Descent Level Database

For Descent, Descent II and Descent3 level editing and modification assistance.
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Descent Level Database

Post by Sniper » Fri Mar 02, 2007 6:27 pm

I had an idea about building a current Descent Level Database with a user logon feature. Allowing any level developer to upload their levels, maintain level versions/updates and descriptions etc. Of course all of this would be dynamic.

Is anyone interested in such a system. Obviously there exists many descent level databases. However, the point of this would be allow descent developers a place to

1. Host their levels so people can find them and download them
2. Have developers maintain their own level downloads with the latest version
3. Focus more on new levels developing in the community.

How many developers are interested in this type of system? If you are interested, what features would you like to see?
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Post by WillyP » Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:03 pm

Actually, there is already such a place. Registered users can upload zips, jpgs, and easily build a page about their level or levels. Or any other topic, for that matter. Check out DescentiaPedia

Here is an example of a page where you can download a level: KidsPort
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Post by Sirius » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:19 am

Uh, possibly, but I don't see the compelling part yet. Most of it can be done after a fashion using for instance PlanetDescent and a thread in the Level Spotlight - how would this improve upon that? Obviously it'd be a little more automated, but would it be enough to be worth it?
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Post by Munk » Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:34 am

Most projects come out of fun simply for doing the project. So why not try ?

If you have an idea which you like, have the skills and the equipment you need: just do it.

Noone knows, what will be on the end of that project. Maybe it doesn't end with just a place of levels, but with screenshots, tactical guides (where to fly, where to shoot, where to hide ...)

I think this could be great.
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Post by WillyP » Sat Mar 03, 2007 10:57 am

\"So why not try?\" Exactly! But, if you are just looking for a place to show your work, you are still welcome to use DescentiaPedia.

How this differs from other sites, PD for instance?
If, for example you have created a level, you submit this to PD (Top Gun, specifically). Then you create a thread for this in the forum, after finding a site to host your screenshots. A lively discussion ensues, last about a week, maybe two. Then Top Gun gets around to uploading your level, and discussion is revived, due to a bug in the level that did not show up in your testing... etc... Three months later you revive the thread from page five, get blasted for necroposting, and find that all your screenshots have been replaced by a frog telling you your image doesn't exist.

DescentiaPedia: After you register, click your name to create your home page. Add a page for your project and click 'File' to upload your file, within minutes youve published your work on the web for anyone to download. DescentiaPedia's home page is a public page so you can add a link to your project page if you want. you can also create categories, index pages, or whatever works for you. Viewers can leave comments in your comments section on each page, and these comments will remain associated with each page, as if each page was it's own topic in a forum. And if there are changes to the level to be made, or some new screen shots... it's just as easy to change.

Now, if someone has a question... ie: 'how do you get through the room with the... or 'how did you build... then a forum would be a better place for such discussion. The level auter, or someone else may then choose to take any info gleaned from such a discusion and add to a project page, or create a 'how-to' page.

Note: I am not knocking PD, or Top Gun, I love PD and I think Top Gun is doing a fine job, it's a lotta work, and as often happens, as soon as he gets a level put up, it needs to be changed... but I think the wikki engine will allow users more flexibility to manage their own project pages. It's an experiment, we will see what happens in time.
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Post by Sniper » Sat Mar 03, 2007 12:15 pm

How it differs is in the fact that it removes all the fluff that is associated with posting in the forums. True, forums provide a nice way to showcase your level(s), but many times your level can get caught up in all the other irrelevant posts that both surround your post in the thread view, but also in your actual post.

Keeping your level/project up-to-date with the latest versions and letting people know what the latest version is, is near impossible; this provides a better more organized view of what you're really after - all data associated with JUST the level/project itself.

The point of this database would be directed specifically towards developers and their levels, and for the players who are looking for just the facts on levels, and of course a place to download them.

I already have all the technical details worked out. And so far, this is what I have planned and designed:

From a typical users point of view, you wouldn't need a username and password to login. In fact, you wouldn't have to login in at all to use the system. Basically, on the home page you're given a list of the newest levels added, the latest levels that have been updated, and a convenient list (sortable by many options) of all of the levels, with a direct download link to get you on your way fast (none of this stupid file planet crap). No need to login, just find the latest levels, download (or view details), and get playing.

