A wild object idea that might be a lot of fun.

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The Purple Panzer
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A wild object idea that might be a lot of fun.

Post by The Purple Panzer » Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:37 am

(Do bear with me as I run through a brief leadup to the main idea.)

When I was working on my last map (BigMadCity2) I did some stuff with signs; I thought about trying to do a scrolling ticker-tape sign - one would do this with a moving texture, behind a flat black panel with a matrix of holes where the 'light' would shine through. Initially I was just going to have this be a 'welcome' message (I still think this would look great, just as a map object).

Anyway, this immediately got me to thinking that it'd be neat if the scrolling marquee/tickertape text changed, say to show CNN headlines, or real stock quotes, or the BZFlag IRC channel. Wouldn't be too hard to do I would think, the moving texture would have to be dynamically changed, perhaps just periodically replaced.

But then this got me to think about an entirely new type of object - one whose appearance would be based upon external (e.g. internet) sources. Imagine something like a flat surface, similar in spirit to the teleporter face with its moving ghostlike shadows, but with the displayed contents being specified as from, say, a web site. This is actually probably easier than the marquee idea, as it would just be a bitmap copy from a web site to the surface in BZflag - the server could do it as often as it liked (which could be infrequently).

Now this could offer all sorts of possibilities: instead of mountains in the distance, perhaps in one direction it would be a live webcam image of, say, Times Square in New York, or the Panama Canal, or Tokyo. The game would feel more immersed in the real world, and BZ maps might seem more like editorial additions. Or, one might just have CNN or Fox news on the side of a building (sound, though, is probably another matter, but that too would be neat - Niagara falls, for instance, or subways rumbling underground, or aircraft taking off.)

I realize this sounds a bit wild, but at least for the imagery, the engineering might not be that hard, as (as I noted above) it might just involve grabbing an external bitmap and copying it on to a surface periodically (perhaps only opportunistically, when play bandwidth doesn't require it). Certainly for scenery this could be infrequently; all you'd need is to do updates often enough so that the time of day seems about right. It seems that the value of the illusion of having a piece of the real world in the game could be very substantial.

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Post by Mostly Harmless! » Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:44 am

Maybe also let it tune in to other BZFlag server.

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Post by L4m3r » Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:59 am

I think that perhaps a more general change could be easier and a lot more versatile. Say, we had some sort of dynamic texture object implemented that could periodically re-send textures to clients.

Now, map the textures right and throw in a plugin to fetch the updated image, and your idea is perfectly feasible... and we have an infinite number of other possibilities to go with it. Slideshows, dynamically-generated images, you name it. Dynamic scoreboards! :o

I'm sure this would take a massive protocol change, but that doesn't make it any different from about half the suggestions anyway. :p
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Re: A wild object idea that might be a lot of fun.

Post by Winny » Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:08 pm

The Purple Panzer wrote:(Do bear with me as I run through a brief leadup to the main idea.)

When I was working on my last map (BigMadCity2) I did some stuff with signs; I thought about trying to do a scrolling ticker-tape sign - one would do this with a moving texture, behind a flat black panel with a matrix of holes where the 'light' would shine through. Initially I was just going to have this be a 'welcome' message (I still think this would look great, just as a map object).

Anyway, this immediately got me to thinking that it'd be neat if the scrolling marquee/tickertape text changed, say to show CNN headlines, or real stock quotes, or the BZFlag IRC channel. Wouldn't be too hard to do I would think, the moving texture would have to be dynamically changed, perhaps just periodically replaced.

But then this got me to think about an entirely new type of object - one whose appearance would be based upon external (e.g. internet) sources. Imagine something like a flat surface, similar in spirit to the teleporter face with its moving ghostlike shadows, but with the displayed contents being specified as from, say, a web site. This is actually probably easier than the marquee idea, as it would just be a bitmap copy from a web site to the surface in BZflag - the server could do it as often as it liked (which could be infrequently).

Now this could offer all sorts of possibilities: instead of mountains in the distance, perhaps in one direction it would be a live webcam image of, say, Times Square in New York, or the Panama Canal, or Tokyo. The game would feel more immersed in the real world, and BZ maps might seem more like editorial additions. Or, one might just have CNN or Fox news on the side of a building (sound, though, is probably another matter, but that too would be neat - Niagara falls, for instance, or subways rumbling underground, or aircraft taking off.)

