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Subject: Alien Solitaire - software automation of aliens rss

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Roger
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It's great that SE has solitaire and it's great that you can fight against aliens.

But there's a problem. Jim's done a great job of creating the rules that control the decisions of the alien players. But they're pretty complicated. You can spend a lot of time looking at charts and rolling dice. And you're probably going to get it wrong.

Now there's an answer. I've been so impatient waiting for my copy of SE4X to arrive that I've spent my not-so-spare time writing up a program that simulates the alien behaviour - exactly as Jim has specified. The programme can do all the hard work, while you just enjoy the game.

You can find all the information about this tool here.

Edit: There are occasionally small improvements made to the programme. If you are online I recommend launching it from the website to make sure you get the latest version.

For convenience I've copy-pasted the instructions below.

Thanks a lot to Jim and to GMT for letting me use the original art files for the counters!
And please let me know if you find bugs or anything behaves unexpectedly - check the log first to see if you can work out what happened.

-
So what does it do...?
The program won't play the game for you, it just does the messy administrative things for the alien players.

It will:
- Keep track of the tech, fleet and defense CP pools
- Keep track of alien tech purchases
- Tell you when an alien player has launched a fleet
- Tell you what the fleet contains when it engages you
- Tell you what fleet the alien creates when you attack its home world

It won't:
- Make decisions about movement or combat of alien fleets
- Resolve conflicts
- Do anything else

Using it
It's generally pretty easy and intuitive to use and there's not much you need to do. Obviously you should read the full solitaire rules and experiment with the programme first before playing a real game.

1) When the game starts, choose your level: Easy, Normal, Hard, Harder, Really Tough, or Good Luck!

2) When a new economic phase starts, click "New Economic Phase"

3) New unrevealed fleets might appear on the bottom left. They are fleet symbols with a number on the top right that represents the fleet number, and a white number in the centre top representing the number of CP in the fleet. Remember, you only calculate what is in the fleet when you fight it. When these appear you should launch them on your game map - but don't click on them yet.

4) When alien fleets engage yours, now click the "unrevealed fleet" and "reveal" them. The content of the fleet then appears in the tab in the centre.

5) When alien fleets see your tech, make sure you mark this in the checkboxes immediately. (Otherwise the alien tech purchases will be wrong)

6) When alien fleets buy tech, it appears in the messages at the top, and on the tech pane for that alien. Click on the different tabs to see what techs each alien has.

7) If you attack an alien home world it needs to build a defense fleet. Click "Build Defense" - using the button of the right color. Use the Homeworlds at the top right as tabs.

That's it.
You also have a log on the bottom right of everything that has happened, including die rolls for the alien players. If something strange seems to be happening, check there to see what happened. To save this log in a file click "save log file" (at the top left)

Known Issues
This software is new and the rules are complex. Although everything should work fine, there may be cases that have not been tested.

There are some things I know about already:

- It doesn't take into account counter limits for the alien player. It also doesn't put maximums of how many alien ships can be in a group. If Jim lets me know what the rules would be, I can integrate them.
- Right now you have to be Green. I like being green.
- Although it has original art files included, the programme could still be prettier to look at. I used a window-building toolkit that simply is not up to it and are some small things I could make nicer if its worth the time (resizing of window, alignment of unrevealed fleets...). Next time, a different tool.
-The programme is new, and it hasn't had thousands of users or a big testing team behind it. If anything strange happens, please let me know what you think was wrong and send me the log. I may or may not be able to resolve it, but I'm always grateful for the info.

Installation
For info about how to install it go here
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Guido Gloor
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That sounds awesome!

Since it's Java, it should be fairly easy to port it to Android, right? whistle
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Wayne O'Keeffe
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Great job. Will give it a go over the next few days.


haslo wrote:
That sounds awesome!

Since it's Java, it should be fairly easy to port it to Android, right? whistle


Windows phone app please
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Ocean Druen
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Have not played a solitare game yet, but will plan on it this weekend! thanks!!
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Guido Gloor
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DirtyDubs wrote:
Windows phone app please

That'd be developing for a dying market, despite Microsoft's best efforts
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Jim Krohn
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Roger, as I have already told you, this is awesome!

Strategy tip for solitaire players - when using this program, be sure to pay attention to what the aliens are rolling so that you can better plan.
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Jon Kolman
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DirtyDubs wrote:
Great job. Will give it a go over the next few days.


haslo wrote:
That sounds awesome!

Since it's Java, it should be fairly easy to port it to Android, right? whistle


Windows phone app please


While I like to see apps get ported to the greatest possible amount of devices, a Windows phone O/S just doesn't make sense. Not with Apple and Android being the market leaders.
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Bob
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Wow this beats the heck outta my flow chart!
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Jason Bryan
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I too would love to see an android application for this.
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Roger
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phoenfyre wrote:
I too would love to see an android application for this.


