Author Topic: Are FRUA-Players reluctant to play DC designs? (repost from DC forum)  (Read 421 times)

Offline SilentThief

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copying the post from DC forums, as this might not otherwise reach the target audience:

I had a discussion with Olivier lately if FRUA-Users are reluctant to play DC designs. For several of my own modules I could understand that they are not played, since art style and setting are quite different from "standard" AD&D games.

But it seems to me that also "T1- The Village of Hommlet" by Nol Drek and "The case of stolen Masterpiece" by Uatu and me have not really aroused interest although they have quite classic settings.

Is it just my impression that DC designs repell FRUA-Users or is it true, and if so, what can we do about this?



requesting your opinions on what (if anything) prevents you from trying DC mods:

http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=3578.msg51353

If you are a moderator, feel free to move, edit alter merge whatever -- this into the other post or vise versa

ST the hopefully helpful

Offline KTG

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I've played a long list of FRUA designs, but I have yet to touch a DC design.  And yes, the reason I have not is that when I've gone to the list of modules posted, I don't find that much in the way of standard AD&D (or goldbox style, etc.).  If there were more such modules, I would definitely have interest in playing them.  If it makes you feel any better, there are hundreds of FRUA modules that I have NOT played, nor do I have any plans to, as there are quite a few of those that don't suit my likings either.

Offline Mechanaut

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I am currently playing Champions of Krynn, (for the very first time).  I have been interested in Dungeoncraft for almost twenty years... but I can only recall playing a Dungeoncraft design once or twice in those twenty years.

(No joke. I've used the editor, but if I've played more designs than that, I don't remember them, and certainly didn't play them long enough to really count).


I have an abstract theory on this myself; (I'm certain it is rather unconventional)...  Haiku poetry has its restrictions; the point, and the enjoyment of it is to make the poem within the defined limitations. I see FRUA designs in much the same light. FRUA is set in stone, and we must do the best we can to realize the design.

But even the hacks are part of the art; where as Dungeoncraft doesn't have to be that way. It can be compiled to officially support new features (and has plenty of those already). That (in a way) is loosely akin to the ability to redefine the rules of Haiku. In essence, Dungeoncraft isn't FRUA... In the same way that Avernum isn't Pool of Radiance.  Someone could make a new form of poetry that changed the rules for the poems... but I doubt it would eclipse Haiku, or draw many fans away from it.


The secondary reason is simply that the art (in my experience, and opinion) tends to be photos, ripped off illustrations, or... generally bad. Years ago I downloaded Fantasy QUAKE. It was a total conversion for Id software's Quake, with minotaurs and magicians instead of plasma rifles...  I wouldn't of thought it possible (for me), but I actually stopped playing it because the art was bad... Think about that, think about the Official art in Quake. Fantasy Quake's art was bad in comparison to Quake. 


Now I don't have any problem playing Neuromancer, Alley Cat, or Ranxerox.  I think that in addition to the high appearance threshold for computer artwork that we commonly see, that there is also a lower appearance threshold... where works are marginally better than that can actually seem more annoying and off putting because of it.  There is a sliding scale in art and games.  Something superb done in MS Paint, can seem more superb —for being done in MS Paint. But the same exact work might seem lessened if it were known to have been done using Photoshop.


 At first glance, Bob Ross was amazing for painting landscapes with a 2" brush & knife; there were other reasons of course, but that's what first catches people's eye.  FRUA is definitely working with a 2" brush and limited colors; where Unity3D is an airbrush & full set of design markers.  Dungeoncraft then (by comparison) is a #6 round (brush), and a student's primary paint set.... and one just expects student caliber work from it; (not fair, and not always the case).


For me... When I think of doing a design, I default to FRUA over DC; though I have about equal experience using either.  I think it may actually have to do with there being more potential in using Dungeoncraft... FRUA seems to win hands down for offering less, and with a more restricted workflow.  I have considered making a design in FRUA, and porting it to Dungeoncraft, but never the other way around.


