Minor Life Intrusion

Hey everyone–

Pardon the silence from my end the last few weeks.  I had a bit of an epiphany at GDC to the effect that I’m not very happy out here in Los Angeles (and moreover can’t afford the cost of living here without taking on oodles of contract work) and I’d rather be back in Ames, IA with the friends I left there.  Thus, I’m moving back in short order.  This, among other things (see: oodles of contract work) has had me a bit distracted since then.  I might not be getting much done on the Blank for a while.

Someday I’ll be able to give this project the time it deserves.  My choice to move is part of an effort to drag my accumulating “somedays” a bit closer to the present.

Regards,
Evan

Evan goes to GDC!

Well, it’s that time of year again.

I’ll be preoccupied for the next week with a trip to the Game Developers’ Conference in San Fransisco, though I might slip a small amount of Infinite Blank work in in the meantime.  I didn’t really consider this when I was projecting an update this weekend and for that I am very sorry.  :(  On the other hand I’m all done packing and don’t have anything else to do, so perhaps I’ll write some code tomorrow before I leave.

I made some last-minute business cards that will tie into Infinite Blank.  Maybe not as cool as last year’s, but should still be pretty neat:

This space intentionally left blank.

Doesn't look much like a game, does it?

There’s a game I’ll be running with these:  when I give someone my business card, I offer them some crayons to make a drawing on it.  If they refuse they simply take the blank card.  If they accept, I will then offer them a trade after the drawing is complete.  They give me their card, and I’ll give them a mystery card with a drawing someone else has made.  Each card which is traded thusly will be numbered and, if the artist so chooses, signed.  I *might* try to snap photos of them.  I’ve already prepared number zero!

(As much as I would like to make a more direct interpretation of Infinite Blank in physical space, I don’t want to carry a bulletin board around with me, hence this simpler scheme.  If I ever run a booth for the game, however, expect exactly that!)

If anyone reading this happens to be at GDC, you can play a round if you manage to catch me.  I look roughly like this:

Mugshot!

Note the plaid hat and misplaced enthusiasm.

Not much else to say.  I’ll try to work on an update but odds are I’m pretty much out of the picture until next Saturday.  That said, meeting old friends and making new ones has a way of recharging the batteries; I think the time pays itself back twofold in motivation and good vibes.

Gotta pack my accordion–
–Evan

What time doth take…

…a game doth make.

I’m fiddling with the next version of the software part of Infinite Blank.  I’ve come to realize that on its own it’s not really worth calling a game.  Rather, it’s something a game is played with.  Like a tennis racket, only more electric.  In light of that my long-term goal should be to make it as elegant and versatile as possible with what time I can devote.
(And on that note I’ve added a donate button.)

0.3.2 is coming along, and the features and changes I’ve set my sights on break down more or less as follows:

  • Lobby, displaying available servers (waiting on a friend’s help)
  • New mapscreen
    • shows general shape and size of entire world, but little detail
    • used for teleporting
    • highlights explored vs. unexplored, edit-in-progress, changed-since-last-visit, and open/shared password modes.
  • Re-introduce exploration memory (ie, remember what player has visited)
  • Multiple, admin-picked entry points to worlds — mapscreen appears when joining world
  • Player status icons — idle/chatting/editing/mapmode/etc
  • Tweaks to avatar size (they’re way too small)
  • Improved admin functions on servers ???
    • Creating new entry points
    • Cell erasing
    • Access mode / password overrides
    • Save-with-same-password
    • *possibly* start on permissions system
      • Modes are visitor/subuser/user/moderator/admin
      • Subusers can draw, users can save passwords, mods bypass passwords, admins do anything
      • Default permission set on world-join; generally ‘user’ but admin can reconfigure
      • “Elevate” command with password and (for mods/admins) command prompt via [~]

It’s my expectation that the alternate entry point system will have some interesting effects on the way Infinite Blank works.  It’s been a dearly needed feature for any world that has gotten beyond infancy.  Thus far my work has been focused on the new mapscreen and clearing up an issue with the server software.  0.3.2 will *probably* be a mandatory update both for clients and servers.

Remember this? Well, yeah, this. Maybe not so tiny with the squares though.

I’m going to try and be wary this time around of “list creep” in updates.  (That is to say I might not do everything in the above list.)  Weekly is more fun, and I should really stick to that when I can manage it.

Expect the update by next weekend.
–Evan

0.3.1: The unbreakening

Hello everyone!  0.3.1 is out!

This is a client-side update, so servers don’t need to be updated, strictly speaking.  It’s optional for clients too.

