09 January 2010

Pokemon Simulation and Me (and You) Pt. 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Work on OPENPKMN became somewhat feast or famine. During my semesters, I largely ignored it, swamped with classwork. Then during my winter and summer breaks, I would break it out and start some pretty hardcore development. And this would be after programming all day at work. I wish I could be more descriptive, but really all of 2007 in terms of OPENPKMN development was pretty light on permanent records. One thing I did do pretty early in the year was rewrite the battle engine from the ground up. I basically did not allow myself to copy any code from the old engine. The result was actually pretty nice! Not everything turned out that great though. After taking a class on network security, I developed a rather elaborate authentication scheme which was based on Kerberos. It was overly ambitious and totally unnecessary, and all my work that was sunk into it was scrapped.

Meanwhile Smogon was chugging along, truly an unmitigated success. It was rapidly collecting users rapidly and was developing quite a reputation as the preeminent competitive Pokemon site. With work focused largely on improving site, Competitor was nowhere in sight, however. Then, in the summer of 2007, the landscape of online battling was changed again. A new battling client called Shoddy Battle came out.

What was the significance of Shoddy Battle? I'm going to start on things that I fully understand. For one it was open source. It was also written in Java, which meant it wasn't Windows-only like Netbattle. Now it's important to note that in many ways the world of Pokemon had passed me by. I only actually owned the first, second, and third generation of Pokemon games. I only played the first and second generations of games to completion. I only battled with the first generation mechanics online. I think Shoddy Battle had support for the fourth generation of games when NetBattle's support was somewhat lousy. But don't quote me on that. In any event, uptake of Shoddy was slow at first, particularly at Smogon where people were holding out on Competitor. Then NetBattle seemed to start crumbling. I think the domain lapsed and development from the core team slowed down. The version number seemed stuck at .96, but maybe there were patches. I couldn't use the thing anyways. So really I don't know. In any case, Shoddy became the big man on campus sometime in 2008.

I found Shoddy Battle to be an interesting, but not profound, development. Another open source Pokemon simulator! But in any event, it only supported the latest games, which I didn't know shit about, so I didn't really give it much thought. So in my mind OPENPKMN still had a reason to live.

In late January of 2008, I set up an SVN account on Source Forge and started pushing OPENPKMN updates out to there. After a few updates, I took nearly a year break from publishing anything. I'm not sure why that happened. I worked on it some that summer, but there are no commits until late December 2008.

Basically all of 2007 and 2008 were pretty undistinguished, but a lot got done. While to the end user it would look like a lot changed between now and then, late 2008 OPENPKMN was structurally very similar to the OPENPKMN that exists today. The battle engine is essentially the same. There were the skeletal beginnings of encryption and extensive logging of battle data in a database. Even the Java based-client, which looks radically different, came into existence during this era. So, really, a lot happened, but it wasn't exciting stuff. No egregious glitches. No terribly poor coding decisions. A lot of forward progress. But everything was happening in the dark.


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