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Almost there! 2014-05-04 19:13:09

While subject to final approval, I have worked out a deal with Wisdom Tree to publish Super 3D Noah's Ark. At the moment we will probably be using itch.io to publish the game for $4.99. Wisdom Tree offered the game for a very low licensing fee so most of the proceeds will actually be going to ECWolf!

Now the question is when will I actually release 1.3. Since I'll be going on vacation next week, it's probably not a good idea to rush it out now. The current plan is to release the new stable version the week of the 19th. (Coincidentally the same week as the new Wolfenstein game.) If the Humble Bundle people get back by then saying they would like to publish the game, we'll probably go with them since they're more visible. I did consider publishing through Desura, but I'm not sure I like forcing people to download a client to get the game.

Finally, for those who missed it. For school I had to implement some basic peer-to-peer networking into ECWolf. I have a video of it working below using Woolie Wool/Executor's work in progress mod. (I think this is the first time in years I've posted media on my weblog!) The only modification I made to the mod is make the player non-solid so that I could move out of the starting position.

The plan is to merge this code into 1.4. There are a variety of issues left to solve in the net code, so it will be an unsupported experimental feature for awhile. The point, however, is to ensure that the code doesn't rot and that the engine continues to move in the right direction for multiplayer support.

S3DNA is done! 2014-04-01 02:01:05

Just a few days ago I sent off the initial builds of a customized version of ECWolf off to Wisdom Tree. For those curious, the customizations come down to changing the branding, removing features not needed by S3DNA for optimization purposes, and some minor initial user experience tweaks. If all goes well, these builds will be sold with new copies of the game along with the original DOS binary for the collectors/purists.

This is great news for everyone, including those who don't really care for Super 3D Noah's Ark. This basically means that ECWolf 1.3 is about done and all that remains in tying up a few loose ends. It should be released soon, but as we all know soon can drag on for awhile. In any case check back here next month and hopefully I'll have something way more exciting to say.

Edit: Well look at that. The server is already in April. I guess by next month I mean later this month then.

Still working! 2014-02-21 14:04:57

Well this is taking much longer than I had hoped. I still need to finish off some big features before I can release ECWolf 1.3, but hopefully it won't be much longer.

On a side note, I'm also working with Wisdom Tree to try to get a digital version of Super 3D Noah's Ark available (this year is the game's 20th anniversary by the way). So far I pitched the idea to GOG and got rejected since apparently they can't make time in their release schedule for something this low volume, but it would probably help if anyone with even a remote interest in the game voted for one of the wish list entries. By help, I do mean ECWolf as well since Wisdom Tree has offered to contribute part of the profits back to the project. (Of course, honestly, I expect more sales will come from that fact than people dying to have a copy of the game no matter how underrated I say it is. :P)

But nevertheless, there are a few other places I could try. I just learned that Amazon has, what appears to be, a self published market place for Windows and Mac games so worst comes to worst I can probably get the game there if Wisdom Tree is willing. If I can make something work, I'll definitely be switching ECWolf's default license option over to the GPL since I would like to market it here as a way to support this project. (Besides, I noticed a number of people compiling ECWolf themselves use the GPL option.) This is something that may delay the 1.3 release a little since I would definitely like to announce the results in the release announcement.

I still can't say much about what this means for the Blake Stone branch, but I would say it's highly likely it will be delayed a little bit as well. The overall plans haven't changed so expect to hear more following 1.3.

ECWolf 1.2.3 Released 2013-12-24 06:29:45

ECWolf 1.2.3 is available today and is another bug fix release for the 1.2.x series. It should be fully compatible with 1.2.2 includes saves so it's recommended that everyone upgrade! The release fixes a few major (embarrassing) transcription issues and some bugs in sound traversal (which in turn led to the zone links table being optimized). This release also marks the first ECWolf release to support PowerPC Macs, so it should run on any Mac running OS X 10.4 or later.

The release does contain one new flag for DECORATE actors: OLDRANDOMCHASE. This flag changes the monster chase AI to use the old random number generator table instead of the mersenne twister. Normally this would not be an issue I would concern myself with since changes in the RNG typically go unnoticed except for those who know the game frame by frame. Especially since the old random number generator is exceptionally horrible. For those who aren't aware it's a 256-entry table randomly filled with numbers between 0-255 (non uniform distribution). Compared to Doom, however, Wolf3D calls the monster AI function at a significantly greater rate (up to 8x as often) and so it is capable of cycling the 256-entry random number generator. This causes a noticeable change in aggressiveness at long distances (roughly 6 tiles or more) where monsters can be expected to fire at a nearly constant rate instead of randomly. Note that this doesn't make ECWolf identical to vanilla since the number of times the RNG is called is different and the index is not affected by all the other code that will still use the mersenne twister, but it's closer.

Looking ahead, this should be the end of the 1.2.x branch. The plan is to focus on the remaining features that need to be completed for 1.3 and hopefully get that out in the next month or two. Unfortunately, I didn't get to work on it much during the school semester so there's still a bit to get done including saving the automap state, automap controls, ROTT elevators, and most importantly completing Super 3D Noah's Ark support (sans MIDI music)!

In related news, meleemario searched the depths of the Internet and managed to turn up what should be an unmodified copy of the Mac Wolf source which I thought was lost (well I knew Rebecca "Burger" Heineman still had a copy somewhere). I put a copy of the code on GitHub for those interested. It's not a whole lot different from the "4th encounter" version that can be found easily, but it's nice to have original around for completeness. (Fun fact, the archive was on Greg Ewing's site, but it's not linked.)

I've also completed mapping out the disassembly for Aliens of Gold in IDA Free. The good news out of that is there does not appear to be much lost in the Planet Strike source release. For the most part the changes come down to the status bar and some numbers. There are two functions related to warping that I haven't figured out the exact purpose of, but that's probably more because I don't know the game very well yet. If anyone is interested here's the project file for AOG. I suppose I can throw in the project for Noah's Ark as well.

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