Optionally, you as a user/downloader (not from a developers point of view) may wish to have an account. If you want an account you could add certain levels to your favorites list. And possibly a way for you to \"share\" your list with other users.

From a developers point of view, you'd have account where you can keep your profile up-to-date. Add levels, maintain current levels with versions, release dates, posted dates, notes, a screenshot etc.

And this level database would be for ALL Versions of Descent and their developers. D1, D2, D2 Vertigo, D3 whatever. I also envision this expanding into other areas of the game, like models, textures, mods, etc. (Depending on its popularity).

I've already started work on this, so if anyone would like to offer suggestions on what they would like to see or offer support in any way I'm all ears!
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Post by Munk » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:40 pm

Somewhere on the disk i have a small script extracting the mission-loading pictures right out of the .mn3-file. (i think it's PHP for linux).

Might be helpful (or not - depending on what you have in mind).
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Post by Sniper » Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:25 pm

That's a cool idea! I'll keep that in mind when I get to that point. I am actually undecided right now how I want to handle screenshots (1 screenshot/level or more, size, quality etc).
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Post by WillyP » Sun Mar 04, 2007 7:51 am

The load screen is not always a good choice of screenshot for a level, often not showing what the level looks like at all. I think you should let the level designer choose one large screenie, and possibly two or three optional smaller shots. Deidel has a nice looking level showcase on his d2x-xl site.

Good luck with this project, sounds like a great idea!
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Post by Sniper » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:09 am

WillyP wrote:The load screen is not always a good choice of screenshot for a level, often not showing what the level looks like at all. I think you should let the level designer choose one large screenie, and possibly two or three optional smaller shots. Deidel has a nice looking level showcase on his d2x-xl site.

Good luck with this project, sounds like a great idea!
I was thinking of the same thing. I was thinking of only showing one screenshot of the mission on the mission's details screen.

And diedel does have a great web site!
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Post by Sniper » Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:13 am

Just as an update - the project is well under way and coming along wonderfully. I have all of the main database structure worked out. The Web page design is done spliced and in working php format. And 70% of the front-page coding is done.

There's still a lot of working to be done with user management, mission-file management, and mission archive browsing.
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Post by Sniper » Tue Mar 06, 2007 7:16 am

I know this sounds like a pipe-dream, so here are some screenshots of the project, which is nearly complete:

Image

Image

Image

Image

I have to finish off the rating system, the user account and the sign up area.
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Post by zico » Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:58 am

This looks like a very cool project.

Please keep up the good work. I am excited to see the results. I want to link it then. :)
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Post by Sniper » Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:12 am

Version 1.0 should be ready this week. At least, that's my optimistic plans :) But none-the-less it will be done very soon and wont drag on for weeks or months before some type of working version gets into everyone's hands. :)
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Post by Sirius » Tue Mar 06, 2007 2:01 pm

Visual design is pretty impressive actually.
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Post by Sniper » Tue Mar 06, 2007 5:35 pm

Thank you Sirius. I am going for a modern-type look and yet keeping a nostalgic old-school look. I think it's achieved. The way it feels when you move around through the data is nice too.
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Post by Sniper » Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:04 pm

UPDATE: The DMDB is near complete. Just have to polish off a few detail pages (mission editing once it's uploaded, mission removal, ratings, and all the other non-essential pages like about,links, etc).

All the hard stuff is done though, which is good. So you can expect to start using it very soon.
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Post by Munk » Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:29 pm

Huhh... cant wait to see it.

Is there a chance that there will be some external interface for linking to your page based on mission filename ?

Something like /browse.php?mission=havephun.mn3 ?
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Post by Sniper » Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:41 pm

Munk wrote:Huhh... cant wait to see it.

Is there a chance that there will be some external interface for linking to your page based on mission filename ?

Something like /browse.php?mission=havephun.mn3 ?
Yes, except it will be by mission id, not filename. For instance, "viewMission.php?id=31"

You'll also be able to reference members this way too.
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Post by Sniper » Thu Mar 08, 2007 9:58 pm

IT'S DONE!

