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Thread: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

  1. #1
    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    DISCLAIMER: The distribution of this product would inherently violate Andrew Hussie's copyright claims on Homestuck and therefore the code will NOT be available for download from me. It's not going to leave my computer. If it works out well and I'm happy with the final result I'll submit it to Andrew and see if he wants to sell it on a DVD or something.

    Alright, now on to the fun stuff.

    What is it?
    Basically, it's an offline application that will allow a person to read Homestuck while offline. It's also built to be an easier way to navigate and will also hopefully be able to incorporate some additional features, more on that later. It's fairly similar to this project (Thanks to PBHead for his assistance so far) but with a more polished final goal in mind.

    How's it coming?
    I've downloaded the archives (images and text, no flash yet) and I have most of the core code up and running (I'm using Java but it's been a pain in the ass so far). It's not complete yet but it's a good proof of concept.

    Flash has been a roadblock I foresaw but I'm starting to get past it. I found some proprietary software that lets me load swfs in Java. It costs money but I'll stick with the trial version until I get it all working at which point I'll see if Andrew likes the idea for distribution and shell out the $125.

    EDIT: So Java has continued to be a pain in the ass so I'm afraid I'm going to have to abandon that train of thought and move on to WEB DEVELOPMENT (something I actually know a thing or two about). I'll be remaking what I already have in HTML/CSS/Javascript etc. I may even look into HTML5 but I don't know much about it yet. Since I'll be losing the standalone application functionality I'll have to find some way to make up for it. I should have enough time this weekend to get the core functionality completely working (in at least 1 browser) but of course I still won't be able to share the code/assets. Sorry.



    More images here.

    Features
    Things are very Blue Sky right now but here's a list of features I can realistically accomplish.

    • Display all images and text
    • Display Flash applications
    • Provide simple keyboard/mouse navigation


    And here's a list of crazy features I will try to include in the future
    • Changing themes (Pesterchum for Kids, Trollian for Trolls, Velvet for intermission/Doc Scratch)
    • Music on still pages (Rex Duodecim Angelus anyone?)
    • Commentary nodes (A button you can click on some pages to provide commentary from Andrew.


    But the doors are open to new ideas so throw them out at me.

    What I need
    Other than ideas, I'd also appreciate some assistance from somebody who knows Java a little better than I do. I've made a few games but never a standalone application and I know for a fact I'm doing things the hard way so far. If you have a lot of knowledge in that field please post or send me a PM. Thanks.
    Last edited by Cyborg771; 06-03-2011 at 02:31 PM.

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    Page of Text gumptiousCreator's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    I would love to help, but unfortunately Java isn't my best language either

    On a somewhat related note, how about an online reader for MSPA in general? You know you'll end up doing something similar when your project nears completion... :P

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    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Two problems with that, A it would be basically a way to view MSPA without ads and therefore copyright infringement and B Andrew changes up the format so often I'd have to be very quick with the updates.

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    Frost's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Display Flash applications
    How? I was looking into making something like this about a year ago, and this was the sticking point. I don't think there are any open SWF parsers/renderers around. Well, there's Gnash, but it can't render most HS flashes, it's based in C++ rather than Java, it has a bunch of heavyweight dependencies, and it can't be embedded except into a web browser.

    As far as I know, the only option when it comes to embedding SWF movies in a custom application is to embed the official Flash player. It can be done under Windows using some obscure bits of ActiveX, but I don't know any way to do the same thing from Java.

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    Page of Text gumptiousCreator's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyborg771 View Post
    view MSPA without ads
    I didn't think of that.
    Oh well...

  6. #6
    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Quote Originally Posted by tynic View Post
    ... because it's piracy? Looking at the webcomic on its original page means it is displayed alongside all the ads and links to merchandise and whathaveyou. These things are how andrew makes a living off MSPA. Rehosting the entire comic out of context actively takes money from andrew and whatpumpkin, and moreover represents an illicit use of IP, since andrew has retained distribution rights for the comic.

    So to sum up: it would be both illegal, and a nasty way to treat the creator of a comic you presumably enjoy. That's why not.

    Honestly, even creating an offline archive without express permission is a bit iffy, although I doubt andrew cares. He/we can turn a blind eye to very minor distribution of such an archive, since in cases like the original post in this thread it's really more like advertising, but any sort of publicly available downloadable archive would definitely fall outside fair use laws.
    That's a post from a similar thread someone else started, as Tynic says, distributing an offline archive is, by definition, piracy. Applying the same format to live updates would also count as piracy. I wouldn't do that to our glorious FriendLeader Andrew.

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    Monk of Time meticulousDraftsman's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    If anything, this is the most feasible way to sell a complete copy of homestuck, particularly if you work in the nifty features like chat windows popping up or commentary. Play up the experience in a way that can't be had by simply reading from the site. We'll see how the Huss calls it.

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    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    That's the plan, it has to offer something that simply reading on the website doesn't.

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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    it already offers no adverts. Putting that aside, you should allow reading of the other adventures. I suggest starting with Jailbreak since that's the shortest and has no flash.

