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LBA Prequel The goal of this project is to make a prequel of LBA1 using the original engine. (homepage)

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  #26  
Old 2009-11-21, 01:01
Licpolu Licpolu is offline
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Hey.. the download link doesnt work... in fact I have searched Google for Architect... but... I cant find it
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  #27  
Old 2009-11-21, 12:34
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Hey.. the download link doesnt work... in fact I have searched Google for Architect... but... I cant find it
Can you access http://lba.kazekr.net/ ?
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  #28  
Old 2009-11-21, 20:34
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Some people have problems accessing my site. I don't know where the problem is (my hosting server is probably blocked by their ISPs, or their DNSes don't know about my site for an unknown reason).

Mediafire has deleted the file, because I don't have an account. I have uploaded it again: http://www.mediafire.com/file/ixx2k2....0.0_beta6.zip (I have updated the link in the first post too).
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  #29  
Old 2010-04-28, 17:59
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It's alive!

After a quite long period of development without any message I finally have finished the most important features of Architect that were planned for beta 7 release. Here I will give you a short description of each one of them.

Maybe not the most important...
...but I have converted Builder and Designer to Borland Developer Studio 2006 (Turbo Delphi) environment (they were previously developed in Delphi 7). The good side of the conversion is that BDS2006 has much better debugger, editor, and (almost) everything than version 7, but on the other hand, it can't install third-party components (freeware personal version), and I use some of these. Fortunately, the only limitation is that the components can't be installed into the IDE, thus managed vsually, however they can be used by manually calling in the code. I had to put them into the code giving them previous positions and properties. In addition I have modified the SpinEdit component (wrote my own frame-based version actually), so that it is easier to use and have more features: built-in large change buttons and automatic colour change when the entered value is incorrect. And another good thing is that the code is now 'integral', i.e. it doesn't require any external components to be installed into the IDE thus making the code more accessible by others and easier to manage for me.

Now for the features
As I wrote about in the recent blog post, I was working on a feature that helps creating Fragments or Disappearing Ceiling Grids, as they are also called. I don't want to repeat what I wrote there, so I will give only a brief reminder: the whole thing is about making the program(s) to automatically manage necessary Fragments based on how they are used in particular Scenarios. Users can reference the Fragments by their names, so they don't have to bother about numbers, indexes, and planning all these things right at the beginning of their projects. Let's get down to business.



The above screenshot shows the Fragments usage in Builder - in the object editor for Zones of type 3 there is a field called 'Auto-Fragment', which contains one of the Fragments from the current Scenario (or nothing). If it contains an existing Fragment name, information about this will be inserted into the Scenario for further use. Below, in the Script Editor, there are also some Fragment names used as parameters to the SET_GRM command (this command 'turns on' the Fragment display). The command still needs a numerical parameter, because the real Fragment index is not known at the time of Script compilation, so something needs to be inserted at that place in the code. In this case the information about referenced Fragment is also included in the Scenario.
By the way, if you're curios about the program's window borders (not the 'classic theme') - I recently decided to try the new Windows 7 Aero interface, and I wanted to try how it interacts with the program. The result was very good (it didn't crash ), so it seems that Architect is compatible with Windows 7 (64-bit edition). The other screenshots have the regular window borders because they have been taken on another machine, where I have Windows XP.

After editing is finished we can use the Scenario in Designer.



Designer also have been slightly modified. The main change is separate list of files that will be used as Fragments. In LBA Fragments are kept in the same file as Grids (lba_gri.hqr), they just start at specific index (121), so if one wanted to make a single Grid that uses a Fragment (not using the Auto-Fragment feature) he had to put 119 blank entries between the Grids and the first Fragment to make it work. This wasn't very convenient, so I decided to make the separate list and the program will manage that automatically. Another change is some column rearrangement - the file columns are small and description column has been added to the right. The files columns now have less space for displaying the paths, but if two or more adjacent columns contain the same path they will be connected to make more space and only one path will appear. This may be a little confusing (especially for Fragment list where map index will be displayed in the Bricks column), but I think it will become more more convenient than the old way, after some trials. If one needs to see the full path, manual editing is now available. The description column serves two purposes: it keeps information what room each row contains for easier orientation, and it is used for automatic HQD files creation (yes, I made that one too ).
In order to automatically create necessary Fragments for the Grid, just add the Scenario in the Grid list and that's it. If the Grid inside the Scenario has by-name references and the Scene path points to the same Scenario file (that's important), all necessary Fragments for the Grid will be extracted and added at the correct indexes (after manually created Fragments), and these indexes will be put into the Scene file at correct places. Actually the Fragments list doesn't have to be used at all. It can be hidden.

