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Topics - Snarky

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Engine Development / File access on Linux
« on: 02 Aug 2018, 10:56 »
I've had a report from someone using the TotalLipSync module that while it works on Windows and Mac, it doesn't work on a Linux build of the game. I can only assume that this has to do with how the module accesses the file system.

The way the module works (code available here, see lines 267, 524 and e.g. 321 in TotalLipSync.asc), it tries to access lipsync data files for reading, by default in $INSTALLDIR$/sync, though it can be customized (AFAIK the game sticks with the default). It uses File.ReadRawLineBack() to read the data.

My first suspicion is that $INSTALLDIR$ doesn't work properly on Linux. Or maybe any file system access at all? My second theory is that it has something to do with the linebreak differences between platforms, which might mean that File.ReadRawLineBack() doesn't return the expected result and parsing fails. (But if this was the case I would expect it to fail on Mac as well.)

I don't have a Linux box, so I can't really test any of this myself.

I really enjoyed this activity that Andail started (last round here), so I thought I would kick off another round!

Game Pitch Competition – Round 4: "Son of a Pitch"

The object of the competition is to present the best possible "elevator pitch" for an original adventure game.
So, come up with a cool idea, and explain it very briefly to someone in order to catch their interest and make them excited about it.

I've tweaked the rules a little, and changed the way you submit so that I don't know the identity of the authors (which means I can vote without any risk of bias).

  • Submit your game pitch via this form.
  • Submissions close 8. August. I will then publish the entries here in this thread, and open a thread poll for voting.
  • Voting will probably last 2 weeks. Discussion and feedback on the entries is encouraged, but make sure to maintain anonymity.
  • After voting is over, the results become public, and we can then work to identify the authors and discuss the entries further.
  • The pitch should be for some kind of adventure game (under a broad definition of the genre).
  • Try to stick more or less to the word limits: An elevator ride is not that long!
  • You may submit only one entry in the round (but you may edit your entry up until submission closes, using the link you get when you submit the form).
  • The entry should be anonymous. Do not reveal your authorship until voting closes.
  • Do not vote for your own entry. It's not cool.

All clear?
Then start sending in those pitches!

Editor Development / Build is wrong after project rename
« on: 12 Jul 2018, 20:51 »
If you rename the AGS project (by renaming the root folder where the project files are stored), things get weird when you build.

If you launch the game through the IDE, everything appears fine: if you make a change to the code, it's reflected in the game that runs.

However, the EXE file from the Compiled/Windows folder does NOT update. It sticks to the version of the game from before the rename. Even if you delete it and rebuild it, it's still the old version that gets recreated. Only if you delete the files in the Compiled/Data folder and then recompile does it catch up. I think what happens is that the name change means that the .ags data file in Compiled/Data now has a different name (and this new file is used when you run it through the IDE), but for some reason the compilation step that creates the EXE still refers to the old file.

From a user POV this is extremely confusing: if you run the game through the IDE and it works, you expect the game in the Compiled/Windows folder to behave the same way.

My suggested solution: The build step that creates the .ags data file in Compiled/Data should first delete any files in the directory (any build process I've seen usually includes Clean as the first step). Also, the step that creates the game EXE file in Compiled/Windows (and the other platform executables) should always use the current data file.

Adventure Related Talk & Chat / AGS Awards Client Updates
« on: 10 Jul 2018, 16:51 »

The AGS Awards clients for the last couple of years have now been open-sourced. A team is starting to plan out the updates for the next ceremony.

So it's time to hear your feedback, bug reports, feature requests and suggestions for the AGS Awards client. (I already have a pretty extensive list, but your input would help to prioritize all the different tasks.)

There are also a few design decisions we'd like to put to the community, but in order to stick to one thing at a time, I think we'll hold off on that right now.

Trying to run a search from the "Search Games by Title or Author" search box gives an error:

Error 403

We're sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for /site/games/namesearch/ on this server.

You do not have permission to access this server. Before trying again, close your browser, run anti-virus and anti-spyware software and remove any viruses and spyware from your computer.

Your technical support key is: 50d4-4e91-b40c-8ddc

You can use this key to fix this problem yourself.

If you are unable to fix the problem yourself, please contact the WEBMA5TER and be sure to provide the technical support key shown above.

Engine Development / Winsetup scaling options again
« on: 26 Apr 2018, 21:36 »
I know this is Crimson Wizard's favorite topic, so I just had to bring it up again. (laugh)

In v3.4.1 I don't see the x2, x3, x4... options under windowed scale when I run winsetup. The only ones are "None (original game size)", "Max round multiplier", "Fill whole screen", and "Stretch, preserving aspect ratio" – IOW no scaling and three very slightly different variations on scale to full screen.

