Welcome to xnaPanzer!

Coordinator
Nov 10, 2008 at 1:42 AM
Edited Nov 23, 2008 at 3:57 AM
The Dream begins.

I have been playing Panzer General (DOS version) since it was published in the mid 1990s.  I loved it so much that I wrote an unfinished PG clone in the late 1990's using Turbo C++ and the FastGraph graphics library.  I still play the game and have always enjoyed playing hex-based board & computer war games (I own 300+, Third Reich being my first, Russian Campaign being my favorite).  I finally created this XNA project after debating with myself on whether or not to take the plunge.  I have sporadically dabbled in the XNA framework for about a year but I never really accomplished much or put adequate time or thought into it.  I am committed to seeing this project to its conclusion, meaning a playable XNA Panzer General war game.  I am confident I can devote an average of at least 10 hours per week into the game (probably more).

My development platform at home is Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition, XNA Game Studio 3.0 (beta) and SQL Server 2005 Express edition.  I am also using F. P. Chlanda's SHP Graphics Editor (version 0.48, circa 1998) to help import the original Panzer General SHP bitmaps.

I am hoping other PG fans step up and contribute to this project in whatever ways they can.  Please don't hesitate to offer feedback, constructive criticism and suggestions.  Your input will make this game progress much more rapidly!

Happy gaming.

Troy Scheffel
Rockton, IL
USA
Nov 29, 2008 at 4:47 AM
Troy,
  Glad to see someone reviving an old classic! I played all 5 back in the day.

Ralph
Coordinator
Nov 29, 2008 at 3:16 PM
Ralph,

Thanks!  I still love the PG series.  I'm surprised PG-like games haven't taken hold but I guess these days people prefer RTS and FPS games over turn-based games (myself included, at times).  I expect to take a step back soon and design the game properly but at the moment I'm just doing prototype development to get a handle on the nuances of XNA graphics.  Thankfully XNA is so much easier than GDI and DirectX programming.

Thanks again for your comment.  I'm hoping others chime in and contribute however they can.

Troy
Nov 30, 2008 at 1:31 AM
Troy,
Good luck, Yyou might check out this guy's page. He's got a WPF version of the same stuff including an A* implementation.
I'm not sure why sales dried up. I think part of it might be that people made the simple games too complicated. PG was simple, PGIII was a bit crazy and when I looked at something like CEAW, the UI was a bit ugly and less usable.
BTW, you should get a copy of FXCop. Some of the stuff is bogus, you should strongly sign your code. Some is less so, like you've got some static variables that look like members. Some are pretty important like you're not using a 'using' statement when creating a class with a desctructor. It's pretty painful if you haven't done it form the start, but can help with consistency and will find some real bugs.
Ralph

From: [email removed]
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2008 9:16 AM
To: [email removed]
Subject: Re: Welcome to xnaPanzer! [xnaPanzer:39549]

From: tscheffel

Ralph,

Thanks! I still love the PG series. I'm surprised PG-like games haven't taken hold but I guess these days people prefer RTS and FPS games over turn-based games (myself included, at times). I expect to take a step back soon and design the game properly but at the moment I'm just doing prototype development to get a handle on the nuances of XNA graphics. Thankfully XNA is so much easier than GDI and DirectX programming.

Thanks again for your comment. I'm hoping others chime in and contribute however they can.

Troy
Coordinator
Nov 30, 2008 at 2:06 AM
Ralph,

Thanks for the advice.  I use FxCop and DevPartner (among others) at work.  As my disclaimer comment at the top of the Game1.cs file says, the current C# code is merely prototype code--it's certainly not production quality or even undergraduate quality.  I don't expect to be using any of it for the real game--it's just proof-of-concept hacks.  As such, I'm not concerned with its structure or style--it'll soon be discarded.  Perhaps I need a second disclaimer in the file so viewers don't get the wrong idea.

I checked out the blog you recommended.  He has some nice stuff in SilverLight, which I've looked into but I've not been bitten by the SilverLight bug yet, though I have sat in on a couple of presentations by SL pros.  I've downloaded his source code and will take a look.  I'm not really concerned with the pathfinding since it is relatively easy.  I'm more concerned with GUI-related hurdles--I'm wrestling with how to provide a PG-like interface in XNA while capturing the feel of the original PG GUI.

Take care.

