Something to SLAY…

First things first, if you're interested in cross-platform mobile development then give PhoneGap a look. Essentially it's a way to package HTML5 apps for the major mobile platforms that facilitates access to some of the hardware features to which such projects would normally be blind. With the Playniax Monkey Framework failing to appear I kicked off work on SLAY2 with PhoneGap and was surprised by how enjoyable it was (there's something distinctly hackerish about the way JavaScript – which I'd previously dismissed – lets you inject HTML strings into shell DIVs, like you're wielding more power over the tech than you're really meant to have!) and I'd kinda hate for anyone to miss it as an option.

That said, work on SLAY2 pushes on with Monkey. Not only am I familiar with BRL's syntax, building for such a wide range of platforms from a single drop-down menu is just so damn good. If I have a slight bugbear with Monkey's building process, it's that the Windows version won't spit out an XCode project for a Mac to pick up and build off the network. However it's still ahead of PhoneGap in that all a platform's supported SDKs are managed from a single codebase in a single IDE. As much as I miss having functions as first-class objects now I've had the pleasure via JavaScript (and Python, which I had a look at recently and which is beautiful!), I value the ease of switching targets provided by Monkey more.

But hang on, what's SLAY2 exactly? Naturally it is the successor to SLAY – Sledge's Lua-enhanced Adventure Thingy – and the intention is for it to be the core tech upon which InTo Games' future interactive fiction projects are built. SLAY2 isn't going to be an engine in the same sense that SLAY was, though. Rather than script games in Lua they will be written in Monkey and compiled directly into the application proper. There are obviously contexts where external game scripts make a great deal of sense, but a sand-boxed mobile application with no requirement for in-app purchases, written with a cross-platform framework really isn't one of them. This WILL mean redefining the acronym, however :D

Rather than wait for Playniax to show up and maybe offer some useful GUI support, I started poking around at ChallengerGUI which, it turns out, is kind of on the cusp of greatness. I still wound up writing some text layout code because I think that's an area where ChallengerGUI and its third-party font engine are destined to stare expectantly at each other for ever more, each thinking it's the other's job. Or maybe I just missed the API calls for text-wrapping? Anyway it wasn't too painful and didn't distract from other areas for very long at all. Anyone with an interest can check out the work-in-progress here. Until next time!

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