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Author Topic: Exselector project underway (2019)  (Read 773 times)

Holy Diver

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Holy Diver says,
« on: March 10, 2019, 07:12:20 PM »

Hey! I know this place looks dead. I'm right now juggling so many things, and some I have to keep secret for the time being that are really exciting for the future of King's Field.

Currently I'm looking at developing 3D modeling software and also looking at adding camera-based tracking facilities to the PlayStation VR facilities, and eventually dropping the PSVRToolbox tool, because it's a dead project.

Instead I'm working with a tentative project called PSVRTracker that is linked to PSMoveService.

Because dropping PSVRToolbox means there would no longer be user-friendly system-tray application to take its place, I'm currently trying to combine all of these problems into one development project, that also aims to complete the long sought after Exselector component for addition to SOM.

(EDITED: I think I'm unclear here what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a single UI module. The UI isn't everything. It's just a way to consolidate code for multiple projects into one sub-project. For Exselector it will be the bulk of the work. The rest will be putting the UI to use.)

I'm trying to basically implement Exselector, and use its UI to also provide UI support for the PlayStation VR front-end (which for SOM will be Exselector) that must also double as a third-party interface if we choose to deploy it. There's also a competing C# front-end called PSMoveSteamVRBridge that might be worth considering too. It's too early to say since it's not expressly focusing on PSVR but I think that its name may be more of a nod to PSMoveService than the PlayStation Move controllers... which will eventually have PSVR folded into it. So maybe this product can one day support software that doesn't use SteamVR too. Time will tell.


But if so, it won't solve the Exselector problem. I'm also making plans to use the same UI front-end project for the Daedalus modeling software. I have to combine all of these to make it worthwhile for myself. Whatever this is called, it won't be "Exselector" or "Daedalus". I don't have a name. (Edited: Do now. See next post.)


Its going to be cross-platform. I think right now it's going to use a wxWidgets canvas to render OpenGL. And I'm going to follow-through with rewriting the GLUI project to render to this canvas.

Last year I tried to fall in with GLUI's maintainers with typical results. So I discovered that I would definitely have to rewrite it, and do it myself. There was no future (involving me) for GLUI.


Likewise, I planned to use Misfit Model 3D code as the basis for a modeler. Last week I found a continuation of it called Maverick Model 3D. These use a GPL license, that I don't have a problem with. However GLUI uses a permissive license. So I'm pursuing a plugin strategy so that the 3D model component plugs into the UI component. This way only the plugin is party to the GPL license.


That's how I'm going to proceed organizing this project. The PSVRTracker project uses some 3D models that work with Misfit Model 3D's OBJ file loader. I'm going to start by converting that part of the MM3D code to a plugin.


Exselector is going to be a hybrid of PSVRTracker and something like the PS3's Xross menu system. By default it's going to be themed with the Exselector model from King's Field III. But it's going to have theming facilities so that games can customize it to match their own game. It will function as a new system menu.

The default title for the window will be Extension Selector with an icon. But typically in a game it's going to run inside the game, and support VR split-screen rendering. But it can also work outside of the game. In which case the game can change the title if it doesn't like Extension Selector. Although I think that's generic enough.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 08:10:58 PM by Holy Diver »

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2019, 09:17:50 PM »


Got a name: https://sourceforge.net/projects/widgets-95/

The '95 part is appropriate to the 1995 release date of King's Field II. But I chose it because VR to me is still associated with the 90s. Even if wasn't a real consumer technology then. It's called Widgets because it's based on wxWidgets. And it's a play on Windows 95.

I'm probably going to try to make SOM's tools work with it at some point. In which case, the main novelty will be to use SOM in some form in VR. Its buttons will be beveled if so... maybe eventually in can be completely reimagined as a kind of 3D workshop that is not based on 2D rectangles.

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2019, 01:03:47 AM »

Update: This is going well. I've sanitized/refactored the GLUI library and am about to go into testing.

