Since I haven't visibly been up to much, I figure I'd just drop off a "state of my projects" thread/post - if for no other reason, than to have it all down in one spot. So, that being said - here goes...
Right now, any further time and/or effort on Palantir 2 is on hold until Turbine fixes the numerous buggy and just plain broken API classes/methods that would make Palantir 2 have a point. No, I don't expect everything to be perfect, nor do I expect everything I desire to be in the API, just simply, that the very few things in the API actually work. Don't get me wrong, I'm (obviously) not against going to extremes to get something to work; but that's something that should be reserved for pulling things off that aren't officially supported - not to get officially supported things to work.
That being said, the current version of Palantir will continue to be supported, including updates, should there be something that needs fixing (should it be possible, without having to wait for another patch).
I'll be honest. I'm totally slacking on this right now. The most difficult part of this app has been basically done for quite some time; but I've just been admittedly low on ambition when it comes to rewriting the XML handling, as well as exploring the best way to handle an update service. While I will take the majority of the blame, the fact that the data feed is, at best, getting haphazard attention from Turbine (added about half of the new stats, haven't fixed any existing issues, and the last time I checked, crafting isn't updating), hasn't exactly improved my enthusiasm.
While the plugin experiment isn't going anywhere (curse the realities of feasibility!), this is the one project Turbine hasn't managed to dampen my enthusiasm over. Of course, granted, the main reason for this is the ability to get everything I need from the game itself, thus not requiring any additional support from Turbine; but still...
This project is going to continue to use the zone-based google-style map, it's just that instead of a plugin, the focus is now on mobile devices. While I'm not going to start writing checks my abilities may not be able to cash, I can say that I've successfully managed to port my "engine" over to AIR for Android, using the lorebook's map tiles. Performance is quite nice on my Inspire 4G (Desire HD for those of you outside the US), save for the obnoxious load times of Turbine's bulky tiles. Initial attempts on the native Android API haven't been quite as successful, but as I'd prefer to not require the AIR runtime, I will be investigating that further.
In order to get around that whole "Turbine taking forever to update everything" issue, I've elected to assemble my maps by hand, using a combination of the in-game parchment maps (modified to include sub-zones) along with a terrain map made of the actual in-game tiles. So yes, even if Turbine doesn't update their Google Map, any current and future zones will be readily possible - including the possibility of instances.
LotRO Character Journal
Some initial steps were taken to port the AIR version over to the HTML5 fueled Kludget widget engine, which is not only cross-platform (Windows/Linux), but also supports native OS X dashboard widgets. The initial test was to see how well it would look and perform, compared to the AIR version - and thanks to a bit of HTML5 (canvas) and the godly library known as JQuery, the result - including animations, server status, and roll-over effects, is pretty close. The only unfortunate thing is that the HTML rendering engine (QT) this gadget/widget engine uses doesn't display bold text very well (at least with Trajan Pro). Despite that, Kludget appears to be a very suitable solution to the finicky-ness of AIR and the limitations/platform specificness of Windows Sidebar.
One other thing worth noting: Microsoft has shut down their web-based Sidebar Gadget Gallery, as they're moving on towards Windows 8 - which apparently won't be (eventually anyway) supporting the Sidebar. The current developer build still does support it, as both the Sidebar, and the "Add Gadget" context menu entry still exists. However, with this change in focus to a "touch-friendly" windows, including a Windows Phone 7 style start screen that is built on a tile-based interface, tied to full-screen apps, this means that the future of LCJ for Windows Sidebar should be investigated.
Right now, since this new interface is, both in form and function, a desktop version of Windows Phone 7, if it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, the most likely solution is to call it a duck. In other words, instead of attempting to shoe-horn LotRO Character Journal into this new form, it would just make more sense to "port" over the mobile app I'm already working on for Android. If this means that by proxy, I end up making a version for Windows Phone 7, then what's the downside?
Other Points of Interest
- Recently I've managed to install a fully functional and (for all intents and purposes) legit OS X Lion on my PC, currently triple-booting with Win7 and Win 8 Developer Preview (in sorta a reverse Boot Camp kinda way). I've also managed to pretty much duplicate my dev environment in OS X, with the addition of XCode - making iOS apps at least within the realm of possibility. Since Photoshop's handling of large images is significantly better in OS X, most of my LotROMaps work is probably going to be done in that OS. Just before writing this, I also managed to get LotRO working via Crossover.
- Outside of plugin/app work, I managed to come across a little utility called "DAT_UNPACKER", which I've helped the author with the export of the majority of DXT compression types (exported as .dds files). Not to sound egotistical, but that was the easy part. The current goal, and major challenge is to figure out the proprietary formats - most notably the mesh files. Unfortunately, other than basic knowledge of how basic 3d formats are structured, my knowledge/experience in decoding binary formats of that nature is next to nothing. So, if anybody has more experience of this nature, I would certainly appreciate the help in this regard.
Of course, now that I mentioned the app, I'm sure there will be questions on where to find it. The answer to that question is, right now anyway, hit-or-miss. See, it's hosted here; but currently, I'm having trouble connecting directly. If you're having the same issues, try copying the link and use a proxy server like this one, and it should work fine.
Well that about covers everything LotRO related. Like I said, since I really haven't released much lately, and have been getting a few questions about these projects, that I'd combine them all into one comprehensive post that covers everything. Plus, as an added bonus, it gives me the opportunity to get some valuable feedback - so I don't risk living/thinking in a bubble.