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Community Poll: Backwards compatibility of buildings

Your vote is called for!

Here we go with a new category of posts on this very website we all love so much: Community Polls.

Every once in a while an issue pops up in the game balance or design that has no agreed upon best solution. Here is the idea of community polls which will follow the following ideas:

  1. a community poll will run for roughly 4-6 weeks. Some might run longer than others and the time is not strict.
  2. Every poll will be presented together with a pro and contra side of the argument.
  3. The community poll will have some answers you can choose from. There might be more than one related poll running at the same time.
  4. You are asked to only vote once. We will not technically enforce this for the moment. Update: we enforce this now.
  5. The outcome of the poll will likely influence the game - rules might be changed, features might be changed. But the last word will always be with the core developers and as always, I will keep a veto right to kick/keep features out of the game. But if your opinion would not matter to us, we wouldn't ask. This is mainly a disclaimer if things turn out to be different than thought while writing the original poll text.

This will hopefully settle some long running discussions with a final decision. When a community poll is 50% 50% we will have a hard time deciding though.

The corresponding site in the Wiki is CommunityPolls. There is not much on it currently though.

Backwards compatible buildings

Some buildings in widelands loose features when upgraded. One example is the metal workshop of the barbarians which becomes an axe factory and will no longer produce tools. Only axes. Another is the barbarian brewer who will refuse to make anything else but the tasty strongbeer - an ale worthy of warriors. Most people seem to take these without any problem - but there is one building that gets a lot of heat:

The poor empire inn. As a tavern, it produces rations for mines but as the mines go deeper, real meals are needed to satisfy the miners. The inn provide those, but they are specialized and will no longer produce rations. And some people dislike this. The bug report on launchpad is quite busy and people feel strongly enough about this issue to specially sign up for launchpad to join the discussion.

Why is the inn okay?

I feel the specialization fits the lore of the empire: in my eyes, they are a highly specialized and bureaucratic culture: if someone promotes an empire cook to chef de cuisine he will not even think about touching a pan ever again. His job is all administration from then on. So I feel that inn keepers will refuse to produce lowly rations when they are hired to produce meals.

I also think it makes sense from a game mechanics point of view because this gives a distinction between the barbarian and the empire tribe: barbarian have a harder time juggling their mines and taverns because they have 3 levels of enhancement each. But if they make the error to enhance their taverns too early it will not bite them as hard because the enhanced inns are backwards compatible. The empire has only 2 levels but they have to be spot on with enhancing taverns to inns and rebuilding new taverns so that they can balance their production of meals and rations. This is not only a disadvantage: if you need a lot of meals, the empire will produce them faster than the barbarians because they are specialized on this very task - their building will not waste time on other products.

I feel the inns of the empire are a nice example of diversification and balance and should therefore stay as is. I feel it would make widelands more uniform to change them to also produce rations.

Why do others think the inn should remain backwards compatible?

The main argument is that it is illogical that inns suddenly stop making the ware they used to make as a tavern. This will especially confuse the beginner who enhances his tavern when he enhances his first mine and than suddenly the smaller mines no longer work. This is even worse when people have played the barbarians, because their taverns are backwards compatible. Most people also feel that the difference does not add much to widelands and only has a small effect on balance. Some seem this issue also as frustrating.

Astuur offers another argument: A second argument for having the Empire Inns also produce rations, is that doing otherwise is much more severe a handicap as it may seem. With each new mining and heavy industry area, you need to have a permanent tavern since all mines start as "normal mines" first. The crucial aspect is "space" and its severity depends on the map. The Empire is so challenged spacewise with sawmill, wine branch, stonemason and piggery (compared to the Barbarians), that I would welcome to lift the tavern plus inn requirement. No other tribe needs to have a mine (i.e. "marble mine") so early to progress. And yet another building seems too much for many starting points. Go and play "the green plateau" as Empire on green, and you will see what I mean.

Wrapping up

You have an opinion of your own? A question? The discussion thread is here: And of course, you can vote in the sidebar.

While writing this, I realized that I had less to say about the other opinion and I didn't even try to hide my own. For future community polls I will ask a prominent supporter of the other side as well. I will also update this post with new arguments from either side as they pop up. Let me know what you think about the community polls and the way this one was run. Please also suggest improvements so the next one is even smoother.


Okay, it turned out that some people could not resist the temptation to press the button 20 times. The one vote per account will need to be technically enforced. I whip up a solution as quickly as I can and restart the poll.

Update 2

Some coding later I present you the all new poll system where everybody can only vote once. Your vote is bound to your account - this means we loose all the anonymous users which make up a big chunk of the traffic on this site, but it can't be helped. I reset the votes to 0 and reopened the poll. Now let's see again.

