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News from Mid to Late 2001

November 27th

I did some work today.  The Plan has been altered to reflect the changes.  I had to put off the criticals mentioned below until food is added.

November 1st

WorkThe Plan has been altered to reflect the changes.  The next 7 things to be done over the next few days are (in order):

choking critical, nausea critical, time abstraction, resting, natural healing, scars, and body symmetry.

October 26th

All right.  The Plan has been updated.  Those are the things I'm working on now, in no particular order.

October 15th

Phase I of the speed optimization is done.  There is still a lot to be done, so don't be concerned if it isn't fast/playable yet, although I will start mixing in other kinds of additions now.  I put up a new version on the download page, complete with frames-per-second counter (which I hope isn't too painful for you!).

October 13th

I did some optimizing today.  My computer tells me the program is now twice as fast (check for yourself here), although I'm not sure how that will bear itself out in the real world.  I might do a little more speed-tweaking tomorrow, but mostly I'm just going to let the problem sit in my head for a while.  Which means I'll actually start implementing game-related additions (I will mix in the required interface updates into my programming schedule, of course).

October 11th

There.  I just felt like putting it up now, although it is not yet optimized.  Feedback is appreciated, especially if it isn't playable and you want it to be.

October 9th

No, not yet.  I'm still waiting on the speed test (we won't test the speed of the speed tester; he's just busy this week).  I haven't stopped programming though -- today I cleaned some things up, both in the program and around this web site.

October 7th

Work.  We are getting very close now (although I hate building up to it, since it is a demo for a game that is 3% done).  In any case, Alan will be doing some speed tests on various computers to see if I need to do more optimization prior to the release.

Since this game is/was/will be a work in progress, the demo will be rather rough around the edges (or even the middle).  However, releases will be more frequent than they have been (now that there are no exams looming over my head), so that should more than make up for it (any roughness will be replaced by different roughness, and more features).  I expect to have a download out by the end of next weekend (ie Sunday night), barring some Horrible news from Alan on the speed front (it works fine on the 1.2 GHz with the Geforce 3, but that isn't what I'd call the target system).

October 6th

Today was fairly productive.  School is just getting started, so there will be some slow times (like last week).  However, I passed my qualifying exams, and thus I will have a more-or-less even schedule for several years now.  This is a good thing.  A few menus and the combat demo will be ready.  I think there are 3 or 4 items left on the list -- today's session was mostly bug fixing.  Now all that remains is interface (some menus and a combat information readout).

September 25th

Still working.  The past few days have been fairly productive.  Of the 14 or so points I wanted to do before the combat demo, only 9 remain.  Some of them are trivial, and some of them are rather tedious.

September 23rd

Qualifying exams are over.  I don't have my results yet, but that isn't really relevant.  I did some work today, and the list of things left to do before I put out the combat demo is ever-dwindling.

September 3rd

Fixed a bug today.  I tested universe persistence for fun as well -- the game generated a human empire and a kobold empire.  First I played a human and charged off toward the kobolds.  Switching to real time because I'm insane, I died immediately.  Then I played a kobold and went back to the exact city (Crystal City) and place (a large house near the palace) where the human had died.  Lo and behold, there was the decapitated body.  The kobolds were all being friendly, because I was playing one of them.  Anyway, I picked up the head and carried it to the human empire, and managed to run the head into the outskirts of a town before I got killed -- I didn't manage to defeat any opponents because I was trying to wack them to death with the head of my previous player.  After that daring attack, I played a human and went to the spot where I had fought with the head.  And it was there waiting.  How pleasant!  In any case, universe persistence seems to be operating just fine.

September 2nd

There -- if this is here, that means the FTP situation isn't so annoying.  Since regular updates have been posted at the forum, I won't bore you with many details now.  If you want to see a short list of the changes I've made in August, look at the log.  Here is a screenshot of some creatures chasing me down a hill.  It is hardly done and the JPEG format blurs it, but that's where things are headed.  You'll note the lack of creature models among other things.  Currently, the player can press 'r' to go to real-time.  That is brutal right now.  They just run up and hack you to pieces.  It'll need some work to make it playable, like everything else.  I have about 16 small things I need to do before I can put out a demo, and my next batch of qualifying exams are in two weeks.  Once the demo is out, aside from taking suggestions and making fixes, there will be little focus on graphics, and we will get back to The Plan and The Future again (finally!!!)  I'll keep you all posted.

You can air grievances at the forum or through the contact page.

A tang

July 25th

I'm sorry that I've posted no news here for a while -- it's not that things aren't going on, it's just that my FTP situation is annoying right now.  I post updates and so on regularly at the forum.  For now, you should go there if you want to monitor the project more closely.

July 7th

I've been planning growths and the structure of the magical arts.  It's important that I get this done right the first time, since the addition of the magic structure involves changes throughout the code.  I have some OpenGL applications running quickly enough on my old computer that the new one isn't so imperative anymore (although it will still be immensely helpful of course).  I worked on some programs today related to translating the Armok map into 3D.  The programming was quick and successful, and I don't think the change will bring many problems (however, one of the test machines didn't run the demo properly, so there is a headache on the horizon).  I doubt the change will take very long now.  Then I can finally get the interface done, and everyone will be able to take a look at it (yes, that means the download page will finally see some action again).  I might have a supplemental 2D version/option, and some of you will want one (the 3D version will likely require some kind of hardware acceleration to run smoothly).  We'll see how that goes when the release rolls around.  As for the 3D version's creatures, I'll decide between 3D models (as in Quake) or regular bitmaps (as in the original Myth, say) over the next few days.  3D models would actually be easier to do than animated bitmaps in a real-time game (drawing thousands of bitmaps is painful -- 3D models are also better than animated bitmaps because it's easier to chop off limbs, etc.), and I'm not sure how far Armok will slide toward real-time in the end.  Pondering commences...

