Monthly Archives: December 2013

A tale of two coders

Had an interesting chat with my co-gamer, Jesse, last night.

He was showing me some new prototype work he’s developing, where SQL servers can be used to adminsiter a multiplayer game. That means, when we get started on our next effort, ATF (After The Fall), you will be able to play against other people realtime. Which is really, really cool.

And while he was showing me this, I suddenly realized that Solar Trader was missing something. I’d written some really cool code to allow ships to black out, and that pursueing ships might track a false lead. That was all in an working, and somehow I’d managed to lose it in a versioning fumble. I simply couldn’t believe it.

So there you have it. While Jesse is touching the face of Code Gods, I’m moving backwards in ST.

Solar Trader – on the pad and ready for launch!

Merry Christmas everyone! And I know of no better gift than free game software, namely the largest and most complex game Jesse and I have undertaken, Solar Trader.

This one is a tough one – you’ll have to learn how to pilot a ship across our moving solar system, crossing the belt and keeping your ship functioning. Also, you’ll need to learn all the cities on all the planets, locating those traders you need to ship for, and who will make you the FreeTrader king should you survive to move every cargo. It’s hard to do, and you’ll find a lot of ways to die (or worse, end up with an impounded ship, trapped on some planet).

And don’t think you’ll learn a “path” to play through – the cities and cargoes change each game. Even the minor dynamics of the ship (power use, maintenance effects, morale, everything) change slightly.

So, the game is up. It’s all for your enjoyment. But please note that we are in a first release Alpha state. It might do strange things, even crash – we’re still pulling bugs out. Just let us know what you see and we’ll try to fix them. The best place for this is the “Time Tripper” Facebook group. That link and the game are available for download at the link below.

And let me know if you win (or if you die in a funny manner) – I’d love to hear it (post it on FB for everyone’s enjoyment). Meanwhile, Jesse and I are adding all those other ships you’ll see in this very dynamic universe!

>>>Solar Trader Page<<<

Xtra I’s

I should have known from the gloating edge to his voice that he’d found a bug. On our last Tuesday call, Jesse had me bring up the game and go to the city stuff.

See, the way it works – there are huge encounter databases in Solar Trader. All sorts of weird shit can go down. And part of this is how much time it costs you. Stopping to consider a market stall does not take the same amount of time as arranging to have a pod of Earth slaves loaded. In our data, there is a minimum and maximum time. The time it takes is randomized between these values. But because of a typo, I was never setting the top end. So, instead of something taking 30 to 60 minutes, it would take between 30 and 0, which would come out in the formula as 30. Everything was done very, very efficiently.

Of course, once the gloating was done, I sat down that night and fixed it. I didn’t think to consider what this meant, but suddenly the average time taken for a task jumped (in the case above, by an average 15 minutes). Now my ship-chores (find a cargo, get the old one removed, the new one on, and then ungrade and fuel the ship) were taking nearly all day (these were big tasks, and had huge variations that had never been used before). I couldn’t get everything done.

So this morning, I bumped the values to average around the prior minimum time. This should make the game play roughly as it had before. I guess, at least. I’ll be grabbing up my jacket and taking my ship out for a run, and see how long it takes.

Hopefully we’ll have the alpha version on the pad for Christmas.

Ways to end in Solar Trader

Now that you know Beta 1 is coming out, here is a preview for the many ways the game can end in Solar Trader. I’m including a screenshot with the results of my games over yesterday and today. Yes, I played 9 games, but as you see – it didn’t take long, I didn’t make it very far in any of them.

The city game can be tricky. Some times bad events happen (mugged, ran away, didn’t get back in time to get my ship out of dock and got impounded).

Some times poor choices are made (robbing the free trader of his fuel chit seemed like a good idea at the time, but when the cop team showed up, I was sent straight to jail).

