Developers Question

Mac or Windows for EVN development.

So lets say all things being equal, I want to make a TC. I currently use linux and wine is hopelessly insufficient for for running EVNEW. Also, I don't think NC's cross platform editor was ever finished or polished to accomadate a TC.

So now I'm effectively down to needing a Mac or a Windows machine.

Question 1

  1. Is EVNEW sufficient to actually make a TC? By sufficient I mean a fully functional editor for which I will have a somewhat minimal number of bugs that I will have to deal with?(and I have some idea of where they are)

  2. Say not to question 1), that leaves me with getting a Mac. I haven't used a mac since...OS9. So with this OSX I have some questions.

a) Will the new version, Snow Leopard run on PPC based Mac systems? Aka, if I get a G4 or G5 can I still run 10.6? Is there a performance penalty for doing so?

b) In your opinion is it better in this scenario to get an older mac and go that route (save money now) or get a mini mac (potentially save money later).

  1. For the format .rez, how is this written? So with EVNEW I can change the .rez files to .txt files. Are .rez files text files...just for Macintosh (this includes if they are special type of .rez file written for EV Nova)?

Or if not...what exactly is a .rez file?(I know it is the data file that the engine reads when it loads...but how do I view it...aka manipulate it).

I think that is all or at least a good start to this thread.

-Syrus

This post has been edited by Syrus : 31 January 2010 - 04:19 AM

I can't remember how Windows editors deal with RLE's, but I think it is not well as far as actually creating and modifying them.

Snow Leopard requires an Intel processor.

You want to use MissionComputer to create and edit Nova data files and/or plug-ins on the Mac. That can open and save in the formats for Mac or Windows.

You also want the standalone utilities by w00tware. You might also be interested in Mission BitMap Carbon, which tells you what bits and other elements logical expressions are parsed in a given Nova file or files.

For editing the files you'll either use MissionComputer directly, or you'll use ConText and ResStore and do your editing in a spreadsheet. Probably some combination thereof.

QUOTE (Syrus @ Jan 31 2010, 02:56 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Is EVNEW sufficient to actually make a TC? By sufficient I mean a fully functional editor for which I will have a somewhat minimal number of bugs that I will have to deal with?(and I have some idea of where they are)

I believe it leaves a fair number of things to be handled manually, but as far as I know EVNEW isn't lacking any essential features.

QUOTE (Syrus @ Jan 31 2010, 02:56 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Will the new version, Snow Leopard run on PPC based Mac systems? Aka, if I get a G4 or G5 can I still run 10.6? Is there a performance penalty for doing so?

10.5 is the last version of the Mac OS that can run on PowerPC computers, and 10.4 is the last version to support running pre-Mac OS X software. Having to forgo 10.6 isn't a large sacrifice β€” I haven't seen any need to upgrade my Mac Pro past 10.5 myself, and most of the benefits of the new version would be meaningless on an older computer anyway.

QUOTE (Syrus @ Jan 31 2010, 02:56 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

For the format .rez, how is this written? So with EVNEW I can change the .rez files to .txt files. Are .rez files text files...just for Macintosh (this includes if they are special type of .rez file written for EV Nova)?

.rez is a custom format specific to the Windows version of EV Nova , but on the Macintosh, either MissionComputer or my stand-alone convertor can convert between it and the standard Macintosh resource format. On Windows, EVNEW is the only practical solution for viewing or editing it.

So it turns out the w00tWare download links on this page are out of date. The files should be on the Ambrosia EVN Addons page, but the links broke when the addons page was redesigned.

QUOTE (Qaanol @ Jan 31 2010, 01:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

So it turns out the w00tWare download links on this page are out of date. The files should be on the Ambrosia EVN Addons page, but the links broke when the addons page was redesigned.

Yes, I noticed that recently – I've been meaning to go through and update them, but I do not find the new add-ons page at all congenial.

EVNew has no bugs that I've found so far.

The only "less than ideal" part about it is twofold. First, any graphics that you import must be in BMP format. Although on the plus side these can be either 24 or 32 bit. Second, it doesn't create any of its own graphics, you must import all of these, meaning you need something else to create them.

Otherwise it is a fairly straightforward plugin editor. Here is a severely condensed screenshot (darn 100k) showing both the mission and outfit editors.

Attached File EVNEW_example.jpg (88.49K)
Number of downloads: 17

QUOTE (candrew3 @ Jan 31 2010, 11:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

First, any graphics that you import must be in BMP format.

This is incorrect; I have had much success with importing .png files into EVNEW, and it support both 24-bit and 32-bit .pngs as long as the background color is set to #000000. Also, the mask, no matter what image format you choose, must be indexed to 1 bit using GIMP or a similar program, or it will be screwed up.

On another note with EVNEW, it is the only program that can read the text files it exports. Period. (I think) It's a pretty straight forward process to import the .txt files into a program like Excel, edit them, and then export them out and import them back into EVNEW, but I've mused to myself that the optimal arrangement would be to use an Applescript for operations like toggling flags for a mass number of outfits. Unfortunately, this would require access to both a PC and a Mac throughout the operation.

