Tidying Up the Forge

Hit one of those dry spells with the blog, but that’s quite alright. Two new Tesserae pages that’ve been sitting around for a few days went up today, HTML5 audio and video and the codecs and containers to use for web streaming. Was originally supposed to be one page, but the topic’s really heavy enough for two. Sure hope you’re subscribed to Tesserae’s new RSS feed in your reader of choice, I try to keep it updated at least once or twice a month.

The Forge's front page
Yes, that is a frame menu.

One of my other “oh god why did I do this” projects is also finished, as of this evening, a restoration job I did on a little old-school Quake modding site called The Forge, tailored for the Worldcraft editor (y’know, Hammer?). The site itself is pretty rich with sample maps and historical scene goodness, even if it is mostly historical (how many people even use J.A.C.K., let alone Worldcraft?) Of course, neat old site stuff aside, and it is very neat–this stuff had me looking through idgames2 and the Wayback Machine like nobody’s business–I undertook this for one major reason: how The Forge influenced the Valve Developer Union site.

You see, an archive of The Forge was one of a few Quake reference sites I stumbled on when working on “Temple of the Strange”. It stuck with me because most of the files that were on it were not hosted with the site itself–they never had been. Some were on mirrors associated with Worldcraft itself (which used to be an ACDSystems tool, apparently–ACDSee?), some were in PlanetQuake’s idgames2 directory (over FTP no less), and others were just plain on other sites. As such, very very few of the links to the example maps or WAD files actually worked. The actual text content was excellent (in fact, the VDU guide on carving was directly inspired by The Forge’s page on carving), but all the companion materials simply ceased to exist.

Some of the files thought to be lost from The Forge
I mean, if nothing else, I wanted to see what he did to simulate glass in Quake. They didn’t exactly have the _alpha key yet.

Or so I thought.

I mentioned twice now that I went looking through idgames2 for some of the files; indeed, recently, I discovered through Dukeworld that the files do still exist in the planetquake/worldcraft directory–but there, they were separate from their context. Given how much time I spent poking around this site, even if nobody else cares about it anymore–I thought it was worth the labor of love to spider the mirrors and reassemble the site, plus a bit of cleanup work for the trouble.

The cleanup work wasn’t exactly fun. I have a pretty finely tuned ability to read and clean up the messiest mid-90s HTML, but even this gave me a headache. Most of the sections were thankfully one page or maybe a few, so most of the site was cleaned up by hand, but three of the sections, the news, the tutorial, and the entity guide, were many, many pages that I couldn’t be assed to patch up manually.

After letting it sit for a few days, I just ran these through HTML-Tidy and it did a nice enough job, save for the lack of indenting. (I’d really recommend you try Tidy if the command line doesn’t totally scare you away, if you find yourself trying to manually work on a webpage written in Microsoft Word or Netscape Composer or something.) Even still, the total lack of stylesheet on this site wasn’t doing me any favors, and I didn’t want to compromise the authenticity by adding one. (I am never, ever typing <font size="-1"> ever again.) Not the most pleasant project, really, but I’d say it was worth it.

As for the downloads, as many of the links as I care to have been patched across the sections, and the stuff on-site is about as functional as it ever was, perhaps slightly moreso. Alongside this, I’ll be adding an Archives section to VDU, which will essentially be my packrat section for any old-school reference material I like and wanna save. (Bengt Jardrup’s site is next unless it somehow dies in the time between the post and the time I get around to spidering it.)

As a nice little old web bonus, lurking in one of the news pages was an animated ad banner for The Forge! The dimensions were a little off from our usual 468×60 (necessitating a GIF decompile and some work in Paint.NET, of course), but it’s now in rotation on somnolescent.net. I’m rather pleased with our ad selection, on that note–a lot of inside jokes, but a lot of genuinely old-school ads in there too, and yes, they do go places!

The Forge's banner in use on somnolescent.net
No I didn’t just post this because the Daf chibi is doofy and cute, why do you ask?

But that’ll be it for me for right now. Hoping to wake up a bit more refreshed tomorrow. There is creative stuff going on behind the scenes (and in Minecraft…), but nothing Caby and I wanna show off just yet. You’ll see in time, I promise.

Leave a Comment