Some times to avoid one bad end (got off earth with a cargo without getting impounded for delays), you take a risky chance. My cargo was a FedUp mission from Earth to Uranus. Range of my ship 175 – range to Uranus 175. I almost made it – I did my orbital insertion to Uranus with enough fuel to land, enough power to last 4 more days, but no air. For 3 days I was in orbit trying to line up on the sub-orbital platform with the air gauge on zero. I needed 2 more turns and I would have made it. Alas, the end was Aphix (Asphyxiation)

There were also lots of suicides – generally after asteroid strikes that damage the ship and morale at the same time, though one was due to a solar flare that hit me just as I was doing my deceleration burns – had to burn or I’d miss the planet, but 3 days in the radiation were just too much…

And if you think this is hard, just remember, right now space is empty. After Beta 1 is released and as you are play-testing, development will continue on adding non-player spaceships to the solar system. Some will be friendly (space tugs to tow you back to port), but most will be unfriendly (MaoCorp freighters taking pot shots at you if you get too close), and some will be downright hostile (pirates and assassins).

Click on the picture to see it clearly:


Solar Trader – Beta 1 is in testing now

The long awaited (at least by me) release of Solar Trader is still not here. However, to give you a chance to get started with the game, Robert and I decided to release a version for beta testing.

I just finished testing the tutorials (very helpful) and they looked quite good. Robert is adding one new feature – in-game badges, so you can visually see your progress. Then one more quick round of testing and we’ll release to the world.

This Beta has some of the non-player ship code in place, but we aren’t close to ready to release that yet. There is still more development and much more testing needed first. Don’t worry, the game is challenging enough without enemy ships chasing you through space.

If things go to plan, expect the beta to be posted here by the end of the year.

Pits of Eh?

Now this pissed me off.

We had our POS2 release, which went well enough. Well, well enough until lifetime friend Matt tried to load it into Win8 (with neither Jesse or I are cursed with) and it threw an error. Turns out that Win8 is not backwards compatible, no not really. And boy, was that a pisser.

Found a solution online. Tried it on my machine – ran okay. Posted it to Matt and he tried it. Worked okay. Pulled out my old XP system and it actually ran there too. So we seem to have a fix now.

If the game is running on your system and you are happy, leave it. But the new version has been placed on the POS2 page (and, what the hell, here as well). Enjoy!

(And thanks, Matt, for identifying that problem. I’ll have to go back and retrofit some of the older games).

2.10 Download here: PitsOfSeth2

Pits of Seth 2 Played

Robert’s post announcing Pits of Seth 2 doesn’t do it justice.  He came up with a number of very clever additions that make it much nicer than the original.  Here are some of what I like the best:

  1. Sound – It adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game.
  2. New room types – POS had rooms and corridors (stairs and traps too), but they all looked alike.  Now there are special room areas (shown by wide corridors) that have a unique feel.  Explore all the levels to find them all…
  3. No instant death – A quick tweak to prevent that unlucky roll that takes you from perfectly healthy to perfectly dead in one blow.
  4. New game modes (runs) – The original approach was renamed campaign game and quick one run through the dungeon modes were added.  Multiple modes each with their own special characters (elf, dwarf, wizard) are available in this mode.
  5. New start screen – Yes it’s just a pretty picture, but what a pretty picture.  And cool opening music too.
  6. Reduced distraction view – POS2 automatically hides the Excel tool bars and ribbons, letting you focus on the game and almost forget that it is really being done in Excel.

Give it a try here

Pits of Seth 2 – Released!

I really shouldn’t do this – I should play this more. But I’m not sure how much time I’ll have in the coming days and it seems pretty stable so I’m going to release POS2 to the world. So here you have it – the original POS with sound, more interesting dungeons, crazy situations, and fast plays (runs). So go at it and let me know what you think.

You’ll find the download on the Pits of Seth page. Just go to the overhead menu and seek it out.

There are instructions for loading a new font into the game. You should be able to do that easy enough.

Contact me with any bugs – I’ll fix them and re-release if needed.

And enjoy! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka from GridSims!