But before it's released, I need some Beta testers. Preferably individuals who have D1, 2 and/or 3 levels to contribute since that's what the testing is all about. Please PM me if you're interested
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Post by MD-2389 » Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:16 pm

I'm impressed dude.
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Post by Sniper » Sat Mar 10, 2007 1:31 pm

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Post by Munk » Sat Mar 10, 2007 1:59 pm

Hey, looks very nice ! I like the design, even some parts are hard to read (gray on black)

Unfortunatly I'm not a mission developer .(
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Post by MD-2389 » Sat Mar 10, 2007 9:21 pm

You also might want to consider the ability to add Freespace and Freespace 2 missions/campaigns. That'll bring even more traffic to your site.
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Post by Sniper » Sat Mar 10, 2007 10:20 pm

Easy enough to do! I'll make a note of it.
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Post by Sirius » Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:46 am

Uhmm... yeah it looks good but I think you need to check up on the readability of some parts.

http://www.enspiar.com/dmdb/members.php
Can barely spot that there are column headings on my monitor, and it's fairly bright. Suggest a lighter font.
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Post by zico » Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:28 am

Agreed.

I also noticed some broken screenshots... but as it seems they are fixed now ^^

So besides the font I have nothing to complain :)

Very good job.

P.S. one thing probably:
\"DXX Rebirth
The next generation of D2X.\" --> AND D1X ;) - and for Linux as well :D
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Post by Aus-RED-5 » Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:24 am

Good work!
Looks really good Sniper.

Now all I have to do is upload my lvls to it. ;)
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Post by zico » Sun Mar 11, 2007 8:11 am

I hope you will also bring up your great singleplayer missions. I LOVE THEM :D
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Post by Sniper » Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:16 am

Sirius wrote:Uhmm... yeah it looks good but I think you need to check up on the readability of some parts.

http://www.enspiar.com/dmdb/members.php
Can barely spot that there are column headings on my monitor, and it's fairly bright. Suggest a lighter font.
I kept the column headings dark, almost unreadable because I thought that the column headings were self-explanatory. Also, they appear to be just fine on my end. I will lighten them up though :)



UPDATE:
Ok, table title heading are lighter.
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Post by Sirius » Sun Mar 11, 2007 2:08 pm

Yeah, I can see them now. They're still dark, but if that's the point, it should be fine.
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Post by KoolBear » Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:47 am

Look's pretty promising.

Need to take my old mission grabber and make it work with d3 and allow additin of download sites.
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Post by Sniper » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:25 pm

Koolbear, just so you and everyone else is aware of this..the DMDB is updated on a per-developer basis. This means that only the developers of the mission can upload their missions.

This is how the DMDB differs from any current Mission \"archive\" like the PD.com one. So for instance, I couldn't add any missions to the DMDB that are not mine.

If this is something that people really want - another level archive - I can implement this feature as well. But this what not the original purpose.

Also, I may be interpreting your post completely wrong. :)
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Post by Diedel » Mon Mar 12, 2007 3:04 pm

zico wrote:P.S. one thing probably:
"DXX Rebirth
The next generation of D2X." --> AND D1X ;) - and for Linux as well :D
"The next generation of D2X?" ROTFLOL!!! This really cracks me up!

Now this sounds like a pipe dream.

If Rebirth is "the next generation" I suppose I have to dub D2X-XL "game tech of the 4rd millenium" or so ... :roll:

heeeeeeehehe.

"The next generation".

Tsk.
Sniper wrote:And diedel does have a great web site!
Thx. :)

I will upload some stuff to your site. Is there a way to mark it "d2x-xl only"? Some of my levels can only be played with d2x-xl due to their Whoawammazoom!!! features (sorry, next-gen has already been taken, hrrrrrmmmpfff) they utilize.

I have added a link to your new site to my D2 site's links section.
Sniper wrote:Koolbear, just so you and everyone else is aware of this..the DMDB is updated on a per-developer basis. This means that only the developers of the mission can upload their missions.

This is how the DMDB differs from any current Mission "archive" like the PD.com one. So for instance, I couldn't add any missions to the DMDB that are not mine.
How would you want to do that? There is no personally linked signature or so on a mission.

Edit: Found the D2X-XL tag. Only zip? :(

boilpnt.rar: 2.9 MB
boilpnt.zip: 4.8 MB

Can I delete and/or edit submissions?

You should explicitly state that only gif images are allowed. I tried to upload jpeg because I didn't know. Or did I just miss it?

