Sunday, February 26, 2006

Damn lack of updates. Where was I?

Yes. Competitions, quite the annoyance. Structurally I don't see much of a problem, I can create a lot of different competitions and have the teams progress through them as they should. The main problem left before that moment where I can sleep happily is the system for having teams enter the competitions.

I've worked out that a competition will use any number of five different methods. Four of them are straightforward and present no problems, and allow for clubs to enter competitions based on various criteria, membership of a body or league, and even explicitly stated. These get defined in the competition's read-only structure data. The problematic one is Qualification.

Qualification presents two problems. The first is that it's not always straightforward and the World Cup is a perfect example of this. Because the hosts could come from anywhere in the world, the six qualification tournaments qualify differing numbers, otherwise you may be left with something like the North American tournament providing four qualifiers - and having a fifth playoff for another spot. That's a poor representation. Then of course if there are two hosts of the competition, things change further. Effectively, qualification must be dynamic and this presents a further problem.

If qualification is dynamic, then so must competitions. Europe can provide 14 entrants to the World Cup. If they play in 8 groups (as they have just done in 2006 qualifying) then those 14 would be provided by qualifying the group winners, the best four runner up sides, and letting the remaining four playoff to produce the final two. That works. If the hosts are European (as Germany are) then you've got 13 spots, so the competition must change - 8 group winners, two runner up sides and have the other six play off for the remaining three.

Ideally, I'll have the game do this automatically, thus saving memory. The other solution is to store different formats for different numbers of qualifiers, which can use up memory.

Further problems appear when dealing with things such as continental qualification and whatnot, so that's the big headache at the moment. I have faith though.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

But then you go and find the root of the bugs, and you fix them, and you feel fecking ace.


Of course, as I post an ugly gremlin is probably messing with my work, but I can take that risk.
Not much in the way of updates, mainly due to the behind-the-scenes nature of the work I'm doing. There's really not much to say when you spend half your Tuesday night working on squishing an annoying database bug, and then spend Wednesday doing likewise with a different bug that's surfaced just to annoy me.

But something will crop up. Hopefully before Friday when the distraction comes in the form of Shadow of the Colossus. Can't wait for that game.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuesday night was a bit of a waste. As I said, there's a Quick Edit system for entering people quickly. However, underneath that there needs to be a good generation algorithm so that the created people are believable. This is crucial not only for the editor, but for the game as a whole - the same algorithm should be used for generating new youngsters over time.

So I had to ditch what I had, as it was neither good enough nor re-usable. Still, I learn from the experience and I can crack on with the competitions, which take priority now.

Aside from that, I'm having a bit of a bad time. A lot of things are getting me down in my general life, mainly work related. It's quite frightening, really. The game must continue!

Monday, February 06, 2006

I've been adding important features to the editor, in the form of Quick Edit modes for clubs and people.

The game can provide for 12,500 clubs. Now, I'll be damned if I'll get accurate research on all of those but I'll get what I can. The Quick Club editing mode allows me to simply input the basic information and it extrapolates the rest. So saying a club with a World Class reputation is rich ought to give them about £100m to play with, while a rich Conference level club might have £10m, maybe less. Entering the Short Name of the club as Man Utd will then go and make the B team "Man Utd Reserves" and the C team "Man Utd Youth". The "Reserve" and "Youth" suffixes are nation-dependent, so Russian sides get the suffix "-2", as in "Spartak-2 Moscow".
Well, more of a middix, if such a word exists.

It's all designed to make inputting the basic data as painless as possible. I'm halfway through the same process for people, which is just perfect if you know the name and age of some obscure team's goalkeeper but nothing more than that.

It works quite well and the results are just standard records that can be edited in the normal way, for fine tuning things.

To be honest though, I can't wait til I've got these bits done and can crack on with competitions themselves. Competitions are entirely data driven which is both brilliant and terrible. It's brilliant because adding a competition is easy. It's terrible because it's an awful lot of work to get the data driven nature working properly and accomodating all the crazy styles. I may have gone over this before, though.

Still, it'll be fun to work with and when it's done, the editor is practically finished. Which means I can move on to the game interface, whilst adding in data as I go along.