Try TLJ for free. I made a new demo.

The game is six years old, but I still felt updating the demo would be a good way to spend my time. The old demo for The longest Journey, like the older releases, wasn’t running all that flawless on Windows XP, but the new version should work a charm.

I still get feedback about this title, there are people replaying it or discovering it for the first time. Some even buy it instead of pirating the game, which makes me even happier, because it means I can justify working on a patch every now and then.

It’s nice when something pretty like this is still appreciated after this much time. Everyone likes to watch old movies, but if you say you like playing old games those same people look at you as if you’re from another planet. *sigh* I really want to make another old-school adventure game.

[ media | Johnny Cash – Streets of Laredo]

I need a good linux IDE

I admit it: In the choice between emacs and vi, I choose “none of the above”. I want a C++ IDE. I’ve grown up with Borland Pascal, then used the Visual Studio IDE, and I’ve never used anything without a good integrated debugger.

Switching from Visual Studio to emacs + gdb is something I’m no longer able to do. So this weekend, I had a look at some of the IDE offerings that Linux had. It’s not a happy tale.

First there’s eclipse. Many people (Java people) swear by this, and as they point out repeatedly, it isn’t a Java IDE, it’s an IDE for anything you want. Sort of like Visual Studio is (if what you want is a MS language). I downloaded the CDT, and I like the way that’s all done from inside the IDE. But then… I tried to create a managed makefile from the Eressea sources, because if I’m going away from commandline make, I’d like to also go away from makefiles, thank you. very much. Not possible, though. It seems Eclipse has a weird conception of projects being everything that is in one folder, no more, no less. If I have the sources for my library and two executables all in the same folder, for example, I can’t make eclipse build a library and two executables. Instead it tries to mush all of it together. But really, that is academic, because I couldn’t even get it to do that – Eclipse + CDT crashed every 5 minutes. All I get is some java exception, no option to save my work, and then it’s gone and I’m back to square one.

Code::Blocks was my next candidate, because many people on the Ogre3D forums are raving about that. I installed it on Windows from the binaries, and while not pretty, it looked close enough to what I want. So.. debian packages? No dice. No packages for any distribution, actually. Build it from the sources, they say. But even that isn’t easy. It comes without a configure script, and requires me to install automake, but not the automake I had, no, that other version of automake please, and then it would bitch about something or other and completely refuse to do anything at all. No dice. I didn’t even get a configure script. Screw this.

There’s still kdevelop left to test. Like Obi Wan, it is my only hope to run linux on the desktop. Yes, my web browser and office suite run on linux, too, but without an IDE, I have to stick with Windows as my OS, because programming is what I do 90% of the time I’m at the computer.

Secret Code in Color Printers Lets Government Track Yo

Modern color laser printers print near-invisible information about when a document was made and what printer it was printed on. It’s disturbing to see what kind of deals are being made behind the back of the consumer.

A research team led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently broke the code behind tiny tracking dots that some color laser printers secretly hide in every document.

The U.S. Secret Service admitted that the tracking information is part of a deal struck with selected color laser printer manufacturers, ostensibly to identify counterfeiters. However, the nature of the private information encoded in each document was not previously known.

“Underground democracy movements that produce political or religious pamphlets and flyers, like the Russian samizdat of the 1980s, will always need the anonymity of simple paper documents, but this technology makes it easier for governments to find dissenters,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. “Even worse, it shows how the government and private industry make backroom deals to weaken our privacy by compromising everyday equipment like printers. The logical next question is: what other deals have been or are being made to ensure that our technology rats on us?”


[ media | Glyn R Brown – The Recovery ]

bash zen

Today I needed to reverse-engineer a file that could serve as input to the TLJ sound conversion scripts. Who needs ython, when you can do it in bash?

find . -name "*.xarc" | while read ; do DIR=`dirname $REPLY` ; arcx -l $REPLY | grep \.isn | while read ; do FILE=`echo $REPLY | sed -e 's/\.isn.*//'` ; echo levels/$DIR/$FILE.wav ; echo -n $DIR/ ; echo $FILE ; done | sed -e 's/\//\\/g' -e 's/^\.\\/c:\\export\\/' -e 's/\.\\//' ; done > ../../sound/mapping.txt

Longest Journey: There’s life in these old bones

Now that Morten has quit Funcom, I’m the last programmer left that still knows the code for The Longest Journey enough to poke around in it. For about a year, I’ve been the maintainer, and that’s not a curse at all, it’s fun. I really like the old game, and there hasn’t been much new in the adventure genre, so it’s still one of the best adventures you can buy, if you ask me. I guess that’s why we still get requests from publishers to make re-releases.

Two years ago I took the English release and compressed it all down to just two CDs (instead of four) because if you’re making budget releases theat earn you only about a dollar on each game sold, then the cost of the media acually makes a big impact. The major reason his was possible is that we have far better sound compression these days, and PCs can spend more CPU time decompressing it. the original game used ADPCM sounds and was specced to run on a 485/25. The new release uses .ogg sounds and needs a slightly better CPU. I picked ogg because it’s royalty-free, and was supported by audiere, a LGPL-licensed sound library that even I could use. I’d never done any sound coding before.

That version is the one now on sale, and not only is it smaller, it also runs on Windows XP without any compatibility mode settings. The old game had some issues with certain onboard soundcards, the new one works with any kind of modern hardware.

With the Dreamfall release date getting closer, there’s been more and more interest in the old game. Some weeks ago, a romanian computer magazine asked us if they could use it for a cover-mount, something we couldn’t have done with the 4 CD release. And when our french publishers wanted to re-release the game in france, I recompressed the french sounds, so now we’ve got the 2 CD version in two languages. Right now, I’m working on a new german release and a scandinavian DVD that’ll contain the swedish, norwegian and english versions all in one. And on op of all that, there’s been an offer from one publisher to do an entirely new synchronization, bringing the total number of localizations for the game to a whooping ten!

[ media | Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City ]