New Release - Whats left to do?

Development directions, tasks, and features being actively implemented or pursued by the development team.

New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby pheonixstorm » Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:17 pm

Things ready so far...
Code
    Cubemaps
    New Radar
    New Mesh Animation (does this stay in?)
    Updated Shaders (need warning NOT to use latest drivers)
    Updated planet code
Data
    Radar changes
    Updated factions.xml
    New pirate quest (will be testing/tweaking today)



*EDIT*
The following is oudated ignore the original post below.
Ok, so we have cube maps in and working. Shaders are set (only nvidia has made them buggy). Pretty planets are done.

So, do we want to wait to get the new radar and mesh animation code in and working or release as is or is there something else we wait for?
Last edited by pheonixstorm on Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby breese » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:08 am

pheonixstorm wrote:Ok, so we have cube maps in and working. Shaders are set (only nvidia has made them buggy). Pretty planets are done.

So, do we want to wait to get the new radar and mesh animation code in and working or release as is or is there something else we wait for?

We should only release something that has been thoroughly tested, so I vote that we postpone the radar and mesh animations until a future release.

That will also give us better time to finalize these new features.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby strook » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:17 am

Mesh animation is tested an runs good, except that there is maybe some tweaking and a bug, but I'll have this done in one day coding.
For continuous animations like a radar turret that's rotating, it runs.
I think even if it shall not be in the release we could Mark it EXPERIMENTAL for developers that want to create animated meshes.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby strook » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:32 am

ok mesh animation is fixed now, plz. have a look in the Mesh Animation Thread.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby charlieg » Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:23 am

breese wrote:
pheonixstorm wrote:Ok, so we have cube maps in and working. Shaders are set (only nvidia has made them buggy). Pretty planets are done.

So, do we want to wait to get the new radar and mesh animation code in and working or release as is or is there something else we wait for?

We should only release something that has been thoroughly tested, so I vote that we postpone the radar and mesh animations until a future release.

That will also give us better time to finalize these new features.

I disagree.

I think you should release 0.6beta and put as much in as possible. Let the community test it, iron out the issues, and then follow up with 0.6stable. Release early, release often. It will draw more people to the project.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Deus Siddis » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:00 pm

I'd recommend aiming for a 0.5.1 Beta release, like was done with the previous release cycle (first 0.5.0 Beta, then after some testing, was followed by 0.5.0).

pheonixstorm wrote:So, do we want to wait to get the new radar and mesh animation code in and working or release as is or is there something else we wait for?


I have a few content projects I definitely want to get in for the next release.

The first are my new Asteroid model and texture sets. The content is basically done, all that is left is integration. If someone who knows how the asteroid spawning code works, could let me know how many independent asteroid BFXM models can be used at the moment, I should be able produce said models (though I haven't used the LoD feature for BFXMs before).

The second project is my rebalanced factions.xml, which fixes the 'cascading hatred' bug and better defines individual faction alliances so that the player can pick a side in everything. Klauss approved it and I sent it in to him for testing and then integration, but I don't know how far he was able to get with it, since he said he had a lot on his plate. I've attached it to this post if there's anyone who'd like to playtest it themselves, but you'll need to start from a fresh save if you do; playing with an existing save after the factions.xml file has been changed makes player-faction relations go bonkers. (My guess is VS only saves relative faction-player relation changes, instead of their actual values at save time).

Third, Strook's mesh animation system should have an animated, integrated mesh to test it in the next release. A Hoffman's Blob might be a good candidate except that they are so extremely rarely spawned it would defeat the purpose. I'll have to think of something.

If time allows, I have further major balance and graphical overhauls, but at least the above three are within striking distance of the next release, if it will come before the end of this year.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Mets » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:03 pm

charlieg wrote:I think you should release 0.6beta and put as much in as possible. Let the community test it, iron out the issues, and then follow up with 0.6stable. Release early, release often. It will draw more people to the project.

Agreed, the game badly needs a new release, and anything with 0.5 in it, I don't think, is suggestive of the scale of improvements that have been made. I think we should do a normal release as 0.6, and after a month or so, patch the bugs with a 0.6.1 release, etc.

