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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2013, 05:52 
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Information System Service for OpenTTD players

The Information System Service (ISS) provides OpenTTD players with information about available graphic files (GRF) within the game; think along the line, as if GRFCrawler were accessible right within the OpenTTD application.

For quite some time, GRFCrawler has been available for players to search for graphic files they may not be aware of or to check whether there have been any updates for their favourite graphic files. Now, that service can be made available from within OpenTTD itself.

It is intended for GRF authors that do NOT make available their wares via the OpenTTD Content Download Service; e.g. like many of us here at Simuscape.

How does it work ?
Each entry comes in the form of an informational graphics file (iGRF), that reflects a 'real' graphics file (GRF). The 'real' graphics file is ONLY available from the GRF Author's preferred download location (e.g. http://www.simuscape.net). The informational graphics file (iGRF) is uploaded to the OpenTTD Content Download Service (aka Monkey Supermarket). iGRFs are identified with two exclamation marks (!!) at the beginning of the GRF name, whereas 'real' GRFs are not.

The iGRF contains nothing but an Action-8 (GRF ID, Name and Description) and associated Action-14 (Static GRF information for OpenTTD). The iGRF has otherwise no use within a game; although it could be downloaded and activated too, but it has no impact on a game. Consider this, to be a 'Taster GRF'.

The iGRF can be packaged together with ReadMe, Changelog and License files, thus a lot of additional information can be provided to OpenTTD players right into the middle of their living room, the OpenTTD game. Players can search for such informational graphic files via the Content Download Service; they can read the DoNotReadMe for more detailed information about the 'real' graphic file; they can check the Changelog to see whether an update has been made available (when and what has been changed). Once they have satisfied themselves that the 'real' GRF is something they must have, they can click on 'Visit Website' to go directly to the download location of the 'real' graphic file. The 'real' GRF may come packaged too with ReadMe, Changelog and License files. The entire package, in the form of a .TAR file, can be placed directly into the newgrf directory and will be available for play without unpacking.

An Example ..
For 'BK Enhanced Tunnels v1.5' an informational graphics file has been created and uploaded onto the OpenTTD Content Download Service. It can be searched for via any or more of the following tags : newgrf, !!, oztrans, simuscape, canada, canadian, infrastructure, tunnel, tunnels.

The 'real' GRF is available for download from the usual location (e.g. 'www.simuscape.net' (login/registration required)).

This service should benefit both the OpenTTD player community as well as GRF authors that only make available their graphic files from a location other than the Content Download Service.

Should this service feature be welcomed by players and we don't get too much adverse reaction, I will make available a set of instructions about 'How to go about creating an informational graphic file'. We must be consistent about it, otherwise it won't be of much use.

BK Enhanced Tunnels has been the guinea pig. Once accepted, I will do the same with all other Canadian graphic files.

A word on the side, this topic is NOT about the virtue or merit of uploading graphic files to the OpenTTD Content Download Service. That discussion has been held already and we do not have to visit that subject again. After all, it is up to any GRF author whether s/he wishes to upload work onto the Content Download Service or not.


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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2013, 06:19 
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Hmm, this does seem better than completely ignoring OTTD's Bananas service -- still not quite as good as having the actual .grf on Bananas, of course, but that ship has already set sail, as you've mentioned.


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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2013, 09:34 
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Have to say that this sounds like an excellent outcome to the discussions we've been having inside our HQ about how to approach the ingame content downloader. I'm having a hard time finding out if there could even be a better solution available, but I can't think of any other...

The way BaNaNaS is set up and how it decreases artists own rights, makes it impossible to take advantage of it. But with ISS we have a completely different situation - and solution!

Excellent work OzTrans! Simply excellent! :bowing:

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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2013, 10:22 
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Supercheese wrote:
Hmm, this does seem better than completely ignoring OTTD's Bananas service -- still not quite as good as having the actual .grf on Bananas, of course, but that ship has already set sail, as you've mentioned.
We have always been listening to the OpenTTD Playing Community and we do make an effort to bring better graphic files, features and services to them ...

