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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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