Monday, October 27, 2003

More news about the game.

I spent about 8 hours working on the AI over the weekend, including a vacation day on 10/27. Good progress. I added classes for VictoryLocation, Plan, and Assignment, and I completed most of the code for enumerating the combinations of commands and goals (a.k.a. VictoryLocations) that make up the plans.

Taking a quick look at the number of combinations based on counts of commands and goals, it looks like I'll have to come up with code to identify the VictoryLocations along the FEBA, in order to reduce the combinatorial explosion. In the Opening Moves scenario, there are 4 VictoryLocations and 5 corps-level commands on the Imperial side, thus there are 4 to the 5 combinations or 1028 different plans to evaluate. In the larger scenarios we are looking at 18 VictoryLocations and 6 Imperial corps commands, for 18 to the 6th equals 34,012,224 plans. This is not happening!

I think it is reasonable to hope that the AI might be capable of evaluating 1000 plans per turn, particularly since much of the evaluating will consist of applying rules of thumb and common sense to prune candidate plans from the list. For the Opening Moves, we can say that any plan that does not assign all the VictoryLocations will be pruned immediately.

Upcoming work

Finish off the plan generator.
Add the first pruning rule for the Opening Moves.
Have a stab at writing the first evaluation function for plans.
Write the first plan ranking function.
Cleanup and evaluation. (Who knows, I might even produce a passable high level AI the first time around.)

Additional Thoughts

I may try to pre-rank plans prior to evaluation so the AI checks more likely plans first. I may also break up the plan evaluation and ranking steps so that the AI evaluates X number of plans, then checks for the user's Phase Turn signal, the evaluates the next X plans, and so on.

I think I will also introduce a separation between the high level AI and the low level AI, depending on how long it takes the low-level AI to operate. I will have the low-level AI run after the user has pressed the Phase Next button...this will introduce a roughly 60-120 second wait, but will ensure that the high level AI has tiem to do its work. If the high level AI completes its work, then of course the low-level AI will be run.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Things are getting serious about Eylau.

Chris has been in communication with Charlie at Clash of Arms. Charlie is looking for a green light to announce the game for a June 2004 release, to coincide with Origins. On the other hand, Chris and I had last spoken about a 31 January release to the beta group. Hmmm. Figure a minumum of one month for Charlie to have a batch of CD's run up for sale once he is given a master by us. So Chris and I have been pondering whether a four to four-and-a-half month beta period is long enough.


Monday, October 20, 2003

Oh, yeah. Things appear to be heating up on the dating front again. At the moment, I'm in the middle of what is becoming my usual post-dating/relationship routine...relax for a few days, then clean the place up, drop 5 pounds, and try again. Someone contacted me through my favorite dating site. She's cute, really cute. I'm hoping we can date, to see whether there's any spark there. News at eleven.
Trip to Dallas last weekend to work on the game with Chris. We have a deadline. Really. A DEAD line. We will make a beta available to our testers on 1 January 2004.

Chris and I reaffirmed our dividing line for the work on the AI: he will work on the lower level AI (that takes higher echelon missions and converts them into orders for the individual units), while I work on the high level AI that generates those missions. During our meeting, I showed Chris the work I had done during Origins 2k3 through September on a scripted AI, so that he'd know where to plug his code in, and so that he could test his code in the absence of mine.

OK. I'm taking four more days vacation in November in order to crank out the AI. I did the design work on the decision-making infrastructure back at Origins 2003 in the small hours of the morning. (Many thanks to Java's Cyber Espresso Bar for making coffee and snacks all night long during the convention.) The design work having been done, I need only implement that design, and come up with some clever evaluation functions.

I should have this completed by mid-November. The rest of November I plan to use on integration, cleanup, memory leak sweeps, bug fixes, and a few gratuitous UI enhancements. If Chris gets held up on his part of the AI, I will instead help him out. Better to release a feature-complete AI to test with a few more bugs than to have no AI at all.

I had some great barbeque at Sonny Bryan's in Richardson, TX. Outstanding sliced brisket, great sauce, good sides.

I also had a good run at River Legacy Park in Arlington. 4.5 miles on pavement at an overall 8:45 pace. I do luuuuuv that park! Great for skating, running, biking, and picnics. Great scenery, and awesome people watching.

Friday, October 17, 2003

I took a vacation from the office today to work on the game. I got a few errands done, and cranked out about 7 hours at Diedrichs.

I spent most of the time refactoring and sweeping for memory leaks.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Tried out a new restaurant. Thai Seafood Restaurant in Webster. Nice decor, great service. Excellent green chicken curry! As good as any I've had in Houston.

They serve their Tom Yum in shallow bowls -- it cools too fast and it is difficult to get to the bottom of the bowl.

They charge for each glass of soda.

Overall, a good place to eat. Just remember to skip the soup. A nice date restaurant, because of the subdued lighting, music and decor.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Oh how I wish a cleansing rain would wash this city clean. Actually, it's raining now.

Still, I'd rather be in Albuquerque this week at the Balloon Fiesta.
Just recovered from that bug going around the must be back in school.

I'm working on a Landsknecht costume for Halloween. A friend got me interested in this, so looks like I'm going to be doing some enrichment of the local economy at faire.

Back in the dating game again. Problems with Version 4 (see previous post) forced me to call it quits. (Unlike Clinton, she inhaled. Frequently. And she generally seemed to be about half in the bag from drinking. I understand there were extenuating circumstances, but that sort of thing can't be a part of my life. Good luck, girl...maybe we'll see each other again down the road.)

Work continues on the game. I just fixed a glaring error in the limited intelligence code, and it's back to work on the AI proper over the weekend. I'm taking a couple of days off this month to focus on the AI in anticipation of the beta test release in late November.

Playing Mechwarrior 3, reading Martin Fowler's "Refactoring" for continuing ed. and SciFi by Stephen Baxter for fun. Just signed up for a Tai Chi course to start later this month. Still running, still pining for the fjords.

That's all the news for today.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Latest news: Upgraded to Girlfriend 2003 version 4. Version 3 convinced herself of our incompatibility, then convinced me of the same as well. Version 4 is very nice to be around, and very easy on the eyes. There are a couple of issues that require patching to 4.1. We'll see. I'm hoping to avoid going to version 5, the v4 interface is way too good for that. [In English, the third girl I dated this year decided to stop dating me in favor of a player to be named later on the grounds that I was too bland. Go figure. I met another girl, who is a beautiful 6ft tall beach bunny/caterer/entrepreneur studying to be a massage therapist. We've hit it off really well so far, and I'm hoping we make through that "getting to know you" phase.]

Long run of 10 miles last week. I'm on track to run a half marathon in the next 60 days and a marathon by mid-January. Must remember to use sports drinks and/or energy gels in runs over 6 miles, though...that 10 mile run left me pale and shaking.

Bought a Sony DSC-F717 camera package. Way cool. The feature set is awesome, and even I can take decent photos with all the helpful features built into the camera. I'll post some pix on my web site once I move it (the URL forwarding) to my personal server instead of my Yahoo homepage.

Sony DSC-F717 Camera

Progress continues on the Eylau computer game. I'm taking a couple of days off this month to work on the AI. We should be into beta on the AI by the end of November.