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Development

Widelands Development Report 2015

It has been a year since our last development update, so it’s high time that I wrote about the work that has been done on Widelands throughout the year. A lot has happened in the development version, so this will be a bit tl;dr!

Graphics

A number of Barbarian buildings as well as the Atlantean blackroot fields have now improved or completely new animations. We have also replaced all worker icons with better versions, and there are new food icons and warehouse policy buttons. Also, the direction of water animations has been corrected to be uniform for all water types. Moreover, each tribe now has their individual roads textures.

Internationalization

Regarding our translations, a number of strings have been improved, and phrasing of help strings is now more consistent. Font sets are now automatically selected for each language, so the user won’t have to take care of this any more. We have implemented support for Arabic script and for Japanese line breaks. The switchover to the new and improved font renderer is still a work in progress - finished elements are text areas, sliders, buttons, checkboxes and spinboxes. Also, the positioning of elements on screen for right-to-left languages is still a work in progress.

Win Conditions

The “Collectors” win condition is now default, and it will add the wares in ports to the players’ scores. The display of the status messages for this win condition has been improved. We also have a new win condition “Artifacts”, where you can go hunting for artifacts on the map. We have added artifacts to some of the official maps - you can filter for these when you select a new map to play.

Engine Changes

On the graphics front, we have improved the engine in order to speed up the loading and rendering. Also, felled trees won’t get up any more. We have fixed a bug where multiple hunters could hunt the same animal, and the parameters for trees and their terrain affinities have been improved. The biggest engine change this year is the merging of the three tribes, which will give us more flexibility for future engine improvements as well as making life easier for modders. The hiding of carriers in the warehouse window is now handled dynamically, which allows modders to add a buildcost to carriers if they want. On the economy front, the routing of ships has been improved to be more efficient on average. New workers will now be delivered by the nearest warehouse.

Saveloading

When loading a map or savegame, both the filename and the map name can now be displayed. We have also added version information to replays, so you can see which version of Widelands you need for each file. We have implemented a rolling autosave, so that you can have more than one autosave file. The performance for closing and loading big and long games has been significantly improved.

AI

The AI can now cope better with high game speeds. The decisions on when to colonize or which buildings to build have been improved, and the training of soldiers in training sites is now handled more intelligently. There have also been improvements to military decisions and seafaring. AIs now also get a personality assigned at random to make them less predictable, and we have redesigned the AI levels that the user can select from “weak”, “normal” and “aggressive” to “very weak”, “weak” and “normal”. The the balancing of these levels is still a work in progress.

Gameplay

During the game, players can now filter messages for their categories, e.g economy, military or seafaring. The size of the message window has also been reduced, while still allowing enough space for translations. The Building Statistics window has also been completely redesigned. Buildings’ “Out of resources” messages now depend on productivity percentage rather than a counter. Target quantity for wares can now be set to 0 in the economy, which means that warehouses won’t request those wares anymore - requests by buildings will still be fulfilled. The dialogues of the Empire’s campaign have been improved. Finally, spectators now have access to the “Show Building Spaces” function.

In-Game Help

Due to the engine changes, the Wiki help for the tribe’s can’t be updated any more - unless we find somebody who has the time to rework the website code. So, the in-game help system has been extended to include workers and buildings as well as additional information about wares, and all buildings now have a “Purpose” help text.

Editor

We have a new terrain type “forested mountain”, which allows both mining and the growing of trees. The naming of terrain types has been overhauled to be more intuitive. The user interface for loading or saving a map, and for the map options has been overhauled. The editor also automatically adds/removes the “seafaring” tag when saving a map.

A big thank you to all who have helped us with coding, graphics, translations, testing, calculations and game design!


8 comments Posted by GunChleoc on 2015-12-18, 15:46
Homepage

Widelands stream

Widelands Live Stream

This Saturday, Vassili and Cyberpangolin will play a long game of Widelands and live stream it for everybody to enjoy. The stream will be in French.

Start is on Saturday, around 9.30am CET. The game is streamed at http://www.twitch.tv/VassiliJeux.

Forum threads: English, French


7 comments Posted by SirVer on 2015-10-28, 19:26
Development

Maintenance on the server

Maintenance work ahead!

Next weekend, July 4/5, the website and the meta server will not be available.

Our server requires an OS update. This unfortunately means a full reinstallation of all infrastructure. We plan to do all of this work on the coming weekend. During this operation on the server, it is unable to perform its duties - therefore website and meta server will not be functional during that time.

Update: Work has concluded. Website should be stable again. Please report any issues on sight.