You hear that, David Arthur? MC needs a way to allow the user to batch edit plug-ins using text files. πŸ˜›

This post has been edited by JacaByte : 31 January 2010 - 03:07 PM

QUOTE (candrew3 @ Jan 31 2010, 01:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Second, it doesn't create any of its own graphics, you must import all of these, meaning you need something else to create them.

No resource editor has ever had very substantial graphics capabilities. It would be a waste of effort trying to replicate what will always be done better by an actual graphics programme.

QUOTE (JacaByte @ Jan 31 2010, 03:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You hear that, David Arthur? MC needs a way to allow the user to batch edit plug-ins using text files. πŸ˜›

I always thought this was covered by ConText and ResStore. I haven't used EVNEW; what does its text-export feature do that they can't?

I have yet to run ConText and/or ResStore successfully, so I have no clue.

QUOTE (JacaByte @ Jan 31 2010, 08:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is incorrect; I have had much success with importing .png files into EVNEW, and it support both 24-bit and 32-bit .pngs as long as the background color is set to #000000. Also, the mask, no matter what image format you choose, must be indexed to 1 bit using GIMP or a similar program, or it will be screwed up.

:blink: Learn somethin' new every day.

QUOTE (JacaByte @ Jan 31 2010, 08:48 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have yet to run ConText and/or ResStore successfully, so I have no clue.

It won't work with the new .ndat Nova data files, but you can open those in MissionComputer and save them as Mac plug-ins. Either drag a plug-in or folder of plug-ins onto the ConText application (the application proper, not an alias thereto), or open the application and then open a plug-in file or folder of plug-ins from the menu or via keyboard shortcut. A window will appear. Click the "All but ext. res." button, check the "Dump flags as Hex" box and choose the "Full Output" bullet. Then click "Okay", choose where to save the resulting text file, and when it's done, open it as a spreadsheet.

QUOTE (David Arthur @ Jan 31 2010, 08:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I believe it leaves a fair number of things to be handled manually, but as far as I know EVNEW isn't lacking any essential features.

10.5 is the last version of the Mac OS that can run on PowerPC computers, and 10.4 is the last version to support running pre-Mac OS X software. Having to forgo 10.6 isn't a large sacrifice β€” I haven't seen any need to upgrade my Mac Pro past 10.5 myself, and most of the benefits of the new version would be meaningless on an older computer anyway.

.rez is a custom format specific to the Windows version of EV Nova , but on the Macintosh, either MissionComputer or my stand-alone convertor can convert between it and the standard Macintosh resource format. On Windows, EVNEW is the only practical solution for viewing or editing it.

Okay, so in the mac format, you can convert the standard Macintosh resource format. Now somehow, EVNEW reads and converts .rez files to .txt files. So there has to be a way to "read" a .rez file because EVNEW and obviously, EV:Nova, do it.

My greatest worry is I go down this path 2/3rds of the way with EVNEW, get to some point and go "Oh I'll just find a mac and switch over...not ideal, but I'll do it" only to find that the files are not perfectly transferred, corrupting some of the files or what not. I just don't have a lot of faith in the Windows to Mac route if I don't have a complete TC (I know the converter should handle it...but...I"m skeptical).

Obviously I'd rather go the Mac route to be safe...but it seems like the best option there is to go with a mini mac...which is 800 dollars to me (mini mac, monitor, and apple care). Although, this could be a great experience as I could use the Mac to practice some programming on that system (If in the future I want to make cross-platform applications)...800 dollars is a lot of money.

What I was hoping was that the .rez file is someway writeable...like I could script directly into the .rez file (just like with the .txt file I could just do it all via text).

Hmmm...tough decision.

-Syrus

P.S. Any other thoughts?

The actual data in a Nova plug-in file is identical across platforms, to the best of my knowledge. That means the conversion process is perfect in both directions. On a Mac using MissionComputer or Plug-in Converter, you can convert in either direction. On Windows you can convert a Mac plug-in to .rez, but not the other way around.

You can open and edit both Mac plug-ins and .rez plug-ins using MissionComputer on a Mac.

And you can convert a Mac plug-in to text with ConText, and convert back to Mac plug-in with ResStore. So I think you're right. The Mac Mini will be great for your purposes. You can develop your scenario on the Mac in Mac format. At any time you can convert seamlessly to the Windows .rez format, but also you can just let the end-users on Windows do that. If you go that route, make sure to use Plug-in Archiver or similar to make a properly compressed file that preserves the resource fork.

This post has been edited by Qaanol : 01 February 2010 - 12:31 PM

QUOTE (Syrus @ Feb 1 2010, 06:25 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What I was hoping was that the .rez file is someway writeable...like I could script directly into the .rez file (just like with the .txt file I could just do it all via text).