As far as playing designs... What stands out in my memory as unsettling, is the portrait & combat screens that I've seen, that were full of incongruous detail. Either too much or too little—and often at the same time.  For example, overly detailed combat sprites fighting on an overly simplistic background, or perhaps the reverse.  Portraits that use computer generated gradients on crudely drawn figures.  Not everyone's an artist, sure... but that doesn't change the effect this has.


I wonder if a Dungeoncraft design that used (new) original artwork, illustrated in the storybook style of the early GB game's imagery—but not scanned paintings, might shed this strange (and undeserved) pall of unnecessary mediocrity, and produce something that could blend with the original SSI series games.  I think the word Stigma is way too strong for this, but that's what comes to mind for me with Dungeoncraft over FRUA.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 02:47:23 AM by Mechanaut »

Offline Milos Gulan

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No, what I think is the lack of good Ad&d modules for DC. Village of Hommlet might be the one of rare good ones (but still it could be imprioved) and Case of stolen masterpiece. What I miss is just a solid, short Ad&d modules with some story :). And yes art might be a bit confusing sometimes, just make it a bit harder to fit all things together, because there are lots of pieces to the puzzle. Dynonikous works are nice but they are different from Ad&d and I guess I am also trying to make something really original and unique, but I enjoy it so much because DC can make some incredible things :)

It is just a bit harder to make things work lol but also there is much more to be done, I mean options :)




Offline hans

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Speaking for myself (as is my usual habit)... 

The biggest reason I stay with UA is that is far more appealing to me as a creator.  I understand it very well.  I have invested lots of time toward understanding it and crafting my own hacks for it.  And because it appeals to me as a creator, that increases my loyalty to it (my preference for it) as a player. 

Another reason is that the games created for DC don't sound any more worthy of my playing time than the many dozens of old UA mods that I already plan to play as time permits.  (Possibly this is a promotional problem, and I confess that I rarely read the DC posts.)  ...What might get me to play more DC is Hero Craft, as that does sound particularly interesting to me.

It may be, however, that DC is fishing in a very small pool.  When we do Polls on playing UA, we barely get a dozen responses.  Less, maybe, are likely to post reviews these days.  I like to think there is a larger, silent majority of UA players out there, something more reflective of this Forum's membership.  But active voices...   :-\   

Offline ProphetSword

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I love the idea of DC.  I'd love to create a ton of D&D style adventures with it, since it seems like there aren't many out there.  But, every time I try, I run into issues.


Sometimes, something is broken.  Or, things don't work the way I expect.  Or the interface for DC takes a lot more work to do something simple as compared to FRUA.  The biggest issue, in particular, seems to be the way the combat system looks with it's smallish size icons.  As a designer, these things put me off.


As a result of it putting me off as a designer, it also puts me off as a player.  Somehow, in the back of my mind, I think to myself that if I can't seem to make a design work the way I expect, how can anyone else?  My assumption is that concessions are made due to the nature of the engine never being complete.  I know that's probably wrong-headed and unfair. 

The aesthetics need work, too.  When I'm designing, I probably spend half my time just trying to make it look right.  It should look right out of the box, but it doesn't.  I understand that it gives the designer a lot of power, but it can be exhausting fighting the interface.   Again, it makes me think (probably incorrectly) that if I can't get it working as I want as a designer, neither can anyone else.  And so far, no one has proven me wrong.


I'm waiting for someone to do that.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 07:19:11 PM by ProphetSword »
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Offline Paul R. Stevens

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Quote from: Ben
if I can't get it working...., neither can anyone else

I think you are absolutely right: FRUA designs are best
created using FRUA.  Others have used DungeonCraft
to produce extremely non-FRUA designs and I think they are
quite wonderful.  Dinonykos comes immediately to the top of my
mind.  But he is not alone.  They have made it work well for the
things they wanted to do.

