Older blog entries for Uraeus (starting at number 367)

Spider replied in his blog to my review of Vendetta. While after reading his mail I think some of my criticisms, of the level system for instance, where based on inexperience with the game, my main criticism still stands. That the game is not very good at generating a feeling of a 'living' world around you. Which was something Elite where good at. I also think the game is so alike Elite in a lot of ways including setting and gameplay that comparing it to that game is more than fair. And while I can symphatize with the fact that they are a small company and can't do everything at once, hey I work for a company with the same sort of challenge, I also feel it is fair to state what makes the game not entertaining enough for me, or at least not fun enough to start paying after my 8 hours of free play. I think the foundation is there though so I probably try again in some months to see how things have evolved.

Wim put the source to libcolorspace into public subversion today. It is an colorspace conversion library which does every colorspace known to mankind, or at least more than any other such library out there. The library is also more tuned for doing various kinds of optimizations than current libraries for colorspace conversion. Probably will be using liboil for some of the optimization work. When the first release is out we probably start looking into making it the default colorspace library for GStreamer, as opposed to the current forked colorspace library from ffmpeg. Guess libcolorspace will be our fourth default colorspace library, with Hermes, ffcolorspace, forked ffcolorspace and soon libcolorspace :)

Both Inkscape and librsvg developers are working on improving font handling. Followed the librsvg debate most closely and getting font/text handling perfect will be a though job. Current questions in a librsvg context is wether pango is suitable or if not suitable can it be made suiteable, and if it is not suitable and can't be made suiteable how can it be approached without Caleb and Dom getting an ulcer.

Got freedesktop CVS access again today, woohoo :) Now if only Iain will commit his ding caching abstraction system so we can start patching GNOME :)

A review of Vendetta Online.

Vendetta Online is a commercial MMORG game available with a native Linux client (which is why I tried it out). It is basically a modern interpretation of David Braben's classic Elite game. (which last incarnation has a Linux port. I ran that port recently (screenshot) since I used to love playing the game back when it was released.

Anyway this review will look at how Vendetta Online compares to Elite. Obviously the graphics have moved a forward by a huge leap and same with sound.

So lets start with the good points of Elite/First Encounters. The nicest thing of the game was its feeling of a huge universe which you had a real feeling of things happening in. A big part of this feeling of aliveness was the ongoing storyline presented through the various newspapers you could subscribe to. There where also a lot of quests which you could go on which tied in with these stories. There where also tons of quests which did not tie in with any background story of course. Another nice feature where the huge range of spaceships and how you could modify these ships with a lot of different accessories all with different tradeoffs in terms of usage of space and capabilities.

The bad parts of Elite/First Encounters where the real lack of logics in regards to getting attacked. Space combat is fun, but it is not fun when you are getting attacked 50 times enroute to your destination. Space combat could also be rather tedious and borinng depending on which weapon you had. I also often got blasted out of the sky before knowing what hit me due to the 'fast time' option in the game. The motivation for those attacks where also a bit unclear as the monetary cost to any would be pirate would in most time make it cost prohibitive to be a pirate, meaning the value of your goods would allways be much lower than the cost of their repairs if you just got in 1 hit. The game also seemed to favouritize doing some rather boring stuff. For instance I quickly learned that the fastest way to earn enough money to buy the bigger cooler ships where basically fly back and forth between Earth and Alpha Centauri trading goods. This route where pirate free, short and the two systems complimented eachother well on what they needed. Bounty hunting, passenger transsport, military assignments and so on could be fun in their own regards, but they often cost as much as they gave in terms money for fuel and repairs. Another boring part of the game was the time spent flying to space stations and planets. You always warped in quite a way from the space station or planet in question meaning it took time getting to the planet. There was a fast time option which would have solved it was it not for often getting you killed before being able to react.

So over to Vendetta Online. Have they managed to get the good things in elite over and the fix the bad stuff?

Not so sure. Being an MMORG they have a good chance to make the Universe come alive around you. But the newspapers which where such an integral part of FFE is not there, newspapers which they could have both generated based on what players did and even probably get some players to help out writing. There are three grouping in vendetta just like there are in FFE, but they seem more stereotypical than their FFE counterparts. Being able to buy stuff has changed a lot from FFE, in Vendetta you need to get 'licensed' before being able to buy stuff. Not sure how much I like the concept compared to the pure pricing system of FFE. I think it makes it feel more like a game system than a 'real world emulation'. To some degree the licensing system can be compared to the military assignments and leveling in FFE, but since everyone seems to be basically a 'soldier' for their respective group in Vendetta it means you have to work the ranks before being able to buy anything.

Vendetta also has less spaceship customization options than its source of inspiration. So where FFE let you trade cargo space for protection for instance so are there little tradeoffs to be done in Vendetta. For instance FFE demanded you put aside space for a tractor beam/cargo scope if you wanted to grab cargo from ships you destroy, this beam would then grab the cargo for you in you where close to the cargo. In Vendetta this is just about 'hitting' the cargo boxes with your ship.

Space combat do seem to have improved over its predecesor. It isn't forced upon you all the time and the system for doing it seems aimed at making some more gameplay out of it.

