Monday, December 03, 2012

Gridiron Solitaire #32: Down the Rabbit Hole

I finished up a working version of the newspaper icon/stat summary feature last week. It showed the basic stats that generated for a simmed game: score, rushing yards, and passing yards.

It worked just fine, but boy, it seemed bare. And there were stats I wanted to see when I played a game that weren't showing. I couldn't show them, actually, because I wasn't saving that information to the schedule file (where stats are recorded after games).

Basically, the nice stat display at the end of a played game was a superset of data, and I took a small subset of that data and wrote it to the schedule file. That was the subset I had available when someone pressed the newspaper icon on the team hub screen.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how that made any sense. In essence, I was spending all this time trying to create a dynamic world when you played the game, but almost all of those details were lost as soon as you went back to the team hub.

Well, that was wrong. What I needed to do was capture every scrap of data I could to the schedule file, and then I could decide to use it however I wanted.

Two initial ideas:
--have two different possible information displays when a user clicks ont the newspaper icon at the team hub. One shows just the fields applicable to a simmed game, while the second--for a played game--shows a richer data set.
--record a much wider set of information to the team history at the end of the season. Then expand each year of team history so that data for simmed games is shown as well as data for played games. For instance, the user could see the season average of their playcalling percentages for the games they played.

As soon as I thought of those two possibilities, I realized that they were far better than what I currently had, and they needed to be in the game. This meant changing all the data that gets written to the various text files, though, and then testing all the changes. It sounds simple, but it was (for me) very non-trivial and very time-consuming.

Not to mention incredibly boring.

I'm beginning to understand why some games have all these cool features, but sometimes lack the most basic, obvious things. It's because the basic stuff is deadly dull to work on. It's just not fun. So I can see the temptation to program the fun stuff as much as possible, and avoid the boring stuff like the plague. It turns out not to be tempting for me, because I want to play this game for a long time after I'm done, and not putting something in that I know needs to be there would drive me crazy. I understand the impulse, though.

So this newspaper icon/stat review feature started out as something quite simple, but there was a loose thread, and I pulled on it, and I wound up temporarily unraveling the sweater.

I know, I was supposed to tie that up with a rabbit hole reference instead.

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