Archive for May, 2010

Build 20100524

I completed the third JavaScript iteration of the StarCraft II Build Order Calculator this morning and put it online. It took a few days longer than I expected, but I also drastically changed how the data is being stored for the build order. In my previous builds, I stored the data with the time as the lowest level element, whereas this build stores the unit as the lowest level element. This makes it easier to see what the unit is doing (and thus, what it is allowed to do), but makes it harder to display the timeline.

I also stored unit actions (such as build Probe, warp in Pylon, etc.) as functions within each unit. As I wrote the functions, it quickly became apparent that a huge number of functions are identical and should only be written in one place.

This build shows me the viability of storing unit actions within the function and keeping track of unit timelines within the unit, but also shows the weaknesses of displaying the timeline when I have to scan every unit for every second to see what has been done. It still does not take into account that you need a Gateway before you can make a Zealot, but I chose to not pursue that in this build when all of the flaws of this build became apparent. It does, however, take into account queuing and will not let you build more than 1 Probe from a Nexus at any one time.

I will begin my next iteration very soon and hope to have that online within the next few days. Each iteration definitely teaches me a lot about what will and will not work. I am still very far from a final build, but I still think it is possible to get the final build online before the game launches on Jul 27, 2010.

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The next iteration of the S2BOC is online

In my last update on the StarCraft II Build Order Calculator, I said that I was going to have this next version work on building queues, but I decided to work on the URL sharing instead. The newest version of the S2BOC still doesn’t account for queues, but you can now send someone the URL to share build orders.

This URL sharing is one of the most critical requirements of this system. This calculator is designed to aid strategy discussions and a key part of that is showing a friend your strategy. As you update your build order, the URL will be modified, so you can send the build order at any time and anyone going to that URL will see what you see.

This calculator also allows you to switch between TerranProtoss and Zerg, albeit in a clunky way that will be addressed before the final build. In order to change race, change the URL to start the build order string (from # to the end of the URL) with T, P or Z. In both FireFox and Chrome, I had to refresh the page after changing the URL before the new race properly appeared.

StarCraft II Build Order Calculator

Sample Build (9 Pylon / 12 Gateway Protoss build)

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First interactive prototype of sc2build is online

I have finished the first interactive prototype of the StarCraft 2 Build Order Calculator and placed it online with the rest of my iterative development tests. This JavaScript prototype is just a proof of concept and is missing many required features, but it does show the possibilities of the system.

This build is the first JavaScript prototype of the S2BOC. I decided at the very start that I would be building this in a client side language to reduce server strain, and so doing tests in PHP is very impractical. It uses the jQuery library and contains a custom extension to generate the build order. It shows off the abilities of the system to add units and calculate the amount of minerals available at any given time, as well as calculate the earliest moment that a unit can be built.

My next iteration should be online and viewable this weekend. This iteration will contain features not shown in this version, like taking queues into account and building requirements. I estimate there will be another 10-12 iterations before I consider writing the final version.

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Iterative Development for Economy Calculator

This iterative build was to test the economy calculator at different time intervals. I created an array to store information on 5 basic protoss units – Nexus, Pylon, Gateway, Probe and Zealot. I then wrote some quick calculators to accept a time, in seconds, and return the amount of minerals available at that time. The display is fairly minimal, just showing economy, but various units and builds were constructed at certain times.

The calculation is based on finding out how many probes exist at this time, how long they have existed, and multiplying that by 5/6. 5/6 is the number of minerals gathered per second per harvester (before saturation, at least). Once I have found the total minerals gathered, I get a list of all units that have begun construction at that time and subtract it from the total and return it.

The formula for calculating wealth seems okay, but the initial array contained far more data than I ended up using and the formulas were a bit too hard coded. Things like MULE and Chrono Boost are not being accounted for, and supply count is ignored as well.

I like the idea of a function being passed a time value and returning a snapshot of the build status at that time, and the array storing the build information also containing when each item was started. This system would fairly easily allow new commands to be inserted mid way through the build.

I definitely need to make the calclations more dynamic, though. I’m also still unsure of how to handle the starting Nexus and 5 Probes. This system puts the build time at -100 and -17, respectively, and always adds 700 minerals to the mineral count.

All in all, this iteration did show some interesting ideas, particularly with where to store data on all of the units. I ended up sliding it in as an array inside the build class, but that seems impractical. I should probably set a race as a class, units as a class, buildings as a class and special abilities as a class. My next experimentation will involve testing those methods for viability.

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StarCraft II Build Order Calculator

I’ve recently begun work on a new project that should see the light of day in time for StarCraft II to launch on July 27. The project, being hosted over at http://sc2build.com, is the StarCraft II Build Order Calculator. The project aims to take the ease of use and share-friendly nature of World of Warcraft talent calculators and apply it to StarCraft II build orders.

The project is just beginning the iterative development phase, with some small scale tests of single aspects of the system. I began writing my notes on the site in plain text, but it quickly became apparent that I will have enough notes to require a full fledged blog.

Expect to see a flood of posts in the coming days as I think aloud on how to build this system and test various methods of implementation. I will be building it through iterative development, and as such there will be many micro tests in the coming weeks of single aspects of the system.

The first test that has already been pondered upon and attempted once is how to store the build order data in a URI without that URI becoming ungainly in length. You can see my notes on that test and see a sample of this one attempt in the iterative development section of that site.

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