Phil Hassey - game dev blog
Phil Hassey as Rambo
".. I've been there,
I know what it's like,
and I'll do it again if I have to."

Galcon Palm update

Wow, it’s great to see how many people have been enjoying Galcon for the Palm Pre Plus! I have gotten some really great feedback, so I’ve put together an update! All of the in-game issues are related to the integration with the WebOS features, so I’m documenting the bug report and the solution here.

Item 1: Back gesture quits the app – Resolved, 95%

This was really easy. I just capture the SDL key event for SDLK_ESCAPE and handle that as a “back” button. The nice thing is due to all my work on the Android port where users demanded back button support, I had already added this feature! So coding this only took about 5 minutes. (The Android work I’m building on took a good day, so enjoy the back features, they work throughout the whole game!)

The only shortfall of this fix is that when you use the back gesture from the main menu the app doesn’t minimize, it just sits there. I could have it quit, but I’m not sure that would be better. I’ll have to see what users say. The PDK does not have a PDL_MinimizeApp() function or anything yet, so I’ll just leave it as is now. The user can still tap the gesture area to minimize the app.

Item 2: Reduce idle CPU usage – Minor, no ideal solution

One user noticed Galcon was still using 2% cpu when minimized. This is probably due to OpenGL rendering, which I really don’t need to continue doing when the app is minimized. I considered reducing this to 0%, but if you are paused while in a multiplayer game you might want to be able to see the occasional visual update to the game. And when you are really done playing anyways, it’s best to quit the game anyways. So for now, I’m leaving this issue as-is, since I don’t think it would be an improvement to change how it works now.

Item 3: Respect the phone’s mute switch – Not a bug

I did a bit of searching in the Palm developer forums and found this answer: “No, the mute slider can’t be checked. When I asked our interface team about this, they say that the switch is a “ringer mute” switch, not a general system mute, so it doesn’t affect the volume of game or navigation programs.” So, yeah, sorry, nothing I can do about this.

Item 4: Local multiplayer not working – Minor, no solution found

I got a report from a user that local multiplayer wasn’t working, and it seems that is the case. I tried using “PDL_SetFirewallPortStatus” to enable access to the Galcon port, but that didn’t seem to improve it. From checking in the forums it might be something a bit more complicated relating to how the firewall / networking works on the phone. Fortunately, you can do 1v1 games if you just join a 1v1 server with your friend at the same time, so this is a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme of things.

Item 5: Unable to type numbers – Workaround warning added

This was a known bug from the beginning, due to how the PDK and SDL works, when a user presses the number pad and then presses a number key, a letter is sent to the SDL app. The only way to get a number is for the user to hold down the number pad key and the number key. The Palm developers have told me that my options are to hack in a translation (which wouldn’t respect international keyboards), or wait until a future release for a PDK function that could do a translation for me. Since a hack that would break it worse for some users isn’t any good, and I want to do an update soon, I’ve decided to do the next best thing and prompt the user with a tip at the top of the Settings screen telling them of the physical workaround of not letting up on the number-pad key.

So, not a perfect update, but I’m very happy that I’ve been able to develop a solution for the back gesture .  And I think the addition of the warning with the keyboard issue is a reasonable workaround.  The other items I’ve verified, but not found ideal solutions for.  I also want to add Pixi support, but I hear that 1.4.5 isn’t going to be released to the Pixi, so there isn’t much rush for this to be put out.  Once I get ahold of firmware to dev on the Pixi I’ll try and update Galcon for it though.


P.S. I’m just about to submit this update, so it probably won’t hit the store for a couple days.

2 Responses to “Galcon Palm update”

  1. gyurisc Says:

    Phil, this is a great article. Any plans to bring Galcon to Windows Phone 7?

  2. philhassey Says:

    Thanks! Probably not, I hear you have to port your app entirely to C# to do that. I’m only able to do this because Android allows native code.