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Topics - Ed

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1
Ed's corner / What to do?
« on: November 13, 2020, 01:51:06 pm »
It's been a long time coming.  Social networks have given people a way to decide who's content to subscribe to and consolidated it all into one place.  This has effectively killed the need for people to host personal websites and blogs as we know it.

I think 2020 will be the last year I host the site in the format it's in and try to do community stuff with it.  2021 I'll change the format up to something that makes more sense in these times.  I still like the idea of having a personal space to host projects and ideas and content outside of the influence of advertisers so I'm not closing down or anything.

Any community interactivity will be shifted to established social networks and media sharing will be handled by platforms built for that.  Beyond that, this site will probably just become a bunch of landing pages for my various projects - disassociated from any CMS platform.  It'll be interesting to say the least.  We'll see what 2021 brings. 

So that's it.   This is probably my only and last post for this year.  I'm excited about some of the ideas I have here and actually relieved about the idea of having less to maintain in terms of personal content.

So until next time - take care everybody and stay safe!

Ed

2
If you've ever played Gang Beasts recently you've probably tried online multiplayer.  It's great fun until you want to find a server to join with friends.  That's when it all falls apart.

Just recently in the 0.5.x unstable branch of the game they added private server support.  So the solution for games online with friends is almost there but not quite.  There's a very bare bones interface in the game for directly connecting to somebody's private server.  It's clunky and still slows things down when people just want to get going.  To address this I've set out to supplement this feature with GangBuddy.

Read about the little app here:
http://www.groundtactics.com/index.php?topic=76.0

3
Eds Projects / GangBuddy - Gang Beasts direct connect helper app
« on: January 10, 2017, 05:04:55 pm »
I threw this together in a couple hours last night.  This is used and tested with GB unstable 0.5.x.  It requires Microsoft .NET framework v4.5

Wish you could save favorite servers somewhere? 
Wish you could use friendly host names instead of IP addresses? 
Wish you didn't have to fumble with that awful direct connect interface within Gang Beasts?

This is the app for you!

Download here:  GBServerBrowser.zip

To use:

Unzip it somewhere and you'll find a single EXE.  Run that EXE.  It should look something like this:



Don't worry if the server list is empty at this point.  That's for you to manage.

To add a server, type it's address and click "Add".  If the server doesn't run on port 6000, you need to add a ":" followed by the port number to the address.

If you add a space after the address, you can type whatever descriptive nonsense about the server if you'd like.  For example:  "myserver.forgangbeasts.org:4321 This is my gang beast server" is a valid entry.

To connect to the servers on the list:

Simply select the server from the list and watch the status.  When the status bar at the bottom of the screen says "Ready" it's ready to go!

Finally, start Gang Beasts (if it's not already started) and begin an online game.  In the online game screen, use the "Direct Connect" option.  Then, simply connect.  Leave the address and port alone.  GangBuddy will intercept the server connection and send it off to whatever server it's pointing to for you.

Other info:

Don't close GangBuddy while playing.  It will disconnect you.
Don't change servers in GangBuddy while connected to a game.  It will disconnect you.
Check the spelling of the address you're connecting to.  Unresolvable addresses will crash GangBuddy.
Want to connect to a different server on your list?  No need to restart Gang Beasts.  Simply alt-tab out to GangBuddy, switch servers, then re-visit the "Direct Connect" option in Gang Beasts.

4
GT StarMade support / Server shutting down for good.
« on: May 19, 2016, 05:43:34 pm »
The latest updates to starmade and the fact that I recently wiped the data have greatly improved the servers quality.  I've decided to leave it online for the foreseeable future.

Even though I don't actively play I figured it's no big deal and I can just keep the server running until the end of time.  Unfortunately, it's not the case.  The game still has issues that require me to fix every now and then and I haven't been able to do that in any reasonable amount of time.

I can't keep the server operating at levels that meet my personal standards.  If somebody else ran a server the way I run it, I'd skip it.  So I'm shutting it down on Sunday the 22nd of May.

Blueprint and download anything you want to save before I shut down.  If you want to recover anything after the fact just PM me and I'll help you when I can.

That's it.  It's been fun but that's it.  I'll keep this section of the forums running a while longer before I lock them and hide them.

