|Welcome, W97 Testers!
"Just Made it - It's Still 97!!" - Dan
Wow! Warpath 97 has now been RELEASED!! Currently, we are shipping version 1.0. If you have not yet upgraded to this version, please do so at the earliest opportunity. Also, don't forget to get your free Mplayer account and let me know your Mplayer member name so we can rendevous for testing.
Meet on Mplayer: Sundays, 7PM West Coast time, in the CHAT lobby. Room: Warpath 97 Beta Test Fun Club
Copyright 1997,1998 (c) Synthetic Reality Co. All Rights Reserved.
In fact, the beta test period of Warpath97 is over. So take anything you read here as being sort of a historical record of what happened during beta. For one thing, I am now SELLING ACTIVATION CODES, not giving them away. Sorry.
Congratulations, you have discovered the Warpath 97 test Page! This page is for the use of Warpath 97 Beta Testers. Assume the proper legal things have been said on the subjects of my not being responsible for anything bad that might happen, and that I am in no way relinquishing my rights to ultimately make money. That being understood, welcome aboard!
Tester Notes and Priorities:
12/31/97 Ship It!
It's a done deal! It's official! Warpath 97 has crossed the gray boundary between 'a cool toy for just us inner clique players' into 'an actual product that people can pay money for!'
Officially, that means the beta test is DONE! Of course, I want to keep improving an enhancing the product, so I still want to hear people's feedback and bug reports (ha! there are no bugs left coz you guys all did such a great job!)
I'm not going to be so silly as to upload version 1.0 to a million shareware sites immediately. For one thing, I still have some business work to do with the credit card stuff, so there will be a release 1.01 for that alone. Also, I hate to put an even-numbered version into wide-release. So try to avoid the urge to propagate the program just yet...
12/28/97 BETA 1 is here
Nothing real new. Just cleanup for release. Fixed a few bugs though (when you die you really lose your stuff, so no more self-destructing from the grave, also made the slave ships a little tougher and feistier, made gas kill faster, stopped complaining about gas if you had the option turned off. Turned off the diagnostic windows, fixed a WEIRD bug which left you with two warp drives.)
11/30/97 ALPHA 8 hits the street
OK, well, nothing like saying "it's done" to make the bugs come a flowing. This time it really is done. I mean really. Except for any big bugs you find, this will probably be turned into the first 'release version.' So, just to tempt fate even further, here are some of the changes in alpha 8:
More live updates of things like the Guide, Double-click captain's list entry to change point of view, Dumped the gray bitmap of me from the main menu, Added more sound effects, No longer show shield/energy level for enemy players (in the 'label' line) unless 'see enemy point of view' is selected in the mission settings, Merged all the button bitmaps using Duncan2's great button utility (this reduced the bitmap count, which is a blessing to all of us with large clusters), Fixed a bug where in multiplayer games it didn't always tell everyone when a ship got killed, Added frag and death counts to player statistics, Game Over now includes 'recap' of game. High Scores records 'recap's of high scoring games. (which means, by the way, your old hi scores are history... sorry!), Re-wrote the online help file to be all about Warpath97. I hope it is complete, except for the all new auto-shopper button (near the shield control button). You're going to love Autoshopper. trust me. Each time you dock (when it is engaged), it automatically refills your energy pods, shields, charge pods, and current weapons (in that order). It is so nice.), Lots of small artwork changes throughout, Includes Duncan's cool new animated ships and animated wormhole, Radio pops open on top of tutorial for 'important messages' Tutorial hints are limited to 3 times each (I mean, in a single game, you can't see the same hint more than 3 times), All hints link to valid help file topics, Fixed really silly bug in investment which let you invest more than 100%, Single-click in Guide selects 'scan planet' (in long-range scanner), Added a simple animation when changing long-range scanner (this is the sort of thing which is very satisfying at the end of the day. Something easy which adds a lot), By popular demand Warp drive stays selected (doesn't turn off after each use). The people spoke! Also, the WARP selection in the Guide right-click popup dims as you might expect. Found and fixed the 'residual motion' effect in warp. silly error on my part. FOund and repaired numerous computational glitches in the AI routines. I think the AI is pretty smart now, when it comes to investing and colonizing. They still fight poorly. Found, but have not repaired a 'pause on dock' There are still a couple 'pauses' in the game which I know can be weeded out. Finished tek level support, added some more tek level documentation (see if you can figure out the population history chart), Fixed a bug in tek level manufacturing. Fixed some bugs in Atmosphere Management. And just plain fiddled with a zillion things.
