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ECWolf is Released 2012-09-20 14:19:35

So it has been about one month since my last post here already. I sure have been keeping myself busy (which is why it took 2 days for me to write this). Anyways, on Tuesday I released ECWolf 1.0 (although I forgot to bump the version number so it says 0.9999 in the executable, guess I'll pretend it's a homage to Doom's 0.99). Besides a few minor issues the release seems to be going about as smoothly as a 1.0 release can go. If you would like to give it a try, click the ECWolf tab on this site. If you don't have Wolf3D, the shareware version is provided on the downloads page.

There are a few things I would have liked to have up by this release, but didn't have time for. The patching utility isn't working on Windows at the moment. I have an issue with the bzip2 library symbol resolution that I can't quite figure out. Fortunately most people seem to have the correct release of Wolf3D (the one shipped on Steam, included with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, among other sources). The other issue being I didn't have time to document the mod APIs available. An observant person could likely work out most of it by studying the scripts in ecwolf.pk3, but obviously I can't expect people to be willing to do that. This is partially what happens when you schedule website maintenance within the launch window of another project!

In the mean time it should work well for playing the game. On the downloads page is a tech demo which Woolie Wool/Executor produced for the release. I think it does a good job of showing off many of the features available in the current version (it is by no means exhaustive), and it is quite fun to play as well. I believe it requires the registered version of Wolfenstein 3D to play (so the shareware data won't work).

Speaking of the website maintenance. Zandronum actually has a real website now. The only comment I have to make about the design is that it seems to look a lot better on IPS monitors. It is horribly purple on my Dad's cheap monitor, but there's not much I can do about that. (No I didn't do the artwork for the website, I just did the coding.)

Eight Years 2012-08-26 21:35:19

So according to the Internet archive. Eight years ago today I first published my website. (As the weblog you see here anyways, I know I was making random web pages for awhile before then. In fact I know my first publicly visible web page was roughly 11 years ago, but the Internet archive never cached it.) Not at this domain of course since I didn't register that until a bit later. This is about the point where most people would talk about time flying and what not, but it actually seems that long to me. Mostly since I was too young for time to fly eight years ago!

I know you all want to see my website as it was at the time, but I'm not giving the old URL. I will tell you that it looked basically the same as it does now besides some minor modifications that I've made to the design over time. Most prominent being the white border that I removed some time ago. It didn't use CSS (I'm not even sure how common CSS use was back then) so a edge-to-edge layout wasn't really an option. Remember when we used tables for layout and font tags?

Well, enough rambling about that, on to the new stuff: Zandronum did its first release recently and with that came Doomseeker 0.9 Beta. Not sure what to say about that either. The Zandronum release took about 2 years so there's a ton of stuff in there. Doomseeker's release is mostly a bug fix release with some minor new features. Just check out the release thread for more specific information.

I'm sure a few of you are waiting for the big announcement with ECWolf. The good news is the code base is basically ready for release. I'm waiting for the tech demo to be finished and then I'll be sending out release candidates to the testers. Shortly thereafter will be the public release. That has pretty much been what I've been up to this whole summer which is why I missed out on updating last month. (I really need to get into the habit of rambling here more often.)

Skulltag is Dead 2012-06-04 08:02:58

The Skulltag project is basically dead. All of the staff have decided to fork the project in order to get away from Carnevil. At this point Carnevil remains the sole person in charge of Skulltag.

As I mentioned, we have started a fork which Torr has named Zandronum (not the best name, we know, but it'll grow on you). All future development will be handled there, and by forking we get a few extra perks. Since the feature set of ZDoom has expanded to the point where auto-loaded stock content isn't needed, we have chosen to remove the skulltag_data.pk3. In its place we will be including resource packs which can be called upon my mod authors (Zandronum will auto-load the requested packs only). These resource packs will provide most, if not all of the features that was previously provided by the data pk3. One bonus side-effect is that we can re-enable shareware compatibility.