.rez is not human-readable. The format is quite intricate, and so can only by edited with a purpose-built tool like MissionComputer or EVNEW. MissionComputer's convertor, however, will turn it into a standard Macintosh resource file that any resource editor can read.

QUOTE (Qaanol @ Feb 1 2010, 12:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The actual data in a Nova plug-in file is identical across platforms, to the best of my knowledge. That means the conversion process is perfect in both directions.

Yes, the two formats organise the resources in quite different ways, but the resources themselves are identical, meaning that you can convert back and forth as much as you want without any loss of quality.

The only thing to keep in mind is not to let the individual files get too large. There are limits affecting both the total number of resources in a file, and the total size, and it isn't always possible for your editor to warn you in advance, so you should split any file that's more than a few megabytes.

I just want to clarify that Mission Computer only warns the user when a file is 14MB or larger. So after saving a file, find it in the Finder and check the size. If it's getting close to 14MB, consider making a new file to continue with.

QUOTE (darthkev @ Feb 1 2010, 04:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I just want to clarify that Mission Computer only warns the user when a file is 14MB or larger. So after saving a file, find it in the Finder and check the size. If it's getting close to 14MB, consider making a new file to continue with.

Yes, MissionComputer starts warning at 14 MB. The file size limit is 16 MB, but that isn't the only limit affecting a resource file. There are also a number of other ones related to the number of resources, or even the number of resource names , for which MissionComputer can't give advance warning.

This is why I recommend keeping files to a few megabytes. Resource loss caused by exceeding limits has been a real issue affecting the development of EV Nova , EV Override , and numerous major plug-ins as far back as 1997.

The limits on .rez files are much higher – a side-effect of the format being many years newer – but you should still split your plug-in in the same way, as failing to do so would make it impossible to convert it into standard resources.

QUOTE (David Arthur @ Feb 1 2010, 02:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, MissionComputer starts warning at 14 MB. The file size limit is 16 MB, but that isn't the only limit affecting a resource file. There are also a number of other ones related to the number of resources, or even the number of resource names , for which MissionComputer can't give advance warning.

This is why I recommend keeping files to a few megabytes. Resource loss caused by exceeding limits has been a real issue affecting the development of EV Nova , EV Override , and numerous major plug-ins as far back as 1997.

The limits on .rez files are much higher – a side-effect of the format being many years newer – but you should still split your plug-in in the same way, as failing to do so would make it impossible to convert it into standard resources.

Okay in the EV bible it gives certain limits on each resource. Just to clarify, when EV Nova is opened it loads all the .rez files that contain the resources (each resource has a limitation on bits...or are we speaking of the resource as the set of bits...I'm a bit confused here on the wording). At that point each resource must have less than or equal to a certain number of bits (say 10000 mission bits). Now my question. Are you saying there is a limit on each individual resource in a file as well as the over arching limit of the engine?

-Syrus

QUOTE (Syrus @ Feb 1 2010, 05:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Are you saying there is a limit on each individual resource in a file as well as the over arching limit of the engine?

Yes, the file format imposes limitations on the contents of an individual file, beyond those which are inherent in the engine.

When the Nova Bible says that there can only be 2048 systems, it means that only the first 2048 sΓΏst resource IDs (beginning at 128) are valid. This applies across all data files and plug-ins (and if you use the same sΓΏst ID in two plug-ins, one version will override the other).

The file format, however, also has a number of limits governing what an individual file can hold. None of these seemed particularly constricting when the format was invented back in the 1980s (it's a standard format, not one invented by Escape Velocity ), but it's very easy to hit them with the sort of plug-ins that people are creating now. The simplest one is that no plug-in file can be more than 16 MB, but there are also a number of less obvious ones. Exceeding any of the limits can cause your plug-in file to start losing resources, and you won't necessarily be warned of that fact.

As I said above, .rez is a newer format, and its limits are much higher, to the degree that you'll probably never encounter them. But my advice about splitting still applies, because a .rez file which exceeded the limitations of standard resources would be unusable with the Macintosh version of EV Nova. (I've lobbied for the Macintosh version to support .rez, but without success.)

Mission bits are another matter again; they have nothing in common with resources. Simply put, there are 10,000 mission bits, and you can't create any more.

-- > This is all getting rather technical, in ways that you don't really need to be concerned about; everything I've been saying about the file format is just an explanation of why you need to split your files. If you keep your files down to a few megabytes each, you can edit and convert as much as you like without ever needing to think about the file format or worry about losing any data.

For specific limitations of the resource fork (almost assuredly more than any of us need worry about most of the time), see here: http://www.ambrosiasw.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=20693

So it appears I should go the EVNEW route (now that you have eased my fears of EVNEW and data loss) as far as I can and then in the event that I can go absolutely no farther (aka I have a map, missions, govts, etc...looks like ships and outfits might be the only hold up) I find a mac, covert over and finish up.

Sounds like a plan.

Thanks for the help everybody.

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