News Archive

Here lies old news from previous website for archival purposes.

April Update - Apr 22nd 2009 So, quite some time has passed since I last wrote. I have not been very productive at that time, but I have committed some necessary bits to the server side code. I have also recently taken interest in version control systems, and the source is now under git. One important piece of information is that I now have my own home server, which allows me to keep the game server program up 24/7 as soon as I get it to a decently stable state.

Orbiting - Feb 11th 2009 I've been working on the orbital view for the past few days, and managed to get the planet to rotate. However, the appearance isn't quite there yet and correct transitions between levels have proven tricky due to the rotation. I put a new image to the screenshots gallery, showing an early stage of the orbital view (and some UI testing). I've also deviced a road map that I intend to follow if nothing suprising won't come up. You can take a look at it at About:Progress subpage.

Portability updates - Feb 5th 2009 I managed to find a portable clipboard library, so now copy-paste works also in Linux. In addition, I found out that Ubuntu had automatically launched apache2 web server, hosting dummy web page for me, so that seems to be the reason why my built-in html-server could start. Now I only have to find a Linux version of a png library plus do some testing and the versions should be identical. Unfortunately this week is too busy for me, but I'll get back to things in the next one.

A new year - Jan 30th 2009 It has been too long since last update as I have spend most of my time hacking with Ubuntu and drinking beer. Today I tried compiling the project under Linux and it actually went quite painlessly. Both the server and the client seem to work fine although my clipboard code only works in Windows and a small (not important) html server thread wouldn't start. The Windows versions of both programs seemed also work through Wine and as well as mixes of them (e.g. server.exe in Wine and client as native linux). This is good news as I nowadays mainly use Ubuntu Linux and can now develop the game in the favourite environment.

Tech demos back - Dec 16rd 2008 I accidentally managed to find the old tech demos I misplaced during server change, so they are now back online if someone is interested.

Time things - Dec 7th 2008 I've done some general tweaking in the past few days. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that I added a time system to the server and started to include factories, meaning mineral extractors at first. As it is possible for the universe to have thousands of factories working at the same time, it would put quite a load on the server to adjust their inventory every time they produce something. To overcome this, their inventory is calculated from the current time and a stored time (time when the factory was built) and only when someone needs that info. That will efficiently reduce the cpu load for factories to zero. It is also possible to, say, just take half of the factory's outcome - just adjust the factory's start time accordingly.

December start update - Dec 3rd 2008 I've put the problems mentioned in the previous two posts in rest for a while. I have many ideas how to overcome them, but haven't had the motivation to start actually implementing (fortunately the thing is not fatal). Instead, I've added two new view layers to the engine. First one is an intermediate between solar systems and planets, so called orbital view level. This will allow more control over the descending point and also gives players better idea about the size of the planets. It is not yet completed, but the hard part - modifying the engine - is over and it doesn't break the program. The other new view level is an auxiliary view level used for stuff like caves or space stations that doesn't have their own one. As I don't have any such places yet, it is more like a dummy implementation. I also tuned the interface a bit and although far from complete, I am starting to have visions about it. Well, that's all for now, hopefully I'll get back to you soon :)

Perlin trouble - Nov 23th 2008 I figured out what the problem (mentioned in the previous post) was. I'm using too few octaves in my Perlin noise generator, but increasing them leads to unwanted appearance. I found one possible solution, but currently it produces some artifacts every now and then. Eventually I might have to shrink the size of the galaxy a bit and/or divide it to segments, but we'll see. Dividing (at least in some sense) would probably be a good idea anyway, because in the server's point of view, everyone in the starmap are in the same area, which will result in lag if there is lots of people.

Problem with nebulae - Nov 15th 2008 I've done a few small fixes, but I also encountered a nasty bug. The nebulae in the starmap start to repeat a lot sooner than they should. It actually seems the interval is 2^14 (16384) tiles, when it should be 2^23 (8388608, the size of the map). I have no idea why it is like that.

Animation - Nov 13th 2008 Today I modified the tile engine to support animating the displayed characters (mostly their color). This means that the suns now flicker, or better said, burn. I also made the water move. In addition, I tweaked the planet surface generator so that it will avoid producing light, pastel colors, because they don't look good. The server seems to be stable with one player (it didn't crash or need a restart for the whole time of multiple hours of coding and crashing the client), which gives hope for the multiplayer part too.

Progress! - Nov 12th 2008 Time has past again, but I've actually made some progress. I nailed a couple of inconsistencies with the coordinates (like moving between view levels wasn't always correct). There were also things wrong with the collision detection and UI drawing, but now everything seems to work! Hunting those bugs have demoralized me in the past, but now that it's behind, I'm very clad and eager to implement something new. I actually already added a very handy feature, where a temporary marker is left on the map, indicating from where the player came to the current view level. Also added a changing player "character", depending wether the star ship, landing craft or just feet are in use.

