FE coding from the trenches

Published on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 By Brad Wardell In FE Beta

Based on a lot of the posts I read, I think some people have an overestimation of my involvement in FE. 

On the one hand, I am definitely spending a lot more time on Fallen Enchantress than I ever got to with WOM. But on the other, I'm not that involved on the design part. I give lots of suggestions and ideas but it's Derek's call.

The biggest design problem with WOM is that it started out, in my mind, as MOM2 and then morphed into trying to be all things to all people and ended up not being very good at anything. As you read the suggestions in this forum, you can see how quickly the game would be destroyed if we tried to implement even a fraction of the suggestions.  And yet, if I were the lead designer, I would probably have tried to have a bunch of the ideas implemented because I'm not a game designer, I'm a game player and I love most of the suggestions I read.  But being a game designer means making choices and explicitly deciding not being all things to all people.

My focus on FE is on the code. I don't override Derek on design and he doesn't override me on development requirements.

So here's a quick update on the coding parts:

1. We've made great strides on improving the memory foot print.  This won't mean anything for 80% of you but for people running Windows XP, it's a big deal.

2. The strategic AI is significantly better in our internal build now.  It will surrender now if its situation is hopeless.  

3. The tactical AI is starting to get some love. I'm awaiting an API that will let the AI look at upcoming spells (like fireballs) that are in the queue so it can counter spell it.

4. There's been a lot of gameplay changes that I won't go into but I think people will be pleased with.

5. The stability should be substantially better. Keep crash reports coming in.  It's amazing how different systems will expose different flaws in the code.

6. Performance, especially late game, is massssiiiiivvveeelly better. Night and day.  One badly written function that gets called a lot can do real harm.

7. The next beta, Beta 1B (so still beta 1 series) is expected to be out a week from tomorrow. But we may delay it if necessary depending on how the team is feeling about stability, visuals, and balance.

8. The FE specific art is now being integrated (the terrain was still from WOM in Beta 1, beta 1B will have a somewhat different look).

9. I am hoping that beta 1B will reach release level quality in terms of stability, performance, and memory usage. It'll be a big deal (and something that absolutely should be reported) if it crashes on anyone.

10. Game within a game is still a pain in the rear. 

11. Sound system got a lot of coding love this week.

12. While multiplayer won't be in FE 1.0, we've been making the internals much more effective for handling it in a possible future update (i.e. more event driven stuff).  MP support is high on our list of things we want after release.

13. Garbage collection has been moved into its own thread so that it doesn't interfere with the smoothness of the game.

14. Modding will likely be officially sanctions starting with beta 2.

15. Lots of music and sound stuff going in.