On Apr 14, 2006, at 3:02 AM, Forrest Cameranesi wrote:
> On Apr 13, 2006, at 4:43 PM, Gregory Smith wrote:
>> If you'd like to help test what will become the next stable
>> version of Aleph One, you can download the first release candidate
> I know most of these are things that probably won't be fixable
> between an FC and a release, but it struck me I've never really
> gone through and looked at everything in Aleph One and written up a
> list of complaints and compliments. So, since the opportunity
> dawns, I'm going to do that now. I'm playing in Eternal since
> that's what's relevant to me, on a PowerMac G4 dual 450 with 1.5GB
> of RAM and a GeForce 4 Ti graphics card powering two 17" Apple
> Studio Displays, one of them ADC and the other VGA. The VGA monitor
> is my main monitor, running at 1280x960; the ADC is my secondary,
> running at 1024x786. I'm running OSX 10.4.6.
> Lets start with the SDL version first:
> - It blacks both of my monitors. I like that. I recall some people
> didn't like that, so it might be nice as an option in the graphics
There is an environment variable we can pass to SDL to change this
behavior; but it would require restarting the game after changing the
pref. Windows users already have to do that to switch between
software and OpenGL, I guess :(
> - It doesn't play my music, which is in MP3 format. The NIBs
> versions I've been using play it fine. Does the SDL version still
> require AIFF? Is that true on Windows as well? Is this planned to
> change at any point? In other words, ought I be using AIFF music
> for compatibility reasons or will MP3 be compatible soonish/
Mp3 playback should be supported on all Aleph One platforms, I just
couldn't get it working in Mac OS X (SDL) yet. It's in the release
> - I can't really tell since there's no music, but it *seems* like
> the splash screens go by slower. I say screens in the plural
> because I've got three splash screens in sequence. The timing here
> is important because the music (quite coincidentally actually) cues
> perfectly to the natural transition times in the NIBs versions I've
> been using, which is a nice dramatic effect.
I don't think it will be possible to get the timing right between all
platforms. Bill had a point about making it a movie instead, but
movie playback only works in NIBs at the moment.
> - As I've said before, I'm not incredibly fond of the preference
> panel interface. I like the tabbed interface of the NIBs version,
> and the click-here-to-cycle-though-values system is annoying. Popup
> menus, if possible, would be much much nicer. Also; the old
> functionality of classic Marathon, which has been missing (or less
> functional at least) in recent NIBs builds too, which allowed you
> to simply press keys in sequence without having to use the mouse,
> has major advantages over having to click each field and then press
> a key. Basically, I'd like it if one I press a key, it
> automatically moves focus to the next field. All negativity aside,
> I really like the appearance of the Marathon interface theme.
A true tabs widget, and popup-like behavior is coming some day (check
out the setup network game screen and change the game type to see
It would be a problem to move to the next key automatically, because
the SDL interface is designed to be keyboard navigable. If you don't
have a mouse, and only want to go in and change one thing, you're
stuck into cascading down the whole thing (because the key prefs
accept Esc or arrows as keys, as they should)
Perhaps it could be a theme thing; we could install a mouse-able
theme for Mac OS X since they all have mice, and leave a keyboard-
navigable theme default for other platforms.
I'd really like to see people design custom themes for their
scenarios; maybe a How-To is in order.
> - I keep my main monitor at 1280x960 and would like to be able to
> play at this resolution as well, but it's apparently not an option,
> only 1280x1024. That is not a 4:3 ratio, while my monitor is, so it
> seems that that would produce a squishing effect in full screen
> mode (it certainly does when I set the OS's resolution to that).
> Might it be possible to poll the OS for available resolutions for
> that menu, and to default on first startup to the current
> resolution? See below for more on resolutions and things.
Once the new version of SDL comes out, we will be able to query the
startup resolution. This isn't possible yet.
Our enumerated screen mode mechanism is very undesirable. I can't
insert 1280x960 in between 1024x768 and 1280x1024 (I detest that 5:4
abomination!) where it belongs, without breaking people's prefs. If I
put it at the end, F1 and F2 to make larger / smaller aren't useful.
This applies to NIBs as well. I'm not sure how to fix it.
