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Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report

 
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Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/9/2014 8:00:03 AM   
berto


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From: metro Chicago, Illinois, USA
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Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report


JTCS 2.00 was fairly well received, but there were issues. Since 2.00's release -- and setting aside new game development for the moment (Middle East, Vietnam, ...) -- we have been working diligently on fixing some of the issues.

Perhaps the biggest issue was with the toolbar, thought by many to be "tiny". There were other objections. Meeting the objectors more than half way, in 2.01 we have implemented a range of toolbar options:



As you can see, in the upcoming 2.01 bug-fix release, there will be four optional toolbars:

  • None. In the screenshot above, the outer, encompassing EF game window. This is for people who are totally fine with the hotkeys (for every toolbar icon, there is a corresponding hotkey), and who want to maximize the map view.
  • Classic. In the screenshot, center right. This is for traditional-minded players. No changes from the traditional JTCS toolbar whatsoever. (Offered in JTCS only. Will not be offered in any future spin-off games, such as ME, VN, ...)
  • Standard. In the screenshot, upper left. Thought to be "tiny" by many. Others are good with it. Especially if they have a lower resolution display (whether by preference, or due to monitor limitations) and don't like toolbar auto-wrap, as you see in the screenshot.
  • Large. In the screenshot, lower left. The icon graphics are no larger, but the buttons are bigger. The overall effect is it's less cramped.

    You will also note that several of the toolbar icons have been redone for greater contrast and clarity. No button additions or subtractions, and no resequencing either. If you are used to the new 2.00 toolbar (and hotkeys) by now, you will not have to relearn anything for 2.01. Everything is set in place, and will remain such. Only the looks will change.

    Another troubling issue for some players: the game window border and background colors "bleeding" over to other non-game apps and windows. For most players, this effect only lasts for the duration of the game session. When you exit the game, the Windows system colors revert back to normal. Alas, if the game terminates abnormally -- typically due to a crash -- the only effective means to restore system colors back to normal is to reboot.

    In 2.01, we have implemented yet another Option, a toggle, "System Colors":



    In the screenshot, you see the game (EF) surrounded by a couple of apps that, with 2.00, would typically have their status bars, scroll bars, backgrounds, etc. "bloodied" by the game colors. As you can see, in the new 2.01 game EXEs, this is not the case.

    So in 2.01, we no longer change the Windows system colors, and achieve the colored game status bar and tool bar by other means. One consequence of this, in this screenshot



    you can see that the game dialogs now default to the Windows system colors.

    If you have adopted some weird Windows color theme, like any of these



    your game dialogs will have that look also (e.g., reverse image white text on black background).

    If you don't like that effect, or in any case you prefer that the game border colors apply consistently across all game dialogs and controls, you simply uncheck the Options > System Colors, and you get 2.00's behavior:



    Of course, you again have the game colors bleeding over to non-game windows. But if you're okay with that, you have the choice.

    To bleed or not to bleed? That is the question.

    Another UI change: In 2.01, on launch, the game window will open maximized.

    In 2.00, the default was to open unmaximized. For many players, this obscured the game status bar at game window bottom. In 2.01, that should no longer be the case.

    In 2.01, there are also a number of bug fixes. We will mention them in due course.

    One bug fix that I will mention now: A fix for the DCG crash bug (with temporary work-around for that bug described here).

    In the course of investigating and fixing that bug, a number of other DCG code & data issues were discovered. If 2.01's release is delayed, that's the reason. We are attempting to fix bugs and issues that date all the way back to the original JTCS 1.00 release. Finding and fixing the bugs takes time. Testing takes even more time. DCGs are multi-scenario, so obviously we can't find, fix & test in a couple of afternoons, or even a week. We're getting closer to 2.01's release, but more patience is required. In the meantime, we advise players to avoid DCGs and play LCGs and standalone scenarios only.

    I'll have more to say about DCGs and other stuff in a future Coder Diary. This is now just to let you all know: We're working hard to give you the best product possible. Yes, we know, 2.01 can't come soon enough.

    Until the next time...

    < Message edited by berto -- 4/9/2014 9:46:23 AM >


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    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/9/2014 8:33:46 AM   
    rickier65

     

    Posts: 14097
    Joined: 4/20/2000
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    Thanks for the status update and examples. I must say, you are going above and beyond to satisfy those that did not like the new toolbar layout. Kudos to you for responding in such a positive way. And I'll add that while the new buttons were a little jarring, I had fully expected that it would just be a matter of getting used to.

    Thanks again.
    Rick

    (in reply to berto)
    Post #: 2
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/9/2014 10:02:55 AM   
    MrRoadrunner


    Posts: 1241
    Joined: 10/7/2005
    Status: offline
    Thanks for your work Berto. It is nice to see the options in the tool bar. Customer service is welcomed.