Troy
Nov 30, 2008 at 4:16 AM
One disclaimer's enough. There are enough people with varying skill levels that it's hard to tell if you were truly rushing a prototype, or if it was something else. I'm another huge devexpress fan. I'm glad that your prototype code is truly prototype Winking smile emoticon All too often, I've see people just push things through instead of throwing away their prototypes.
I'm still struggling with wither to go with WPF or XNA. I'm reasonably certain that both can do the job for me, especially after seeing that blog. I'm going to have to do some tricks because I need to scale up to 700x700, and I'm going to have to do a lot of pruning to make sure that it displays quickly. I want to add zoom, so that complicates the ui a bit. I've also got range rings, which may need some forethought for WPF. If WPF will do it, it's a lot easier than XNA.
My game's got a built in editor, so it's got a ton of dialogs for that plus all the status dialogs. I also want to allow the screen elements to be added, moved and dropped, etc.
I suspect that in the next 6 months, they'll be better integrated, so we'll see.
We'll have to compare notes.
BTW, the PDC2008 videos were posted to MSDN a while ago in case you're interested in watching any. The GameFest 2008 videos were also posted a couple of months ago.
Ralph

From: [email removed]
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2008 8:06 PM
To: [email removed]
Subject: Re: Welcome to xnaPanzer! [xnaPanzer:39549]

From: tscheffel

Ralph,

Thanks for the advice. I use FxCop and DevPartner (among others) at work. As my disclaimer comment at the top of the Game1.cs file says, the current C# code is merely prototype code--it's certainly not production quality or even undergraduate quality. I don't expect to be using any of it for the real game--it's just proof-of-concept hacks. As such, I'm not concerned with its structure or style--it'll soon be discarded. Perhaps I need a second disclaimer in the file so viewers don't get the wrong idea.

I checked out the blog you recommended. He has some nice stuff in SilverLight, which I've looked into but I've not been bitten by the SilverLight bug yet, though I have sat in on a couple of presentations by SL pros. I've downloaded his source code and will take a look. I'm not really concerned with the pathfinding since it is relatively easy. I'm more concerned with GUI-related hurdles--I'm wrestling with how to provide a PG-like interface in XNA while capturing the feel of the original PG GUI.

Take care.

Troy
Coordinator
Nov 30, 2008 at 9:25 PM
Ralph,

I'm curious as to why you're considering WPF over XNA. I don't know enough about WPF to know the pros & cons but I'd like to hear your thoughts. Also, why will scaling up to 700x700 be difficult in WPF?I agree, DevExpress puts out some amazing stuff. I've only installed their DXCore stuff. While not as powerful (IMHO) as DevPartner, it is a whole lot cheaper.I'll check out the PDC2008 videos. I'm always willing to siphon others' pearls of wisdom.I noticed your TOAW site. Wasn't TOAW a Talonsoft game in the distant past? While I was never a big Talonsoft fan I did own & play several of their titles (particularly EF2). Are you expanding/improving the game or is it an entirely different system?

Take care.

Troy

Dec 1, 2008 at 12:26 AM
Troy,
First, you've got to go to the Devexpress site and download their CodeRush Express product. It's free, and has several excellent features like the tab key to move to the next reference. It's more aimed at productity enhancements that DevPartner is
XNA is made for games, particularly FPS/RTS games. It's got separate timers for the physics engine and the display. If I were doing a zune or XBox port, I'd use XNA. WPF is their 'new' UI technology. It's a lot like HTML in that the display is coded using XML. It's also got a lot of hooks to be driven by changes to the UI. You could easily have the UI respond to changes in data through events, which really decouples the two pieces. For example, you could have a panel for the unit control where changes would be applied to the unit which would be sent to all the listeners which would trigger a change to the unit's display on the map. All this with little or no code on the UI. It's also got triggers for animation built in.
Theoretically, by using WPF it would be possible to put all the combat animation, river animation, etc. into the XAML WPF data structures and leave it out of your code. That's the theory anywayWinking smile emoticon If you play with the minesweeper program, all that animation is done in data structures instead of code.
Up to about 100x100, I might be able to get away with one huge canvas that I use the camera to look at, and accept that I'm missing some optimizations. At 700x700, I'm going to have to do some work to virtualize the grid. Since I also want to allow for zooming, I'm going to have to do some calcualtions to see which hexes I can draw to the screen, and possibly have to do some fancy stuff to preload bitmaps, etc. I'll have to play with it to see what I need to do and what will work best. WPF may have some grids that do mose of that automatically. I'll probably try straight WPF first and drop back to GDI and later XNA if I have to.
TOAW was owned by TalonSoft and bought by Take 2. At that time Jim Rose (owner of Talonsoft) also went to Take2. The owner of Matrix Games was able to bargain for an agreement where he took over the code and title in exchange for a percent of the revenues going to Take2 and a portion to Norm Kiger (the author). I'm the current maintainer of the TOAW 3 codebase.
Keep this part to yourself for now, please. Matrix Games (and me) have a 5 year lease on the rights. (about 2 left.) Once it's up, it's up. My understanding is that the revenues are so slim that Take2 doesn't want to bother with it, and want 10+K just to sit down and negotiate. I'm going to have to take the base system written in C, rewrite it into C# and WPF so that I have an unencumbered copyright so that I can continue working on it.
I'd be just as happy working on the same code, but that's not really an option.
Unless things go wrong, I plan to make the new game able to use the same scenarios and much of the mechanics that the old system uses, but it's going to have to be almost a total rewrite, especially the UI.
Should be 'fun'Winking smile emoticon
Ralph

From: [email removed]
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 3:25 PM
To: [email removed]
Subject: Re: Welcome to xnaPanzer! [xnaPanzer:39549]