P.S. Today (my birthday) a VR controller (and tracking) kit fell into my lap. Part of a string of crazy luck so far this year. It's the first time I've held twin single hand controllers. It feels very different to have them in hand. I already have a notion of how to translate them into SOM. I think possibly this is the future of SOM, even better than controllers.

I'm still not crazy about wearing the headgear. It's not uncomfortable. It's just a barrier to engagement. I don't know how to put it, other than if I had to suit up to watch television, since it's a pastime, I probably would just watch less television. It's weird. I wonder if the VR controllers can work with face-tracking (no head set) or if the scheme I have in mind would work with a SIXAXIS controller if it also used its motion tracking feature, or the lightbar on the DualShock4; which is actually the easiest one to use with Windows.

I'm just announcing my first foray into this. I'm not going to describe the controls I've in mind here. Not in this thread, and not yet. If you're a developer/colleague write me.

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2019, 04:13:28 PM »

Here is an early look at my latest project. I talked about doing this some in 2017. I've been recently rewriting and polishing up this old UI project called GLUI that is the starting point for the Widgets 95 spinoff. I think I explained this in an earlier post.

GLUI has kind of grown on me. I don't know if the project is GLUI or Widgets 95. If the former then 95 will be an implementation of a portable standard called GLUI or based on GLUI.

When I takeover a project it undergoes a radical metamorphosis compared to how programmers typically work. GLUI itself is an absolute basket case mess. But I've whipped it into shape.

Where I'm going with this is developing the UI as a cross-platform replacement for software libraries like QT and wxWidgets. It will use the latter, but via a facade that hides it from direct interaction (I wouldn't want to work directly in wxWidgets myself.)


The code I'm using as the basis for the Daedalus 3D modeler that will finally pull together tools to work sanely with SOM's style of animations comes from the Misfit/Maverick 3D code. It uses QT, so first I will replace its QT parts with this new UI. But really I will be recreating the UI along the way, because technically it uses a GPL (GNU) license that is a little restrictive, so instead the 3D stuff is going to be implemented as a plugin in order to keep the licenses apart. Later the plugin can be replaced if it doesn't happen to be supeseded by a superior plugin first.

The plugin form of the modeler will be much more lightweight than the existing code. IT will separate out all of the nonessential elements.


I don't think the buttons in this screenshot are exactly like Windows 95. These are not actually buttons here, but they appear identical. I don't know if the modeler will use the stock 3D manipulators provided by GLUI or not. They are pretty cool looking though. I just don't know how functional they are for real productivity.


I'm certain that one day SOM's tools will be translated to this UI since that will free them from their old life as Windows only software. Exselector and games will use this system, but unlikely would they use the Windows 95 style theme. The modeling software will, as would SOM's tools, since that's what they used originally.

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2019, 04:52:41 PM »

I'm unsure where I'm at on this, but I've (finally) completed my first round of work to begin developing a UI "library" to use for an all original 3D art software geared to (competently) developing SOM's morph-target animations.

There happens to be a demo for Windows in the following location. It's just the final program running the screenshot from the previous post/reply (press F5 to demo #5) in this thread/topic...

DOWNLOAD: https://github.com/mick-p1982/glui/raw/master/bin/Win32/example.exe

FOLDER: https://github.com/mick-p1982/glui/tree/master/bin/Win32


This took me hundreds of hours over the course of several weeks. You can ask if it's worth it or not. I don't really know sometimes. It's not designed from scratch, but the code I started out with was in a real bad state. When the Exselector tool comes to pass, it won't look like this at all, but it will use the same cross-platform code, just with different kinds of widgets, that will most likely look more like Sony's PlayStation UI... but you never know, it might even end up with a more traditional UI option, but if so it will have some kind of 3D flair to it, like something out of the fortress-of-solitude.

