In the functionality arena, I fixed a long-standing bug that was making the bitmaps look too dark on some 24-bit cards. I was worried that my fix was gonna slow things down, but it doesn't seem to be having a noticeable effect.
I've been replacing some of the graphics with pictures that'll look better in more than 16 colors. I bought one of those gigandor 8-CD collections of clipart that I've been using. I'm trying to be careful not to overdue it, so it doesn't look like I'm throwing in clipart just for its own sake. I did manage to replace the vegetables in Olive Wars with some better-looking ones. I also added potatoes, green beans, onions, and eggplants to the arsenal of attacking foods.
On the research front, I've finally had a chance to give Java a second look. I figured that if I'm gonna come up with some new games after this set, I might as well look into new ways of doing it, and Java's got a lot going for it. A few former C++ programmers I know have told me that once you start using it, it's tough to go back to C++. The price is right too --If you buy one IDE, there are cheap competitive upgrades to the others. I should've purchased the IBM VisualAge product when they were offering an $80 rebate on their $80 IDE, but I already had Sun's Java Workshop ($49) and SuperCede ($20 competitive upgrade). I figured I didn't need any more of 'em.
I'm pretty impressed with SuperCede. It works a lot like Visual Basic, with a palette of drop-able Java Beans for component programming. It also comes with a JDBC database and a buncha good beans. You can also compile Java apps into EXE files. Not as fast as C++ by any means, but not too bad.
Interestingly, I wonder if Java is going to do to computers what software rendering engines did for laser printers. A few years ago, laser printers were very "smart", with top-notch CPU's, PostScript, built-in fonts, etc. Heck, the original Apple LaserWriter's CPU was faster than the one in the computer! Nowadays though, most laser printers are much simpler, because the page-rendering is done in software. Given that the AFC "swing" classes have all of the GUI basics without using the underlying windowing system's widgets, a GUI doesn't need to be as smart as it used to be. If there's ever a good critical-mass of Java apps, I could see computers being much less sophisticated than they are now. A computer with a fast Java VM and a good graphics card would be enough.
I just wonder if/when there's gonna be a "Java Computer" that'll gain commercial acceptance. Probably when it's in the form of a laptop, runs an MS Office-compatible app suite, and costs $200.
Hopefully I'll have games ready for it by then :)