NOBLE APE MAIL OUT - AUGUST 2002
Welcome to the August Noble Ape Mailout. This month has been devoted to programming the Noble Ape Simulation and the development of the iON etoy. Aside from the coding, I have also written three large documents which I hope to include on the website in the next month or so.
Within the past week, I have put the finishing touches on a new landscape graphics engine currently codenamed Ocelot. This engine will be released completely open source under the Noble Ape Project License within the next month. As I type this mailout, the finishing integration components are being developed.
NOBLE APE 0.656
After ninety-two days of development, Noble Ape 0.656 was released. This version focused on the re-development of the graphics interface to the simulation and multiple windows. This has already been documented heavily in previous mail outs and the source log. The simulation code has evolved considerably over the past three months.
Noble Ape 0.657 - work in progress
Following the release of 0.656, a number of additional changes have been made. The four window interface is in the source control, and screenshots of the new interface are available through the website's source log.
The multi-window interface still provides a number of development challenges. In addition to this, I want to begin pushing elements in the simulation through to the user interface.
The source log charts the introduction of body profiles for the Noble Apes where injuries are logged and the overall health of the ape is tracked. This development was postponed primarily because the interface that described the injuries etc had to be displayed in the time/date/weather window. For those familiar with 0.656, this is a 256 x 50 pixel active area window. Cramming the body information between the Simulation profile and the ape's sex just didn't work visually. Similarly the rules for health and general injuries left little room for this kind of development in the foreseeable future.
I may release 0.657 early with all the known bugs removed, just to move forward with the next stage of developing the simulation.
The allusive Ocelot interface was discussed three months ago in the source log. (This name came long before the announcement of the Apple OS X upgrade with a similar name.) Ocelot is a colour graphics interface akin to a real time strategy game as opposed to a first person perspective engine. I have a non-realtime colour version of Ocelot currently. I am optimising the engine for realtime use.
A colour interface into the Noble Ape Simulation must acknowledge the existing interface to the simulation. Ocelot is in-part an optimised OpenGL-esque engine. At the time of writing the mail out, I have a primitive prototype of Ocelot in a floating window. The plan is to do two-window-rendering simultaneously. Initial tests show that a minimal part of the interface will need to be reworked to allow for Ocelot and the general colour development. I spent more than four months planning the multi-window/colour interface. The coding of this new development has been relatively rapid thanks to the reworking and design over the past four months.
The etoy development has been relatively pedestrian of late. I have done a partial rewrite and fixed some glaring improvements. But the development is still stuck in the 2000 shell. I have thought about moving the development towards a small AI device with roughly the same specifications but with a simple thinking core. This is considerably removed from ALife where the aim is to simulate or emulate the appearance of life. Artifical intelligence has much greater breadth to the development.
OPENING THE SITE
A lot of the Noble Ape Project is represented with uncompiled source code that resides in CVS on Sourceforge. Whilst I continue to develop components of the Project, little of this development is accessible to a broader audience. From this view, I am implementing two changes to the site. The first is compiling all the command line or non-gui based code for Windows as well as Mac. This is promote all the code rather than appearing to be a Mac-only project. Unfortunately most of these offerings are practical rather than fun, but it will include logtrack, the Noble Ape Project's free weblog software.
The second component is establishing a look up list of software. The project has to-date maintained a number of directories that have kept software. The preview section is the latest of these. Whilst I have avoided the corporate form-feed front page;
'Company Info - Products - Support - Contact Us - News'
A similar interface to the site may be useful. Current favourites like the source log, mail out and /recsrc/ will remain in any re-development - also the new Noble Ape Manual online (which is already out-of-date!) - but the old interviews are slowly getting culled. Most of the redevelopment of the site will be functional.
Hope all is well with you all,
Tom Barbalet, 31 August 2002.