[Babylon 5]

Nathan Mates' Personal Info Pages

Nathan Mates's .plan Archives

Plan Archives from July 1999.

Login name: nathan    			In real life: Nathan Mates
Directory: /home/nathan             	Shell: /bin/tcsh
Job: Network Programmer, Battlezone 2, developed by Pandemic Studios http://www.pandemicstudios.com , published by Activision http://www.activision.com [Note: in this, I am *NOT* speaking officially for either of those, I'm only speaking for myself.]

7/29/99: Been playing the upcoming demo at home for a bit... :)

7/28/99: I don't expect many of you to relate to this problem, but here's hoping that some of the companies responsible for this would take notice and do something. Basically, makers of gaming peripherals (joysticks, gamepads, etc) send lots of samples to our office so that we can double-check compatability, etc. I now have 2 gamepads, 1 joystick, and 1 "other" at my desk at work-- and only 2 computers. [And others here at work have similar piles of things.]

Now, what I'd really like to see is this: a GraviLogitMSOther "larger desk" delivered. [Preferably to home, where I've got barely enough space for my keyboards on my hacky solution of wedging two rather unrelated tables together... I've looked at Office Depot and the like, and new desk sets are like $500 for a few slabs of plywood in the sizes I'd like. (space for 15", 17" and 19" monitors, 3 keyboard/mouse sets, joystick with huge footprint, gamepad, inkjet printer, etc.)]

Also, some ways of better organizing stuff would be nice-- none of the things I've got so far are USB, and my computers sit down on the floor, so it's a major pain to unplug things if and when I use them. I ran into the same thing some years ago at a Playstation developer's conference-- I was given 4 controllers in one day, but nobody handed out those little Multitap thingys.

7/23/99: Joseph Donaldson (Pandemic's Webmaster, Director of Communications & Coca Cola acquisitions), dropped off a little box at my desk this morning. It was a box of new business cards-- ones with the new gasmask logo on the back. However, I still have 90% of a box of old business cards, the ones with the 'brainscan' logo on back.

I don't just want to toss the old cards, but don't want to just give them away to anyone. [Got work phone # on them, and while I'm sure most of you could find that # trivially, I'd rather not have random yahoos dialing me up at work complaining about the color schemes on Scion tanks.] So, any suggestions on what to do with them?

7/21/99, Later: Some other, even cooler graphical efx have made it into the game over the last day or so, thanks to Julio and/or George Sutty. [Unsure on who did how much work...] No, I'm not going to say what it is, but it's VERY nice looking. (And easily disableable for slower systems)

7/21/99: 'Avatar' commented on the official message boards for BZ2 on http://www.pandemicstudios.com/ that the directory structuring I mentioned yesterday means no more namespace conflicts... not quite. Here's a bit more clarification on how things work:

Actually, there's still the chances of filename conflicts, though in a bit more insidious ways. The way we get the ability to throw stuff in subdirectories (folders) is by having our file loader code essentially not care about directories. We've got a nice treed directory structure for all assets, but when the game starts up, it scans that tree and essentially flattens it, so that trying to read the file 'ivtank.odf' (ISDF, Vehicle, 'tank' is the naming convention there) transparently expands to '\data\objects\isdf\vehicles\ivtank\ivtank.odf' (or something like that).

The problem with the above is that "what if there's another ivtank.odf in the tree?" That's where things get nasty: since it flattened out the tree, it can't tell which one to use, and may pick it semi-randomly. [I think it's either first entry or last entry, according to the directory structure on HD, so it'll be consistent on one machine, but a second machine may take the other one.] So, with multiple addon maps referring to custom assets, they suffer from the same thing: two addon maps can't refer to the same file by name, or bad things might happen.

As the names for things have a 15-character limit internally (i.e. 11 characters, a '.' and a 3-letter extension), there's a LOT of namespace to avoid clashes, but it's something that should be considered by mapmakers. If people stick to something of a naming convention (e.g. addon map "bgrounds.bzn" refers to bgr_tnk1.odf, bgr_sct1.odf) that'll solve most problems. I'll see if we can impose some more structures on things, but that may not be easily doable.

7/20/99: A few notes on how maps are presented in BZ2's shell interface. There's a listbox allowing you to pick and choose from all bzn files found in the official directories, as well as any bzns found under Addon\Missions\Multiplayer\ And yes, this search for bzns is recursive, so you can drop a folder into that directory, and it'll find stuff within folders.

This should allow better management of things, as custom maps can be in their own folders, not just dropped into a huge dumping ground of a directory. [And, there's no more netmis.txt file either to add to or tweak each time a map is downloaded, but reading a custom info file per bzn isn't done yet.

7/18/99: http://www.planetquake.com/beatdown/ (July 17, 1999 update) is reporting that Activision showed BZ2 network play on a few machines. Sorry I didn't have enough time to warn people beforehand.

And on a completely different note, just finished Might & Magic 7 at home. There's something rather interesting to the gameplay: partway thru, you get to pick which side (light/dark, aka good/evil) you want to side with, and all the quests after that are different. So, in playing the light side (in this, Warcraft 2, etc, I tended to only play the "good guys"), it's not "over." Rather neat gameplay mechanic to encourage replayability, etc. If you're at all into RPGs like I am, I encourage you to check M&M7 out.