[rfk-dev] robotfindskitten - web version

Peter A. H. Peterson pedro at tastytronic.net
Tue Mar 24 10:13:50 PDT 2009

Quoting Lajcik:
>    Well, i was mostly tossing ideas around, the one thing im bent on the most
>    is making a online version that would give people a possibility of
>    submitting nki, since this is where imho lies the heart and biggest fun of
>    rfk. With time it could lead to for example making themes for rfk, like
>    "help robotfindkitten in middleearth" and whatnot. But again, im tossing
>    wild ideas here. On the other hand - theres already a nethack nki file on
>    Leonard's site.

Yeah. I agree that adding nki is one of the great things about rfk,
but one problem is the "editorial control" aspect. Like, a middle
earth (or nethack) version of rfk is funny, but it's not funny if the
official version is half middle earth and nethack references. The best
way I can describe it is that nki shouldn't (in general) be obvious
pop culture references, and above all, they shouldn't be predictable,
because that ruins the zen nature of rfk. This also means they
shouldn't be similar to other nki in general. (There are some
historical nki that are obvious in-jokes and vanity references, etc.
But it's easy to see how packing the nki list with this kind of stuff
would also be bad.)

That said, we will always retain editorial control over the "official"
set of nki included in the POSIX distribution. It would be interesting
to see some kind of community contributed lists with some kind of
moderation/voting system, but there has to be quality control built
into that system... and we also run the risk of people stuffing the
ballot box full of ALL YOUR BASE and whatever today's meme is.

>    What im generally aiming for is a rfk that you can load up when you have
>    those few spare minutes at work or anywhere, enjoy for a while and also
>    help it evovle in some way. So i guess i can see how this could become
>    more of a community site, tho i wasnt really thinking along those lines.
>    The idea was mainly born because the only web version 'running online'
>    that i found is located [1]http://robotfindskitten.net/ and its running
>    the flash version found in your repository. So if there were other
>    versions they have since disappeared into the darkest depths of the
>    internet.

Interesting. I didn't know about robotfindskitten.net... I kind of
wish he'd asked us if we'd be willing to host it!

>    As for the control/integration matter - i think it would be really nice if
>    it was integrated into the rfk site like you mentioned. On the other hand,
>    making it an independent project would allow me more flexibility and
>    tinkering when something comes to mind... So that would be a 'undecided'
>    on my part, tho for now ill go independent - i have to develop it
>    somewhere :). However im open for discussion on this.

The main issue for me with control is that if it would be something
integrated into the site, we'd want it to be a faithful representation
of robotfindskitten. There are a lot of subtle details that people
often miss for example, that it's robotfindskitten and not Robot
Finds Kitten, etc. I tend to think that implementations of rfk should
emulate the POSIX version as much as possible, unless constrained
(e.g., Atari 2600) or completely different (OpenGL). As an example,
the flash game above is missing a correct status bar, and the splash
"win" screen is, IMHO, less satisfying than the original ASCII
animation.  This may seem like nitpicking, but to us, the charm of rfk
is about the whole package.

While the "editorial control" issues I described above are not
strictly speaking part of the implementation, they do reflect on the
quality and experience of the simulation. We wouldn't want the
"official" robotfindskitten web version to be a poor representation of
the official simulation.

Another issue, now that I'm thinking about it, is that an "official"
rfk web version would need to be done in javascript or something like
that, rather than proprietary Flash (or even Java). There are several
reasons for this; we don't want to require plugins in order to play,
we don't want to require proprietary software to play, and we don't
want it hard to maintain. We also don't want to be distributing
dangerous code to users through the website, and (speaking for myself)
I would feel more comfortable managing in-browser code (javascript,
DHTML, etc.) rather than third-party code blobs (flash, java, etc.).

In terms of your ability to tinker and be flexible with it, if we
hosted it here, we would of course give you direct access to the code, etc.
but again, for us "tinkering and flexibility" would have to be limited
by the established foundation of what rfk is. 

This means that it wouldn't really be about adding lots of new
features to rfk. (e.g., if one day you wanted to add a mode where the
nki start roaming around the field, we wouldn't want that to be part
of the site, or possibly it would have to be some kind of experimental
mode... but the point of the official web implementation shouldn't be
(from our perspective) about having tons of "alternate modes".) 

