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Tarc External Resource Archive System


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#1 Sinaz

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 08:55 AM

CLOSED Link broken. Please fix the link and report to a moderator to get the topic reopened. Regards, Weird Dragon.

Been trying to post between forum outages that there is indeed a bug with the "envelope file" functionality. I can't seem to track it down, but I am looking into it.

In the meantime, there is a workaround:

Individual files can be archived by placing them in a directory and packing that directory.

Sorry for the inconvenience, I'm working to solve it!


This is an external resource archive management system written by me with DLL coding by Taleria.


NOTE!Version 3.0 no longer uses the two different editions (dev and release). Instead, there is now just one version, and the packing utility has been made into a stand alone application.

*UPDATED to EULA*
Archives used in games must use the .taf extension unless otherwise authorized by the authors of this extension. The TARC archive system was designed by GMC user Sinaz, converted to dll by Taleria, and converted into this extension by Sinaz.


DOWNLOAD
TARC External Resource Archive System v3.0
*update: New stand alone packing utility included.
*update: Fixed tarc_background_replace()
*update: Revised documentation

old downloads

TARC External Resource Archive System v2.0
*update: Revision 2 of v2.0 is up with a correction in the help files... no other changes
----
*update: Fixed any functions failing to execute (do to a comment bug in the way the extension package reads GML scripts)
*update: Added "sound list" arrays and three functions to implement them to incorporate mixable instances of one sound file. (See documentation for this awesome feature). Special thanks to FredFredrickson for the suggestion.
*--> added tarc_sound_list_create()
*--> added tarc_sound_list_get()
*--> added tarc_sound_list_destroy()
*update: Clarified some more language and typos in the documentation
*update: There are now 2 versions of TARC (Developer and Release) see documentation for an explanation of the two and which to use.
TARC External Resource Archive System
*update: Added a line to the help file reminding users that the archiver does not include subdirectories when it packs files.
*update: Version 1.1 uploaded correcting the omission I accidentally made concerning the tarc_extract_from_archive() function. I also clarified some of the functionality in the help file concerning what needs to be included in the archive name arguments and where files go when extracted. And I removed all the extemporaneous files from the zip... making it smaller.


TARC uses uncompressed, encrypted archive files to store external resources. It includes a function that acts as a wizard for creating archives rapidly, as well as parallel functions to all of the relevant sprite, background, sound, and model add and replace functions.

Not only that, but by using the direct archiving and extracting functions, you can encrypt any kind of file, like settings, highscores, or whatever you need. The archive file adds a few Kb for a header and encryption, but is otherwise negligible. Extraction speed is fast enough for all applications.

I tested this thoroughly, but I may have missed something - please report any bugs here and I will immediately address them. Documentation is included and can be accessed via the Game Maker help menu.

Enjoy!
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S I N A Z

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#2 havoc

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 03:44 PM

Hey neat extension, but what exactally do you mean by encrypt. What do you hide ? Does this extension hide files so random people can't open my sprites and sounds ?

Man i never new extensions would save soo much time.

Edited by havoc, 04 March 2007 - 03:45 PM.

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#3 Sinaz

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 06:00 PM

Hey neat extension, but what exactally do you mean by encrypt. What do you hide ? Does this extension hide files so random people can't open my sprites and sounds ?

Man i never new extensions would save soo much time.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, without encryption, anyone could use a hex editor to read the file names in the archive index and then just unpack your archives with this extension.

By encrypting it, its impossible (to the casual user) to read the filenames coherently by looking at the data or even get the extractor to be able to unpack it without the appropriate key.

The idea behind this is exactly what you suggested. Instead of distributing your game with your external resources exposed, you can keep them in individual archive files... like Level_01_SoundFX.taf, Level_18_Backgrounds.taf, or simply pack individual files into an encrypted envelope... for instance, you could pack and encrypt save files or highscore tables to prevent [the casual user] from hacking them. Just remember that there is no compression, so every archive will be a slightly larger file size than the sum of its contents (due to the index, headers and encryption).

Of course, as with any encryption system, it is not fool proof. I did not write the encryption, but Taleria said it is designed to just hide the data from the casual user. Obviously someone could use this extension to brute force the cipher, and a hex editor to check for file contents. We spend more time on porting my functionality than on an uber-encryption since anyone with enough determination would probably crack it.