Hmmm, I don't have any experience developing for Android, but from what I can see it would need to go through the App market to transparently make sure the right java infrastructure was installed on the device. Anyone have experience of putting apps on the Android market? Can you put "beta" apps like this there?

In any case the window is too big for a phone, so it would need to be for a tablet.
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Stephen Harper
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Thanks for this application, Roger! It is fantastic! I just finished my first solitaire Alien game as the Easy setting, and am ready to start another, and this will be a great help. I just launched it and it fired up with no problem. Thanks again!
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Bob
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You should post this as a web link to the main page.
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Roger
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chrono280 wrote:
You should post this as a web link to the main page.


Good idea. Done and waiting for approval.
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hsquid wrote:
Done and waiting for approval.

Already approved.
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Ryan Dodge
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This is a great tool. The only enhancement I'd like to see (or maybe it's there and I don't see it) is a way to "turn off" an alien player once he's been destroyed, so it doesn't keep rolling and launching fleets. Obviously this isn't a big deal, but it would be a great (and pretty simple) addition.

Thanks for doing this! I can't imagine playing the AP game without it!
RJD

PS - I don't have the log saved, but I did notice that when building a fleet after clicking the "build defense" button that 2 strange things happened:

First is that the alien player already had shipSize2 but rolled for shipSize3 (which failed) then rolled for shipSize2 for some reason. It didn't actually have him buy it (even though the roll was a success), but it was strange that it reported the alien player as rolling for it.

Second was that when reporting the defense pool CPs it listed it as 0, even though the AP had 10 CPs. Again, it correctly built 2 mines, so no biggie, but it was simply reported in the log wrong.
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Roger
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Thanks Ryan, that exactly the sort of feedback I need.
I've put up a new version that fixes the logging anomalies you mentioned.
It will need a bit more messing around to remove dead aliens, but I need to do it since it is exactly the annoying thing I noticed when I played myself. I should get to it on the weekend.
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Roger
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Thinking again... the only thing different about a "dead" alien is that it doesn't do anything on an economic phase (no fleet launching and no accumulating CPs) and it can no longer build defense fleets. Existing fleets still act normally and can even buy tech with existing points.
That's easier. It's there.
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Jessicatz Fairymeadow
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For the people who preferred a mobile version, I made one in Javascript.
I built it with small screens in mind, please try it out and tell me what you think. It's not a straight port of the Java version, but one from scratch.

It's available at http://se4xai.appspot.com/

General use:
The "New Game" button opens a dialog to start a new game.

Basically, after each of your economic phases you push the "Do Economic Phase" button at the top, just like in Roger's program.
Sometimes the alien players will launch fleets, which then appear below. The player should move them according to the Move technology level of the alien player (and scenario book page 12).
Clicking the fleet name will reveal the fleet. All ship groups can be clicked on to change the number of ships in each group, while the trash-can symbol removes the fleet completely.

To attack an alien player's home system, click on the "Home System" fleet. If an alien player loses his home system, it can be "turned off" by clicking the little power button next its name. That way, the fleets remain on screen but it won't do anything during the round other than moving the remaining fleets.

There is a also a crude log you can view anytime, but it's not very useful yet.

I really hope this is as useful on mobile devices as Roger's awesome tool is on bigger computers laugh
Any feedback is dearly appreciated modest

Update

It now saves the current game state in a browser cookie, so you don't lose game info when leaving the page. It's set to expire after 14 days.

I suffered from this just yesterday after leaving the game for a night, my mobile browser thought it was a good idea to reload the page and discard the whole game state yuk
Big incentive for me to fix it quick
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Jayson Smith
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hsquid wrote:
phoenfyre wrote:
I too would love to see an android application for this.


Hmmm, I don't have any experience developing for Android, but from what I can see it would need to go through the App market to transparently make sure the right java infrastructure was installed on the device. Anyone have experience of putting apps on the Android market? Can you put "beta" apps like this there?

In any case the window is too big for a phone, so it would need to be for a tablet.


Yes. I only have one app out (and it was just to see what the process was to publish) here:
https://market.android.com/details?id=us.pseudoapps.turntime...

Android has its own UI framework designed, so you can't use Swing or what have you. You can check here for the packages supported on Android. IMO the SDK is a piece of cake, and if you already work with Eclipse it should be a snap.
http://developer.android.com/reference/packages.html
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James Fung
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I feel pretty stupid. Since I've been playing with Vassal, I have a habit of opening and closing windows quickly (like the production sheet), and sometimes in my haste I close the Alien Solitaire program by mistake. Had I known about the update, I would have run from the online launcher instead of locally and not lose my entire game. Anyway, thanks for the update. Now I know better.
 
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