The next screenshot presents project options' first page, that contains the Auto-Fragment setting with detailed explanation.



There is also an option to manually set the first Fragment index in the lba_gri.hqr file, though it's probably hard-coded in the game engine. I have made it because maybe it will be possible to change that index by hex-editing the lba.exe file in the future. And of course it will be useful if our custom engine is finished one day. I have made tests and discovered a great thing. Until now we have thought that the maximum number of Lba Maps (Grids + Fragments) was 256 (because the Grid indexes are kept in one byte in the compiled scripts). I have found out that the actual number is number of Grids that fit in below Fragments plus 256 Fragments (because Fragments are actually called by offsets starting with 0, so we get another 256 possible values). I have tested it in the game, so it's not only my guess. If we can change the first Fragment index one day, the number will rise to 256 (or 255) Grids + 256 Fragments.

The last screenshot shows the result in the game. It's not anything spectacular, actually I could have made that without using any of the features, I described here , so it can't be a proof. The screenshot simply shows Twinsen passing through one of the Zones that are set up to show a Fragment on such event, and the flower piece is the Fragment, so apparently it works .



When I started writing this post I thought about sharing my test files and projects with you, so you could test that for yourselves, but then I realized that the Architect was not released yet, so you wouldn't even be able to open the files. Thus, you will have to wait till the beta 7 is finally released, which will be soon, I hope.

The planned issues that I plan to address before the release are listed on the roadmap page in the bugtracker: <a href="http://sacredcarrot.xesf.net/mantis/roadmap_page.php">http://sacredcarrot.xesf.net/mantis/roadmap_page.php</a> (you have to select Little Big Architect from the combo box on the right, I can't link to specific project pages).

By the way, I wonder if the Architect components couldn't have better names. Factory seems good enough, but Designer may be somewhat misleading, as it is meant for design HQR files, not scenes or areas. Maybe the Builder and Designer names should be flipped over, or completely renamed. What do you think?
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  #30  
Old 2010-04-28, 19:36
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Fantastic work here. Thats some big improvements!

Wonderfull news about the 256 limit actualy being 256+256! Thats quite a difference.
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  #31  
Old 2010-04-29, 23:46
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Holy crap, this is amazing work Zink! I can't believe how much you've put into this project. Are you going to put this app on your resume? I think it's impressive.

If I understand correctly, each Grid (which is essentially a map) has one Fragment. Does this mean that we could have two different "maps" in a scene file and switch them using triggers?
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  #32  
Old 2010-04-30, 21:43
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Thanks for support .

I have not put it in my resume yet, because I think most people wouldn't understand (games are usually associated with silly child stuff). Maybe I should do that, and provide good explanation.

Each Grid can have more than one map (the one I created for tests had 30, but it's not wise to use that many for one Grid - Builder's memory usage goes to ~500MB), but displaying more than one at a time is problematic (after displaying you can't hide one of them, only all at once). Original LBA Grids use max one or two. Fragments are maps too - they can be saved as regular Grids (the same format in LBA 1), imported to a Scenario, and used manually in Designer. Yes, it's possible to have a whole different version (not only one) of a Grid as a Fragment and switch it by Script or Zone, but it has to use the same Library (that can't have more than 255 objects) as the main Grid.
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  #33  
Old 2010-05-04, 06:00
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But from what I understand your discovery (or is it the development?) of Fragments has essentially "doubled" the limit of maps we can have?
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  #34  
Old 2010-05-05, 10:27
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Not exactly. My discovery has only increased the limit of Fragments we can have. Using them as regular maps (by script switching) would be too messy, so it's not a solution. But wait... maybe we could use the entries from Fragment pool as regular Grids, by just moving first Fragment up by specified offset... Auto-Fragment would handle that situation easily, but there needs to be a possibility to define Scene file for the Map... I need to check this. If it works it will mean that we can use full 256 Grids, and that would essentially double the regular Grid limit (and decrease the Fragment limit by half).
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  #35  
Old 2010-05-13, 19:16
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It works! I just finished testing, and this looks like there is a pool of maps computed as 256 + FirstFragmentIndex - 1, that can be filled with Grids or Fragments depending on needs (provided that Grids and Fragments separately don't exceed 256 (1 byte) limit). So without the engine modification the limit is 376 Maps. That's pretty much a lot, and I don't think any project will need more than this.
This however has implication that manually created Fragments will be harder to use (their indexes will have to be modified to reflect their actual positions), but I don't think we will need them, since we have Auto-Fragments .
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  #36  
Old 2010-05-14, 22:03
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376 maps should be plenty. This is really really great news.
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  #37  
Old 2010-07-21, 19:46
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Anyone noticed?