Edited by Sinaz, 04 March 2007 - 06:02 PM.

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#4 havoc

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 10:52 AM

Thanks. This is perfect. I just wanted something to keep the normal users out. The hackers can just read my encryption number from GM memory. Is it ok for a commercial game (Specialists)?

Edited by havoc, 05 March 2007 - 10:52 AM.

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#5 Sinaz

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 06:30 PM

Thanks. This is perfect. I just wanted something to keep the normal users out. The hackers can just read my encryption number from GM memory. Is it ok for a commercial game (Specialists)?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Its perfectly fine for a commercial game. There's just two things to consider:

1 - security. Although the files are encrypted, its not a very complicated encryption. You could take pains to obfuscate the key by doing something tricky like... I dunno... embedding the seed necessary to generate the key with the random number generator inside of an encrypted archive... but emphasis was not put on the encryption. We didn't want to waste a lot of effort and resources on a feature that could be broken with far less effort than it would be to create... like I said, its just a nicety to prevent casual users from ripping open your resources.

2 - just remember that if you use the etension commercially, you cannot alter the .taf filename extension without my permission. The program attempts to override any attempt on your part to override the filename extension. This is just a formality for credit's sake. If you need or want your archive extensions to be a different filename extension, you will have to contact me to have a special version of the extension made.

Thanks for your support!

Edited by Sinaz, 05 March 2007 - 06:32 PM.

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#6 Dany

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:56 PM

can you make an example? :D
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#7 Sinaz

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:59 PM

can you make an example? :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I guess... but maybe you should tell me what you don't understand and I can clarify... what particular features do you want an example of?

Have you read the help file? The usage is pretty straight forward.
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#8 Sindarin

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 11:52 PM

Very nice, I have a question though. Does it need to extract the resources when you need to load them, to a temp location, or is it direct from the package?

Edited by Sindarin, 06 March 2007 - 11:53 PM.

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#9 Sinaz

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 12:15 AM

Very nice, I have a question though. Does it need to extract the resources when you need to load them, to a temp location, or is it direct from the package?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Since we don't have access to the method by which Game Maker puts files into memory at runtime... there is apparently no way to move it directly from the archive into memory.

As soon as Mark opens that up to us... I can investigate such changes.

So, yes... it needs to extract to the temp directory.
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#10 kickassgames

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 05:57 AM

that is a very kool extension and the encryption helps a lot (cept for hackers can get in) but hackers will hardly hack my game lol
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#11 arrowone

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 06:11 AM

Thanks so much for the tip Sinaz! I'll get this after class tommorrow!
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#12 Dany

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 06:54 PM

can you make an example? :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I guess... but maybe you should tell me what you don't understand and I can clarify... what particular features do you want an example of?

Have you read the help file? The usage is pretty straight forward.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I didnt understand help,got erros...
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#13 Sinaz

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 01:50 AM

can you make an example? :P

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I guess... but maybe you should tell me what you don't understand and I can clarify... what particular features do you want an example of?

Have you read the help file? The usage is pretty straight forward.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I didnt understand help,got erros...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Either PM me the specifics of the problem (what you did, and the specific error) or send me a message via one of the messengers listed in my profile.
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#14 Sinaz

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 08:11 PM

Hello, everyone! I just made a major improvement, and I think a major fix to the TARC system.

First, I want to apologize to anyone who found that TARC failed to function as I described. I'm extremely embarrassed by the situation, but I failed to recognize that the extension maker currently has an issue reading comments in the beginning of scripts, and that it can cause most, if not all, of the script to be commented out. I also had tested my extension in a flawed testing environment that gave me misleading results.

This new version should work flawlessly.

One major change is the separation of the system into two versions: a Developer and a Release version.

The Developer version has the packing utility built in, and automatically includes the GM Windows Dialog extension to allow it to work.

The Release version excludes the packing utility function and excludes the windows dialog extension to help keep your release version small and streamlined.

See the documentation for more information concerning the two versions.

Also, thanks to the suggestions of FredFredrickson, I added new functionality for handling sound files.

