December 23, 2009 - Belated excuses

It’s been a very busy year for me, mainly due to my commitments at work (let me assure you this won’t be a long winded entry which eventually leads to ‘so thanks for your support but I quit’!) and as such the big project that I’m sure 99% of visitors to this site are waiting for is still under slow methodical planning and development.

It’s dawned on me that I’ve been very secretive even about the name of the project, so I think at the very least I owe you guys that – so here it is!


I think this is slightly more pleasing than ‘Chaos Enhanced Enhanced’!

I’d also like to talk about the plans regarding its launch and features, because I’m taking quite a different approach to the norm. Early on in the planning I wanted to make sure Archaos could be playable by as many people on as many different formats as possible. The general idea I had was that I’d write the game in haXe and then generate the various sets of code for servers and clients from that one source, and ‘et voila’ I’d have a cross-platform game. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time at work playing with various web-based JSON APIs, and I’ve watched some fantastic projects appear (such as node.js, Persevere and CouchDB) and realised that, in fact, Archaos’s core could live on the web as a data-based API.

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it – you have a scalable server with a scalable database, written in Javascript (a language which I simply adore), using JSON as its end-to-end data format, accessible by anything with a web connection. Being turn-based, it doesn’t need to rely on any complicated comet solutions, and (and here’s the really exciting part) you can make your own client in whatever language, format or platform you like!

I’m really big on open source and open web, and so it’s really exciting for me to think that, although I will still be creating clients in Flash and (with Flash CS4’s leave) for iPhone, there’ll also be a well documented API out there that can be used by anyone. You can easily have pure HTML/Javascript clients, text-based clients to run in terminal windows and so on – and no matter which client you use, you’ll be able to play Archaos with anyone else.

As I said before, I’ll also be making the server and client source available (though the server source will likely need a closed development phase after launch so I can work out bugs, security issues and exploits before I make it available to all) so anyone with a Linux box can host their own server – though I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to do this at the moment, as a server will handle many hundreds, or possibly thousands of concurrent games with ease, and take care of matchmaking, login and so on. In fact this area of development will probably result in the separation of the login/matchmaking master server from the core gameplay servers.

So, to summarise:

  • My current work focus has shifted away from a unified client/server architecture, and my time is now being devoted to creating a robust HTTP-based server for Archaos.
  • In tandem to the server work I’ll have to develop a client for testing purposes, and so the first client may be a simple HTML/JS or Flash visual interface.
  • Once these are at a satisfactory level, I will announce a beta period to work out bugs, and then shortly after that I will release full API documentation for the Archaos server (which will have its own snappy name, already got a few ideas) and allow interested parties to get the ball rolling on their own clients.
  • Finally, I’ll finish and release my own client for Flash, and hopefully soon after for iPhone.

As you can probably tell, I’m fantastically excited by this whole project; indeed I can’t see why this hasn’t been done before – though no doubt it has, and I’ve just not looked hard enough… I’d love to hear your opinions on all of this – and I’d also love to find out if other people have attempted something similar!

Edit: Looks like someone has thought of this – in fact pretty much verbatim!

August 5, 2009 - Slipspace

Something I’ve been working on alongside the other 1,407 things in the pipeline…check back often for updates! Cursor keys or WASD to move, space to fire, and page up/page down to change your ship’s speed. I’ll let you work out the rest for yourself 🙂

Oh, and click somewhere inside the game to enable control!

Play at half size or full size.

May 16, 2009 - ArrayQuery

As I continue writing convienience classes for my Chaos project, I’ve put together something which (with a bit more testing) would be very handy for general AS3 development. It’s a simple to use class for querying an array of objects and returning the results as a new array. You can use it to recursively filter the objects by their properties until you have the ones left that you want – and yes I know about Array.filter but it’s much more usable and cleaner than that!. I’m using this to allow easy access to the units on the board (and I’ll more than likely be using it for the spells and other data structures in Chaos) – but as it’s a very universal piece of code, I think it deserves a place on its own. Keep your eyes peeled in the coming days!

May 12, 2009 - Chaos Enhanced

I’m now officially on the war path with my Chaos remake; I’m chasing Julian Gollop, and I’m spending a lot of time planning the details of the server. It’s proving to be easily the largest and most complex project I’ve ever tackled by a huge margin, and so I want to get things right from the beginning, rather than turn the codebase into hacks supporting hacks.

As a result of the work I’ve been doing lately, I think it’s now safe to ‘release’ the unfinished, somewhat buggy original Flash version that I did a while back. It’s no indication on the way the new rewrite is going to look (the interface is as temporary as it gets, for instance) but it shows some of the ideas I’ve had – not least being the move to an isometric viewpoint.

Two turns in and it's already going nuts - ah I love Chaos!

Two turns in and it's already going nuts - ah I love Chaos!

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the link. There’s no real configuration, no multiplayer, and gooey blobs, magic fire and mounts can act decidedly strangely at times, and these bugs were the reason I abandoned this codebase – the main class alone had turned into a thousand lines of semi-procedural hacks!