I realize this sounds a bit wild, but at least for the imagery, the engineering might not be that hard, as (as I noted above) it might just involve grabbing an external bitmap and copying it on to a surface periodically (perhaps only opportunistically, when play bandwidth doesn't require it). Certainly for scenery this could be infrequently; all you'd need is to do updates often enough so that the time of day seems about right. It seems that the value of the illusion of having a piece of the real world in the game could be very substantial.

sounds like a good idea.... except for people with dial-up

and the server bandwidth would get used up much faster.

I like the idea, don't get me wrong, I just think it would be way too bandwidth intensive for the server.

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I like the idea

Post by person1 » Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:08 pm

L4m3r: I think you are on the right track.

I like the idea of having an object that can resend images. It would be cool if you could allow the textures to handel .php extensions. Then you could have dynamicaly generated images on your server.

Is there anyway to allow and image with the .php extension when it will be outputting a png formatted image?? To my knowledge it only acepts .png extension. It would be very cool.
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Post by Spazzy McGee » Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:34 pm

hhmmmk...

the best thing for it to support first off would be support for RSS feeds... which would be good cause you can use RSS feeds from not only news sites but my.bzflag.org does an RSS Got Stats? on servers, to view the players.

also isn't there a command like /retexture or something that retextures everything? so you could just get bzfscron to run a /retexture every 5 mins.... but i think this might only be a clientside command...
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Re: I like the idea

Post by L4m3r » Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:56 pm

person1 wrote:L4m3r: I think you are on the right track.

I like the idea of having an object that can resend images. It would be cool if you could allow the textures to handel .php extensions. Then you could have dynamicaly generated images on your server.

Is there anyway to allow and image with the .php extension when it will be outputting a png formatted image?? To my knowledge it only acepts .png extension. It would be very cool.
You wouldn't really have to... you could configure the server to parse PHP in .PNG files, or make PHP generate the image and save it as PNG on the server.
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Post by person1 » Thu Jan 19, 2006 2:02 am

L4m3r

THANK YOU! That is a great idea, I never thought of that.
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Post by L4m3r » Thu Jan 19, 2006 2:37 am

Spazzy Mcgee wrote:hhmmmk...

the best thing for it to support first off would be support for RSS feeds... which would be good cause you can use RSS feeds from not only news sites but my.bzflag.org does an RSS Got Stats? on servers, to view the players.
Yes. Probably another good job for a plugin.

I think that perhaps in addition to textures, there should be some way to stream text into the game, directly in the map or on the HUD. I'm not sure how that would be done as far as coding goes, but for textual info, it would use a lot less bandwidth.

There's a lot of ad potential in this, too... I'll leave that to everyone else to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
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Post by Spazzy McGee » Thu Jan 19, 2006 5:55 pm

hhmmm... while we are wondering OT a nice idea for a plugin would be one that ranked scores for more than one server going on at one domain, for example MoFo, or the two GU servers, and annonced the current top player in the whole domain e.g.: "Spazzy McGee is currently the master of GamesUnited!"

back on on topic:

i think it would be easier to stream, say, an RSS or Atom feed into the console using the 'say' command than applying it to the maps.... i dunno. i'm certainly not up to programming one with my limited C++ knowledge, but i might be able to make a small announcer script with applescript.
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Post by Workaphobia » Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:21 pm

Purple Panzer, I was skeptical when I clicked the thread, but this is the greatest idea I've heard in a while. I love it! I don't know a lot about RSS feeds, but viewing them in bzflag as a part of the map sounds awesome. Webcams would make excellent backgrounds, and live scoreboards in a stadium map would be the icing on the cake.

As for the possibility of server-side ads, let's not concern ourselves with the impact that it may or may not have on the community. Who are we to deny server owners the right to make that decision for themselves?

And about bandwidth, is there any reason that the client needs to load this media from the game server? In the case of a webcam, why would you need to stream it through the bzflag connection? Why not just let the client fetch it on its own?

Oh, and while we're at it, there's no reason not to have live in-game television screens that redisplay game action in one part of the map on to a surface in another. The rendering of the image would of course be done by the client, not the server.

One more thing - I'm sick and tired of messages being sent through the hud - it's ugly, annoying, and difficult to read on a fast-paced server.



Once again, it's an incredible idea. Add plugins to the mix and you've just introduced an entirely new dimension of creativity into map making. :)
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Post by Hannibal » Fri Jan 20, 2006 2:05 am

Love the idea, but, as Win. said, overly b/w intensive and laggy for us dial-up users.

As Vader would say, Cant wait to see how this one will be shot down.
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