Major changes are, avatars are back, (!) chat is less terrible, (!?) and favorite warp-points are fixed.  (!!!)  This smooths out a few of the most glaring issues with the game at present.  (Besides the crashes, which don’t seem to happen on my computer.  Terribly sorry about those.)

Supplementary stuff: you can hit L to keep the chatlog onscreen while playing, and you can use the mouse to zoom in.  (The latter mostly so you can get a nice close look at other players’ avatars.)

the avatar screen...

I'm making a cat! Use multiple colors so you're visible against various backgrounds.

Please refrain from making any catty remarks. ZIIINNGGGG

Me placing a favorite point in a little cave.

I fiddled with the ‘help’ dialog a little bit, so you may want to reread it.  I also made several small changes and fixes:

Hopefully fixed the "glErrors" crash on window resize.
Made antialiasing ON by default.  (pg.ini)
Fixed a spelling error and wording in one of the connection errors.
Changed music key to TAB (Due to a mistake, P is still the un-pause command on Mac!)
Added preview for avatar size in avatar selector
Added preview for avatar in world select
Fixed brush tool cursor
Changed avatar color key to a dark gray.
The 'cancel' button in chat no longer shows a confirmation screen.

You can download the new version here:

0.3.1 for Windows

0.3.1 for OS X 10.6+

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While those upload I’ll brain-dump a bit.  Things I’m thinking about doing soon:  (disclaimer: no guarantees I will)

  • A favorite servers list — since the next update will have the lobby system, this will probably only apply to private servers
  • A way to check if a server is online before connecting — a “knock” feature, essentially.
  • addressing the horrific awkwardness of jumpthrough (red) platforms, possibly retconning all existing ones into some kind of ladder-substance.
  • Creating a ‘mask’ function for the painter that will allow things to be drawn inside selected areas.
  • Adding some more wall-class materials (water?) and making all the tools (rectangle, fill, etc) usable for walling.
  • Possibly allowing characters to be of differing sizes.
  • Administration tools
    • Commands for erasing, and possibly rolling back cells
    • Configurable limits for delay between new cells, minimum work time on new cells
    • Configurable default permissions for new users, ways to elevate permissions from visitor -> normal -> moderator -> admin
    • Tying said elevations into the free-teleport feature, or possibly enabling it for all users (ruins the fun of exploration!)
    • Placement of new entry points, which will be presented when the user connects (ties into the new map system)
  • Tools to deal with disk usage on both the server and client, like clearing the cache.

And a million more things.  But so it goes.

Have fun, citizens of the Blank.  Build some worlds.
–Cellulose

Nothing worth doing is easy…

0.3.0 is having a nice little start.  Two part-time servers yesterday and a new one brought up today, all seeing nice growth.  I’ve done a little doodling in all three.  And it’s nice to see this thing alive again.

My attention is drawn now to the biggest among the many issues with the program, especially those relating to how players interact with one another.

  • A lobby that shows all running non-private servers and their statistics.  This will be coming next update or the one after, hopefully.
    -
  • No custom avatars, makes other players much less interesting than they should be.
    • Advanced:  If you want to hack around this early, press ~, type in ‘figedit’, hit ENTER, hit control-L or the folder button, and load “../blank/menu/avatar.fig”.  This editor tool takes some figuring out and lets you select, layer and shift things.  Hit Control-S twice to quickly save over the file.
      -
  • The ‘chat’ window covers most of the screen, possibly blocking what other players are saying.  This is a huge problem.

    screenshot

    Use number 73 for the banter tool: making grumpy faces at the banter tool.

  • There’s no interaction with players who are drawing something, and really ought to be.  A spectator-mode would be great, though that’s hard to implement.
    -
  • Some issues and bugs in the draw tool.
    • A non-randomized palette and some smarter color selection tools.
    • Fill acts strangely around the outside edges of a cell.
    • There needs to be some kind of feature to aid in drawing things “behind” or “inside” other things.  (Layering and/or masking)
    • Some features, like right-click erasing walls and zoom, aren’t very well explained.
    • Some kind of vertex-count warning (*possibly* a limit the admin can set) so users know when their cells will start to get laggy.
    • A way of testing the cell without having to upload and re-edit it, or at least having an indicator of characters’ jump height / length.
      -
  • Better admin features.
    • Re-blanking cells.  (used to be in, removed when I made passwords more secure)
    • Editing without altering the password.
    • In the long run, setting default permissions and appointing moderators, probably with a password elevation system.

These are the things I’m currently going to pick and choose from as priorities in coming updates.  I’m curious what YOU guys think is important, though, so let me hear what you think I should dedicate my (rather limited) time to first.

Over and out–
Cellulose

  • (Server's down)
  • Infinite Blank explained