5
Ed's corner / Domain renewal snafu
« on: May 17, 2016, 12:33:08 pm »
Just a tiny bit pissed off right now, but it'll pass.

Even though I paid to renew this domain, something hung up with the registrar and it never re-activated.  From the outside world, I've been down for the last couple days.

I run mostly free services from this domain and don't even advertise.  Game servers and a few websites mainly.  These days what mostly drives what I host is my kids.  I mainly host games they play and maybe a couple extras between a few close friends.  I thought job pressure is bad, but that's nothing compared to my kids coming to me when they can't get into the Minecraft server I run because the domain name's no longer registered.

At least it's fixed and I don't have to try figure out how to explain how the DNS system works to a 4 year old anymore.

6
General Discussion / test
« on: February 06, 2016, 06:24:01 pm »
test

7
Eds Projects / Omega Virus Emulator V2
« on: February 02, 2016, 01:36:10 am »
Woo!  An update after nearly a year! 

After a year on hold, I've returned to my work on an emulator I've developed to replace the computer portion of the 1992 board game known as "The Omega Virus".  I've aptly named this emulator 'OVEmu'.

Need more info on how good the original Omega Virus is/was?  Check this one out:
https://boardgamegeek.com/video/69304/omega-virus/omega-virus-complete-tutorial-full-game

The way OVEmu works is it emulates only the computer part of the board game.  It doesn't simulate the board or serve to replace the game as a whole.  You can use this program on a laptop or to replace the computer in the original game if you want.  Alternatively I made it so it works within tabletop simulator

In networked game play, somebody hosts a server while the players connect to it.  It then acts like one single computer unit synchronized across all clients.  Anybody can press the buttons much like they could if they were all sitting with you around a table with the original unit hooked up.  If you just want single player, then host a game with nobody else connected.  Easy.

For use in Tabletop simulator, it goes a step further.  The emulator is designed to be controlled by the embedded tablet for seamless integration.  Once you're either hosting an OVEmu session or connected to somebody elses, simply direct your tablet to http://mee.pe/omegavirus.  The one caveat is that this is NOT some magic multiplayer website that will let players join your tabletop sim game without the emulator.  This particular site tells the tablet to connect to your copy of the emulator and yours alone.  Simply put:  OVEmu must be running for EACH player who wants to use the tablet to interact with the game.

I started this project because I've searched around the net for this very thing and was amazed to find it doesn't exist.  I saw in a few different places some hobby programmers promising to make it but they were always empty promises leaving nothing to show for anything.  Having finally come this far, I can understand why this may have been abandoned by all those who tried before.  It's something that's pretty much too difficult for your average hobby programmer to do, yet not worth the time of any professional programmer.  The amount of work needed to re-create the depth of game play the original computer supplied was much more then I expected.  I'm not a programmer by trade.  It's just a hobby for me.

Current stage of development:  Beta V2 Release candidate

Download here (NOTE: I've noticed chrome can be an ass and complain about this download.  Tell it to keep the file and scan it yourself - it's safe.  Chrome can be paranoid when a file is not 'popular' enough... chrome is a jerk).

To use:  Extract the zip somewhere then run ovemu.exe.  More detailed instructions are located in the program itself under the 'Reference' menu.  This will only run on Windows 7 and above as it was written with the .net 4.5 framework.  Speaking of which, you may also need the .net framework.  Get that here if you don't already have it.

For anybody who cares, the reason it took me so long to get from my first version to this one was licensing.  I'm using a new component in the emulator package that requires me to change the license to GPLv2.  While I don't mind sharing my creations, I'm not particularly fond of sharing my methods.  Because of this, I've separated OVemu into a client/server model.  The client is GPLv2 licensed and the server is still licensed under Creative Commons.  At least the majority of my work remains mine this way.


OVEmu Client by Edward Schuyler is licensed under GPLv2 - http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.en.html - it's a shitty license and I hate it, but I will comply with it and it doesn't matter to anybody who just wants to use my work to enjoy a classic game anyway.

