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4/5/2015

DyBlo Tutorial 1: First steps

When the App starts, you see an input-form asking for signup information to create an account. We will leave that feature aside and concentrate on offline-gaming here. Press "Cancel".

This form keeps reappearing when you start the app. It you want to avoid this: there is a setting to deactivate networking.

Now start the rule set list by hitting the middle button on the start screen. (In case you miss the button, a game will start. Cancel it using the devices' back-button).

One list item is entitled "Classic". Select it by a simple tap.Then return to the start screen by pressing the back-button.

On the start screen, start a new game by tapping anywhere outside of the three buttons.

You find yourself on a 5 by 5 playing field where you can move around a block. Besides, a circle around that moving block keeps getting smaller and smaller. It indicates your limited time to drop the block. When the time is up, the block is dropped automatically and you get a new one to move around.

You also can drop the block at any time by a simple tap on the screen, even with a second finger if you wish. The field where the block has been dropped is blocked now: you cannot drop another block there nor can you move across that field.

In Classic, there are four block types: red, yellow, green and blue. When you drop a block next to blocks of the same kind, a transformation takes place: from blue to green, green to yellow yellow to red, and finally red blocks disappear.

Try to survive for a while. Every drop increases your score. At some point, you will be blocked in and you cannot drop your block anymore. The game then ends and you return to the start screen. There you can look up your scores in a highscore list if you press the left button "Scores".

Let's have a closer look at the rules of "Classic". Start the rule set list (middle button) and long-press the item "Classic". You will see the following menu:

The first three items allow the modification of the rules. Here, we will just have a brief look at "Basic parameters".

At the very top, you have the name of the game which you can change if you wish. Below there are two lines where two colors can be chosen (red, green and blue components respectively). Try it out and see how the name-box changes. The two colors determine first of all how the rule set item looks in the list for better recognition. Secondly, they will appear in the background of the game itself.

In the next line, width and height of the playing field can be set. Try it out and play with it!

Next line: Time indicates how many milliseconds you have to drop a block: 2000 means two seconds. Interval has no meaning for Classic (it matters if there are certain things happening at regular time intervals; that is not the case with Classic).

Last line: Prepopulation: how many percent of the field should be populated randomly by blocks before the game starts? 50 would mean that about half of the field is already occupied. Try it out! Tile margin only impacts the look, not the game itself. It determines how many pixels lie between two neighboring spots.

We encourage you to experiment with those basic settings. If you change the rules significantly (i.e. beyond changing colors and margin) a copy of the original rule set will be added to the list automatically (with "(COPY)" appended to its name). The highscores of the modified rule set will be deleted, which is necessary since the rules have changed and they may be much more easy or difficult.

4/9/2015

DyBlo Tutorial 2: Block types

Do you find Classic too easy? When a rule set seems too easy, it can become boring. Then it's perhaps time to spice up the rules a little. As shown in the first tutorial, you could shorten up the time for dropping or make the field smaller. Or ...

How about adding a brand new block type? The game will get quite a bit more difficult! Now select the Classic rule set in the list and open its context menu (by a long-press).

Selecting "Block types" opens up a list of all block types of the rule set. On small screens, you might have to scroll down the middle portion.

To create and insert a new block type, long-press on an existing one to open its context menu. Long-press the blue type:

Select "Insert after". A new block type is added to the list (you might have to scroll down to see it):

It is an exact copy of the one you just long-pressed. So you could not distinguish the two block types in the game. Therefore we will make a couple of little adjustments. Tap on the added block type to edit it. The following box opens up:

First of all, we will darken the color by decreasing the blue-component (right slider). Then we change the style from "Plain" to "Roundgradient". But feel free to experiment a little by yourself!

Tap on "Ok" (if you tap on "Cancel" or anywhere outside of the box, all changes will be dismissed!). You are back in the block type list and can see your changes. Press "Ok" again.

Now you performed an essential modification of "Classic". The original will change its name by having "(COPY)" appended to it. (If "Ignore copies" is selected in the main settings, that copy will be removed when you shut down the app; unless you change its name and remove "(COPY)"). In case you have been playing "Classic" ONLINE already, the original will not change its name but your modification will (a "1" will be appended to its name). Now, quit the list and try a game with your new rule set!

Is it too hard now? You could make it a little easier again by increasing the size of the field, for instance to 6 x 6. Or: you could change the weights of the block types!

Have you noticed the item "weight" in the block type list and the block type edit box? It determines how likely it is to get such a block in the game. Try it out: for example, you could change the weight of the red blocks to 4 and the weight of the yellow blocks to 2. That way, those basic blocks will appear more often which makes the game easier.

One last note: if you have changed a rule set essentially and have been playing with it for at least an hour, you can go ahead and publish it online (you will however need an account for that!).

