Friday, April 01, 2005

Game Development Status 3/31/05

Monthly total ~28 hours, yearly total ~77 hours.

I finished up the refactoring of the stacking validation code last night. The code is much simpler in structure now. I had enough time left over to test the code against increment limits and stacking without a tested successfully in both cases. I need to test infantry/cavalry/artillery stacking, and advance after melee stacking, then I can move on.

The AI is behaving reasonably well in movement to contact situations. The default jumble of VII/1 and VII/2 at the beginning of Assault of VII Corps sorts itself out rather well, and the Corps moves into contact with the Russians along their line of advance.

The AI is not maintaining command cohesiveness at this time...French units leak through the gap between 3rd Division and Grand Battery Center, and tend to keep going. I think I need to devote some time soon to improving attacks and cohesiveness: I need to do some things like
  • choose rear and flank attacks in preference to frontal attacks, if possible
  • tie in flanks unit-to-unit within a command
  • add high level AI code to identify and allow exploitation of gaps in NME formations, without sacrificing cohesiveness
  • shift units about to maximize odds-ratio effectiveness, where this is possible
  • constitute and commit a reserve
Of course, I need to continue on with other tasks, such as implement Corps formations, to make this happen.

I spoke with Chris the other night. We are a go for the trip to Origins. I have my hotel reservations and plane tickets booked, and my vacation time allocated.

My current plan is to have the game playable in an AI mode before the convention. I am currently aiming to have the Assault of VII Corps playable before the end of April, at least with the AI running the French. As soon as I get Assault running, I will improve the AI to the point it can play the Opening Moves scenario, again running the French. This may take all of May to do. At that point we have enough for a limited AI Beta. Given that level of achievement, I will spend time in June doing cleanup work and bug fixes to provide the code base for a Beta CD for Origins. Wild guess is 100-200 hours to complete this work. Still doable before the convention.

Once that is in hand, my next major effort is to get the AI to play the Russian roles in Assault and Opening Moves. This will require that I implement the AI code for defensive planning. (Then release a second AI Beta.) This will be another 100-200 hours of work.

Moving on to the big picture, after I complete the defensive planning effort, I have to rethink the high level AI to account for the larger scenarios. Assault and Opening Moves only involve a single "set" of geographical victory point locations. From the AI's point of view, there is a static FEBA defined by those victory point locations. In the larger scenarios, the FEBA will not be static; it will be dynamic. It will be necessary for the AI to update its definition of the FEBA with respect to the victory point locations and the enemy in order for it to make effective plans. Once I get that working reasonably well, it's time for cleanup, test, refresh Beta, tweak the AI, then RTM and "enjoy a milk bone in a commie-free world". (There must not be a basselope gap!) This will be another 100-200 (deja vu) hours of work.

Hmm, maybe we're done by Christmas, maybe by Origins 2006. (Was that out loud?)

Vive l'E, y'all.


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