September & October development progress report

I am a bit to late with my September report am I not? Well yes I am. Its because it has not been an easy September and October. I had some setbacks with the AI I was coding for Workname Empire. And putting quality above else I had to restart.

As usual i tried to make a to deep AI in the first attempt and it turned out I couldn’t manage to make it work at any reasonable speed. Like just 100 iterations for a small group of maybe 5 units already took like 20 seconds… And if I actually made the AI look into the deeper future (like a round or 3) its speed dropped to completely unacceptable. So I took a big breath and restarted, this time using an approach that will guarantee speed. Where in the previous attempts I used cloned game states of the actual game state I am now using an abstract representation of the game state. Much like the human mind probably ;)

Basically when considering its moves the AI is now in its own little world, a world that is much more simple data-wise than the real game and thus much faster. I think a speed gain of at least up to a 100 times is going to be achieved by this new approach. This will leave room to add some some optional higher AI settings for players who want to wait longer to get better results.

I have made quite some further gameplay improvements to Workname Empire as well. Longer development time has some payoffs. The most interesting thing to share is that the leader model is really starting to get a lot body. The leaders are getting a lot of personality and development opportunities now. There are four classes: Troopers, Technicals, Administrators and Barbarians. Although I am not limiting the player in their character development there is a penalty for learning skills belonging to other classes. The interplay between regular combat units and the leaders is very good and I think it will be one of the strong points of this game. In a sense this game is going where no wargame has gone before. The game will also show the player that larger forces can be overcome by smaller forces if led by able and experienced officers.

Hope to tell you all the AI is working out in my November report. Hoping to have the interface completed by x-mas.

In the meantime Decisive Campaigns 3 is also slowly progressing. I am adding some advanced new reporting functions as we speak as well as the option to take multiple choice decisions when confronted with specific issues. I am working with an as yet secret other developer on this title, if we feel comfortable in opening up to the public we will. So far so good though.

Best wishes,
Vic

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8 Responses to September & October development progress report

  1. Chris says:

    You have written that there will be 3 seperate play modes: a campaign game, random world games and stand-alone scenarios with four classes of leaders : Troopers, Technicals, Administrators and Barbarians. Sounds like a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game engine. I hope it can also generate historical scenarios similar to AT and DC.

  2. vic says:

    Hi Chris, it will be a different game than ATG and the DC series. Basically because I already have AT and DC and am also still working on them. I dont want to be a one trick pony. Workname Empire is aimed at a larger group of players while retaining the hardcore features of my previous wargames in more accessible format. The first title for this engine will indeed not be historical. You have to take some risks sometimes. But I will defenitely evaluate after release if that was smart. Furthermore DC3 is still in development and its going to be VERY historical and also coming with simple and intermediate editors to finally get the difficulty levels of designing own scenarios down and get more players into making historical simulations. Regards, Vic.

  3. bearro says:

    I for one am very excited it is going to be fantasy/sf. We have plenty of historical hardcore strategies, but when it comes to the fantastic they are usually very, very simplified things, rarely having good AIs. So, this sounds really promising!

  4. Jafele says:

    Hey Vic, I feel really excited with your new project, it looks a wise and experimental progression. Some people love second world war, some people prefer fantasy backgrounds but the key of a classic game is the quality of its AI. Furthermore it´s a rare key to find nowdays…

    I would feel very happy if Workname Empire AI could have a game mode to work without the typical cheats you can find in many games.

    Cheers

  5. vic says:

    Hi Bearro and Jafele,

    Thanks for the entusiasm! always good to hear :)

    The initial technology level will be very reminiscent of the mid 20th century. However as tech progresses the equipment and upgrades will get more modern era and even early SF-era. For example sideskirts (for tanks) is one of the research fields available, but so is eventually cybernetics research.

    Best Vic

  6. Ralph says:

    Very excited to hear that DC3 is still happening. I own both previous titles & to me they are the best computer wargames ever made. Period. Look, I enjoy WiTE, but it’s just too complex. Actually prefer the predecessor War in Russia, even though you have to play it in DOSBox.

    Anyway… what I love about the DC games is that there’s great depth but the interface & gameplay is kept simple enough that the player is swamped with 100s of buttons & a 300 page manual that you have to “graduate” before you can play. Who’s got that kind of time?

    My dream has always been to create a historical wargame myself, but the reality is that not everyone’s a Victor Reijkersz! Good luck to you on your other project. Sounds very interesting. Will you also be going with Matrix for this one?

  7. vic says:

    Hi Ralph,

    Thanks for the compliments and: Yes it should be a Matrix release.

    We are trying to streamline the management and unit count a bit more for DC3 and to focus more on historical immersion and higher level decisions. I felt that with Case Blue I was really stretching it just a tid bit in the number of units you had to manage every turn. When I look back on the DC games I actually think the Poland 1939 scenario was actually close to the magic number of units to move with around 200 per side.

    Best wishes,
    Vic

  8. Roy says:

    Workname Empire sounds very promising! DC3 also seems a very natural progression from DC1 and 2. The “VERY historical” remark concerns me a little. I’m certain though that taken in context of everything you have said thus far, players will have ample opportunity to change history and there will be a lot of replayability built in. The editors you describe should ensure lots of good player made scenarios.

    Hopefully somewhere in your long range plans is an Advanced Tactics 3. ATG is just too good of game not to reach a new level. Very thankful for your continued development/support of the current ATG title. Maybe a little Christmas surprise with another feature patch?

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