To quote from the documentation:

GM suffers from a slight limitation concerning sound files, in that it cannot mix a sound resource with itself. For example, if you wanted to have two cars in a game using the same engine sounds, you could play the one sound as needed, letting them overlap, but any panning or effects applied to the sound resource causes all playing instances of the sound to reflect these changes. Thus, you could not have two distinct instances of the same sound rendering separate audio effects. To counter this, you must have multiple instances of a sound for every layer of mixing that might occur... four cars on screen means you need four engine sounds.

The following three functions uses the TARC system to create a sound list containing instances of a particular sound file. You could think of this as taking one sound, and loading it into multiple channels. Whenever you create a sound list, the array of sound indexes and the instances of the sounds themselves will take up space in memory, therefore, you must include the destroy function when you are done using the sounds to free the memory.


These features are accessed with the following functions:

tarc_sound_list_create();
tarc_sound_list_get();
tarc_sound_list_destroy();

Edited by Sinaz, 08 April 2007 - 08:16 PM.

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S I N A Z

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#15 X-tra Fear

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 08:21 PM

Nice dude, but i would like to somehow team with you. I would like you to contribute to Ultima 3D's external resource loading. Do you think it could deal with it? like load BMP textures in Ultima 3D with this? Still protecting your resources though? If it can i would give you credit for the TARC engine.

Edited by X-tra Fear, 08 April 2007 - 08:23 PM.

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#16 Sindarin

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 03:05 PM

First, I want to apologize to anyone who found that TARC failed to function as I described.


no hard feelings.
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#17 Harry OK

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 03:12 PM

Great tool! ^_^ Thanks! <_<

Edited by Harry OK, 09 April 2007 - 03:13 PM.

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#18 SSNautilus

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 03:39 PM

Any usage restrictions? Free for commercial use? Credits?

Thanks.
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#19 Sinaz

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 05:48 PM

Any usage restrictions? Free for commercial use? Credits?

Thanks.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Rights granted are explained at the end of the help file...

This extension is free to use, but may not be redistributed other than by directing a potential user to the forum thread concerning this extension, HERE.

Archives used in commercial games must use the .taf extension unless otherwise authorized by the authors of this extension. The TARC archive system was designed by GMC user Sinaz, converted to dll by Taleria, and converted into this extension by Sinaz.


^^The fact that TARC attempts to force the .taf extension is enough to indicate that TARC was used in the game. Please do not attempt to bypass that restriction. Consider that it frees you from directly mentioning it in the credits, but feel free to credit anyway :medieval:
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S I N A Z

That's SINAZ... He fights for the Users.

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Please please please: pin a shortcut or link to the GM manual to your Start Menu. Open it up whenever you are offering advice on functions you are not 100% familiar with and refer to it before committing your post.

#20 I.Q. of Spam

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 07:28 PM

The help file isn't in the *.zip... where do I get it?
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#21 Sinaz

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 07:12 AM

The help file isn't in the *.zip... where do I get it?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

As with most GEX's, it is imbedded in the GEX file itself. You must install the extension in Game Maker, then you will see the option to open the helfile from within GM's 'help' menu item.
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S I N A Z

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#22 I.Q. of Spam

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 04:51 PM

Yeah, I had already found it. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before I posted...
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#23 Tarik

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 04:33 PM

It's a big shame that TARC isn't more popular than the few posts seem to imply. I've downloaded the latest version yesterday and reading the helpfile got it to work perfectly.

It's a very impressive and extremely useful tool so far. I'm mostly using it for the channels Sinaz let's us create without much work, other than the great (encrypted) Archiving function.

I've built some scripts to handle sounds in combination with the Tarc functions and datastructures with constants. It works very well.

Try it out if you aren't looking for Sound DLLs without channel support, or DLLs that require licenses and alot of work, or DLLs in progress and not entirely bug free. And ontop of that, of course what it's all about, the Archiving features, the sound is just a great bonus I like alot personally.

Take care everyone, and great work, Sinaz.
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#24 Sinaz

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 05:56 PM

@Tarik: Thanks!

There may be a new version coming soon with improved functionality, more access to archive management, internal directory structures or nested archives, better encryption, and... COMPRESSION.

