Killer Bee Software
General Development Status - 2007
December 22nd, 2007
- Still Can't Say Who, But...
Next Update by:
January 26th, 2008
Well, I still can't tell you exactly what's going
on, but I will give you some really good and clear hints, which will also
explain why I shouldn't tell you who, I think.
In December, 2003, I posted the information that I had acquired Empire Deluxe.
Before that, I think everyone can agree it was dying. The past four years have
been quite busy and interesting, and I have never regretted doing this. My goal
is and always has been to keep Empire Deluxe alive, and to give it a path for
As most should know, I am a small operation. An army of about one, so to speak,
with artistic help from Wydraz and such (don't want to take anything away from
how much help and support he has given me in all of these games...he has been
fantastic!). This has had many advantages. One of which has been I get to know
the customers, and I can quickly react to issues that people find if they are in
a bind. I have really enjoyed that part.
I also have added all sorts of whacky stuff to the game, some of which has been
used a great deal (like AI scripting and Unit DB modification) and some that has
not (like new DLL interfaces). I am a very pleased with what I have done with
the resources and time that I have had to do it with. These things could be done
because I was the boss, and only I was working on it. In building EDIE and EDEE,
I tried my best to really review what people were posting about as far as
requests go. I think this has proven a big success.
But there is a greater potential for the Empire Series that has not been met yet
due to the limitations my singleton outfit has. In order to do something
greater, something different needs to be done. I think I have finally found it.
I do not want to steal their thunder, which is why I cannot tell you who and
What I will say that (hopefully) by next Christmas, there will be a new version
of Empire Deluxe produced for the PC and for a popular handheld console
platform. This version will be developed and produced independent of me, though
I will participate at some level, most likely not making development decisions.
This version will be available online and in stores where you would expect to
find it. How close the unit set, rules, play, etc. will be to the current
versions I cannot tell you. It will come from a different perspective. This
could be a good one or it could be bad. It will be up to them. We will see what
they do. I have not made this decision lightly. I believe they are very
interested in doing the best they can.
I will also say that the Intellectual Property that is ED has not (and will not
in the foreseeable future) leave my possession. This means that EDIE and EDEE
are still very much alive, and that those and future versions influenced by me
will still appear, as well as other parties down the line may get a crack at
their version. I felt it was a good opportunity to give someone else a chance
with their own version... another branch off the tree. I can only see this
as being good for the Empire gaming community.
So there is the announcement without naming names. I am basically waiting for
someone else to put out a press release, and at that time I will put out one of
my own. We as a community can track their progress together, and it will be
interesting to see what comes from it.
You want to talk about it, send me mail or chat
in the forums.
Enjoy your holidays, and play a little Empire
Deluxe when you get the chance.
November 17th, 2007
- Can't Say Much Yet
Next Update by:
December 22nd, 2007
I have been purposely holding this status report
back in hopes that I can announce something pretty substantial in the Empire
Deluxe world. That announcement is not ready yet, though it looks like it is
going to happen. So when it does occur I will make my comments about it. Let's
just say it is going to be exciting.
There should be a patch for EDEE very soon. It appears in the effort to finish
building the translation capabilities of the game, some of the right click menus
were broken and could cause a crash. This has been fixed and should be out in
very sort order. I am not too surprised at this, as the change here was pretty
significant, and the path to causing the crash was fairly obscure. It is always
frustrating when such things happen though.
Galacticards II has made very little forward motion this month, mostly due to
the event behind the announcement I mentioned. I should be able to continue it
at this point, and I hope for it to be in a good, fully playable alpha form by
the year's end.
So because I cannot yet disclose what I have been doing with this month, this
status report is going to be fairly short. When the announcement does come, I
will post some information on it. Hopefully, that will occur before the next
report is due. ;>
October 5th, 2007 (Can You Say Late?)
Next Update by:
November 16th, 2007
Ah, another late status report. It was
foolish of me to put the report due date on the last week of my contract, as I
thought it would be slow. But one of the team member's had an addition to his
family three weeks early, and suddenly it was very busy for me. But now it is
over and I am finally surfacing from it.
