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  • RE: RFC - In-Game Map Uploads

    I'm starting to lean towards the thought that storing map zips in database only would be a mistake. The repositories provide a lot of value from different perspectives:

    • all files available at a web link.
    • an automatic history of changes available at web links, this is critical for an editorial review of maps to verify what has changed
    • automatic packaging of files
    • capability to do bulk updates.
    • capability to do bulk searches. Having all maps checked out locally, it's some easy commands to search all XMLs in existence.
    • capability to do bulk file adds.

    Diving into some of those details, we have built an in-code test that downloads nearly every XML that exists and verifies that the map parser is able to read them without any errors. If we mess up the map parser somehow in an obscure way we've a good chance of finding that. Every time we change code, we run this test automatically as a requirement for that change to be accepted.

    The file history is automatic and really critical for editorial review. If we were to have zip files only, then the already nearly non-existent map-admin team would then be slammed with having to open every new zip file uploaded and fully verify the entire map rather than having a web link tell them exactly what changed.

    With all maps checked out, it's possible and has been done to bulk change every XML that we have to apply corrections. Similarly being able to search all files has let us find features which are not used, or find features that are heavily used or lightly used, get statistics on which images are duplicated the most and least, and generally it's provided useful insights that would not be possible if we had to download from scatch every zip and extract.

    File adds is where repository does shine. Consider adding a standard config file to every map. That is a very likely scenario coming up as we break up and distribute the index 'triplea_maps.yaml' file to each map (which then avoids needing to have the single centralized index file). So for example, we add this config file to every map: If every map is in database and uploaded as a zip, we need to coordinate with every single map maker such that they add the file or download the latest zip and merge. If we fail and a map maker uploads a zip without the config file then they'll inadvertently remove it. Checking every map consistently keeps the config file will become non-trivial and painful and a source for troubleshooting and error. Overall, a messy scenario that incurs more work than we are doing today.

    Getting to the point, github repositories provides: file storage, version tracking, access control, web hosting & automatic packaging. That's quite a lot to be getting for free and would be an enormous amount to build ourselves from scratch. Perhaps making bulk uploads easier with good step-by-step instructions is a lot of what we are missing.

    posted in Map Engine Development
  • RE: RFC - In-Game Map Uploads

    Github repository is probably not the tool for the job, it might have a small learning curve, but I am still not persuaded to use it

    I'm not trying to pursuade you to use it. If you want your maps uploaded, it's what you have had to do. Maps have always been stored in source control (previously sourceforge). The biggest difference is the work is now self-service (relatively easy) and development does not manage it so closely. This frees everyone up.

    • If the 100 file limit is a bottleneck then you can use a desktop GUI that makes it easy to do the needed git commands locally and then push all files at once.

    • Github enables collaboration, but I use it personally for solo projects as well and am aware of many other examples. The email'ing, sharing via google drive, it all could be removed by commiting to the repository instead.

    • I think the solo led collaboration is common but it's not always the case. The really popular maps have many people working on them, particularly over the years (think long term). For example we've had maps where the unit images were upgraded.

    • There are more benefits to having github repositories, for example all XML is available at a web link, makes it really easy to see how other maps were built and examine them without downloading and exracting. It also makes it easier for admins to go in and correct issues, and if used would allow map makers to link to their XML and have others look at it easily.

    posted in Map Engine Development
  • RE: RFC - In-Game Map Uploads

    I think we need to refocus this conversation, but good input so far and please continue and consider this topic deeply. I do want to be sure we build the right thing. If we don't, then various problems we want solved will simply remain.

    Main Questions so Far

    • Is Github repository upload actually that complicated, or is it that there is a small learning curve that is hard to approach?

    • Github repository allows anyone to change a single file or many - is this something we value? In other words, is a targeted single file upload valuable, or are we okay with any change requiring that the whole map be downloaded, extracted, changed, re-zipped, and then re-uploaded.

