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January 4, 2023: Inevitable - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

The big news from last month is Space Hex Duel is released!

The plan was to take the rest of December dealing with a little marketing, the holidays and do some coding for fun before choosing the next project. Well I managed two of those. My internet connection died the day after release and only got repaired nearly a fortnight later, so not much marketing. There have been seven downloads of the game and two people got back to me - one liked it (and paid for it despite being PWYW - thanks!), the other had difficulty with the tutorial. Thanks to the feedback and some of my own thoughts, I now have a couple of things to change. Time for a patch release. It probably won’t be for this month, but hopefully early Feb it will be done. Then I’ll do some more marketing and revisit a possible Steam release.

I’m also back working on a generic online game server. Not for playing SHD online, but to handle all the other stuff like feedback, game stats, etc. As part of the patch release I will build this into SHD. It will be in keeping with the original idea of SHD as a testbed for new libraries. As for the next project, last month I had 5 ideas worth pursuing, which I have now whittled down to 6 (I had a good idea for a simple card-battler). Hmmmm.

Done last month:

  • Little fixes in SHD
  • Released SHD to Itch with a little marketing and support
  • Rework internal Scala libraries
  • Worked on generic game server (stats, feedback, news, etc …)

Tasks for this month:

  • Finish generic game server
  • Work on patch release for SHD
  • Think about next project


December 9, 2022: Space Hex Duel Released! Twitter Facebook

Tags: SpaceHexDuel, ProgressReport, DevDiary

Space Hex Duel

It is done! Space Hex Duel is now available on Itch.io as a Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) download (suggested donation: US$2). I recommend interested people download it for free, and if they enjoy it and would like to say thankyou, then go back and donate. I chose PWYW as a test - to get as many people as possible playing and see if it has any potential. Also, because it has not been playtested by anyone other than myself - hopefully there will not be many issues.

For the basic marketing material see above and:

So what next?

The first task will be to let people know the game is released. Time to dust off my mailing list and Twitter/Mastodon accounts. Probably a few other places too. If nothing else it is good practice. Next, fix any bugs that come up. Since I should have tons of time apart from bugfixing (fingers crossed), I need to decide what to do next. I have 5 possibilities, from the obvious (Concealed Intent 2D) to the unusual (not telling yet!). I also need to decide if I should release this game to Steam. I’m tempted, just because Steam is so big compared to everyone else in PC games that if it is not there then the game will be obscure. However, releasing to Steam will require some extra work, and I don’t want to start that yet. Instead I will mostly spend the few weeks mostly on just-for-fun programming and household tasks. The plan being to start the new year on the next game (and if decide to do it, Steam).

Happy Holidays.


December 4, 2022: So Close - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

Ahhh, I am agonisingly close to release! This progress report is delayed a few days because I thought I could get it out yesterday. The game is complete (enough :). However, I forgot how long it takes to make a trailer video and other marketing materials. Now the plan is to release by Friday (9th). The trailer should be done on Monday, but then there is copy/images for various forums (Itch, website, IndieDB, mailing list, …) and I have decided to have another go at improving the AI time estimation function (presently it can be badly wrong).

My TODO list for the month:

  1. Release!
  2. ???
  3. Profit

The tasks completed last month were:

  • Finished Tutorial
  • Improved UI and text
  • Lots of QA/bugfixing
  • Started creating marketing materials


November 1, 2022: Now Or Never - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

A little change to format in this progress report. Rather than say what I hope to achieve, instead the below list is SHD’s remaining tasks (in order). It is also my current plan. The goal is the release of SHD to Itch.io by the end of the month. That is it. This section comes first, because I’m focussed on the finish. Tasks 1 & 4 may take some time; the rest should be fairly straightforward (fingers crossed).

  1. Tutorial
  2. Translations: remove non-english and check text
  3. Possible small changes: should blast self-destruct? how many levels use dumb AI?
  4. Clean/test/build
  5. Itch.io: build, screenshots, cover image & release

Last month I ruthlessly culled the list of remaining tasks. This game need to be finished ASAP. The AI component is good enough. I could work on it for many months if I wanted, but won’t. The online component is dropped, the feedback screen is gone. The project’s README file now has over a dozen other possible small improvements, plus a few of bigger ones (but was online play ever a real possibility?). I don’t expect to revisit them.

