Palapeli: Working towards elegance

July 11, 2010

I don’t have to tell you how great Akademy was; others on the Planet have already elaborated on this quite extensively. The only bad thing is that I had to depart on Tuesday. (Also, my plane to Helsinki was delayed quite a bit, but that’s another story.)

Those of you who were there probably remember the keynote of Aaron who wants us to put a focus on elegance. Details. The small things that distinguish good and useful programs from great programs. I soaked this message up like a sponge, and started working towards more elegance in our beloved jigsaw puzzle game Palapeli immediately after the keynote.

There are already quite some visual improvements which we are working on for Palapeli 1.2 (KDE SC 4.6): During the next week, the bling-compatible Goldberg slicer will be integrated into Palapeli as the new default slicer (I have just renamed it to “Palapeli Slicer Collection” to reduce confusion over the name). This will give us more natural and random piece shapes, and more grid types such as the Cairo grid with its pentagonal pieces.

The Goldberg slicer makes apparent a problem in a seemingly unrelated point of the program. Because it offers very many configuration options, the puzzle creation dialog turns into a mess:

I have now turned this dialog into an assistant dialog (also known as “wizard”) with multiple pages, which should make it more obvious what to do:

I am well aware that the third page is still quite cluttered. libpala already has support for flagging slicer properties as advanced, and once Palapeli knows to use this information, we will be able to present to the average user only those properties that really matter (most prominently the “piece count”). Another possible strategy could be to use images which describe the slicers and their properties.

Apart from these concerns, the new page layout makes it easy to cleanly add new options to the wizard (like the cropping interface requested in bko#231407).

One other thing which I’m working on is a bit unrelated to the original elegance theme of this blog post: I’m investigating how to make the puzzle loading more multi-threaded. This should make the puzzle loading faster, and the application should become more responsive and startup faster even with big puzzle collections.

Last but not least, Johannes Löhnert (the developer of the Goldberg slicer) is working on more puzzle pieces bling, namely a bevel effect which is applicable to all kinds of puzzles (also to those which you have generated with earlier Palapeli versions). Compare the current rendering without bevels (on the left) to the rendering with bevels (to the right):

As you see, we know already now that Palapeli 1.2 (KDE SC 4.6) will rock hard when it is released to the masses by early 2011. Bleeding-edge lovers can obtain the updated puzzle creation dialog already now by building kdegames trunk. The Goldberg slicer is in kdereview and will be merged with trunk very soon (just like the bevel patch).

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9 Responses to “Palapeli: Working towards elegance”

  1. TheBlackCat Says:

    Looks much better. I also really like the bevel. Is there any possibility of having a live preview of a few (3 or 4) example pieces to show the effects the sliders are having?

    • uetsah Says:

      +1 (also for the “choose slicing method” step)

    • Stefan Majewsky Says:

      Might be possible, though I should do some benchmarking on the slicers first. (Unfortunately, slicers only allow to slice the whole image at once. Selective creation of single pieces is not supported.)

      Could you please file a feature request on bko so I don’t forget this?

  2. frinring Says:

    Bevels, hurray 🙂 I’ll get out of complains soon!

  3. Victor Says:

    Nice!
    Long-awaited features

  4. mk5 Says:

    Impressive work. Bevel looks great!

    Also the slicer looks impressive. However, the number of options seems to be a bit overwhelming. To keep things simple: why not just offer a few standard configuations, e.g., “classic”, “modern”, “curved” (+ “screenshot” of the pieces) and hide the additional complexity in “custom type”.

    • Johannes Löhnert Says:

      Indeed a good idea. With the new libpala interface one could add a “preset” mode with just the basic options and a choice box. I’ll do it when there is time.

  5. Johannes Löhnert Says:

    The bevel patch is in svn now, for everybody who wants to try.

  6. IanW Says:

    The bevels and new slicer look great, but so do the current slicer and piece-fitting.

    What I am really hanging out for is all those aids we talked about a while back for making 1000 piece puzzles (and larger) easier to manipulate on-screen. The threads are in the KDE Games list and you put the features in bugs.kde.org, I believe.

    Will those features be in 4.6?


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