Thursday, June 24, 2004

Origins Day 1 Observations

9:00 am EDT
I'm sitting here in the lobby/lounge of the Crowne Plaza hotel, feeding my e-mail habit via their free WiFi hotspot. All around me, gamers are getting ready for the first day of the Origins 2004 convention; a herd of overweight, glasses-wearing, nerdy gits, not unlike myself (takes one to know one, I guess). I must admit I'm looking forward to this convention. I'm struck by how much socializing is going on. With each other, gamers are very social animals. Demented and sad, but social. (Did I mention it takes one to know one, yet?)

I was up late last night, working on the game. I made some good progress: the Unit Info dialog now displays on startup, and the map jumps to a reasonable location on startup as well. I made some progress on getting 3rd echelon units to move in the Opening Moves scenario.

12:07 pm EDT

Working on the game again. During the 9am session, the AI was moving multiple commands in the Opening Moves scenario, but there was a combinatorial explosion of permutations that at up the CPU and memory to an unacceptable level. I am changing the plan generation code to try either a Corps or its subcommands, but not both, in the same plan.

I am also considering evaluating the plans as they are generated instead of in a separate step. If I only keep the top 3 plans, this solves the memory problem.

The place where I am working has a pretty good view of a crosswalk between the convention center and the hotel, so I'm observing my fellow gamers from time to time. I'm reminded of Norman Spinrad's descriptions of fans in He Walked Among Us. Yeah, it takes one to know one, but the curve goes a couple extra sigma away from the mean this weekend. I'm enjoying myself very much.

Bad news. Chris and I met up with Charlie of Clash of Arms this morning. Apparently game designer Richard Kane is having bypass surgery today instead of attending the convention. Get well soon, Richard!

Other bad news. [heard second-hand, so this may be a bit garbled] Charlie had apparently arranged to have two tables for demos. When he got to the con, the two tables were not in evidence; he was told that they were in the "demo area". We're still trying to figure out what that means, as there is no demo area in the dealer's room. As things stand, we are not demoing the game at this time.

10:05 pm EDT

More bad news, then good news. Charlie suggested we stake out a table in "The War Room", an area of the convention devoted to war games. Chris and I did so, then found out an hour later that "The War Room" was a special fee paid area. Bummer. Chris later cleared our use of that area with the GAMA folks, and Charlie arranged to have our badges upgraded with "The War Room" privileges. Cool.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of another work session on the game, a first pass through the dealer's room, the first of many purchases (Munchkin Fu and some KoDT), a fine dinner, and a nap.

I am working on the game yet again, fueled by an excellent cup of Java's coffee. YEEESSSSSSS! This evening I will finish the code that will produce 3rd echelon assignments in the high level AI. We should actually be able to run a real scenario to completion once this code is in place.


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