Offline Milos Gulan

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I might be a bit new to FRUA but my opinion is that DC has much more to offer and that is why I like it. True, it needs to be improved and make a bit more stable but that is the challenge I like as I like working on developing things as RPG systems probably that would be with RPG game creators :). Only thing is that I still need to learn to do it :) from people with more experience and here is one motivational video about it as I am hoping that I will improve and reach level of Manikus, Dynonikus and Uatu and maybe Paul too :) some day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSnU7DYxTuQ

I don't like working with FRUA that much and I don't like hacks and other addons for it but I think that is still the best thing out there for Ad&d and will have to learn it. I just think that FRUA game engine is really great way to create and play RPG. I just wish I could get into it more and contribute as much as I can. I wish I could do things like Ray for DC meaning to make a nice modules for everyone to play. Will have to work on that...

Offline Dinonykos

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Hi all, thank you very much for the detailed answers.

My main motivation for asking was that DC users could incorporate some of these aspects in future designs. I did not aim at convincing FRUA users to use DC or something like that. I personally started with DC, but played several FRUA designs now and enjoyed them. My hope is that at least a few "FRUAites" can enjoy one or another DC design.

As a result of it putting me off as a designer, it also puts me off as a player.  Somehow, in the back of my mind, I think to myself that if I can't seem to make a design work the way I expect, how can anyone else?  My assumption is that concessions are made due to the nature of the engine never being complete.  I know that's probably wrong-headed and unfair. 
Maybe a little...  :) But I can follow the logic. I have a two points concerning this aspect:
  • Working around weaknesses, e.g. bugs in older DC versions, may as well result in original new ideas. (Similar to limited time like in the 1-week contest or limited options in FRUA compared to DC...) E.g., the combat system was indeed quite hampered in older DC versions, but a design may not contain regular combats and still may be fun to play.
  • Of course, I would understand that finding one bug after the other would be repelling. But even though there are still bugs in DC, I think there are not so many that it would significantly hamper the playing experience in the newer DC games available. (And surely, if you encounter any bugs and tell Paul about them, it might help improve DC... :) )


I personally had some other aspects in mind which might repell FRUA-Players which were not yet touched:

  • Some of the older DC games just do not work in WIN8 or WIN10 without additional programs.
  • Some of the older DC games contain bugs which are perhaps now solved, could the games be updated?
  • Players might want to read more reviews before trying to play a DC design themselves.
  • Some FRUA-users may not know that they do not need the DC editor to play DC designs.

Concerning 1) and 2) This is the case for most designs in the DC design list save some of the newest, the problem could perhaps be solved by importing older designs into DC 3.x.
Concerning 3) I tried to play some of the older DC games myself, and there are huge differences in quality and originality. I could well imagine that if a player plays one of the repelling designs first, the interest in DC may decrease rapidly. This could be avoided if we (I mean particularly the DC users) would check the available DC designs ourselves and make at least short reviews.
Concerning 4) I am not sure about this. But vice versa, it repelled me from FRUA in the beginning that I could not just download a design and play it without the editor.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 04:22:23 AM by Dinonykos »
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Offline ProphetSword

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I know you didn't ask for the opinion, but if you wanted to draw more FRUAites to DC, I think someone should periodically post updates in the FRUA forums about what's going on DC, what's changed, what modules are being worked on, etc.  The "General Discussion" section of the board certainly has room for a couple occasional posts about it.



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Offline manikus

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Re: Are FRUA-Players reluctant to play DC designs? (repost from DC forum)
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2017, 03:09:56 PM »
I am going to respond to points from several different responses in one message, but wanted to say at the start that I appreciate all of the responses and the fact that we have kept this a very civil discourse. :)

The secondary reason is simply that the art (in my experience, and opinion) tends to be photos, ripped off illustrations, or... generally bad. Years ago I downloaded Fantasy QUAKE. It was a total conversion for Id software's Quake, with minotaurs and magicians instead of plasma rifles...  I wouldn't of thought it possible (for me), but I actually stopped playing it because the art was bad... Think about that, think about the Official art in Quake. Fantasy Quake's art was bad in comparison to Quake. 
I can guess at what designs you mean and think that this particular problem applies to one of those designers FRUA mods as well, not to mention it is a problem for other FRUA mods.
The thing is that the designs did not make use of the default art or any of the art made by Dinonykos or Uatu. Maybe the resources weren't available when the designs were made, or they weren't the right genre, or the designer just didn't want to use them.

