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Games for Early PCs

Barren Planet Hot-seat Functionality is Complete!

Building a unit in Barren Planet
Building a unit in Barren Planet

Saturday, 5th February 2022

There's been a lot of progress on Barren Planet in recent weeks, so I thought I'd give you a February update. Although there are probably lots of bugs and oversights left to fix, the functionality for a 2-player hot-seat game is now complete.

The turn report I mentioned in the last update was completed. Now, at the start of your turn, you will be offered a chance to see a replay of your opponent's turn, including all unit movements, attacks, repairs and building. The playback happens at a steady speed, but if you miss anything there's the option to replay it again.

You'll have noticed my mention of building and repair. The Mining Base is capable of building and repairing other units. The scenarios that follow on from the first one allow one player to repair, but not build, a their small force so that it can stand a chance against a larger force of attackers. Later scenarios will introduce the ability to build new units on the battlefield.

There have been some quality of life improvements to the user interface. The menu area at the bottom left is used for the screen title when the menu is not being called up. Some of the screens look similar to one another, so this will help to remind you what phase of your turn you are in: briefing, turn report, player turn, or debriefing.

I also realised I'd made no space to show the amount of resources you have available, which is crucial information for building and repair. Initially I put this information in the scrolling report window on the right-hand side, with messages like "unit repaired, XX resources remaining." But after doing so I decided I really needed a permanent area for it, so I shoehorned in a resources field on the decorative bar between the map and report windows. At the time of writing the messages still appear in the resource window.

The game detects when a scenario has been won, and proceeds to the Mission Debriefing screen. Each player has their own debriefing, an upbeat one for the winner of the battle, a downbeat one for the loser. Once the debriefing is acknowledged by both players, the game proceeds to the next scenario, choice of which depends on the outcome of the current battle.

The next part of the project I'll turn to is the PBM (play-by-mail) functionality. This will allow you to play against a remote player, saving game turn files that you can send to your opponent after your turn is done. The logic behind this isn't as simple as it sounds, but it's a whole lot simpler than the computer AI which is why I'm tackling that next. It'll make it easier to test the game with friends while I continue development.

There are many more presentational things that need work. The title screen is incomplete, which is why you haven't seen one yet. There is no sound, which I plan to remedy with some simple PC speaker effects and a bit of PC speaker music on the title screen. And of course there's the manual to finish.

If you want to see more regular updates of the game's development, I've been posting updates to Twitter several times a week, including short video clips showing the game in action.

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