> - I notice that the main screen interface (and preferences and
> splash screens and so on) all seem to run at 640x460 when in full
> screen mode, regardless of set resolution. The NIBs builds I've
> been using run at the set resolution, scale everything down and
> fill black in around the outsides of the 640x480 area. I rather
> like the later method more, but as I can see other people liking
> this method, perhaps a preference option would be nice. Obviously
> you know which I'd prefer as default...
Again, can't do it until we get a new SDL.
> - Command-option-new game doesn't seem to work. Upon further
> testing, I figured out that it's control-shift new game now. Why
> the change?
Because Aleph One SDL was first written for Linux and BeOS, and later
Windows, which don't have a command key.
> It'd be much nicer to have it be command-option again, as that's
> what everyone should be familiar with;
In terms of sheer numbers, I'd guess more people are familiar with
control-shift since there are so many windows users :)
We don't have to be the same key on both platforms, though--I'll see
about using command-option for Mac OS X (SDL). I'd keep control-shift
too for switchers.
> although having that dialogue always come up on "Begin New Game"
> wouldn't bother me either, similar to Myth's behavior. I almost
> always go there; it's rare that I want to just play the first level.
I don't think we want to do this
> Also: I very much like the scrolling list in that dialogue, though
> arrows on the scroll bars would be nice, and the functionality of
> clicking a level to begin that level is counterintuitive; a click
> to select followed by "OK" to begin would work better.
I think I asked once about adding arrows to scroll bars, and didn't
get much of a positive response.
As for clicking to begin, that's just consistent with the rest of the
interface; file selectors, popup-like menus, and the like.
> ...And some part of me wishes the levels were numbered from 0
> instead of 1, but whatever.
I count from 0, too, but non-cyborgs do not, and I think there are
more non-cyborgs playing the game than there are of us.
> - The chapter screens seem to scroll at 640x480 too (in full screen
> mode of course), regardless of set resolution. This is actually
> kind of nice on the one hand, since the dramatic effect of a
> scrolling chapter screen is enhanced, but it's also more pixellated
> since it's zoomed in like that. This perhaps could be covered by
> the same option about the menu being zoomed or not, above.
Same option; but it would still be 640x480 and scroll, just in the
middle of the screen with black all around it. Like NIBs does.
> - The loading screen is much less informative than the scroll bar
> of the NIBs versions I've been using.
Maybe some day it will get a progress bar. Meanwhile, you could use
some OpenGL load screens.
Depending on your texture size, you could probably greatly reduce the
time you see that load screen by converting to the new texture format.
> - Also, command-tab doesn't seem to work, and after attempting to
> command-tab out during a load screen, it seemed to freeze; but
> command-Q quit it, which was nice. Allowing app switching as in the
> NIBs version would be nice,
Most places you can tab out by going to windowed mode (command-enter)
then tabbing out (if you're in the middle of a game, you can pause
with command-P) . When you're fullscreen, Aleph One SDL correctly
intercepts any window manager commands.
There is no input processing while loading textures, so you're stuck
until after they load.
> and on a slightly related note, so would the ability to cancel the
> loading process somehow; a Cancel button, or at least command-
> period or something.
This would be difficult.
> - My first thought upon actually seeing the game rendered was
> "whoa, widescreen!" I assumed at first that this was AO somehow
> cleverly adjusting the picture box size to accomodate for the fact
> that I was running a 5:4 resolution on a 4:3 monitor, but then I
> couldn't figure out how it would devise such a thing and noticed
> that text and things seemed slightly out of proportion as well, so
> I guess it's just vertical squishing due to me running a 5:4
> resolution on a 4:3 monitor. I'm not sure why I even mention this
> now... but the widescreen picture box effect seemed really cool at
> first. If there's some way to actually implement that, that could
The rendering window is always 2:1 widescreen when the HUD is visible :)
> - I'm curious as to why the HUD is rendered proportionally smaller
> at higher resolutions (i.e. the HUD shows up as it would if you
> opened an image of it's size, scaled to 100%, at the set
> resolution), while the menu and chapter screens all seem blown up
> to fill the set resolution (or perhaps the resolution is forced
> down to 640x480 for those parts; I can't see how you'd tell the
> difference). I personally like having it smaller like that, the way
> I like the main screen and chapter screens scaled as such as well,
> but some people perhaps might like having a blown-up, pixellated,
> but proportional (filling the width of the screen) HUD. This could
> also be covered by the same hypothetical preference option I've
> been talking about.