I have really enjoyed working Killer bee Software, and have met a lot of
interesting people due to it. I had originally hoped it would sustain me from an
income perspective, but it does not. I do not mind this, but it does cause me to
look for additional work, and as those that have followed my reports know, I
have adjusted my development cycle for this. I am sure I will find some more
work shortly (I have something in the works), but in the interim I will be able
to spend more time on KBS a little more, and I am looking forward to it.
There are three objectives that I can list in no particular order during this
One: continue Galacticards Work
Two: Explore new EDEE AI Ideas
Three: Improve the EDEE Interface
I want to continue to work on Galacticards. It certainly is not as far as I had
hoped, but it is doing pretty good. Ship to ship combat has been added, and I am
in the middle of working on Planetary Bombardment combat and Planetary Invasion
combat. Being different from the first Galacticards, you will no longer randomly
attack someone. There is now a physical map that you must navigate your forces
on and select where you wish to attack. As in the original Galacticards, you
first must fight the ships within he system. If you successfully do this, you
have the choice to apply your warships to bombarding a planet. Then you are able
to land your invasion force on planet within the system.
After I have those combat pieces in place, the game will really start to come
together. The next biggest challenge for Galcticards development is to add the
scientific research section. This is again different from the way it was done in
the first Galacticards, where research was used as card storage. Now, you will
have research centers that will gain research "revenue" on a per-turn basis.
Playing for a research card will allow even more points (or bad events to lose).
Points can be used for helping reduce the randomness in card selection, as well
as used to improve the technical levels of various buildings and ships in the
There is some momentum from an independent group of fans working on the EDEE AI
over at Salient Games. If you are interested in participating you should check
it out. I believe I have learned my lesson in that I shouldn't be a "purist" and
forbid cheating AI's to appear. Some games have cheating AI's that do a good job
of appearing more human like instead of just "knowing the answer". So I am
probably going to add a way for an AI player to cheat by means of getting
information that it would otherwise not have in the game. I am not certain if I
should allow it to do things such as speed up units not seen or speed up
production times. Again, the goal is to simulate a more Human-like play, not to
just make a godlike AI, for you can do that now with Handicap adjustments. I
would probably also write another AI DLL that would take advantage of this new
found information. This would be a different AI module from the ones that
I also want to address the EDEE interface. There are some commands that I feel
need to experience another iteration to become easier. Some steps to automate
certain activities easier would be useful as well. This would facilitate larger
games. Some of this may trickle into EDIE as well.
For both the interface and the new AI concept, I am very open to comments from
folks out there. If you have an idea you believe would help, please do not
hesitate to send me a mail or post in the forum.
So it should be a busy month in these three areas. Next month I will try be best
to timely report on how these items are doing.
August 26th, 2007 (Gee - A Late
- Late and Long in
Next Update by:
September 24th, 2007
I have been meaning to do this status report for
quite a bit. Have been doing a lot of thinking, and would like to share some of
those thoughts here.
First, for work away from Killer Bee Software. The contract for which I have
been under for the past 18 months is quickly coming to a close. This is a good
thing as I am looking forward to moving on from it. However, I had originally
planned to go back to full time KBS work, but another opportunity is knocking
and I just might take that. I have been evaluating what if scenarios if such an
opportunity arises. As much as I would like it to, KBS does not pay all of the
bills in my home (or for my custom jumbo jet to keep up with the Googles'). The
contract work has been very nice because it has given me the flexibility to earn
enough money, and support the games, and work on a new one.
If I take the new opportunity, I have decided to work on Galacticards II in the
slow burn fashion as I have. So I cannot at this moment make a projection as to
when it would be available. It is possible there may be down time between
contracts, and if that is so, I will use it to move it along as far as I can. I
had originally thought I would wrap it up quickly after the contract ends, but
if there is no time or not enough time between contracts, that cannot happen. I
will mention the progress of "G2" later in this report, but it is definitely
moving along, and will continue to either way. But the time of release may be
18 months ago, I had figured that with EDIE reaching 4 years and EDEE reaching
3, a new version may be necessary. With EDEE, I do not believe that is the case.