SAC wrote:
... Excellent work OzTrans! Simply excellent!
Thank you very much; but I nearly stuffed it up, because of the quirkiness of that Supermarket.


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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2013, 10:24 
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Yeah, I can understand... But it's always nice to get up in the morning and wake up to that "Supermarket" reference... :lol:

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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2013, 19:16 
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OzTrans wrote:
Players can search for such informational graphic files via the Content Download Service; they can read the DoNotReadMe for more detailed information about the 'real' graphic file; they can check the Changelog to see whether an update has been made available (when and what has been changed). Once they have satisfied themselves that the 'real' GRF is something they must have, they can click on 'Visit Website' to go directly to the download location of the 'real' graphic file.
I think you vastly overestimate the effort players make when choosing NewGRFs. There are many, many examples of posted NewGRF lists on the forums and elsewhere that contain several GRFs that conflict or change the same things, like e.g. two bridge GRFs or three road sets. Most people don't seem to even be aware of this and have no idea what result they should expect from each GRF. Or they simply don't care.

From that my personal prediction is that you will get lots of downloads (people seem to download everything that can't climb a tree fast enough), lots of people who don't spend more than a second looking at any description, and lots of people who add these dummy GRFs to their games. At best, they will simply not realize that anything is amiss (they certainly didn't read the read me and thus don't know what they should get anyway), at worst they will complain that "it doesn't work" everywhere except at Simuscape (it is behind a sophisticated anti-spam wall after all). Maybe this sounds cynical and maybe I am wrong, but I still think it is the most likely outcome.

OzTrans wrote:
GRFs are identified with two exclamation marks (!!) at the beginning of the GRF name, whereas 'real' GRFs are not.
You might want to think about that again. If all the players see with the first glance after opening the in-game content list is a wall of these pseudo-GRFs, it will likely result in either a forced renaming on Bananas or a changed sorting algorithm (like the server list already uses to strip all the crap people used to put into their server names to manipulate sorting; and which we might do anyway unrelated to this, as we already have pre-existing, badly named content). Just use some addition people can actually understand without being told.

SAC wrote:
The way BaNaNaS is set up and how it decreases artists own rights, makes it impossible to take advantage of it.
I still don't get just what is so wrong with giving people the ability to continue playing their old savegames, but I've resigned to the fact. Maybe you should try modding for e.g. Civilization 4 sometimes, artists rights there seem to be limited to: "I copied most of it from that-other-mod-somewhere" :twisted:

Michael


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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2013, 00:43 
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michi_cc wrote:
I still don't get just what is so wrong with giving people the ability to continue playing their old savegames, but I've resigned to the fact. Maybe you should try modding for e.g. Civilization 4 sometimes, artists rights there seem to be limited to: "I copied most of it from that-other-mod-somewhere" :twisted:


:mrgreen:

Yeah, people have certainly developed different views of how to deal with other peoples custom work depending on communities around... I remember that from other communities I've been part of... :twisted:

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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2013, 01:31 
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michi_cc wrote:
I think you vastly overestimate the effort players make when choosing NewGRFs. There are many, many examples of posted NewGRF lists on the forums and elsewhere that contain several GRFs that conflict or change the same things, like e.g. two bridge GRFs or three road sets. Most people don't seem to even be aware of this and have no idea what result they should expect from each GRF. Or they simply don't care.
I do not overestimate anything; I know that the majority of players behave like that. There are even some, who want a 'I want to download the lot' button. What a crazy idea is that ?

The statistics so far :
. 327 have downloaded the informational GRF.
. 4 have visted the download page.
. 1 has downloaded the GRF and User Guide.

The latter is most likely one of our members, that has checked whether all is in order.

This service is addressed to the more discerning players. They do not have to check GRFCrawler for updates and they do not have to visit a website to get information about updates.