The tasks completed last month were:

  • Finished AI
  • Completed UI sizing for different screen sizes (this took most of the time, especially tracking down a DPI scaling bug)
  • Updated splash screen
  • Bugfixes
  • Started on tutorial

Anyway, time to get back to it!


October 3, 2022: Need For Speed - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

If you looked at SHD a month ago and again today, you would probably notice no difference at all. However, behind the scenes a great deal has changed. Over the last month my main task has been improving the AI. It soon became clear a major issue was speed. Examining a set of moves took several milliseconds (ms), and there were often thousands of possible moves, sometimes tens of thousands - it was taking too long. In speeding up the analysis, errors began creeping into the system caused by timing and threading issues. Hmmm. I decided to change the way the engine worked so that these errors could not occur and managed to get this largely complete in a week. The result was that average analysis time for a single set of moves went from 5ms to 0.19ms, error free. Proud of that work. It should be fast enough to let the AI to look more than one move ahead - which is the next task.

I also got a little distracted by possible future projects. Now have another good idea for the next project. Hard decisions will need to be made soon around what to do next.

SHD tasks for November are the same as before, just the AI is now very close to complete.

Last month’s completed tasks:

  • Moved SHD engine from a Plan/Action pattern to a Command/Effect pattern
  • AI working well, just speeding up code so that can process more scenarios in reasonable time (5ms to 0.19ms so far)
  • Played with setups & org for next project
  • Bugfixes

Over the next month:

  • Full AI
  • Little improvements & bugfixes
  • Next version of prototypes
  • Online component
  • Try not to get distracted


September 1, 2022: Light At The End Of The Tunnel - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

The point has been reached where the end is so near, I find my attention waning and drifting to other projects. This month I spent nearly a record low number of hours on SHD, and yet my todo list is still quite short. Today I went through the list of ideas/issues/features remaining. Most are not worth doing, or are code improvements for the next game (they will make no significant difference to this one). The ones left I grouped by theme and numbered by importance - the last is #5. The first is the long-planned full AI; second is the online componenent. The others are not worth mentioning.

So what did I do this past month? The first couple of weeks was spent finishing off the r/roguelikedev tutorial event (see this post for more info). Then I spent some (too much!) time moving all my websites from Linode to GitHub Pages. Not because I’m unhappy with Linode (they have been great), but to same time by not managing my own virtual servers for a couple of simple static websites. Then I did a little daydreaming of ideas. Lastly a few hours fixing up bugs, tooltips and unlocks before starting work on the AI.

SHD tasks for the coming month are to just finish the damn thing (maybe not this month, but hopefully next).

Last month’s completed tasks:

  • Little improvements & bugfixes
  • Move websites/repos to free hosts
  • r/roguelikedev tutorial event complete (see this post to play)
  • Multi-frame AI framework

Over the next month:

  • Full AI
  • Little improvements & bugfixes
  • Next version of prototypes
  • Online component
  • Try not to get distracted


August 17, 2022: Roguelike Tutorial 2022 Twitter Facebook

Tags: General

As a distraction from other things I should have been doing over the last 6 weeks, I completed the /r/roguelikedev Tutorial 2022. An event to teach people how to write roguelike games like Nethack, Angband, and my old favourite, Omega. I wanted to learn some Javascript, and this seemed a good way to go.

It is done now. There is a playable version here and the source code is here.

The controls are:

  • movement/target: arrow keys or wasd (+qezx)
  • look: ‘/’
  • pickup: ‘p’
  • message history: ‘v’
  • drop/leave: ‘l’
  • activate/use/equip: ‘u’
  • character screen: ‘c’

/r/roguelikedev Tutorial2022 Logo


August 1, 2022: Joining The Club - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

In July I joined the club - the Covid19 club. Luckily it was a fairly mild case but it still stopped work for nearly a fortnight (2 days in bed, a few days feeling sick and then a week super-tired). As a result I did very few hours on SHD, especially since the few hours I did spend coding were for the /r/roguelikedev annual tutorial event (repo, playable version).

