Gruepal – Version Support and Pre-Alpha Testing

Public Testing Soon!

Things are moving along, I haven’t found any further bugs when testing out version 3 games (I’m sure they’re there but things are looking fairly stable), so I’m calling Gruepal ready for people to pound away on for v1-3 games. Since my rented server is starting to get a little too big of a load, I found some cheap web hosting with fast processors and setup an account tonight. I will be installing Drupal on there and putting Gruepal builds on it for people to play around with within the next week.

With things looking good for versions 1-3, I wanted to start fleshing out v4-8 support before adding too many extra features – I want to ensure that the core of the engine is done, I may have to make a change that would affect extras and cause a lot of code rewrite.

Versions 4 and Up

I’ve starting working primarily on supporting version 4 stuff, but in the process it will fill in a lot of functionality required for versions 5-8 as well. I’m doing my version 4 work with “A Mind Forever Voyaging” – for two reasons. First, it’s a classic that I’ve heard great things about, and I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, so this will give me an opportunity. Also, it uses a lot of screen manipulation which I need to handle better anyway, so it’s a good game to work with.

Screen Manipulation

There are a lot of decisions I’ve had to make as far as screen manipulation since there isn’t really a screen in the classic sense – the game isn’t directly controlling what the user sees, its rendering to an output buffer which is printed in the user’s browser. Really, through the use of CSS it’s not too bad, I can recreate things – but I gave the user some functionality such as scrolling through the entire history of their game which isn’t part of the z-machine spec, so I need to balance that with things that don’t fit with that, e.g. a clear screen. Does it clear the whole history, or just put a lot of whitespace in so the screen being viewed is cleared, but the user can still scroll up? I’m thinking I’ll probably clear the whole buffer, as there may be times when the game simulates a control panel of some type and it wouldn’t make any sense to have previous renders of what the control panel had been showing in the output buffer.

Anyway, I’ve implemented enough version 4 code that A Mind Forever Voyaging doesn’t crash off the bat – it prints a lot of what it’s supposed to, but it definitely isn’t formatting the text right yet, and some of the text is wrong. My favorite is, instead of saying

“You have entered Communications Mode”

it says

“You have entered dinner.”

Definitely a lookup issue there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I will post the info here when the testing area is ready to go for the v1-3 code though.

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