Quote:
OzTrans wrote:
GRFs are identified with two exclamation marks (!!) at the beginning of the GRF name, whereas 'real' GRFs are not.
You might want to think about that again. If all the players see with the first glance after opening the in-game content list is a wall of these pseudo-GRFs, it will likely result in either a forced renaming on Bananas or a changed sorting algorithm (like the server list already uses to strip all the crap people used to put into their server names to manipulate sorting; and which we might do anyway unrelated to this, as we already have pre-existing, badly named content). Just use some addition people can actually understand without being told.
Please do ... we would just view such action as sabotage by OpenTTD developers. There is already a lot of crap of mine at the Monkey Supermarket (thankfully not shown in any content download list), because I cannot delete it. That '!!' is not there for sorting purposes, it is there to clearly identify iGRFs. Actually, I would like to see them at the bottom of the list. 'Real' players can search for these via the '!!' tag anyway. If it says 'you do not have this' or 'there is an update available', players get informed and can check it out.


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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2013, 09:49 
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michi_cc wrote:
From that my personal prediction is that you will get lots of downloads (people seem to download everything that can't climb a tree fast enough), lots of people who don't spend more than a second looking at any description, and lots of people who add these dummy GRFs to their games.


Well, how about implementing a system that at least allows for removal of these ISS-grf's at a given timeframe as they're clearly not uploaded for gaming usages, but merely for informative purposes. Sort of a middle-way if you ask me...

We are able to get rid of ISS-grf's and you'll avoid a long list of "useless" ISS-grf's? Adding to the information box that none of these ISS-files are supposed to be used in game, but to inform about the download location for the accurate file - thus DO NOT download and install the ISS-grf itself, could perhaps be done...

Some will read, others won't. That's the reality I'm afraid... :? But in the long run I'm sure the message will get through... :P

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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2013, 10:18 
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I would assume that whenever there is a new GRF version then the author would merely go to the Banana plantation and replace the ISS with an updated copy.

This assumes that the author has enough control to be able to edit his/her entries. If not, then how does an author amend incorrect information submitted with a GRF that is hosted on the Bananas repository? Does s/he have to crawl on hands and knees begging someone who does have access to do the edit?

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PostPosted: 11 Feb 2013, 00:50 
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wallyweb wrote:
I would assume that whenever there is a new GRF version then the author would merely go to the Banana plantation and replace the ISS with an updated copy.
That is the idea; whenever a new version of a 'real' GRF is released, the iGRF gets updated in parallel; thus players get alerted, Checking the content downloader will alert them, that an updated version is available.

BTW, when you click on Online Content; you'll get the entire list of available GRFs (plus AIs, scenarios etc). Imagine google did that, displayiing everything before you entered your search criteria. That is the real issue. Players should have to enter search criteria first before anything gets displayed. That of course is OpenTTD for you; they did not ask me how to go about these sort of features.


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PostPosted: 11 Feb 2013, 09:31 
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wallyweb wrote:
This assumes that the author has enough control to be able to edit his/her entries. If not, then how does an author amend incorrect information submitted with a GRF that is hosted on the Bananas repository? Does s/he have to crawl on hands and knees begging someone who does have access to do the edit?


I think that if you don't give a s*** about your .grf's once uploaded it won't be a problem. Problem begins when you as an artist do!

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PostPosted: 11 Feb 2013, 10:35 
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wallyweb wrote:
This assumes that the author has enough control to be able to edit his/her entries. If not, then how does an author amend incorrect information submitted with a GRF ...
You can edit a fair bit. My sample data, that now exists. Anything marked with a single '*' is editable, anything marked with double '**' can only be changed by uploading a new (updated) GRF. The name and type cannot be changed; nor can you delete an entry.