So achievements are light this months. I have completed weeks 2 through 5 in the /r/roguelikedev challenge, with only 3 more weeks left. It has been worth doing (learning Javascript can only be useful) and without the structure I doubt I would have bothered. Given me a few more ideas to add to the list. As for SHD, I added and hooked up all the remaining planned unlocks/achievements. Plus a few bugfixes, that is it.

SHD tasks for the coming month are the same as last month: AI and cleanup. I’ll hopefully also get to move the websites, and of course, the last 3 weeks of the r/roguelikedev event.

Last month’s completed tasks:

  • Wk 2-5 /r/roguelikedev tutorial event
  • All unlocks/achievements done
  • Some bugfixes

Over the next month:

  • Full AI
  • Little improvements & bugfixes
  • Next version of prototypes
  • Move websites/repos to free hosts
  • Online component
  • complete r/roguelikedev tutorial event


July 1, 2022: Holiday - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

As expected June was a truncated month. A weeks holiday interstate and a couple of days dealing with house issues (the joys of living in an old house) put a big hole in my productivity and definitely slowed progress as I lost momentum. Maybe that is what has lead to me deciding to join the /r/roguelikedev annual tutorial event. “Wait,” you say, “don’t you need to finish SHD first before starting another game?” Yes, you are right. This is almost certainly a bad use of my time, especially since I am trying it in a Javascript, a language I haven’t used properly in over 20 years (also, trying to relearn Git & Github at the same time). However, I think it might be useful for future work and I hope to spend no more than one day per week on getting it going (Week 1 took 2 hours, so far so good). If you want to see the WIP, the repo is here and a playable version here.

SHD is still getting very close to the end now too (about time!). I have added a bunch of new gameplay mechanics: base recharging; base powerups; and bombs. Last time I said the game quickly devolved into a slow defensive slog. Now, not so much. It is not a great game, although definitely a little better than before - and importantly, shorter! There was also some visual improvements and work on achievements. Not the best month in terms of hours worked, but there is clear progress. It was gratifying to see how easily the new mechancis were added due to the earlier framework tasks.

The remaining SHD tasks are now AI and cleanup. That is the plan for the month.

Last month’s completed tasks:

  • Wk 1 /r/roguelikedev tutorial event
  • Reorganised achievements
  • Little visual improvements
  • Reworked gameplay to make game faster more interesting - recharge, powerup bases, bomb hex

Over the next month:

  • Finalise unlocks/achievements
  • Full AI
  • Little improvements & bugfixes
  • Next version of prototypes
  • Move websites/repos to free hosts
  • Online component
  • r/roguelikedev tutorial event


June 1, 2022: Done? - Progress Report Twitter Facebook

Tags: General, DevDiary, ProgressReport

May was a solid month of work. Could have bee a record if not for losing 4 complete days to sickness and probably lower productivity for a few days after. There is a new AI and lots of little improvements. If a player want to keep going forever there is also now an “infinite” mode.

The biggest task completed was the engine rework - now finished and all (known) resulting bugs cleared. It took 6 weeks total. I thought in the best case it would require nearly 2 weeks, but gave myself 4 weeks due to experience :) So 6 weeks is not great, but not bad. Of course not all the time was taken with refactoring, there was also some prototype and time and a jaunt into the land of node servers and docker (just to learn about them) along the way, but that sort of thing is expected. Still think it was worth it, the final code is much better and more flexible! I’m happy.

June will be a short month (I’m away for a week), so of course I have a totally unrealistic list of tasks. The big one is to improve the gameplay. Playing against the new AI quickly results in a defensive slog of a game - not what I had intended. Hopefully I can think of some ways to improve it.

Last month’s completed tasks:

  • Rework engine complete
  • New AI - but now game bogs down into defensive slogs
  • Infinite mode
  • Little visual improvements

Over the next month:

  • Improve gameplay?
  • Rearrange unlocks
  • Full AI (current version does not take advantage of all gameplay possibilities)
  • Next version of prototypes
  • Move websites/repos to free hosts
  • Look at online component


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