It’s been a month and a half since my last post. I’d like to say that it is because progress has been excellent and fast-paced, but I’d be lying. Truth be told, one of the challenges of building something with only a two-person team, where both people have day jobs with responsibilities, is that outside influences can disrupt your best-laid plans. To illustrate, I’m writing this post from a hotel room in Tokyo. It’s my homeward-bound travel day after a week of presentations, dinners and in-country travel and I finally have the brainspace available to even think about writing this post.
I’m not going to get into the details of either my nor Paul’s day jobs, but, suffice it to say, we have extended our usual 3-week sprint period twice into a 9 week cycle due to the simple fact that neither of us, while making some bit of progress, has been able to shake off the external influences. Hopefully that will change soon.
So, What Have You Been Up To?
The map metadata project is making headway. Paul has taken on the thankless task of building a spreadsheet of map metadata for the AttM map. This metadata will allow the TClient application to understand the map features and enforce movement rules as well as give the players hints when they interact with it. Ultimately, future maps will begin with metadata and software will generate the map from that. It’s an ambitious sub-project, but one that is necessary to ensure the quality of the product.
For my part, I’ve started writing the metadata analysis script to make sure that the metadata makes sense. In the far future, a map design tool will be written to make metadata creation and editing be easy. Right now, the data entry into the spreadsheet is manual and error-prone. A preflight process is necessary to catch the errors that human data entry is going to produce.
On the TClient front, I found some errors in the HBox / VBox container code. My blitz through the various container classes, while productive, overlooked several real-world use cases. So, I’m finding some classes of bugs that I need to fix in quite a few of the containers before I can use them. I expected that this was going to happen, but trying to focus on this while also needing to think quite a bit about my day job responsibilities has hampered progress on this front. With my return from Japan imminent, I should be able to make some decent progress.
You Make the Game You Want to Play
Our Tuesday evening sessions, with a couple of breaks here and there, have been both fruitful and fun. The tweaks to the OPs rolls have expanded the capabilities of both sides, enough to allow us to try tactics and ideas we couldn’t before. This has improved the quality of the game play and has allowed us to playtest systems that we couldn’t before. Questions are being raised here and there, while still allowing us to keep the game competitive.
In short, it’s fun. I’m being spoiled now. The double-blind system is rich in capabilities in that there is more than one way to accomplish something, while none is guaranteed to be successful. There’s a nice chess match aspect of play and counterplay, feint and strike that rises above the usual wargame experience. Paul, a decades-long Advanced Squad Leader grognard said one evening, “I like playing this more than ASL.” I share his sentiment.
It’s still far from perfect, but that is why we playtest. The manual approach using Vassal is quite tedious, though, which is why we’re developing TClient. The foundation is sound, however, which is why we keep at it even when real life gets in the way.