I hope you enjoy it!
10/25/97 ALPHA 7 already!
So, just thought I would throw you all for a loop by putting out a new version before you even tried the previous one! muah ha ha ha! as they say...
This is a minor update, including:
So, anyway, if you could give the new installer a workout (try installing to an unusual location) and let me know what you think! I still need to trick it up a little to create a start menu icon, etc.
10/12/97 ALPHA 6 is almost the end, I think
Not to frighten you (I know we all want more), but Alpha 6 is getting close to being version 1.0, the first release. I can always add cool new stuff in the future (thanks to the magic of activation codes and the web).
First, the bad news. I just pulled TRACTOR, SAPPER, BEACON, and SCATTER as they were weighing on my conscience and delaying ALPHA 6. As of now, you wouldn't even know they existed unless you knew I promised them in the past. They will now take on the status of 'possible avenues of future development' as opposed to 'present in release version 1.0' Also, I still haven't updated the help file, but that will be a priority for the next (final?) release.
Now the good news. Here is a partial list of ALPHA 6 thingies.
So, anyway, this is like almost like, final. So give it a good workout. I really really really need to get feedback on games with more than 2 players. (and any problems exiting and restarting games) on IPX, GAME CONNECTION, and, eventually, Mplayer. We're on the Mplayer radar now, so we WILL be playing it on Mplayer sometime soonish.... maybe.
And let me take this opportunity to thank you all again for your kind words, hard work, and valuable suggestions! I know I haven't done much to publickly acknowledge individual efforts (partly out of laziness and a poor memory, but mainly because I know I would ultimately upset more people than I would make happy). In any case, you know who you are, and maybe someday others will also know!
9/1/97 Whew! ALPHA 5 at last!
If I'm not careful, I am going to have to rename this Warpath 98!! Work continues slower than expected (Mplayer keeps me plenty busy), but I am pleased to announce the availability of ALPHA 5. Please note that ALPHA 5 is incompatible with ALPHA 4 (but for good reasons), so be sure to upgrade ASAP. I think ALPHA 4 is going to time-out today anyway.
What's new in ALPHA 5 you ask? Well, um, development was spread out for so long I have sort of forgotten. I kinda feel like I changed a LOT of stuff. Be sure to check out the new Panel Textures option (and send me some cool looking textures!) Textures should be BMP files 48x48 using the standard 16 colors (pretty limiting, I know.) Just make files of that format and name them TextureN.bmp and stick them in the ART folder and they should show up on the Panel Texture menu. Or edit one of the existing textures. Don't mail me a texture unless YOU think it looks cool.
Also, the MFD (multi-functional display) has a new option. Nothing amazing. I reworked wormholes so hopefully it is now impossible to get stuck (but you do lose a shield each time you hit the edge.) I fixed the obvious multiplayer bug with slave ships and hunter/seeker missiles (and it was a lot of work, so I hope it was worth it :-)
STILL UNFINISHED: tractor beam, energy sapper, beacon, buster, and scatter. So don't waste your money buying them. Speaking of which, I might have too many high-money options. Big money pretty much destroys the game (or, rather, creates an entirely different game).
I added TECH LEVEL, though I don't think you will notice it yet. Basically as your path grows in stature your tech level increases. This will make your lasers and basic missiles more powerful. Also, some items might require a minimum tech level.