I updated the post and the wiki page to reflect the changes. I also updated this blog post with an argumentation from Astuur to better reflect the other opinion.

Update 3

The poll will run till the end of january. This is an arbitrary date not equal to today.

6 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-11-19, 00:16

WiHack Blog: Third Day

Wihack Day 3

First: last few hours of day 2: At approximately 3am I hit one of the sofas here at the entropia and I missed a historic event: the first ware that was transported on a ship from one port to another. Nicolai has quite something to show for this weekend.

The wihack is not over yet, but it feels like we will not keep hacking all day today. We are tired since we didn't get much sleep and nicolai needs to travel home, so he will leave us in ~30 minutes. Today was cleanup and polish day: We fixed some of the bugs that were discovered from the tireless play testers from the forum and this will likely continue till tonight. No biggy new feature is worked on right this moment so I feel it justified to begin the summary post of things that were done. I will keep this updated as stuff pops up.

Participants in Karlsruhe

5 people were dedicated to widelands in the entropia this wihack. I will present them to you in order and tell you what they did for us in this sprint session.


His proudest achievement is the new clicking cursor: the hand you use in widelands to click things will now really move its finger when you click on a building. But his main work was in redoing the statistics menu: the plot area now can show more time areas and you can select them via a nice slider. Buttons that have a toggle state are now shown pressed or depressed as well. And he sped up the rendering of the plotting lines. Ohh, and he fixed many a bug in the UI code.


Shevonar committed himself to bug hunting. He fixed soo many of them, e.g. there was a bug when you updated a building it would sometimes suddenly 1.5 times on the map. Fixed. The wares help was not alphabetically sorted in other languages. fixed. The graphics in the building window in the background are now centered and nicely toned down. Similarly the display of wares in wares queues has been optimized by him. All very noticeable and nice changes.


The man of many names (nicolai, nha or ixprefect) continued the efforts from the last wihack and worked on ships. Ships can now be build and they deliver wares between harbors in a useful fashion. That is, if you would have two harbors on two islands and a ship, you would already have a useful sea-faring. Expect to see this soonish in a scenario!


Kristin looked through all maps shipped with widelands and looked if they are fair, if they can be played in team, if they are scenarios and so on. This is a grinding task that took forever but it is necessary to sort the maps into categories so that you can rely on the multiplayer maps to be playable by every tribe and to be fair.


I did some work before the wihack which lead logically to the work I did here: I began adding the possibility to choose the number of wares you want in production and constructionsites and finished the work here. This was the groundwork for the dismantle site which I did finish here as well. I did a lot of CPU optimizations before the wihack and fixed the problems and corner cases that remained here as well. And I introduced the framework for adding help texts to the windows. I am looking for people who are interested in writing building help texts. Oh, and I fixed some bugs as well.

Remote Participants

Thanks goes out to the guys in the chat, the play testers who had bug reports ready for features that were only just introduced and especially Tino who did not drop the ball on the nightly builds: we had constantly fresh builds from trunk ready for windows users to enjoy.

Wrap up and summary

This WiHack was different. Less people, but more focused work. And fantastic new features (nearly) ready for prime time. My summary is: the socializing aspect was bigger with more people, but the work per person was bigger on this wihack. It was loads of fun and I enjoyed it totally. I am also very impressed and proud with what we achieved all together in this time.

I am really looking forward to testing the new stuff in-game!

9 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-11-06, 18:09

Wihack Blog: Second Day

Second day, wrap up

Here we go again folks: today was a good day for widelands. We got a bunch of bugs fixed (13 are down in total now). And we got a few new features: nomeata and shevonar worked their ways through a number of bugs and worked on new features like the cool plot time slider...

ixprefect is still working on the ships. They are now so close to actually drive between harbors. Still, a long way is yet to go.

Kristin continued here work on the maps and she is nearly through with all of them.

And me? I finished the dismantle site today. There will no longer be any hard deadlocks in widelands: you can now also deconstruct an already finished building and get half your resources back. I also fixed a bad performance regression I introduced yesterday - that's what I call an employment-creation measure.

The things that happen here already whirl together... I hope I will be able to produce a valid list of things we achieved here on the wihack 2011. One thing is sure already: we didn't slack and have quite something to show already.

2 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-11-06, 03:14

WiHack Blog: Wihack 2011 first evening wrap up

First evening, wrapping up

This wihack is different. There are less people than the last times but all of them are clearly focused on the task they want to achieve. This also leaves me a little freer to get my own work done instead of helping new people getting started. This is not better nor worse - it's just different.