Code:
Name : !! BK Enhanced Tunnels
Type : NewGRF
** Version : 1.5.0
** License : Custom
** File : [.tar archive]
* Description : BK Enhanced Tunnels provide tunnel portals for ...
* URL : http://www.simuscape.net/
* Minimal OpenTTD Version : v1.2.3
* Maximal OpenTTD Version : -
* Tags : newgrf, !!, oztrans, simuscape, canada, canadian, infrastructure, tunnels
* Dependencies : [none]


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PostPosted: 12 Feb 2013, 19:13 
"We want to provide better content and feature to players"

Well, a fake newGRF which leads to the home site of simuscape is definitely very helpful.
- Not only does the newGRF not work at all especially since it cant even take care of the savegame compatibility due to different grfID
- but people will not download the real newGRF that way anyway; honestly trying to find a download on this site is effort that a minimal amount of people will do. If the newGRF link at the very least led directly to a page with the download, I could at least say it is properly linked.

I really wonder why cant you simply upload a real version there instead of performing massive abuses of the system like this. To me this is just spam, you could also make an "iGRF" about purchasing viagra. Same thing in principle.

If you think removal of this spam would be sabotaging from the devs, then you should look at your own gesture.
To me this is a message "screw you bananas, we wont upload valid stuff there, but we will use it as advertisement board" without actually making it even useful (if the grfIDs matched, you could say it grants at least savegame compatibility, which could be "okay" for a visual-only newGRF)


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PostPosted: 12 Feb 2013, 20:17 
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I think we've had this discussion about why some artists doesn't upload to the BaNaNaS - and the reasons behind that decision - as well as arguments about "how people will find out about these artists files if not on the BaNaNaS"... Especially the latter is something brought forward by OTTD-devs on several occasions, likely in an attempt to defend the greatness of the BaNaNaS itself. And no arguings there, the BaNaNaS and the ingame content downloader system is a good thing.

But...

As been said before, it revokes the artists own rights to handle uploaded files in a desired manner, which - and has also been stated before, and is obviously true - is a necessity as it otherwise will break savegame compatibility...

Personally I fail to see the problem here! Sure, the uploaded iGRF isn't usable in terms of a normal .grf for games, but it is useful in the sense that it'll keep the user informed about a new available .grf, and where to find it! If some - or even many people - disregards the written information, no one is actually able to do anything about that! Quite frankly that's a user issue and not an artist issue!

V453000 wrote:
- but people will not download the real newGRF that way anyway; honestly trying to find a download on this site is effort that a minimal amount of people will do. If the newGRF link at the very least led directly to a page with the download, I could at least say it is properly linked.


Whether people will download a file or not can't seriously be an ingame content downloader problem? Or a problem for OTTD-devs? Since when is it a ToS that a provided file needs a specific download count to remain on the list? It's there for informational purposes to somewhat accommodate OTTD-devs previous arguings about files not uploaded to the BaNaNaS - and the result thereof! And whatever efforts any user is willing to do in order to find a file, can't surely be a problem that needs to be discussed either? Or is it?

The iGRF's uploaded pointing to Simuscape is easily collected inside our Downloads Library at the bottom of our forum... A simple scroll down will do... available free of charge...

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PostPosted: 12 Feb 2013, 20:32 
Which is all cute for your purpose but on bananas it is only spam.

If I am correct, the purpose of bananas is to provide content which is backwards reachable - especially important for savegames with the older newGRFs (their older versions).

It would be still up to discussion if fake and real newGRFs with same grfIDs would solve the compatibility as it technically does solve it, but it is just a workaround again. But given that the iGRF is not even attempting to synchronize the grfIDs, it does not really fulfill any purpose of why it should be on bananas, other than link to third party content.

The ToS perhaps does not discuss this "newly discovered" problem, but that does not mean you should abuse it


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PostPosted: 12 Feb 2013, 20:45 
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I'm not saying it's the optimal way of solving an issue that seems unsolvable, but fact is that some files are hosted elsewhere than on the BaNaNaS, (not just here on Simuscape), thus not accessible from the ingame content downloader system. I'd say this is at least a descent middleway to reach out to users about other files available - and where to find them.

In what way this would be considered abusive is beyond me! I understand that it is abusive for some OTTD-devs - as been clearly stated as late as of today to be honest - but on the other hand, anything coming from Simuscape is bound to be considered abusive to some people...

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PostPosted: 13 Feb 2013, 01:20 
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V453000 wrote:
... [...] ...
Thank you for your comments.