The AI is marginally improved. I believe they will buy replacement ships finally. Space dock animation is a little peppier and no longer linked to absolute frame rate (on my 486 it was painful to wait for the animations to finish). Planets have simple rotating bitmaps (like warpath 1.0) again. I went back to making lasers 'standard' with the ship (too painful for newbies otherwise), and tried to solve all existing problems with the installed equipment being weird after your ship blows up.
I think I repaired most of the bugs reported so far (but probably not the most recent ones)
Just to see if anyone reads this far. I think I finished the activation code stuff. To simplify my life I am going to ask each of you to email me individually for your codes. So send me an email saying "I'm ready for my activation codes" And I will reply with your very own personal codes. Part of this is to test the code logic, so don't tell each other your codes. Two copies of the game with the same code SHOULD refuse to play together, though you don't get a very nice error message at the moment. In fact you tend to both get assigned the same galaxy slot and things get weird quickly. If you need to undo a code setting, enter the word "shareware" in the place where it asks for a code and press the button. That SHOULD revert you back to shareware designation.
Tonight should be our first meeting on Mplayer, just to chat, and maybe launch a few tcp/ip two-player games. I hope we can do this regularly, but don't know yet what day and time would be the best. See the top of this page for the current day and time and location. To do it, just log on to Mplayer (get the Mplayer client from www.mplayer.com (it's huge, but cool)), select the proper lobby. Look for a room with Warpath 97 in the title and enter it (double click on it). Then chat. Set up your mic if you want to voice chat. If you select a small 'gizmo' from the Mplayer options screen, you can drag Mplayer to the corner and use its speech option during a Warpath 97 tcp/ip game. (Might have to turn off sound in Warpath97 depending on your sound card)
I am putting version ALPHA 4 up today because, well, not because I was finished with it, but, rather, um.. err.. I didn't finish it IN TIME and version alpha3 went into timelock already. Heh heh. well, I haven't checked my mail yet so I hope you all noticed and sent me letters about it.
Something one of you DID report (but only one) was that it seemed like the AI opponents could not be killed. Guess what? You were RIGHT! In the solo game, it had been IMPOSSIBLE to kill an AI opponent for who knows how long. Anyway, that must have been frustrating. To help detect boo-boos like that in the future, I have added a second line to the 'label' you see when pointing at a ship. it shows the # of shields and total energy remaining in that ship. It was suggested that information of that sort should be available if you bought the right gadget, but for now you get it for free.
What's new? Well... I have added functionality (but not art) for the following: SEEKER missiles, SLAVE ships, planetary SPIES, planetary RAIDERs, BARRIERSHIELDS, WORMGATES (I hope you think these are cool), ESCAPE pod, SELF-DESTRUCT, AUTO_MINER (mines until your pods are full with one click), and GAS BOMBS (oxygen, nitrogen, methane, and potassium cyanide)
You will also be able to purchase the following items WHICH ARE NOT IMPLEMENTED: TRACTOR BEAM, SAPPER BEAM, BEACON mine, BUSTER bomb, SCATTER ray. Any references to GAS MINING should be ignored, I am pulling that as simply adding gas (via gas bombs) can accomplish the same goal with less work for me.
I also fixed a bunch of stuff, fiddled with a bunch more, and probably broke a few things - you tell me.
Just to sell WORMGATES, the idea is that you purchase a matched pair at the store. Then you travel to point A in (or out of) the galaxy. You select your wormgate as if it were a weapon, and click on the GALAXY MAP where you want the other end to appear. Bingo, your gates are placed. Clicking on a wormgate takes you into that end of it. After travelling through the wormhole connecting the two worm gates, you pop out at the other end. I have visions of fleets of vehicles travelling together to attack en masse, after gathering together in some odd spot outside the bounds of the galaxy itself!! Perhaps to come out to find a sea of proximity mines waiting for them!!
