NOBLE APE MAILOUT - AUGUST 2004

PLAYING NOBLE WARFARE
NEW GPI

PLAYING NOBLE WARFARE

Noble Warfare, in engine terms, is at the stage where it can be played. For a couple of evenings in the past week, I have played Noble Warfare to get a sense of the gameplay for an end user. The interface for the game is still being developed. The game cycles from start to conclusion. The main interaction is looking at how the battles progress and applying the necessary tweaks in the game file so the next battle will evolve differently.

If you read the reviews online, there is quite a bit of debate about whether the Noble Ape Simulation is a game. Central to the Noble Warfare development, initially at least, was the aim to produce a game. The current implementation of Noble Warfare is not a game. The interactive elements as a game need to be defined.

The current tools developed for Noble Warfare are more like developer tools - command line developer tools - rather than traditional game tools. The primary interface for those using Noble Warfare - in terms of army creation - is purely text based. On the text based interface, the file format, I am working on updating the beta manual on the Noble Warfare website to include all the new concepts that have been developed over the past 3-4 months since the manual was drafted. If nothing more, it will provide a good delta step for all those following the Noble Warfare development.

Turning the engine into a game comes through an Ocelot-like graphics engine. To this end, I have been reading about and playing a number of real-time tactical and real-time strategy games. In most part, to understand more about the interface issues. The main problem is maintaining a good frame rate through detailed mouse and occasional keyboard interaction.

NEW GPI

More than two years ago, I began developing through the Generic Platform Interface(GPI) as a means of porting the Simulation to new platforms. Mridul P's initial introduction to the Simulation came through porting the GPI to Linux.

But as time has continued the shortcomings of the GPI have become noticeable. Primarily through the Noble Warfare development. There are a couple of subtle differences to the GPI over platforms which put a stall in the Noble Warfare development.

The new additions to the GPI will include;

(1) colour window handling,
(2) correct mouse-down handling,
(3) exit condition from the platform independent layer, and,
(4) file handling.

Through the Noble Warfare development I have a working GPI v2 that includes (1) and (3). Also a platform optimised memory copy which is critical for speed.

(2) is challenging purely because the various OSes treat mouse (button) down and event handling so differently. To be fair, I am still thinking about a truly platform independent way of handling mouse events. The issue for Noble Warfare is to be able to track dragging which is central to the user interface. Single click, double click, drag, drag-select - these are all subtle and highly operating system dependent movements. Ideally I would like an interface that can handle these and report them in a platform independent manner.

(4) is conceptually difficult, in some regards. Difficult to explain. It represents file handling stripped down to the bare minimum. It includes things like file open and file saved dialogs. I am toying with a scripting engine being part of Noble Warfare. I originally thought the scripting engine would be handled separately. But increasingly, it seems plausible to include the scripting engine in Noble Warfare. It requires a transparent file open, file read/write, file close interface that is platform independent.

Hope all is well with you all,

Tom Barbalet, 30 August 2004.


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