I'm not making promises, but there's a prototype in the works, and I've got plans for an actual TOOL rather than that silly packing function I provided you with. I'm keeping my partner (the back-end programming expert) silent for the moment in case he has to quit production for whatever reason.

Even if the new archiving system doesn't manifest, I will at least aim to make a cleaner TARC v3 without it.

Especially, the developer vs. release extensions will be more useful, as I intend to include proper error checking for debug purposes in the developer, and the release, of course, will be devoid of the error checking logic to keep it small and fast.

Thanks for the support thus far.
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S I N A Z

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#25 Krisando

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 09:09 PM

It dosn't work for me I can make an archive but kloading a sprite dosn't work at all whats going on?!?!?
tarc_sprite_replace(spr_compass,"taf","compass.taf",all,false,true,false,false,20,20)

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#26 sharprm

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 03:56 AM

It seems you can't pack the archive and then get files from it in the same event because it gives an error. You have to have a second executable which packs the archive (at least thats how i got things to start working).

This extension is surprisingly easy to get working - i've been meaning to test this for a long time. I think its fast, i got it to load and play 5mg MP3s in a row with only about 1 second maybe loading delay. Its going to be very useful because i hate how slow GM is starting up with files in it. So thankyou Sinaz!!!! And your helper. :)
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#27 Sinaz

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 11:59 PM

It dosn't work for me I can make an archive but kloading a sprite dosn't work at all whats going on?!?!?

tarc_sprite_replace(spr_compass,"taf","compass.taf",all,false,true,false,false,20,20)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


tarc_sprite_replace(ind,arcname,fname,imgnumb,prec
ise,transparent,smooth,preload,xorig,yorig)

^^arcname is the archive file, which might be something like working_directory + "\MyResources\MyArchive.taf"

fname is the name of the file you wish to extract... like "MySprite.png"
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#28 Krisando

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 11:13 PM

Thanks works a treat... but
Oow theres a really weird bug, sometimes the archive is 800 kb for me, then sometimes 11.6 mb :S

Other then that it works great and efficient!!

Edited by Krisando, 30 December 2007 - 05:06 AM.

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#29 Sinaz

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 04:24 PM

Thanks works a treat... but
Oow theres a really weird bug, sometimes the archive is 800 kb for me, then sometimes 11.6 mb :S

Other then that it works great and efficient!!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That doesn't tell me much at all... the archive size is entirely dependent on its contents. It will always be a few bytes to a few kb larger than the sum of its contents' sizes.

If the archive is 800k, then likely you are packing about 800k worth of files... if it's 11.6mb, then likely you are packing 11.6mb worth of files. I would expect every archive to have a different size.
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#30 Krisando

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 06:49 AM

600k to 800k = good
600k to 11.6 mb = Bad!! I don't know whats going on
it doesn't do it always but it mostly does hmm, Is there any extra software I have to install e.g. ".Net 2.0" ??
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#31 Sinaz

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 07:12 AM

600k to 800k = good
600k to 11.6 mb = Bad!! I don't know whats going on
it doesn't do it always but it mostly does hmm, Is there any extra software I have to install e.g. ".Net 2.0" ??

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You are telling me that you have a directory with 600kb worth of files, and when you compact that directory, it turns into an 11.6mb file? There aren't any additional sub-folders in your source directory are there?
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#32 Krisando

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 07:55 AM

Creating an archive of 1 file? :S
Oh must be archiving whole folder :), Sorry ;) It's a great program

Edited by Krisando, 31 December 2007 - 07:58 AM.

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#33 Sinaz

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 08:16 AM

Creating an archive of 1 file? :S
Oh must be archiving whole folder :), Sorry ;) It's a great program

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

the packing wizard only handles folders...

The archiving function handles both.

Again, this kind of confusion is why I aim to make a more friendly v3.0 soon.

Edited by Sinaz, 31 December 2007 - 08:17 AM.

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#34 Krisando

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 05:31 PM

Thankyou :D I totally understand how this works now, and the speed is incredible!!!!!
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#35 Krisando

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 07:25 PM

This is working great for me

Edited by Krisando, 08 January 2008 - 07:48 PM.

