Last week I launched a UI design contest at 99designs.com asking for two screens: the Kingdom Overview and Travel. The responses have been great and I cannot wait to share. The contest is broken into several phases: bidding, finalists, winner. Today the contest will enter the finalists phase, where I select the top 4 designers to narrow the field down.
In other exciting news, "ArchElf" has started work on a client in the Unity platform and already has the communication piece working. I believe this effort, combined with the winning design, is the future for Conquest!. One of the challenges with Conquest! has also been a high barrier to entry. When it started on IRC, there was a limited number of people who knew about that platform and getting online was more involved than it is today. Earlier this year I created a Windows client, but it uses a legacy API which is not supported on anything but a PC. It was never meant to be the final solution; rather, an easier way to demonstrate the game-play.
On the server side, I made just a few enhancements this week. When you establish a new kingdom, you will receive enough land for 2 structures (until it runs out). In this way, you can get a small army and economy going. I also modified how data is sent to the client for certain commands (market, city, email, alliance, troops). Under the old way, these items were sent either with separate messages or (in the case of troops) as one long space delimited string. The latter violated the protocol, as each should be sent with a separate XML tag as part of one message. I'm sure there are other instances of this that I will root out and fix over time.
I also standardized the true/false messages coming from the server to YES/NO. For example, when sending whether a player can buy an item one of those values is now a parameter. How this is conveyed to the user is up to the client.
For the existing client, I combined the "View Kingdom/Army" buttons into one, due to the warnings in place for low food/gold/housing. I also modified the sidebar to improve readability.
James has been working on Conquest! since 1993.