Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beta 10: Starting Over!

Solitaire Till Dawn BETA 10 is now available from our Beta Program page.

No, we aren't really starting over. But in the two weeks or so since beta 9, I have made some major changes deep inside Solitaire Till Dawn.

What's New
The main thing you may notice is that dealing (when you click the deck, or press Tab or ⌘D) is much faster. For this reason, I have disabled the preference setting for "Skip long animations". I don't think it's needed any more, because the new animations are quick enough that they shouldn't feel like they're slowing down your play. I have not yet removed the code for that preference entirely, because if there's enough backlash I would be willing to restore it. But if you've been using that option, please give the new animations a chance before you complain—thanks!

I didn't just "speed up" the animations. I actually completely ripped out the old animation code and rewrote it. As a result, pretty much all animations should look much more smooth now.

Changes to the animation code may sound like they wouldn't affect anything else, but that's actually not true. These changes have had a huge effect on all of the user interface code. As a result, things like score and statistics updates, card highlighting, and such have also been affected. I believe that I have fixed a lot of old bugs in doing this. If I'm wrong, of course, let me know!

Possible Instability
Be warned: there may be crashes. In this kind of code, crashes can occur intermittently and be difficult to reproduce. I have tried to be thorough in testing the changes and I think I have all the crashing bugs out; but I've been wrong before and could be again. If you do get a crash, please send me the crash log!

Expiration Dates
Beta 9 is set to expire this weekend. Beta 10 will be good through the end of February.

Server Downtime
Finally (because everything happens at once), our old server at semicolon.com has been getting flaky. We are in the process of replacing it with a spanking new server at a new location. Until the new server is up, there may be periods when we cannot reliably receive email, or when you cannot download a new beta.

In the meantime, we have placed the download for beta 10 on a temporary server in hopes of avoiding problems with the old server. To get it, go to the Beta Program page and click the download link as usual; but then you'll see a Web page and you will have to click a link on that page to actually begin the download. Downloading may also be slower than you're used to.

We apologize for any interruption in service, and we'll be back online as quickly as possible.

Okay, I think that's all for now. Thanks!


  1. Comparing Betas 9 & 10, the animations in 10 are so much faster than in 9 that now I don't mind watching them…but they are still slow enough that I *do* mind losing seconds to them…4 now, as compared to 10-15 on Cruel, for example (early 2009 24" iMac, 2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo, under 10.9.1). If the clock can't stop, I'd rather still be able to disable them altogether…but if the clock will stop, I'll be happy to take a 4 second break!

  2. BTW, interesting thing on the redeals: Aces appear…in Addiction…which has no Aces! :-)

  3. Heh. This is a side effect of the new animations. The Aces have always been there. If you play with a real deck, you use all 52 cards, but after laying out all 52 cards, you remove and discard the Aces. Solitaire Till Dawn keeps them face-down in the deck, where they serve as useful placeholders. The old animation didn't show them, but on redeal they have always been dealt into the gaps, then removed after the rest of the cards were redealt. It simplified the programming of this unusual and somewhat complex game. The new animations just let you see what's actually going on. When I saw it myself, I decided that I didn't mind, and left it alone.

  4. Yep…placeholders…as I *eventually* figured out…which is just another bit of coolness in the game reflecting your board game side, as well as the capacity for the software to lead us into new games that we never would have tried with real cards.

    I know you see whatever flaws remain and are working on them, but to me, everything is looking solid on the little set of games I play (which includes Grandma's Game, which, as far as I can tell, you are the only one to have programmed). Anyway, looking forward to you bringing this to a close soon, so that Apple will give me a venue for paying you!