This is however what I expect the 3D software to be like by default. It will have an option to switch to "native" widgets provided by the wxWidgets cross-platform library. This demo uses GLUT that is pretty limited and spotty and old. When I return to this line of work, the first thing I will probably look into is replacing GLUT with the newer, more elaborate wxWidgets; that is phase 2 of my plans.

I wish I could somehow get the King's Field II demo to the next stage, but the truth is I was surprised that I started on it at all late last year. It really grew out of competition with another person (TheStolenBattenberg) and I've kind of run ashore on getting the animated models into the demo. I may not be able to do anything until I am able to build this 3D art productivity software.

The main problem is to work with morph-target animations, you need a tool that is designed to do that, since you're really working on multiple permutations of the same mesh; it's really just multiple 3D models with the same underlining connectivity graph. I don't know of any software that really lets you work competently within that paradigm. In a way SOM will be somewhat unique in promoting this uniquely liberating paradigm. In its day everyone was animating 3D like this, but it fell out of fashion somewhere along the way. I don't know why exactly. I like the idea of it myself.

I think most software supports vertex-target animations, but where you run into trouble is exporting your work. And I don't know if they are really, really geared for it or not. Like I would like to do very advanced things where you can work on the model and the animations at the same time. Normally I think when you start animating these models, you pretty much have to give up on ever changing the model's appearance, since that will have to be done for every animation frame too.

I think there must be a middle ground where this process can be automated. And yes, sometimes require some minor tweaking.

But to be blunt, I just don't want to spend my life bending over backward to work with other's 3D software. I much prefer to be able to solve my design problems directly by improving the software. And I'm also solving the long term problem of switching over to COLLADA.

Speaking of COLLADA, I'd planned on making a new version of the COLLADA tool with some of this UI stuff built into it. But I'm not sure I want to do that right now, since I'm really tired of looking at this stuff. So I'm just sharing this example.exe file on the GitHub site right now.

P.S. My immediate plans are to find my way back to VR work for a little while. I'd put that on hold to complete work this UI stuff out of my system.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 06:37:49 PM by Holy Diver »

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2019, 09:30:18 PM »

Update: In the last few days I've returned to this work. I've decided on how to repackage the UI code and have developed an emulator of GLUT that uses wxWidget's wxGLCanvas. GLUT is a framework designed for demos and test projects. It has always consciously limited itself so it is not useful for full-featured software...

Through emulating it it's possible (and easy) to leverage wxWidget facilities to overcome its deficits. That's a first step. Emulation was simply the simplest next move I could contemplate.

GLUI works as a high-level wrapper around GLUT in many regards. Maybe my plan is to use the old GLUT methodology as a low-level description of this new UI framework, since many people are familiar with it, that could help. It also demonstrates that GLUT is obsolete, since you can more easily implement its basic framework in terms of a more mature cross-platform framework like wxWidget's.

The "widgets" in Widgets 95 is to honor wxWidgets. It doesn't look like I've said so here yet, but when I first started developing this software I wanted to call it 95 as a shorthand, but in code you cannot use a number as a name. So what was simple was to replace it with xcv, since that's Roman numerals for 95.

But this was fortuitous, since xcv is also the three letters on the keyboard that are used to do "Cut Copy Paste" that is a paradigm of modern UI. And being lined up, it's very easy to type xcv.

So I thought I'm onto something. I ended up adopting the naming conventions of the C++ Standard Library for this project. So that means the names are all lowercase. And that helps to simplify some things, like do you write ScrollBar or Scrollbar? Checkbox or CheckBox? Well, all lowercase you don't have to decide. But I changed some of the names too. I changed scrollbar to just bar, because GLUI also uses it as a trackbar, so I thought "bar" better represents this dual use, and it's just shorter. And I changed checkbox to "boolean" because I'm trying to approach the system with fresh eyes. It's called Widgets 95 but under the hood I like to think it's 2095 instead of 1995, but it's really a very simple system because I'm a maximalist minimalist myself.

