I hate menus

Posted by Toumaz on March 18, 2009
Development, History

Or to be a bit more specific, menu coding. The most agonizing part about working on Seal Hunter so far has been to get a decent menu system going, to the extent that I’ve actually been forced to (re)write the code for them a total of three times.

Very old menusThe first time around, I decided to simply go for Allegro’s built-in GUI system. As a feature of the graphics library itself, these were rather easy to implement and “everything just worked”. They looked terrible, but what the hey, that’s of no importance! However, as development progressed, the major issue with this approach was that they were a bit too obtrusive on the engine itself. Anytime a menu is displayed, it’ll run in a separate loop. To put this in laymen’s terms, overlaying menus on top of the game itself was very, very hard.

Old menusAfter realizing that little kink, I decided to try and rewrite the menu engine to work asynchronously from the rest of the game – in other words, being able to browse a menu without having what might be going on in the background freeze up. To put things lightly, this was way harder than I initially thought and in the I had a very unintuitive and rather sluggish version of the original GUI. I probably would’ve settled for this system in the end, but then a friend of mine discovered that these new menus somehow crashed the game for him while running on his system. I spent a fair amount of time trying to find the cause of the problem – probably two weeks, procrastination included – before giving up.

New menusThis was the single-handedly most important lesson I’ve ever learned from as a coder, and I feel stupid today for not paying more attention to the this earlier in the course of development. Do not reinvent the wheel. I had a look around for a menu library and ended up with Guichan. Thank <insert name of deity> for it; Guichan was excellently designed and very easy to customize (read: I changed a few window colors) and it was much easier to extend than Allegro’s GUI. The few issues I had were quickly resolved thanks to the library developers and a few searches of their forum. Still, there was a lot to adapt from the remains of the old menu, and this was one of the more painful and excruciating processes I’ve been through with this project.

In today’s news, with most of the menus actually finished up, I can finally focus on the game itself again. Right now I’m working on some of the lobby<->server communication, which I actually enjoy in its perverse ways.

And stay tuned for a look at a new and quite major feature of Seal Hunter.

22 Comments to I hate menus

sebastian
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

yes man you are just rocking for real, keep up the good way. it will be a happy day, the day that this game is done. :)

Gifflo
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Couldn’t agree more. It will be a damn fine day indeed, we shall all eat cookies (Or atleast I will :). And the Eskimos will prevail.

ZeroBurn
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hello :)

Looks really sweet!
Keep up the good work!

MM
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I really appreciate your work man! KEEP IT UP :) Cant wait until the release of the new Seal hunter!!!

Anton Pro elite sealhunter.
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Will there be any form of highscore list so you can see your status? couse that would be awsome:)

Nice work man! keep going!

Nils Pro elite sealhunter
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is it possible to make your own account and login for this game?

Good job so far!:D

Krath
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yes Sebastian!!

^g0r
Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Download GAME???????

как скачать её??

Gurra
Sunday, March 22, 2009

I´m aware that many people has asked about the release already and I ahve read the FAQ. But… If you would give an estimation what would you say, are we talking months or years?

And as always great job mate!

Tomas Olander
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Giving a set date or even a rough estimate is something I don’t feel comfortable doing. However, I hope to be able to have gotten the first full release out before the end of 2009 (and that’s being a bit too pessimistic, I think). What it boils down to is how lazy I am, and how long balance testing will take.

Gurra
Monday, March 23, 2009

Sounds good. I hope your very pessimistic =D

sebastian
Monday, March 23, 2009

will there be any kind of story in the game?

Tomas Olander
Monday, March 23, 2009

Yes, there’ll even be an intro cinematic!

sebastian
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

yes ! i am so happy and can’t wait for play the game

sebastian
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

will you PLZ put some picture out of the new weapons, and maby the new bosses ( if there will be new bosses) it will just be so nice.

Tomas Olander
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No new bosses are planned, and there are no new weapons finished either. The weapon concepts are there, but no art assets are made yet.

schimon
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You rock!
I Hope you get finished soon so that I can kill some small and helpless seals ;)

danne
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good job, can’t wait for you to finish it. Like every1 in my class plays this game and the multiplayer thing is just awesome. :O

robban
Thursday, March 26, 2009

is it going to be in any other language than english? that would be sweet!

prince
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Keep doing this man!!!

YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!!!!!!

BK_239
Friday, June 12, 2009

Stop the fuck, whatever you’re doing! Your game are going to be so fucking great so the whole planet whould explode! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!!

slhunterrlz
Saturday, August 1, 2009

omg this is gonna be soooooooooooooooo awsome du u hav any programming that ur useing 2 make it like gamemaker or sumting else if u du can u giv me a link??

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