8 comments Posted by SirVer on 2015-06-26, 20:45

Tournament 2015 - Final

We have a winner team!

Yesterday, the final of the Team Tournament 2015 has been played, and the winner is: Team A! Congratulations!! Team A has won ALL their matches and has shown an astounding abtitude to build up a highly productive economy.
For king_of_nowhere and Cyberpangolin, it‘s time to harvest now: besides all the congratulations and admiration, they receive a winner‘s T-Shirt.
Thanks to all teams for this first team tournament. There were many good games!


3 comments Posted by Kristin on 2015-05-08, 00:58

Tournament 2015- Group phase is over

The group phase is over!

Thanks to all players for the great games there have already been in the tournament! Really exciting ones. The replays can be downloaded here. See also the bracket.

For 4 teams, the way is open to play the double elimination part of the tournament. Congratulations!

We can now look forward to the matches of juma, Kuvastin, Team A and Whynstein. Good luck!


0 comments Posted by Kristin on 2015-03-17, 23:17
Developers

New (old?) Elder of Graphics

Our former elder of graphics, chuckw followed through on his promise to be back one day. He recently started putting out formidable graphics for some of the barbarian buildings again. And now, he also volunteered again for the spot of elder of graphics.

As the elder of graphics, he is the one you need to be talking to if you are unhappy with anything visually in Widelands or want to contribute graphics in any kind of way. He will also monitor the graphics forum which is the place to discuss graphic development. Also, he will be administrating the widelands-media project on launchpad.

Welcome back, Chuck. We missed you!

Here is what he has to say:

Well, I “warned” when I left Widelands activity two years ago that it was not a
“Good bye.” I am very happy that I now have more opportunity to spend time with
one of my favorite communities. Widelands and Widelanders have always held a
special place in my heart.

My sabbatical from Widelands since 2013 included stepping away from graphics and
almost from computers altogether. Since that time, there has been much
advancement in Widelands and its development environment. So I am playing
“catch-up” and I think I am at a point where I can be useful to Widelands again.

I've been dismayed that the role of Graphics Elder has laid vacant for so long,
because there is so much work to do. That is why I have offered to undertake the
post of Graphics Elder again.

But I alone cannot do all that must be addressed. My skills and knowledge are
limited and we continue to look for help and expertise with a variety of the
visuals in Widelands.

Like I wrote when I first stepped up, “As your Elder of Graphics, I'll be here
to coordinate graphics development for Widelands and work with you. I'll serve
as a contact point for requests and questions, and to receive any suggestions
and finished works you may offer to contribute to the Widelands project.

"I look forward to working (and playing) with you and want to see any samples or
graphic contributions YOU may have to offer or point you to where we can use
your help.

"Together, let's make Widelands as graphically entertaining to the eye as it is
to play.”

Cheers! Chuck Wilder (chuckw)

3 comments Posted by SirVer on 2015-02-23, 09:29
Development

Translations to be moved to Transifex

Back in 2010, Widelands decided to move away from SourceForge which had hosted the game’s development for the first 8 years of its existence. Launchpad was chosen as a new and very prominent platform over GitHub mainly for its superior bug tracker and the ability to have Widelands being translated by drive by contributors in the web frontend.

However, development of Widelands means constantly tweaking and changing our strings - be it just by fixing typos or changing some words around - and Launchpad made for a frustrating experience with this: it would not recognize “fuzzy” matches, i.e. if you change one character in a string, the translations would be thrown away completely and the string marked as new and untranslated.

Translators have voiced frustration, but web translation was providing so many more good translated strings than the offline process we had before and there was just nothing better around at the time. However, we have now found a more suitable platform with which we can address this issue: Transifex. So, we have decided to move our translation effort off Launchpad.

Transifex is a professional tool for translating software which is free for open source projects. It offers us plenty of nice features that makes collaborative translating easier:

Online Translation Memory with Fuzzy Matches

With Transifex, we will get our own translation memory that will display similar strings below the string a translator is currently translating, and the differences between the strings can be flagged up. There is also a percentage shown as to how good the match is. Translations can then be recovered with a single mouse click and edited as needed. We are also uploading the Build 18 translations to give translators a baseline to work from.

Working Offline and Source Code Integration

Translators will be able to instantly download translation files as well if they prefer to work offline and then upload them again. The new and updated translations will appear immediately. From the programming side, we will also be able to automatically update templates and pull the new translations as before.

