Sunday 24 January 2010

The Unday Papers

Undays* are for kicking back, getting out the bug spray and fixing the hole in the screen windows in the bedroom while avoiding scratching the mosquito bites on your toes.

Let's try and avoid adding more insect monsters to Midgewater Marshes and have a look at what's happened on the SVN server over the last fortnight (I guess this is a biweekly column now):

  • We've gone from rev 2792 to 2890 - that's a total of 98 commits, slightly up on the 45 commits per week I achieved the previous week I reported on. A lot of those commits are smaller - and seem to feature statements like 'fix the obvious compilation bug left in the previous revision' - it looks like my overall coding quality is dipping a little as development fatigue sets in. But a lot of tidying up and bug fixing at the same time - we're heading in the right direction for release.
  • Quite a bit of work followed on directly from the competition: fixes for monster allies, balancing and revising druid spells based on player feedback, bug fixes for targeting spells.
  • I've added a 'h'andle command ('%' in roguelike keyset) which allows you to choose an item, then specify which command you use with that item. This command has been some time coming, with most of the required framework in the code. There is a larger game plan afoot with this, that should benefit players using graphics more than ASCII...
  • I've completed the third attempt for allowing running next to unusual terrain - this time successfully. There's still some work to be done allowing the player to run along the walls of wide corridors, but I'm happy with running in Unangband now.
  • Angband released version 3.1.2 and as usual, the most important thing is to steal are any user interface improvements. I borrow the command to center the screen on the player (^L) and there's a few other improvements I'd like to use but the code base has diverged enough that'll I have to do the heavy lifting myself.
  • I've spent considerable time improving the description of spells: both those that create regions and shape change spells, as well as the regions themselves. Players won't use an ability if they don't understand it, and one of the more successful Unangband players in the competition has avoided the Druid specialty of region spells in favour of summoning...
  • SaThaRiel conveniently pops up after every release and let's me know about the compilation warnings he sees. I appreciate the effort to keep me honest.
  • The pre3 release trips one of the more classic release bugs. Bumping the version number does little except cause every data file to fail to load - and I managed to compile and release the game in this state. D'oh!
  • Pav, the generous maintainer of, is forced to update the code to parse the competition character dumps twice, because of formatting errors on my part in producing some game statistics in the character dump. But you can now see which monsters you are killing the most of. Unsurprisingly it is fruit bats.
  • I've bumped up the power of familiars considerably - all of my testing featured familiars that had blows, and without blows they were a lot less useful. My wife finds it mildly amusing that I'm teaching my character's pet monkey to fetch things. Especially since we visited the Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali late last year and the monkeys were much keener on stealing than fetching for you.
  • Please ignore the mention of dungeon towns for the moment, and imagine you're reading the next Unday papers - when I'll be ready to discuss them in detail.
  • Add birth_gollum option which starts you deep in the dungeon, but with the snivelling, wretched ability to make any offer sound good to a hostile monster who would listen to you. It sounds intriguing, even to me. I hope it's playable.
  • Long standing bugs fixed: I think, just quietly, I may have fixed the mysterious 'body parts getting created in walls bug.' I'm not marking this fixed at the moment, but am hopeful I'll be able to.
  • New spells this fortnight: Briarpatch. Razorwood. Hoar Frost. New items this week: None. New monsters this fortnight: Wooden golem. Wooden figurine. Got to give druids something to warp...
Bug spray? Hmm... I don't think I have any midges in the Midgewater Marshes. That has to be fixed...

The Unday papers is a somewhat stylistically derivative summary of SVN commits for the week and other development issues.

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