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Beta Update, Project Merger and the Future of DXL April 13, 2011

Posted by luciusdxl in Uncategorized.
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Beta Update

I plan on finishing the Beta release once version 0.20 of DaggerXL is released later this week. However with the Beta comes another big change as you’ll read below:

Project Merger

I’ve been thinking about this, off and on, for a while now. But with the DarkXL Beta coming up this is basically my “last” good chance to get this done if it’s going to be done at all. I plan on merging the DaggerXL and DarkXL projects into one engine, the XL Engine. But the engine rendering and many other aspects are different, you may say – and it’s true. But there is a lot of code that can and should be shared between the projects. For example, much of the software renderer and hardware driver abstraction layers. The in-game console. The sound system. The midi playback system. The window/OS management and input systems, the scripting system. UI scripting ability, AI scripting, and so on. As I start supporting different OS’s and rendering APIs, this will save a lot of duplicate work. I’ve been considering, way down the road – post DaggerXL beta if it happens – adding ArenaXL as a project supported by DaggerXL. With the shared code base, I can use a lot of the same code that DarkXL will use for it’s sector rendering, for example.

There are other benefits: releases that work on technology now benefit all projects, no need to “port” from one to the other. As I brushed upon before, when I add support for other platforms – I add support for all the projects. When I make releases, it will be easy to make improvements for multiple games simultaneously. Some tools and mod support can be shared across projects (for example adding the DaggerXL high resolution texture replacers support to DarkXL). And finally I can merge the communities under a single engine/site/forum so that I can be active on all the projects and not just one at a time.

So what happens to all the different sites and forums that currently exist?
DF-21 will remain a resource for Dark Forces related files and forums. However I plan on setting up a new forum, for the XL Engine, and migrate all the projects to that forum. The newer DarkXL  forums will remain open for a while, but once I get things moving I will probably focus on posting over at the XL Engine Forums and the DarkXL forums will be shut down. For the time being, I’ll keep the blogs around but I’ll probably start putting together an XL Engine blog and mirror posts across the others. As support for more games is added in the future, this will be a more scalable solution as well.

Does this change future plans for DarkXL, modding support or other DarkXL specific plans?
No. Full modding support is still planned, though many of the tools may be shared with DaggerXL modding.

Isn’t DarkXL a sector engine and DaggerXL a true 3D polygon engine? Aren’t these incompatible?
It is true that they are different but both can exist in the same engine. DarkXL actually supports rendering models already, they are used in Dark Forces for things like bridges, Tie Fighters, The Moldy Crow and so on. The way the level geometry is rendered is indeed much different, but the engine will be able to support both sector and “free-form” polygonal geometry. This has potential implications for modding, though those will be explored later. Things like scene traversal and level geometry rendering are different, but this won’t be the first engine to support multiple methods of scene traversal and rendering. A lot of the surrounding code will still be shared, so the savings offset the cost.

So here is my plan:
1) Release version 0.20 of DaggerXL.
2) Finish the DarkXL Beta.
3) Merge DaggerXL and DarkXL under the new XL Engine, where DaggerXL and DarkXL are two games supported by the engine.
4+) Continue to work on the projects as I have been, but with everything together it’ll much easier for me to keep everything going rather then letting one or another stagnate.

The order of 2 and 3 may change. My gut instinct is to get the merge done before the Beta but completing the Beta first gets a long overdue build out sooner…, but that is beyond the scope of this topic.

Finally, I have to ask the community: Are you guys willing to do this? To move to new forums, to intermingle with Daggerfall, Outlaws and Blood fans? Of course each game gets it’s own sub-forum so it’s not complete anarchy, but you get the idea. I know it’s sudden for you guys, but it’s been on my mind for a while now. Ultimately I think this change would be an improvement for all the projects – DarkXL included – but I would appreciate it if you guys let me know what you think.

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Comments»

1. gnryeah - April 13, 2011

Sounds fair, as long as the retrospective projects that people are interested in come out, then I can’t see any reason why not. I’m happy to support you!

I always wish you luck with your other projects.

😀

2. WarFalci - April 13, 2011

I vote for the Beta before the merge, because that would get a DarkXL version where we can play throughout Dark Forces entirely out finally. And that’s what most of us want since the begining.

Merging first would put this version too much in the horizon for us. Particularly because real life tends to get in your way quite often, though that’s understandable.

But, hey, I’m just a selfish bastard defending my selfish interests… 😉 Good luck and keep up the awesome work.

I still pray every night for Interstate 76XL.

