Monthly Archives: January 2010

Is the iPad a viable Roguelike platform?

I was very excited yesterday about the release of the iPad (and had been for a while). While at first quite underwhelmed, I can think of a couple of killer-apps for the platform.

One genre I’m not quite so sure of is Roguelikes. After all, a decent desktop port can be played quite well on a laptop. But while still hunting for bugs and implementing new features for the new Slash’EM port, I realize that an iPad port would eliminate most of the difficulties I had so far while tailoring it to the small device (assuming a UI with minimal keyboard use).

Since most readers here are roguelike players (I guess), here’s my question: Will you buy an iPad? Please vote on the main page!

The mythical Apple tablet

I know there’s a chance there won’t even be a tablet, but if the folks at Apple are indeed planning to unveil one at the end of the month, please don’t let it just be an iPhone on steroids. I know it’s very tempting, they are making quite a lot of money with their closed eco system, but please let the tablet OS be open in the same way Mac OS X is, meaning I can run whatever software I choose in whatever way I’ve chosen. The overwhelming factor that let me even contemplate switching to Mac OS X (after a friend started exposing me to it, repeatedly) was that it was essentially a (free)BSD with a nice desktop and all needed drivers preinstalled. I was basically in heaven, and to this day I view it in that way.

That said, even if the new OS is closed like the iPhone OS, the prospect of playing some good old *Hacks on a bigger screen with an efficient UI is so tempting that I feel compelled to port as much and many as I can. The new SlashEM is my first step in that direction, and I’d love to have a playable version by the time the (possibly mythical) tablet gets announced.

SlashEM 0.0.7E7F3 distribution for Mac OS X (tty)

When I felt the need to step through the original SlashEM tty version to get a feel for some seemingly changed behavior for add_menu, and intrigued by Patric’s comment on my Mac OS X SlashEM compile, I thought a native Mac OS X tty version that you don’t need to install, easily debuggable (sort of) from xcode would not be a bad idea. You can download the end result from here. I compiled it for 10.5/i386. Would be interesting to know whether it runs on 10.4 (I guess not but I don’t have that SDK anymore) and on older Intels (like those core duo ‘1’s or whatever they were named). Just unzip the dist and double click SlashEM and it should run in a terminal. As you can see I had to change very little from the original sources (macosx now has its own sys subdirectory, but uses a patched unixmain.c), and this is probably very easy to do with other variants and NetHack itself (leave a comment if you are interested). I have yet to integrate the Makefiles and xcode nicely so everything is built from scratch with one make / press of a button. And beware, there might still be some dat files missing (for quests etc.), and I have yet to do some more extensive wizard testing. Creating fully graphical ports that are as easy to use as any other native app on Mac OS X is of course the goal, but this might take some more time and effort (and the SlashEM iPhone port has priority).

Slash’EM for the iPhone queued for a possible Q1 2010 release

That’s what I’ve been working on since iNetHack 1.3 hit the app store.

I’m rewriting the window engine from scratch, taking only general purpose classes and header stubs from iNetHack. The goal is to make it much more modular, maintainable, reusable etc. (attributes which quite frankly weren’t on the top of my design goals for iNetHack). This will also leed to some UI experiments in collaboration with the test team and hopefully come back as the base for the next iNetHack and more to come.