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change news

last update: 2007-07-02
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MessageID: 7


Yeah ... summer vacation ... till winter. Why don't I have the amount of free time my projects have? I am doing ten-hour days at work, instead. But I'm not giving in. There will be a full-fledged campaign soon ... -ish



Sorry for me being so quiet currently! I'm in the middle of my diploma thesis (and I'm running! out! of! time!!) and have virtually not a second to spare. However, PoRoBa is by no means abandoned, it's just having a short summer vacation ;)



PoRoBa is currently getting a little momentum :) Not from the programming- or content-creation- point of view, but from the downloads. To ask people in some bulletin boards to test the game has surely helped a great deal!

Thank you all for testing and feedback!



I just realized: With the new release of the editor went the doku for some parts outdated. Sorry, the new and altered functions will be documented soon!



Big update!
There are new versions of the PoRoBa-framework (urgently recommended!) and the PoRoBaEditor. Both contain various improvements and bugfixes.

Also, you can download the first work-in-progress version of the tankmania-campaign on the now filled campaign-page. It's only three maps long, but hopefully you'll already have a little fun with it.

Also, I uploaded the current state of the tankomania-library. Most units and graphics are already in and seemingly nicely balanced. I welcome anyone to use this library to create more tank-fun :)



DrCox, the AI, got some serious improvements in battle situations. So, in "kill them all" kind of maps, I'm somewhat content with the moves he does. However, currently DrCox is not able to build up and follow any long-time strategies or even tactics. For example, if the gamer is supposed to defend a special spot, DrCox will just move in with all he has on the direct route - there is no search for alternative routes. The single units won't even attack as a team, but just attack. Also, they want to stay out of trouble too much and thus don't attack aggressively enough.



DrCox is still not as clever as I want him to be :(
Of course, if you go one-on-one against him DrCox will be a tough enemy. But as soon as more than one unit is involved, there are some substantial weaknesses: While you, the player, coordinate your units, DrCox just jumps inside the head of one unit and moves it regardless of what allied units do. Computer-sciency spoken: The local heuristic "Good playing by moving a unit at at time close-to optimal" is not true.
So, back to the code, I will implement some communication-platform for computer-controlled units. Hopefully, they will then act as a team and share information between them. If that doesn't work out, I'm afraid, I will have to write a complete new DrCox with a different aproach. Again.

I'm sorry, this will delay the completion of the tanks-campaign.



Clicking together a campaign - even a übercool all-tank-campaign - takes a lot of time! I'm still at balancing the units to make sure there's fun in the campaign. For that I feel it's important that your tactics decide if you win or lose and not just simple attacking the nearest enemy.

Yet, I'm still a DIY game programmer on my way to become a DIY game designer. So, don't expect immediate perfection ...



Ok, there is a new icon indicating the looking direction in the tile-infobox just for you ;) The feature will be included in the next release (which will be released after some more feedbuck and changes). kendars, send me your eMail, if you want the new version right away!

If anyone else wants some cool new or missing feature, please ask! There is no such thing as unwelcome feedback!



It's rather frustrating to make graphics for PoRoBa! Apart from the fact, that I lost every last glint from my (already weak to begin with) 3DMax skillz, is the sheer tinyness a real problem. Details looking fine when rendered seem downsized to 24x24 like random pixels and hinder the recognizability of the units more than they help. :(

In other news: I gave PoRoBa now to a few friends with PocketPCs (all QVGA devices) and it worked fine on all these machines - there seems to be no obvious showstopper left. That pleases me, but I don't believe it yet.



As threatened, I'm currently working on a new campaign featuring nothing but tanks. Don't get your hopes up yet - all the graphics will be done by me, since Ive not found any suitable sets in the web. So, here's an example of typical "programmer's graphics":
ugly ugly programmer's graphics tanks
Hopefully, it will be fun anyways. Let's keep our thumbs crossed. Or something.



Uploaded a new version to the "download"-page. Only small details and some minor bugs were fixed - you won't notice it most probably. However, the new version should be even stabler. So, I recommend switching soon, since there is virtually no risk.



The new skin-system is finished. Now, you can even define the looks of the menues after a campaign was loaded. Also, the item-slots are no longer mandatorily named "helmet", "shield", "weapon" and "armor", but can named however you like. With that, any setting campaigns can have any settings. I'm already thinking of building a campaign featuring only tanks. We'll see.

Please download and test it. Your old save-games stay valid as well as all installed campaigns! For the editor-users: A new editor-version comes soon. The only thing different (apart from minor bugfixes) will be the skin-tab - your libraries stay unharmed.

Here's a picture of the new default-skin:

 screenshot of the new default skin



There is now a new page on this site: The material-page. In there, you will find libraries and skins and whatever may be handy for you as a basis to create new campaigns.
Note, that these libraries might be updated (somewhat) regularely. So, rename your copies if you want to avoid version-conflicts!