Long time not seen - Nov 6th 2008 A couple of weeks have passed with very little progress. I've suffered from lack of inspiration for this (bug fixing is boring) and I've also been playing with 3d stuff. Now I however got a couple of ideas and have already coded some. You can read more about them from the About -> Game -page. NOTE: I've changed the address of the RSS-feed due to problems with php extension. I suggest everyone to re-subscribe (there is also better titles in all posts, date moved to pubDate-field). The new adress is just the old one with the extension swapped to xml. I'll continue to support the old one for a while though.

Lazy bug fixes - Oct 25th 2008 It has been quite a while since last update as I've been lazy... However, today I grabbed the project and fixed some bugs. For example, the collision detection has been broken due to a change in moving system (floating point numbers are making trouble). I have also started to shape the interface, which seems to be hard for me to desing...

RSS feed - Oct 25th 2008 I made an RSS feed about these news (previous one was from an unused news software) starting from the beginning of october. You can subscribe to it by pressing that little orange icon next to your address bar (Firefox).

Thread progress - Oct 25th 2008 I ran some tests and found out that the server threads went easily into deadlock. However, I'm now quite confident that I have found and fixed the problem. Still remains to test the stability.

Oct 15th 2008 - I ran some tests and found out that the server threads went easily into deadlock. However, I'm now quite confident that I have found and fixed the problem. Still remains to test the stability.

Oct 10th 2008 - I changed the server to utilise threads more extensively (it seemed to be a quite painless change), but I currently have no idea about its stability; I'll test it this weekend. I also found a reasonably good candidate for a starting system, let's hope I don't loose it... :) In addition, I changed the bookmarking system so that they are saved and loaded when the client starts.

Oct 7th 2008 - I did some network tests yesterday and they revealed that the server is very unstable: it freezes (but keep the connections) every now and then or then crashes completely. I'll have to look on that as soon as I have the time. The test also revealed some other issues and although they are minor and easily fixable, they too take time to complete - and time I do not currently have, so I'm forced to postpone the first release with at least a week, maybe even more. :(

Oct 6th 2008 - I've been really busy in real life and still am. I still managed to fine tune the menu / login screen to presentable form and I think I nailed the most severe bug. I still need to find a nice system for a starting place and do a couple of tests, but otherwise looking good for a release. Stay tuned. Oh, and my simple webcounter has broken 1000 visitors mark for this site. \o/

Oct 3rd 2008 - My host was down again, this time several days and so I've decided to move the pages to a new host, phatcode.net.

Sep 29th 2008 - Still a nasty bug to crash, but I'm now really preparing for the first beta release. I have implemented some small though useful things, but I'll stop adding features for a while to get the thing out. The server status indicator on the left needs still some doing as it seems that the browser caches the image, so it won't update the status correctly (clicking it will give correct status). I also added an experimental http web server feature to the game server, so that when it is online, browsing to http://ascii.dy.fi gives some info like player count and uptime.

Sep 26th 2008 - I've done quite a bit of progress today: I implemented bookmark and goto features, so player can now save locations and then go back to them in an instant. I also improved the detail generator so that it is now almost in a presentable form. In addition, there is now collision detection, so one can no longer go through walls he has built. There is still some fine tuning left - e.g. a couple of weird crashes to solve - but otherwise things are looking very good.

Sep 24th 2008 - I opened Articles-section (sidebar), which will contain articles and tutorials related to this project. Currently it has one about the creation of the nebulae and two other being written (slowly, coding is on higher priority, but I need a break from it every now and then...). There are also other new website sections being developed secretly to meet the needs of maybe getting the game publicly playable.

Sep 23rd 2008 - The players' buildings are now saved on disk. The world is really becoming persistent. I have also made little tweaks here and there and things look quite good. In case you haven't noticed, I've also added a server status indicator to the sidebar. It doesn't really work yet though, 'cause I've just moved and my internet connection is broken. I'm also quite busy at the moment, but I think I can find enough time to make some adjustments to the generators, so that once I get my internet back I can start hosting a small beta server. (Note that as the server will run on my home laptop, it won't be up 24/7 and I have no idea how many players it can support until crashing or becoming horribly laggy.)

Sep 19th 2008 - Good news! I managed to squeeze quite a few well hidden bugs and the server seems pretty stable now. The saving of the player-made changes to the world also works now (although they are not yet preserved when the server terminates). I have also implemeted messaging, so players can communicate with each other (when in same area) and one can now create an account and login with a unique name. I'll do some clean up first, but I think I'll publish a test client soon to test the server. The detail view level has occasional (apparantly completely random) crashes, so it will be definetely left outside of the test.