Planetary spies can be placed on any planet and make that planet report enemy ship positions to you (outlined square on the galaxy map)
Self-destruct, in addition to its obvious use, is also the most biggest baddest explosion in the game. It can take out a reasonably well developed planet you might be orbiting. But at what cost? at what cost. oh, the humanity.
gas bombs let you tune the atmosphere. Each empire has a different desired mixture of gasses. the planetary scan map shows the planet's atmosphere percentages in the following order: good gas (oxygen, for humans) dontcare gas (nitrogen for humans), stinky gas (methane for humans), and bad gas (potassium cyanide for humans). If you have enabled 'gas management' option, you will only be able to colonize planets with proper atmosphere mix. (though I currently don't kill off people when the bad gas is around, as I plan to do in the future). Adding more gas reduces the percentages of the other gasses (so to remove a gas, add a bunch of the other gasses instead)
slave ships and seeker missiles look identical to drone ships (art changes coming), but slave ships keep formation with you and shoot at people who shoot at you. seeker missiles follow the target they are launched against and fire lasers/missiles at that target until they get close, then they explode like a neutron bomb.
raiders don't do anything yet, but will work away at demolishing a planet from within.
barriershields let you cross energy barriers without damage. (The AI guys have always had them, now you can buy them)
escape pod just warps you home (doesn't actually cost you a ship. warps your hole ship home. it's a big pod :-)
Anyway, have fun, let me know, get your FREE Mplayer accounts!
6/16/97 Mixed Human/Bot Games Now a Reality
In the previous version, I introduced the basic UI for mixed AI/Human in multiplayer games, but as I mentioned, it wasn't really fully implemented. Now it is...with some caveats. The host of the game (the guy who gets to select all the options) runs all the bots on his (or her) machine. And those bots (especially the smart ones) can generate a lot of packets (especially at the start of the game and in large melee fighting), so I don't know that it is smart to run 6 bots in a 2 human game. Unless the host is on a T1 maybe.
Also, I filled in the Planetary Guide missing functionality, sorting, etc. Plus a bunch of other stuff not worth mentioning. I believe this release more or less completes the original Warpath 1.0 feature set, so I am looking forward to finally adding something really new. I haven't quite decided which of the many excellent suggestions I will pursue first. Probably something surrounding the Planetary Government screen since that holds the key to a lot of new possibilities ('quests' for example, plus my ultimate dream of a planetary casino where you can play cards with other captains while waiting for one thing or another. Plus a mechwarrior planetary surface game, and a tank game, a DOOM game, and... and... ... well, maybe I will TRY to not get too distracted with that sort of thing right away.)
5/18/97 (I moved the Microsoft Stuff into a separate Download)
Warpath 97 is built with Microsoft Visual C++ and uses the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC). As such, it depends upon some microsoft DLLs which you probably already have, but possibly do not. The safe thing for me to do is include the MFC stuff along with every copy of Warpath 97. However, since the Microsoft stuff is actually bigger than the Warpath97 stuff, this doubles your download time for each version. Certainly, during the test phase, I know you already have the Microsoft stuff after the first download. So, what I am doing is splitting it up.
So, if you are a new team member, assume first that you already have the MFC stuff and just download the actual Warpath 97 stuff. If that refuses to work for you, then download the MFC stuff and see if that fixes it. Then get back to me. I would like to avoid including the MFC stuff in the final product if I possibly can.
Pre-existing members already have the MFC stuff and can continue downloading just the Warpath files.
For the techno-dweebs, Warpath97 was built with VC++ 4.1, using MFC, so we need the MFC4.0 stuff, but for all I know it works fine with the MFC3.0 stuff. which shipped with Windows 95 itself. It would be great to know that for a fact since it halves the download today, and gives me a lot of room to add features in the future while staying small enough to fit on a single floppy.