    My question now resides in the the campaign crashes. Above you stated that there was an issue dating back to 1.00. How could it have worked flawlessly since the beginning, the TalonSoft days and the early Matrix versions, but only surfaced in the version 1.04.5b which carried into 2.0?
    In 1.04.5b it was only the medals that were effected. A player was/is issued the "none". In 2.0 the "none" is still there but the game crashes if you do not accept a promotion or the General was going to commend you.

    I'm still puzzled that no one play tested the campaigns. But, we can let that go for now. I think you should have a player on the team take the time to test out a campaign or two prior to giving us the fix. It would make for a less frustrated customer base to have it working properly.

    RR

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    (in reply to rickier65)
    Post #: 3
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/9/2014 12:25:00 PM   
    dox44

     

    Posts: 603
    Joined: 5/7/2000
    From: the woodlands, texas
    Status: offline
    thanks for the update!


    (in reply to MrRoadrunner)
    Post #: 4
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/9/2014 1:15:47 PM   
    z1812


    Posts: 1636
    Joined: 9/1/2004
    From: Toronto Ontario
    Status: offline
    Thanks for the update and also for your work.

    (in reply to berto)
    Post #: 5
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/9/2014 6:43:48 PM   
    wings7


    Posts: 4608
    Joined: 8/11/2003
    From: Phoenix, Arizona
    Status: offline
    Thanks berto and all for your welcomed hard work!!

    Patrick

    (in reply to z1812)
    Post #: 6
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/9/2014 8:14:58 PM   
    Otto von Blotto


    Posts: 273
    Joined: 7/18/2008
    Status: offline
    Glad to hear it's being sorted and fixed, thanks

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    (in reply to wings7)
    Post #: 7
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/10/2014 1:43:28 PM   
    kool_kat


    Posts: 554
    Joined: 7/7/2008
    From: Clarksville, VA.
    Status: offline

    quote:

    ORIGINAL: berto

    As you can see, in the upcoming 2.01 bug-fix release, there will be four optional toolbars:

  • None. In the screenshot above, the outer, encompassing EF game window. This is for people who are totally fine with the hotkeys (for every toolbar icon, there is a corresponding hotkey), and who want to maximize the map view.
  • Classic. In the screenshot, center right. This is for traditional-minded players. No changes from the traditional JTCS toolbar whatsoever. (Offered in JTCS only. Will not be offered in any future spin-off games, such as ME, VN, ...)
  • Standard. In the screenshot, upper left. Thought to be "tiny" by many. Others are good with it. Especially if they have a lower resolution display (whether by preference, or due to monitor limitations) and don't like toolbar auto-wrap, as you see in the screenshot.
  • Large. In the screenshot, lower left. The icon graphics are no larger, but the buttons are bigger. The overall effect is it's less cramped.

    You will also note that several of the toolbar icons have been redone for greater contrast and clarity. No button additions or subtractions, and no resequencing either. If you are used to the new 2.00 toolbar (and hotkeys) by now, you will not have to relearn anything for 2.01. Everything is set in place, and will remain such. Only the looks will change.


  • Excellent news Berto! Many thanks!

    When you release the 2.01 bug fix update, can we install it and the update will NOT impact current games underway?


    _____________________________

    Regards, - Mike

    "You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else." - Albert Einstein

    (in reply to berto)
    Post #: 8
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/10/2014 2:09:10 PM   
    Josh

     

    Posts: 2717
    Joined: 5/9/2000
    From: Leeuwarden, Netherlands
    Status: offline
    Good work Robert and all, thx for all the efforts you put into it

    (and yes the buttons *were* a bit on the small side hehe, stopped using them altogether though shortkeys are way more userfriendly)

    (in reply to kool_kat)
    Post #: 9
    RE: Coder Diary #18 -- UI Fixes & 2.01 Progress Report - 4/10/2014 3:05:34 PM   
    Crossroads


    Posts: 16208
    Joined: 7/5/2009
    Status: offline
    Thanks guys, lots of work going on behind scenes.

    The DCG / Battle Generator stuff has for most part seen literally no code changes since 1.00 days, while new countries, new mission types, new content what not have been added to game engines (WF/EF/RS) too. With these hints, it should not be too difficult to have also the old build crashing... So yes, most of the efforts at the moment are at this front.

    The crash bug that got into 2.00 was really not because of lack of testing as such, rather a Sh*t-happens moment when the Q&A was done & dusted and the release package was put together. But that's life for you, sh*t does happen.

    As whether 2.01 can be used to play 2.00 games, there's nothing as such that should prevent that from happening.

    Actually, there is nothing as such that would prevent anyone from continuing a 1.04 game in 2.00 or 2.01. It is just that to be able to put enough tests together to ensure that is indeed the case, that is another thing totally. We do a lot of testing playing manually, but rely on extensive automated testing as well. And automated testing is not something that could be done with PBEMs and DCGs/Dynamic battles. Hence our recommendation to finish 1.04 games with 1.04.






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    (in reply to Josh)
    Post #: 10
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