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 A new plan for Zeus and Halo 

Bring Halo Modding Online?
Poll ended at Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:40 am
YES. GO FOR IT. 50%  50%  [ 3 ]
Yes, but I have some suggestions. 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
No thanks, I like what we have now. 17%  17%  [ 1 ]
I'm not interested in this at all. 33%  33%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 6

 A new plan for Zeus and Halo 
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Delta Force
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Post A new plan for Zeus and Halo
I have a new plan for Zeus and it's still going to take some work but should be better overall.

Zeus will bring all development of maps and other resources like tags, savegames and gametypes online. The only exception so far will be developing models, which you would need a third-party program to make the .obj file to upload.

Problems resulting in this determination:
- platform dependency, pre-required setup or large resource usage, as in Mac OS X, Windows whatever, Linux or Unix whatever, or whatever other OS's you think of, Java whatever and its scripting and other nonsense like Flash or Macromedia/Adobe whatever
- - the above inhibits features like multi-modding sessions and what-have-you features and usability in general
- other problems i'm too lazy to think about and mention right now

Result:
- Zeus will be completely web-based, running on HDM after it has been upgraded to a dedicated server++
- It was fun trying to figure out Objective-C and all, but I'm defaulting back to PHP and web site design which I'll try to keep in my own high standards, so Zeus will be basically a collection of web scripts and stuff for handling Halo-related files
- All the features are the same, but I won't have to do a lot of the platform-dependant coding and will be able to take stock map data that has been reverse-engineered (such as I did with Sparky's Plugins for Eschaton) and work with whatever the modder uploads, or make new maps from "scratch" blank map templates for whatever platform is supported

Basically here's what's gonna happen:
- I'm going to refresh my PHP knowledge and continue analyzing the input and output files and data of the HEK programs and such so that I can write things such as the following example features, making the process something like this in using Zeus:

- Go to a given URL, such as http://zeus.halodemomods.com/ (You'll find out when this is actual functional).
- Log in to access your saved data.
- From the main User Interface in your web browser, you can use one of a number of step-by-step processes for making a new map, join or start a "multi-modding" session, or upload a map or other resource/asset to modify, and use the INCY Online.

The UI will be in the web browser, greatly simplifying things for me in the development process.

---

What great hurdle is keeping us from making Halo a web-based game? One method would be making Halo into a game which runs on the server as a web script and which is playable in the browser. PHP should be able to handle the code, and the server should be able to handle games of up to eh... 128 players or more per room, based upon the type of processor and internet connection. Flash is normally used for those types of things, but hasn't anyone been able to get OpenGL to work on the web? I've already researched that and it is possible. And besides, you can already do screen-sharing over the internet, so I don't see how this wouldn't be feasible. At the very least, you should be able to share a VirtualHost emulated screen over the net from the server, where the player runs Halo remotely from their computer and plays over the net from their web browser. On the web browser end it would be a straightforward AJAX-type setup, and the game running on the server would be either remote desktop or PHP, or like screen-sharing where you can control the cursor and all that from your client side.

So yeah, the simplest method would be to have remote desktop sharing set up on a virtual host on a remote Mac OS X or Windows server, where all you do is go to the IP address for the web server and log in, then the server gives you a new unique virtual host on the hard drive where you can only open the game and play it, and you control the game remotely from your computer. Then all the connections will be local to the server and the server would essentially be hosting each client who joins. The limitation would really only be the number of ports available (2302, 2303, 2304...) which would be one per player.

EDIT: I tried a number of Virtual Network Client-related applications and they didn't work very well with Halo. The best setup was using Apple's Screen Sharing application and the System Preferences Screen Sharing option. The only issue I found was that the mouse control in Halo was being treated like a joystick and only three buttons of my mouse were being sent over the connection. I tried alternatives and they weren't really worth the time.

This makes me question the efficiency of having the server running multiple instances of the game at a time and sending every screen state over the network. Flash in general is junk so I don't want to touch it with a 10-foot pole. I could look into Ruby or Python like nil suggested, but I still think PHP would be enough.

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Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:40 am
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Delta Force
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Post Re: A new plan for Zeus and Halo
1. Go to a file's download page or upload a new mod to HDM and visit its file download page.
2. Click on the "Zeus" tab at the top of the page.
3a. Choose one of the .map files found inside that archive, then click "Modify".
3b. Alternatively, enter the ID for an existing modding session. This is called multi-modding, where you can join another modder's WIP.
3c. Lastly, you can choose from the list of your previous modding sessions to continue working with that mod.
4. You will be given an ID for your modding session, it is unique to each map you start modifying; you can share this with another modder if you want them to contribute to the mod. This is like a password which will be saved to your HDM wiki account name in the database. Think of this like http://www.collabedit.com/ , but with map files instead of text documents, and with each map saved to your HDM account.
5. Have fun modding the map! There is a button next to each option which lets you apply the change you made to that item. There is also an "Apply all changes" button at the bottom of the area. It is recommended that you use the local button for changes while sharing a multi-modding session.
6. There is a main "undo" function. Each change that is made to the map -- whether by you or your multi-modding friends -- is listed in a logbook. You can choose a change in the list and click on either "Undo" or "Revert to this point" and it will either undo that particular change or undo all the changes which took place after that point.
7. When you're done, you can:
- close the page. The file will remain on the server how you last saved it, and whoever has the password for that map can make changes to it later. The logbook is stored in the database for continuous access.
- delete map. This deletes the modded version of the map, effectively reverting back to the version uploaded to HDM with which you started. (All files in the temporary directory are deleted, and the multi-modding password is removed.) You should delete a map when you don't want it anymore in order to save hard drive space on the HDM server.
- download a .zip archive of the map file. You can download the map to your computer so you can play it in Halo. This is normally how you would test your changes in-game.
- publish new mod to HDM. This lets you directly upload it as a new mod to a new file page.
- publish update to existing mod at HDM. This lets you directly upload it as a new version of an existing file at HDM -- it will upload a new version to the filepage with which you started. You can use this method to test changes and have it integrated with HDemoLauncher, but this approach to testing mods is highly discouraged because it will waste hard drive space on the server for each saved file and will not be as fast as directly downloading it to your computer instead. (You can just empty the trash, but actually deleting the files off a wiki-ed server is much more involved.)


Cool, right? Do you like the process?

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Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:56 pm
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Delta Force
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Post Re: A new plan for Zeus and Halo
Just thought I'd say I'm coming around to developing Zeus again. I've disabled the upload button for the file since I'm working on what happens after the file has been uploaded, the file analysis and editor interface on the page.

What you will see first is a file upload page like you see now.
After that you will see something like Eschaton but in your web browser. I'll be doing the map data first, then the tag data. I think I'll use Sparky's Plugins directly with the php script, using them to parse the tag metadata.
I'm not sure yet after this. Once I've got tag data parsing finished for READ capabilities, then I can have the user submit their changes for processing which will write the data to a new map file.
Rebuilding map files should be straightforward in updating the map header index and such.

I'll enable the "Upload" button once map reading is in a presentable state. Once again I'm having fun with this! Man, what a drag spending all those years trying to figure out Obj-C was...

I'm not so savvy with timeline estimates, so I'll just say that I'm working on this until I've achieved the above goals, then I'll move on to the next item of business.

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Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:09 pm
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Delta Force
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Post Re: A new plan for Zeus and Halo
I am changing something fundamental about this program.

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Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:38 am
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Post Re: A new plan for Zeus and Halo
What is that you're changing, sparky? This program has gone through many fundamental changes, IIRC!

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Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:05 am
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