They have some nice improvements to trading, for instance so will prices start to fall if you do the jumping back and forth thing which I did with FFE. The trading system could still be improved, since they allow for universal communication they could for instance allow you to get information on good ideas for trading. I am sure that in such a future world there would be an organisation gathering prices from around the universe and selling you the information. Like a system where you could pay 50cr and be told that since you are on planet xy, you could consider these options which would earn you this or that. They do not however have the trading in illegal goods that FFE had which was another thing to bring flavour.

Never tried mining in FFE so I am not sure how it compares to mining in Vendetta. Guess the comment is that Vendetta lowers the barrier for your first mining mission.

Player vs player combat is of course a unique feature of vendeta since its a MMORG. When I was out flying on a mission I noticed an enemy ship in my sector. I tried attacking it, but I never seemed to get any hits. I didn't recived any hits either. Seem to remember reading something about having to challenge people to be able to do that, which I think is a stupid concept, at least in 'unregulated space'.

So to summarize. Vendetta is a beautiful game graphically, and I truly recomend anyone to download the free 8 hour demo to test it out if nothing else to look at the beautiful rendering of space. The technics of the game like combat and space station handling are also good IMHO, but the developers really need to work more on adding stuff to add more flavour to the game, make the socities feel more alive and vibrant. FFE beats them hands down in this area, which is a feat considering how old the game is. Moving away from the license level/ working for the group system towards Elite's system of free enterprise might also be a nice change.

Managed to get my website w3c compliant for both the html and the css. Think the w3c will feel violated by that, but hey, thats life.

The use of SVG and librsvg in games seems to be slowly growing. Learned today that the developer of Wormux is working on adding SVG support. This map map was made with Inkscape and will hopefully in future releases be rendered using librsvg inside Wormux.

Tried working a bit on gnome-themes-extras today. But I am not able to get make dist working anymore. I am getting messages like this
tar: gnome-themes-extras-0.8.0/Gorilla/icons/scalable/mimetypes/gnome-mime-application-x-gnome-app-info.svg: file name is too long (max 99); not dumped
If anyone have a clue about it please mail me on uraeus-gnome-org. I am pretty sure it is a change in some underlying system as the g-t-e package has not changed its structure recently.

Daniel linked to a fun little hack in his blog today.

Zaheer got Flumotion streaming from his Mosque yesterday. So you can now get your weekly dosage of Islam in Ogg Theora/Vorbis format. Nice to see people being able to use the work we do at Fluendo to offer services like this to their local community. (disclaimer: I am still an atheist :)

Sometimes I get depressed about the silly stuff the norwegian government does. Even now that I don't live there anymore. Latest and greatest is that a Norwegian government agency has started a scientific study into wether earthworms feel pain or not. The reason for this seems because they wonder if fishing with earthworms on the hook can constitute sadistical behaviour towards animals under norwegian law......please can somebody please take away the budget of these people?

Rumour has it that Daniel Stone hacked fd.o himself just to drive more traffic to his blog :)

Time has come for us to start pushing flumotion harder. Most people seem to get the latest version working easily and the flumotion.net website should be up this weekend at least. So next week I will start figuring out how to get as much attention as possible onto the server from people also outside the traditional crowd. One early goal is getting some of the radio stations streaming Ogg Vorbis to start using it for instance.

Bastien was extremely quick to fix my latest Totem bug report. I requested support for drag and dropping url's from the webbrowser into Totem, so that people could for instance drag and drop the Fluendo office URL onto Totem to test it. The day after my report the enhancement was implemented, thanks Bastien!

18 Nov 2004 (updated 19 Nov 2004 at 00:42 UTC) »

I now have the l33t3st webpage since the golden era of Enlightenment.

Found Jon Lech Johansen's blog and homepage yesterday through Ronald. Seems he is hacking on a lot of cool stuff, like his screenshot showing windows media 9 or his tool to support streaming music to the applet airport express. Wonder what it would take to get him to work on his stuff in a GStreamer context :) Judging by his screenshots he is running GNOME with the Gartoon theme.

Richard Hoelscher showed me a screenshot today of his work making Gnotski scalable using librsvg. While it was nice I still maintain that the main problem with Gnotski is that I never understood how to play the game :)

Freedesktop being out of commison has kept us from making a new release of gst-plugins, which contains a lot of fixes for both playback and flumotion. A new release of gst-plugins is also a pre-req for Ronald to be able to release his video recorder application.

17 Nov 2004 (updated 17 Nov 2004 at 19:09 UTC) »

They said it was not possible, but I managed to do it. After my 'two weeks' schedule ended up being 3 months I have now managed to put my photos from my little trip to Borneo, Australia, South Africa and Namibia online. Go to www.linuxrising.org to check them out, this especially goes for anyone who had any contact with me during the trip :)

Next step is actually making a real homepage :)

Almost forgot, connected my camera to Fedora 3 for the first time today. All I got to say is Rock On! Having the camera being identified and a window popping up asking me if I wanted to get the images from the camera was just great. No more fiddling with gphoto (which worked but sucked UI wise). And they say it never pays living on the bleeding edge :)

As a comment I can't help but feel the Linux Core Consortium smells for United Linux 2 with a little different branding.