From: tscheffel

Ralph,

I'm curious as to why you're considering WPF over XNA. I don't know enough about WPF to know the pros & cons but I'd like to hear your thoughts. Also, why will scaling up to 700x700 be difficult in WPF?I agree, DevExpress puts out some amazing stuff. I've only installed their DXCore stuff. While not as powerful (IMHO) as DevPartner, it is a whole lot cheaper.I'll check out the PDC2008 videos. I'm always willing to siphon others' pearls of wisdom.I noticed your TOAW site. Wasn't TOAW a Talonsoft game in the distant past? While I was never a big Talonsoft fan I did own & play several of their titles (particularly EF2). Are you expanding/improving the game or is it an entirely different system?

Take care.

Troy

Coordinator
Dec 3, 2008 at 1:36 AM
On your recommendation, I installed CodeRush Express and am spending a little time learning what it has to offer.  So far, so good.  I am also delving into XNA GameComponents and hope to soon implement a few test ones to see what they're all about.  And, I'm reconfiguring the xnaPanzer game screen for 1024x768 vs. 800x600.  I have yet to find a good article on dynamically resizing the GUI components at run time.  So many challenges to embrace!  'Tis good brain food.

Troy




Coordinator
Dec 12, 2008 at 2:22 AM
I'd like to welcome and thank Edgar (all the way from Pamplona) for his support of the xnaPanzer project.  He and I have been swapping emails about XNA game development.  His day job seems to be very similar to mine (ASP.Net, SQL Server, C#/VB.Net, etc).  Plus, he's working on a 3D hex-based game focusing on the Napoleonic period and he is very familiar with the Panzer General game.  He has offered to help with the xnaPanzer, which I greatly appreciate.

Welcome aboard, Edgar.

Troy
Dec 13, 2008 at 7:29 PM
Thanks for the welcome, Troy. And I hope this project can see the Alpha status some day and we learn a lot from it  :)
Coordinator
Dec 21, 2008 at 7:39 PM
I'd like to welcome another supporter of the xnaPanzer project:  Cliff.

Cliff is a Software Engineer doing web development in ASP.NET C#. He brings plenty of experience in various languages and platforms and says he enjoys hunting down and fixing bugs (a rare trait indeed).  Welcome aboard, Cliff.

Troy
Dec 22, 2008 at 3:07 PM
Hi all. Will be working on my own game on the side, considered using xnaPanzer as an engine and I still might (in the future). Thought I'd help out with the development and stay involved.
Jan 22, 2009 at 7:34 AM
Hello everyone,
I'm a fan of wargames in years, and a graphic designer.
 I started a little over a year creating my own project ... 
I think it's a good idea give the flavor of the day this awesome game that Panzer General.

If you want to see a little more of my project (in VB.net and Xna) go see my homepage. 
http://social.consimworld.com/profile/Nick
At the moment my project is on stand by, I now totally rewrite the GUI code.
Sorry for my english, but i 'm french
If you want to know more, feel free to contact me
Nick69
Coordinator
Mar 9, 2009 at 5:12 PM
Hello Nick,

Thanks for your message and for your interest.  I sincerely apologize for not replying long ago (I did not receive the automatic email notification that I normally do).  I lost my hard drive at the end of December and only recently replaced it.  I have not yet re-installed all the development tools but plan to do so soon.  After that I will be back in action.  I am still determined to complete the xnaPanzer project. 

I took a look at your link: your graphics abilities are superb.  Your GUI appears solid; what made you decide to rewrite it?  And, when do you expect your game to be completed?  I'm envious of your progress.

Troy

p.s.  Your English is just fine (much better than my French).  
Mar 11, 2009 at 11:15 AM
Hello, Thanks for your reply,
why I want to rewrite my GUI ? it's a good question ... First of all because I want it to be reused for other projects, the actual Gui is totally dependent on screen resolution (limited to 1024/768), and that is not good, and, finally, I use a colorkey code system to see if the mouse is in an area of the interface or externally, this is not a good solution (too slow and to hard to manage).

In my new Gui system, I also want to use customs forms , but using a better colorkey system ....
I have almost finished creating my independent GUI system, I have just two or three components to be defined,
then I resume my game design , but there will be a lot of modification to do ... I do this only  during my free time, so I have no idea when it was completed ;....
Nick
Coordinator
Apr 15, 2009 at 2:08 AM
FYI

I am finally back online after a wicked hard drive failure and a busy winter.  I just installed VisualSVN & downloaded the source code and am currently installing XNA Framework 3.0.  I expect to resume coding xnaPanzer this weekend.

Troy
Coordinator
Apr 30, 2009 at 5:28 PM
I spent the past week in Jamaica but have (unfortunately) returned to the States.  The small IT consulting company I worked for has been hit hard by the recession and two of us were let go.  As such I should have more time to devote to xnaPanzers in between searching for a new job.  I plan to take stock of the project this weekend and plot the next few code iterations.

Troy