Currently, we are 5 widelanders + 1 entropianer hacking on widelands. And we have quite something to show already: the bug headcount is up to 5. Let's see what people are working on:

Kristin is sorting maps and checks the maps shipped with widelands for fairness. Her work will (hopefully) lead to clear distinctions between 1v1, 2v2, 4v4 or 1 vs cpu and fun maps and this will also make clear what maps we are lacking.

nomeata continued to work on his work from last time: he changed the time selection buttons from the various statistics menu into a slider which solves an inconsistency in those menus. He also made the finger wiggle: if you click anywhere, the mouse cursor will animate and the finger will press down on the spot. A small feature that makes a big impact on the eye candy.

Shevonar churns through UI bugs. Especially, he tries to track down a bug that I introduced in one of my last revisions. That bugger is hard though and needs to wait till tomorrow.

ixprefect is working on ships: his goal is to have them recognize and navigate to harbours. Integrating them into the economy code is no small feat. We will see what he has to show on sunday, but I am really positive that he will advance seafaring in widelands significantly this weekend.

Tino started to investigate the huge memory consumption of widelands. He installed investigative tools and will likely analyze their output tomorrow.

Myself, I fixed some bugs concerning the maximum wares configuration: you can now set in production- and constructionsites the maximum number of wares that you want to have in this building. You can for example empty taverns now before enhancing them so that you do not loose the wares. I build some bugs into this feature which had to die today. Also, I started working on the dismantle site, that is the feature that you can deconstruct buildings to get some of your build wares back. This is all still extremely rough around the edges, but I advance.

All together we did a good bit of work today. Tiredness is spreading though and we will call it a day for now.

See you tomorrow.

1 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-11-05, 02:13

WiHack Blog: Wihack 2011 starting up

Wihack here we go

I just sat down, opened up my laptop and fixed the first bug. The wihack has officially launched. So far I am the only widelander at the Entropia, but some Entropia guys are also here. Shevonar should show up shortly and Nicolai will arrive in ~2 hours. Kristin is on her way as well.... Who knows who else will show up?

I will keep you update with more or less regular news posts, but this year, I will also try to twitter some more. You can follow me @SirVerII.

0 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-11-04, 20:06

WiHack Reminder

Wihack 2011 Reminder Post

The WiHackTwentyEleven is right around the corner: Less than 6 days from now it will start and we have quite something planned.

There will be some discussion about controverse (or maybe not) new features and changes in the community. For examples I will push the idea of creating soldiers not in warehouses but in a special low cost training building - an idea I was opposed to, but which was sold to me by Astuur recently. Also we will discuss allowing immovables on triangles (and not only on fields like they are currently) - this idea is also not new, it was suggested some years ago that all immovables should be on triangles. The original idea was voted down because it would significantly change the game play. The current iteration is more thought of as an visual improvement - but some game influencing factors are still to be decided.

Of course, we will not only debate, discuss and tweak, we will also work on non-controversial stuff to increase the awesomeness of widelands: new scenarios, new features, bug fixes and so on. And we can use every helping hand! See two posts earlier for details, or look at WiHackTwentyEleven in the wiki. If you can't make it to the wihack but want to help out, just come into the IRC chat and we will help you out. We obviously need c++ coders, graphicians, html gurus, css understanders, python hackers. But we also need people willing to make new maps - because we are lacking good, fair, balanced multiplayer maps. Also, some scenarios need map fixing. So if you want to, you can work on that! Basically: It doesn't matter what kind of skill you have, it is likely we need you for something.

oooh year: we will also play a bunch, so if you want to do that come around or join us in the IRC Chat!

See you this weekend on the Wihack! omg, so excited!

0 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-10-30, 23:04


I am quite sure you already read about the WiHackTwentyEleven, that is planned at the beginning of November face-wink.png . But even before our anual meeting in Karlsruhe, two other official events take place in October:

Widelands on LANge Nacht der Spielkultur 2011

From 7th to 9th October the vdvc organizes the LANge Nacht der Spielkultur 2011 in Karlsruhe, an event that is a mixture of a big LAN party and a bunch of presentations.

Because of the WiHack (which takes place in Karlsruhe as well), their leading organizer asked us, whether we could join in and prepare a presentation about Widelands. Our answer was a plain "yes" and therefore we got a date and location:

Saturday, 8th of October, Hochschule für Gestaltung, Lorenzstr. 15, Karlsruhe.

The Widelands Presentation will take place from 17:00 to 17:45, will be free of charge and open for every visitor (as all presentations on that day are) , therefore YOU are invited to come and meet us there face-smile.png

More informations about the LANge Nacht der Spielkultur 2011 and its program can be found here [de]

Official Play Day October 2011

Our official play days are becoming a nice tradition and therefore our next play day date is already set. If you like to join some very big ambitious games with lots of players, want to test the new multiplayer scenario "Island Hopping" or just want to meet some people to play online, meet us at the 29th of October and just play ! face-smile.png

The forum thread discussing the play day can be found here

3 comments Posted by Nasenbaer on 2011-09-28, 13:24

WiHack 2011

WiHack 2011

And here we go again! The Date for the WiHackTwentyEleven has been fixed now. We will meet

from Friday 4th November till Sunday 6th November at the Entropia e.V..

