I have been doing all the programming for WOW over the last eight years. I finished most of it whilst studying a Computer Science and Computer Engineering Degree at The University Of Melbourne.
Well I have since graduated got married and been working for a global company called Mars since then. WoW has pretty much been on hold these last few years whilst Harry and I have been travelling and settling in with other real life commitments. Though the start of 2003 has proved to be a time of resurgence in the game for both of us. With a little more spare time again and a drive to make it better than ever progress is slowly but surely being made.
How did it all really start. Well, I have been programming for a very long
time now. My dad, when I was 8 bought an Apple II. We had no games or anything like that back then, so I had to find
magazines with games in them and type them in and play them. I also made my own
games. Hence to say that is where the interest in programming games ware born in me.
Harry and I went to the same school in the country. We had been trying to make computer games, role playing games and more from about year 10 onwards. Anyway we came to Uni and we found out about Atlantis, another play by email game. We played that for a while and had a great time.
That was quite a few years ago now, and Harry had a draft set of rules and ideas for a game called War of Wizards. I had a look at it and thought it was pretty cool. It had a lot of features and I said that I wouldn't be able to program them all in. So the game started with 10 players about 10 unit types and about 10 buildings, that was about it. I wrote that game in about a month. 10000 lines of C++ Code.
It was pretty good all things considered, I had only just learnt the C++ language that semester. We run the program on a unix server on my university account.
We played that game for about 7 months from memory. We had an alliance of three players win that game. Harry also started up a game around January of 1997 using this old code. While he was running that game I was in the process of writing code for WOW 2.0.
We started from scratch and wrote the game for the PC instead of UNIX. The first game used arrays and was just too memory hungry and to limited. Also in the past game all the data for the units, buildings and so on had been directly coded into the game. For WOW 2.0 we decided that a database of information would be better. Harry created a data base containing all the information on units, buildings, heroes, resources, and so on.
In about October of 1997 we were nearly ready to start play testing. I hadn't finished all the code as yet and each turn for a while had a two week delay while I finished the code for each new feature as the players used it for the first time.
In December we finally paid some money and got our own server which seems to be working fairly well.
Everything is a lot better now and turns are run regularly. There are only a few bugs in the system, but they are slowly but surely being worked out of the system.
Since then various new features have been added and we are about to play our 250th game soon.
As of December 1997 - The program is run on a Pentium 166. Each game takes about 2 - 15 minutes to run. Each of the mails are processed when ever I log onto the alphalink server. The map editor is being programmed in Delphi 3. It will eventually become a full blown user interface for making your text based orders for you.
As of October 1998 - A step forward and a step backward. The wow program and environment was moved onto a linux Red Hat 5.2 server and got it's own dedicated internet connection. After quite a bit of work to port the code from the PC to the linux server proved to be a great investment. We began hosting our own mail server and web server and the game all fully automated. The step backwards was that the server was a 486-66 with 13 Gig hard disk and 32 Meg of Ram. The games took slightly longer, some of the large ones up to an hour.
As of January 2003 - Well the 486 served us very well for a number of years and would
have kept going forever, the old saying goes they don't build them like the used to applies
to it I am sure. It is still on line but no longer hosting WoW. Everything was moved off
this linux server onto a Linux 7.3 Red Hat server. Specs on it are P4 1.8 GHz 80 Gig hard
disk and 512MB Ram. Games now take about 20 seconds to run which is great for the players.
However we are still running off a 56Kb modem link, so it still takes a while for people to
get their reports. Hopefully this server will last as long as the last one did.