NOBLE APE MAIL OUT - SEPTEMBER 2002
Welcome to the September instalment of the Noble Ape Mailout. This month has been another heavy development month. This mainly focused on integrating Noble Ape technologies into the Noble Ape Simulation.
NOBLE APE 0.657 - work in progress
I am working on the final look and feel of 0.657. It would be easy to make a fast release of the four window Noble Ape Simulation interface and call it 0.657. This would make some sense - with the view that 0.66 would be a large version change - small development increments working towards a large release. However there are two competing interfaces currently (which I will discuss more below) and I would like 0.657 to be somewhere between the two.
Aside from the interface change, 0.657 is the first four window release of the Noble Ape Simulation. I have been going through a couple of stability fixes as well. Maintaining stable code through development fluctuations is the central development ethos of the Noble Ape Simulation.
This version (0.657) re-divides the biological simulation component and the basic island/time/weather section of the simulation. Whilst the end user does not see this development, it means a greater diversity of island generation systems can be used. This is particularly important for the planet simulation discussed below. The division of island and biology also reduces the complexity of the basic core. The biological simulation is optional if you just want to view and move around the island.
A working version of the Noble Ape Simulation viewed through the Ocelot interface was compiled and displayed through the Project's source log this month.
A full release of this code under the development name, Noble Ape Iota, should be available in the next month or so. The aim in this development is to provide an OpenGL-esque engine open source and use this as a platform independent interface instead of OpenGL in the future.
The source for Ocelot is roughly fifty lines - but subtleties like colourisation and engine implementation will need to be covered in an information document through the site. I plan on putting the work in progress source online within the next week or so.
PLANET NOBLE APE
Viewers of the source log over recent weeks will notice the re-development of the Planet Noble Ape source. The plan is to integrate this source in to the Noble Ape Simulation, thus creating a simulation which is substantially larger. The development code defines the planet with a circumference of 1024 units. The current Noble Ape Simulation island is 8 x 8 of these units squared. The planet is modelled on a cube of sides 256 units - the planet is 6144 times larger than the current simulation.
Why go super big? I will maintain both Planet Noble Ape and the Noble Ape Simulation. In fact, make Planet Noble Ape just a loadable view of the Noble Ape Simulation. If the Noble Ape Simulation can cope with a Planet with hundreds, if not thousands, of Noble Apes, then this indicates the breadth and integrity of the Noble Ape Simulation. What it means in practical terms is rewriting island.c and ape.c to be scalable. Also the whole gui layer needs to cope with numerous views and the potential to be dealing with a sphere rather than a plane.
In the next couple of months, I plan to develop Planet Noble Ape to the point where it is running on the Noble Ape Simulation with the number of apes currently allowed in the Noble Ape Simulation. The number of apes is technically limitless however under specific compile circumstances I have only pushed the number of apes up to roughly 1000. With the cognitive simulation as it is, I don't think moving past about 100 currently is feasible.
A large part of Planet Noble Ape is rendering the viewer's perspective of the planet. Time-wise this is equally or more time consuming than the cognitive simulation in the Noble Ape Simulation.
Stay tuned to the Source Log and the Mail Out for more information on the Planet Noble Ape integration.
I have maintained a weather simulation off-line since early 2001. Whilst a 4 square mile island doesn't need air-pressure/cloud-cover simulated weather, the Planet Noble Ape is a different matter. I plan on integrating the weather simulation into Planet Noble Ape. It will add great visual effects but also effect things like light levels and potentially add another two operators to the Noble Ape Simulation's biology - Temperature and Current Temperature.
As with any technical development driven by source code, documentation for potential users takes a back seat whilst new features are added. I have been talking quite a bit about opening the Noble Ape Project site over recent Mailouts and through the source log. The start of this comes with the iOn development getting its own directory;
Eventually, all the components of the Noble Ape Project will get similar treatment. You will note that there still isn't a lot of take away documentation on the Noble Ape Project site. Similarly someone arriving at http://www.nobleape.com/ may not notice the source log software, logtrack, for example. Not to mention things like the Nobl Ape Simulation Manual or the January interview, even though they are on the front page.
I hope to resolve these issues gradually. In fact, I don't have a lot of option - time wise. A complete rework of the site has to be stage divided just so I can implement components through the working week. I do enjoy maintaining the source log and its flow through to the main page is something I want to integrate all over the site. Changes in the Planet Noble Ape source should be shown on the main Noble Ape Simulation page.
Hope all is well with you all,
Tom Barbalet, 29 September 2002.