aKademy report

AKademy 2006 is going pretty well. I met lots of people already, and there are still three more days ahead. The artist guys working on Oxygen are doing an amazing work. And they are actually very interested in the changes I have been contributing to kdegames. Thanks David, Ken and Johann for the nice words!
We are now setting up things in a way that makes it possible for them to contribute more directly. Johann will probably be the first, as he said he will probably work a bit on the recently commited KReversi art as his first kdegames project.
I had already worked on the chips, and yesterday (before the lab closed!) I uploaded a new board to SVN, in order to have scaling support. Dmitry was very fast and today we already had everything working and integrated, with only a few alignment issues still ahead. Check out and build KDE4 from SVN if you want to see it live: there is a full reorganization of menus and play options as well.
If you do not have access to SVN, then here are the screenshots of the old KReversi, and the new KDE4 SVG version. Go Dmitry.


KReversi rewrite

Dmitry Suzdalev has been working on a KReversi rewrite for a couple of weeks, and the results have been recently merged to the KDE4 trunk. There were several goals with the rewrite, including (but not limited to!) the revamp of the UI, chips animation and artwork.

The previous version used png pre-rendered versions of the chips, with the default being the red/blue version. I redrawn the chips in Inkscape, so the art is now entirely vector based. Well, not *entirely yet*, but it will be, after we update the backgrounds 🙂 Gladly I had the original raytraced versions as a reference, but recreating the light effects with layers of gradients was not exactly easy to achieve! I am very satisfied with the results, though. You can see below how the new chips look side-by-side with the older version:

I also worked on an enhanced version of the black and white chips, shown below. The original ones did not have enough contrast, they were just an unsaturated version of the default red/blue ones.

The black and white chips will probably be the default in KReversi for KDE4, according to Dmitry (and following a suggestion by Inge.) I never heard about red and blue reversi chips anyway 🙂

As for code changes, Dmitry is adjusting the difficulty levels, among other enhancements to how the game plays, specially for beginners. The move list pane is now optional, and can be hidden to free up space. Under the hood the code was ported to Qt4 and the drawing routines are now using the new QGraphicsView framework. If you have suggestions for KReversi please build the game from SVN, send your comments, and I will forward them to Dmitry. Or post to kde-games-devel.

LodeRunner

Most of the work i am doing in KGoldrunner for KDE4 is still hidden from the user. I have ported it initially from KDE3 QCanvas to use the new QGraphicsView architecture. After a couple of weeks, it became apparent that QGV architecture is probably not a good fit for the requirements we had for this game. Today I commited a new version, built with a lighter canvas replacement, from KBoard (kboard.sourceforge.net.) Performance is excellent, and I thank Maurizio Monge for convincing me to give it a try 🙂 Code is already in SVN, and with this the initial port for KDE4 is finally complete. BTW, Maurizio just got SVN commit rights, and we have big plans involving KBoard and this light canvas class for the near future 🙂

But back to KGoldRunner: now we can (finally!) start working on improvements that are visible to the user! Ian Wadham is KGoldRunner´s current maintainer, and he has great ideas about new features. One of the plans is to add the option of “modern” graphics to the engine, while still maintaining the retro look, among several other minor improvements and new levels.

But recently I realized that most people ditch KGoldRunner without even trying to play it because they believe the graphics are of poor quality. This is true specially for the newer audience, since they have not been exposed to KGoldRunner´s inspiration, the original LodeRunner. I guess we have to do something to address this situation.

If you do not know what LodeRunner was, it was probably one of the most influential titles in the history of computer games. Wikipedia comes to the rescue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loderunner

If you have not played LodeRunner, give KGoldRunner a try. The mouse control might seem non-intuitive during the first 30 seconds, but follow the tutorials, and you will be having fun in no time.

In other news, KMahjongg is progressing slowly, but I plan to devote a lot of time to it during aKademy. Also, Dimtry Suzdalev has reimplemented most of KReversi, and the SVN version is already using small SVG tiles, contributed by me. But more on this tomorrow…