I think anybody who plays this game and follows its development is well aware that it is very much beta software, so I don't really see the need for alpha and beta releases.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby strook » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:26 pm

We could let the asteroids rotate for example.
Another implementation could be different meshes for differerent unit speeds.
You could implement an afterburner for example.
I think this should be implemented with submeshes, cause if you hit the exhaust the ship shouln't be damaged.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby pheonixstorm » Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:40 am

Deus Siddis wrote:I'd recommend aiming for a 0.5.1 Beta release, like was done with the previous release cycle (first 0.5.0 Beta, then after some testing, was followed by 0.5.0).
So far i've been using .5.5 for my releases


Deus Siddis wrote:I have a few content projects I definitely want to get in for the next release.

The first are my new Asteroid model and texture sets. The content is basically done, all that is left is integration. If someone who knows how the asteroid spawning code works, could let me know how many independent asteroid BFXM models can be used at the moment, I should be able produce said models (though I haven't used the LoD feature for BFXMs before).
I looked in asteroid and asteroid_generic and there is very little code. Most of what I found for asteroids is in data under /units/factions/neutral. As far as code on a number...
Code: Select all
GameAsteroid::GameAsteroid( const char *filename, int faction, Flightgroup *fg, [b]int fg_snumber[/b],
                            float difficulty ) : GameUnit< Asteroid > ( filename, false, faction, string( "" ), fg, fg_snumber )
{
    Asteroid::Init( difficulty );
}
I'm trying to backtrack the int fg_snumber to see what that is.

Deus Siddis wrote:The second project is my rebalanced factions.xml, which fixes the 'cascading hatred' bug and better defines individual faction alliances so that the player can pick a side in everything. Klauss approved it and I sent it in to him for testing and then integration, but I don't know how far he was able to get with it, since he said he had a lot on his plate. I've attached it to this post if there's anyone who'd like to playtest it themselves, but you'll need to start from a fresh save if you do; playing with an existing save after the factions.xml file has been changed makes player-faction relations go bonkers. (My guess is VS only saves relative faction-player relation changes, instead of their actual values at save time).
I just added the xml in and about to start a new game. With so few people testing anything though its hard to tell how well things have changed with all the new code...


Deus Siddis wrote:Third, Strook's mesh animation system should have an animated, integrated mesh to test it in the next release. A Hoffman's Blob might be a good candidate except that they are so extremely rarely spawned it would defeat the purpose. I'll have to think of something.

If time allows, I have further major balance and graphical overhauls, but at least the above three are within striking distance of the next release, if it will come before the end of this year.
Even a release with just the cubemaps and new shaders is big. Sadly its not really big ENOUGH. Add in radaras, mesh anim, and maybe some new asteroids and its a hit.

BTW how is the new mesher binary working out? Tried it yet?
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby charlieg » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:09 am

Some official testing systems / save games (kept in SVN) could really be a big benefit to VS.

Code: Select all
./vegastrike -load asteroids.save
vegastrike.exe -load hoffman.save
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Deus Siddis » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:16 pm

pheonixstorm wrote:I looked in asteroid and asteroid_generic and there is very little code. Most of what I found for asteroids is in data under /units/factions/neutral. As far as code on a number...


I wasn't able to find much on them either. I also wonder why we have the folder units/Asteroids, while it's actually units/factions/neutral/asteroids that contains the models which are used, according to units.csv. And then where is the code that spawns asteroid units based on the asteroid entries in units.csv? Such a mess.

I just added the xml in and about to start a new game. With so few people testing anything though its hard to tell how well things have changed with all the new code...


That's one of the areas where a beta pre-release might come in handy. It get's much more testing done but without holding it out as stable and turning away players if something is very broken.

Even a release with just the cubemaps and new shaders is big. Sadly its not really big ENOUGH. Add in radaras, mesh anim, and maybe some new asteroids and its a hit.


Hmm, maybe some additional rebalances might help it along too. Graphical features are cool, but if some basic playability was improved (beyond the changes to factions.xml), that would be a step up for the project. Because 0.5.0 seemed to have as many play-hindering issues as 0.4.3. It was almost like a step sideways in gameplay instead of a step forward.

BTW how is the new mesher binary working out? Tried it yet?


Not yet, I'm not sure how to compile it. If you can give me the compiled EXE (plus dependencies) I can test it out on the asteroids I need to convert from OBJ to BFXM. That'll test, diffuse, specular, normal textures and levels of detail conversion.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby pheonixstorm » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:02 am

here it is all zipped. What are the gameplay issues from .5 or where is a thread on em?

*EDIT* same deps are the other mesher so put in the games bin folder and it will run. Other than that... I think only dep was expat or xmlparse
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:36 pm

pheonixstorm wrote:here it is all zipped.