I do feel that there are some improvements that can be made to EDEE, such as
Interface improvements - making certain command types easier to put together
Reports - presenting information in a different way
Automation - working on ways to make large games more playable.
AI improvements - possibly a different or specialized AI (specialized as in
"only works well in random games with explore on").
I feel many of these would be very worthwhile, and would be presented as
patches, freely available to those that own the game.
For EDIE I am not sure. I really want to preserve the game rules in this
version, and find some things that I see as annoying, or "dated", but am unsure
at this point on what scale and how much effort, if any, should be put into
improving this. Time may be better pent focusing on improvements for EDEE.
Hopefully, I will also begin some different marketing strategies that will
continue to bring in those that remember the games, as well as those new to the
game. Of course, the best marketing is your word of mouth praise, as I have
So that is sort f where my thinking has come out. I will continue, of course, to
actively support the games as I have been doing in the past. But I do feel EDEE
could use some of the improvements I mentioned above. If you have suggestions, I
would like to hear them. You send me a mail or post something in the forum.
On the subject of Galacticards II, I now have a playable game where one can
discover new systems on a map, explore the available planets in the system.
Colonize those planets, and continue to expand. You can build certain facilities
on planets. The next big step is to add some of the combat aspects to the game,
with ship combat, planetary bombardment, and planetary invasion. Working on the
game has been a lot of fun. My graphics are certainly ugly though. As I have
mentioned before, I am going to move the game a long way before adding the
graphics, possibly putting it in beta before that time. Until then, most of the
images are in my hand.
On the EDEE front, the patch has been in the oven and is just about ready to
come out. It should be real soon, possibly this week. There is also a lot of
activity going on over at Salient, as we now have a group of people that are
actively discussing and looking over the current AI. Some of this is for the
WWII mod, and other parts are just for the AI in general. If you want to
participate in the community effort, head on over there.
The ladder is over there now as well, and I would encourage people to register
with it and score their games to give it momentum again. The ladder also
includes a PGIE section as well. Salient Games has really become a great fan
site, and the stuff starting to happen over there is exciting.
PGIE just had another birthday, making it four years old. As the Alpo
commercial would say, 4 years for a computer game is like "60 years to you and
me". But PGIE, just like EDIE and EDEE, is still very healthy and has a great
community to go with it, and new players grabbing the game all the time. These
games are very unique in that they out live almost any other computer game…the
sign of truly great game play. Of course, PGIE is really almost 15 years old,
and Empire…cough…nearing 30 years…it soon will be beginning its "fourth decade".
The thought of that is simply staggering.
So as you can see, my plans have been in flux somewhat. I am sure there will be
more changes in the future. Again, if you ever have any comments or want to talk
about 'stuff', drop me an email or visit the forum.
July 12th, 2007 (Another Late
- Slow Moving Summer
Next Update by:
August 13th, 2007
won't be much to say, as things have been a little off this month. I have not
been able to get as far as I had planned to in regards to the latest EDEE patch.
So it is still a ways out. It is really just a question of time, which always
seems to be in short supply. I know there are a few things that some of the
modders are waiting on, and there is a bug with base patrol I need to clear up.
Speaking of modders, there is a great deal of activity stating to happen with
the AI scripts. In the forum, you will see that there are several people
discussing the current AI script, and they are starting to see the limitations
of it. There is fresh talk of working no the AI DLL code. If anyone is
interested in getting involved with that, they should go poking around the
salient games website. And while you are there you should look over some of the
Salient also now is housing the ladder, and I have seen several games posted on
it. Though it is still in beta, it seems to be going very well.
The yahoo group has been really growing as of late. And just recently some more
maps were posted there. A lot of people playing Empire these days it seems.
Though I am tardy in my preparation for the next EDEE patch, I am enjoying the
work on Galacticards when I get a chance. The game now allows you to Discover
new worlds and I have doe some work on the System and Planet screens. I also
have installed the pathing element. In the first Galacticards I did not need
pathing, but since a star chart (infinite!) has been added, players can give
ships and fleets movement orders.