5/15/97 (we'll pretend it was only 3 weeks between versions)
This new version addresses some issues of common concern, but I would still have to consider it pre-beta. There are miscellaneous artwork 'improvements' and some specific issues which I just emailed to the people on the beta tester list. And come to think of it, if you're not on the beta tester list, then you probably wouldn't recognize what was new anyway, so maybe it is not too important to cover it in detail here. As we go forward, I will be logging specific feature changes somewhere, but right now it all just feels too loose to bother with that right now :-)
If you are NOT on the beta tester list, and would like to be, please email me at xx and let me know your name, handle and email address. The only thing you get out of being on the list is I send periodic mailings to that list. Oh, and the honor and the glory, of course :-) For the most part, if you email me with suggestions, I will add you to the list automatically, so please be clear in every email if you want your ID kept secret.
There seems to be a bug in the SAX/Webster setup installer that doesn't get the package installed in the folder you specify. I will continue using the SAX product for this version and see if it was operator error on my part. The SAX product is sort of cool, but deficient in certain glaring ways for a product with needs as simple as Warpath 97. At this point, I still can't give SAX a 100% recommendation (certainly not for the full price they quote), but I think they are headed in the right direction.
4/21/97 (the day before my birthday -- my gift to you -- buggy software :-)
OK, this is the very first testable version. It is by no means done, and yet it can be more or less played from beginning to end, solo or multiplayer. I am embarassed by this first version since it is so obviously incomplete. Basically I have focussed on porting the original Warpath to win95, supporting the old features as much as possible, laying the groundwork for new features (but not actually implementing very many new features yet), and implementing my entirely new communications layer (IPX not done, but modem, telnet, tcp/ip, null-modem, and Mplayer are working). But there is a lot missing. There is ZERO documentation (when you point at things with the mouse, a short description should appear on the status line, but that's about it. Most of the buttons are unlabelled, as I haven't settled on my 'art direction' yet, so point to a button to see what it is supposed to do) The art is not yet completed, but feel free to give suggestions. The actual artwork is all in separate files since I know people like to diddle with the graphics and sounds. Of course, without docmentation it is sort of a crap shoot.
Needless to say, I am already aware of a million missing parts of the program (I leave it to you to imagine how much work it was to get the program to this level). For example, players are not placed in the galaxy with any intelligence (all clustered together instead of spread out). I hope you can figure out the space dock without help. I have big hopes for the space dock, but this is just the first order implementation. If you haven't played the original Warpath, I am sure this version will leave you extremely confused.
If you do or don't want your name on this list, please let me know. I am listing you all here to make it easier for you to find another tester. Although the game is Mplayer-ready, I need to get it completed before submitting it to Mplayer, so for now we can just use Mplayer as a rendevous tool. (Which is pretty great given the buddy list and voice chat features of Mplayer.)
As of 9/1/97 I think this list is FULL. It doesn't mean you can't be a beta tester, just that you can't get on this list. It has become even more important that you get your news from reading this page rather than expecting a direct email from me. Sorry, I hit a limit on my emailer.
And my apologies to everyone named 'jon', 'john' or 'aaron.' I have you all hopelessly confused in my mind now. There are just so MANY of you! :-)
|Dan Samuel||Samsyn||xxx (it's me!)|
|Ben Samuel||Genji||xxx (it's Ben!)|
|Dave Wolverton||Dangerdavfirstname.lastname@example.org (not a typo - no 'e')|
|William J. Dyer||Beldaremail@example.com|
|Kevin T. Dyer||Icefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Willem Groenhuizenemail@example.com (holland!)|
|Ronald Diemicke||Tex Murphyfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Olli Schmitt||Olli.Schmitt@t-online.de (Gemany)|
|Danny S. Masked||DEandH@aol.com|
|Jonathan Dunn||Jon Myer||Jon_myer@classic.msn.com|
|Craig Bartell (&bro)||email@example.com|
|Ed Stoy (sysop)||(901)547-WARSfirstname.lastname@example.org (Game Connection BBS)|
Somewhere around here my mailing list saturated, so people in this next table definitely don't get email notifications from me, but you still might like to talk to them directly. And Chris Norris prefers to be called "Chrissssssss..." Honest! :-)
|Name||Mplayer Name||Email Address|
|Norman Vanderhoff||cynic email@example.com|
|R L Matt||Lord Myrenfirstname.lastname@example.org|
All testing is appreciated, solo or multiplayer. I will put up new versions on a regular basis (well, ok, semi-regular). The people on this list (with email addresses) should also get an email from me each time I do that. (no longer guaranteed - check this page for real news)
By the way, immediate painful death to anyone who gives or sells these email names to email advertisers. Marketeers should understand that the way to sell is not junk email, it's cool web pages and advertising thereon. Write your congressman today to make junk e-mail cost the advertisers $3 a letter, paid to YOU for receiving it.