Features:
  • All base difficulty levels
  • 1 to 4 player support
  • client-server model with networked multiplayer
  • Game token tracking
  • Instanced board for all players
  • Inventory tracking
  • All items, probes, traps, and dialog working
  • The original speech and an optional alternate speech set
  • Timer
  • Timer shutting down sectors
  • Endgame out of time failure
  • Endgame virus battle and victory
  • Secret difficulty mode (the easter egg from the original)
  • pvp
  • multi language support
  • Version check and auto-update option

Things I'll probably be adding soon:
  • Um..  videos showing how it works?

8
GT StarMade support / Considering a server wipe.
« on: September 23, 2015, 11:55:43 am »
As everybody who plays should know, Starmade is an alpha game.  It's constantly undergoing development and major changes all the time.  Since there have been a lot of changes in the game since I opened a server, I've been considering a server wipe.  I'm sure it wouldn't be the last wipe either as long as Schine is still making major changes.

The wipe would speed things up and clean out a lot of crap.  It would also make it easy for me to implement a few changes I wanted to do.

One change I want to do:  Blueprint uploads.  My server manager program currently reads the bp files and calculates the amount of blocks and accepts/denies the blueprint upload based on how many you purchased.  The file format keeps changing making this function break a lot.  I want to simplify it to a flat cost of voting points per blueprint (not blocks).  Turrets/docked objects would still be counted as separate blueprints and increase that cost though.

Another change:  Overall voting totals:  Right now I track voting points, but that's it.  I don't keep a history of how many times somebody's actually voted for this server.  I want to change that so I can set up tiers of rank/awards for players who vote more.

Tracking of time spent playing:  Another way to assign reward tiers.

I have other things in mind, but can't think of them right now.

Preparing for the wipe: 

All announcements will nag everybody about the upcoming server wipe and warn people to download/save blueprints.  I'll pick something as reasonable as I can for a time frame to prepare in so hopefully everybody will be able to grab their stuff.


After the wipe:

My server keeps track of every player who's every logged on and a few other variables where I can at least tell if they did more then just log off within seconds.  All players who've been on within the last 3 months on and actually played will be given a bunch of free voting points and awarded an upgrade in rank whenever I figure out what the rank system will be like.  They'll also have a bunch of credits deposited in the bank for them to recover when they return.  For some it will be more then what they had.  For others less, but for everybody, it'll be more then what new players will get.  Lastly, these players will get free blueprint uploads for a limited time so they can recover quickly and start re-claiming territory.

I'm considering retaining factions/faction points as well and bringing them across.  But need to test how well that'd work first.

Feedback/thoughts are welcome.

9
GT StarMade support / Auto restart times - I need your input folks!
« on: August 30, 2015, 01:59:13 pm »
Ok - Quite a few people are appearing here which is awesome.  I'm noticing there are people from a lot of different time zones too which begs the question:

If I did a daily auto-restart of the server, what time works best for you?

Please translate the time to EST (New York, USA) time to make it easier for me to compare responses.  While I can't please everybody, my goal pick the time that's least intrusive on the majority of you guys - the players.

10
GT Minecraft subforum / Making a comeback.
« on: August 21, 2015, 05:35:53 pm »
Hard to believe it's been around 2 years since I last ran a Minecraft server.  The minecraft modding community has gone to shit.. the game's support has gone to shit..  it's all gone to shit.  Everything except for the game itself.

In the next week or so - GTMC is coming back.  We'll be running a custom server and providing a custom modpack.  Stay tuned.

11
GT StarMade support / I have a life folks!
« on: August 12, 2015, 12:05:20 pm »
No, I'm not saying that because I think people are bugging me too much.  It's not a message to try to get nagging people off my back.  In fact it's the opposite.

I'm saying this to explain the fact that I really like Starmade, but just don't have enough time to play actively on the server due to family and social obligations.  That means if there are issues and whatnot..  They need to be posted here for me to see them.  I consider handling issues quickly as one of my obligations for running a server even if I don't consider playing to be an obligation.

A recent point on this to make - Apparently, there was an update that added the flashlight, ship scores, and best of all - crew support to the game.  I'm told it's been out for about a week before I found out about it.  While I appreciate the level of respect most players have for not wanting to bug me, I don't want anybody to feel shy about sending me a nudge on these forums when stuff like this needs to be updated.

tl;dr
Since I'm not in game that often, bring issues up on this forum and don't be shy.  Unless you catch me in game (rare these days), it's the only way I'll know that somebody needs something.  I usually respond within a day (most of the time sooner) and even follow up in-game when the issue requires it.