    • How valuable is multiple person collaboration? If everything is done by one person who is the original map author, and we are okay passing zip files around via google drive, it's okay. Likely permissions to update a map will be restricted to map-admins and the original uploader. It seems like not being able to 'pass-a-map' forward would be a problem and adds a lot of scope to what would have to be built for map uploads. At some point we are building something so similar to a github repository that one wonders if we would be better to just focus on making the upload process easier to follow.

    posted in Map Engine Development
  • Unit Scroller Issues & RFC on Changes


    1. Space bar to skip turns out to have been a bad move. Space bar will take priority on any highlight button. So if you press ">" to go to the next unit, the 'next unit button' becomes highlighted. Pressing space bar again will activate the button again instead of skipping! Similar if you sleep a unit, then press space bar to skip the next unit, the sleep button is highlighted and space bar will then sleep the next unit.

    2. Keyboard listeners look to continue to be a mess as a client to bot games and keyboard focus is constantly loss. This is just seemingly a problem and often the map has to be clicked to get focus back so that the hotkeys work. It's a bit unclear why a hotkey like 'F' tends to work most of the time but not the unit scroller keys.

    3. Going to a next unit and skipping tends to really be the same thing often in practice.

    4. Client games to bots have a bad ordering and clicking next and then previous does not always seem to line up and actually go back and forth between units.

    Proposed Changes

    • Remove the skip button
    • Next button will proceed to the next unit & skip (skipped units are subtracted from the active unit count)
    • Remove the previous button. If the next button skips units, then previous would skip over the skipped units and one would go to the back of the queue of units, which would seemingly be just as random as going to a next unit. For example, let's say we have unit ordering: A, B, C, D. If you are on A, and you go to next, then A is removed and we have B, C, D. Clicking previous would go to unit 'D' instead of 'A'! Since the user is none the wiser that 'C' was supposed to be next vs 'D', previous is not super meaningful.


    • merging the skip button into the 'next' unit button
    • removing the previous unit button
    posted in Development
  • RE: RFC - In-Game Map Uploads


    If you use a GUI tool like "Git for Windows", or "SourceTree", you can upload all 750 in one go. If you are using the web UI that git provides, then you'd need to do 100 at a time. Considering it's a one time cost, I suspect that will take you about 10 minutes and then however long it takes to physically do the upload (so probably an hour total). For what is mostly a one-time cost, that does not seem unreasonable.

    BTW - 750 files! That's a mega-map!

    I don't understand how you mean by telling Git the map is based on Age of Tribes. If you are in a different repository, all the files are independent of any other map. It's the engine that has a concept of 'mods', but those need to live in the same map repository.

    Re: Scenario 1

    If you're using 'Git for Windows' or what not, it will tell you what you've saved on the file system. When editting XML, you can create checkpoints where you can go back and restore in case something gets messed up. This is actually a much better way to develop maps than saving a backup of XML every few changes (because you don't have to do so much manual saving, and git will tell you what has changed between checkpoints and allow you to restore to any checkpoint).

    But fundamentally, if you re-upload everything, the files that are the same should just show no difference. I'll be a bit surprised if you don't know exactly what changed. You also should be able to upload any changes after you made them. If you're working on images for example, you can retouch a few, upload those, and then rinse-wash and repeat. Nothing says you have to do it in a big-bang.

    Settlers: Fallen Empire, it has 1200 files.

    Again, one time cost to upload it all into a new repository. Though, that is a lot of map files, where is that coming from? The engine does have limits, it is possible to that could have really poor performance or not be playable. Warcraft hero's taxes the engine and is barely playable. A map that is even larger might not have hope.

    posted in Map Engine Development
  • RE: RFC - In-Game Map Uploads

    @Schulz, how maps are uploaded and stored is independent of their ranking and categorization. Unless a map violates the map requirements, I don't think we should be telling anyone no.

    I think your points speak to additional features to build on top that allow for both better manaul and automated ranking and categorization of maps.

    It also appears that it's been unclear that we have been in need of more map administrators for a very long time and there is an open invitation to join. The map admins would help the upload process and fix & categorize the existing maps. The maps are like a garden, we've a lot of weeds growing.

    posted in Map Engine Development
  • RE: Warcraft: War Heroes - Official Thread

    @Trevan It would be very much appreciated if you could look into this šŸ˜„ Let me try to explain the issue at Github:

    posted in Maps & Mods
  • RE: Changing Colours of Map

    @MirkoBruner I am on Windows and use the free program ConText to edit XML and all the other files.