EDITED: Upon proofreading this, I think I was unclear that "XCV" is kind of the informal name of the project. In code while the official "namespace" is Widgets95 the internal file names like xcv_button.cpp, for example, use xcv, and you probably want to alias the namespace to xcv so that you write xcv::button, for example. This is inconsequential to end-users, but it means a lot to developers. I'm developing this more so as a public (reusable) UI framework as opposed to SomEx, which is private, internal (single use) application.

Finding a way to do text with wxWidgets is going to be a big project. I think I can avoid that though for a while by using GLUT in a hybrid way. GLUT has some procedures that just translate to OpenGL code. Its text procedures fall into that category. So it's possible to use it just for text.

Later on I think I will have to implement text in two different forms: one for 2D and one for 3D, since I don't think 3D will be applicable to both, except for large text perhaps. Ideally I'd like to be able to use something like Windows' subpixel text facility for 2D modes. Sword of Moonlight doesn't use it, although it can if you change the font in the language package. It might not look right for this either. 3D text will be required for VR.

I'm leaning toward using this (https://github.com/Chlumsky/msdfgen) technique for it. "Multi-channel signed distance".
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 01:03:54 AM by Holy Diver »

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2019, 12:46:28 AM »

This is an update image so I can post it. It's the same as the one on sourceforge.net without its truly crumby (PlayStation FMV level bad) image compression.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2019, 09:32:57 PM by Holy Diver »

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 06:19:48 AM »

I think I spent several days wrestling with this on Cygwin/Linux systems to make it work as well as it can for right now. I want to first deploy it with my COLLADA-DOM work, so it needs to work with these systems before I can publish.

That works through the GTK framework. In theory it works with Apple systems too (thanks to wxWidgets) but I have no way to know myself.

To be honest, I have no idea what to do next. I should probably try to publish something on the https://sourceforge.net/projects/widgets-95/ site. If I cannot think of something else to do, I may start work on the the 3D modeler component.

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2019, 08:27:43 PM »

Man... I don't know where the past 10 days went :sweatdrop:

That's software work. It can be hard to decide when it's time to publish software. In the final days it's a weird feeling of not knowing if everything is in place or not. Sometimes it's simple to say yes or no; other times it's only a gut-level instinct. So far that instinct hasn't kicked in for this work.

Mostly in the past 10 days I guess I started rebuilding my COLLADA-DOM code with the addition of this new system. I want to use it somehow with that code, but it's a very simple piece of software, so it would not be appropriate to build a big user-interface experience into it.

In doing so there were also a handful of GLUT subroutines that needed to be added to my list of pseudo-emulated GLUT functionality. I want to say emulated, but really the line between emulation and implementation can be a matter of semantics. I've been researching text also, which is the biggest component. Text rendering that is. I tried to generate bitmap fonts with wxWidgets without success, but it was a good learning experience. It was unable to disable antialiasing effects in fonts, so it couldn't be used to generate bitmaps... literal bitmaps, i.e. where every pixel is 1 bit. So, since I had rendering code as a result, yesterday I worked on copying over the fonts that are built into GLUT. That was the last needed component so to not require use of a GLUT library.

In the attached screenshot is what I ended up with for adding some UI to the COLLADA-DOM file viewer/downloader software. The helpful keyboard cheat-sheet and drop-down menu are new additions made possible by replacing GLUT with an in house implementation. GLUT cannot put up a menu like that just anywhere in response to a key combination. It can only put up menus in response to mouse clicks. The browser history bar actually was designed to act like a command-prompt. But those go up (up arrow key) to go backward in time, in which case going down makes it possible to get a more user-friendly pop-up menu. But either way works.