I am taking a different approach to building this game, in that I have not
started to concern myself with the artwork yet, and hope to have most of the
game in some working order before I do. I partially did this because I was
unsure as to when it would be finished, since I am still working on fulfilling
my contract. But that time is almost done, and I should have more time soon to
So I am going to try to get farther down the road with the EDEE patch. There are
enough issues collected now that one should be coming out soon, hopefully a
couple of months soon at most. Also, I am going to continue shaping the next
version of Galacticards. I am getting excited about it.
And sorry for the late report. As I
have always said, I keep these status reports going to let everyone know there
is still a heart beat going. If you are looking for me and want to chat.
Drop a line in the forum or send me mail.
May 29th, 2007 (Late Again!)
- Busy Month
Next Update by:
July 9th, 2007 (we'll see)
Ok, so this is the super
week-and-a-day late status report. Been extremely busy, both with my contract
work and with my game work. Regarding the contract work, I only have four more
months to go on the contract. Still considering what to do in the future. But
for now, there is the present.
The beginning of this month brought me the sad news of Bob Rakosky. I really did
not know Bob very well from a personal standpoint, but I had met him face to
face and had dealt with him several times and I sorted through the source code
for both Empire Deluxe and Perfect General. When I did meet him with Mark
Baldwin in Denver a couple of years ago, he had paid me a great techno-geek
compliment, say "I am surprised you were able to do anything with that awful
code". But the fact of the matter was, looking through the all the code, he was
extremely skilled as a programmer. The code made a lot of sense and it carried
over very well. It was obvious he was very skilled in several languages (there
were some bits of PG in assembly), and it was obvious he had written it with
multiple platforms in mind.
Being in contact with Baldwin and others that had known him, it is obvious to me
that he had touched the life of many people, and their loss of a friend was
great. Such an event of his passing is a sad occasion, but I hope they can see,
as well as fans of the games, how he has touched them in subtle and obvious
Other things in the Killer Bee realm are warming up. I do believe the ladder is
entering open beta. Again, this is at Salient Games and I would encourage you to
help out, simply by using it and challenging a friend to play.
The World War II mod is also openly available, and it is amazing the amount of
thought that has been put into that mod. Some very interesting stuff….Also, I do
believe the "UltraDB" has recently had an upgrade.
Speaking of upgrades, I am starting to work towards a patch release for EDEE. I
am sure it will not happen until at least July. But it looks like when it is
done, there will be a 2000 or so line file that you can drop in the data
directory that can contain translations for all of the strings in the game to
another language. This was work I had done when originally developing EDEE, but
had to scrub it due to time constraints. But there seems to be a possible demand
for it, as Salient is opening up an Italian page for EDEE and the game is
gaining more European interest.
I have had an interesting exchange with an individual that was getting a report
that The Perfect General installation file tried to install spyware on their
machine, by the name of "Rapid Blaster". I occasionally get mail stating that a
virus program has detected something called "I Am Big Brother". First, let me
state for the record that there is absolutely, positively NO spyware contained
within the installation files, or on the CDROM that is sent to you if you order
it from BMT. Some virus checkers recognize the file names of the game and
associate them with those spyware programs. One program called Stopzilla is a
huge culprit of this.
Galacticards II is coming along nicely as well. I now have the game at a point
where you can move your ships around discover new systems. This is going to be a
fun game and I really am enjoying working on it. As the summer progresses it
will develop itself more. If you are going to be interested in participating in
a beta test, keep an eye out for when I start asking for applications.
KBS had suffered an outage last week of about a day. What had happened was the
site was accidentally improperly configured DNS-wise while some maintenance was
being performed, and that sent you spirally into an unknown space if you came to
the site. IT also gobbled up my mail for a day. If you have not heard from me
and you wrote me last week, its best you send it again.
