Strategic Primer: Assistive programs progress

In the last month or so since my last development report about my suite of assistive programs for players and Judges of campaigns of Strategic Primer, I’ve made a few somewhat significant improvements to the map viewer, most of which were requested by players.

First, I fixed a bug that left the viewer in an inconsistent state if the player clicked on an already-selected tile. It’s conceivable that I originally intended for clicking the selected tile again to un-select it, but if so that wasn’t implemented properly.

Second, I made the detail panel include the coordinates of the selected tile. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before; it’s tremendously useful for me as the developer of the software, the Judge of the campaign, and the designer of the game, and the only reason it wasn’t trivial to implement was the complicated way I had implemented the layout of that panel.

Third, after significantly simplifying the interface—I changed the view-restricting panel to a dialog that only appears when wanted, and moved all the file-related buttons into menus—I added a color key that shows what the various terrain colors represent.

Fourth, after increasing the visual size of each tile somewhat, I added an icon that shows when a tile has either an “event” or some associated text on it. Now there is a visual indication of everything an explorer would report, so the player only needs to click on those tiles with the icons to find out what an explorer discovered, not every tile.

Fifth, I changed the detail panel, so that when the user selects a unit or fortress owned by a player whose name is included in the map, it says “… owned by So-and-so” instead of “… owned by player N”. I can’t make the map or the viewer show a player’s own units and fortresses differently, but most players know their own code names, while few knew their player number.

And sixth, I found a way to build a binary/executable version for the Macintosh platform from my Linux development environment. I’ve been supplying cross-platform runnable JAR files and Windows executables for a little while, but until very recently couldn’t find a way to build a Mac wrapper around the JAR. Now I can.

The feature I plan to work on next, and might even finish before this update is posted, is to allow the user to navigate the map using the keyboard rather than the mouse. I have a fairly good idea how I’ll go about this, but we’ll see.

A longer-term idea, which I think may be necessary but am still not sure of, is to change the resolution of the map: replace each tile with an array of smaller tiles. This, or (the much less ideal solution I was dreading before I thought of this) creating and displaying a sub-map for each tile, is a prerequisite step I need to do before I can work on either of two sets of features: first, more realistic encounters and events, and second, unit vision range and movement.

I also hope to make significant progress on the character (worker) management program in the coming weeks, and if all goes well it may be as robustly useful as the map viewer by mid-autumn. We’ll see.

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