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Software News

By Chris Williams. Published: 21st Jul 2003, 17:05:35 | Permalink | Printable

Quake32, Angband, graphics goodies, PCI TV and more

A round up article, just for you Andrew PooleIt's been some time since we ran a software round up and we're practically bursting with links. Steady as she goes.

Gavin Wraith has pointed out to us Joe Taylor's recently released AppBasic package. "If you can program a little in BASIC but found the Toolbox too heavy going, then AppBasic is for you", Gavin told us.

Screenshot of AppBasicAs a programming aid, AppBasic allows BASIC programmers to quickly and easily create Toolbox based applications. The Toolbox provides a set of commonly found user interface components, like the standard 'Save As' box, the iconbar icon, the colour picker window and so on. The Toolbox is provided by RISC OS for application developers to use in order to save time writing program code and to provide a consistent user interface across the desktop - at least, that was the plan. For a freeware app, AppBasic provides a wealth of documention including a tutorial.

Next, it's slap on wrist time. We've learnt that we overlooked some essential, essential, R-Comp news earlier in the year - a 32 bit version of the ported 3D kill frenzy classic Quake was made available at the Wakefield show. Iyonix users can now order a 32 bit patch for their existing 26 bit copies of Quake or alternatively, pick up a fresh new copy of Quake32 from R-Comp Interactive. The 32 bit version of the Galatic Dan-esque, real 3D space craft vs. mad robots affair, Descent 1 and 2, on the other hand, didn't make it in time for a Wakefield show release. We're told programmer Dave McEwen has sound, hi-res cut scenes, bi-linear filtering and transparencies all working in Descent 2 and R-Comp are as we speak preparing the game installer and running through the QA checklist. "Email to Drobe.. check". We promise to cover the release of a 32bit Descent 1/2 when it's finished. Which is soon.

Whilst on the subject of games, Antony Sidwell has compiled up a few new ports of various Angband variants. Angband is the classic ASCII "graphics" role playing game where the player fights her way through Tolkien derived dungeons and landscapes to discover magic, treasures and skills to defeat leagues of demons and other nasty characters lurking deep underground. --more-- It's good to see the RISC OS ports keeping up with the greater development of this ridiculously addictive and enthralling game. --more--

Compo author Rob Davison has emailed us with news of a few software updates to his highly regarded collection of software. Standing tall at version 0.25, the free image processing app Variations has been treated to many new features including magic wand masking, feather masking, new effects and pointillist widgets. Image editing suite PCAPaint is now at version 1.00. PCAPaint uses PCA based plugins to provide drawing and editing tools and effects. Also, Compo isn't left out with the release of a bug fix patch to version 1.22c which also includes a few minor new features.

It's not like us to hype or encourage the pre-announcement of stuff but we can trust Simon Wilson and besides we know where he lives - Colorado, which luckily for him, is just and only just out of our reach. Simon, as you may recall, is working on drivers for a PCI TV card for fellow Iyonix users. The good news is that first alpha version of the driver has been sent to testers, Simon has enabled hardware scaling, got the basis of the user interface running and is ready to start work on the PAL signal tuner. Oh I do beg your pardon, I appear to be drooling.
Screenshot of SW's PCI TV Card software
Watching TV on your Iyonix

Finally, Argonet internet support guru Paul Vigay is asking users of the Argonet Voyager internet suite to step forward and make their numbers known in an online poll.

"It's more to judge usage really. I'm contemplating a number of things at the moment. Hopefully (in the not too distant future) a new release of Voyager, and I'm also looking at the possibility of converting it to 32-bit - but obviously it's not my product but Argonet's so it's not down to me to judge viability", Paul told us today. "At the moment, I'm just trying to work out an approximate user base for it. A ball-park figure will do for the time being."

In brief
"There's no 'I' in team" and there's also no I in 'install' judging by Tony Houghton's answer to InstallShield/MSI for RISC OS, nstall. Summer holiday essentials: Sun lotion, tooth brush, digital camera, ThumbCat or WebGen2 to catalogue the ensuring embaressing photos. HTML is not DTP unless you're using DDF2HTML. Floppy disc sized BBC micro fun with Sprow's MiniB. Take your PIC from GPUtils dev tools and PICProg programmer for the versatile microcontrollers. NewAlarm displays one of the following on your desktop, sorry no prizes - "your true love is just around the corner", "the Omega is nearly ready", "it's almost ten past five".

And Desktop Repton and Rhapsody 4 users, don't forget your recently released bug fixes, courtesy of APDL/ProAction.


News! Comments? Flames?

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Argh. New Angband ports. I'll be forced to waste even more of my life now.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 21/7/03 7:56PM
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After Angband/Zangband sucked away most of my life and free time, I swore never to play it again.. but it looks so sweet and tasty.

Bah, I give in - to the download link.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 21/7/03 8:28PM
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Fools! Fools!!! Go get FreeCiv and play play play! Then you shall see what a real man's game is like! -- Gavin Smith

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 21/7/03 8:41PM
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Why is the roundup just for me?

 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 21/7/03 10:58PM
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Actually, I suspect a "real man's" game is something more akin to Rugby, but still...

I'm tempted by Steamband. I'll give it a go tomorrow. If I start now I'll be going in to work tomorrow delivering shield-bashes to light green o's and everyone will look at me funny.

Am I allowed to say I burn its i's?