    It makes it very easy to find specific lines and locate errors šŸ™‚



    posted in Map Making
  • RE: Victory Cities ICon

    @MirkoBruner you could also make one yourself. This is an example from Iron War:

    posted in Map Making
  • RE: RFC - In-Game Map Uploads

    @TheDog Appreciate the feedback. TL;DR I wonder a bit if there is just a disconnect about how to work with github repositories. It turns out you don't have to do any zipping at all to either play a map that is in development or upload it. You can use flat-files in-the-game, and upload that exact same file structure. If you 'clone' the repository to your hard disk, it'll be 100% playable and you can modify the files directly and it's the right format for re-uploading.

    =========== Longer response ===========

    In some ways it should be easier to not zip your map. The game engine reads map files in an unzipped format, this matches exactly the format of a 'git clone'. You can clone the map repository, load the files downloaded into the game, play-test it, modify it, then re-upload those files to github without doing any zip work at all.

    If we upload zips, then each change will be an entirely new zip file. We'll likely hit the 1GB repository limit quite quickly. Git never deletes anything. So if you ovewrite a 100MB zip 10 times, then you won't be upload anything further.

    In part having the map be expanded is intentional so a person can browse the files in a map without having to download it. When you submit a PR to change a file, you see which file is being changed and it's not just an entirely new map zip (with maybe just one new file in it). If someone wanted to say change a single image, you can use the web-UI to 'add file' and submit the one image. If it were a zip, the person would have to download it, expand it, change the image, re-zip, then upload (and then it would not show what changed, just that the whole zip changed, and again would count towards the repo limit).

    Png Screenshot of the map for

    This screenshot is used in-game too when you download a map. Before you download a map it shows you a preview.

    Game Notes for

    Similar this is shared for in-game map download description. It has been typical to copy/paste game notes for this, but I would discourage this. Duplication is generally bad, it's also odd when there are multiple games each with their own notes, and finally when someone is reading about a map they want to know a blurb and not read the full game notes.

    But I get the point that a map description, a preview, and the actual map are really the three things needed. Having at least the map description and preview be part of the map contents as a specifically named file could make things easier and would probably be necessary if we were to automate 'triplea-maps.yaml'.

    ā€¢ TripleA Forum user ID required to download ā€“ this to encourage people to join the forum and to get feedback before being released to the public. This is a bit like me hosting on Google Drive as you have to read the post to get the link. To put a label on this its Experimental.
    ā€¢ Public access/release

    This level of control is non-trivial. I'm pro-advertising the forum in the right places, but I don't like having barriers put up for people.

    Github game map hosting appears to be unnecessarily complex, I just want to upload so others can enjoy the map.

    I'm not actually sure it's that complex, nor unnecessarily so. Having a working map is unnecessarily complex, the folder structure has to be just right. For github repository upload there is a web form and you drag and drop the files. I think the big disconnect is the realization you don't have to zip your files at all to play them in the game or to upload them.

    As a newbie to creating a map game there is a lot that one person needs to learn and do before a map game can be polished and uploaded to Github

    The intent is actually for work-in-progress maps to be uploaded very early, perhaps starting with just a single file. We have categories available for 'experimental' to indicate something is not working, and the map is not live until it is added to the index file 'triplea-maps.yaml'. Hence, you can work with unzipped files, upload them as you work on them, and the repository has a 'download' link that anyone can use to download a zip of your map. This automates a lot of what you would do with google drive.

    Game map files are treated as a file set, so they are never deleted or added to or overwritten, except by admins

    This is actually easier in github repositories as nothing is ever deleted in git. We at one point had speciifc versions of each map pinned in the downloads but it added some complexity and was removed to try and make it even easier on the map makers/uploaders. I'm starting to think there just needs to be more of a tutorial on how to build a map from one file, upload that, and then add more files to eventually have something that you can play in-the-game and have fully working. Though, the limiting factor is the game engine was not build to support multiple map versions, it assumes that any given game will have just one version installed. This is something that I think could be improved and each map version given a unique ID and then made permanently available. In this way the game engine could know which map it would need to download whenever confronted with a missing map or an older version.

    posted in Map Engine Development