16 Nov 2004 (updated 16 Nov 2004 at 20:39 UTC) »

Another day with lots of stuff happening. Wim added some queing and a status toolbar and info to his Java applet. The office teststream already use the updated applet.

Jan had a really great screenshot of running a lot of visualization plugins after he cleaned up the GStreamer visualization plugins. Rather nifty command line pipeline to display those plugins in his terminal too.

Bilboed posted a nice updated shoot of the Pitivi NLE. Looking sweeter by the day.

Worked on various job related contracts today, looking forward to being able to announce those as I think the community will be very happy about them.

Also took the time to reply to the Foundation election candidate questions. Think I was the third one out to do so, so I guess it mean I am not a total slacker :)

Also did some QA work over the last few days, very happy to see that Benjamin's and Ronald's ALSA fixes cleared up my issues using ALSA. Hopefully they solve 100% CPU problems for other people as well.

We got a new toy into the office today, but I am letting Thomas announce it when he has some cool stuff to show around it :)

Also found a new GStreamer based application today, Eina

Seems an basic webpage for Pitivi the GStreamer based Non-linear Video editor is available. Since working on Pitivi will be one of Edwards main tasks when he arrives at Fluendo in March I hope we can make it an application a lot of people want to use.

Spent the end of last week with Wim and the Imendio guys. Some people just pop up in the strangest of places. Then again I know Mikael, Anders and Richard go to all countries where they expect to see scantily clad women so I guess I shouldn't have been suprised at seeing them.

Decided to try and get my co-workers at Fluendo to join me in signing up for a green card course at one of Barcelona's many golf courses. The excitement towards the idea hasn't been through the roof yet, but I hope that will happen once I get them onto the field :)

Working on a bugfix release of the flumotion streaming server. Starting too look nicer as more and more robustness fixes and polish gets in. Thomas did a very nice hack today to get the hardware name into the GUI today, so instead of just having /dev/video0 you are now told it is a Logitech Webcam for instance. I did a teststream from my extremely low quality webcam today using the server. viewing the stream in 3 different players. It is nice to see that Theora support is getting quite widespread :)

audio cd playing does not work for me with Fedora 3; and it looks like /dev/cdrom is not generated for me; cause it a DVD? Recreatig /dev/cdrom fixed only part of the problem. need to investigate more and file a report.

Also tested the JDS livecd Callum linked to. It works well, in fact some stuff feels snappier than on my FC3 install. Guess they do some pre-loading or ramdisk magic to make that happen.I also think the wide 'start' button is a nice feature as its is easier to hit then the small hat/foot I struggle with today.

One not so nice thing about JDS is that they include a lot of different technologies, but does nothing to make them look relativly the same. Why for instance are the Java apps not using GTK+ look and feel? And a theme for Yast/Qt so it looks like the Sun GTK+ would make the admin tools a little less alien.

So I posted my candidacy for the GNOME foundation board today. Hopefully we will have enough candidates to make it a real vote, think I would feel better not getting on the board after being part of a large field of candidates than getting on the board due to there not being enough candidates to make it a real election. Anyway I hope anyone reading this will vote for me :)

Zaheer have gotten quite some downloads of his Caster live-cd. He only announced it in his blog, so I guess planetgnome actually has a decent readership. Next step is for zaheer to start merging the DVB plugins for gstreamer :)

Iain is working on getting ding-caching abstraction into GStreamer. It is the last thing needed before we can make GNOME only rely on GStreamer instead of directly on a sound server. This will make the transition to using polypaudio much smoother and it will also make sure that when someone wants to ouput directly to their soundcards, then everything gets sent that way, not just most of the stuff. We just have to hope that the iain@gnomedorks.org email address I set him up with will not distract him to much from the hacking :)

Discovered that the new Novell desktop comes with alsa disabled in regards to gstreamer. Had hoped that Suse being 'the' alsa company would have patched our plugin instead of fixing it. Anyway Ronald will be working on making the alsa plugin robust now that we have chained ogg support working in GStreamer CVS.

Also happy to see Bastien propose Totem/GStreamer for inclusion in GNOME. Would be happier if he had tried the solution himself, but I guess you can't win em all :)

Also noted that Martin Soto commited his new cothreads based scheduler into GStreamer CVS this weekend. Hopefully this means he started on merging upstream his changes to GStreamer to get 'perfect' DVD support going.

Jan is hacking on annodex support for GStreamer. Guess we even try to add support for it in the java applet player. Hopefully we can so do fun stuff like the clickable tv casts seen in Starship troopers. 'Want to learn more?' :)

Finally got my domains moved over to apestaart. Hopefully I get email working again soon so my gnome.org mail don't start bouncing. Since it is set up now I guess I have no more excuses for not getting enterprisegnome.com going :)

Already up and running on Fedora 3, think it is the first time I am doing some before the offical release :) Now is only Thomas will hurry up about getting updated rpms with webcam and wireless drivers ready :) The Nvidia rpm from livna already installed :)

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