[Xsera] Other Xsera

Read, discuss, and be merry.

This topic is for general discussion (or more specifically, as an outlet for these two topics).

Feel free to ask questions about Xsera, or what's in the FAQ and Progress Log topics.

I would greatly appreciate it if non-developers did not post to those two topics, so your compliance is appreciated.

This post has been edited by adam_0 : 15 November 2008 - 01:50 AM

View Postprophile, on Nov 15 2008, 06:39 PM, said:

The graphics engine (based on OpenGL) is well underway, and the first version of the sound engine is complete. We have support for PNG graphics and TrueType fonts, all in a very fast system. The first version of the sound system using SDL_mixer is also complete apart from a few teething issues with regard to volume, and that supports OGG and S3M for songs, and AIFF for sounds.

.... S3M is probably the most advanced of the plethora of available module file formats, so I went with that.

The plan at the moment is to integrate scripting into the system with Python via a boost library, named (perhaps unsurprisingly) boost.python. It's a choice between that and Lua - both are very flexible languages. Hopefully, most of the game logic can live in Python where it's easy to change.

I haven't started working on the networking component yet, that's possibly the biggest hurdle to jump. Adam and I are planning on using a library called enet to handle the basics of the networking engine, which is used by the open source FPS Sauerbraten. It won't be compatible with the original OS 9 Ares, I'm afraid, but since most people can't even use that any more I don't suppose that'll be a huge problem.

So basically, Xsera is coming along nicely so far.

This is a phenomenal amount of progress for 2 developers working in their spare time: kudos. I remember when Dawn of Infinity generated that kind of enthusiasm (okay, I'll admit I'm envious in that regard). I haven't used Python, but I can put in my two cents that Lua is a good choice for a game scripting implementation. What kinds of things do you hope to accomplish through scripting? We also looked at some pre-existing networking libraries for DoI before ultimately settling on the Quake 3 source code. Two among them were raknet and ICE (Internet Communications Engine). And lastly, I found mp3 versions of Ares' music tracks online (legally, though I don't remember where), which you might consider as an alternative to converting Ares' module music format.

@captain-bob, on Nov 15 2008, 11:02 PM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

This is a phenomenal amount of progress for 2 developers working in their spare time: kudos.

Well, Pallas Athene rounds off our group, and prophile's been the one working on that section, but thanks.

The only other people working directly on the Xsera project are nfreader, who is helping with site hosting and organization, and redsteven, who is our contact to Nathan Lamont.

Others working on projects that will involve Xsera are TwoJacks (who is working on making LEGO graphics for Ares) and Rickton (who will be working on the hi-res graphics).

Now that I think of it, I should probably add this to the FAQ. adds

This post has been edited by adam_0 : 16 November 2008 - 02:28 AM

@captain-bob, on Nov 16 2008, 07:02 AM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

This is a phenomenal amount of progress for 2 developers working in their spare time: kudos. I remember when Dawn of Infinity generated that kind of enthusiasm (okay, I'll admit I'm envious in that regard). I haven't used Python, but I can put in my two cents that Lua is a good choice for a game scripting implementation. What kinds of things do you hope to accomplish through scripting? We also looked at some pre-existing networking libraries for DoI before ultimately settling on the Quake 3 source code. Two among them were raknet and ICE (Internet Communications Engine). And lastly, I found mp3 versions of Ares' music tracks online (legally, though I don't remember where), which you might consider as an alternative to converting Ares' module music format.

Lua's an excellent language for embedding, and I'm using it in other projects. In this case, however, I'm going with Python, mainly as an experiment! Scripting is (hopefully) going to managing the bulk of the actual game logic, AI and such.

Quake 3 is GPLed sadly which makes it incompatible with the rather more permissive license we're currently using.

The MP3s are available on Nathan Lamont's site, but I went with S3M mainly out of nostalgia 😉 The engine also supports OGG out of the box, which is a more "traditional" format based on compressed PCM data, similar to MP3.

I've had bad experiences of RakNet, but ICE is a new one to me; enet is fairly low level and handles packet reliability, fragmentation and connections over UDP.

Personally, I'm curious about the AI. I've been involved in The Battle for Wesnoth for some years now, and while the game has leapt ahead in everything from graphics to music, UI to scripting features, the one thing that has yet to be substantially improved is the AI. It's an ongoing project; python scripting has been implemented and some developers are working on the matter, but the general consensus seems to be that writing good AI is very challenging.

@sundered-angel, on Nov 16 2008, 08:46 PM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

Personally, I'm curious about the AI. I've been involved in The Battle for Wesnoth for some years now, and while the game has leapt ahead in everything from graphics to music, UI to scripting features, the one thing that has yet to be substantially improved is the AI. It's an ongoing project; python scripting has been implemented and some developers are working on the matter, but the general consensus seems to be that writing good AI is very challenging.

I'm hoping we can glean something from the original code. I'm sure the AI will be very challenging, especially if we can't get anything out of the code.

Also, Alastair said that Python was proving to be too much of a pain, so he switched to Lua for scripting. He hasn't changed that on the progress log, though.

@adam_0, on Nov 17 2008, 09:18 AM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

I'm hoping we can glean something from the original code. I'm sure the AI will be very challenging, especially if we can't get anything out of the code.

