No quit   January 14th, 2015

Hang Pyskool?Continuing the theme of new versions without new features, I hereby present Pyskool 1.2. Get your copy from the download page or from PyPI.

1.2 does contain a bug fix, though. In 1.1.1 and 1.1.2, if you press Escape while Eric is writing on a blackboard, the quit menu appears but does not respond to keypresses, leaving you unable to select ‘Yes’ and actually quit. To make things worse, in this situation even the window close button doesn’t work. So here comes 1.2 to the rescue: the quit menu now responds to keypresses when Eric is writing on a blackboard. In addition, the Insert (screenshot), F2 (save), F6 (load), F11 (toggle full-screen mode) and F12 (menu) keys also now work when Eric is writing on a blackboard. I think we can all agree that the fact that Eric has a piece of chalk in his hand should not interfere with the ability to take a screenshot or bring up the game menu.

The only other significant change that 1.2 brings is support for Python 3: Pyskool now passes the test plan when run with Python 3.4. However, I wish you luck in finding a version of Pygame compiled for Python 3. I used the python3-pygame package in the Debian experimental distribution, but at the time of writing there are no officially approved downloads on for Python 3. Not to worry, though: Pyskool will continue to work with Python 2.7 for a good while yet.

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Rock around the clock   June 14th, 2014

To see a lamb at skoolPyskool 1.1.2 has been released. As usual, copies are available from the download page in the shape of tarballs, zip files, DEB packages and RPM packages. Alternatively, if you’d like 1.1.2 to be served up to you by means of a package repository, you can get it from PyPI.

1.1.2 is a minor update to 1.1.1: no bug fixes or new features can be found in this release. Why bother with it, then? Well, one thing that the skool game ‘remixes’ included with Pyskool – namely Skool Daze Take Too, Ezad Looks, and Back to Skool Daze – have long been missing is their own tunes. Up till now, they have unashamedly borrowed the existing tunes from the original skool games – namely Skool Daze and Back to Skool. In 1.1.2, however, the remixes have had a musical overhaul: each one has its own theme tune, its own ‘all shields’ tunes, its own ‘open safe’ tune, and its own ‘up a year’ tune. That’s 12 (twelve) new tunes in total.

Now, I do understand that a customisation like this may be a little disconcerting at first. But note that I have taken great care to produce the 12 new tunes (actually nursery rhymes and other traditional songs) in the same style as the original skool tunes, so at least we still hear the familiar rasping notes of old. (Thanks, by the way, to Alex for showing me how to read piano sheet music.) The first person to correctly identify all 12 tunes will get, er, recognition for being the first person to correctly identify all 12 tunes!

If all this musical freshness is not to your taste, don’t despair. I’ve also customised the lesson questions and answers for each teacher in Skool Daze Take Too, Ezad Looks, and Back to Skool Daze. So if you’ve grown tired of Mr Rockitt constantly banging on about chemical symbols and animal homes, fire up Pyskool 1.1.2 today for some refreshingly different science (and geography, and history, and maths) quizzes.

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Frozen dinner   January 26th, 2014

Quit Pyskool?Pyskool 1.1.1 has been released. This brand spanking new version for 2014 brings a few small enhancements and a bugfix to 1.1 (which, at the time, was a brand spanking new release for 2013). Impatient readers can head over to the download page now to grab a copy; the rest of you can stick around for some details on the changes since the previous release.

First of all, Pyskool now has a quit confirmation screen, shown by default when you press Escape (though not when you click the window close button). In keeping with Pyskool’s philosophy of ease of use, the screen displays, beneath the title ‘Quit Pyskool?’, two options whose meaning I hope is clear: ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. The player is then left to decide, at his leisure, whether to actually quit (‘Yes’), or to continue playing (‘No’). If, however, you’re one of those confident, accident-free players who never hit Escape without meaning it, and would be irritated by such trivial questioning, you can disable the confirmation screen by setting ConfirmQuit to 0 in the [GameConfig] section. On the other hand, if you’re one of those indecisive, accident-prone players who sometimes even click the window close button and immediately regret it, you can enable the confirmation screen in this situation by setting ConfirmClose to 1 in the [GameConfig] section.

Second of all, there is now an item on the main menu to switch between full-screen and windowed mode. True, this feature has been available since version 1.0 by pressing F11, but that fact was never mentioned anywhere in the documentation (except in the changelog). Now that it has its own menu item, perhaps more people will notice it, use it, and enjoy it.

Third of all, there is now support for appending content to existing ini file sections. This is done by adding a ‘+’ suffix to the section name. For example, if you add a section named [SkoolLocations+] to an ini file that is read after config.ini, then its contents will be appended to the contents of the [SkoolLocations] section in config.ini, rather than entirely replacing them. Which could be useful.

Finally, there was a bug in 1.1 and earlier versions that froze the game if Eric’s lines total went over 10000 (or Eric jumped out of the top-floor window) while he was being fetched by the teacher on dinner duty. This bug has been fixed, so you can now play Pyskool with confidence that Mr Wacker will hunt Eric down and expel him as appropriate even if it’s dinner time.

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