July 2010

New user interface in motion

As promised some weeks ago I finally got around capturing a video of the totally new user interface that I decided to put into “Phase 2”. As mentioned earlier it’s not only a visual “upgrade”, making the UI more sleek and futuristic but also adds a lot of information to the default view and also brings in lot more usability. As you can see in the video most parts are already done, though there is still some work to be done before I can call it finished. But it’s already coming along nice and will surely add a lot to the final game.

(Note : The video is available in HD, but sadly only at 30fps, seems like youtube caps videos at that framerate)

And amongst other things I removed the nation backdrops. Yes, I did put a lot of work into them (I’d have to guess, but I think several hundred hours) and they look quiet nice (though I was never really satisfied with all of them), so you may think it’s stupid to thrash so much work (along the countless hours of work I thrashed when doing the new UI), but I wouldn’t have removed them if it wouldn’t have added something to the game. And this “something” is a feature I’ve been getting several requests for, called “better global overview“. Due to the old backdrops the globe was fixed to a single position and was also limited in terms of zooming. But by removing those backdrops (and making the game partly look like one of the old betas) you can now not only freely rotate the globe, but also drag it around freely and zoom in and out by a larger factor. This adds a lot of overview as you can now just drag the globe where you want it and zoom in much closer to get a better look at the regions themselves. Take a look at the video and you’ll notice what I’m talking about.

Amongst these bigger changes you’ll also see the nuke in action in the new video. Nothing really new as I already had videos of the nuke prototype, but along with the nuke you’ll see something new, namely physical values. Something that I recently changed were the regional values that felt too abstract, so instead of having a factor for e.g. of population you’ll now see real population counts, that should make it easier to relate those values.

So you see it’s progressing. Although at times I feel like I do a lot of work for nothing (like recently when spending my rare free time for fixing stuff that I broke at some point), even small steps add, and hopefully I’ll have this game done at some point or at least a beta release I can build upon (which is actually my current plan).

“Phase 2” running on Linux (using WINE)

After releasing “Phase 1” (which was actually quite some long time ago) several people were asking for Linux support, but actually I wasn’t keen of having to port the game over to Linux (and I haven’t changed on that since then), so there never was (and never will be) a port for Linux. And as it seems it was also not possible to get the game running using WINE due to the fact that it used GDI+ for doing several imaging related things.

But just recently I finally threw out all references to GDI+ and decided to set up Linux on an old PC that I use to test my games against older lower-end hardware specs. So after the torture of getting OpenGL hardware acceleration up and running I got everything in place and started “Phase 2” using WINE and guess what, it actually worked! Although the performance is not that great it’s still nice to see, especially since the hardware is very low end (AMD Athlon 2600+, 2GByte RAM and a GeForce 4 TI440 with 128 MByte VRAM) and doesn’t even support OpenGL pixel shaders (hence the dull look of the game) I was actually glad to have it running.

So at the end of the day this means that “Phase 2” should be able to work with Linux using WINE, and when you have the right hardware or if you’re willing to trade-in some visuals for performance it should be possible to play “Phase 2” with Linux. I hope some people out there refusing to work with windows are glad to hear this.

Quick interception

Time flies by, and so the last posting is already collecting dust. As usual I’m not getting much time to work on “Phase 2”, but I’m making steady (though little) progress on an (almost daily) base. So the new user interface I’ve been talking about in my last posting is in (with a few minor things to be done and sorted) and it looks stunning, adding a lot to the game, both in terms of visual style and usability. And I’m also stitching all the parts together (again) so that I may be able to release a working (up until recently you couldn’t even really play a whole game without crashing and such) within the next few months. I’ll have to admit though that it took me longer to implement it as projected, but every time I see it I know all the additional work was worth every minute spend on it, and I hope that this translates to players of “Phase 2” too.

And where light is shed, there’s also usually darkness as well, and this time it’s Turbo Delphi. I guess I should’ve never switched over from Delphi 7, but the bigger the game gets the more problems Turbo Delphi has coping up. The IDE is running out of memory at least twice a day (it starts out with roughly 60 MBytes of memory and then goes crazy up until 1.4 GBytes of memory are used by it). I installed all hotfixes and DelphiSpeedUp and “Phase 2” is not causing any memory leaks, so I guess it’s the fact that Turbo Delphi was never meant to be used for bigger projects. And yes, I also tried switching to Lazarus and FPC but dropped the idea. I like FPC (with all their advanced stuff that’s been promised for the Delphi compiler ages ago and never came), but I never liked lazarus, so I don’t see the game going this route anytime soon, so I guess I’ll have to stick with Turbo Delphi until “Phase 2” is finished.

So stay tuned, I’ll also have a new work-in-progress video up soon that’ll show the new GUI in all it’s glory.