Setting up a Corewar Environment

For best results when playing around with Corewar one needs to be able to easily edit, run and debug warriors, observe the action when battling warriors against each other, and benchmark warriors against various test sets. It takes a fair amount of custom scripting to set up a good environment, one way around the programming effort is to use an integrated environment such as CoreWin where warriors can be run, examined, and tested using a GUI. Myself, I'd be lost if I couldn't just right-click a warrior and do stuff with it. My context menus usually have options to edit, run in pmarsv, and benchmark using various test sets, all repeated for coresizes 80, 800 and 8000.

If going the right-click way, first step is get a handle on file associations. Make a type for Redcode and associate *.red, *.war and *.rc files to it, then various tools and scripts can be associated. For Windows and the Linux KDE GUI this is easy. If using Windows make sure you set the system to display file extensions or you'll have a heck of a time trying to do anything with files, un-dummify the system. The Linux Gnome GUI needs a bit of help as it tends to ignore file extensions (nice try but sorry extensions matter, otherwise every app that uses text files ends up in the same right-click menu), fortunately ROX Mime Editor permits creating custom file types based on extension (and content too if you want), once the file type is created apps can be easily added and removed using the normal Gnome GUI.

If you know what "on the path" means and already have such a directory for such purposes then skip the next two paragraphs, this is for folks new to the concept. Often many different tools and scripts are needed and it's nice to not have to specify the full location everytime they're run, for example evolvers usually just specify "pmars" instead of trying to guess where you put it. In Windows, tools can be put in the same directory as the app that uses them but this leads to a lot of duplication, to avoid docs often say to "put in a path directory". This means a directory where the path does not have to be specified. C:\Windows\System32 is (usually) an example of a path directory but you probably don't want to put corewar tools there amongst a zillion system files, so make your own path directory. The following instructions are for Windows XP SP3, other versions might be different. Be extremely careful when adjusting the system internals, one slip and poof (and I'm not responsible for any damage you do, if you have any doubts cancel immediately and seek instructions elsewhere)...

Run Windows Explorer and make a directory named say "mypath" in the root of the C: drive (change "mypath" in these examples to whatever you want to call it but don't use spaces in the name). Or open up a command prompt and type "md c:\mypath" (without the quotes). Now to add to the path variable. Go to control panel (classic view) and run the System applet, click Advanced, click Environment Variables, highlight the path variable, click edit, *press the right-arrow key* to clear the highlight and *without disturbing the existing text* add ;c:\mypath (make sure to add the semicolon to separate from the other path directories) and click OK, OK, OK and close the control panel. Now anything put in C:\mypath can be run without specifying the directory.

With a path directory in place now qbasic.exe, blassic.exe, gwbasic.exe, pmars-server renamed to pmars.exe, pmarsw.exe and its DLL, various batch files for testing warriors etc can all go in the [my]path (or whatever it's named) directory.

Linux already has a path directory for user programs - /usr/local/bin - just copy the (Linux versions of the) binaries and scripts there, you have to be root but most distros have an option to run a file manager as root. Some distros have a local/bin or similar directory under the home directory for path things without having to be root.

Ok, got associations, got path, now can set things up. Oops... didn't cover Windows associations but it's easy, if you haven't done so already find the Folder Options, make sure it's set to not hide extensions, click File Types and add a type for (say) "Redcode" and add the extensions *.red *.war and *.rc, pick an icon and add Notepad (Wordpad might work better, doesn't mind unix-format files but make sure it saves as plain text). Now to make other tools. When saving batch files from Notepad and maybe other Windows editors, put quotes around the filename so it doesn't automatically add a ".txt" extension. When creating new files in Windows Explorer and renaming to ".bat" if doing it that way it is necessary that Windows is set to not hide the extension or it'll look like it has the right name but still has a hidden .txt extension, that won't work.

To visually run warriors in pmarsv, go to your path directory and make 3 batch files, say "pmv80.bat", "pmv800.bat" and "pmv8000.bat". The following assume the pmarsv program is named "pmarsw.exe", the common SDL version. Adjust the batch files as needed, they can be named anything as long as they end in .bat and probably shouldn't be too long or contain spaces in the name (when spaces are used in a batch filename then everything calling it must always quote the filename to permit passing parameters, sometimes that's inconvenient so it's common practice to avoid spaces, use _ instead).

"pmv80.bat" should contain something like...

@echo off
pmarsw -v 664 -l 5 -d 5 -s 80 -p 80 -c 800 %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9
if not .%2==. pause

The numbers after -v control the graphics, the 1st digit is speed, 2nd digit is graphics mode and the 3rd digit is detail level (usually 4). Experiment with the first 2 digits. The remaining parameters specify max length 5, min distance 5, size 80, 80 processes, 800 cycles followed by up to 9 parameters for specifying warrior names. The if and pause at the end pauses to see the scores if more than one warrior is run at once.

"pmv800.bat" should contain something like...

@echo off
pmarsw -v 414 -l 20 -d 20 -s 800 -p 800 -c 8000 %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9
if not .%2==. pause

"pmv8000.bat" should contain something like...

@echo off
pmarsw -v 114 -l 100 -d 100 -s 8000 -p 8000 -c 80000 %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9
if not .%2==. pause

Now go back to the File Types dialog under Redcode and add these to the app list (typically keep the editor as the default app). Since they're in a path directory for the commands only need to say pmv80.bat, pmv800.bat and pmv8000.bat (the .bat is probably optional but good practice to specify). If done right you should be able to right-click a warrior file (which should now all have the icon you selected for warriors) and select open with and pick the core size to run it in.

This ends Windows batch file associations 101 - from now on I'll be more terse. I use many other batch files but some of the handiest are for benchmarking individual warriors using variations of this test800b batch - make copies of it like test80bm.bat (nanobm07), test800h.bat (Franz), test800b.bat (tinybm04), testwilk.bat (Wilkies), testmoo.bat (Wilmoo), testfiz.bat (WilFiz), etc all edited for various coresizes, rounds and benchmark sets. Some bench sets are too big to display in one screen, can add "mode con lines=50" (without the quotes) to the batches (near where it sets the other vars is fine) or add notepad etc to the list setting. The location of the benchmark set and the pmars command line has to be precisely edited for each batch. Various benchmark sets for various coresizes are at under benchmarks, also look under Misc for alternate benchmarking programs but not sure if any can be associated, in the old days this stuff was done from a command line.

For Linux the process is similar for running pmarsv but it has to be run in a terminal such as xterm to permit entering the debugger, and Linux doesn't support passing multiple names from the GUI (but in Gnome a script placed in the Scripts directory can, so that's where I put my scripts for battling warriors against each other). I ended up having variations that include a read command to pause to see the scores when battling warriors, actually need to redo it all but once something works good enough I tend to leave it alone. I still use many of my old batch files from my Linux GUI's (Gnome on Ubuntu, KDE on the Asus' Xandros) using DosEmu/FreeDos. I documented my Asus setup in the eeecw.txt file, my Ubuntu setup is similar.

Last updated 6/23/09
Terry Newton (