Today I didn’t write a single line of C++, but did code a lot of php, which is the language I use for the online challenge management stuff in Gratuitous Space Battles.
On thursday I spent a lot of time blasting out the music from Star Trek : First Contact while I scrubbed out my chalk board and drew my vast plans for the future of GSB, or at least, the next DLC/expansion thing. After a lot of hand waving, I’m currently planning on a cunning meta-game style campaign that slots into some of the existing challenge data. It’s going to work a bit like spore, in that it becomes ‘massively singleplayer’, with other peoples content (in this case fleets) appearing in your game.
So far, so easy. That’s not a problem. The tricky bit turns out to be that although I let people mod the game (and that will continue), I can’t have a modded fleet turn up in someone elses game, because at worst, it could crash thinking “cannot find ‘bobsZapGun’ module…”
The solution, (which doesnt check for data changes as such, but does check for simple additions), is to write code which verifies that a players fleet only uses content that exists in the main game. To do that, php code was needed to crack open the binary challenge data and go through each ship hull and module name and check they really exist…
and to get THAT to work, I needed php code that would analyse all the data in the game and create a database of all the ‘valid’ entries, so that it can compare one with the other. That way if I do some module changes or new add-ons, I can just run some php and have the ‘valid data’ table automatically updated.
This is a lot of work in order to just get something totally under the hood and invisible working, which is code to ensure no modded content ends up in any one elses campaign, causing a crash. There is a ton of other work required. The good news is that a lot of this same code might be possibly leveraged at a later date to scan the high scores for modded content (and reject it) and could even remove the need to tag challenges with the add on packs manually as players do now. All fun and games….
In other news I just did a BLIND taste challenge and I *can* tell the difference between cadburys and morrisons chocolate buttons. (Cadburys taste smoother).