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Old November 14, 2007, 19:40   #1
Opus
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Game Interpreter?

Greetings everyone.

I'm a new poster so you can basically expect an extremely stupid, newbie question from me.

Anyway, I don't know the first thing about coding but I wanted to ask why these rogue variations aren't written with some type of game interpreter in mind.

What I mean by that is Scumm can be easily compiled for almost any system it seems like, but to port these variations to another system it seems to take forever and usually ends up being quite buggy.

Has anyone ever thought of writing a universal game interpreter for Angband and the other variations like Nethack so that they can be more easily ported to such handhelds like the N800 or Nintendo DS?

Thanks and sorry if I'm starting out on the wrong foot with you guys by posting this ignorant question.

Cheers.
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Old November 14, 2007, 19:42   #2
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Angband is extremely easily ported to almost any computer operating system. Because, historically, it originated as a computer program on UNIX systems in last 80s.

It's reasonably easy to port to handheld game consoles, but you need to solve a major problem there - what to do with the lack of keyboard?
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Old December 1, 2007, 12:43   #3
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Well, Angband was in the works for the Nintendo DS but that project disappeared about as fast as it was announced.

Someone named Dawnmist was recently working on porting it to the N800 but she went away apparently.

I mean with the DS handheld selling in the millions, the IPhone, the newly released N810, I think there's a new Verizon phone, all of these have touch screen features.

It seems like touch screen support is becoming a big seller.

All I'm saying is that I wish there was a way for it to be easier to port Angband and the other variants if there was some kind of touch screen model of these versions included with the source code.

Hope that made some sense.
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Old December 1, 2007, 16:28   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opus View Post
All I'm saying is that I wish there was a way for it to be easier to port Angband and the other variants if there was some kind of touch screen model of these versions included with the source code.
Touch-screen support is relatively easy once you have all-mouse support.

That's the main stumbling block. Angband (like other mature roguelikes) actually needs all of the keyboard commands it has, and crushing the command inteface down to fit within mouse/touchpad limitations has proven difficult.
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Old December 1, 2007, 18:17   #5
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After that, you get other equally horrible avenues to go down... like the context menus (-cast,-move,-items,-menu?MOVE-north,-north-east,-east...? etc) a bit like the systems that allowed you to play stuff like Lords of Chaos on the C64 with a joystick.

While these are easy enough to implement, and would allow you to play *band on a basic java-enabled phone, it would be so tedious that nobody would bother playing. 2 hours to do shopping for dive one just isn't worth it.

Whichever smart-ass comes up with a solution for these kinds of issues will make a lot of angbanders and their boy-toys very happy indeed...

...you can get usb keyboards for phones that roll up neatly, though - a friend of mine often logs into, and administrates, his server via SSH from my sofa while I put the kettle on.
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Old December 1, 2007, 18:55   #6
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I just get the impression that Scumm, in all of it's glorious forms, has been wonderfully ported to an incredible amount of systems and machines. The source code seems so flexible in it's design.

However, with Angband and it's associated variants, I'm not seeing that same level of support.

I did find this site:
http://retrobits.net/palmos/angband.shtml

I even started bidding on Ebay for a Tapwave Zodiac, but the last three auctions ended at $600.00. Nuts.

It would be nice to see it more portable friendly, that's all I'm saying.

I think you'd understand where I'm coming from considering that it's been exactly a year since the Nintendo DS version of Angband was announced and still there's not even a beta for download. Now there recently was a port in the works for the N800 but it's been quiet for over a month and I can honestly imagine waiting another year to only still see that nothing ever became of it.

It's pretty sad to keep waiting like this.

Then depression sets in...
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Old December 1, 2007, 20:02   #7
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I still think you're missing the point - it has nothing to do with portability. Angband is immensely portable, its written in C for god's sake, and as I said, it wouldn't be too hard to get it running on a phone. Of course you need seperate screen and controller handling libraries to handle different hardware, the reason they are not provided for the hardware you desire is because noone has yet done the porting; this is in no way a failing in the design of Angband.

The game itself (not the source code) is too complex to be played easily with simpler input methods like a touchscreen or a phone keypad. By simple I mean how many diffrent hardware inputs can a user send to the program, not how hard is it to physically build.

When it comes to a fully developed (as zaimoni says, "mature") roguelike; say, Angband for instance, you just can't beat the sheer volume of unique signals that a keyboard can send. By comparison, touchscreens & mice, although they have the benefit of screen-targeted input (fantastic for some types of games were a keyboard is next to useless), simply have too few potential unique signals.

Its all well and good being able to target a square with the mouse, instead of using cursor keys, but with the mouse alone, the usual 3 buttons (6 potential combinations) is just not enough scope for telling the game what you want to do with the selected square. When you start adding menubars, like NH & falcon's eye the game plays slower, and starts having to omit lesser used options for decluttering purposes.
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Old December 1, 2007, 22:27   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opus View Post
I just get the impression that Scumm, in all of it's glorious forms, has been wonderfully ported to an incredible amount of systems and machines. The source code seems so flexible in it's design.
ScummVM was intentionally designed for mouse input, with the keyboard as secondary. So, no command compression required. Rather, the design requires that no in-game keyboard-only commands exist.

As it has taken years to even get partial mouse support working in Un and V, I'd be surprised if any port-from-scratch took as little time as one year.
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Old December 1, 2007, 22:31   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaimoni View Post
Touch-screen support is relatively easy once you have all-mouse support.
That's the main stumbling block. Angband (like other mature roguelikes) actually needs all of the keyboard commands it has, and crushing the command inteface down to fit within mouse/touchpad limitations has proven difficult.
Happily, though, it is almost done. FAangband 0.2.3 has full mouse control and can be run on WindowsCE mobiles; FAangband 0.3.0 has a cleaner mouse interface - unfortunately I don't have that compiling for WinCE yet, but the mouse interface works in windows, linux or OSX. The latest interface has context sensitive "buttons" (at this stage, little bits of text on the bottom line of the screen) for many commands, and the others are reachable from menus.

This will be ported to vanilla Angband soon; what is needed is
  1. I need to port the basic button code to vanilla;
  2. ports need to be done for the relevant operating systems (NDS, for example - this is not a problem for things like the Zaurus that run linux);
  3. better buttons need to be done for the various OS ports
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Old December 17, 2007, 08:27   #10
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I'll definately be watching and waiting on this mouse support and any subsequent porting to touch screens especially for the DS. I just recently got a slot-1 card for my DS so I could play with the currently developing NethackDS...But being able to play Angband instead would be cake!

O.
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