At first glance, Bob Ross was amazing for painting landscapes with a 2" brush & knife; there were other reasons of course, but that's what first catches people's eye.  FRUA is definitely working with a 2" brush and limited colors; where Unity3D is an airbrush & full set of design markers.  Dungeoncraft then (by comparison) is a #6 round (brush), and a student's primary paint set.... and one just expects student caliber work from it; (not fair, and not always the case).
I get your analogy, but I feel like you are saying that you like something which you would rate a "1" on the art scale and you like something which you would rate as a "10", but you don't do "5", and I just don't understand why you feel this way. (Not disagreeing about anything you said, just don't get it.)

I wonder if a Dungeoncraft design that used (new) original artwork, illustrated in the storybook style of the early GB game's imagery—but not scanned paintings, might shed this strange (and undeserved) pall of unnecessary mediocrity, and produce something that could blend with the original SSI series games.  I think the word Stigma is way too strong for this, but that's what comes to mind for me with Dungeoncraft over FRUA.
i get what you are saying. as a player, I've never made it very far in designs/mods that have art that I don't like. This applies to both DC and FRUA. i think this is a completely legitimate reason to not play or create games.
I do feel that I would be remiss if I didn't point out that a fairly high percentage of the FRUA's smalpics were actually scanned paintings - look at FRUA versus one of the Savage Frontier games and you will see a vast difference in the art style. That being said, they are much closer in look than a hand drawn portrait by Uatu and something that I have rendered in a 3D program. In a small community like we have with DC, we have even fewer artists than designers, and I don't have a good solution to what I think you have pointed out as a significant issue.

Speaking for myself (as is my usual habit)... 

The biggest reason I stay with UA is that is far more appealing to me as a creator.  I understand it very well.  I have invested lots of time toward understanding it and crafting my own hacks for it.  And because it appeals to me as a creator, that increases my loyalty to it (my preference for it) as a player. 
I think this is a really important point. How many times did I start something in the Aurora engine/editor only to stop because I couldn't figure out how to do it and thought to myself that I had already learned how to do this in somee other game creator. The benefits of learning a new editor have yet to outweigh the costs of time investment, all just to see if I might like the finished product.

It may be, however, that DC is fishing in a very small pool.  When we do Polls on playing UA, we barely get a dozen responses.  Less, maybe, are likely to post reviews these days.  I like to think there is a larger, silent majority of UA players out there, something more reflective of this Forum's membership.  But active voices...   :-\
It at times seems like five people are trying to get the other eight people's attention for something that the latter eight ren't terribly interested in. At times, I fell like these numbers are too high.

The biggest issue, in particular, seems to be the way the combat system looks with it's smallish size icons.  As a designer, these things put me off.
Do you mean for the 640x480 size? The combat field is larger, but the icons are roughly the same size relative to the resolution.
Do you mean 800x600 or 1024x768? If so, I totally agree with you. For those that may not know, DC uses the same size combat maps and icons for all three screen resolutions. DC can handle larger icons, no problem, but not larger sized dungeon and wilderness maps.
I've put this on the list for Paul and I to talk about (right below importing FRUA designs).

The aesthetics need work, too.  When I'm designing, I probably spend half my time just trying to make it look right.  It should look right out of the box, but it doesn't.  I understand that it gives the designer a lot of power, but it can be exhausting fighting the interface.   Again, it makes me think (probably incorrectly) that if I can't get it working as I want as a designer, neither can anyone else.  And so far, no one has proven me wrong.
Do you mean the way your design looks in play? Do you mean the way the editor looks? I'm not sure about what you are finding a problem.
To the first one, I will say that DC does not look like FRUA in that it has way more black space on the main screen.  It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it only is because someone before me did it that way and when I have brought up chaning it in the past, there has been pushback. Doesn't mean I can't cahnge it. :D In fact, it seems that the first thing Dinonykos does with his designs is to create new borders to remove some or all of the black.
We can change the default layout for new designs without effecting any designs already created.

