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May. 10th, 2005

01:16 pm - Recent Progress

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So time has been ticking by and it’s all been sounding a bit quiet around here, thanks in large part to the obsessive way I throw myself into sub-projects, and to a lesser extent my usual election fever.

Anyway, stuff that’s currently underway:

I’m working on something on the software side of things that I don’t want to discuss until I’m much further into it, so don’t be surprised if my posts look 20-30 hours short on content over the next few weeks >;)

As a hint though, it has a lot to do with how likely it is that I can write the game engine in a platform-independent high-level language without having to sacrifice too much low-level performance or hardware access. Sounds like the brief of just about every bit of software I’ve worked on since the mid-90’s...

Yesterday I forked a portion of the Wiki that had been building over the last week or so, and now we have a wiki second site that’s intended to act as a resource for all things to do with Wizards of the Coast’s Open Game License.

Currently the site uses the same modified MediaWiki codebase as the Silicon Beach wiki, but later on today I intend to liberalise the permissions so that anyone can browse the full site without having to register a user account. Editor privileges are going to stay the same though as I’ve no desire to see a defacement by spamlinkers again.

So what’s in the new wiki? A full copy of the Modern System Reference Document and the various OGL additions (most still in need of editing for prettiness), and a preliminary copy of the Action! System Core Rules. Any and all other documents that fall within the Open Content terms of the Open Game License v1.0a is also fair game for inclusion. As games-with-brains.net is paid for through 2014 or thereabouts I hope to make this a long-term archival site and as much as possible keep it free, although I’ll be sticking a PayPal link into the standard interface so that people can contribute to running costs (erm... that translates mainly into food and electricity, considering my impecunious lifestyle).

A third wiki will be joining these two, focused mainly on resources of use to software developers with both public domain and Open Content documents as and when I (and anyone else who wishes to get involved) get the time to add them. Should anyone wish to volunteer their time to this project it will be greatly appreciated.

In the first instance I want to get basic language coverage for C, C++, Basic, Java, Icon, Python, Ruby and so forth - nothing to deep, just some use tutorials and crib-sheets.

I’ve also been looking into how easily my current database of Traveller:The New Era and Call of Cthulhu character stats and house rules can be incorporated into the OGL Modern gaming system, and the answer appears to be with some difficulty.

CoC doesn’t play well with a level-based system, although obviously the d20 CoC variant attempts to broach this gap by having only two classes - offensive and defensive. Ultimately though the use of a level-based system is too inflexible to cope with the range of character abilities that Chaosium’s Basic Role-playing system allows. In practice I’ve also tended to use lots of modified RuneQuest rules when running CoC scenarios because it makes combat that bit more deadly >:)

I have some ideas for doing a level-less OGL modification, and there are several systems out there that have adopted a similar philosophy so I don’t feel too bad about doing likewise. some of the inspiration comes from the excellent Action! System, which is an interesting half-way house between OGL and Chaosium’s approach.

TTNE on the other hand sort of uses a level-based system for describing a character’s pre-game background (career terms of 4 years each) and favourable results seem to occur when converting characters to use the basic Modern SRD character classes. Advanced classes seem to work back-to-front in OGL though, probably because the idea is that as you progress in play you need to achieve certain qualifying requirements, whereas in the Traveller family entry into a series of careers occurs during character creation and the pre-requisites are instead packages of skills that the character acquires by dint of having been in a career. I think I’d like to retain something similar in the eventual game system for Silicon Beach, but maybe in a less rigid manner.

At the end of the day I want to find a fair compromise between a system that’s easy to play as a pen & paper game, but that’s capable of bringing a high level of characterisation to a computerised implementation.

Current Mood: working
Current Music: Sickness:Marionettes


[User Picture]
Date:May 10th, 2005 12:33 pm (UTC)
nota bene warning .. now that election and some other stuff is out of the way I am (semi-unexpectedly as I'd hoped one of my candidates was going to get elected which might have meant a new job) going to start haxxing code again in various spheres.
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[User Picture]
Date:May 10th, 2005 02:09 pm (UTC)
Yes nothing quite like election fever for getting in the way of life >;)
Congrats to your lot for the increased seats, but woe to the nation for another TB term: a 67 seat majority and on only 22% of the total electorate - now that really is pushing the curve on what's constitutionally bearable...
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[User Picture]
Date:May 10th, 2005 02:28 pm (UTC)
game engine in a platform-independent high-level language


What? Wasn't me!
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[User Picture]
Date:May 10th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
Yes dear, I know about your passion for all things python. I still haven't ruled PyGame out as an option but I'm not that keen to tie the project in to SDL if it can be avoided. Why? Because I've been doing some research into libGGI as a graphics back-end and I like the way it handles video acceleration transparently under Linux, Windows and MacOS X as well as several other operating systems.

Whilst I can see the benefits of Python, I'm still experimenting to see if Icon can be used to achieve the same basic level of performance. This could well prove a fruitless task, but having looked under the hood in some detail I believe there is hope - however I'm not saying anything further right now as I don't want to jinx things...
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