No, that's a different option. We've had a patch for that from
Rubicon X, but it's so outdated it's probably easier to re-do it.
> - In-game music doesn't seem to play. I suspect this may be because
> the music is, again, in MP3 format. It's loading all the other
> level-specific MML just fine, so I guess it's just a format issue.
Release notes again.
> <snip landscape stuff>
If you are using "double-wide" landscapes, that may be the problem.
Your ogl_asprat_exp is "0", which means your aspect ratio is 1:1--so
your landscapes better be square. This code changed a lot, and I may
not have replicated any old broken behavior. I didn't realize people
were using all those exp settings and things.
If you're using a square landscape with that MML and it's not loading
correctly, please file a bug and attach the MML and replacement
landscapes you're using.
> - Upon teleporting out to a level where there is a chapter screen,
> the last frame of the warp effect freezes and the top-left corner
> of a 640x480 box centered on the screen flickers in and out on top
> of it, in which I can see the chapter screen scrolling through the
> flickers. When the chapter screen stops scrolling, all I see is the
> last frame of the warp effect, until it fades out to the loading
> - The left and right edges of the screen, one or two pixels, seem
> to freeze with the color of the last flash effect (like a hit or a
> - In terminals, PICT screens seem to leave a vestigial vertical
> line or two of pixels from the previous INFORMATION screen, in
> between the pict half and the text half of the screen.
Can you file bugs for these three things (invididually) on
sourceforge, please? Include what resolution you're running at.
> - The FKeys. I've accidentally hit them before and screwed up my
> resolution and HUD placement, but I thought I'd actually play with
> them this time. The F1 key successfully resizes the resolution
> downward, and doesn't fuck up HUD placement like earlier builds did
> (I can't recall if those were NIBs or SLD or both). However, there
> does not appear to be a way to scale back up again. I imagine F2
> should probably do that, but it doesn't seem to want to.
It should, and does for me.
> F3 makes an "absorbed" sound, presumably denying me whatever action
> is bound to that key,
F3 doesn't do anything when OpenGL is on.
> but F4 makes a Juggernaut explosion sound and the game lags for a
> moment. I'm curious as to what exactly that does.
Resets OpenGL textures. You shouldn't need to do this.
> - Maybe it's just my mood tonight, as my perception of the quality
> of things (Eternal in particular) seems to vary a lot, but it seems
> like the SDL version's rendered world somehow looks better. I'm not
> sure how to put my finger on it. But we'll see if it's just my mood
> as I begin to test...
There shouldn't be any difference. They use the same code for OpenGL
> - Indeed it does seem like the SDL version looks better in game,
> although the NIBs version looks better in terminals. This is very
> hard for my to qualify exactly. The SDL version looks fine even in
> "Lightest" mode, while the NIBs version really only looks decent in
> "Darkest" mode. I thought it was just my textures sucked so bad
> they only looked good in the dark. This might have something to do
> with not blacking out the other screen messing with my eyes somehow
> (the extra light affecting my perception; games always look better
> in the dark). As for terminals, I'm not sure what's going on there;
> the fonts look kind of different, pics seem sharper and higher res
> in the NIBs version.
The fonts are slightly different; NIBs uses Mac OS X's built in
Courier font, while SDL uses Mac OS 8's Courier font, in the Fonts
file. Terminal pictures should be identical, they're rendered with
> - The F1 key resolution change royally screws up the placement of
> the HUD, sometimes being so bad as to offset to one side and
> overlap the rendered image. I imagine this is actually a feature of
> those particular resolution settings, not of simply using the F1
> key to switch. Again, F2 cycling back would be nice.
F2 should work; it works for me here. Are you sure your F2 key works
outside of Aleph One?
> Also, the rest of the FKeys (F5-F8) seem either unresponsive or
> hyper-responsive, depending, apparently, upon their mood.
> And F9-F12 are preempted by OSX's Expose and Dashboard features,
> while they're not in the SDL version.
It's all related to SDL having a true full-screen mode (which darks
other monitors, grabs all VRAM for itself, and intercepts window
manager events including Expose and command-tab) and NIBs not. Woody
once tried to do an "experimental rendering" mode which I believe
attempted to do that, but it never worked out.