Dev Update 3

To begin with, here is the updated progress sheet:

The alert reader will have noticed that there has been a new row added: “InGame – Tech Cards”. Due to tech cards and track actions sharing a lot of code, they were not previously considered their own “progress set”. As we have now reached the point of implementing “upgrade requirements” for tech cards, this and other properties of the tech cards have made it more sensible to now split them into their own progress set.

There has been headway in:

  • InGame – Track Actions: most things are now implemented, however, as you know, there are a lot of edge cases due to the nature of the game.
  • InGame – Tech Cards: similar to track actions, the actions themselves are mostly done, we are now at the stage of requirements and edge case checks.
  • InGame – GameLog / Undo: a good chunk of progress has been made in the game log.
  • InGame – Other (Uncategorised): this was predominantly generalising the dialog system within the UI.
  • General – Unit Testing: not much can be said here without going into excessive technical detail.

One thing the above sheet does not properly reflect is the time that goes into refactoring the prototype. While in our company we generally try to focus on writing maintainable code by continuously doing code reviews (even if this means pushing back deadlines), this is different for a “one shot” prototype. If, as in this case, we create a prototype for a project where one of the outcomes is that we don’t get the acceptance, we still strive to write good code, but the principal focus of the prototype won’t be maintainability. So, in the case of Tapestry there still is a considerable chunk of the time that goes into refactoring the current code base. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “refactoring”, this is the process of restructuring code to increase maintainability, without changing its functionality. Imagine a car that works as it should (i.e. it takes you from A to B fine). However, if you take a look under the hood you see a big mess (e.g., a tangle of cables and tubes, parts broken, and you can’t even see where the oil filler cap is). The process of refactoring would be to sort the mess out, and in turn make it easier to fix in the future if another issue came up. After refactoring, the car would drive exactly the same as it did before, but you would save time fixing any new problems. While in this analogy time is only saved IF there is an issue, in software development, time is also saved if you want to extend or change functionality, as everything now has a clearer interface.

In case you missed it on one of the social channels, I shared a short snippet demonstrating our context system. See the video below:

One of the key challenges in adapting a big (“table space”-wise) game like Tapestry onto a small screen, is to figure out “what to show” at any given time. While in the real world you always have “visual access” to any element of the game as it is just… “there”, we have limited visual space in a digital adaptation. One of our approaches to this, was to have two modes for the action tracks; a minified version which only shows the previous and next three actions (as you rarely plan ahead further than this), and a full version which… shows everything 😉

More than that, whenever you hover over something with the mouse it will show you context sensitive information, e.g., for a conquer action it reveals which tiles you could conquer; and for an explore action it highlights which tiles can be explored, as well as showing the tiles you have available for exploring (though the latter was not yet in the video).

Additionally, we have context-sensitive help. You can right click on anything to get information about it. Let’s say you right click a slot on the track – like in the video. The game will show you a popup explaining every action of that slot, as well as show rules clarifications. The latter part was also not visible in the video, but we intend to include many rules clarifications for specific cards, by incorporating any explanations made by Jamey or Stonemaier Games, e.g., any rules thread on BGG or on Facebook.

And finally, as you may have seen on Facebook or Twitter, we have created a survey on digital adaptations of tabletop games. The results of this survey will have a direct influence on features within the digital version we are developing, so if you can spare the time, please go ahead and help us out!

I will share some results in a later developer update, after analysing the survey. While this will provide us with an overview of which features of the digital edition are important to you, one of the main reasons behind the survey is to gather more information on accessibility issues. We want to make the game as broadly accessible as we can! In order to do this, we need to know what issues exist – even beyond the common ones like color blindness, or texts illegible due to being too small – and would like contact information in order to gain feedback on how we try to resolve these issues. So, if you have ever encountered an issue that has made it more difficult for you to use and enjoy a game or an app, please do mention it in your survey responses. Or, if you already completed the survey, feel free to send me a message on Facebook or on Discord!

That is all for the moment, wishing you all Happy Holidays!

Comments as always on Facebook or Discord!