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Stars and Lasers: DevLog #1

November 28, 2020

Well I’ve probably wrote this a million times: I have interest cycles when it comes to hobby programming. The cycles alternate between FinDev and GameDev. In this GameDev cycle I’ve decided to take a more pragmatic approach to a new project (one that I know will be abandoned like the million others). It all started with a news letter that I get from WarGamingVault. This is a website that sells rule books for table top games. I was looking through the best sellers of the month and I saw a rule book that was advertised as “simple to play star ship battles”. I knew that figuring our the game mechanics is a ton of work running hundreds maybe thousands of test play to tune those numbers and rules to get a balanced game, so I though why not just stand on the shoulders of some one that has already put in that work? There was only one comment on the book from a guy who bought a lot of books from that site and wrote reviews for them. The author also had a blog where he published action reports and he seemed pretty active so I went ahead and purchased it for $14.

The book is about 50 pages and can be condensed to maybe 30 with the actual mechanics of the game play. They do seem simple enough for a table top game but putting those rules in a program and adding the polish to it is going to be a lot of work. I went through the rules and took notes on the sequence of the play as a starting point. I had some open questions and sent an email to the author who answered them the next day. With a basic understanding of the game I started working on an iOS version. I started out with UIKit but soon realized that it’s a lot of unnecessary work when you don’t use a game engine for a game so I switched to Godot. I didn’t really like the dynamic python like scripting language from my previous experiences building join5 and ITTB but decided the stick with GDScript even though Godot officially supports C# now because of the deeper integration with the editor and the simplicity of the game. I’m thinking that I’ll continue with GDScript for at least the 2D prototype.

Ok, enough preamble now to what I’ve been doing. I started out with a quick refresher of Godot and went through their official documentation. Then I created the new project and added the scene. Next I added some simple GUI elements for each of the steps in the turn sequence and the code that transitions between these states. For now it’s pretty manual and hardcoded but it should be enough. The worst part about building games is that I have to work in GIMP to make sprites and things which I’m really not good at, but I still managed import a space ship sprite from opengamearts.org and made a target selector sprite by myself. I added the code that make the ship move and turn based on the mechanics in the rule book. The calculations are pretty simple in 2D but porting to 3D will probably have me scratching my head for days with the vector math.

Here are 2 screenshots of what I currently have:

I haven’t been able to play the table top version of the game because I don’t have the props but from the rules and the action reports I’ve read on the authors site at https://littlewargamingworlds.com the game is action packed and fast for a tactical board game.

If you want to purchase the rule book it’s here: https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/11423/Mac

Tags: #SAL #gamedev #devlog