[Yes, this week wasn't really that productive.  Those exams are still going to mess with me a bit, although not as much as last time.  September 17th and 21st are the dates..

June 22th

The move went very smoothly.  I've been taking care of administrative nonsense for the most part (I did manage to do a Little).  I should be back in full-swing by tonight and certainly tomorrow.

June 19th

Work.  Still working on combat fundamentals -- today I extended the code to support creatures smaller than one cubic centimeter to larger than the universe (the latter type won't come up much:) ).  I'm not sure how large the largest creature will be in the actual game.  It will have to fit in the loaded map area, which means the largest creature will probably be, say, a dragon that is 100 meters long.  Larger creatures might be allowed, but they would have to be displayed at a smaller scale.

Speaking of display, I started looking into OpenGL today.  It also seems fairly straightforward (I looked at Direct3D last week).  I'm not sure if/when I'll make the jump to 3D, or if I'll also support a 2D version for people without the video cards.  I'm not going to 3D for the looks -- it simply seems the best way to handle the three dimensional environments that Armok already has.  There isn't a better way to display them.  Every two dimensional method I've encountered bumps into some insurmountable problems (slopes/cave entrances/cliff faces/etc.).  I'm open to suggestions.  I haven't made plans yet, but I seriously doubt that I'd adopt a first person view.  Your character will still be in the center of the screen; you will just be able to rotate and zoom the view to analyze your surroundings.  Current plans have Armok remaining turn-based as well, although it might be entertaining to put in a real-time option and watch how long you last.  The combat would be intense, but I think most people would probably prefer the time to think (at least when playing a character that they value).

The move is tomorrow.  If all goes according to plan, my computer should only be dismantled for a few hours.  Internet access is a different story.  News will be posted in the forum until further notice.  I won't be able to get to any of the pages on the site to change them (notably the plan and the log), but work will be ongoing.

June 18th

I did a bit more today.  In order to complete combat, I had to jump ahead and put in masses.  Item masses has been removed from the Item Future Page.  It's good to finally put a dent in one of those future pages.  I tested the extremes of the combat code by pitting my character (a Titan, 150 tons, 1000 times the size of a human) against a rat which weighed precisely 1729 grams.  Needless to say, I was still around to test the item weight code after the battle (the rat's head weighed 43 grams, incidentally).

June 17th

Work was done today.  I've fixed the consciousness net and put in stunning.  The Plan has been updated to reflect the additions.  I'm moving on to making damage effects more widespread (and to fix the bug where creatures move faster when they are injured), then I'll put stuck-ins back into the game (a stuck-in occurs when you attack someone and your weapon becomes temporarily lodged in the other creature).  After that I'll do item wear and breakage (and perhaps item sullying).  Following these changes, I can finish corpse processing.  The final change I have immediately scheduled is the addition of some kind of vegetation.

I'm moving a few miles down the street this week.  If there aren't any updates on the page for a while, check the forum.  I will have easier access to the forum than this page until I get a phone line up in my new place.  Programming should be uninterrupted, unless somebody drops my computer:)

There is a Bay 12 Chat Room now.  No reason -- but if you're lucky, you might run into somebody in there.  We'll find some use for it later I'm sure.

June 14th

I finished reading up on Direct3D (up to version 8 now).  It doesn't seem very difficult, at least not to program the things that I need to make Armok playable (especially a 3D map that can be rotated).  I won't be adding in 3D graphics for a while, because my current ancient computer just isn't ready for it.  I have a new one "in process" (courtesy of Alanor).  Because the graphics system isn't finalized, I won't be able to work on making the interface more user-friendly for some time.

This means that the Plan is remaining unchanged for now.  I start tomorrow.  I'll begin by fixing the consciousness net so that your lungs don't shut off when your upper body gets scratched.

June 12th

Well, I'm glad the qualifying examinations are over with.  Or I would be, if I had passed all of them.  I'll be retaking two exams in September.  That will be keeping me busy, but I won't let it interfere with Armok.  Bobo the Trained Mathematical Tiger is sick of jumping through hoops for a few bits of rotten meat.  I hope I pass the tests in autumn, but I'm not going to let them nullify three more months of my life.  Screw that.

I'm picking up Armok where I left off.  This basically means finishing up combat.  Programming starts in a few days, as soon as the post-qual haze clears.  I've been thinking about graphics for some time as well, and I haven't found a way to resolve all of the conflicts without adding some kind of 3D system.  I'm prepared to do that, although it would take time away from other aspects of the game.  If I do add fancier graphics, my original focus will not change.  None of us really need another one of those games, although I guess they're fun to stare at occasionally.

Some of you have noticed the new forum.  Feel free and drop by if you like.  The new forum doesn't have any pop-up ads (or any ads for that matter).

I will once again be making regular updates.  Stay tuned.

May 14th

Here are some screenshots of some new fractal maps I've been working on.  When I get them tuned right, they'll wipe out all of the problems I've been having meshing boundaries correctly, and they'll save space in the process.  The screenshots are from the game itself, and these are world maps.  To make them large enough to view, I made the worlds enormous.  Every pixel in the images below is about the size of California...

May 6th

I took a break and optimized 3D vision today.  The game is now about five to ten times faster.  I'm still on my study schedule though.  Urgh...  exactly one month until my first exam.  Good luck charms and crib sheets to:
Tarn Adams
Department of Mathematics
Stanford University
Stanford, CA   94305-2125

Thanks for your concern.  If you're sending poisoned cookies because things have been really slow lately, just take a breather for a month and you'll be glad I'm not dead!