This means that I have just fixed the last issue for Beta 7 .
It is still gonna take a few days till the release because I have to make some preparations, and write an article of course.
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  #38  
Old 2010-07-21, 19:59
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That's a lot of fixed bugs, my friend.

Looking forward to the release.
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  #39  
Old 2010-07-22, 15:30
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Hot! I also have been reading your updates on the Prequel blog. Glad to know you're still keeping that up.
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  #40  
Old 2010-07-26, 21:12
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And here it is...

I don't have much to say about the release, since almost everything important has been already described in my previous posts. Since the last one I was mainly fixing bugs. Though I have made two changes that are worth mentioning.

First one is the buttons panel Layout, you can see it on the picture below.



Nothing special, just rearrangement of the buttons. They are now better logically and visually grouped. I did it mostly because I needed space for a new button, and it didn't fit in the old layout .

Ah, right, the new button. So that's three changes . The button is called Aim Tool. It allows you to copy position in Scene coordinates that is pointed by the mouse cursor to the system Clipboard. The position the can be easily pasted in zone coordinates, targets, camera positions and so on.

The last important change is the advanced opening dialog.



I have removed the LBA1/2 choice from individual items and put it on top of the window instead (it wasn't possible to change use different LBA versions for items anyway). Now each item has 'Original' option which means LBA1 or 2, whichever is selected at the top. This should make it more clear, and cause less bugs. Also the "LBA mode" of opened stage will be determined by the top LBA setting, not by chosen Grid file, as it was before (and that caused bug so if new Grid was chosen for creation, the stage version was unknown).

For those who don't remember what previous posts were about, here is a quick list of most important changes since beta 6:
  • New Grid handling style (Fragments opened together with the main Grid in Builder),
  • Automatic Fragment creation in Designer, Fragments referenced by names in Builder,
  • Designer main window layout altered and split into two lists: Grid list and Fragment list for easier manual Fragments creation,
  • Automatic generation of HQD files in Designer base on user-defined map descriptions.

Also while browsing through my previous posts i have stumbled upon my first Architect progress report, at the end of which I have stated: Planned Beta 7 release: about two months from now. That one was posted in August 2009, now it is July 2010, so almost a year have passed since then. What a great fail at foreseeing .

The beta 7 can be downloaded here: LBArchitect_1.0.0_beta7.zip
Mirror: LBArchitect_1.0.0_beta7.zip
Source is also available: LBArchitect_1.0.0_beta7_src.7z
The beta 7 version also has its own article on my website: moonbase.kazekr.net

So Architect beta 7 is released and I said we would continue development when that happens. But despite the fact that almost a year have passed away, we still don't seem to have any decent model/animation editor (Link was working on one, but he didn't have time and will not for the next few months). So for now we are able to design Maps (and I hope we will get to it soon), but we're very limited about character model editing. I have an idea to make a converter from a popular 3D object format to the LBA format. This approach wasn't tried before because the LBA format is not compatible with any other format. It contains some 'sub-objects' and 'shades' that don't seem to have equivalents in common 3D editing tools. Now I have got some ideas on how to overcome this problem, and maybe something can be achieved. However, I can't promise I will succeed.

I haven't discussed anything with our team members yet, so you are most likely to hear from us about the progress and decisions we make.
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  #41  
Old 2010-07-26, 22:01
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Wonderful!