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#36 Krisando

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 11:36 PM

Bug when I use
tarc_background_replace(tree,"Resources.res","trees.png",true,true,false)
The transparency is set to true but the background isn't going transparent!
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#37 Sinaz

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 01:17 AM

Bug when I use

tarc_background_replace(tree,"Resources.res","trees.png",true,true,false)
The transparency is set to true but the background isn't going transparent!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks, I looked into it and did indeed find a typo.

However, realize that by changing the extension of the resource archive, you are violating the terms of the license.

I have uploaded a new version of TARC (which has the fix you are looking for, as well as some typo corrections and the promised utility to make packing easier.)

There is still an overhaul in the works, but this update should fix the last of the serious issues.

Thanks!
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#38 Krisando

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 01:53 AM

Yes I read the Agreement very "Carefully"
Read the Following:
Archives used in "commercial games" must use the .taf extension unless otherwise authorized by the authors of this extension.

:) 2 mistakes :skull:
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#39 Sinaz

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 02:06 AM

Yes I read the Agreement very "Carefully"
Read the Following:
Archives used in "commercial games" must use the .taf extension unless otherwise authorized by the authors of this extension.

:) 2 mistakes :skull:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Everyone loves a smartass.

The EULA has been altered. Users of any version of TARC are expected to follow the current terms. If you do not agree to the EULA, please remove any version of TARC you may be using from your projects.

Thanks!
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#40 Krisando

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 03:15 AM

Sorry that just put a smile on my face, I agree to the new Eula It's a great thing you've created! Umm if people credit you does that mean the extension has to be default?

Edited by Krisando, 10 January 2008 - 03:20 AM.

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#41 Sinaz

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 07:36 AM

Sorry that just put a smile on my face, I agree to the new Eula It's a great thing you've created! Umm if people credit you does that mean the extension has to be default?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes. Just use the default extension. Please don't make me go and write a full blown proper EULA for this GEX.

Just use it, credit if you want, but keep the default extension.
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#42 Krisando

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 08:34 AM

Sure thang! :)
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#43 Krisando

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 02:03 AM

I have a request :D How about if file in archive exists? So I will know when file is missing
I can use temp_directory but why not as a feature :) and is temp_directory safe? can other people access it

Edited by Krisando, 13 January 2008 - 02:41 AM.

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#44 Sinaz

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:11 AM

I have a request :D How about if file in archive exists? So I will know when file is missing
I can use temp_directory but why not as a feature :) and is temp_directory safe? can other people access it

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There should be no reason to check if a file exists because you should know what you are putting into your own archives. Give me some good examples of where you would need to know if a file exists so I can evaluate the practicality of such a function.

Also, although the files are extracted to the temp directory, they are deleted as soon as they are added to the game. If you manage to watch the temp directory, you will see that the file only appears for a brief glimpse, if at all-- and that refresh will occur long after the file has already been deleted. Certainly someone could intercept the files if they really wanted to-- but hopefully your target audience is more interested in playing your game rather than sniping phantom resource files. Your files should be relatively safe-- that is, afterall, the point of the extension. :D
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#45 Krisando

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:13 AM

Like if I release a game and I forget to add a file to the archive, so If anyone plays a game and don't see objects because of a file missing then I could make it report an error and make it download a file or send a report :)
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#46 Yourself

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:38 AM

Like if I release a game and I forget to add a file to the archive, so If anyone plays a game and don't see objects because of a file missing then I could make it report an error and make it download a file or send a report :)

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How could that ever happen? You should always test your games before releasing them.
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#47 Krisando

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:37 AM

Yes testing games but with no error you can be un aware image GM without an Error Report.
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#48 Yourself

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:38 AM

Try that sentence again, but this time in English.
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#49 Sinaz

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:39 AM

Yes testing games but with no error you can be un aware image GM without an Error Report.

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You don't test your games?

Anyway, consider-- if you release a game that is missing resources, an error check isn't going to magically make the resource appear on the person's computer.

Just make your game complete and test it like any other competent indie game maker. I'm not going to build in useless crutches like that.
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#50 FredFredrickson

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:43 AM

I rather like that it doesn't return errors anyway... that way if for some odd reason I did forget to include something, or the user deletes or changes a resource, it doesn't halt the entire game.
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