12
Ed's corner / Windows 10 - Some modest thoughts.
« on: July 30, 2015, 12:35:54 pm »
As an IT guy, I've learned the hard way not to jump into Day 1 upgrades.  For some reason though, I had so much giddy anticipation for Windows 10, I couldn't help myself and the first machine in my home that I upgraded was none other then my main daily use computer.  There wasn't much to the marketing and I didn't particularly hate Windows 8 like the rest of the world.  It's hard to explain.

So I got the upgrade on Day 1.  Do I feel stupid?  Yes.  Do I feel let down?  No.

To clarify on these polarizing points:  Windows 10 is actually very nice.  Ultimately, I feel like Windows 8 might as well have never existed.  Windows 8 was a bit faster then 7 but had a god awful interface.  Windows 10 dials the worst parts of the Windows 8 interface back to make windows 7 users feel comfortable again.  It also improves further on the performance of Windows 8.  It felt like Windows 10 was meant to be the real successor of windows 7.  If windows 8 came out after 10, I'm not saying it would have been accepted any better then it was initially, but it would have made more sense as an evolutionary step following 10's hybrid interface.

My experience with Windows 10 has been great.  I have a pretty mean system so the upgrade only took me about 20 minutes.  Aside from a minor sound issue which required some tweaked settings it was smooth sailing.  All of my hardware continued to work and all of my software (even my virus protection) kept going strong.  The return to a traditional desktop was a welcome change, load times seem to have further improved, the virtual desktops are a great addition and even Cortana is halfway decent.  Windows 10 even allows you to still do just about anything the Windows 7 way without having to hack at it.  It's still got the original Internet explorer so you're not forced into Edge for example.. or a more notable example is that you can still get the Windows 7 style control panel without so much as a complaint from the operating system.  It's both new and faithful at the same time.  It's as if balance has once again been restored.

So..  Why did I say I feel stupid?  I feel stupid because I'm conflicted.  This upgrade goes against why IT pros like myself say to "NEVER GET A DAY 1 UPGRADE!"  I feel smugly justified in breaking the rule after seeing how well the upgrade went but still want to kick myself every time I'm tempted to forget the fact that this was the exception.. not the rule.  Until the next big thing comes along, every time I have to repeat the rule to somebody on how to never get a day 1 upgrade of anything, I'll have the nagging voice in the back of my head saying "But Ed, remember that time you got Windows 10 on day 1?"

Final thoughts:  I like Windows 10.. enough to actually write about it.  But don't be like me and rush into getting it.  You have a whole year to get it for free if you already have a legit copy of Win7 or Win8.  Wait until some patches are out at least.  All hardware is different and nobody's guaranteed to have as smooth of a transitional experience as I did.  If however you're past the transitional concerns, I'd say Win10 is definitely a worthwhile upgrade.

13
Ed's corner / OVEmu - An Emulator for The Omega Virus
« on: June 03, 2015, 11:59:06 pm »
I made it and finally released it.  An Emulator to replace the central computer in Omega Virus.  More info on this original 1992 electronic board game of awesomeness can be found here:  https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3086/omega-virus

The Emulator uses a client/server model so you basically host a game to start.  Hosting a game was an essential design decision because I wanted the emulator to work with tabletop simulator.  For something like Tabletop simulator to work right, netplay is required so all players can interact directly with the emulator regardless of location.

In the near future I'll be adding a 'Lets Play' to show a full game played in Tabletop Simulator with this emulator.

A video preview of the emulator being used in Tabletop Simulator is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsZ4OLu3zGM

The steam workshop page for an Omega Virus board/pieces in Tabletop Simulator that uses my emulator is here:
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=454225199


The forum post where you can download the emulator and get help is here (registration required to post):
http://www.groundtactics.com/index.php?topic=19.0

I've put in a lot of late nights putting this together.  I did it mainly for me, but decided to release it because nobody else has done it and I'm interested in seeing how many people actually miss this game like I did.

14
Ed's corner / A trip back to the 90s
« on: May 19, 2015, 03:18:34 am »
So recently I've become a bit obsessed with old tabletop board games but don't have the room in my home or the budget to collect the mountain of nostalgia I so desire.