Cool, thanks. Now I just have to look up how to attach LoDs and I should be in business. . .

What are the gameplay issues from .5 or where is a thread on em?


In short:

1) Missions (and trading?) do not pay enough and/or ships and upgrades too expensive.
2) Most medium ships (corvettes) not available for purchase (the Goddard-Clydesdale Gap).
2) Radar has too much range (and can see through planets, iirc).
3) Turning accelerations insanely high on light craft.
4) Movement acceleration and governors far too high on light craft.
5) Guided missiles and auto trackers overpowered; push button warfare.
6) Dynamic universe warfare neutered since 0.4.3?

I think most of these would require mainly "content changes" to un-compiled XML, CSV and python files. However this data isn't always that well documented or streamlined, from what I can tell.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby pheonixstorm » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:22 am

Missions: I think the mission pay can be adjusted in the python code
Trading: Adjusted in csv files though after a bit you can make a lot of money off trading. Theres one item on the Atlantis/Serinity run that cost 23k and sells for 26k so trade profit is fairly good for some items.
Upgrades/Ships: Ships are definately expensive. But... compared to what you are buying I can see how the price for some can be rather high. The hunter spec Robin runs 75k while the milspec goes for 180k iirc. As for upgrades... I haven't really seen any of the higher end upgrades yet so can't really comment. Both ships and upgrades probably need to be tweaked though.
Ship stats: This entire area probably needs to be rebalanced. It would be nice if we had some math formula that can adjust the values based on a single or set of numbers. Engine output or some such (same with weapon stats)
missiles: Needs rebalace for speed, damage, range?
autotracker: Not sure how these work code wise but they should be limited to a 10-15 degree firing arc. I know in several star wars books the A-Wing has something like this for the front laser cannons but the track is limited to 15 degrees.
push button warfare: Sadly we cannot change this too much as even modern technology has thrust us into push button warfare. The AIM-54 Phoenix missile has a range of 100 nautical miles and a full load can be launched at multiple different targets. On the high end though we have the AGM-86 ALCM cruise missile with a range of 1500 miles and is completely fire and forget. Let us not forget though.. Drone aircraft, laser guided bombs, SDI (Star wars) particle beam weapons, etc. See SDI Wiki for some interesting tid bits on lasers etc.
Dynamic uni warfare: Will have to check it out unless someone knows something.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Boaal » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:16 am

Can I add a problem?

The system map. I do believe that this has been brought up before, maybe it'd be something to think about for the release after this, but the curent one is in major need of an overhaul.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby pheonixstorm » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:18 am

What kind of problems does it have? Other than too much transparency...
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Deus Siddis » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:46 pm

WARNING: Long post ahead. Prepare yourself. :)

pheonixstorm wrote:Missions: I think the mission pay can be adjusted in the python code


I believe so too. At first it might seem like the XML files in the Missions directory define variables like pay, but they are probably only for static test missions. It's the Python scripts in the Modules folder that must control the randomly generated missions.

Trading: Adjusted in csv files though after a bit you can make a lot of money off trading. Theres one item on the Atlantis/Serinity run that cost 23k and sells for 26k so trade profit is fairly good for some items.


Well then it's probably good for this upcoming release. In the future though it could be an improvement if all items were worth trading. At least for one reason or another, like maybe water trading doesn't pay very well, but subsequently pirates almost never bother to attack you for it; whereas trading ethanol. . .

Another factor is that since 0.5, cargo now adds to ship mass, making even the horrendously overly maneuverable Llama very, very hard to fly. If cargo was more profitable, you could either load up on only a manageable amount of it or have to make fewer of these difficult runs to make the same money. 0.5 essentially made trading a good deal harder without compensating you for the extra hardship.

Upgrades/Ships: Ships are definately expensive. But... compared to what you are buying I can see how the price for some can be rather high. The hunter spec Robin runs 75k while the milspec goes for 180k iirc. As for upgrades... I haven't really seen any of the higher end upgrades yet so can't really comment. Both ships and upgrades probably need to be tweaked though.


What I mean is, you can either make missions pay more or upgrades cost less, because either way you increase the player's buying power. That in turn makes the game 'progress' faster which helps make things less tedious.

You can look at it is in hours of playtime. I think the 'industry standard' amount of hours of playtime for the campaign of a commercial game is like 30 hours from beginning to end. So how far do you get after 30 hours of playing VS? You should be at about the height of your possible power and have left some kind of a visible impression on the dynamic universe at this point.