3. Simon Buchan - April 13, 2011

I expect it would be similar to the Doomsday/dengine project supporting the 3 doom engine games, where talk about work (both engine and resource, eg texture and model packs) was shared. Seemed to work fairly well there.

I’m wondering if I should steal your engine for some of my project ideas (I know, they’re a dime a dozen), I’ve played around with engines, but haven’t really spent the time to develop something stable and flexible. Would it be reasonable to use XL as a base for adding a scripting engine, non-1st person perspectives, etc? The idea of an engine supporting easily creatable sector-based levels is attractive, though that is really an editor issue :/.

4. RobertG - April 13, 2011

Why not? Merging projects sounds like an interesting concept, and I think most of the communities wouldn’t mind, provided that stuff gets done soon.

It’s pretty ground breaking, but I’m very supportive towards it. Keep up the good work!

5. Scotty - April 13, 2011

I’m with WarFalci. I also selfishly want DarkXL in beta asap. I check the site every day to see if you’ve made progress. I’m super pumped about getting my hands on a fully playable DF once again. Will merging the two make porting to Mac OS X easier or harder? Currently I play the alpha’s in Boot Camp.

luciusdxl - April 13, 2011

Once the merger is done, OS X support will be about the same amount of work. The difference is that I only have to do it once – so it’ll save me tons of time in the long run.

6. VGA - April 13, 2011

Yes, let’s have just 1 big community and engine for these games.

Also at some point you could opensource it if you want and it would be as big and alive as skulltag, or even more 😀

7. Kevin - April 14, 2011

Great idea! I always liked the idea of one-for-all solutions like Doomsday, ScummVM etc. since improvements and added features benefit all included engines. I’m all in for it! You’ve got a fantastic project here, good luck!

8. Semprini - April 14, 2011

Definitely, yes. I have no problem with the merge, being a fan of all 4 games.
This really is truly amazing work. I’ll never forget the first time I loaded up DarkXL (8.01 I think). I’ve been eagerly anticipating the beta ever since.
Thanks a lot for all your hard work.

9. softdrinkviking - April 16, 2011

hi, i check back now and again.

i too am excited to play the beta build, and i follow your other projects.
i think it’s really cool that you are doing this, and it’s important that their are folks out there trying to bring people together through common interests.(like star wars) 🙂

it sounds like a great move to merge your sites, as it should increase the support base and consolidate interest in the XL engine.

10. JemyM - April 17, 2011

I also would like to push for a fully playable DarkXL first and foremost. Like some previous posters I look forward to actually finishing the game from start to end.

11. Zin - April 20, 2011

What’s next? Office suite and email server? I was so looking forward to DarkXL, I guess its its everythingXL now. I a very sorry to see a project like this turn into bloatware. Sharing code with another project, fine. Lumping them all in one? Sloppy excuse for “Damn I should have done things different from the start and I don’t want any help.”
How about developing the XL engine separate from the games, then each game can have its own lightweight code to use the XL display engine.
Or we can add tetris and pacman too :/

luciusdxl - April 20, 2011

Well each game does get it’s own game code and scripts that run on the XL Engine. That’s the point, simplify the game code – make it faster and easier to deal with just the differences between games rather then have each project handle it’s own IO/input/graphics subsystem/OS Windowing code and so forth. This has worked for engines such as ScummVM and Doomsday in the past. This is the way many commercial engines work. If you feel that sharing as much code as possible and allowing a clean separation between engine and game code – thus allowing support for any number of games – is sloppy then so be it. I’d rather write the Mac OS and Linux back-ends once, rather then for every project and every game. And I’d rather have one centralized place, where I can be continuously active, rather then many from which to manage these projects. Is this, at least partially, to make it easier and faster for me… you bet. But is that really such a bad thing?

luciusdxl - April 20, 2011

*Sigh* I look through my spam folder and I see the exact same comment under the user name “wut”… and a very similar e-mail address…

So are you a real person even? If so, why post the same message with two different accounts while only making slight changes to you e-mail address? If you want to make a comment, you really don’t need to post it twice under two different names, or at least change the wordings slightly so it’s less blatantly obvious…

Zin - April 21, 2011

yes i’m real. your “spam blocker refused to let me post sighting that i already posted a similar msg. so i changed a couple things so it would allow me to post. i think you have a problem with the spam catcher. as for myself, i have always been a huge fan of the original dark forces and would love to see it reborn.

12. luciusdxl - April 21, 2011

Ok, I understand.


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