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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    I hate to be so negative, but an inability to embed SWF movies is kind of a big deal. Like, enough of a big deal to compromise the whole project. Do you have a solution in mind?

    I did a little more research, and it turns out I was at least half right- all of the Flash-in-Java solutions involve embedding the official Flash player, and none of them are portable to Mac or Linux. Your options seem to be either buying a proprietary solution (the only one I could find costs $125), or hacking around in Windows with Java's COM APIs until you can make something work.

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    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    @IRockz: That's why I can't distribute any source code. I can't distribute the project as it is right now. I don't think there's much of a market for Bard Quest or Jail Break since they're both incomplete and PS is already out in book form (at least partially), but the way the project stands right now it would just be a matter of grabbing the files and formatting them properly and I'd have a working version of that in a day or so. The point of this project was to find a way to distribute Homestuck once it's done since a book won't really ever do it justice.

    @Frost: Unfortunately I don't have the Java proficiency to pull that off. I may have to find a radically different way of doing this project, possibly as just an interactive web app, what would be a LOT easier to do for sure but would sort of defeat the idea of a standalone application. It could still be offline however. If I do want to stick with Java I could convert the animations to videos and just open the interactive flashes in a browser, that really breaks the flow though. I'll look into it a little more.

    Edit: I see the proprietary API you were talking about, I'll give it a shot and if it suits my needs I'll build the entire application with the trial version. Once I have everything up and running I'll try to run it past Andrew and if he wants to distribute then $125 is a measly investment.

    Edit 2: So I downloaded the trial version and messed around with the demo, it looks like it'll work fairly well, I've heard that some of the walkarounds may need to be recompilied as some of the assets are hosted remotely but that is something I can handle. I didn't have long to play with it (I'm at work right now) but I loaded up "John: Examine games on CD rack" and "[s] Flip" and they both worked perfectly. I'll report back when I have some more info.
    Last edited by Cyborg771; 06-01-2011 at 02:55 PM.

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    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    So in the first three chapters there are a total of 55 flash pages. 1 of which is completely broken ([s] You there, Boy), 1 of which appears to be broken but I can't see how (Dave's mixing machine), and 3 of which are partially broken (Can't submit score in John's pogo game, can't open a new tab on the CD rack, and can't load the Maplehoof flash in [S] Rose: Fast forward to now.)

    Now, I'll load the working ones into the app if I can and see how that turns out.

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    Making Things Destradious's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    this sounds like a great idea, but without even one of the flashes, the whole thing could be ruined. I really like the idea of the different themes depending on the characters. it would definately give you a feel for where you are in the story. it would certain ly be a cool thing to have. i'd like to see it. Kinda like the problem sleuth books, only on the computer. Really hope hussy likes this. Readers could think of it as a donation you get something out of!

    by the way, cyborg, you have the exact same number of posts as the price that the program costs! (at least until you reply...XD)

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    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    I'm sorry, I have to reply eventually. I guess this'll be the one that breaks it.

    I started working with that software last night and it seems to work just fine. It's just a matter of integrating it with the program that currently exists. I'll update the top post with more info.

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    Page of Text gumptiousCreator's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    How about making the text at the bottom a little less like a hyperlink? For example, a fake input field that looks like the one on this console?

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    Rock and Roll Dan Admin Avi's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Personally I'd rather have a book version, so I can read HS when I'm away from a computer. But that's just me. :P

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    Making Things Destradious's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    I would like a book too, but what would you do about the flash animations. Quite frankly i don't think it's homestuck without the flash animations. I have a plausible solution but i would like to see what everyone else comes up with.

    Yeah maybe getting rid of the hyperlink look would be good. Just so it doesn't look like a website. something a little more like a button, or maybe even pressing the arrow keys, for forward and backwards. Heck, why not have the text there, and you type in the command. Kind of like those all the right type, and other keyboarding programs. (That is assuming you know what I mean...)

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    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Keyboard commands are currently implemented. Right and left arrow keys go forward and back. I like the ifdea of a console and will implement that. And yes, avi, portable would be better. I looked into iPhone/android dev and may again. The biggest problem for iPhone is the interactive flash pages an the biggest problem with android is that I don't have one to test on .

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    Making Things Destradious's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Agreed. Interactive flashes would certainly be a problem, especially with the iphone already lacking flash. You would need to find a way around the flash video's, which would be pretty easy, but interactive flashes, such as past Karkat: wake up, could be VERY problematic. I've always wanted a Homestuck for the iphone/itouch, but knew all along it probably wouldn't happen. I still stalk the fan projects sub forum none the less. XD

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    The worst person in the world Malleus Inferni's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Quote Originally Posted by Destradious View Post
    You would need to find a way around the flash video's, which would be pretty easy, but interactive flashes, such as past Karkat: wake up, could be VERY problematic.
    Or would they?

    The walkaround flashes could all be reimplemented in a single engine with basic scripting support for the minor differences here and there. I can't think of any graphical effect from any of them that would be difficult to recreate in OpenGL, which is available in some form on both iOS and Android as well as every major desktop OS. Hell, there are even easy-to-use Java bindings to it; Minecraft is built on them!

