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CAV: Strike Operations - open source tool discussion thread

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This is a new thread, continuing a discussion I started elsewhere... A few people expressed interest in having a cross-platform (particularly mobile-ready) version of the Construction Program available. The actual CAV folks are a physical game company, not software developers, and obviously don't have tons of resources to throw at building us a bunch of neat tools. So it's probably up to us. ::): 

 

As I understand it right now, what we're looking for is something like this:

 

  • Cross-platform support (iOS, Android, and Windows required; MacOS desired but since I don't have a Mac to code on and it adds a bit of complexity, someone else will need to chime in on that)
  • View standard units' cards
  • Customise existing units for game sessions with upgrades
  • Build customised units, using rules in upcoming refresh of CAV
  • Save and load custom (or tweaked) units
  • Print cards for units (preferably)

Possible future features:

  • Build Sections and Task Forces, printing cards for associated units, etc
  • "Enhanced" larger cards with model picture, quick summary of special abilities, etc for ease of reference of new players
  • In-game tracking of damage, abilities, etc for specific units

I'm sure there are a bunch more features people can think of, I'm just listing the ones I've already come up with. I'd also like to point out that I'm not promising anything - my ability to get side projects done is limited by a bunch of factors, including my desire to have time available to actually play games. ::): I'm listing a lot of these features just as an idea of where things would likely expand in the future, because that can guide design choices when building software.

 

The first major question we need to answer is what set of technologies we should be using to build this. Based on some quick research & input from friends with some experience in cross-platform work, I've identified two approaches that seem the most likely to be successful, in terms of giving us the features we want and allowing us to build stuff quickly and easily.

 

Xamarin is a paid tool, but it can be available for open-source developers (we'd have to apply). It uses C# as the development language, which can cause some people to have hissy fits because it's associated with Microsoft, but it's also a very powerful language and can do some really cool stuff. The biggest advantage here is that I use C# for most of my work, and have for the past 8 years, so it's something I can get a crap-ton of work done with in a hurry. Honestly, if I'm building something for my own personal use, this is the approach I'm taking because it's easy, powerful, and comfortable. Xamarin also provides support for basically any platform.

 

Apache Cordova is free and open source. Development is (primarily?) done with JavaScript. It ties in with most platforms, but I'm honestly not sure of the limitations. The advantage here is that it's absolutely free, and JavaScript is a lot friendlier for people to come in and do small changes to. That opens up the possibility for a lot more people to contribute small bug fixes. (The disadvantage is that it's easier for inexperienced people to come in and bash together something that kinda sorta works but is an absolute nightmare to maintain... but that's why open-source projects tend to have one or a couple primary folks who vet any changes before bringing them in. :;): )  An advantage for me is that while I've done a not-insignificant amount of JavaScript work, I've never done anything with Cordova or HTML5, so taking this approach would add a new skill set. It wouldn't really boost my resume or anything (I'm well past the point where that matters to my career) but it's always fun to learn new things.

 

I'm not sure yet whether I'd prefer the Xamarin/C# approach or the Cordova approach... I'm not going to have an opportunity to really start experimenting until at least the weekend, but then again, we're not really going to be able to do any work until we can get our hands on the rulebook. ::): (I can't seem to find a download link for the quick-start rules or I could at least get a little bit ahead with that.)

 

So...  That's a pretty big first post. Anyone want to jump in and offer opinions? Additional options? Anyone still feel like joining in with me and helping to code this?

 

(Apologies if I've missed anything important here... And yes, I know this is a pretty big braindump all in one post. ::): )

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Reaper already has a web based force builder and data card search for Warlord at Reapergames.com

 

That should be a good starting point.

 

I don't think in game tracking is as critical to start, and if you can print the cards, isn't really necessary.  Unless you have a tablet, it's probably unlikely to even see use.  Being able to save builds probably isn't as critical either.  People can simply export the built force as a .pdf from the print out.

Edited by Qwyksilver
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Sounds like a winner to me! The simple Idea is to be able to load it on a Phone, Tablet or laptop: The Phone and Tablet one being the most preferred and having the ability to be in a game and pull up your cards for your squads, Make one on the fly. 

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I don't even think it need to be that fancy.

 

Just something you can use to build/modify CAV, compose forces and print the results out is more than sufficient, and will likely see the most use.

Anything else is just cool bells and whistles.

 

Being able to search the data cards, and build a Task Force, so you have a several page printout of your force including the CAV data card, and a description of the relevant special abilities, and equipment purchases would be my first priority.

 

I am not a code monkey however.

 

I would kick the tires on the reaper games.com site to see what they did for Warlord just so you get an idea of what I mean.

 

It's a really simple, plain interface, but exceptionally useful.

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You might want to take a look at this open source web-based X-Wing squad builder:

https://geordanr.github.io/xwing/

 

I have found it's minimalist, straightforward approach really useful, and it hits many of the features you list.  Since it's open source, it might be possible to fork it and adapt to CAV?  If not, it still might serve as a useful example.  Just a thought.

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Hi.  I realize I am coming into the discussion a few months late.

 

If I can be of some services on this matter let me know.  I am a Mac and iOS developer and my employment contracts do permit to work on outside projects.  I don't have copious amounts of spare time but I can find some here and there if my 5-year is asleep and my full-time work as well as trying to get a few more figures oninthe collection painted isn't dominating all spare time.

 

With most of the cross-platform projects I have going or have worked on we've typically defined division points between code that is cross-platform and those files/parts that are platform specific - usually this breaks along the area of data modeling vs. UI coding.  iOS and Mac both use frameworks and tools that expect Objective-C (there is a C++ version too) and many times Apple's Xcode IDE is used for developing/building iOS & Mac apps.  Forgive me if I'm posting information you are already firmly familiar with - just making sure the basics are set down :)

 

There are other development systems and 3rd Party code bases which wrap up the UI for Mac and/or iOS so one does't have to dig into Objective-C, but I don't have much experience in this direction.  All of my work has required getting into specialized UI or operations.

 

Best wishes,

 

Kevin

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So are you guys looking for an online force builder and data card search program similar to the one now online for Warlord?

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20 minutes ago, Dark Horse said:

So are you guys looking for an online force builder and data card search program similar to the one now online for Warlord?

I know I am.  The CAV 2 one was just like the Warlord one now. 

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