Starfire Apps

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Starfire Apps

Postby SDTroll on Mon 04 Jan 2016 20:18

Is there any plans for apps for Starfire? Something like the shipyard and/or spreadsheets I can use on my Ipad? Note, I have absolutely no idea how difficult this is or if it is even possible. I use apps, I don't design them or even know the process for designing them. I just know I'd be willing to pay for one if it was available.
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Xveers on Mon 04 Jan 2016 22:49

I believe the problem is "Who's going to build this?" I'd love to see an implementation via computer of the proper ruleset even as an admin and management program, and an App would be a few steps beyond this, but the issue is to get someone who:

A) Will work for peanuts (IE real peanuts, not just a small stipend)
B) Can code and create apps
C) Is familiar with the rule-set enough to be able to generate code that only needs review/tweaking to ensure accuracy

When we get such a unicorn, I'm sure Cralis or Marvin will quickly trap them in a basement with a C++ compiler, an abacus, and enough vellum to make a program. Until then... :twisted:
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Cralis on Mon 04 Jan 2016 23:22

My time problems from the last year aside, I could do it if I wasn't so busy with everything else. We do have a fan-written software agreement but Marvin has some restrictions on it that a lot of people just don't want to deal with. Xveer's analysis is, sadly, pretty close for the moment.

We aim to change that in the future. We just aren't sure when that may happen.

PS. I would like to point out that software has been written in the past. The original shipyard is too old and we no longer have the source code to update it. One such fan software relationship... turned sour, unfortunately. And the other project was attempted by an actual game company that folded before they finished the game. So far it's been... a challenge ...to get anywhere with software.
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Morpheus on Tue 05 Jan 2016 12:23

Cralis wrote:We do have a fan-written software agreement but Marvin has some restrictions on it that a lot of people just don't want to deal with. Xveer's analysis is, sadly, pretty close for the moment.


Is there a reason for why the agreement is so restrictive? My biggest gripe is that no tables/charts are allowed to be accessible to the end user. If I have to look away from the app and flip through the rules every time I need to look at a table, what good is the app/program to me?

Why not go with more of an open source model? I've used a lot of great resources from BoardGameGeek and VASSAL for other great games like Squad Leader, Advanced Squad Leader, Eclipse and Magic Realm. Making more and better resources available would definitely increase the awareness of Starfire and its player base.
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Cralis on Wed 06 Jan 2016 01:08

Morpheus wrote:
Cralis wrote:We do have a fan-written software agreement but Marvin has some restrictions on it that a lot of people just don't want to deal with. Xveer's analysis is, sadly, pretty close for the moment.


Is there a reason for why the agreement is so restrictive? My biggest gripe is that no tables/charts are allowed to be accessible to the end user. If I have to look away from the app and flip through the rules every time I need to look at a table, what good is the app/program to me?


The reason is that Marvin does not want fan software that has the ability to play the game without the rules. He was badly burned by the one piece of fan software that he allowed to do that. So no more of that.

It took me years to convince him to get this far. And there are a number of possible applications that could help. For example, Elminster's System Generation application for SSF.

Back ten years go there was a company that had a commercial attempt at building a Starfire game but the company folded before it was finished. We have had several people talk to us, but either they didn't want to meet our requirements or in one case -- I'm very sad to say -- I was so overwhelmed with stuff both inside Starfire and outside that I didn't get an agreement in time and he's stopped responding to me.

Now, that doesn't mean that we are against doing something that is more of a partnership. Marvin (and honestly, the SDS) has some criteria that we expect of any software we get behind in such a partnership. And we've been thinking about different kinds of software tools and things we think would be really beneficial to gameplay.

Why not go with more of an open source model? I've used a lot of great resources from BoardGameGeek and VASSAL for other great games like Squad Leader, Advanced Squad Leader, Eclipse and Magic Realm. Making more and better resources available would definitely increase the awareness of Starfire and its player base.


And VASSAL requires the game rules to play. I'm not sure what resources you're talking about from BGG for gameplay, but I haven't had time to fully explore the site. We are working on a lot of different things right now, some of which came directly from suggestions that have been made on this forum!
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Morpheus on Wed 06 Jan 2016 17:24

I still use the old Drydock program in DOSBox to design ships for Classic Starfire. I don't have a good image for it, but it has a blue background and you navigate around the interfaces using the arrows, function keys, the tab and delete buttons (does that ring a bell to anyone?). What I like about it is that it has CSV files for ship hulls, ship systems, and ordinance, and displays information on each of these in the program (hull spaces, cost, TL, etc.) that can be used when designing ships. The CSV files can be edited to add new tech systems or ship hulls. It is a tiny bit buggy, but it is still the fastest way of designing a new ship from scratch that I have tried. The source code isn't available but from time to time I toy with the idea of making a version that corrects the bugs and would run on a modern operating system. Is there any possibility that anything like this would ever be permitted (other than for my own personal use)?

Cralis wrote:
Why not go with more of an open source model? I've used a lot of great resources from BoardGameGeek and VASSAL for other great games like Squad Leader, Advanced Squad Leader, Eclipse and Magic Realm. Making more and better resources available would definitely increase the awareness of Starfire and its player base.