Sep 16th 2008 - I have made quite a bit of progress with the server in the last couple of days. I got the player coordinate and management stuff to work correctly (e.g. only send position updates to those in the same area) and also added smaller features, such as ping, player counts and messages. Today I implemented the saving of modifications in world, so that something that player builds, also stays there. It doesn't yet work correctly, though, and there are still some weird crashes e.g. sometimes when a player quits. But otherwise the server is looking quite good (although I will do a major rearrangement of the code in the future, change the threading and stuff).

Sep 14th 2008 - Okay, the updater is now available for testing. I actually managed somehow to delete a third of its source code (and of course my IDE hadn't made backups for that particular file...), but managed to code it back. You can download it from the downloads section. If you find bugs, report them to the newly opened forums (link in sidebar). Actually, just go to the forums and start posting something :)

Sep 12th 2008 - I added a backup host feature to the updater and I also now have the test files on two servers, so the updater should work even if the primary download server is down. I also installed a forum software for future use and better communication with the people who are interested. Both the updater and the forum will be launced this weekend (although clever ones may guess the location of the forum in advance ;) ).

Sep 11th 2008 - Today I completed the updater/downloader software (or at least it seems to work now). I'll be putting it publicly available soon (in the downloads section) in order to test it more. Although there isn't any game yet to download through it, it will install some small test files. Once I get an alpha/beta out it will be distributed through that very updater and I after that, releasing frequent small updates is easy and painless.

Sep 10th 2008 - The site has been down again due to some maintenance in my host's server hall. Now back online. \o/ I almost got my latest server system to work and I look forward to squash the remaining bugs soon. The system concerns managing players locations in the universe, so that position updates and other stuff get passed to only those clients that need them. It also keeps only those areas in memory that has players.

Sep 7th 2008 - I worked with the detail generator and although it is still just interpolating between nearby tiles (with some randomness), it finally produces results I am expecting. I also changed it array based (rather than calculation algorithm), so I managed to easily add a simple modification feature: player can now construct walls (and in a way, form houses). The changes are not yet saved, but it's a start in the interaction field anyway. I'm happy with the progress, but there are some odd crashes every now and then I have to look into.

Sep 5th 2008 - Started creating an auto-update program. Didn't quite have the energy to finish it yet, though.

Sep 2nd 2008 - I've been quite busy IRL, but managed to code the server program a bit. It now has pretty good player and their coordinates management system based on double linked lists. It isn't thoroughly tested and still lacks a couple of features, but it seems I can put up a public beta server pretty soon. I could then test its capabilities more accurately.

Sep 1st 2008 - Updated About and its subpages with more up-to-date info. The attack to the host seems to be still somewhat on-going, as there are slow downs and I have some trouble editing these pages.

Aug 31st 2008 - Solar systems with multiple suns now implemented. Different star type frequencies also changed to more realistic and added markers to show the player where the stars in a system are. In addition, I worked on the server side. -- There has been denial-of-service attack on the host, so the pages have been inaccessable most of the day...

Aug 29th 2008 - Only some filing here and there. I've been trying to get the surface to look better. I will be spending the weekend away from computers, so no progress then.

Aug 27th 2008 - I have now three kinds of planets: gas giants that cannot be explored at the closest level (as they have no surface to land on), rock/ice planets that have no atmosphere, water or vegetation and gaia planets that have the whole deal. I also implemented more spaceship-like movement controls and started working with the detail level generator. Imageshack.us broke links to couple of the screenshots, so I got rid of it and transfered all pics to this server. Now they load faster and there are more of them.

Aug 25th 2008 - I did some minor improvements to the engine. I got temporarily tired to tweak the generators, so I refreshed myself by implementing a simple multiplayer with an even more simple server program. This really is just a simple test, where players can see each other moving in the galaxy map, but it is a start!

Aug 24th 2008 - Improved the galaxy generator a bit and united it with the starmap, so that there are now 4 view levels working. I also worked on solar systems, they can now have suns that are of different colors and sizes. Still needs some tuning though.

Aug 23rd 2008 - I've been integrating the generators together and now it is possible to enter the solar systems from the starmap and the planets from the system map. There was quite some work getting the random seeding to work correctly. I have also done some code rearrangements. There might be a new downloadable demo soon, meanwhile I added a couple of screenshots.

Aug 22nd 2008 - Added a guestbook to the site, found under "Comments"

Aug 21st 2008 - Improved solar systems: they now get a nebula background inherited from starmap; also added some more content to the website.

Aug 14th 2008 - Site launched.