NOBLE APE MAILOUT - OCTOBER 2004

NOBLE WARFARE RELEASE
NOBLE APE GENETICS
UNIFORM CODE

NOBLE WARFARE RELEASE

As promised last mailout, the source code of the Noble Warfare engine went 'live' earlier this month. The launch of the engine source code was intentionally low profile as only the Mac interface for viewing the engine was complete. I have exchanged emails with Mridul P and he is working through the Windows version of GPI 2.

In addition, the engine offers little playability and purely provides a proof of concept of the game's rules and play structure. Returning to the early development, I am looking to implement a stand-alone engine with an identical network/user interface. This way no preference is given to the machine the engine is being run on over a network player. The work will be done in conjunction with the general graphical interface work over the next couple of months.

Whilst doing some autumnal cleaning, I discovered the original Develop article that spawned the Noble Warfare development. I have scanned it and optimised the images for dial-up viewability;

http://www.noblewarfare.com/inspired/

The main Noble Warfare site has also been scaled down. The next stage is to host executables on the site for actual playability. Until that goes live, less is more.

Noble Warfare needs to sit comfortably on standard download sites. This requires a certain amount of polish. The Noble Ape Simulation, whilst being the top of the Noble Ape development, sits on the mid-to-lower rungs of most download sites. It has been a casual development of one and a bit developers - sometimes approaching two, sometimes approaching one.

Noble Warfare needs to look and feel better than the Noble Ape Simulation. It doesn't seem likely that sound will be included with the initial Noble Warfare release. But graphics and playability need to be high priorities. Offering network play and an easily hacked file format are secondary pluses for the hardcore few. The hope is that the Noble Warfare mailing list already contains some of this group.

NOBLE APE GENETICS

During the month, I made some notes about introducing a proper genetics system into the Noble Ape Simulation where apes could be born and evolve through genetic lines. The background to this has been the use of internal memory handling in Noble Warfare. This produces 'on-the-fly' use and reuse of memory as the battle unfolds. Similar methods could be employed with the Noble Ape Simulation to allow long term runs of the Simulation to produce genetic evolution simulation results.

I am hoping to implement these changes within the next month or so. This month's focus on releasing the Noble Warfare source code has limited my time to do any Noble Ape Simulation development. However the dwindling light levels can only mean more coding time.

UNIFORM CODE

About two years ago, comparative platform analysis of the Noble Ape Simulation on Mac and Windows showed some aspects of the Simulation diverged in platform comparisons. This was noted and the development continued. With Noble Warfare, both Mac and Windows network players will rely on a 1:1 in the engine running on different OSes.

The issue of uniform code output is non-trivial. There are subtle differences in Mac and Windows results from basic mathematical functions. This produces follow on effects which change subtle aspects of the Noble Ape Simulation and will change the outcomes of Noble Warfare.

In short, it is known that the Noble Ape Simulation run in the most basic mode produces different results on Mac and Windows. These differences need to be tracked, identified and resolved. With this information doing the same analysis on Noble Warfare should be slightly faster and produce good uniform code throughout the Noble Ape developments.

Along with running tests and rewriting code, it is important to document the differences found and offer feedback information online. One of the greatest drawcards the Noble Ape site has with search engines is the amount of obscure but development critical information the site contains. Whether it is real-time colour handling in drag-able windows on Mac and Windows, or identifying which compiler/implementation you are using and writing macros accordingly, the Noble Ape site provides this information and gets positive feedback for it.

Hope all is well with you all,

Tom Barbalet, 30 October 2004.


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