If the AI is improved, I would recommend doing something about the AI actually tracking down the player. There were times in the old game where as long as you had a lot of defence drones around a planet, the AI never got a good landing. It would be nice if they instead tracked down the players fleet and caused some havoc.

eveningtoast

Level 5: Out of the Frying Pan

This is the first one with flack drones, one in the middle, one guarding Beta with a Gaitori Destroyer. Simply take all of your cruisers and hide on top of the flack drone, shooting down engineering pods and transports until the Destroyer commits suicide by attempting to follow you.

If the AI is changed, I will miss leading enemies into ridiculously simple traps like that. Oh well. I need a challenge occasionally. 😉

When the Ares revival first got started (in October), Adam and I contacted some forum members who had expressed interest in Ares within the past several years. Many of them were no longer active forum members and there email addresses had since changed.

One of these messages was sent to "Slug" on October 22nd. I heard back from him a few days ago and he said. He's not one of the guys who disappeared... I mean he had some forum activity on October 5, but it sounds better if I say he hadn't visited the forum for like 8 years.

Anyway, he said this:

Quote

ages ago when Sargatanus and I were working on an Ares plugin for EV Nova, Nathan Lamont was kind enough to send us the 3D models of all the ships. They were in StrataVision 3D format (a really old 3D modeling program that was used to make the graphics for the original MYST). Like most nerd projects, the plugin never saw light, but I know Nathan still has the models (I was stupid and deleted them after our license expired). Ask Nathan for them, and he'll probably give them to you. I'm pretty version they'll open in any version of Strata.

If worst comes to worst, I still have the software installed on my old-ass Macintosh 7500. I can take the files and turn them into animations of the ships turning, in quicktime format, which you can use as sprites, but it would be a month or more before I'd ever have the time to start.

Sorry I can't be more help. Good luck.

So I guess I'll go bother Nathan some more... that is, if you guys think you can use the models... which I'm guessing you can.

@redsteven, on Nov 17 2008, 04:23 PM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

So I guess I'll go bother Nathan some more... that is, if you guys think you can use the models... which I'm guessing you can.

Pursue. One of us will be able to use it in some way. 🙂

What would be best if they could be converted to something more portable, such as .obj...

@redsteven, on Nov 17 2008, 06:23 PM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

So I guess I'll go bother Nathan some more... that is, if you guys think you can use the models... which I'm guessing you can.

Please do so, I know we have some old Mac's here at work, and a large repository of old OS9 graphic/design software. I'll ask around and see if anybody around here has a copy of StrataVision.

-eveningtoast

A question and a comment:

The question: What of the editor and the add-ons? Will the editor be ported as well, and will the add-ons be add-onable?

The comment: You picked S3M because it's the "most advanced" of the module formats? Are you sure? I was under the impression that XM (FastTracker) and IT (Impulse Tracker) were more advanced formats than S3M (ScreamTracker3).

I received this response from Nathan:

Quote

While I appreciate the desire to update the original game, the models, if I have them, aren't necessary to get Ares working. Perhaps if and when a port is made I could revisit the idea of updating the graphics.

I understand his hesitation. So many projects never make it to completion. This one, we hope, WILL make it to completion, at which point we can ask him again for the models.

So it looks like he'd really rather we just try to use the original sprites the first time around.

I'm unfamiliar with IT and don't have an editor for it; S3M and XM are about equivalent in their functionality. Not MOD is my real point 😉

Hm, if we could get the models then that means I don't have to do any work!

@rickton, on Nov 18 2008, 11:46 PM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

Hm, if we could get the models then that means I don't have to do any work!

Idk, I'm thinking that the models aren't terribly detailed.
Though I'm not familiar with the process of converting models to sprites, if you know that your sprites are gonna be pretty small... do the models have to be that detailed?

The models usually have way more detail than the sprite shows. It's not as if the sprite will be pixelized when you enlarge the model, that's all governed by a vector system, so theoretically the sprites can be any size you want them to be. If we want them to be bigger, all we have to do is render them at a larger size.

The problem is that there might not be enough "thingamajigs" on a given model to make it look good when rendered at a larger size. Odds are that we'll have to work on the engine first before even worrying about the sprites, and it sounds like Mr. Lamont is herding us towards that direction.

@eveningtoast, on Nov 18 2008, 02:17 PM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

Please do so, I know we have some old Mac's here at work, and a large repository of old OS9 graphic/design software. I'll ask around and see if anybody around here has a copy of StrataVision.

-eveningtoast

Hm, i might have an old StrataVision somewhere - I'm one of those people who keeps archives of everything, inc all old software. (Seriously, it can be useful to have really old stuff sometimes, only last week i had to get some images off an ancient cd burned with some stupid compression format that died years ago, it's read me mentions System 7!)

@shenlon, on Nov 18 2008, 05:14 PM, said in [Xsera] Other Xsera:

A question and a comment:

The question: What of the editor and the add-ons? Will the editor be ported as well, and will the add-ons be add-onable?

I would hope that "Classic Ares Plugs" created in Hera will work with Xsera. Plug creation .was always an important part of the Ares community

Not directly, but Sfiera is working on utilities to convert between the classic Ares formats and the new formats, so they will be able to be used.

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