Urbanoids: Layout

The game window consists of no less than nine frames. I have cut them apart and filled in the gaps with purple in this picture.

Trying to get this sort of layout to work in all frame-compatible versions of Netscape and Internet Explorer and on all platforms is a web developer's nightmare. Mac and UNIX Netscape simply refuse to make the frames the specified sizes. They either become too small or too wide, but never, ever right. Consequently, there is no way to fit several frame pictures together if exact pixel precision is required.

To make matters worse, some IE releases can't handle zero values for marginheight and marginwidth, so the only way to have an image start in the top left corner of a frame is to make it into a background pattern. But then you can't use it for a clickable image map. No matter how you slice it, there is no way to make the graphics in the B and D frames fit together with the ones in A and E. The only thing you can do is to minimize the damage from improper alignment.

Frame A will become too narrow and D will end up either too far up or too far down. Both B and D might get a few pixels trimmed off their rightmost sides. However, the way I designed the control panel this doesn't really show. The seams between A, B, D and E are almost unnoticeable.

The remaining frames serve as buffer areas, in case the window doesn't get the right size, except for the thin frame at the top. That's where the embedded music is loaded when you click on the MIDI, MOD and SID buttons.

So what's the deal with the over-sized button that says "CHEAT"? Well, I've got this friend of mine who couldn't figure out how to use the cheat codes in Warp 1.5. He's an aspiring software developer and, as such, naturally can't be expected to do something as mundane as reading the documentation. So I told him how the thing worked. "Press SHIFT-C during the introduction." But then he started complaining about this being too obscure and that shoot-'em-ups need to have completely obvious user interfaces you can get into right away. Can't imagine where he picked up that idea ...

The response I sent him was basically, "Oh yeah? Well, the next game I create will have a big, fat mother of a cheat button that covers half the screen, damn it! And next to it there will be a message saying, 'This button was put here for the sake of Albert Forssell (af@unusual.se) who despite years of helpful hints has never learned how to RTFM.'"

OK, I held back a little but I kept the gist of my promise.