Glossary

Transifex also offers a glossary function, so we have started moving our Translation Dictionaries over there. The entries have to be added manually though, and we’ll try to copy everything over for you from our wiki before we do the switch. If you prefer to work offline, you can download a glossary table for your chosen language.

Translating Widelands is a time consuming and difficult task and we appreciate that so many community members put so much time into this task (Thank you!!!). Changing and adding strings is a necessary evil in developing the game and will not stop - but with our move to Transifex, we hope that we will make translating Widelands less frustrating and more fun and rewarding.

The move is planned for sometime next weekend. We encourage all our translators to sign up now, so you can have a look around. The new translation templates (called “Resources”) can be found on Transifex. If you have a GitHub, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account, you can also use that instead of specifically signing up for Transifex.


0 comments Posted by GunChleoc on 2015-02-08, 19:40

WL Tournament 2015

Dear Widelands Players!
There will be a tournament in the new year! It will be a Team Tournament, so every game is a 2 vs 2.
All information are listed on the wiki site WLTournamentTwentyFifteen.
Please registrate until January 4th.
For questions please contact me: Kristin
I am looking forward to many exciting games as in the past tournaments!
Greetings! Kristin


6 comments Posted by Kristin on 2014-12-17, 21:25
Development

Time flies when you’re having fun ...

Dear community,

It has been a while since our last development report. A lot has happened since Build 18, both on screen and under the hood. As a player or map creator, you will mostly notice the following changes:

  • There are now four tutorials instead of just one: Basic Control, Military, Seafaring, and Economy. As a result, the first two Barbarian campaign scenarios have been consolidated into one.
  • Some of the full screen menus have been overhauled. You will find the most noticeable changes when starting a new game or loading a game/replay.
  • The four worlds have been consolidated into one, allowing for more terrain variety on the same map.
  • Numerous improvements on the AI.
  • The help for buildings has been automated, so that every building now has a help button.
  • Trainers now need the same weapons as a basic soldier.
  • The production site status strings now sound more like natural language.
  • More space for localized strings.
  • Normal games now show their win conditions as an objective.
  • Unified layout for campaign objectives.

As a translator, you will have noticed that all strings have been pulled apart, proofread and put together again. Thank you all for bearing with us and working on getting your coverage back up.

On the technological side, we have ported the code to SDL2, boost::signals2 and Eris (for Lua persistence) and removed the software renderer. Widelands now requires OpenGL 2.1 to work. As a result, rendering is now much faster, and the quality has improved. This is also the first step towards a possible mobile version. Another thing that is now faster is our build system, which has been reworked. Furthermore, the code has become easier to read and hopefully a bit more stable due to the use of new C++11 features and many internal cleanups – this is still a work in progress though. And, as usual, many bugs have been fixed - and a regression test suite has been added to make sure that more of them stay fixed

We are now working on some final projects that we would like to get into Build 19, before we will slowly go into feature freeze and release mode. Our current plans are to have Build 19 released sometime during the first half of 2015.

And as always: If you don’t want to wait for the official release, or wish to help us with testing or translating, you can download and install one of the unofficial builds or build Widelands yourself.


2 comments Posted by GunChleoc on 2014-12-02, 12:10
Developers

New Elder of tongues

Widelands development is going pretty strong right now. We are working hard at networking, worlds merging, IRC bridging and bug fixing. One huge milestone that we already hit since build 18 was a massive string refactoring. This made our support for internationalization much wider and got rid of old cruft in texts and missions.

This endeavor was spearheaded by GunChleoc. She showed very strong dedication to improving the language in Widelands in general and the support for internationalization in particular. And by the looks of it she will continue doing that for the foreseeable future. This calls for a new position.

Hereby, I present you our new Elder of Tongues - GunChleoc. She will oversee and drive everything language, text and grammar related. So, if you have trouble with translations, if you'd like a ware to be renamed or if you want to help out with anything - she will be the person to talk to.

These are her welcoming words to the community.

Hi all,

as some of you are already aware, over the last few months I have been busy
ripping apart about half of our strings and putting them back together
again, with some help from SirVer. The plan is to make the strings as stable
as possible for the future, and to give translators the control that they
need for sentence structure and other grammar issues.

So, if you have trouble translating any string - for example, because a
placeholder is causing problems for your language, or there isn't enough
space on screen to fit your string, or if you think it should be commented
better - please don't hesitate to contact me on the translation forum, or
via IRC.

You are also welcome to contact me if you need help with using off-line
translation tools such as Virtaal or Poedit. Yes, I love them :)

10 comments Posted by SirVer on 2014-04-10, 23:31