New versions online!
The new versions of PoRoBa, containing lots of new features (and, I'm sure, bugs), and the PoRoBaEditor, with new controls to modify these new features, are online.

Get them at the respective download-pages and let me know your experiences please!



TazMan, a good friend of mine and the guy that helped significantly to bring PoRoBa on its way, did some testing for me today. And it sucked. :( . Or, software-engineeringly spoken: The test was a huge success. Several bugs were found. Some trivial (renamed heroes didn't stay renamed), more showstoppers: Sudden termination of the game, IndexOutOfRangeExceptions, ArgumentOutOfRangeExceptions and the well-hated NullPointerExceptions. Hopefully I'll find them all, becuase I'm not sure, if I'm able to reproduce all errors. After all, every error I was able to find is already fixed.




Migration from PC to PocketPC is nearly complete and the turotial is finished :) I'm fixing some little stability-issues and will then upload the new version.

I've also introduced changeable difficulty-levels, which affect the times the gamer is allowed to to quicksafe in a map and the relative level of all charakters at the beginning of a map. Hopefully, these effects aren't too strong, i.e., disrupt all the fun or, worse, make some maps uncompletable. We'll see!

Real PoRoBa-gaming is available in the next few days!



The options-screen is finished :) And - a little unexpected - it's not empty ;)

screenshot of the options-screen

Also, the tutorial-campaign is nearly done: Four of five or six maps are finished.

Unfortunately, I've made all recent changes exclusively to the PC-version of PoRoBa. Adjusting the PocketPC-Version might be cumbersome :/



Have been on vacation for a week, so: little progress. However, I started to build up a default library for fantasy settings with Reiner's (see last entry) graphics. Also, I started creating a tutorial.

I will upload this stuff as soon as PoRoBa runs without known bugs again... that shouldn't be too long ;)



Good news everyone:
Reiner Prokein gaveme his permission to use his fine graphics in the game. He has created some quite gorgeous stuff - but see for yourself, e.g., his animals here.

Unfortunately, PoRoBa is still targeted on the small screen of PocketPCs and SmartPhones, so the tiles I use are tiny. Let's hope that the downscaling of the pictures doesn't disfigure them too much!



Finally, the transition-system works :)
The effect is not overwhelming but at least the tile-structure of the maps is not as painfully obvious anymore! See for yourself:
screenshot without transition system

screenshot with transition system

DrCox (the AI) also starts to act how I expect from him. He follows the orders, I give him and executes rather clever moves. I can't belive it, but PoRoBa finally seems to go somewhere. There's going to be a big alpha version for anyone to test, soon.

Currently, I'm a bit struggling to get adequate graphics for the first real campaigns. Let's face it, I'm no real pixel-artist, I just lack the patience for it. I already found some pages of fine free art. Let's keep our fingers crossed that I'm allowed to use their stuff!



No success! :(

Now, the BlendImageCreator is up and running - but doesn't provide the desired ease of use for creating beatuful maps: It's just to cumbersome to paint all that transitions between different TileTypes by hand. Also, finding the right transition pic and placint it takes too long to be practical. And, even worse, there are 256 possible TransitionPics - that's just too darn much. Grr.

So, I've started developing a new kind of transition-system that will do all that stressful stuff automatically - with that, map-painting will finally be fun. Keep your fingers crossed with me!



I'm too easily distracted! The DrCox-stuff should already be working, but I haven't tested yet. This is because I tried to put up some simple maps to test the AI's moves. Halfway in, I decided that the tiles looked like crap. So I painted new ones. A couple hours later I discovered that there is just no simple way with given software yet to paint fine transitions between two TileTypes.

Now what to do? Well, tomorrow you will see it: I built a new tool into the Editor, the "BlendImageCreator", which helps you to get these transitions right - or paint completely new tiles. Hope, you like it!



The new version of PoRoBa is available on the download-page. DrCox has still not found his brain, but the interaction with the map got somewhat nicer: Now, you don't pan anymore in discrete tile-steps, but float around smoothly :)

My current topic, transplanting DrCox some brain, proves to be a toughie. This is mainly due to the fact, that I think, that just letting every npc standing around on the map until you prick them with a sword seems kind of dumb and boring. So, I'm currently devising kind of a order system - which, of course, needs big changes in the whole system, from the MapCreator via the Savers and Loaders to the Map and DrCox. That's what makes it last for a while :(



The editor tutorial section got lots and lots of new content. With these new informations, you should find most of the knowledge to build at least simple campaigns. Further additions and improvements should be done in the next weeks. If you're missing a concrete tutorial or function, please don't hesitate to ask!



