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Work in Progress: SDL Mille - Mille Bornes for webOS
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Old 07/27/2010, 04:30 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dexsting
I just stumbled upon this in the ap catalog and love it! Looking forward to when extension is added though I'm sure that's a difficult task to check-off.

No real issues/critiques except the very initial figuring out which cards go to which, which I agree might go well in a table in the Learning page to help out new people. other than that, fantastic!
Thanks for your comments! The first beta will have a reworked tutorial, including details on the playing cards. You'll find trip extensions in the next post.

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Originally Posted by Staedtler View Post
The high-contrast appearance was pretty jarring at first, but over time it became second-nature (and like you've mentioned, it makes it very obvious what state each player is in). I guess we've all been spoiled by the kind of graphical polish the Pre, iPhone, etc. bring to the table. I wonder if something more subtle could be offered... I'm thinking of the colours used in webOS' own messaging app, where there's a gradient to the side that differentiates each person. Then you could have one big solid table graphic as your background. I migh try making a mockup of this when I get home.
Work on the graphics will be one of the focuses of the beta stage, which I will begin work on today. If you do make a mockup, I'd be interested in looking it over and consider incorporating it into the game.

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Originally Posted by Staedtler View Post
The cards are clear and very readable... but make no sense if you're unfamiliar with the game itself. :-) I'm not sure if there's any way to substantially improve this... you just really need to know the rules going in. I liked the idea posed earlier about zooming in on the selected card. Also, maybe there could be a line of text at the bottom of the screen with a quick description of the selected card?
I like the idea of caption. I think I'll work that into the first beta release. I will consider zooming, but as I said before it would take a lot of work programatically, so it won't be in the immediate future.

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Originally Posted by Staedtler View Post
The gameplay itself seems perfect, in terms of rules, player order, etc. My only comment here is that everything happens instantaneously, so it can be hard to tell who did what at any given moment. I find myself staring at the screen sometimes, unaware that it's my turn already (I'm expecting the computer to take longer than it does!). I know it would add many layers of development pain, but animated card movement would be a good way of showing exactly what actions are taking place.
Game speed will be one of the options I add during the beta phase. I'm a bit surprised that the first comment on game speed would be that it's too fast. Personally I find it almost annoyingly slow. Perhaps some visual indication of whose turn it is would be good. Animation is something that is in the long-term (i.e. post-beta) development plans.

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Originally Posted by Staedtler View Post
It's been many years since I played the actual card game, but was it always a race to 700? I thought it was to 1000. I forget the rule about "trip extensions," maybe that's what I'm thinking of.
It can be played either way. I personally prefer playing to 700 with the option to extend. It adds yet another element of strategy to the game, and makes it more exciting. If there's interest in such a thing, I may make an option to play all hands to 1,000.

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Originally Posted by Staedtler View Post
Anyways, what you've achieved so far is fantastic, and I'd be happy to buy the finished product!
Thanks!
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Old 07/27/2010, 04:40 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Game speed will be one of the options I add during the beta phase. I'm a bit surprised that the first comment on game speed would be that it's too fast. Personally I find it almost annoyingly slow. Perhaps some visual indication of whose turn it is would be good. Animation is something that is in the long-term (i.e. post-beta) development plans.
To clarify, the worst I find is when I play a card, and then the computer chooses to discard and draw. The only indication that anything has happened is that the top card on the discard pile has spontaneously changed (heck, it might even be the same card as was there previously, so it might not even change at all!).

I have noticed that the computer might take up to 5 seconds or so to make a play, but that's not a big deal. It's usually pretty quick to think of a move. Maybe a "thinking" indicator can be added when it's the computer's turn.
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Old 07/27/2010, 04:55 PM   #43 (permalink)
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alpha5

The final alpha release is here! It features trip extensions, and fixes the discard bug I mentioned earlier. The IPK is available here, and has been submitted to Preware. Once again, the Android build is available through the wiki.

The game of Mille Bornes itself is now complete, so we'll be moving into the beta phase. The focus now shifts to improving usability, graphics, and efficiency.
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Old 07/27/2010, 07:12 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Awesome work. As mentioned, this has been a very bug-free game for an alpha offering and the interface is great.