-- Liam Creighton

 is a RISC OS Userquatermain on 21/7/03 10:59PM
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Never got into any version of Angband. Maybe I should watch over someone's shoulder while they're playing it, or something. Anyone recommend a particular version to start with, or a website with a demo or tutorial?

 is a RISC OS UserNudeLooney on 22/7/03 8:55AM
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How 'big' is Angband? Can you complete it?

 is a RISC OS UserA.W. on 22/7/03 11:44AM
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Could I also ask why is there a 'no' option for the Voyager poll?!!

 is a RISC OS UserA.W. on 22/7/03 11:46AM
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NudeLooney: It's traditional to start with "Vanilla" Angband - the original version - and then once you've got the hang of the command keys, etc. try out the other variants.

There is bound to be a tutorial out there somewhere, but I don't have a link to hand. Thangorodrim ( [link] ) is the homepage for Angband and has a lot of useful information and links. oook ( [link] ) has many "pictures" and suchlike which might help give you a feel for the games. -- Antony Sidwell

 is a RISC OS Userajps on 22/7/03 12:44PM
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You don't really need a tutorial, mind you, beyond that given in the main game instructions. I'm absolutely useless at complicated stuff; yet I just sat down determined for an hour, and got the hang of it.

Last time I played Angband I threw a fit after dying stupidly on level 16; I've calmed down enough now to give it another go :-)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 22/7/03 12:50PM
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AW: Angband (the dungeon) is 100 levels deep, and yes, you can complete it by fighting your way through the dungeon to defeat Morgoth. Takes a while and quite a bit of practice though.

Some of the variants have different winning conditions, some have more than one dungeon to explore. -- Antony Sidwell

 is a RISC OS Userajps on 22/7/03 12:52PM
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Fancy porting the online multiplayer version? [link] ? ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 22/7/03 1:06PM
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In a word, no. No plans for that at all. :)

I've got my work cut out even porting some of the "normal" variants, and I don't fancy plonking any complex sockets stuff on top of that at the moment. -- Antony Sidwell

 is a RISC OS Userajps on 22/7/03 1:17PM
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Thanks ajps. How different can all these ports be though. Are the graphics notably different or is it the gameplay?

 is a RISC OS UserA.W. on 22/7/03 2:05PM
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Well, no the graphics are somewhat limited by the ASCII character set used to display them, though they can vary in appearance a lot within those restrictions.

The gameplay is the thing really - most variants play quite differently to Vanilla in some way, whether through having a different combat system, spell system, dramatically different monsters, a wilderness to explore above the dungeon, specific quests with associated rewards, or a completely new setting (Steamband, for instance, being set in a "steampunk" setting has no potions and scrolls, it has in-theme equivalents). -- Antony Sidwell

 is a RISC OS Userajps on 22/7/03 2:18PM
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Oh I see. I looked at a screenshot though and there seemed to be graphics - very small but not ASCII?

 is a RISC OS UserA.W. on 22/7/03 2:35PM
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On some platforms there is the option of a graphical tiled display - this isn't implemented on the RISC OS ports, nor is it planned for the future.

And there isn't generally much difference between the graphics where they are used, because making tile sets for such a huge number of different monsters, objects, etc. is a big job and not many people attempt it. -- Antony Sidwell

 is a RISC OS Userajps on 22/7/03 2:45PM
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<pre> ........ .P....@. ........ </pre>


 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 22/7/03 4:19PM
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I always think Smeagol is far too tricky for Level 3. He's bleedin' invisible, for crying out loud...

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 22/7/03 4:52PM
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I'm far too hot. I just thought you might like to know that.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 22/7/03 8:01PM
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I was eaten by a grue!!! :( Oh, hangon, wrong game.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 22/7/03 9:25PM
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I can't find any cyberdemons, either.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 22/7/03 10:08PM
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I had thought the "--more--" comments in the article were author's notes to himself mistakenly left in, but they're still there, hmm! -- Gavin Smith

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 23/7/03 3:13AM
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Quick point about The Iyonix TV thingy: How the heck did he produce that screenshot? I thought the video was being done using an overlay. Does this not mean that in a screenshot you will just get a blank square? That's what I've found happens on windows. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 23/7/03 10:14AM
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The guy maybe photographed his screen??? :)

 is a RISC OS Userskock on 23/7/03 12:51PM
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I thought that if the screengrab simply dumped video memory saved as a sprite, the TV would be there regardless of whether it was put there by a PCI card or the normal methods.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 23/7/03 1:22PM
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The TV image will never be held in video memory, it gets overlayed on the outoging signal, I think. I also think the mouse pointer works in the same way, so you don't see that in screenshots either, unless some application has decided to draw its own pointer using more normal methods (some games do IIRC).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 23/7/03 1:36PM
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The screenshot seems to be a mock up - you can see screen curving on the left hand side of the weather image. Apologies to Simon Wilson if it's not :)

-- Dougal

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 23/7/03 4:02PM
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Overlay is the wrong term - the TV card draws directly to screen memory. On PCs this is called Primary Surface drawing. When the OS takes a screenshot, it reads the contents of screen memory into a buffer and saves to a disc. No magic, really.

To do an overlay (writing to an off-screen buffer overlaid on the screen memory) would require an API for the NVidia graphics card, which is not currently available.

The screenshot is not a mock-up, but there's no good way for me to prove that. You can ask some of my alpha testers if you are really paranoid. ;o)

The RISC OS mouse pointer is a type of overlay, hence why that isn't shown but the TV image is. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 23/7/03 5:31PM
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"How the heck did he produce that screenshot?"

... and they think *we* have bad weather.


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 23/7/03 7:06PM
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