Though I must ask, which developers are still active nowadays Of course you are, but are there many developers otherwise?
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  #42  
Old 2010-07-26, 22:22
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Fantastic work! I approve of the button rearrangement too.
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  #43  
Old 2010-07-26, 23:09
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zink View Post
Also while browsing through my previous posts i have stumbled upon my first Architect progress report, at the end of which I have stated: Planned Beta 7 release: about two months from now. That one was posted in August 2009, now it is July 2010, so almost a year have passed since then. What a great fail at foreseeing .
And while browsing through some of my threads I noticed that I promised to create the LBA Prequel comic in 6 months...which I think was over a year ago.

It's hard to keep a solid team together on a project like this and a lot of folks are busy with work and personal lives. This is definitely a feat, Zink! I think the Lupin Island project will make great use of it!

As for LBA Prequel...well, we need a team and perhaps even a team leader. A direction to go into and an organized gameplan. Peter (bot13) and Luke, with whom I keep the most contact, have kind of dropped off the radar. Alexfont, as I understand it, is preoccupied. So it's difficult to say what we as a team can do at this point.
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  #44  
Old 2010-07-27, 00:50
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I didn't check the new release yet, looks great though!

About converting file formats to LBA format, why not using collada instead of obj ?
It's a modern open format widely used, and from my experience of it at work, it allows many things, which might include some extra data describing the special LBA format shaders/FX.

I thought once of doing a blender export script and an associated plugin to handle all the LBA specific stuff instead of a full editor. If my schedule keeps being so tight, I'll do that. But it won't be in the next few months.
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  #45  
Old 2010-07-27, 08:24
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And while browsing through some of my threads I noticed that I promised to create the LBA Prequel comic in 6 months...which I think was over a year ago.
As far as I remember you wanted to create the comic because you thought the Prequel was dead and you wanted to use its story. Then after I had put you right you withheld the comic project. So nothing bad at your side .

A team... if you have got some time the we both may be enough, at least for the demo. We need to make three main things only: design Grids, Scenes and Characters. I can make Grids and Scenes and the 3D converter in the mean time. You could design characters in your favourite program and when the converter is ready you will have to make some small corrections only to make them convert smoothly. Maybe some fans would want to participate?

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About converting file formats to LBA format, why not using collada instead of obj ?
It's a modern open format widely used, and from my experience of it at work, it allows many things, which might include some extra data describing the special LBA format shaders/FX.
I don't know, someone told me obj was a widely used standard when I was starting the converter previously, two years ago. We don't need a sophisticated format, but an easy to understand one (for me ). I will look at both of them and then decide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Link View Post
I thought once of doing a blender export script and an associated plugin to handle all the LBA specific stuff instead of a full editor. If my schedule keeps being so tight, I'll do that. But it won't be in the next few months.
Hmm, that seems like a good idea. I didn't know one could write a plugin to make Blender support non-standard things. Maybe I could try to do that instead. Do you have a link to more information or tutorials on writing plugins/scripts? I have quickly browsed the Blender page but haven't found much information (only something about texture and sequence plugins).
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  #46  
Old 2010-07-27, 18:25
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Well, I don't have links to tutorials on how to make scripts, I guess you already checked this, but I'll investigate on this, I might even spend some time starting a plugin this week end.
I'm using some Blender plugins now for work, and it makes me want to do this even more now. Instead of reprogramming a complete 3D editor, we already have one at hands which a lot of artists know how to use, why not using it?

Last edited by Lupin; 2010-07-27 at 18:35.
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  #47  
Old 2010-07-27, 20:16
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I can find only information about python scripting there, nothing about plugins. But it doesn't matter. I can find it for myself, I just thought you had some direct references already to avoid searching.
I don't know mostly anything about Blender. I have it installed and run twice. I couldn't even find out how to modify an object's mesh.
Yes, I think extending a professional tool would be better and faster option than writing an editor from scratch. If you could do it in reasonable time it would be a great help.
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  #48  
Old 2010-07-27, 20:37
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Nice work!
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  #49  
Old 2010-07-28, 12:10
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I can find only information about python scripting there, nothing about plugins.
Well, I think the actual way to make plugins is through python scripting. I'm not sure there is an API for another language like C.
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  #50  
Old 2010-09-21, 20:06
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so let me see if i got this right, lba prequel is a project to make lba mod tools? if so thats nice, when ive been here last time (6 yrs ago), there were nearly non.
keep up the good work.
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