This is particularly a problem for me since I run AGS in a virtual machine on a high-resolution screen (2880x1800). This means that without scaling the window is tiny, but scaling e.g. a 320x200 game with max round multiplier ends up being x9, and the VM can't handle that (I'm not sure exactly where the the problem lies, but it freezes the VM).

However, even if this was not the case, I would want to be able to set intermediate scaling options. If I'm playing in Windowed mode I probably have other windows open, and I don't necessarily want thhe game window to fill most/all of my screen.

I want to be able to run games scaled bigger than the original resolution, but not necessarily to cover as much of the screen as mathematically possible. I want x2, x3, etc. back!

Modules & Plugins / ENGINE PLUGIN: Clipboard v0.4
« on: 30 Mar 2018, 14:09 »
By popular demand: a plugin to support copy/paste, integrating with the Windows clipboard!
This plugin allows you to copy text from other applications and paste it into an AGS game, or vice versa.

The plugin provides two methods:

Code: Adventure Game Studio
  1. bool Clipboard.CopyText(String copyString);
  2. String Clipboard.PasteText();

Calling Clipboard.CopyText(copyString) will put copyString on the Windows clipboard (returning true if successful), accessible to other applications. Calling Clipboard.PasteText() returns the current text content of the Windows clipboard as a String (or null if none) that you can use in-game. Pretty simple.

As with all AGS engine plugins, you have to place the .dll file in the AGS engine folder, then activate it in the IDE from the project tree before you can use the methods. It should be unnecessary to state, but for the record: the game must be designed and created to use the plugin, you can't just drop it into the folder of a finished game and expect it to do anything.

This is my first AGS plugin, and my first C++ project in many years. It works on my machine, but I'm not 100% sure it will work on every Windows machine – in particular on older Windows versions. If you could try the demo and let me know if you experience any problems, I'd appreciate it.

The code is available on Github. (In the demo game, the example of how to use it is in TextField.HandleKeyPress(), starting on line 538.)

Download Clipboard plugin
Download Clipboard demo

Change log:
-Initial release (untested except for on my own machine)

Modules & Plugins / MODULE: TextField v1.2.0
« on: 28 Mar 2018, 15:39 »
This is a quick little module I made for the AGS Awards client. It provides one-line text input fields, as a replacement for the AGS TextInput control.

Ways in which TextField is better than TextInput:
-It has a blinking text cursor
-You can position the cursor anywhere in the text (using mouse or arrow keys), and edit at that point
-It has a notion of focus, so that you can have multiple TextFields displayed without all the text being entered into all the fields
-You can define a max string length the field will accept
-You can make the border partially transparent
-You can add more advanced logic to it, e.g. to only accept certain character types, or to *** out the display of the text

Ways in which TextField is worse than TextInput:
-It's implemented in script, so on slow computers or in a resource-intensive game it could be less responsive than TextInput
-You have to do a little bit of setup to make it work
-You can't link the OnActivate event, so it's a little more complicated to respond when the player presses Return/Enter

The TextField module is available on Github.

Download TextField v1.2.0

You can also try it out in a demo game for the Clipboard plugin:

Download Clipboard Demo

- Fixes crash if TextField initialized with non-empty String
- Adds support for Clipboard plugin

- Initial release
- Fixes poor SHIFT-key detection

- Unreleased (used in AGS Awards 2017 client)

You can export all the files in a sprite folder, but is there some way to then reimport them again to replace the old sprites, after you've edited them in some external program, other than laboriously clicking "replace from file" on each and every sprite?

It's a really simple thing that causes endless frustration working with AGS: if open an "add sprite" (to a view or GUI control) dialog while the sprite tab is open, it collapses any folders you have expanded in that tab.

This makes it very tedious to perform tasks that involve checking the contents of certain sprite folders and adding them to different things. If someone could fix it, I'm sure it'd save endless wasted hours in total for all AGS devs.

It's time to start working on the client for the 2017 AGS Awards! 8-0

I plan to handle the coding side of things again, but I could really use some help with the resources. Some of them are starting to show their age, and the update last year was a bit of a rush job, with ugly placeholder elements.

