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Did I mention that Shipbase III was published 18 years ago?

May 2, 2011

In our last episode I mused that, since nearly all my wargaming is done solo these days, it made sense to dust off one of my long-dormant, mostly-finished-but-not-quite game designs. D-CATR Naval was the first working Windows port of Shipbase III and the most recent entry in the long string of Shipbase projects.

Not coincidentally, next month (June 2011) marks the 18-year anniversary of the publication of Shipbase III.

The D-CATR project has languished, untouched by Irvanian hands, in its playable-but-not-really-usable condition for over ten years. I dropped the project back around 2000 when I decided to concentrate all my creative mojo towards writing my first novel, at the expense of all the game-related projects I had going at the time.

Here we are in 2011. I've got all these wonderful ship miniatures I've been painting over the past few years and I've been wanting to use them in games. Shipbase 6, the hacked-up version of Shipbase III I use for my personal games, will work back to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, but it doesn't do much earlier than that, and it's a patched-together kludge, and it's a DOS program that's really showing its age. Time to upgrade to a better system.

So, I says to myself, the old D-CATR program looks a bit old-fashioned (it's got that late-1990's look-and-feel, so it's only about 12 years out-of-date, as opposed to Shipbase 6 being about 22 years out-of-date) but it actually works pretty well. I've played quite a few games with it and have been happy with the results.

It's missing two critical functions though: the ability to use the ship database (changing ship data, adding new ships, deleting ships, and changing the order ships show up in the lists) and the ability to make and change scenarios. You could play the scenarios that came with D-CATR but you couldn't make any new scenarios, or make major changes to the existing scenarios. The ship database files and scenarios that came with D-CATR were mostly the old database from Shipbase III run through a converter program. Whenever I wanted a new scenario for D-CATR, I had to create it in Shipbase 6 and run it through the converter program. Not an elegant solution.

I spent the past three weeks or so hammering on a new program to do those two important tasks. The two functions are very similar in nature, so I've been able to wrap them together in a single Database Editor/Scenario Editor program. Yesterday I finished writing the Database Editor section and have been happily keying new ships into the database.

While I was tinkering under the hood anyway, I wanted to add a few new features to the game design and change around a few things I wanted to improve. I'm calling the new project Shipbase 7. Most of it looks a lot like D-CATR but the file formats are different, and a lot of the details running in the background are different. For one thing, the way ships take damage is completely revamped.

There are still several weeks' worth of work to be done getting the Scenario Editor working, then I have to make some tweaks to the main Shipbase 7 program to incorporate the new features. I should have something I can run playtest games on by the end of June 2011. Then comes the never-ending task of updating and correcting all the ships currently in the database, and adding literally thousands of ships that aren't in the database yet.

Expect screen shots, new photo galleries of recently painted ship miniatures, and photos of playtest games in progress.

One word: Lissa 1866.

Okay, that's two words. Sorry.

This article was filed under:
May 2011 articles
Irvania.com webmaster: Dave Ferris
The content on this page was written: May 2, 2011
Last updated: June 11, 2016