Performance Improvements, Bug Fixes, Play-by-Mail
Friday, 4th March 2022
During February there has been progress in a variety of areas in Barren Planet. The New Game screen was taking a long time to appear, unacceptably long on slower machines. Every campaign and every game was being loaded in full to gather information about the campaigns and saved games available. This was unnecessary, and the New Game screen just checks the summary details of campaigns and games to make up its display.
Some bugs were introduced and others uncovered in the process of speeding up this screen, so those bugs have been squashed. I took some time out to build a simple logging library to help me identify bugs in the code in future, especially those that cause crashes to occur.
A new game screen has been added: the End Game screen. This comes after the two players' final debriefing and is mainly intended as a player-neutral display to show to users who load a finished game.
I finally started on the Play-by-Mail functionality, which included quite a bit of planning work. I want the process of starting and playing a play-by-mail game to be as straightforward as possible for the players, and reduce as much as possible the margin for error.
The manual is coming along well. Most of the text and the screenshots are ready. Some things have been documented that have not yet been implemented, so any changes to (for example) the process of setting up a play-by-mail game will need changes to the manual. The manual also needs a cover, which will share imagery from the still incomplete title screen.
The first mission had its first playtest between two human opponents. Well, the first in which the opponents were not both me. It was fun to play but is currently a bit unbalanced. I don't want to give each side exactly the same units, but making the division of units fair is important in order to make this a good two-player game.
In the coming month I hope to finish the play-by-mail system and move on to the computer player. There is still no sound, and the title screen needs to be completed, but these can be done at any time and may not be complete by the end of this month. Follow me on Twitter for more regular updates of progress on the game.