June 2, 2009 - The Krypton Refactor

I’m sure it’s not just me, but I’ve found that sometimes some of the most difficult and profound decisions you make on a project only occur when you’re half way through writing it. It’s monumentally difficult to work out the specific heirachy of classes in advance (especially when you’re trying to write something modular) and sometimes you just have to write the damn thing before you realise where things actually should go!

The current project tree

The current project tree

So as I tapped away this afternoon, I realised I’d reached a critical point where I was starting to introduce messy hacks to send messages down and back up the chain of command undergoing several changes along the way – it’d stopped being efficient and had I gone any further with it, it’d have become a big nasty mess. At this point what’s needed is for some of the core classes (notably the game, board and renderers) to be refactored and reimplemented. Thankfully as it turns out this isn’t a large job (another huge benefit of observing OO best practices) and things will once again be going smoothly very soon.

Also, I have to thank each and every one of the people who’ve commented, emailed and otherwise shown interest in this project. It’s a great boost to the old morale to know it’s not only myself who’s excited about playing it! I’d like to take a few moments to clear up a few questions I’ve been asked:

  • Will there be a beta test? Can I be a tester? An online game is obviously going to require people to help iron out the bugs, and so yes, there will be phases of testing throughout the lifetime of the project (as new features get rolled out for instance – hint hint) and when that time comes, I’ll announce it. The iPhone version will be a different matter, as Apple are (understandably) tight about running code on other people’s devices. As such, when the iPhone version is ready to be beta tested, the only people who will be able to participate are those who have an iPhone development license themselves. Again, I’ll release more information about this at a later date.
  • How different will your remake be from the original? This is something I’m very conscious about – basically, Julian knew what he was doing when he created the original. It’s a formula that works through and through (obviously, as people are still playing it!) and I don’t want to tamper with it in any way. However I also see a lot of scope for expansion of the concept (though I might add not to the level of even Lords of Chaos, which I felt over-complicated the game somewhat) with the likes of new spells, new units and so on. It’s important that any changes I make are optional and modular – in fact ‘modular’ has become my mantra for the whole project. I’m by no means the authority on Chaos and its mechanics, and so I’ll leave such things open to tweaking.
  • Why isometric? It’s just so cool! Don’t worry though, there’ll be a traditional style renderer out of the box too!
  • Can I contribute? At this very precise moment, I’m afraid the answer’s no. My plan is to get the game into a playable and respectable state, and then make it open source. Besides I’d not wish to unleash my ghastly uncommented, undocumented alpha-quality code upon anyone else right now. I’ll make one exception however; if any talented pixel artists wish to update the original unit graphics (and maybe other graphics) then I’d be very interested in hearing from them. As nice and retro as the original sprites are (even the fettled ones I used for the old Flash version by Richard Phipps) I have a funny feeling that it’s only nostalgia that’s making them acceptable to current eyes…
  • What’s taking so long? Several things; my desire to get it absolutely right, my commitments to my real life job, my recent weekends spent in the company of my mates and my camera, my evenings spent watching Richard Dawkins on YouTube and working out a way I can apply all that evolution by natural selection stuff to the AI (I jest not!) and the occasional bout of Killing Floor or Left 4 Dead. Be assured this project is not about to disappear, I (hopefully) won’t suddenly be dragged away by ‘real life issues’ and my hard disks and backups won’t miraculously explode.

And now back to the music…

  • Gaz

    Sounds good…