Friday, November 15, 2013

Chess Heroes News: November 15, 2013


"Games are a series of interesting decisions." -- Sid Meier

New Features And Additions

It was a short week and I had a hurt shoulder, but I still managed to cram a bunch of stuff into the game!
  • An "Execute" move that lets you handily take care of a single, straggling enemy piece wandering about the board. It's cinematic and satisfying.
  • AI that does a full analysis of each move, including whether it's a mistake (unforced error) or a trap.
  • AI that has difficulty levels, which are limits on the number of mistakes and traps it can attempt over the course of the scenario.
  • "Sick" enemy pieces that have a nifty graphical treatment and a special AI override that makes them push for your home row. If any reach that spot, the game is over!
  • Full design support for high spaces. These are board spaces that pop up a bit, slowing down sliding pieces and subtly altering the landscape.
  • A new chess logic engine that is faster, deeper, and more robust. This was a badly needed update, as it was becoming rather difficult to debug AI problems.

Ruminations on Target Audiences 

Chess Heroes may have Peter Pan syndrome. Not the desire to be eternally young, but the problem author J.M. Barrie faced when trying to turn his play into a success. After moribund results from adult audiences, he ensured kids from a local orphanage were scattered throughout the theatre. Their raucous peals of laughter loosened the atmosphere, and soon the adults joined in as well. Had J.M. Barrie not introduced kids into the equation, adults might have written it off as ... to quote the Disney movie ... poppycock.

I bring up Peter Pan because the most enthusiastic, ecstatic players of Chess Heroes are children. The aesthetic is soft and approachable, the controls are intuitive and easy, the pace is self-regulated, and the visceral feedback of the pieces knocking into each other has them jumping up and down in their chairs. Adults -- and we had several fans with beards -- tend to be more reserved in their judgement. This is something to keep in mind should it be presented to, say, chess teachers, or parents: they may underscore the value of what we have here, because they have lost touch with the simple delights of childhood.

Goals of the Demo 

I'm sure folks are wondering why the demo isn't ready yet. The reason is: I want it to be packed full of so much new material that people can't justify NOT trying the full version. And the features that I'm adding are -- exclusively -- features that would be added for Act 1. In a sense, I'm pushing back the date for the demo, but not the final product. The goal is still Act 1 in December.

Kindle Fire?

I can't shake the feeling that missing out on "the tablet Christmas of 2013" would be a huge mistake. Can I possibly whip up a smaller version of the first Act into shape so that it's available on a tablet (say, the Kindle Fire) by then? We'll see!

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