Finally, a new version of the editor is ready for download. Get it now on the editor-page.
With the new version, there came a few new possibilities: For example, it's now possible to adjust the rules of the game a bit; so, you can change the effect of a critical hit, or the power of a promotion. Also, the testing environment is included in this editor. Now you can build your maps, play them and adjust, what's still missing :) The new functions made unfortunately another file-version progress necessary. But this time, you can use your old libraries in the new version without adjusting anything. I'm a little proud of that ;)
In other news: The deployment system integrated in the Visual Studio 2005 sucks. Or I'm too stupid. Or both. At least, I wasn't able to publish the new editor in a single setup file like before. Since the editor is now dependent of another project (the PC-version of PoRoBa) it was not persuadable to work. Grrr.



The talent-system is finished :))
Players can now create their very own hero! Phew, this was on my agenda for quite some time, so understand my relief! And now? It's time to give Dr.Cox some brains. Did I hear a "WTF"? Dr.Cox is the name of the artificial player that's supposed to make the game fun by plotting against you. Why "Dr.Cox"? I'm a scrubs-fanboy ;)



I'm currently working on the editor again. Now I enabled it to modify some of the more important environment variables: Someone designing a map can now decide how critical "critical hits" really are and if backstabbing is really worth all that honor loss ;) As a next step the editor will get some controls over the leveling process!

By now, the amount of possibilities, which the PoRoBa-framework offers, is so complex that I doubt that anyone will ever be able to use all of them. Is that a good thing? :/



I toyed around a little with the quicksave / -load function and am not as happy anymore about it. It somewhat destroys the flow of the game: Gamers (if they are similar to me) just save before anything they do. So, the range of sight restrictions are useless - I just run around in every direction, find enemies and quickload without them noticing me. And, I tended to quicksave/load until I get the best possible hits and no "missed" anymore.
That sucks and makes the balancing very hard. So, I'm thinking about restricting the quicksaves somehow - perhaps depending on the chosen difficult level ...



Quicksaving and -loading implemented. Makes the game somewhat easier ;) Get the new version on the download page. Feedback is - as always - utterly welcome!



Porting the PoRoBa-gaming-enigne to the PC-platform requires - unfortunately - some rewriting. So, some dialogs are still switched off in the Editor's test-environment. However, the creating of maps and campaings seems already a lot easier :)
You can expect the new version of the editor to appear in the download-section in the next days. Thnx for your patience!



Rapid progress: The testing-environment is nearly integrated into the Editor. Soon, there will be a new version of the editor online, which will make creating maps and campaigns a lot easier. Unfortunately, there will be also a version-progression of the store-file-system. That means, that older libraries and created campaigns will not work anymore in the next version. If you invested a lot of time already in creating a campaing in the current editor, please let me know, I will write a version-converter then!

Also, the tutorial-pages for the editor got some updates. Have fun!



I finally wrote a PC-wrapper for PoRoBa today. This little program is hopefully very useful when you create new campaigns and maps. I plan to make some additions to let designers alter some variables while they are playing to make building maps a little easier.
However, I made it just work! There may be lots of bugs in there, since I'm working against GDI to make PoRoBa's paint-loop-driven drawing work in the event-driven windows environment. Also, some features just don't work and others may take some time before they are implemented in the PC-adaption. So, I recommend the PocketPC-version for best fun!
It's not online yet, but will be in a few days - on the "tools"-subpage of the editor.

Also, the tutorial-section for the editor got a little more content :)



The Editor is online!
You can download the current version on the editor-page and I would appreciate it, if you did so ;) There are already some instructions and explanations on how to use it on a sub-page. Expect more detailed tutorials later!



The current version (arbitrary: 0.5) is available in the "downloads"-section. Please give it a try and let me know your experiences. Have fun!



Finally, the hardware-key stuff works :) Now there are some screenshots (guess, where to find them)!
PoRoBa migrated now officially to the .Net Compact-Framework 2.0. If you're not a developer for yourself, you can completely ignore this message, since this doesn't mean any changes for you. And all the developers might understand the threading- and warning-torrent this change delivered >_<



Have been playing around with accessing the hardware-keys of the PocketPC. Normally this doesn't seem to be a problem: There are actually two ways to access the hardware-keys

Unfortunately, both alternatives are thought to be used together with the windows-messaging-system. And that's not that good: The .net-framework normally hides all the message-loop stuff, and I really don't want to mess with it. However, there seems to be no other choice!

Now, a few trials later, I get the messages from windows (there is a special (abstract) class for this kind of task, the MessageWindow), and even the messages for the hardware-buttons. I do this by using the core.dll-methods - the GAPI-calls didn't seem to do anything!

So, you can soon expect the screenshots-page to be pimped (that's what I need the hardware-buttons for: triggering screenshots ;) ) and at least some aspects of the game being easier to handle with hardware-buttons - not the menu, though, since I have NO intention to write a focus-system. Hacking a kind of "window-manager" was hard enough!



Oooaky, there are no more "blind links" in here, but the content pages are still empty :/ I have lots to do at the moment, but at least the "screenshots"-page should be done soon... Stay tuned!