And that reminds me, at least once a month, and sometimes more, I get an email
from somebody with a question or needing help, and I would love to respond, and
I do, but after a day or two the email bounces back. Then a day or so later I
get another mail from the same person asking if I got the first email, or
assuming I don't answer my mail. I suspect I am sitting in a spam box usually
when this happens. Please understand that I always try to answer my mail in a
So it has been a very busy month or
so here, and this summer will be busy as well, with an EDEE patch, and with
Galacticards II becoming less vaporware and more reality. I do want to say I
really appreciate the efforts of individuals like breaker, thoba, WWI_weasel and
Steven Woodcock as well as others for helping make the game more than it
otherwise would be, with their mods and support for the community. I encourage
everyone to get involved, doing whatever it is you enjoy doing with the game -
be it making maps, building new databases, or challenging opponents in play on
the ladder. And please, if you have the time and something comes to mind,
remember that your word of mouth praise is what keeps a game alive and moving.
April 2nd, 2007 (Late) -
More On Galacticards II
Next Update by:
May 21st, 2007
Arg, so a week late...I always look
to the end of the month for the report, and wouldn't you know the week ends on a
Saturday for this month. Not entirely my fault though as I got a server upgrade
for my website as well, so had to delay my updating a little - but got caught up
in the week and well…anyway, as you can see I am alive and well at Killer Bee
software, and there is a lot going on.
Notably, the WWII mod is now looking quite nice. It appears the "WWII_weasel"
has managed to build a team and has people working on maps and such. I have seen
his AI scripts and they are quite involved. If you have tried out this mod you
need to send him some props. If not, check out
www.salientgames.com for the latest
info on it. I like this "Operation Overlord" map made by "thoba"
I also wrote a little one off program to switch the databases of maps, since
there is a a dependency of maps to databases. In the tool I also enabled the
ability to add rows an columns to an existing map, which I know some folks
wanted. This map tool is on my extras page.
Salient games is also where breaker is preparing the new Empire Deluxe Ladder
site. I saw a news blurb there last week that said he was about to go into a
beta with it, which I would assume means people will be able to play with it. So
keep an eye on that.
Galacticards II is coming along nicely. I did say I was going to talk about this
a bit in the previous status report. The original Galacticards is a fun game and
several people like it, but it is designed and laid out more as a card game than
a board game, and there are certain elements that are quite abstract, that I
think folks would like to see as a little more concrete. After talking with
several Galacticards players, I came up with a new design and have been working
on implementing it. Since I am not full time at the moment, the work is slower
than usual… The objective is to have it finished by the time my "real world"
contract is up, so that my full time attention is work on the next Empire and
Perfect General versions. All this should be at the end of summer.
Galacticards II is going to be more board game like, though "the cards" are
still going to play a big role. The cards will be used for certain aspects of
exploration, as combat multipliers, even for negotiating with alien
civilizations. But you will have more control over your fleets and armies than
in the previous game, and how you explore, how you build stuff and gain mineral
revenue. Players will be able to move their fleets to the systems they wish to
explore and conquer, and there is an element of exploration to the star map
itself. A star map editor will also be available. The Universe will be infinite
in size. It will have play by mail capability. I think it is going to be a very
interesting game, and hopefully will keep the quick, simple play from
So very busy as always. And as I previously mentioned, a great deal of activity
over at Salient Games. Definitely check it out.
February 19th, 2007 -
On The Roads To Galacticards II
Next Update by:
March 26th, 2007
Been a fairly quiet month here. My
'other job' contract has been I have been busy this month with the new year, but
I have also been doing typical killer bee support and working on Galacticards
The last patches for Empire did very well, and only a few minor issues have been
uncovered since then. One is an error in the AI regarding KOTH games. Send me a
mail if you need an rebuilt AI for that. The second is the patrol around base
command seems to have had a bug introduced in it, and can cause a crash.
Other typical Killer Bee support consists mostly of looking over possible bug
reports and helping people that have melted hard drives recover their game. The
hard drive melting rate amazes me, and scares into making backups frequently. I
always try my best to help people out in this situation.
Galacticards II is coming along nicely, and the Torque engine is proving very
helpful. It has quite a ways to go, but it seems a lot more mature than when I
was using it for the original Galacticards. The game itself is different from
the original, in that players have more control over who/when they attack, how
they gather resources, and perform other tasks such as production and
construction. I think Empire oriented fans will enjoy the game. One of the
objectives is that it will play much faster than a game of Empire, yet have each
game be very unique and entertaining. There will also be a "limitless" aspect to
it, something you do not find in other games.
