Sloops of War

31 07 2007

Sloops of War is an open source game project me and my friend Mat Booth are working on.

Basically, the premise is a turn based naval combat game with a focus on strategy; not on tank rushes, base building or improbable comebacks. We want to recreate the tactical feel of Advance Wars where you know the outcome of encounters, but remove the troop building aspects that (for me) bogged the game down.

We’re developing for 32-bit Windows and Linux, and thus far have a very nice blue OpenGL screen. We’re still in the documentation phase, and should have a final proposal document finished soon. This will allow us to begin a functional specification; the meat of a design document. If you have any ideas to contribute, or want to sign up to the development mailing lists, hit the Sloops of War Trac page for more info.

We’ll be starting up a Dev blog on the page shortly, so if you’re remotely interested in Open Source games, keep your eyes peeled.

Shoehorning: or why nobody uses Maya for spreadsheets

10 01 2007

I like my job. I get to do plenty of different things and learn a lot while I do. Sometimes my work is unused and lies dormant, sometimes it’s mission critical. Sometimes I feel like I’m being counter-productive.

I’m currently working on adapting an application to perform a task it was not intended to do. I can’t modify the program, as it’s closed source. While it may be possible to change it’s function, it isn’t easy and more than likely won’t yield very good results. In a perfect world I’d grab the source code and mod it myself, but I haven’t got the option this time.

Lets take for example an application designed to send an email, so your user interface has a button marked ‘Send Email’. An untrained user can rev up your app and know instantly what that button does. Now lets assume that you need this app to instead send a net message, you plug in a new DLL and it now does net sends. That’s great, but that big button still says ‘Send Email’. You see the problem?

I don’t have an issue with getting more value out of a product, but to use it out of context is just confusing for users. It’s much better to use a less specialised application with a customizable interface, than one with the required functionality but the incorrect UI.