That being said, I've stumbled across the wonderful tabletop simulator.  I immediately got a 4 pack so I can send extra copies to people I know who would most enjoy that stuff with me.  I've found a ton of games I used to play and every day people are adding more.

Unfortunately, one game that keeps escaping me is "The Omega Virus".  Tabletop Simulator doesn't do anything complex like the central computer portion of Omega Virus so it's pretty much a dead end.. or is it?

It turns out I know quite a bit about programming.  I've decided to make an emulator for this old classic.  It'll handle the dirty work so Tabletop Simulator can do what it's best at and well...  simulate the game board on a tabletop.

Thinking back to why I'm doing this, my bro and I played it so much back in the 90s, we were going through batteries like crazy until one day I thought I was pretty bright and found a power transformer that matched the battery voltage.  We were real happy when my modded game came to life using power from the wall!  Unfortunately it was short lived as my lack of understanding of amps led to the transformer cooking our game within minutes and rendering it dead.. never to work again.

Thanks to the ingenious tabletop simulator, I've been inspired to do a proper emulator and re-live those nostalgic memories.  As of right now I'm finding myself playing with what I've done so far rather then finishing what's left, so my work has slowed down a bit.  My project work will be posted here:  http://www.groundtactics.com/index.php?topic=19.0

15
This is an outdated version.  Latest version is posted here:  http://www.groundtactics.com/index.php?topic=40


Here's my post dedicated to my work on an emulator I'm developing to replace the computer portion of the 1992 board game known as "The Omega Virus".  I've aptly named this emulator 'OVEmu'.

Need more info on how good the original Omega Virus is/was?  Check this one out:
https://boardgamegeek.com/video/69304/omega-virus/omega-virus-complete-tutorial-full-game

The way OVEmu works is it emulates only the computer part of the board game.  It doesn't simulate the board or serve to replace the game as a whole.  You can use this program on a laptop or to replace the computer in the original game if you want.  Alternatively I made it so it works within tabletop simulator

In networked game play, somebody hosts a server while the players connect to it.  It then acts like one single computer unit synchronized across all clients.  Anybody can press the buttons much like they could if they were all sitting with you around a table with the original unit hooked up.  If you just want single player, then host a game with nobody else connected.  Easy.

For use in Tabletop simulator, it goes a step further.  The emulator is designed to be controlled by the embedded tablet for seamless integration.  Once you're either hosting an OVEmu session or connected to somebody elses, simply direct your tablet to http://mee.pe/omegavirus.  The one caveat is that this is NOT some magic multiplayer website that will let players join your tabletop sim game without the emulator.  This particular site tells the tablet to connect to your copy of the emulator and yours alone.  Simply put:  OVEmu must be running for EACH player who wants to use the tablet to interact with the game.

I started this project because I've searched around the net for this very thing and was amazed to find it doesn't exist.  I saw in a few different places some hobby programmers promising to make it but they were always empty promises leaving nothing to show for anything.  Having finally come this far, I can understand why this may have been abandoned by all those who tried before.  It's something that's pretty much too difficult for your average hobby programmer to do, yet not worth the time of any professional programmer.  The amount of work needed to re-create the depth of game play the original computer supplied was much more then I expected.

Current stage of development:  Open beta released! 

Download here.

To use:  Extract the zip somewhere then run ovemu.exe.  More detailed instructions are located in the program itself under the 'Reference' menu.  This will only run on Windows 7 and above as it was written with the .net 4.5 framework.  Speaking of which, you may also need the .net framework.  Get that here.


Features:
  • All base difficulty levels
  • 1 to 4 player support
  • client-server model with networked multiplayer
  • Game token tracking
  • Instanced board for all players
  • Inventory tracking
  • All items, probes, traps, and dialog working
  • Synthesized text to speech and sfx (using open source voice packs)
  • Timer
  • Timer shutting down sectors
  • Endgame out of time failure
  • Endgame virus battle and victory
  • pvp


Things I'd like to add in the future:
  • Multi-language support


Things that'd be nice but most likely won't happen:
  • Secret difficulty mode (the easter egg from the original)
  • Original sounds from 1992 board game.

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