Age of Discovery and more about complexity

I’ve completed the touch-table version of Age of Discovery and this article compares this project to my previous project which was Medici.

ageofdiscoveryboardFor both being touch-table conversions of board games, they were very different projects. Medici was small and took less time than I expected it to. Age of Discovery was a large project, and it ended up being even longer than expected.

 

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Touch Table Medici and a discussion of project complexity

I’ve completed a touch-table version of Medici

mediciboard

Medici was an interesting project because of how simple it was. It is my first conversion project that has taken significantly less time than I thought it would and is also the quickest that I’ve been able to make a new game.

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Programmatic use of windows search

I recently wanted to add a photo search capability to my Timeline program and discovered that you can open a windows explorer with a custom search. You can also type these searches directly into the address bar in a windows file explorer.

The key is the search-ms protocol. It allows programs (like windows explorer) to directly query the windows search index. The parameters to this command are somewhat obscure, but it is very flexible and it can be used to perform any search that you could perform with the graphical search function in the windows file explorer.

For my application, I wanted to search for all photos that were taken between two dates (the start and end date of an event on my timeline). The idea is to quickly find all the photos that I took on a trip or at an event.

The general syntax for the search-ms command is:

search-ms:query=<query string>&
          crumb=<location and display parameters>&
          syntax=<NQS or AQS(default)>

The query string can be any valid SQL or AQS search. For my application I wanted to query on the date my photo was taken which windows stores as “datetaken” and I wanted to query over a range of dates. Dates have to be in the YYYY-MM-DD format, and a range is specified with “..”.

I used the crumb specifier to target a just the “My Pictures” special folder. To specify a location you put crumb=location:<URL encoded path>. For a special folder you do crumb=location:shell%3a<folder name>.

So my final query string is:

search-ms:query=datetaken:2015-01-01..2016-01-01&crumb=location:shell%3aMy%20Pictures

You can type or copy this into your search bar to see all the photos you took in 2015.

From C# you can start a process by giving the name of a file that has a default program association. So launching a file explorer with a custom search is as easy as:

System.Diagnostics.Process.Start("search-ms:query=datetaken:" + 
  Start().ToString("yyyy-MM-dd") + ".." + End().ToString("yyyy-MM-dd") +
  "&crumb=location:shell%3aMy%20Pictures");

Terra Mystica

I’ve completed a touch table conversion of the board game Terra Mystica. In this game, players lead a faction in a race to terraform and settle the map. Each faction is unique with different costs for building, abilities and desires for terrain type. These differences along with random bonus tiles makes every game different without any luck or hidden information.

FullBoard

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Muck

Late last year I finished a real-time game for the touch table that I called “Muck”. It is an economic game for two to six players that plays in a half hour. The game is modeled off the board game Brass. I’ve considered converting Brass directly, but it only plays four people, it has hidden information and we really aren’t playing it much anymore.

Muck

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Timeline

I’ve been working on a new software project that I’m going to call “Timeline”. When I first learned C#, I wrote a simpler timeline program that I’ve used to keep track of “big” events like houses, vacations, jobs and projects. After getting the Jawbone fitness tracker, I wanted to add that data to my timeline program.

Instead of just adding that to my existing program, I decided to re-write the program to be more flexible. I wanted to be able to have events with child events and to “tag” people in events instead of having a copy of the event on each person.

The program is complete and I am currently submitting it to freeware sites. I didn’t release my first timeline program because it wasn’t able to handle incorrect inputs and it wasn’t very intuitive to use. I am going to release this version, so I’ve made the program more robust.

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Microsoft Windows Text-to-Speech for Unity

I’ve made a wrapper around the Windows-only Microsoft Speech API for use in Unity. The Microsoft Speech API is a Windows COM capability that first appeared in windows Vista. It is an easy way to get text to speech in a windows application.

This post will go through the steps of making the C++ DLL and the C# behavior for Unity. If you don’t care about the “how” and just want to use the plugin skip to the end for the download and usage instructions.

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Mongoose for Unity

Mongoose is a C library for embedding a simple web server in another application. We used Mongoose for all of our web-enabled Torque games and I wanted to be able to continue using it for new games in Unity.

There is an existing extension called UniWeb which provides a web server in unity, but their code doesn’t support web sockets. I’ve just built Mongoose in windows, but it is Linux and Mac compatible as well. However, it wont support any of the mobile platforms.

This post will describe the steps for building Mongoose 5.6 as a windows native DLL, then wrapping it for use in C#, and finally including it in a Unity project.

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Zilch for the touch table

I have been working on a new game for the touch table. It is called Zilch (or Farkle, Greedy Dice or Dice 10000) and it is a “press your luck” style dice game that we often play at the end of a gaming session or while waiting between games. Players roll six dice and can score some or all of their dice. What scores depends on which rules you are playing by; but it at least includes 1s, 5s, and sets of 3+. The scored dice are removed and the player may continue and roll the remaining dice for more points or bank their existing score. If the new dice can’t score anything, the player loses their points and pass the dice. If all the dice score, the player may/must continue and roll all six again.

In my version of the game for the touch table, you can play more than one game at a time so that lots of people are rolling simultaneously. Here 10 players are playing 12 games:

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