I have begun that discussion in the forum regarding what players liked about the
new aspects of EDEE. Please feel free to comment and discussion what you like,
and what you feel should be added. That section of the forum will be an ongoing
discussion for the time being.
The real action seems to be going on over at the Salient games website. I just
cruised by there the other day, and it sounds like the WWII mod has been
released in some form of beta. The guy doing it, aka WWII_Weasel, has put a
great deal of time into it. Seems to me I have know he has been working on it
for at least 7 or 8 months. I unfortunately do not have the time to play it. But
if you do, I would recommend going over to
www.salientgames.com and check it out.
Salient games also appears to be rebuilding the ladder. As many people know, the
old ED ladder seems to have broken down. But I believe that the new one will be
great fun for people to use. I hope tot see it up soon. Breaker said it would
cover ED 3.1 through EDEE.
Salient Games is run by Andrew Peiman, aka "breaker", and is not affiliated with
Killer Bee Software in any way (how is that for a disclaimer). Besides the fact
that the webmaster is a huge fan of the Empire Series. I am a firm believer that
the best content for a game comes from the community itself, and breaker is
doing a great job. Make sure you go over there and think him for it, and if you
can contribute, with a map, a hand, or something else, I am sure it will be
So that is all I have to report at this time. I will report back around the end
of next month, and hopefully I can begin to describe the game play involved with
January 7th, 2007 (Late)
- Development In The Pipeline
Next Update by:
February 19th, 2007
The New Year is here, and that
always marks anniversaries. First off, Killer Bee Software has been in existence
for four years now. It is also the second anniversary of Empire Deluxe Enhanced
Last year was a slow year release wise for me, as I only managed to put out the
scenario disk for the Perfect General. This year should be busier, as I begin
development once again.
Speaking of the scenario disk though, Bill Sarubbi, the original author of the
scenario disk, has made some changes to the original scenarios. Some things he
has always wanted to fix. I did not include those in the disk release, because
we were still looking over them. They are just about ready, and I should be
putting them up on the extras page within a week or two. Anyone that has the
Battles of the 20th set will be able to use them.
Also, I have talked with Bill about other scenarios that are still only in his
mind. He sent me a list of "ideas" that he has, and it is quite an enticing
list. I believe he is spending some time on ramping up with the editor.
Hopefully there will be another scenario disk in the works.
I am currently still working on my contract and will be for some time this year
yet. However, I have now managed to follow a development cycle that I believe
works with this, and I am applying it as I work on Galacticards II.
This game will be somewhat different that its predecessor, but many similar
elements will remain. The Universe structure will be less abstract, and the
player will have control over his space forces and where to send them. The over
population problem will be a little more manageable as well. And though the
cards are still in the game, you no longer hold them from turn to turn, and you
are able to select from a collection based on the subject matter you wish to
This is being developed with Garage Game's Torque Builder Engine. Last year I
evaluated several products, but the Torque seems to meet my needs best. This
will give me the ability to port it to the MAC as well, and possibly Linux. I
have already built the map editor for this, and am now proceeding with the game.
The editor portions will prove useful for the next editor for the Empire series
I am not sure how long development will take, though the game will be done this
year. I am considering having it ready by the end of the summer, and submitting
it to the International Games Festival.
I also believe I have time enough this year to develop one other title, but I
have not decided yet. The next version of the Perfect General has been burning
on my desk for a long time. I will know more as the year progresses.
I am also going to begin the design work for the next version of the Empire
series. I have felt that this will actually be two projects, one which maintains
the rule set found in the Internet Edition, and the other that is the Enhanced
edition. I will be exploring what has worked with EDEE and what maybe needs to
be adjusted. I already have my list, and I am sure plenty of other people have
theirs too. Like before, I want the next version of Empire to be what the
So plenty of stuff going on, and as you can see it will be a busy year. I will
report back in February, with progress on Galacticards II and anything else that
might pop up.
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