Or you can look at it from the perspective of how much interesting things happen or change from one hour of playtime to the next. From this angle it definitely feels like the game is progressing too slowly.

Ship stats: This entire area probably needs to be rebalanced. It would be nice if we had some math formula that can adjust the values based on a single or set of numbers. Engine output or some such (same with weapon stats)


Well for one there has to be some calculable relation between the power of the lateral thrusters and the ship rotation they affect through torque, with the distance of the individual lateral thrusters relative to center of mass being a nice independent variable we can adjust to control that torque separately from the lateral acceleration.

missiles: Needs rebalace for speed, damage, range?


Not really, but since since that's all we have to work with for now, well. . . yes. :)

See the problem is that there's no effective way to evade or counter a locked missile that I can tell, in the current implementation. There's two "probably realistic" solutions I can think that should also have gameplay depth.

One scenario is that your ship can "outlive" a missile's fuel supply if it can avoid contact long enough. However the missile is a faster accelerator than you so to avoid contact you have to deploy counter measures and then make a harsh course change. The missile will stay on it's course until it flys through the countermeasures and (being a smart little bastard of the future) realizes it has been had, makes a full 3 axis, 360º sweep of the area, finds and comes after you again. But in process it's limited fuel supply is running out, so after maybe a few more of these maneuvers, it's spent.

Scenario two is for even the lightest craft to be fitted with point defense. But possibly only in forward and backward orientations for the smallest, like with shields. As the pilot your job is to keep away from a missile to buy the time the point defense needs to destroy it. The more missiles fired or possibly the more evasive the missiles, the more time you will need.

And these two things can be combined as well. Either of these would require some work though, so for the next release, I think the most practical solution is to reduce probably the damage of guided missiles (and unrelatedly, perhaps the damage, speed and/or ammo capacity of dumb fire missiles.)

autotracker: Not sure how these work code wise but they should be limited to a 10-15 degree firing arc. I know in several star wars books the A-Wing has something like this for the front laser cannons but the track is limited to 15 degrees.


That's basically the same arc used by VS' auto trackers. Unfortunately, now that I think about it, there's probably no immediate solution to balancing auto trackers.

In the future though, modular damage modeling could offer an solid advantage to not using auto trackers all of the time. If at close and medium range a good marksman pilot could take out specific, vital parts of a ship, while auto trackers only aimed for the center of mass, the marksman can get the upper hand by shooting out important and necessarily exposed things like thrusters, sensors, weapons, cockpits or radiators. With different targeting priorities working better against some classes or makes of ships than others.

push button warfare: Sadly we cannot change this too much as even modern technology has thrust us into push button warfare.


Ah well folks have been saying that for a long time. But it never fully comes. Take fighter aircraft. Fighters are obsolete because of strategic bombers. Then WWII, woops that was wrong. Fighters are obsolete because of guided missile interceptors. Then Vietnam, woops that was wrong again. Now they are obsolete because of M.A.D. But as your article shows, another woops there too.

It's because each new tech has major unforeseen limitations. And these are sometimes worse in a future/space setting. Cruise missiles need to breath air. Similarly, nukes need a medium to convert and distribute most of their power over distance (same basic thing for Matter-Antimatter weapons). Solid fuel missiles have only so much stored energy. Fusion or Matter-Antimatter reactors probably would not miniaturize well into smaller missiles. Lasers eat power, shit (waste) heat and so deliver damage with limited efficiency.

Dynamic uni warfare: Will have to check it out unless someone knows something.


I could be wrong about this, but I haven't seen the great invasions with systems being taken by Aera, Human and Rlaan forces in 0.5, that happened in big ways back in 0.4. I suspect someone might have reigned in the dynamic universe in preparation for a scripted campaign they never got around to implementing.

Also, I don't know how the existence, creation and destruction of military installations like starfortresses and fighter barracks or capital ships and factory stations, control of planets, etc. affects dynamic warfare, but at least in the future there should be a strong correlation.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby charlieg » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:58 pm

There will be a lot of problems with the next release. The important thing is that there are fewer problems than the previous (0.5.0) release. Actually even that is not so important.

Let go of the notion that the release should be perfect. It'll make it easier. Release, improve, then release again. There's absolutely no harm in releasing very often. To release as rarely as Vega Strike does is usually disastrous for an open source project.