  • Some of the older DC games just do not work in WIN8 or WIN10 without additional programs.
  • Some of the older DC games contain bugs which are perhaps now solved, could the games be updated?
  • Players might want to read more reviews before trying to play a DC design themselves.
  • Some FRUA-users may not know that they do not need the DC editor to play DC designs.

Concerning 1) and 2) This is the case for most designs in the DC design list save some of the newest, the problem could perhaps be solved by importing older designs into DC 3.x.
Concerning 3) I tried to play some of the older DC games myself, and there are huge differences in quality and originality. I could well imagine that if a player plays one of the repelling designs first, the interest in DC may decrease rapidly. This could be avoided if we (I mean particularly the DC users) would check the available DC designs ourselves and make at least short reviews.
Concerning 4) I am not sure about this. But vice versa, it repelled me from FRUA in the beginning that I could not just download a design and play it without the editor.
As I have mentioned, I will take it upon myself to contact Rami Sihvo to see if he minds if I update his designs.
And I plan on writing some reviews. Really. Any day now... ;)
Actually, this Summer seems the ideal time to do some playing of designs since I'm not getting very many bug reports for DC and the issues that Paul and I have been working on are not tied to a schedule.

I know you didn't ask for the opinion, but if you wanted to draw more FRUAites to DC, I think someone should periodically post updates in the FRUA forums about what's going on DC, what's changed, what modules are being worked on, etc.  The "General Discussion" section of the board certainly has room for a couple occasional posts about it.
I will keep this in mind. :) Honestly, I feel that my posts about DC updates are largely ignored even in the DC section. (This is really more about the point made by several other folks that there are not that many of us in the community to begin with.)

« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 03:18:32 PM by manikus »

Offline steve_mcdee

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Re: Are FRUA-Players reluctant to play DC designs? (repost from DC forum)
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2017, 06:26:47 PM »
When I use DC and FRUA I'm more of a designer than a player of other people's designs.

I have been interested in DC for a very long time. I was and am thrilled at the increased potential of DC over FRUA. I experimented a lot with the DC editor for several years, particularly features which were more easily customisable than in FRUA, such as wall art, screen backgrounds and borders, and creating new race and class databases, etc. As an adjunct to playing with the editor I produced quite a lot of art which has been available for others to use (conversions of existing fantasy art, as well as original UI-type art and some original combat icons). I haven't kept doing this in recent years, partly because I feel there is a good amount of art "out there" for those who want to use it (if it suits their style) and partly because, for most designers, they will want to create, or find and convert, their own art that suits the needs of their design.

I have had a (very) long-standing ambition to create a Dragonlance-based FRUA module. I was really inspired by DC's exciting art capabilities . I find it relatively easy to create what I consider are some really good looking artworks for DC, but because of the higher resolution, the way the walls fit together, the nature of combat art, etc, do find it harder to maintain a consistent look and high standard across all aspects of the art in DC than in FRUA, where the lower-res art feels a better fit with the somewhat unrealistic 3D view perspective and combat system, and the larger pixels hide inconsistencies and edges which are more obvious in DC.

The much less restricted capabilities of DC have definitely made it hard for me to limit my design ambitions. That (coupled with the fact that I have been able to master some FRUA hacking that had previously been beyond me, which was essential to achieve what I wanted in my design) is the main reason why I have in recent times returned my focus to designing with FRUA. The confines of FRUA designing (limits on map size, events, etc) provide a framework which actually allows me to get more work done. The analogy with the Haiku poem is a good one although obviously even FRUA is vastly less limited than that. However, I would never have progressed as far as I have with FRUA were it not for the inspiration that workign with DC has provided.