Quote:
... different GRFID for iGRF and 'real' GRF ...
I did try the same GRFID initially; but found that having different IDs is better and with less hassles. Even if you have both loaded, they don't bite each other. However, players that have read the ReadMe etc will not start a game with the iGRF, they will download the 'real' one first and then start a new game.

Quote:
... provided weblinks in iGRF ...
The link points you directly to the download page (after login). It could not be easier ... now, that we provide GRFs packed with ReadMe etc in a .tar file, you don't even have to unpack it and have additional information available. Many 'real' GRFs available on the Content Downloader do not even give you that.

If you don't like the idea, that is up to you just ignore any GRF that starts with '!!'.


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PostPosted: 13 Feb 2013, 04:10 
The issues are many, first off Bananas is for real newGRFs, which do provide savegame compatibility and are well reachable that way.
Any "iGRF" like this breaks that basic purpose why is a newGRF on bananas, especially if the grfIDs differ - not that if they were the same, the iGRF would just load instead of the real one when the savegame is loaded, but the real newGRF is not present. The question is not if both newGRFs with different IDs are able to be in one game, but if it provides (faked) compatibility for savegames.
-- this obviously works only for visual newGRFs like trees, tunnels, but not quite for e.g. train sets
Side note: newGRFs are generally uploaded with license, readme and changelog

I did not even mention it before, but savegame compatibility also includes the most important part, multiplayer compatibility. Consider that newGRFs not available on bananas basically do not exist for people who play multiplayer. Not because they would not know about them or hate them, your newGRFs are honestly absolutely awesome. But simply because they are not accessible to people connecting to the server. Simply because it creates way too many problems to get the newGRFs.
-- and the purpose of Bananas is to remove this problem. Your iGRF is abusive because it intentionally keeps this problem

Ignoring newGRFs is a cute thing to do, especially for now, but what after you do this with your other newGRFs, not to mention other people could do this. When the amount of "iGRFs" increases to a certain point, they will be hard to ignore. If bananas were intended to include some form of advertisement content linking somewhere, there would be such a category - like Base Set or AI Library, there would be Ad. Perhaps discuss with the devs some enhancement? Though I personally still do not see why would you not use bananas as it is intended to be used, but that discussion is not necessary.

Still, I think there are only 2 options, you use the service or you do not. If you use a free service like devzone, bananas, and similar, it is at the very least polite to give something back - in case of devzone it is open license, in case of bananas provided content for the game. And an iGRF seems to me like refusing to add to the game, but using the advertisement space.
You could say it is adding content, but it really is not. Previous incidents prove that newGRFs can "disappear" from day to day, and obviously nobody has the patience to support and provide all versions of all newGRFs all the time. iGRF is just an advertisement - spam if you like to call it that way - which says "hey people, there is stuff I like to improve my gaming experience with, go get it". What would be a newGRF linking to the beer brand I like to improve my gaming experience with?

SAC, I understand your bitterness that "everything coming from simuscape is bound to be cbusive to some people", but look at what you are doing. I do not care about tt-forums and what happened there, but regarding bananas problematic you at one hand refuse the service but on the other hand try to find ways how to use the service differently in ways the service clearly is not adapted to. Then there is the thing with stolen trees which broke so many old savegames with them. (because the newGRF is great, it is used in many savegames to add to it)
These incidents are not really working anyhow in your favour - regardless if you are right or wrong in the situation, but I doubt that is surprising.

...I dont know but the link sends me to http://www.simuscape.net/ right now when I am logged in :/


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PostPosted: 13 Feb 2013, 07:15 
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V453000 wrote:
...I dont know but the link sends me to http://www.simuscape.net/ right now when I am logged in.
I was only aware of one weblink. There are two of them; one from the 'Content Downloader' screen, the other one from the 'NewGRF Settings' window. Now, both of them point directly to the same page, the download page.


Last edited by OzTrans on 13 Feb 2013, 07:20, edited 1 time in total.

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