While I do a weekly progress report, I thought I would write about the broader history and future of Hexcell Games.

For many years now I have had a game churning around in my head. That game’s name is Momentum. It is a space themed game of fighter combat that takes place on a hex grid. The momentum of the ships is a big part of movement in the game, hence the name. At its heart it is a boardgame, but I have always imagined it implemented online.

Momentum has had a couple of aborted attempts to be implemented – once in Javascript, once in Flash. The first time in Javascript I did not have a framework such as jQuery so development was arduous. I also made a mistake in trying to produce a Javascript only solution. In Flash I started developing in ActionScript 2, only to have it superseded by AS3.

On top of that I was trying to design the details of the game as I was coding. Often the game would evolve along lines that were easier to program than what was best for the game.

About three years ago I was introduced to the game of WW1 fighter combat called Blue Max. This too was played on a hexagonal grid with an interesting movement mechanic. In this case each fighter had a array of maneuvers it could perform based on the capabilities of the plane. While the specifics were very different, the core of the game – simultaneous movement selection on a hexagonal grid – was the the same as Momentum.

It took me a couple more years to realise that the similarities of these two games could work in my favor. While Blue Max is not my IP, it is a complete and simple game. I could do an online implementation of Blue Max and then start working on Momentum. While developing Blue Max I would not need to worry about developing game rules. Hopefully both the code and lessons learned could be taken directly to Momentum.

At the core of the game is a small library of functions to model location, facing and movement on a hexagonal grid. With each implementation I have redone this library. I now have it in Javascript, ActionScript 2, a jQuery plug-in and in PHP. I’ll talk about the technical aspects of these functions in another post.

About a year ago I started using the jQuery JavaScript framework seriously. Prior to that I had used Prototype.js in my private works and later Mootools at work. All these frameworks do the same thing on one level, but in the last year I have become so confident with jQuery that I could see it would allow me to rapidly code the site I had in mind.

And it did come together very quickly. At the beginning of October 2009 there was nothing to speak of except ideas. By the end of December there was a playable game running under its own domain.

Hexcell Games was so named because both my planned games revolved around a grid of hexagons – or hex cells. Does that mean I am limited to doing games based on hex grids? Maybe, at least on this domain anyway, but there is still lots of scope for many different games is hexagonal space, and just the first two are big enough projects to keep me satisfied for quite some time.