If (hopefully when rather than if) I finish my FRUA design I have every intention of converting it back to DC, and keeping most of the limits but replacing all the art and adding aspects where DC's extra capabilities will allow me to make significant improvements. I would have continued focussing on DC except that I could see that I needed the greater discipline imposed by FRUA to ever make progress. Even using FRUA I am frequently distracted, fiddling with hacks for their own sake, etc, rather than focussing enough on getting a playable design completed.

Offline Mechanaut

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Re: Are FRUA-Players reluctant to play DC designs? (repost from DC forum)
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2017, 07:11:11 PM »
I get your analogy, but I feel like you are saying that you like something which you would rate a "1" on the art scale and you like something which you would rate as a "10", but you don't do "5", and I just don't understand why you feel this way. (Not disagreeing about anything you said, just don't get it.)
You interpret it correctly. It does sound strange... It IS strange, but the opinion/reasoning behind it is along the lines of (hypothetically) presenting two identical charcoal sketches:

...and the viewer learns that one of the two was made with a set of stumps & charcoal pencils, while the other was made with burnt matches.

What I had meant was that —in a way, someone might perceive the identical results done in FRUA as being more impressive (or strangely more compelling) than if done in Dungeoncraft; in part because Dungeoncraft is (somewhat) under community control, and can be changed to suit. It can have improved features when it needs them; and doesn't it?

 DC is seen as the less restrictive editor (IMO/ afaik), and FRUA may have a threshold for expectation that is naturally lower; where surpassing those expectations may seem more impressive—in FRUA, but not in DC.

IMO this creates a sliding merit scale* of what seems acceptable (in design behavior as well as art), perhaps unconsciously so; and thus the '1' done in FRUA could be cool, while the '5' done in Dungeoncraft could still seem too primitive. While a '10' done in either, is still a '10'. (Though I bet the FRUA design would be seen as having been cranked to '11'.)

* A double standard; not unlike praising a four year old for skill you'd be disappointed in from an eight year old. This is not meant as a slight. I originally likened FRUA to doing Haiku; because of the restrictive limits imposed.

**By all means, anyone chime in and tell me if I'm full of it...
I'm not closed to the possibility of being wildly mistaken. This is just how it seems to me.
 
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 08:20:46 PM by Mechanaut »

Offline Amarande

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Re: Are FRUA-Players reluctant to play DC designs? (repost from DC forum)
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2017, 02:46:44 AM »
* FRUA has a decades-long module catalog and runs on a toaster pretty much these days (just about everything can run Dosbox); DC only runs on certain operating systems (I'm not sure how well it works in Wine?) and has a much smaller catalog.

* Something folks have not noted previously - DC is hosted on Sourceforge, which could also be a major turnoff to many folks; Sourceforge has developed something of a negative reputation in the past few years because of aggressively encouraging Windows developers to use their adware laced installer system, to the point where some tend to assume any Windows program on Sourceforge is contaminated with spyware (also, ads of the "fake download button" sort that try to get you to mistakenly click on them instead of the site's actual download link so that you become infected with adware were frequent there last I looked).

Offline SilentThief

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Re: Are FRUA-Players reluctant to play DC designs? (repost from DC forum)
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2017, 02:52:05 PM »
* Something folks have not noted previously - DC is hosted on Sourceforge, which could also be a major turnoff to many folks; Sourceforge has developed something of a negative reputation in the past few years because of aggressively encouraging Windows developers to use their adware laced installer system, to the point where some tend to assume any Windows program on Sourceforge is contaminated with spyware (also, ads of the "fake download button" sort that try to get you to mistakenly click on them instead of the site's actual download link so that you become infected with adware were frequent there last I looked).

agreed that sourceforge is a pain, but this is for the pre-1.0 version only (as in, outdated). Newer versions have been available from the developer pauls website. But I understand how sourceforge may make you think twice on downloading it.

ST