While I would prefer that it be as faithful a representation of rfk as
possible, I can understand if you'd want to be able to do whatever you
want with your creation, which wouldn't really work for the official
rfk site. Depending on how you feel about these issues, I could easily
see how, even if you don't want to integrate with us, we could link
to, or host, some kind of "classic version".

I don't want to seem like some kind of crazy rfk nut, but I feel like
with the proliferation of versions it is our job to keep the official
essence and spirit of rfk true, while not quashing the enthusiasm of
people (like you) who are excited about rfk and want to write their
own version. The only reason I got on this track is that what you
suggested sounded like something that I've thought would be a good 
addition to the official site for a long time.

Again, I invite you to join the rfk-dev list if you haven't and we can
discuss these issues there; I'm sure others will have thoughts.

All the best,


>    On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 3:26 PM, Peter A. H. Peterson
>    <[2]pedro at tastytronic.net> wrote:
>      Hi Michal,
>      I think the best thing for you to do would be to contact Leonard
>      Richardson ([3]leonardr at crummy.com) and subscribe to the rfk-dev list
>      and
>      explain your idea there. robotfindskitten is not *my* baby -- Leonard
>      created it. I *am* responsible for the website and in some sense for
>      generally wrangling the community... but we're a pretty loose
>      organization.
>      For the record, there have been some other web versions which used
>      many of the elements of rfk that you're mentioning, so I don't really
>      think it will be a permissions problem, providing that appropriate
>      credit, etc., is given. I guess the difference is in scope; it sounds
>      like what you're hoping to build is something like a play-online rfk
>      community website (including nki submission, voting, etc.) as opposed
>      to the current rfk site, which is mostly a development archive. Is
>      this correct?
>      If so, is this a project you want independent control over, or is this
>      something that you'd be happy to have integrated into the existing
>      robotfindskitten website? I can imagine that it would be good for the
>      robotfindskitten community, etc. to have a single, central rfk scene.
>      That said, I'm not even sure that the rfk crew (including myself)
>      would want that as part of the official site -- I'm just thinking out
>      loud.
>      In any case, thank you for your interest in robotfindskitten... it's
>      great, isn't it? Let me know what you're thinking as you proceed with
>      this.
>      Thanks,
>      Peter
>      Quoting Lajcik:
>      >    Hi,
>      >
>      >    I recently discovered rfk and was immediately charmed by it :)
>      Theres
>      >    something relaxing in searching for a kitten in a world full of
>      curious
>      >    objects.
>      >
>      >    It left me inspired to create a web version of rfk using latest
>      javascript
>      >    magic, i even started some work already, but I would still like
>      to hear
>      >    your opinion and permission. I understand that rfk is gpl, but id
>      still
>      >    feel better if i got your 'ok' since its your child. Id like to
>      keep the
>      >    web version close to the theme of original rfk and your website.
>      Which
>      >    ultimately means id like to use the afterword, the logo, etc...
>      which
>      >    again ultimately means id like it too look very much like rfk
>      site :)
>      >    (more or less, the layout part is still mostly in my head)
>      >
>      >    The main idea is to have rfk fully playable in a web browser,
>      keeping the
>      >    original feel of rfk (black background, ascii items, navigation
>      using
>      >    arrow keys, ascii website etc) and enhancing the concept with
>      some
>      >    features. For example letting users submit new "Non Kitty Items"
>      via web
>      >    interface (which would be later accepted/rejected by hand and
>      maybe by
>      >    bash-style voting in unforseen future), and including counters
>      like
>      >    "robotfoundkitten x times today". maybe a mobile browser version
>      if people
>      >    like it... etc. Its something that has a lot of space to expand
>      upon while
>      >    still keeping it simple and zen.
>      >
>      >    Let me know if youre ok with it.
>      >
>      >    i can mail you when robot is ready to seek kittens, i mean when
>      ive got
>      >    something to show, which hopefully will be before christmas :)
>      >
>      >    Cheers,
>      >    Michal
>      --
>      Peter A. H. Peterson, technician and musician.
>       ---=[ [4]http://tastytronic.net/~pedro/ ]=---
> References
>    Visible links
>    1. http://robotfindskitten.net/
>    2. mailto:pedro at tastytronic.net
>    3. mailto:leonardr at crummy.com
>    4. http://tastytronic.net/%7Epedro/

Peter A. H. Peterson, technician and musician.
 ---=[ http://tastytronic.net/~pedro/ ]=--- 

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