And VASSAL requires the game rules to play. I'm not sure what resources you're talking about from BGG for gameplay, but I haven't had time to fully explore the site. We are working on a lot of different things right now, some of which came directly from suggestions that have been made on this forum!


I'm mainly referring to the play aids that people have made with combat results tables and unit info for Squad Leader and also a very nice flow chart that takes a huge manual and breaks the game flow into a few nicely done flowcharts. I also made up some excel spreadsheets for Ultra Starfire that contain all of the to-hit and damage numbers for all of the weapons and then turn on the filters so that I can make a cheat sheet when I play that only contains the information on the weapons that I am playing with (rather than looking through all of the various tables in the tables appendix of the rules). Is there any possibility or way of ever being able to make something like this available?
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Cralis on Thu 07 Jan 2016 15:36

Morpheus wrote:I still use the old Drydock program in DOSBox to design ships for Classic Starfire. I don't have a good image for it, but it has a blue background and you navigate around the interfaces using the arrows, function keys, the tab and delete buttons (does that ring a bell to anyone?). What I like about it is that it has CSV files for ship hulls, ship systems, and ordinance, and displays information on each of these in the program (hull spaces, cost, TL, etc.) that can be used when designing ships. The CSV files can be edited to add new tech systems or ship hulls. It is a tiny bit buggy, but it is still the fastest way of designing a new ship from scratch that I have tried. The source code isn't available but from time to time I toy with the idea of making a version that corrects the bugs and would run on a modern operating system. Is there any possibility that anything like this would ever be permitted (other than for my own personal use)?


The old shipbuilder program ran on my machine until I upgraded from Win XP to Win 7. I also have toyed with ideas and concepts from time to time, including a much better interface. But I just haven't had the time to work on it. And I know I'm not alone...

Cralis wrote:
Why not go with more of an open source model? I've used a lot of great resources from BoardGameGeek and VASSAL for other great games like Squad Leader, Advanced Squad Leader, Eclipse and Magic Realm. Making more and better resources available would definitely increase the awareness of Starfire and its player base.


And VASSAL requires the game rules to play. I'm not sure what resources you're talking about from BGG for gameplay, but I haven't had time to fully explore the site. We are working on a lot of different things right now, some of which came directly from suggestions that have been made on this forum!


I'm mainly referring to the play aids that people have made with combat results tables and unit info for Squad Leader and also a very nice flow chart that takes a huge manual and breaks the game flow into a few nicely done flowcharts.[/quote]

Nobody is stopping you from making your own charts. Heck we'll even post them as downloads from the downloads section. What Marvin doesn't want is an computer program that does all of that for you without meeting the requirements we would demand of it.

I also made up some excel spreadsheets for Ultra Starfire that contain all of the to-hit and damage numbers for all of the weapons and then turn on the filters so that I can make a cheat sheet when I play that only contains the information on the weapons that I am playing with (rather than looking through all of the various tables in the tables appendix of the rules). Is there any possibility or way of ever being able to make something like this available?


I do that myself as well, just not with Excel. That is actually a feature I thought would be neat for a shipyard style program, where you tell it what ships you want listed for a scenario and it prints out all the ships and includes the charts for the weapons involved...

I've had a lot of time to think about it out where I've not been able to do anything about it (like at my day job).
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Geolama on Wed 21 Jun 2017 22:21

These are just some related thoughts on what could be done for Starfire software:

With the ubiquitousness of Cloud services, perhaps Marvin could supply the web services that provide the information or calculations that would normally be found in tables or is otherwise proprietary. Then third party software could be written to perform the 'open' portion of the rules but call into the web services to get information or calculations from the 'closed' portion of the rules controlled and maintained by SDS/Marvin. They could use a subscription model and charge a nominal fee to use the services on a yearly/monthly/etc. basis. Any software written would have to authenticate and then receive authorization from whatever services that SDS provides. SDS could even set the services up to allow the third party software to specify which version of Starfire they want to use and the proper information or calculations would be performed/returned.
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Cralis on Thu 22 Jun 2017 01:40

Now THAT is a really interesting idea. Basically provide a set of APIs to web services that perform various calculations and return the results. It's up to the developer to make them do something.

Hmmm.....
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Re: Starfire Apps

Postby Whitecold on Thu 22 Jun 2017 10:47

Honestly, I fail to see why this would have to be online. The supposedly 'closed part' is all revealed in the Rules PDF, so no need to be secretive about it. You could wrap the functions into some nice library, and make that available to developers.
Making it offline relieves you of the trouble of identifying who has access rights to your functions, especially for scripts which run offline in the first place, and if someone wants an online app, they run the library on your server.

If the idea is to provide some online DRM, getting a commercial DRM software into your project is probably more useful.

I implemented most tactical functions for my unfortunately on-hold tactical simulator. The proprietary part would be the xml files storing range tables, the actual combat can be determined from quickstart rules. Putting those online just makes the game unplayable offline, makes it reliant on some server staying up, and removes the automatic mod support you get from having an accessible database.
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