The one thing that still gets me occasionally is a momentary confusion between a crash and a flat, especially with the remedies. Since you use a distinct icon for out of gas, perhaps you could do something similar for flat tire and its remedy.

flat tire.jpg
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Old 07/27/2010, 07:39 PM   #45 (permalink)
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I _really_ appreciate the two-step turn process, where you first select a card, then choose what to do with it. On my Treo, I loved playing Rally 5000, but one annoyance with it was that it would just automatically play or discard whatever card you selected. It made the gameplay a bit faster, but there are plenty of times that I want to discard a card that I could play. Thanks for letting us have that option.
Not that you'll ever need it now, but in Rally 5000 you just had to touch the discard pile first to force a discard.

That does bring up an interesting point. My first instinct in SDL Mille was to target my play area or my opponent's after selecting a card. It might be kinda neat to have that as an option in addition to double-tapping, since you do pick a target when discarding.
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Old 07/28/2010, 05:09 AM   #46 (permalink)
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Thank you for porting this awesome game, it brings back many childhood memories. I'd like to support you by bug reporting. I sometimes notice, that I cannot play a hazard card, although the opponent does not have the safety or me being able to continue my trip, although I haven't played a green light or speed limits being ignored.
Due to the randomness of the cards dealt, recreating the bugs will be somewhat of a challenge. Apart from the general question, if you are already interested in bug reports or have this planned for the beta stages, I'd like to know, what info is mandatory when filing such a report, so you'll have a chance of recreating the bug.
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Old 07/28/2010, 10:50 AM   #47 (permalink)
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To clarify, the worst I find is when I play a card, and then the computer chooses to discard and draw. The only indication that anything has happened is that the top card on the discard pile has spontaneously changed (heck, it might even be the same card as was there previously, so it might not even change at all!).

I have noticed that the computer might take up to 5 seconds or so to make a play, but that's not a big deal. It's usually pretty quick to think of a move. Maybe a "thinking" indicator can be added when it's the computer's turn.
A "thinking" indicator would be good. I understand what you mean now about everything happening instantaneously. I'll try to work something into the next release. I'm kind of surprised that you've had to wait that long for the computer, though. Nevertheless, I do know of an easy way to speed up the computer player. I'll work that in when I can.

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Originally Posted by zParticle View Post
Awesome work. As mentioned, this has been a very bug-free game for an alpha offering and the interface is great.

The one thing that still gets me occasionally is a momentary confusion between a crash and a flat, especially with the remedies. Since you use a distinct icon for out of gas, perhaps you could do something similar for flat tire and its remedy.

...

That does bring up an interesting point. My first instinct in SDL Mille was to target my play area or my opponent's after selecting a card. It might be kinda neat to have that as an option in addition to double-tapping, since you do pick a target when discarding.
Making the cards more distinct is definitely a good thing. I do have to be careful, though, that I don't end up just confusing users even more. I would certainly like to get away from the current design. Besides the fact that it seems pretty unpopular, it's also heavily based on an existing design, which means I probably can't distribute it for money without raising some attention.

I have actually thought about letting the user click on the tableaus in order to make a move. The only concern I have, is that I need to make a way to open the game menu. I'd prefer to have the user open the menu with a click, and there would be very little screen real estate left. I'm sure I'll work something out; I'm just thinking out loud.

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Originally Posted by THL View Post
Thank you for porting this awesome game, it brings back many childhood memories. I'd like to support you by bug reporting. I sometimes notice, that I cannot play a hazard card, although the opponent does not have the safety or me being able to continue my trip, although I haven't played a green light or speed limits being ignored.
Due to the randomness of the cards dealt, recreating the bugs will be somewhat of a challenge. Apart from the general question, if you are already interested in bug reports or have this planned for the beta stages, I'd like to know, what info is mandatory when filing such a report, so you'll have a chance of recreating the bug.
I'm always interested in hearing about bugs. For reports like the ones you mentioned, it would be helpful if you could include:
  • The card(s) you played or tried to play
  • Which safeties are held by each player
  • The top card of each player's "battle pile" (where hazards, remedies, etc. are stacked) and "speed pile"

When trying to play a hazard, the code will deny you for any of the following reasons:
  • You tried to play a speed limit, but the opponent is already limited
  • You tried to play another type of hazard, but the opponent is not rolling
  • You tried to play any hazard for which the opponent has played the corresponding safety

As for ignoring speed limits, or rolling without a green light, my first thought is the Right-of-Way safety. However, you may have the "End limit" card (green band, red "no" circle) confused with the "Speed limit" card (red band, red text reading '50').
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Old 07/28/2010, 03:51 PM   #48 (permalink)
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Making the cards more distinct is definitely a good thing. I do have to be careful, though, that I don't end up just confusing users even more. I would certainly like to get away from the current design. Besides the fact that it seems pretty unpopular, it's also heavily based on an existing design, which means I probably can't distribute it for money without raising some attention.
I like your icons a lot more than the public domain ones that show up on Wikipedia. Even if they're borrowed from another set, the simple, iconic graphics are the ones that really work. Color is important, too. Note how in this set all of the hazards use red graphics and all of the remedies are green (even the end of limit).



