Changing tack

My blogging skills haven’t improved, but the latest update rolling out requires a few words to accompany it, so here we are.

Firstly, v0.625 (as the version will be known) changes some of the underlying mechanics surrounding the handling of relations – both for the relations between characters, between characters and their “collections” (ships, armies, even buildings) and between characters and factions. The purpose of the change is to fix – for the long term – some of the issues that have been occuring wrt especially characters and factions, but as with all “deep” engine fixes, be prepared for the possibility of savegame incompatibility issues. I’ll try to fix them, as usual, but if you have any saves that you are particularly wary about losing, make sure to use the “New Save File” option the first time you load it up.

The new version should be rolling out on the open testing channel as you read this. Assuming no major issues are detected, then it will go out to the rest shortly after.

Apart from bug fixes, this will probably also be the last major update on the old Android framework. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few months considering the UI of the game. Android is currently going through another “generational” change in its UI frameworks, which means that I’ll eventually have to migrate (I’ve already encountered issues while working on the UI for the land battles). Rather than continue with the old framework for a couple more years and then being forced to rewrite it, I’ve decided to do the rewrite now – and move to LibGdx, as I’ve commented on earlier.

There are both pros and cons with that. The big con of this is that it’s a major rewrite of the UI – it’s going to take time to get something working with all of the functionality that is currently in the game. Getting accessibility support – something I know some fans use – is also a lot harder with this framework. The upside is that the game becomes a lot less dependent on the Android framework which should make maintenance easier. And it also makes the possibility of an IOS or even a PC version of the game possible.

Note that is possible – not necessarily realistic. I’d need a Mac to even consider building an IOS version, and to develop high resolution graphics for a PC version (the current graphics wouldn’t cut it on a 30″ monitor), but these are more problems of economics than work, so it would be within the realms of possibility.

The good news: I’ve already done a fair bit of work on the UI, so I don’t think a new version is extremely far off. The problem is testing the app and figuring out what remains broken. I’m actually considering creating a special “test” version of the game as a separate app, so that people can try the new UI without messing with the existing app. Stay tuned.