The second attachment is something I'm thinking about using as a splash screen for the new Daedalus 3D modeler software. I'm not sure how exactly it will work, since it's much larger than a normal splash screen. I'm using Daedalus as an opportunity to inject more of my personality into my work than Sword of Moonlight can afford. I want to explore a "noncommercial" esthetic in Daedalus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landscape_with_the_Fall_of_Icarus

EDITED: In theory... in this painting, the little man in the middle looks up into the sky at Daedalus of myth. His line of sight is aimed where the software's "icon" goes. Icarus has unseen fallen into the water. Their time is past and they fade out of frame without notice. The old man carries on. As they always had.

I don't know what that means. I have some vague ideas though. My hope is a more nourishing, all-in, staid culture will gradually take the place of our wild corporate pressure-cooker. And that it won't be so much as a revolution as something that will go virtually unnoticed, like growing up, and taking responsibility.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 01:36:48 PM by Holy Diver »

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2019, 01:07:35 PM »

For the record, the other day I finally published preliminary code for the UI component of this project over here (https://sourceforge.net/p/widgets-95/code/HEAD/tree/trunk/).

Yesterday I worked on converting the code from here (https://github.com/zturtleman/mm3d) into the new 3D modeler project, starting with switching it off of Qt to this new Widgets 95 module.

It was an exhilarating day. I think this may be a lot of fun. My sense is the resulting code will be a lot less bloated and easier to maintain. A funny thing about code is bad programming practices make most code really boated and unmanageable. When I go in to salvage/rewrite code for my own use, usually it's possible to throw away 80% of the bulk meanwhile adding new functionality. Part of that is bad practice, and another part is a general aversion to clean away junk code. Junk code in the absence of auditing can make even simple functionality look nightmarishly complicated combined with illegible code (most code is illegible. I would say objectively so. To which others might quibble.)

I think something about human nature or intellect is not well suited to programming computers. I don't know what makes me different, but I just know my code is very different.

I don't know how long this leg of the journey will take. My sense is the 2D element is the bulk of the work. UI is actually a very difficult part of programming. People take it for granted. The reason I'm willing to do it myself is I've learned that most off the shelf code is not good quality, and if you can do it yourself you're better off to be in full control of your code. It's less stressful knowing you can always cross an impasse just by writing a little more code here or there. Even if it takes time on the front end, it pays off in dividends over time, and stuff stacks on top of old stuff; so it's more like inertia over time than just watching your back as you go.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 01:14:25 PM by Holy Diver »

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2019, 02:50:19 PM »

Minor update,

Ever since my prior missive I've been nonstop transcribing the UI components as I described, except for one week I watched Stranger Things (3) on Netflix, and also began watching Evangelion there too, around the same time.

The work is somewhat time consuming, but now and then I have to stop to design new features in order to fully realize the source UI: Somewhat advanced facilities like "modal" windows or multi-column tables with header bars, multi-selection, that kind of thing. Implementing these things is not so difficult as settling on their API design, since that is the most important thing. That is what the code looks like. In fact, I believe that the GLUI library's design is pretty strong. I would describe it as no-nonsense. It works well. It enables very minimal, expressive code. Which is what I had in mind for it. I guess I could see that it works well since I couldn't think of a better design myself. But I couldn't say without applying it to a nontrivial application.

That would not be remarkable, except I think some of its design is pretty unconventional. Something else that takes time is right now I'm trying to figure out the best presentation for the new UI library, that is like GLUI, but diverges in terms of nomenclature and presentation. Structurally its very close, however, how it couches itself is something of a departure.

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2019, 06:53:06 PM »

Just checking in,

Still banging away at this everyday. I don't cut corners, for better or worse. I'm drawing nearer to being able to build/run an early prototype of this new project.

I'm thinking at some point I'm going to create a version that is a time-capsule designed to work with MM3D model files. I may use this format to hurry and finish up King's Field 2. My goal for Daedalus is to use COLLADA files. In this case, I will call this program (I think) Millennium Model 3D. I don't plan on publishing anything anytime soon (except screenshots.)


This topic/thread has come a long way from "Exselector" but it's just serving as a dumping ground for me to blog about this period of my work. The modeling software is not related except that it's serving as an opportunity to properly develop the new cross-platform UI component.