This is more eye-catching than the color band, which while effective requires more effort to distinguish.

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I have actually thought about letting the user click on the tableaus in order to make a move. The only concern I have, is that I need to make a way to open the game menu. I'd prefer to have the user open the menu with a click, and there would be very little screen real estate left. I'm sure I'll work something out; I'm just thinking out loud.
There's a game menu? If this is something you're planning, why not run the game with the normal top bar visible instead of using the full screen? It looks like the tableaus could be verticially compressed that much, at least on the Pre. Another approach would be to allow a backswipe to the main menu (with a "resume game" option).

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Originally Posted by dallashigh View Post
As for ignoring speed limits, or rolling without a green light, my first thought is the Right-of-Way safety. However, you may have the "End limit" card (green band, red "no" circle) confused with the "Speed limit" card (red band, red text reading '50').
I confused those too at first. Again, "green good, red bad". With proper icon coloration you might not even need to use those color bands.

As for the Right-of-Way saftey, when we've played the physical card game we allow the holder to pull an earlier Go card once any hazards are resolved to make it clear they're no longer stopped. This might be something useful to have the AI do for either player that has the Right-of-Way in play. However, that's a design choice so it would have to fit with your philosophy of the game.
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Old 07/29/2010, 03:30 PM   #49 (permalink)
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I like your icons a lot more than the public domain ones that show up on Wikipedia. Even if they're borrowed from another set, the simple, iconic graphics are the ones that really work. Color is important, too. Note how in this set all of the hazards use red graphics and all of the remedies are green (even the end of limit).

This is more eye-catching than the color band, which while effective requires more effort to distinguish.
If I may deduce something, then: when you see the green cars, does your mind see them all as remedies, and all of the red cars as hazards? That would certainly jive with the deck you showed us. If so, I can understand why the design I used could be confusing.

I will definitely be looking at ways to make the design better without making any drastic changes.

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Originally Posted by zParticle View Post
There's a game menu? If this is something you're planning, why not run the game with the normal top bar visible instead of using the full screen? It looks like the tableaus could be verticially compressed that much, at least on the Pre. Another approach would be to allow a backswipe to the main menu (with a "resume game" option).
There will be a menu added in the beta release, in order to change the options that I'm adding. Unfortunately, I don't think SDL/OpenGL games can run in a regular card; fullscreen is mandatory to my knowledge. The gesture is a good idea. I may try to work that in, though writing code that is platform-specific is something I try to avoid with this project as much as possible. At the end of the day, I may not have much of a choice.

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Originally Posted by zParticle View Post
As for the Right-of-Way saftey, when we've played the physical card game we allow the holder to pull an earlier Go card once any hazards are resolved to make it clear they're no longer stopped. This might be something useful to have the AI do for either player that has the Right-of-Way in play. However, that's a design choice so it would have to fit with your philosophy of the game.
That would make it easier for some users, but I wonder if it might also confuse others. Since there's already visual indication that a player is rolling, I wonder how necessary this is as well. It seems to me that if the user is already confused, throwing a roll card on the battle pile out of nowhere may just make it worse.

Notices
I have discovered a bug in the latest release. If the hand ends without anyone completing the trip, the computer may erroneously extend the trip. It doesn't affect scoring, or anything like that. But you will receive a message on the score screen that the trip has been extended. Thankfully, this bug is purely cosmetic, and does not affect actual game-play.

Also, I want to let everyone know that the release of webOS 1.4.5 could quite possibly break this package. If there are any European users who are willing to test this on 1.4.5, I would greatly appreciate it. I will also download the latest SDK/PDK to test it myself. Until then, it may be best to hold off on the upgrade if and when it becomes available.
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Old 07/30/2010, 04:09 AM   #50 (permalink)
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Also, I want to let everyone know that the release of webOS 1.4.5 could quite possibly break this package. If there are any European users who are willing to test this on 1.4.5, I would greatly appreciate it. I will also download the latest SDK/PDK to test it myself. Until then, it may be best to hold off on the upgrade if and when it becomes available.
Been running it on 1.4.5 without any problems for weeks now. Granted, I fixed the fstab bug manually as soon as the world has been made aware of it, so I cannot vouch for that behavior. However if you need 1.4.5 feedback on a future experimental version, feel free to send an IPK my way.
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Old 07/30/2010, 06:29 PM   #51 (permalink)
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If I may deduce something, then: when you see the green cars, does your mind see them all as remedies, and all of the red cars as hazards? That would certainly jive with the deck you showed us. If so, I can understand why the design I used could be confusing.
This was absolutely true on my first playthrough. Once I'd seen all the cards I'd figured out what mapped to what and by the second game I had it all straight. So it wasn't a big deal in my case, but initial impressions may be more important to someone unfamiliar with the game mechanics.