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:

Notice the use of three different button styles, unstyled listboxes, and the crude red arrow highlighting your character.
A list of things I have in mind (for overall reference, the client is 1280x720 in 32-bit):

  • New buttons and GUI elements. I intend to redesign the GUI quite a bit, moving away from the black screens that currently cover up the entire background. I'm leaning towards a tabbed interface. I also want to make all the buttons consistent, and make it so they fade out unless you move the cursor close. The chat history window also needs to be fixed. This task might involve collaborating on the UI redesign, or just making a template for the button/slider styles or drawing graphics for the button symbols.
  • Related to that: Perhaps a new cursor (not sure I like the current one), and definitely a new "character highlighter". Currently it's just a crude red arrow; I was thinking an animated glowing ball oscillating up and down over your head. (Might want this in two colors: one for you and one for highlighting other characters.)
  • Trophies! It would be really cool if winners could receive an actual trophy. There was a trophy in SSH's non-online Awards ceremony games, but I don't think the graphic style really fits:
    Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
  • Graphics and animations for the on-stage screen (320x240 canvas, with the top partially obscured):
    • New animated "interstitial" screens: some kind of AGS logo, or saying "2017 AGS Awards" or something like that, with some sort of calm (looping) animation livening it up. (The 2015 client had one of these, but I don't have access to it.)
    • Screens announcing the various categories (Best Backgrounds, Best Voice Acting, etc.): Probably some kind of logo or drawing symbolizing that category.
    • New "animated gif" meme-style reactions, ideally taken from AGS games or at least adventure games.
    • Surprises and other fun things to put up on the screen.
    • And if any graphically gifted AGSers have good ideas for how to format the presentations of nominees and winners in each category (particularly for things like Best Character, Best Animations, Best Character art), I'm all ears.
  • New DJ characters/platform (updating or replacing the pixel Daft Punk).
  • Also, new music for the DJs to play! A range of tunes, from catchy party music to calm background audio. New/alternative music cues for the ceremony would also be interesting.
  • There was some complaint last year that the font was difficult to read. If anyone has any suggestion for fonts to use for the chat window or above characters' heads (or other things), let me know. (We should be able to do proper rendering and outlining of antialiased text now, so don't feel limited to pixel fonts.)

Also, Noa's performance of "Troll Song" from the 2014 ceremony was one of my favorite parts of that event, and it would be cool if anyone wants to do something like that (or has some other idea to enrich the show):

Finally, I hope to improve the dynamic applause system, and make a similar system for dynamic laughter. (I'm also considering adding "crowd noise".) To make that happen, I need a pool of audio clips to use.

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
For the applause, I currently have six levels of intensity, depending on how many people are clapping (single person clapping, scattered applause, modest applause, general applause, enthusiastic applause, ecstatic applause), each with short and long clips (short clips are played during presentations, long clips when the floor is open). For some levels there are a couple of different clips of each type, picked at random. All in all, there are 20 different clips of people clapping (some of which aren't that great, and should be replaced). Something similar would be nice for laughter. Tracking down and editing the clips is quite time-consuming, so if someone wants to help out with that I'd appreciate it. (Also, the clips should be properly licensed, giving us the right to use them.)
Oh, and like every year, AGS character avatars are much appreciated! Send me your chars!

Exactly how we're going to do this depends a bit on your interest and feedback. For some things we might run a contest or workshop thread. Mostly it'll probably be discussions over PMs.

I can't guarantee the inclusion of what you make in the ceremony, so if you're thinking of doing something that would be a lot of effort, maybe run it by me first (e.g. if 20 different people each want to do some sort of performance, that's probably a bit much – we might have to arrange a separate AGS Talent Night instead).

PC Gamer is running an interview by Richard Cobbett with Eugene Sandulenko ("Sev"), the ScummVM project lead, on the occasion of the release of ScummVM v2.0 (hooray!)

He has this to say about AGS (not hooray!):

The most notable omission though has to be AGS—Adventure Game Studio. This is the software behind 99 percent of freeware and indie adventures this side of the millennium, ranging from the Chzo Mythos and Larry Vales to the Blackwell series and next year’s Unavowed. Early versions are a pain, to put it mildly, as anyone who’s ever tried getting something like Quest For Glory IV 1/2: So You Thought You Were A Hero to run can attest. (Top tip: don’t!) The audience and features seem perfect for ScummVM. Yet still, no support.

"AGS is... unfortunate for us," admits Sandulenko. "Once the original author published the source code, we were pretty excited and we started working on it. We really had high hopes. But then when we mentioned it in the AGS forums, where the game authors are, there was a huge uproar. They didn't want it. They disliked the idea. They jumped on our poor developer so hard that they left in disgust, not wanting to touch it any more. I don't know why there was such opposition. We wanted to do it in the proper way, in the ScummVM spirit, and keep it updated as AGS was upgraded and improved over time. Later there was some talk of 'letting' us handle old game compatibility and so on, but... well, yeah... thanks? That’s not really in the spirit of our project."

Most of the debate he's referring to is in this thread. I would say his summary mischaracterizes the events a great deal.

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