Forumwarz is the first "Massively Single-Player" online RPG completely built around Internet culture.

You are currently looking at Flamebate, our community forums. Players can discuss the game here, strategize, and role play as their characters.

You need to be logged in to post and to see the uncensored versions of these forums.

Log in or Learn about Forumwarz

Civil Discussion
Switch to Role-Playing Civil Discussion
Evil Trout A peek into the guts of Forumwarz (for the nerds!)

Evil Trout

MODERATOR
Avatar: 35 2013-08-13 11:47:18 -0400

[Crotch Zombie]

Level 21 Hacker

I have ample evidence that ET is a weedy little twerp.

As a huge dork who likes to program a lot, I was thinking it might be fun to write a little about what makes the site tick. If there’s interest, I might write more like this in the future. Please feel free to reply with any questions/criticisms/etc about the code. Log in to see images!

This contains spoilers for episode one!

The sTalk Conversation Engine

The conversation system in Forumwarz is heavily influenced by the Lucasarts games I grew up playing. You are given a series of choices, and based on those choices and your current variables you can jump to other choices.

The first iteration I came up with was fairly simple. A subject in the conversation was represented by a row in a table. That subject had many pieces of dialog and many choices, stored in two other tables. The dialog is what would be displayed, the choices were references to other subjects.

As a proof of concept it worked pretty well. I created much of Shallow Esophagus’ first conversation with the player this way. However, once we started implementing it into the game some major flaws became obvious. The first was that many conversations needed to execute conditional logic.

For example, one of the early quests is to obtain a picture for Futanari Moe. If you have the picture the dialog goes one way, if you don’t it goes another. So the system needed to be able to check game variables and act differently depending on what they were.

The second problem was that conversations could trigger so many different things. Sometimes they might give you a bookmark, a mission, flezz or items. Upon realizing this limitation I basically threw away the database storage system and cooked up a DSL for Ruby where conversations could be written simply.

Here’s an example script from Gamble-Bot:

 def start_gambling
    actor_says "Hey there. Looking to win big?"
    
    choice :games, :say => "I sure am!"
    choice_end :say => "God no! Gambling offends my sensibilities!"
  end
  
  def games
    actor_says "You can play:"
    actor_says "- Blackjack"
    actor_says "- Paper, Rock, Scissors"
    
    choice :blackjack, :say => "I'm a fan of Blackjack"
    choice :paper_rock_scissors, :say => "Let's play Paper, Rock, Scissors"
    choice_end :say => "Actually I gotta go!"
  end

Since the scripts for the conversations were still Ruby, I was free to call any in-game functions and do fun conditionals and things like that. I coded up most of Gamble-Bot in an afternoon to test the limits of the flexibility of the system.

I thought the format was pretty simple, but when I showed it to the team they found it confusing. Since the plan was for Jalapeno to do much of the writing, if he wasn’t comfortable writing the Ruby scripts for the conversations then we had a problem. We needed an interface to design the chats!

I started working with the idea of a tree-like widget, but quickly realized that it wasn’t working, since leaf nodes had to link back to parent nodes. The conversations amount to a finite state machine, and building a GUI for that was quite a challenge. I finally sucked it up and started working on a rich Javascript app based on what I’d seen on Yahoo Pipes. It took a week to get a working version up and running, and then there were lots of refinements, but the interface looks like this:

Log in to see images!

Basically you can create as many “States” as you want, and drag them around a large scrolling grid. Then they can be connected to each other by creating “Choices” and linking them to other choices. It uses the canvas tag in Firefox to draw the arrows nicely with some bezier curves.

Sometimes things get a little tangled, but they’re generally not too hard to follow since states can be color coded:

Log in to see images!

Once the conversation is finished in the GUI, it can be compiled into Ruby scripts. The compilation involves a stage where each state is traversed recursively. This is done to create a quick look-up tree so that we can figure out what conversation steps you’ve already looked at. It doesn’t happen too often but sometimes you’ll see a choice is faded out.

The compilation is a one-way street: the Ruby scripts for the conversations cannot be edited and reloaded in the GUI, so all editing must be done visually.

It’s not a perfect system and still needs a lot of work. I will probably enhance it a bit for Episode 2 now that I know some areas where headaches occur. Having said that, I’m pretty proud of it, and considering conversations are so important to the Forumwarz gameplay I think it was worth the effort Log in to see images! Evil Trout edited this message on 02/25/2008 11:06PM

xxSpectralTe-
arsxx

Avatar: Emo Girl 3

Level 8 Emo Kid

“Scene Kid”

Evil Trout Posted:

Log in to see images!

As an armchair Rubyist, the guts of FW are definitely of interest to me. Your conversation scripts are an awesome example of how easy it is to bang out a tiny DSL with Ruby. I suppose each conversation option selected by the user is just eval’d to produce a response?

Have you considered Open Sourcing or otherwise allowing us nerds to take a deeper peek into the source?