Even more than the color of the cars was the similarity between the Repairs and Spare Tire remedies, as both were just cars, with the former on a lift. I only figured out the Spare Tire remedy by the process of elimination. Something like a tire icon would be more intuitive and differentiate it significantly from the accident/repair cards. The puncture-proof safety was also the least obvious of the four.

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I will definitely be looking at ways to make the design better without making any drastic changes.
  • liked your idea of a different background and/or wider band (double band? angled?) for the safeties to set those apart
  • something more iconic for the Flat Tire/Spare Tire/Puncture Proof set, like a picture of a tire, would really help clarify these
  • maybe remove the red coloration from the End-of-Limit graphics
Please note that these are all very nitpicky. I love the simple, clear graphics overall, especially the mileage cards.

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Unfortunately, I don't think SDL/OpenGL games can run in a regular card; fullscreen is mandatory to my knowledge.
Ah, I didn't know about that restriction. Learned something new today!

P.S. I liked this British style speed limit/end-of-limit sign:
untitled.JPG
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Old 08/03/2010, 01:36 PM   #52 (permalink)
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Been running it on 1.4.5 without any problems for weeks now. Granted, I fixed the fstab bug manually as soon as the world has been made aware of it, so I cannot vouch for that behavior. However if you need 1.4.5 feedback on a future experimental version, feel free to send an IPK my way.
Thanks. I had forgotten about the fstab fix. I suppose with that it's a moot point. I will keep you in mind as a guinea pig. Thanks for the offer. At this point I'm not sure 1.4.5 is ever coming to the States anyway

zParticle, thanks again for your detailed remarks. I look forward to working on the design as development continues.

BTW, zelmo, I didn't miss your point about the dead zone. I will be relaxing the horizontal restrictions, since there is already plenty of empty space on the left and right of each card.
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Old 08/06/2010, 10:33 PM   #53 (permalink)
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Checking in. I have done a lot of work on the code base. Most of it isn't visible to the user. I did manage to make the graphics system more efficient by an order of magnitude. Testing on my PC, it went from 150 FPS up to 1400. Of course, that's pretty superfluous, but on the Pre it's gone from around 3 or 4 FPS up to 30-40. There is absolutely no perceivable delay now when the user performs an action.

I've also started work on the menu. It's empty for now, but it can be opened and closed. The user can also play their selected card by clicking on the tableaus. For now, clicking on the opponent's tableau only works if a hazard is selected, but I may change that depending on feedback. The menu is opened by clicking a translucent button that hovers over the CPU's tableau, so I want to minimize the chance of accidentally playing a card when trying to open the menu.

I've done a lot of work, but there is much, much more to be done before the first beta release. If there's interest, I may post up some trunk packages in the meantime. I'd say we've got at least two more weeks before the official beta.
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Old 08/12/2010, 10:05 PM   #54 (permalink)
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I checked back after a delay and what progress! I was able to download the update through Preware too! Love the extension and score page!

The only bug I've found that I keep hitting is that the now and then when I discard, I'll tap a card, but it doesn't register, and then I'll discard the wrong card by mistake. Technically this is *my* fault. But when you get in the heat of play, its hard to keep checking to see if your tap registered especially if most do register. It might help if you calculated the nearest card on a tap for selection (up to some max distance). That would help with taps that miss. An undo might also help, but I'll assume that's coming with the menu when that arrives.

But the best way to resolve this would probably be to look at dragging and dropping cards. But when you open that can of worms, you start also looking at animating card movement. Not sure how hard that would be to implement though.

As someone pointed out, the biggest hurdle for newbies is to figure out the card meanings. I had to sit down and figure it out originally by trial and error. Perhaps a help page showing their meanings would be good. But again, perhaps that's waiting on the menu.