I've been writing about developing a 3D data software since I took up work on COLLADA-DOM in 2017 or possibly much earlier. I think I was working on porting Assimp, that will be the data-import system even earlier than that.

The Misfit Model 3D feature set is pretty close to Sword of Moonlight's. I'm confident it's the correct decision. Writing software is very time consuming. I'm only able to do the things I do by cutting myself off from the world near completely. Otherwise, it would take so long that I would not be able to accomplish what I want to in my own lifetime.

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2019, 11:30:28 AM »

Crud,

I'm really beginning to feel the pain of working on this. I would normally take a break, but it's one of those things I want to complete.

I've not worked on anything SOM or King's Field or anything else in a long time. Months I guess. So I'm feeling pretty disconnected from the things that define me to myself. I flush everything out of my brain what seems like 3mos at a time. I think it may have to do with my "aphantasia" condition. So I feel like I'm forgetting who I am by the time I work on something like this for that long.

Where the project stands now, is I can't really think of anything off the top of my head left to do. That's not to say there is nothing left... it's just the point where the only things left are the things you can't think of. Which will be a lot. As soon as you fire up a machine and start doing real world tests the stuff comes up. It's funny that the way I've found I prefer to work is to write code without doing any tests... sometimes for months. Some of that comes from the fact that I'm often working with a large body of code that because I'm rewriting it, it's in a nonworking state. But I tend to work the same way regardless. It demonstrates that I'm confident that running the code (doing iterative tests) is not going to make that much of a difference. But it's a little weird. When I was younger I would not work like that. I would program something, and want to run it next thing. But that slows you down. And it's a different kind of activity. Unfortunately what can be efficient can also sometimes be alienating. But other times (like now) you don't really have the option. Or it would be a large amount of work to do otherwise. It can be good to blow off some steam if you can, but I think I try to not be tempted, for fear I will lose my edge. I don't know.

What I'm trying to say, is I'm in a funk I think, but it's not interfering. It's like an endurance test. And also that it will be satisfying to get to the next phase. I hope that comes soon, because I'd really like to work on something different, or even see if I can use the new software to work on King's Field II's animated elements. That's why I'm focusing on this now. But early on it may still be impractical. So I might need to find a more attainable distraction that I can use to recuperate.

Programming nontrivial software takes a long time. It even takes ages when you have someone else's code as a starting point. Apparently. I often wonder if the large time investments are practical or not, compared to alternatives. I think they are. But you never really can say. Projects that take hundreds of hours, you always ask yourself, if you're fooling yourself, since it seems like there's no way you couldn't accomplish something in less time than hundreds of hours by another means. I don't know. Of course, it's always a trade off between doing something your way, and the right way, and doing something someone else's way. I think doing it the right way pays off long term dividends, whereas cutting corners often doesn't provide any valuable experience, and doesn't leave you with anything to keep of your own, and it can often be very risky, and the stress can be very unhealthy.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 11:37:46 AM by Holy Diver »

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2019, 11:49:23 AM »


Update,

As of today I have a working program I have yet to run. It's the end of my day.

I should have some screenshots before long. It's not a rudimentary program, but it's just a starting point too. As I've said, it's not from scratch. I chose the best available code base to begin with, that is designed for working with model files from the Quake lineage, that have animation features similar to Sword of Moonlight. It has a working undo/redo system, and the basics.

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Holy Diver says,
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2019, 07:07:44 AM »

Here is a very early screenshot of the 3D modeling project, for anyone unfamiliar with MM3D (i.e. everybody) and to share the fruits of my labor in the past 2 or 3 months.

It's using the new Widgets 95 framework, and I've changed some things to suit myself. It might not look like much. It's just an idea. I probably won't share another image until everything is finished and polished up. This is marking a month of work or so.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2019, 07:30:34 AM by Holy Diver »

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