Alternatively, do you ever see yourself looking for help with maintaining/extending the codebase?

xxSpectralTearsxx edited this message on 11/19/2007 12:02AM

Haydn

Avatar: Haydn's Avatar
1

Level 30 Emo Kid

“Zorba the Bleak”

You mean . . . the people I talked to were MADE UP?

I’m going to cry myself to sleep now. I thought they were my friends.

How do I know YOU’RE not fake, Evil Trout? Did you just PROGRAM that evening of karaoke? And all the “friends” you brought?

Log in to see images!

Evil Trout

MODERATOR
Avatar: 35 2013-08-13 11:47:18 -0400

[Crotch Zombie]

Level 21 Hacker

I have ample evidence that ET is a weedy little twerp.

xxSpectralTearsxx Posted:

I suppose each conversation option selected by the user is just eval’d to produce a response?

Basically, yes. Each character you talk to is bumociated with a script. You pbum a symbol to the conversations controller which loads that script, initializes it with some variables and then uses “send” to execute the code for that symbol.

Of course since the method name is coming from the user it’s heavily mbumaged. I make sure it’s not a Kernel or Object method, and that it doesn’t have any arguments.

The calls like actor_says just fill up arrays, and when the response is ready to send back they’re converted into HTML elements that a Javascript runtime parses.

xxSpectralTearsxx Posted:

Have you considered Open Sourcing or otherwise allowing us nerds to take a deeper peek into the source?

I’ve considered open sourcing parts of it. I mean most of the code is just the typical kind of glue you see in web apps. There are a few interesting components like this conversation editor, but I’m not sure how useful it would be to other projects.

The text adventure engine works on very similar principles, it has its own DSL, and at today’s meeting Jalapeno said maybe I should open source it and have a contest for people to create adventure games for episode 2 Log in to see images!. I could see myself releasing that because it’s a fairly simple and isolated piece, but honestly, as someone pointed out in the contest thread, it’s quite lacking. There are many better open source text adventure engines, the only advantage this one has is it’s easy to play in a web browser!

xxSpectralTearsxx Posted:

Alternatively, do you ever see yourself looking for help with maintaining/extending the codebase?

Eventually if Forumwarz continues to grow and we can afford it, yes.

Evil Trout edited this message on 11/19/2007 12:12AM

dongs

Avatar: Nipple Piercing
2

[Team AWESOME]

Level 10 Troll

JOIN TEAM AWESOME NOW AND GET FREE LOLICON HENTAI!

Thanks for this, I always love looking at behind-the-scenes stuff. Do you know if you guys have produced the first browser game… on rails?

Cubear

Avatar: Cubear's Avatar
3

[Team AWESOME]

Level 10 Camwhore

Tubmail me a picture of your male reproductive organ, and I'll send you several pics of my naked body from every angle.

is there a reason avatars are 93 by 93? it seems awfully arbitrary.

Hamelin

Avatar: Hamelin's Avatar

Level 10 Emo Kid

“Gloomy Gus”

That is a sexy GUI for writing out the conversations. I applaud you on it.

Maha

Avatar: Skeleton Smoking

Level 41 Troll

“Hot Sauce in the Dick Hole”

Very cool.

Evil Trout

MODERATOR
Avatar: 35 2013-08-13 11:47:18 -0400

[Crotch Zombie]

Level 21 Hacker

I have ample evidence that ET is a weedy little twerp.

Cubear Posted:

is there a reason avatars are 93 by 93? it seems awfully arbitrary.

It does, doesn’t it?

Actually I thought that was the standard size that MSN messenger used for avatars. Looking it up now they use 96×96, so who knows what I was thinking!

Flamebate could actually support higher resolution avatars with its layout, but there are so many other places where I’ve depended on that resolution that I didn’t want to allow people to upload bigger ones.

Ryouga Inver-
se

Avatar: Red Green Flashing
2

[Team AWESOME]

Level 10 Troll

“Pain in the ASCII”

dongs Posted:

Thanks for this, I always love looking at behind-the-scenes stuff. Do you know if you guys have produced the first browser game… on rails?

I’m pretty sure there’ve been a couple other RoR games. Whether or not they succeeded is another story.

A lot of people consider RoR pretty slow (“Ruby on Snails” is a common turn of phrase) but I don’t think it seems that slow here Log in to see images! I think once it’s loaded up it’s just as fast as anything else.

I’ve been designing a browser game in my spare time that I plan on writing in Ruby. It’s a very nice language for almost any application.

Evil Trout

MODERATOR
Avatar: 35 2013-08-13 11:47:18 -0400

[Crotch Zombie]

Level 21 Hacker

I have ample evidence that ET is a weedy little twerp.

Ryouga Inverse Posted:

dongs Posted:

Thanks for this, I always love looking at behind-the-scenes stuff. Do you know if you guys have produced the first browser game… on rails?

I’m pretty sure there’ve been a couple other RoR games. Whether or not they succeeded is another story.