A new release gives you something fresh in your mind to compare to (when was the last time any of you played 0.5.0?) when improving the trunk, it gives a boost to the project - new and old people alike will crop up, increasing the chances of further improvements outside of those currently active. It'll solve a lot of the current stream of bug reports related to 0.5.0.

However the next release won't be perfect. Accept that, and release what is ready, rather than planning to get things ready for a release.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Boaal » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:45 pm

pheonixstorm wrote:What kind of problems does it have? Other than too much transparency...


Mainly it's just VERY unintuitive and far too convoluted to work with efficiently. I think that is due to how it's laid out, it confuses the hell out of people the first time they try and use it, and then the second and third times...
I'd suggest that a simpler two dimensional layout would work far better, and be far clearer, than the one we have now.

As I said, though, I know there was some kind of discussion about this whole thing a while ago on the forums, so I won't derail this thread further.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby pheonixstorm » Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:38 pm

Actually, its little things like that this thread needs. Little things we can pick out that would make for a nice change between .5 and say .5.5 I wouldn't call the next release .6 yet though... maybe after a lot more bugs or annoying design flaws are sorted out.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Deus Siddis » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:34 am

@ charlieg

Most or all of the things I've listed are simple value changes contained in uncompiled data. It's mainly a matter of tracking down where they are all stored exactly. And it's not like we have to have them all either, if some systems are too complicated to be easily modified we can leave them for the next release.

@ phoenixstorm & Boaal

I think you both might be talking about two separate interfaces. Boaal if I am not mistaken you were talking about the solar system map that shows the locations of the sun, planets, flightgroups and such, that is part of the pop-up map screen right? Not the transparent radar screens on the normal HUD?

And I agree a 0.5.5 or so release would be best. With these proposed changes included, we should have something roughly half way between major versions. But not yet a 0.6 release.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby pheonixstorm » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:21 am

Actually the nav map is kinda transparent or maybe translucent might be more apt to fit. I know if I am facing the dark side of a planet the buttons and border are black while in other parts of the system or against a lighter background then the borders and buttons are a grayish color or much lighter.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby Deus Siddis » Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:40 am

pheonixstorm wrote:Actually the nav map is kinda transparent or maybe translucent might be more apt to fit. I know if I am facing the dark side of a planet the buttons and border are black while in other parts of the system or against a lighter background then the borders and buttons are a grayish color or much lighter.


Ah, now I see what you mean. What that is, is shading. It's a 3D model being lit by light sources outside the ship, like the rest of the 3D cockpit does.

The solution for this is already there, just not fully implemented-- you can turn off 3D cockpits (by hitting F1, IIRC) but this doesn't turn off the 3D map panel. But it should. Then it becomes 2D like the rest of the interface, making it unaffected by light changes.

There's also a 3D solution-- we just give the buttons and their titles a glow map so they stand out in any light.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby breese » Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:51 am

pheonixstorm wrote:Actually, its little things like that this thread needs. Little things we can pick out that would make for a nice change between .5 and say .5.5 I wouldn't call the next release .6 yet though... maybe after a lot more bugs or annoying design flaws are sorted out.

I have attached a patch with the following:
  • Your branch has added carriage-returns to some Linux scripts so they no longer run. I have removed the carriage-returns from those files that were necessary to make it compile again.
  • I ran valgrind and it reported errors about using uninitialized errors. I have fixed some of those.

Valgrind also reports plenty of memory leaks. I will look into them, but I do not anticipate that I will be able to fix all before the release. Some of the leaks are due to a bad resource-management strategy, such as the lack of RAII, or using homebrewn smart pointers (UnitContainer) instead of real smart pointers (std::auto_ptr and boost::shared_ptr). Fixing that is not a small task.

Edit: I also had difficulty getting the default boost to work, but I did not investigate this. Instead I simply used the system version instead.
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Re: New Release - Whats left to do?

Postby greenfreedom10 » Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:42 pm

Boaal wrote:Mainly it's just VERY unintuitive and far too convoluted to work with efficiently. I think that is due to how it's laid out, it confuses the hell out of people the first time they try and use it, and then the second and third times...
I'd suggest that a simpler two dimensional layout would work far better, and be far clearer, than the one we have now.


For what it is worth, I agree that the pop-up map is confusing to use (I have never bothered). However, one thing that disappointed me about oolite was the 2D systems map. Because the universe is NOT 2D.
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