4/12/2015

DyBlo Tutorial 3: Networking

Dyblo can be played all alone offline. However we have also integrated a few little networking features that make gaming more exciting. In the settings, choose the rubrique "Networking".

Activate networking. While you are at it, also activate the feature "Auto-synchronize". It causes the most recent highscores to be downloaded each time you start an online-game.

When you return to the start screen, a box for creating an account appears (if you have not created one already). If it does not appear, restart the app and it will.

To create an account, you must provide a valid email-address. The user-name you enter is the one under which your highscores will be shown to the world. Now quit the app, activate the link in the confirmation-email you just received and restart the app. You are now logged in.

Enter the rule set list. In the menu bar, select the "plus"-symbol.

Another list appears. It is the list of all published rule sets.

Tap on "Classic". You will see a short description. Press "Add".

With the back-button, you get back to your personal rule set list. Classic is now registered as an online rule set.

Note that a copy of the preexisting rule set Classic has been added under the modified name "Classic1". You can delete it, if you wish (using the context menu).

Now, each time you play Classic, it will be online. This means that the newest highscores of all other players will be downloaded each time you start a game, and that your own scores will be published as well! Also, you can publicly rate the rule set using its the context menu.

It is still possible to play Classic offline. To do that, just deactivate networking in the settings.

As you can see in the highscore list, the rank number is sometimes white and other times black: white means that this score is public, black that it is your private score that only exists on your device. You can delete your private scores by selecting the appropriate item in the context menu of the rule set. Public scores will of course be updated after that when you start the next game.

4/13/2015

DyBlo Tutorial 4: Meat and Potatoes

What's that babble about "freely programmable" rules? In the rule set list, long-press the item "Classic" to open the context menu. There, select "Rules".

Another list opens up: the list of event-rules for Classic (see also the manual, section 6.3).

The first "rule" (marked by a red "A") is really only an abbreviation: the name "Perimeter" is defined here (more about that further below).

The second rule is marked by a green "D". This means that it applies when a block is being dropped. The upper part is its condition, the lower part its action.

Condition "1" is the always-true condition (true just means the value is non-zero, false means zero). So this rule, i.e. its action, will ALWAYS be executed when a block is dropped.

Here is the action: "SCORE(1)". This simply means that the score is augmented by one.

All together, that second rule says "Whenever a block is dropped, increase the score by one".

Now we come to the last, slightly scary appearing rule:

The condition says "Perimeter & RT=FT". Let's first try to understand "Perimeter". It is defined as "NEAR(1) & ! NEAR(0)" in the first "rule". NEAR(n) means "at distance at most n from the current block" (see 6.3.3.10 in the manual). NEAR(1) thus means all positions in the immediate vicinity of the current block.

The addition "! NEAR(0)" means "not the position of the current block itself". The exclamation mark expresses negation. All together Perimeter thus describes a ring of positions around the current block:

The condition of our third rule contains one more part: "RT=FT". This means "the block type equals the one of the dropped block" (for more details about the expression, see 6.3.3.4 and 6.3.3.5 in the user manual ). Thus "Perimeter & RT=FT" describes all positions next to the current block which hold blocks of the same type as the current one.

So far, so good. When is that condition "true", so that the action gets executed? Exactly when the collection of all the described positions is non-empty. Here, this is the case exactly when at dropping, there is at least one block of the same type next to the dropped block.

Now we turn to the action: "SET(NEAR(1) & RT=FT, RT-1, -350)".

SET is an action where certain blocks (or better: certain positions) can be turned into a different type. But which blocks exactly? That is described by the first part "NEAR(1) & RT=FT". It describes the positions in the vicinity of the dropped block that have the same type. Pop-quiz: why do we not instead write "Perimeter & RT=FT" again? Well, that would exclude the drop position ("NEAR(0)"). But now the block is dropped and we want it to transform as well!

The second part of the SET action, "RT-1", describes the block type to which we want to transform. In this case, we say "reduce the type by one". Finally, the third part of SET determines the duration of the transformation in milliseconds. Here we set about a third of a second. The fact that the number is negative only means that the transformation happens "from the outside" (try a positive number and see the difference in the game; aside from the mere appearance of the transformation, a real difference of positive durations is that the new type is only set at the end of the transformation!).

That's it! If you understand how rules work, start experimenting with them by making little changes and see how that affects the game-play. To edit a rule, simple-tap it in the list. An edit box opens up:

If you want to edit the action, again just tap on it:

By the way: if you change rules, a copy of the original rule set will be added to the rule set list. If the rule set is published, the original will not change, but your modification will get a slightly different name (a "1" is added to it). On the other hand, if the rule set is unpublished, your modification keeps the original name and the copy of the unmodified version will have "(COPY)" appended to its name.