Times, trials, and turbulence.
Monthly Archives: May 2008
…And it was good!
During the weekend, Skirmish saw a storm of coding. I hammered away at the game networking system as quickly as I dared, tasting that glimmer of online play that laid only over the horizon. Or more simply put: just really darn close to being playable online.
Below are a couple of screenshots to summarize the end-result of this work:
(Huge thanks go out to Dean and Brian for helping pioneer online play.)
The bottom line: Skirmish is finally ‘playable’ online! It’s only the bare bare basics of the game networking, but after all of these months of work, it’s finally all starting to come together. 🙂
What you can do: Host games. Join existing games. Move around and see other players join/exit. Send/receive public chat messages.
What is not (yet) implemented: Synchronization of props and player actions across the network (encompasses static props, items (guns, etc), and firing of weapons). Player health and death. Movement prediction. And heaps more. 🙂
The important thing is that Skirmish is now at a turning point. No longer is it “that game I’ve been keeping to myself on my local machine”, but “that nifty new online game that folks can actually sort-of play”! I’m hoping that in having even just this much available for public consumption will help: a) get bugs reported quickly, and b) bring more public interest to the game, now that I’ve established some more credibility to the name of the game.
Naturally, the development of an online game tends to require multiple users in order for many facets of the game to be adequately tested. I still follow my tendency to randomly yank folks off of MSN when I spontaneously require some testing, so if you’d like to take part in this early stage of alpha testing, please (please!) add me to your MSN (hopedagger at gmail dotcom) and let me know you’re along for the ride. Tests will usually be fairly short in duration, and, of course, testers will be credited for their invaluable help.
Lastly, I’d like to once again extend a massive thanks out to everyone who has been a supporter of Skirmish. (Yes, I tend to get a little misty-eyed every time Skirmish gets to this stage. 🙂 )
Up and Running
After an unreasonable amount of time and effort, I managed to recompile and set up the Master Server on my server box. The router I’m using (thankfully) has a setting to automatically use a dyndns.org account to update with my latest IP, which means that my residential dynamic IP won’t be an issue in long-term hosting of the Master Server.
Milestone 4 Client Available
With Milestone 4 comfortably completed, I’m eager to finally put up a link here so I can get some real feedback on the interface to the Master Server, as well as catching any bugs that are still lingering about. Or just reserve your favourite character name. 😛
Recall that the deployment of the game requires Java 5, and either Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux.
Also worth noting is that the Master Server is still in its infancy of long-term testing. It may go down periodically while the kinks are still being hammered out.
- Create/log-into an account
- Create and delete characters
- Configure user settings (key bindings, interface options, etc.)
You cannot yet:
- Host games
- Join games
It’s true that you can’t do any “playing” yet, but enough infrastructure is now in place that adding these two components are not major additions. Hosting is actually already in place, but removed in this release simply because there’s no real point in it until the game networking is implemented. One might think of this as a, “now all of the boring work is out of the way” release. 😉
There might not be a whole plethora of things to test, but I’d be very grateful for any feedback, comments, questions and suggestions that come to mind while looking at it. As usual, a huge thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement along the way of Skirmish’s lengthy development. 🙂
Frequency of Updates
It’s been pretty quiet around here for the last few weeks, but I’m still hoping to increase the frequency of my updates as of now. I’m becoming more or less adjusted to being back in classes, and have my weekly course-load pretty comfortably gauged. 🙂
It brings me plenty of pleasure to say that the initial version of the Master Server is ready to roll. Finally both the Master Server app itself and the game client’s interface to the MS is in good enough shape to be warranted as “done” for the time being. There are still more features and additions (on a more minor scale) to come in the future, but all of the core functionality is solidly implemented. Account creation, logging-in, character management, game hosting, receiving game listings, and user configurations are all in working order.
The Next Step Toward Being “Playable”
The only real obstacle left is getting the Master Server up and running 24/7 on my in-house server. Since we’re using a pretty standard residential ISP, the option of a static IP isn’t feasible. What this means is that the IP address of the machine will change every so often (although it hasn’t in over 2 weeks so far), which would render any hard-coded IP in the client worthless. I’ll be putting it up anyways soon for the sake of having it up, though.
Once the Master Server is up, I’ll release the latest version of the client (the completed Milestone 4) and put up a Webstart link. Technically, users will only be able to create accounts, log-in, and perform character/settings management, but it certainly will be something tangible.
Milestone 4 encompassed the development of the first version of the Master Server, and the first iteration of the game client’s interface to the Master Server. Now that I’m comfortable with where it stands, Milestone 5 can begin. It will focus on arguably the most crucial component of all in Project Skirmish: the game networking. Development will focus on writing the server and client for the hosted games themselves, and more actual game logic to support real games.
This entrenches upon areas like movement prediction for players, managing concurrent physics-simulated Props in the game world, player health and deaths, adding more weapons/items/content, and finally: Alpha testing. I’ll be posting around some websites asking for some testers, if enough of the local folks I already know here aren’t interested.
I’m planning on talking a bit about the networking model I’ll be using for Skirmish, which is largely inspired by the Quake 3 networking model. Until next time. 🙂
Things have been particularly hectic lately, with my co-op term coming to a close, classes starting tomorrow, and the lengthy work-term report that I’ve spent the weekend frantically composing. Things should balance themselves out in the coming week or so, and Skirmish development will resume once I get a solid hold on my upcoming homework load.
Since my last update, I’ve finished the User Settings/Configuration set of menus and windows. This means that the only item left before actually game networking (ie. the game actually starts to become “playable” online :)) is the game host tracking on the Master Server’s end. Exciting waters lie ahead!