program takes excessive time. Very frustrating to not be able to identify one place that misbehaves in every case.

So, I have put working on speeding up supply calculations in abeyance for the nonce. That means that working on the optional rule Isolated Supply has also been set aside.

Iíll now select another missing Optional Rule to implement.

Missing Optional Rules & Half Map Scenarios
Nothing new in October.

AI Opponent (AIO)
Nothing new in October.




Shannon V. OKeets -> RE: MWIF Monthly Reports (12/3/2019 12:57:00 AM)

December 2, 2019 Status Report for Matrix Gamesí MWIF Forum

Product Releases
No Hot Patch was released in November for customers. Meanwhile, the beta testers received a few new versions. We are now up to version 4.0.0.43 for testing MWIF compiled using Delphi Rio (version 10.3).

I have a new Hot Patch ready to compile (version 3.0.5.0), but I need to write the Release Notes. Also, because it needs to be generated using the old Delphi XE8, I have to copy the modified source code over to my old computer and compile it there. Version 3.0.5.0 will use source code identical to that used to create version 4.0.0.43.

Program Development
I made some improvements to the Pools form and the View Units form. For the Pools form, I added a small table that shows the number of convoys and pilots lost by each major power during the turn. Those counts are reset to zero at the beginning of each turn. The table appears when viewing the Destroyed Pool.

In addition, I changed the layout for the Pools form, so instead of seeing 4 by 13 units (52) on a small screen size (1024 by 768), it now shows 6 by 9 units (54). That is a minuscule increase but there is a larger payoff when the form is resized horizontally. That can be done if you have a wider monitor. For each new column you now see 6 more units instead of 4. In Barbarossa, 15 columns shows all the units in the USSR force pool. 21 columns shows all the German units.

As my third little side project, I modified the View Units form (Ctrl - U). It can now be resized vertically. With a monitor that has 768 pixels vertically, the form shows 14 units in a single column. My monitors have a vertical resolution of 2160. When the form is expanded to fill that monitor vertically, 27 units are visible.

Because the versions of MWIF created using Delphi Rio require replacement BPL (a.k.a. DDL) files, I am still holding off on generating a Delphi Rio MWIF - version 4.1.0.0 - as a Public Beta until I see a version generated under the old Delphi (XE8) running with no issues. Presently, that would be version 3.0.5.0.

Bugs
I am up-to-date with bugs reported via email and in the Tech Support forum for World in Flames. For bugs reported by beta testers, I am up-to-date except for three that I need to understand a little better before I can add them to my task list.

Missing Optional Rules & Half Map Scenarios
Added the code for Kamikaze pilots for the Japanese. Began work on the Rough Seas optional rule.

AI Opponent (AIO)
Nothing new in November.




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