There also seems to a image-related bug: I decreased image size to 512x384 to make them smaller than 120 KB, and the images got rejected with a message that they had to be <= 640x480. Looks like you're checking for == 640x480 instead.
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Post by Sniper » Mon Mar 12, 2007 3:52 pm

Diedel,

I added your link to my links page - sorry for overlooking your Web site.

.zip only for now, but .rar will come soon!

Yes, you can edit/delete your mission. You can edit your screenshot and mission.zip (or .rar in the future ;))

I also added the .gif ONLY tag on the add mission page. This was an oversight on my part - pardon me.

How would you want to do that? There is no personally linked signature or so on a mission.
Actually, when you sign up you set your nickname. Any levels you upload are linked to that nickname (nicknames cannot be changed). You could, in theory, upload a level not by you - but you can also commit check fraud - the choice is up to you.
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Post by Diedel » Mon Mar 12, 2007 3:55 pm

Sniper,

I couldn't upload 512x384 sized gifs, which I had to do to satisfy the size limit imposed by your uploader. You either need to relax the dimensions or size restrictions (or even better, allow jpg).

Also, standard text is hard to read. I mean, c'mon: Light gray on dark gray? Better make it close to white, imho.
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Post by Sniper » Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:04 pm

Diedel wrote:Sniper,

I couldn't upload 512x384 sized gifs, which I had to do to satisfy the size limit imposed by your uploader. You either need to relax the dimensions or size restrictions (or even better, allow jpg).

Also, standard text is hard to read. I mean, c'mon: Light gray on dark gray? Better make it close to white, imho.
Any graphics program that allows you to change the colors the image is saved in will allow you to keep the file dimensions at whatever size you want (640x480) while shrinking file-size by minimizing colors. I've done it on all of my images and have kept decent quality for preview images.

But, just for your Diedel, I've changed my code so that you can upload your small gifs, if that's the way you'd like it.

Also, many have complimented me on the design so far. You're the only one that doesn't seem to like it. I'm sorry, but I cannot please everyone. Maybe the design will grow on you.
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Post by Diedel » Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:12 pm

#1 Image size.

I have decreased color depth to 256 bit colors, i.e. 8 bits/pixel. Going deeper will make them look awful. Some images still have slightly over 120 KB, some even 140 KB.

Just that you never had images that got bigger than 120 KB at 640x480x8 doesn't mean they do not exist.

Btw, your site didn't say the images have to be 640x480, it said they must not be bigger. So how should I tell that the mistake was that it didn't say they have to be 640x480, and not that it didn't accept any others?

#2 Site Design

What has \"hard to read\" to do with a matter of taste? You don't want to tell me that your half-bright gray on dark gray is a good contrast, do you? Well, ofc it is up to you to value looks over accessability.

Your last comment was pretty mindless, my friend.
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Post by Sniper » Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:20 pm

Diedel wrote:I have decreased color depth to 256 bit colors, i.e. 8 bits/pixel. Going deeper will make them look awful. Some images still have slightly over 120 KB, some even 140 KB.
You're not doing it right then. Send me the image and I'll do it for you.
Diedel wrote:Btw, your site didn't say the images have to be 640x480, it said they must not be bigger. So how should I tell that the mistake was that it didn't say they have to be 640x480, and not that it didn't accept any others?
You're 100% right Diedel. The page didn't say anything about images needing to be 640x480. As I said, it was an error/bug. My mistake.
Diedel wrote:What has "hard to read" to do with a matter of taste? You don't want to tell me that your half-bright gray on dark gray is a good contrast, do you? Well, ofc it is up to you to value looks over accessability.

Your last comment was pretty mindless, my friend.
Nothing on the Web site is hard to read except for the table heading titles. The titles are dim because people already know what the information is within the table. It's this way to be less distracting.

I'm not sure what you mean by mindless? Is it an insult? Why would you want to insult me?
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Post by Diedel » Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:25 pm

The image processor did it, and I trust it does the color conversion right. I mean, what's the magic about reducing color depth to 8 bits/pixel. \"I didn't do it right\", OMG.

I have nothing to add about the readability of plain text on your site. It's bad, and it's clear why it is.

\"Mindless\" means about \"not thought out\".
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