Sunday, August 3, 2008

Jangaroo Released and Jangaron Updated to 0.54

It's been a while since you last heard of me. Of course, I've been really busy, but rather less with Jangaron itself (and, as obvious, even less with the Jangaron Blog) than with the base technology Jangaroo.
Jangaroo? As mentioned before, Jangaron is completely written in JavaScript, but it uses features of the new language version JavaScript 2, most notably packages, classes, and static and private members. To allow this JavaScript 2 code to run in today's browsers, I use the Jangaroo compiler, which was developed by CoreMedia as an internal tool, but has just now been released to the public as Open Source. Guess what kept me busy: I was the initiator and so-called "Program Manager" of the project at CoreMedia, with the goal to launch the Open Source Jangaroo project. (Okay, plus one week holiday, where I refrained from touching a computer. To be honest, I lost a bet with my wife.)
Read all about the goal, features, and history of Jangaroo in the Jangaroo Blog.
What I did update for Jangaron are two things: I used the latest version of the Jangaroo compiler, and I revamped the settings UI. Read about both changes in a minute, but if you want to try the new version immediately, here are some hints for troubleshooting:
If you have any JavaScript errors, try to clear the browser cache. If that still does not help, reset your settings by clicking the corresponding button with the red x in the settings UI. If that does not work, either, delete the Cookie "jangaron" from domain "www.jangaron.net", path "/jangaron0.5" using a Cookie manager for your browser. If your browser does not have a Cookie manager, then don't use IE (well, you can still delete the Cookie from the file system). If you still have problems with the 0.54 update, please report back by comment or using the e-mail address given on the "About" tab of the game. For the time being, you can still use my back-up of version 0.52 or the (very old) stable version. I also updated Jangaron mini in the Blog, so here, clearing your browser may also make problems go away.

Updated to the Latest Jangaroo Compiler
I used the latest version of the compiler (version 0.1.1, which has just not yet been released) to recompile the Jangaron code. Besides some performance improvements, the main point is an even better browser compatibility of the Jangaroo runtime. This makes Jangaron run in Konqueror 3.x (tested with 3.4) and even on... yes... Safari/iPhone!!! It seems that Safari/iPhone is more similar to Konqueror/KHTML than to Safari/Desktop. Unfortunately, the way Jangaron grabs key strokes does not seem to work on Konqueror, and the iPhone does not even have (many) keys. So I set up a special iPhone version that uses on-screen buttons for turning. Speed and view control are not yet available, this is just a quick test whether it is playable at all. Please report back!
But most importantly, Jangaroo being Open Source allows me to release Jangaron as Open Source soon, too. I had to wait until Jangaroo was released, because nobody would have been able to produce a running version from the Jangaron source code without the Jangaroo compiler! Now, I have to figure out which license I'm going to use for Jangaron and where to put the source code repository. Developers, stay tuned!

Revamped the Settings User Interface
On my way from Hamburg to Augsburg to visit the 40th birthday party of a good friend of mine, I used the 2 x 6 hours to revamp Jangaron's settings UI and add a splash screen with a new logo including a smoothly increasing glow effect (again, pure JavaScript!).
To come back to the new features, the settings dialog now has
  • a large glowing lightcycle changing to the first user player's color and serving as the new "Enter the Grid" button,
  • a different color theme,
  • expandable, overhauled help texts for each tab,
  • it starts on the "Players" tab when visiting for the first time (since there you find the setting you most likely want to change),
  • there, it starts with the main two settings: game mode and number of players, and
  • in the background is now an optionally animated game grid (what else?), that can be switched on in the "Grid settings" tab. However, by default it is switched off, since the permanent redraw consumes quite some CPU. Also, you can get dizzy in the head from staring at the sliding grid.
One small visual change to the game is that the you win / you lose texts now even more look like old character-based terminal output. I added a PNG as an overlay that is slightly less transparent at every other line, which leads to this "analog monitor blur" font effect. You may need to take a closer look to recognize the difference (click the image above or lose the game, whatever you think is the faster option!), but still I think it was worth the effort since it adds to the 80-s look-and-feel of the game.

Of course, I also fixed some bugs. For example, combo box selections did not update correctly in Safari. Fortunately, someone else had identified and solved the problem before. The point is that Safari is very close to the spec here, which does not allow two options of a select element to be selected at the same time. So to select a different option, you have to deselect the currently selected one first, or the change is ignored in Safari. The fix was to simply use the selectIndex property of the select element, which avoids this problem completely.

Finally, you may ask yourself, and what about the 3rd person perspective? I have also been working on that, but there are still some performance issues in some browsers and some minor bugs and features (e.g. changing camera position), and I want to give you a good experience from the start when introducing that feature. Maybe I'll set up an alpha version of Jangaron 0.6 for curious and brave Jangaron fans, so let me know if you want me to!

6 comments:

TRON.dll said...

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice

][][] said...

I just added the word START to the glowing lightcycle button, because it was not really obvious that this starts the game (unless you know the movie really well!). Thanks, Daddyo from Tron Sector, for pointing this out!

Brian said...

Great new additions! I can't wait to see what's next...

TRON.dll said...

There's one thing that I just realized that you need to put in here (and yes, I'm the same TRON.dll that's on Tron-Sector and posted here before):

A way to go back to the menu would be nice. Perhaps after each match, you could press Enter to play again or Esc to go back to the menu. Or, you could have a pause menu that could be brought up by pressing Esc. The pause menu would pause the game and provide two options, Resume and Menu. It's kinda annoying to have to refresh the page to change the settings.

][][] said...

TRON.dll, you have convinced me, I'll see what I can do.
The problem is that the UI collects settings, and then launches the game with these settings. Re-displaying the settings is easy, but restarting the game with different settings needs some code refactoring. There is some global set-up (e.g. load sounds) that should only be done once, while some game initializations have to be repeated. First step would be to implement your suggestion to offer changing settings after a match. The second suggestion, changing settings within a match, is more difficult, as the UI would have to show those settings that actually can be changed during the game.

Roger said...

works in safari 4 beta, ;)

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