Over the previous week I have been somewhat distracted writing and recording a rather heavy rock guitar based piece of music. Now that this has been done I have been back coding Ancient Armies in earnest – and yes I know I have far too many hobbies!
Whilst working on the new armies code, a slow realisation was starting to dawn on me…
The upshot of this revelation is that I have decided to change tact somewhat.
I know what I need my armies to model. But rather than start from scratch, I have now decided to take what I already have and tweak it. This will enable me to complete the armies modelling much sooner for no loss of end user functionality.
So the first task was to run up the old army editor and make notes on what needed to be change. These notes were then distilled into a newer much smaller set of tasks. These tasks are all easily achievable targets and will allow me to leverage what I already have. In terms of time saving it should save me months of work!
As part of the new task planning it had also dawned on me that the tooling that I’m creating is at the end of the day a means to an end. They are simply tools to support the actual game.
The original project plan called for a very strict order of software development:
Each row of work would be completed to 100% before proceeding to work on the next row.
But the downside of this technique is that I can’t get a feel for how the modelled mechanisms will work in the actual game.
In addition I still have many fundamental questions that I need to resolve with regard to game play. Realtime or Turn-Based? If turn based, will it be I-Go-You-Go or We-Go? I also have many questions with regard to the command and control gameplay too.
With the old project plan there is no real way to try out all of the above mechanisms to determine what will be best for the game. Instead, I will have to plump for the game play options up front and hope for the best.
Rather than take the above risk I have decided to modify the project plan to make it more iterative with regard to game design and testing:
In the new plan, mapping is to be completed, but everything else is only initially partially completed before I export those features into the actual game for testing.
So in the above diagram, Armies will start being tested in the end game even before they or the scenario editor are completed!
With this new plan I can test out gameplay mechanics very early on and trial all the different approaches. Once I’m happy with a particular approach, I can then go back to the underlying component and complete it.
The other advantage from my personal point of view is that I can get to actually play with the system a lot earlier, rather than blindly producing code with nothing to actually show for it.
I think this new approach will be much better for the project and will allow for a level of game mechanic refinement that simply would not have been possible with the previous project plan.
In addition to development work, I have also been conducting further research into ancient warfare:
This will be the last post for a while. The next time I post will be when I can demonstrate the new army units being used in conjunction with the new map.