    If OpenGL isn't to your liking, you could always choose from the million bajillion different 2D drawing APIs available from platform to platform (SDL, AWT, Quartz, parts of DirectX, etc. etc.) but those are typically slower and less capable than Flash, so you might be toast.

    [ Serial Diver (on hiatus) | Lampshackled (only updates on April 1st) | [DATA EXPUNGED] ]

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    Page of Text gumptiousCreator's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Yes, unless some crazy hero decides to re-make the flash "games" from scratch, we probably won't get Homestuck on our iPs.
    - Avi's username gave me the idea of converting the flash videos to a different format, but it doesn't solve the interactivity problem.
    - If it looked like there was huge demand for it, I suppose you could just work around the problem - have more pesterlogs instead of the bulk of "Past Karkat: Wake up" etc. Still images for the rest. A pretty poor solution, though.

    Edit: How did you sneak in there as I was typing that? :P
    Last edited by gumptiousCreator; 06-02-2011 at 02:08 PM.

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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyborg771 View Post
    So in the first three chapters there are a total of 55 flash pages. 1 of which is completely broken ([s] You there, Boy), 1 of which appears to be broken but I can't see how (Dave's mixing machine), and 3 of which are partially broken (Can't submit score in John's pogo game, can't open a new tab on the CD rack, and can't load the Maplehoof flash in [S] Rose: Fast forward to now.)

    Now, I'll load the working ones into the app if I can and see how that turns out.
    Idea with the Maplehoof flash: why not just put it as a normal page with a non-canon label or something? That would be the easiest way to implement that.

    Yeah I still have no idea about the whole flash game thing. You could do a cop-out and have a "Let's Play!" video you know :P

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    Making Things Destradious's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    I HATE OPENGL. Probably because my iTouch is incompatible with it... :P You could always do one of those thing like they do i RPG iphone games. A small transparent control panel and a transparent action button. But then comes the programing. And that's certainly not my Forte. (Or Karkat's for that matter) :P

    EDIT: Oh my gosh Thedude3445 you are EVERYWHERE.

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    Frost's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    The walkaround flashes could all be reimplemented in a single engine with basic scripting support for the minor differences here and there.
    The basic engine would be easy to reproduce, but everything else would be extremely difficult. Each walkaround flash would basically be a huge mass of special cases held together with a little bit of common engine code. I suspect that's pretty much what they are already (unless Gankro wrote an amazingly flexible engine), but Flash is powerful enough that Andrew can get away with it. Not so much if you were to remake the walkarounds in Java.

    If the proprietary engine you're using can't render certain flashes, I don't see any option other than excluding them.

  25. #25
    Designer of Graphics Cyborg771's Avatar
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    Re: Homestuck Reader (Offline Application)

    @Frost: It's not that it can't render the flashes, it's just that they're linking to external HTML pages which only really applies in browsers and I'll have to recompile them possibly. [s] YOU THERE, BOY is a different case where resources like images and music are hosted externally and I'll have to recompile the whole thing.

    @Destradious: It's not a problem of how to interact so much as having to reprogram it all from scratch (or cheat Apple's no-flash policy and export them from CS5 which is hit or miss as far as I know).

    @TheDude3445: I thought about Lets Plays, that would probably be the simplest way to do it. Have a thing pop up and say "Hey, this is an interactive flash update. You can't view flash on the iPhone but here's a link to the page [send to email]. You can check it out at your convenience or [click here] to see a video of it."

    Anyways, I don't mind buying an apple developers license to try to make this, the problem is that they don't offer an IDE for Windows last time I checked and I don't plan on buying a mac/dual booting. Also, learning Objective C isn't something I really have the schedule to support right now, although I'd be willing to do it bit by bit if I found away around the other problems.

    BlackBerry apps can be transferred straight from Flash but I started this project with Flash initially and ran into the major problem that IT CAN'T DISPLAY ANIMATED GIFS. I wasted a lot of time trying to solve this problem, trust me. All of the proprietary APIs I found were broken/too slow for large images (650x450 = too large). Also I don't know if the BlackBerry is a big enough market for this kind of Project.

    Android apps are actually written in Java but it would probably take a considerable amount of work to transfer what I have into something workable for mobile.

    So here's my big dilemma:
    I'm a better programmer than a lot of the people I've gone to school with but I'm far from proficient with Java, at least for application development. The code I have right now is ugly, piecemeal, and I'm not really sure how I'm going to do some simple things like positioning stuff which is probably painfully obvious. If anybody out there is proficient, or at least somewhat experienced in Java desktop app development, I'd appreciate having someone to bounce ideas off of. My pesterchum handle is fanaticSamson and I usually leave it running when I'm working on HS stuff so send me a message, or just PM me on the forums, or even just reply to this post (I check it for new updates pretty much hourly). Half the code I have running so far is from old projects/google searches so trust me, any amount of experience and wisdom would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Also, thanks for all the feedback everyone, it's nice to see enthusiasm behind my project.

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