Wargame Tools – a learning program

My name is Pete, and I am a wargamer. I am also a programmer. As a programmer and huge geek, I look for ways to apply programming knowledge to my other hobbies. So it only makes sense that I would try to apply it to wargaming.

Over the years, I’ve seen, used and abandoned various ‘army list’ programs. My favourite for the longest time was Army Builder but their licence restrictions are just a little bit harsh for me – apparently, a recent ‘minor’ upgrade means that anyone without an active licence (mine ran out years ago) must buy a new one, and the datafiles are not compatible with previous versions. It sounds more like a major version change than a minor one to me, but that’s their call at the end of the day.

So I’ve decided to build my own, as daunting a task as it may be, and see if I can bring something I work on in my spare time to the web as a useful addition to the choices around in the world today. At the same time (and extending the possible release by an indeterminate amount) I decided to use this as an excuse to learn WPF and apply some more object-oriented concepts to my code.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks, as Army Builder has always worked with and Army Roster discovered this year, is that it’s not nice to just give away the intellectual property of games manufacturers. So there is a need to give people the tools they need to make the data files, with which to build the actual army lists. It’s also pretty difficult to take what amounts to a domain-specific language that your datafile program writes and your army list program understands, and present an easy, graphical way for your user to interact with it without getting them too deep into the technical sides of it. It needs to be accessible for non-programmers.

So far, I’ve been working away on it slowly, and through evenings and weekends when I can snatch a few minutes. I’ve found WPF and XAML to be very, very interesting to work with but there’s a bit of a learning curve to get over if (like me) you’re coming from a Windows Forms background. I will be putting up anything interesting that I’ve learned, or link to samples that have helped me, whenever I find something useful.