The Twilight Struggle Digital Team is back again with a hefty Digital Update for you all. This update goes over what we have been up to since out last update, and where we are headed over the upcoming weeks. So keep reading--
With the build at the end of November, we felt we'd reached a stable platform for online play, including many of the features that were requested after our initial release. All of the known rules bugs had been addressed and it was possible to participate in both real-time and asynchronous games. There are still many areas that need to be addressed in the interface, but we decided we needed to shift focus to the next phase.
Outside of a break for the holidays, we've been hard at work to get offline play up and running. There are two majors components that we feel are necessary to get this ready for release in the beta: tutorial and AI opponent.
We have a tutorial script provided by Ananda Gupta that has now been added to our internal build. We already had a solid tutorial framework from our previous games, but this had to converted to work within Unity, and we've put some additional time into extending this so we can support the various learning scenarios that were promised in the Kickstarter campaign. The visual display of the tutorial is still rough, but it is now possible to take a guided example through the first turn of a Twilight Struggle game.
The AI opponent is obviously the critical piece in getting offline play released. On previous games, we've had some success with creating a system where the AI player would play thousands of games against itself and learn to improve its play based the results of the decisions it made. We've taken this same approach with Twilight Struggle, but it has proceeded at a slower pace than we anticipated. Where our previous titles could complete a head to head in a couple of minutes, a 10 turn game of Twilight would take over half an hour (and the games lasted longer as the AI learned to play better and avoid DEFCON suicide and early victory point track results). The strength in this approach comes from playing a large number of games, so we've put a great deal of effort into optimization and distributed processing to hasten the process. In addition, we've been monitoring the results that come back from this and adjust what factors the AI will consider in its decision making process. We also undertook an effort to improve the presentation of gameplay in the interface. We have a system in place now to announce and animate cards when they are played, similar to our previous titles. There are still a number of bugs in this work, though, some of which will cause a game to lockup and not be able to proceed any further, so we need some more time to test and address those issues before this can be included in a beta build.
We haven't forgotten the other promised platforms, either. We have a Mac build that is close to ready for release to Steam. Several programmers have been working entirely in a Mac environment, so we have some confidence that the game is stable and we are starting to work through the Steam release process on Mac. We've had the game running on the iPad for awhile now as well. As we close in on finishing off the PC interface we'll start to devote more resources to the touch interface that is necessary to get iOS and Android builds.
We expect a new build will be ready sometime next week, possibly with a Mac version available at that time.
Thank you for reading, and we'll be back later with another update soon. If you have any comments or questions for us, please leave them in the comment section below.
Twilight Struggle Digital Team