The Caves and Civilizations of Draconika

So, I have been spending a bit of my time lately working on a web-based game, The Caves and Civilizations of Draconika. You can see that it is still in its very early stages of development, but here is a screen shot:

It is a wargame, much like Risk or Diplomacy. Each player will start out with a single territory, and will try to become a great civilization through conquest, diplomacy, and trade.

I am using MySQL for the database, PHP for the server-side coding, and Flash for parts of the user interface, including the main map. Although my forte is ASP.NET development, I’m using the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack for this project because:

  1. I’ll be hosting this on a Linux server.
  2. I do Windows/IIS/ASP.NET/SQL Server every day at work, so this is a good way to help develop some of my other abilities.
  3. I’d like to do some fairly involved integration with VBulletin, which is written in PHP.

Now, I’m using Flash for the map and some other parts of the UI, because it can do some pretty cool effects, and it’s faster/smoother than dynamic image generation. Every other web-based wargame I’ve found on the internet looks darn ugly, and I thought it would be cool if I could make one that looks totally awesome.

One neat thing I’m doing with the project is using AJAX and web services to get information from the server dynamically, so you don’t have to refresh the page all the time.

So, keep reading for more news about this project over the next several months. Thanks for reading!

Chess

I have been playing a lot of chess lately. I find that, as a parent, I have much less time to play really long games, like Civilization IV or World of Warcraft. Chess is nice because it’s easy to fit in 15 minutes here or there for a quick game.

So, one of the two chess games I’ve been playing are Chess Titans, which is one of the free games like Minesweeper included in Windows Vista, Microsoft’s upcoming version of its flagship operating system. It has statistics, good AI, and excellent graphics. It is simple but solid and elegant.

The other program I have been playing chess on is called Majestic Chess. Published by Vivendi Universal, Majestic Chess includes a fantasy storyline in which you play as a king, and go from place to place solving quests and gathering chess pieces. The graphics are good and the story is wonderful. (I hadn’t thought it possible to develop a good storyline about chess, but they did it.) The AI doesn’t seem quite as good and it hangs for long periods of time, though. Nevertheless, it’s pretty entertaining.

Windows Vista Chess Titans:

Hoyle Majestic Chess:

Game Time

At work, we will soon be starting on a very interesting project which is dear to my heart. As a way to evaluate different development tools (C++, Java, Flash, and Authorware), each of us will be programming the same game in a different language. I think that I will be assigned to do it in C++, since that is my area of expertese. I have also been able to do some graphic design work for the game, which is also a lot of fun.

Some of the game requirements are that it runs on both Windows and Macintosh platforms, that it can display 2D graphics, and that it can play sound. I plan on developing my version in Visual C++ 6.0, using DirectX, since that is what I am best at. If I finish early enough (we can each spend no more than 20 hours on the project), I would like to try to also develop an SDL version to run on the Mac. I’m a little scared about that part, since I don’t know the first thing about Mac programming. But, I think I could at least do something basic.