NOTE: No new Beta Testers are required for Warpath 97. Which is not to say I won't apreciate getting feedback on the release versions.
However, I am immediately beginning work on another project (A role-playing game) which will need beta testers in a month or two, so stay posted!
To become a beta tester is as simple as sending me an email and ask to get your name added to the list. If the list gets TOO long, I might have to be a little selective (highly unlikely) in which case I would probably give preferential treatment to those testers who send good reports via email (highly encouraged).
As of 9/1/97 new beta tester recruits will probably just receive a congratulatory email from me, and are advised to check this page for news and not necessarily expect broadcast email from me. it doesn't mean I don't like you, just that my list got too long to manage correctly.
These instructions are a bit out of date, and the beta test is now done, but I should try to keep all data neat and tidy.
I ended up dumping the SAX installer program (Sorry SAX, it just wasn't easy to do what I wanted to do, and some bits were just too quirky). Instead I went the Winzip Self Extractor path and I just love it. Several people have pointed out that it is not as professional looking as InstallShield, but it also doesn't have 100K of overhead in the download. For the 30 seconds of your life you spend looking at it, I think I chose the appropriate technology.
So, just download the self-extracting EXE, execute it, and follow the instructions it gives you (push OK a lot!)
The following table has the most recent version(s) of Warpath 97. I will probably delete old versions since they will become useless and I would like everyone to be using the same version. Eventually the game itself will check that sort of thing. Here are the instructions for installing Warpath97.
I'm not convinced I am going to use this installer program, so let me know what you think of it (it's the SAX setup wizard). I'm not convinced to shell out the big bux for the release version of SAX (which would make self-extracting installers), when WinZip gives me the same abilities at a more reasonable registration cost. The SAX product has shown itself to be a little buggy and not a perfect match to my needs. I really must remember to email them with my suggestions for improvement :-)
NOTE: I have removed the Microsoft "MFC" support files and put them into a separate installer. You probably already have them, so just take the Warpath97 download first and see that it runs. If not, then get the "MFC Support Files" download. For the remainder of the Test Period I will NOT include the MFC stuff inside of the Warpath97 downloads.
NOTE: These files all went out of date on 1/1/98, and are included here for historical purposes only. You should now get your files from the main Warpath 97 page.
Please let me know (via email) anything and everything you have to say. Bugs, oddities, points of confusion, and just general enhancment suggestions for the program and help file.
I have an extremely long list of suggested enhancements already, so please don't be depressed if I don't seem to give you due credit for your idea. Just because I already had it written down doesn't mean you didn't also think of it :-) However, *do* enter all your requests, even if you think they ARE already written down, since that is a form of 'voting' which I use to pick the next feature to implement. I am only recently feeling that W97 finally encapsulates most of the original Warpath features and I can start working on truly new features (whew!) But, of course, I am a little burned out and it is very invigorating to get your enthusuastic letters on the subject!
So far (fingers crossed and tempting fate) no one has reported an actual CRASH of the program. (well, I am discounting the sound crashes on NT...)
Unfortunately, my email reader doesn't support attachments, so thanks for all the BMPs and such (and you KNOW I could use them :-), but they really are a lost cause since they get converted into something useless before I get to see them.
My continued thanks, and welcome to all new members!
Synthetic Reality Co.
Copyright 1997 (c) Dan Samuel for Synthetic Reality Co. All rights and revenues reserved.