I'll let more on that topic be revealed on the website when the time comes. In the mean time, a quick update on ECWolf. I've started playing with importing ZDoom's font code and everything seems to be going more or less all right. I'm trying to get things done as quickly as possible, but I'm not going to release before it's stable enough for general use (first impressions are important.) I do have someone doing some testing and working on a tech demo, and hopefully soon I can open it up to a few more private testers. (Of course you are all free to compile from source if you know how.)

Skulltag is Open Source! 2012-02-13 13:43:16

So it finally happened. Skulltag has gone open source! Having been one of two known active closed source Doom ports, Skulltag has had quite a lot of controversy over the years on this issue. I think it's worth trying to make a longer post out of this.

First lets start with why Skulltag remained closed source for so long even when under constant pressure to open it: cheating. While the saying goes that security (note: for this article security mean cheat prevention and nothing more) through obscurity is effectively no security at all, I think it goes without saying that the number of people that had the skill and knowledge to disassemble and modify Skulltag is relatively small. While our user base was small, that number effectively became zero. So while Skulltag wasn't safe from hacks by being closed source it certainly made their development much more difficult than now. (As a matter of fact, the code for an aim bot is practically already in Skulltag.) This did change, however, and I have noticed at least two people that have had the skill set required to do this. I guess we can say that this has been both a blessing and a curse for Skulltag as having a cheating program available obviously means that being closed source has been rendered ineffective (as expected). It of course placed a much larger burden on the community administration.

Opening the source had become a real possibility at this point. There were certain key factors left unresolved at this point, but the decision to remain closed source at the time comes down to acting in the best interest of our player base. There was some indication that the one person that was developing hacks had lost interest (I believe this turned out to be somewhat false), so we felt being closed source would return to being effective. I think, more importantly, we had pressures from a certain extremely stubborn team member. This person had proven himself to be particularly useful in tracking down and providing aid in fixing obscure bugs, so obviously his threat to quit held a lot of weight. He eventually fell of the earth or something, so internal pressures basically reduced to "do whatever you think is best."

For myself, there was one thing that convinced me more than anything that we should open the source. At some point it was determined that Skulltag was not legally allowed to be closed source. I think this is really the point where it became a matter of when instead of if we would go open source. At the time, however, we decided to take the conservative route and simply remove the OPL code. I was not particularly happy with this solution as we technically were obligated to either remove all existing versions of Skulltag from the website or release their source. (On a side note, we have claims that there may be more code like this within the source.)

Shortly after this, the continued discussion has convinced Torr that we should go open and we planned to release the source after the release of 0.98e. Thanks to AlexMax, however, we have been able to not only release the source ahead of schedule, but also release the entire revision history from when Torr took over until now.

There's more to everything above, but I feel if I go too in depth I would end up just pointing fingers. Essentially it comes down to doing what we feel is best for our players and right now we have been convinced that the players want the source to be available.

I honestly don't expect much to come out of this. In terms of cheating, I'm sure anyone that would cheat was already using the existing hack. In terms of development, I don't expect much since I honestly don't think there are that many people who are able and willing to contribute to Skulltag. ZDoom itself has only seen a handful of people come forward to write features and/or fix bugs. I like to think that Skulltag has been fairly open to new developers who showed a proficient ability to work with ZDoom (after all that's how I got my hands on the source), so if there's anyone out there who would have been dedicated enough to help Skulltag in the long run, they already would have the source. (I also feel I should note that while Skulltag as a whole was closed source, we always had open source components and (G)ZDoom had the ability to back port whatever.)

Besides myself there have been a few other people that have had a position on the development team, most of them only lasted a week or two (I'm technically a victim of this curse, but that's because I've had to focus efforts on Doomseeker). I think this is in part due to the fact that the Skulltag source is horrendous. Because of this I think even trying to posing the Skulltag source as something that should be available for people to learn client server development is quite a stretch. In my opinion anyways.

I would love to be proved wrong here, but that's how I feel about the release. I'm certainly glad that it has finally happened, but I'm not expecting anything out of it. At the very least this means we can use code that requires source disclosure which means that Skulltag probably has less "illegal code" now. Oh and I guess this also means that Skulltag is officially using Mercurial full time. In any case, if you're interested go ahead and check out the Skulltag source code.

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