A lot of people consider RoR pretty slow (“Ruby on Snails” is a common turn of phrase) but I don’t think it seems that slow here Log in to see images! I think once it’s loaded up it’s just as fast as anything else.

I’ve been designing a browser game in my spare time that I plan on writing in Ruby. It’s a very nice language for almost any application.

There was a game called Unroll (llor.nu), but I’ve never been able to play it because it always seems to be down. The guy who created that now has a start up dedicated to making games in Rails, but I think they’re focusing on the educational market.

Ruby is actually a slow language, there’s no doubt about that. Metrics don’t lie. But nobody codes an app in Rails so that it’ll run fast. The beauty of Rails in my opinion is the speed to develop things. I can knock out features in just a few hours of code.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that it’s usually not the scripting language that causes a web app to be slow, it’s the database. Rails is process based so you could throw another front end server at it to handle twice as many requests at once. However, when those requests contend for the database, you’ll find yourself in a bottleneck Log in to see images!

Evil Trout edited this message on 11/20/2007 10:56PM

Ryouga Inver-
se

Avatar: Red Green Flashing
2

[Team AWESOME]

Level 10 Troll

“Pain in the ASCII”

Evil Trout Posted:

Ryouga Inverse Posted:

dongs Posted:

Thanks for this, I always love looking at behind-the-scenes stuff. Do you know if you guys have produced the first browser game… on rails?

I’m pretty sure there’ve been a couple other RoR games. Whether or not they succeeded is another story.

A lot of people consider RoR pretty slow (“Ruby on Snails” is a common turn of phrase) but I don’t think it seems that slow here Log in to see images! I think once it’s loaded up it’s just as fast as anything else.

I’ve been designing a browser game in my spare time that I plan on writing in Ruby. It’s a very nice language for almost any application.

There was a game called Unroll (llor.nu), but I’ve never been able to play it because it always seems to be down. The guy who created that now has a start up dedicated to making games in Rails, but I think they’re focusing on the educational market.

Ruby is actually a slow language, there’s no doubt about that. Metrics don’t like. But nobody codes an app in Rails so that it’ll run fast. The beauty of Rails in my opinion is the speed to develop things. I can knock out features in just a few hours of code.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that it’s usually not the scripting language that causes a web app to be slow, it’s the database. Rails is process based so you could throw another front end server at it to handle twice as many requests at once. However, when those requests contend for the database, you’ll find yourself in a bottleneck Log in to see images!

Oh, definitely. Ruby is a beautiful language and it’s most certainly my favorite to code in. I’ll take that over speed any day. Log in to see images!

If you guys ever need someone to help on this, I’d love to join in. It doesn’t look like you’re having too many problems acquiring more users. Log in to see images! Ryouga Inverse edited this message on 11/20/2007 7:38PM

h0tzenpl0tz

Avatar: Toy Mouth

Level 10 Troll

“Pain in the ASCII”

just read the waxy article linking to this thread and i gotta say, the conversation editor is pretty NEAT! as a dev i loved to read alot more about the tech in the background… bow for the bezier curves! Log in to see images!

Echuu

Avatar: 6433 Tue Jul 21 22:01:07 -0400 2009
10

[Backdoor Amigos]

Level 20 Troll

You made Vader snobby.

I really liked reading about the tech behind it all, I’m going to start learning RoR soon and insight into it is very cool, i didn’t realize that the sTalk editor was so beautiful so props for that and keep up the good work.

foobar67

Avatar: Halloween Pumpkin
2

Level 10 Troll

“Pain in the ASCII”

Evil Trout Posted:

As a huge dork who likes to program a lot, I was thinking it might be fun to write a little about what makes the site tick. If there’s interest, I might write more like this in the future…

As a huge dork addicted to playing this game and not being able to program stuff like this myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this snipplet and would appreciate to read more stuff like this, as your time permits… thanks for sharing! Log in to see images!

Dez666

Avatar: Blood Cells

Level 10 Emo Kid

“Gloomy Gus”

*feels somewhat inspired by ET and goes hunting for a RoR book on amazon to dabble with*

Log in to see images!

Vagitarian

Avatar: Vagitarian's Avatar

[The Flamers of Loa-
thing
]

Level 10 Troll

Im a stupid ****wad

Great job, chaphand.

SkinTicket

Avatar: 4386 2010-01-07 13:38:24 -0500
2

[Sisterhood of the -
Quivering Rose
]

Level 23 Camwhore

[Insert very special joke here, preferably about male reproductive organs]

Posting in legendary thread

Skyreal

Avatar: Boobs
8

Level 24 Camwhore

“The Lady is a Tramp”

Who needs books when you have GoogleSentrillion?

The Serised

Avatar: Woman's Abs

Level 10 Camwhore

“Leave it to Cleavage”

I stopped reading after that word that starts with the L and it’s a game or something? Based off the L_____.

Anyway, I think it goes without saying this is a cool game that has a bunch of nerdy technical cool thingies.

Internet Delay Chat
Have fun playing!
To chat with other players, you must Join Forumwarz or Log In now!