At any rate, you are making great progress. Love the game!!! Keep up the great work.
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Old 08/13/2010, 05:00 PM   #55 (permalink)
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Glad to hear from you again, michael05! Thanks for your encouragement.

I know how frustrating it is to accidentally perform the wrong action. With every clone I've ever played, there have been times that I've wished for an 'undo' feature. The beta, as I've said earlier, is much faster at rendering the graphics than before. I will be interested to see if the quicker visual feedback helps you catch such a mistake before it's made. There is also a 'cancel' button, which I'll describe more in a minute, that may help as well. Finally, the horizontal (left-to-right) dead zone has been reduced, which should greatly reduce the number of unregistered clicks.

While I'm not diametrically opposed to drag-and-drop, I have experienced plenty of frustrations with it. There were dozens of instances in MilleCE where I would move so fast that the stylus stopped registering, and I ended up dropping a card in the wrong place. On the Pre, with its capacitive screen, this might not be as large an issue. I do still have a bitter taste in my mouth, though.

I do have plans to revamp the tutorial before releasing the first beta.

------

For anyone interested in testing the latest and greatest, I have a test build available for download. It has proven to be free of bugs so far. The new features present at this point are:
  • Tableau clicking: click a tableau to play the selected card. Hazard must be selected if clicking opponent's tableau.
  • Game menu: opened with a button at the top-left corner during game play
  • Card captions: when a card is selected, its description will be shown on the screen. This option is turned on by default, and can be turned off via the game menu
  • Cancel button: If you put your finger down, and realize that you didn't mean to do what you're about to do, then without lifting your finger, slide over to the black X, then lift your finger. This will cancel the click and deselect the card.
  • Fast game: reduces the delay in the computer's moves from 500ms to 200ms. Turned off by default, can be turned on via game menu.
  • Reduced deadzone: the left-to-right deadzone has been reduced, which should mean far fewer unregistered clicks.
  • New safeties: the icons are the same, but the background has been changed to make them stand out more.
  • New launcher icon: no longer using the Palm default icon.
  • GPL logo on main screen, which takes you to the GPL notices when clicked. Click anywhere on the screen to return back to the main menu.

Remember that even though it has been stable for me, and I have discovered no bugs, this is still a test release. The IPK can be downloaded here. If you do install it, please let me know your reactions. This build will not be distributed via Preware.
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Old 08/14/2010, 04:57 AM   #56 (permalink)
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Nice. Tapping on the opponent's tableau to play a hazard: very satisfying!
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Old 08/23/2010, 10:18 PM   #57 (permalink)
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I'm still working on the beta, although it's very close to completion. I start back to school this week, so my free time is going to shrink. However, I don't see any reason why I couldn't have the beta out in the first week of September.
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Old 09/04/2010, 10:25 PM   #58 (permalink)
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I just installed the new version. For the most part I like it a lot. The captions help. One thing you might want to take into account is some of us have older eyes. I can't see the color rim or make out the difference between the two cars. There seems to be enough room to make the cards bigger. Maybe make them more distinct, color frames thicker / clearer difference (I'm red-green colorblind so current choice is real hard). The cards themselves are the biggest impediment to enjoying this game. It wouldn't hurt to add the card images with descriptions to the menu and the Learn screen.

Thanks for making this. I've enjoyed this game for years and missed it on the Pre.
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Old 09/05/2010, 02:19 AM   #59 (permalink)
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I just came across this thread, I used to play Mille Bournes a lot as a kid. I think my parents may still have our deck...I'll have to go check that out next time I visit.

I'd like to give this a try, but I'm not sure how to install the game, given my current situation. For the next few weeks (up to a month) I'm stationed on an island in the Indian Ocean, and the only broadband is GSM, I've got a Verizon Palm Pre+. So I can't 'connect' to the app store or, i assume, preware. I can connect to a wifi hotspot, but when I did that with my browser, and I then tried to access the app store, I got an error message (yellow triangle) saying it can't complete this action right now. I've tried it two separate times with the same result.

Is there another way? I apologize that I'm not too saavy on all things Pre. I was wondering if I use my Pre to access the web, and go to the website where you are hosting the file, can I 'install' it from there? Do I have to have Preware to install it?

If this doesn't work for me, at least I know I'll be able to do it in about a month!

Thanks for bringing this game to webOS as well as the other platforms!
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Old 09/05/2010, 03:09 AM   #60 (permalink)
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Either Preware or Internalz should be able to install the IPK file once you've downloaded it to your phone. If you don't have a computer to unzip the attachment from the first post, you can use Terminal to unzip the file right on your phone.
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