So you see, we stick with the successful organisation that made the two former WiHacks a success. We are very happy that the Entropia is hosting us again. Thanks guys!

Wi... what?

What? You do not know what the WiHack is? You best get up to speed then:

Participating and more Info

Everyone can participate! If you can make it to Karlsruhe, you are invited. If you are a player, you are invited. If you are developer you are invited. If you are an artist you are invited. If you know nothing about Widelands... man, you better show up and join in!

More information:

0 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-09-20, 23:37

Summing up latest changes

Summer is over, the last release is already some months ago and still no development update was posted in the news? What a status...

So what happend in Widelands' development lately? Well pretty much, actually!

First of all our graphicians did (and still do) a very good job to improve and remodel nearly every possible graphic in the game :). I'll name just a few examples to proof I do not exaggerate:

  • The terrain graphics of the desert world were improved.
  • The animated water, swamp, ice shelf animations were improved.
  • quite some immovable objects (like stones and rocks) were improved.
  • Many buildings of the Empire got a new roof design and were further improved in the process.
  • The remodelling of the barbarian buildings makes good progress
  • building animations for the new states (see below)
  • new street textures (see below)
  • etc.

Second of all, the coders were active as well. Besides many "under the case" improvements and bug fixes, there are at least the following new features:

  • We added new states and animations for unoccupied buildings and empty mines, to better indicate the current state of a building. This is not only a nice graphical addition to the game, but hopefully useful for faster and better determination of problems in the economy as well.
  • We made the road textures world dependend and improved the style of the roads for each world. Before, the roads often looked displaced if the color of the road was in no way fitting to the world textures colors
  • We added a new win condition "endless game (no fog)" with completely visible map from the beginning on. This is not just helpful for testing games (for new maps, etc.) but primarily provides a nice new game type.
  • We added a multiplayer scenario "Island hopping" - it may still have some rough edges, that need to be shaped in the next weeks and months, but generally it is not just only fully playable, but very fun as well face-grin.png

We further improved the dedicated server functionality. An up to date dedicated server can now be set up to:

  • save the game on the server via a chat command.
  • be password protected and only grant those users access to the game settings, who previously send the correct password.
  • display a custom message of the day (motd).

Further the complete dedicated server handling was improved - now the users can set up the server via their user interface (like as if they were the hosting player). Therefore the set up via chat commands was removed.

On side of bug fixes, the most popular ones are most likely the "miner/master miner mixed up after mine upgrade" that was refixed and a long resisting bug in server connection, that forced you to restart widelands completely, if you want to join another server (via metaserver) than the one you joined before.

Btw.: on September, 24th will be our next official play day - maybe we can set up some packages for Windows, Mac and Linux to extensively test some of these features.

Hope you join us! face-smile.png

6 comments Posted by Nasenbaer on 2011-09-05, 13:13

3 things that make me happy

Three good things to share

Participation required people! Read on.

1. Play-Day ahead!

This sunday is a official play day. Just join us in the IRC Chat to get some games going. You can voice your will to participate in the comments to this post or in the corresponding forum post. I am looking forward to play a game or two as well this Sunday.

2. WiHack is coming back

I have to admit, we are late with getting this rolling this year. But we definitively want to have another WiHack this year as well. This time, we try something new: I set up a doodle this time with some potential weekends in the next few weeks. The poll will run for approximately 14 days; I will then pick a suitable day and approach the guys from Entropia e.V. and see if they are willing and able to host us on the specific date. Hopefully, this will work out.

The WiHack will be similar to the last two: a lot of fun and bursting with bristling activity, coding and playing! Check the news archive for more information about the past ones.

So, if you seriously consider joining in on the WiHack this time, just head over to the Doodle Page and click on the dates where you could make it.

3. The Website team needs more hands

Finally, a great technology change has happened: we updated the site to run a less ancient software stack and we finally deployed some of the work that the website team have had in the making for a while now. So, what you see now is mostly the work from hjd, aber and janus.

However, the Elder of Homepage janus asked me to motivate more of you guys to join in the fun and help out with the homepage. The following skills are searched for, any combination is welcome:

  • 2D graphics skills for buttons and there like
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Django/Python

The following projects are currently underway:

  • Make the site valid HTML 5
  • Beautify design and layout (especially for the help pages).
  • whatever you think should be enhanced on this site

This is your chance to show your work to roughly 20.000 people per month!

janus can be reached via private message on this very site or (preferably) in our IRC Channel. He is constantly idling there, just poke him and he will answer eventually.

2 comments Posted by SirVer on 2011-08-26, 22:03