Back in school already?! 2014-10-06 06:07:41
Well I definitely fell behind on updating this website didn't I? I ended up in a vicious cycle of having news coming up in just a few days that I held off for and by the time that was ready to be announced, another thing came up. In the end, the original news was old so I didn't really feel like reporting on it, but I suppose I should anyway. A good problem to have I suppose?
First, I should give a status update on the Super 3D Noah's Ark greenlight. (For those of you who have missed that news, it's on greenlight now!) What I have to announce about that is: I was wrong. The game currently has just over 2,400 yes votes and is sitting at a 37% approval rating. From what I've heard, and comparing to the other game Piko Interactive has up, these are pretty good numbers for a green light campaign. I honestly expected much worse, although a lot of the comments there are precisely what I was expected. In any case, if you haven't voted for the game please do so!
Now as for ECWolf, the 1.3.1 release is still cooking. It's taking a bit longer since Havoc submitted support for sampled music. The original plan was to get it in and let the limitations be (including not supporting AdLib sounds and sampled music at the same time) as it would be better than what 1.3.0 has. However, I quickly got fed up with some SDL_mixer silliness and decided to go about fixing things up. So, I've started working on a special version of SDL_mixer which includes Opus support and loop tags for Vorbis, FLAC, and Opus. The primary reason I'm going through all this effort is to get the SC-55 music pack for S3DNA working. I do intend to include that with an update for the 20th Anniversary Edition. ECWolf also now has MIDI playback, although do to issues with SDL_mixer it will not really be supported. I intend to replace that with ZDoom's MIDI code at some point in the future, as I'm sure I've announced before.
Also new in the upcoming 1.3.1 is that Beloko's Android port is now officially merged in and can be built with CMake. Yes, it is indeed possible to build an Android APK with CMake including both C++ and Java code. Surprisingly easy to do, although the developer experience is a little sub par. It gets the job done though, and most importantly I don't need to put up with Eclipse or Android Studio. So with that, if you're a customer for the game on itch.io, you may be wondering about the Android port. I do intend to get it up with the 1.3.1 release, but do know that the build will be labelled as unofficial, I don't know if I'm at liberty to discuss why exactly.
The last thing to talk about here is that I did finally get around to hacking together a demo of "true 3D" in ECWolf. It's similar to demonstrations I've done before in concept, only this time I hacked up a few test levels. Makes the screen shots look way more impressive. The screen shots I have released are indeed staged, but I do assure you that the engine is actually rendering 3D, it just currently has the exact same limitations as stacked sectors in ZDoom. The good news is, the issues should be completely fixable. There is one problem I don't know how to fix at the moment, we need a 3D capable editor. For the demo I did some hard coding to show that it is indeed possible, but I don't want to add a series of hacks to the engine in order to do something that can be done more efficiently with the textual map format UWMF. The problem is there are no UWMF capable map editors in active development, and I'm not even sure there is a Wolf3D editor in active development. To make matters worse, they're all closed source.
Moving away from Wolfenstein 3D, my involvement with Google Summer of Code has more or less ended, but the project continues! I didn't end up working on the exact feature that I proposed, but rather worked on getting the concepts branch of GCC in a state capable of supporting that feature. This turned out to require an implementation of variable templates, which will be coming in GCC 5.0! I just received word from my school that the project was approved for my honors research, so expect to see more from me in the realm of Concepts Lite and separate checking. On that note, I should be attending the upcoming C++ standards committee meeting, which should be interesting. Even when I started the ACC++ project, I never thought I would be looking at a career in compiler development, but that is the path I'm going down at the moment.
In other news that you probably already heard about: The Commander Keen in Keen Dreams source code was released. Probably stole a bit of id Software's thunder there as some news outlets were forgetting to mention that the source was only for the one game in the series. Nevertheless it's cool to see the repository being more popular than some of id Software's own repositories and that some source ports have already started popping up. I've made some contributions to sulix's port since he seemed to be working in a similar manner to how I would have done things. Not that I plan on maintaining a port of Keen Dreams, but I did make some promises that I intend to keep.
Finally I will close this by mentioning that a new version of Zandronum is out. It includes the database system, so I shall now stand by and wait for the "I told you so" moment when it turns out to be a disaster (I could be waiting a long time, but when that time comes!), but at least it defaults to being non-persistent so it shouldn't do too much damage. Maybe I'm the crazy one, but I don't really see the point in giving everyone that level of control. There's a certain line that I feel goes in the category of "just modify the server" and the typical use case for the database (stat tracking) is indeed over that line in my opinion. Obviously the rest of the team disagrees with me, and so be it. There's also an account system now, but details are still being ironed out there. Eventually we'll have an auth server up on zandronum.com and that "awful avatar system" will get somewhere!