Thursday, December 31, 2009

What to do?

Here i am working with me mate Paul, trying hard to come up with our net job.

What do we do next ?

We want to be successful obviously, but how. what is the best way to go about this....

I'll update this Blog with more info when we have some sort of conclusion. Maybe ill try to include the discussion or parts thereof.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Holiday Season

And in about 40 minutes it will be Xmas day.

Hope everyone is having or going to have a wonderful holiday full of cheer and fun.

I will enjoy myself tomorrow watching the family open their presents and cavorting in their new clothes i am sure.

Till then i have been going through the threads in the XNA forums. I just don't feel liek answering many of the questions. They seem to be adequately answered by others already and ones that have not, the person has probably found the answer already. The other types are the ones that ask amazingly wide ranging questions, like.. How do i write a game. Those questions have whole articles answering them if those posters cared to google game writing. Though this does bring me to the idea of writing an article or serires of articles of my own.

I think it would likely be different, but different enough to make it worthwhile i am not sure.

Guess ill wait and see.
Good night and Good luck.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Good name is in question

So on the XNA games front, so many people have just aribtrarily used any artwork they find, even the copyrighted stuff. So Microsoft and therefore all the people around them are a little paranoid i guess.

Well from my experience with these dealings, they have always been very minor affairs, a piece of artwork from here, a piece of music from there etc. Once found out, these offending games are removed from the service till they have been fixed.

In my case my WHOLE game is copyright of Scott Christian Sava. He even sponsors my web page. Sooo why would anyone really seek to actually ask me if the copyrighted stuff was ok to use? It's not like i can't lie to them, haha! So what was the point? I would suggest it is to make it so people who were unsure can now safely review my game, without hurting their copyright brains. And don't get me wrong, copyright is a royal pain in the butt!

I obviously answered that i do have permission, nd i could also be lying. Sooo, no idea really how to deal with that one. Maybe i shouldn't bother. It will all be as it will be.

So now i have done the prelimary web page at So this is a big win, especially as i am not well (suffering from a migraine yesterday). So getting anything done is a big win. Hey, i even reviewed 3 games today. Two of which were worth commenting on.

Laters all, Happy holidays if i don't get to post again before Xmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peer Review & Game updates

So my game has entered Peer Review.

The dragons den ? I don't know.

It has been quite soem time since my last game went through the Peer review process. Now i put the game into Playtest of course, in fact i did it twice. I had exactly two responses and they were both from the same nice person, Even if his username was Dip slit. Thanks mate whoever ya are. Made me not feel completely ignored. And being ignored is one of the reasons for this entry to my blog.

I have been partaking in a thread that is talking about which games should be reviewed and ways to make it easier to find people who are active, or more active in the XNA community. I believe that you get back what you put into it. Or will in the end. However there are people that just put their game into review and have never talked on the forums (ok, ya have no need to do that really!). Mainly though, they have not reviewed or playtested anyone elses games at all. so the thread went onto the fact we could ignore the crap trying to be pushed onto the service (i do anyway, i don't need a thread about it :O). So for these people i do not review their games. I leave them to someone else. Hey, i do my time, you should do yours etc.

I do have a current issue though. I pass games that are sound, and ones that do not excite me much at all. But on those more mediocre games i never post a comment. One saying, 'Hey look at me, i reviewed a game'. So i guess my community score will suffer. Now i thought i would change this behaviour, but i cannot. I review a game and pass it, and have no fondness for it, or it's success. So why would i wish the seller well ? I would not be being entirely thruthful if i wished it the best, i just wouldn't mean it. Not that i hate it or anything, cos i never pass those at all. So where does one draw a line in commenting. Mine is simple, if i like the game i comment. simple as that.

Now something new that came up was i found a game last week that came into review. I downloaded it to review it and then discovered the poster had exactly 2 posts to his name... He had also not partaken in the Playtest. So i decided instead of ignoring the game thread. I would post what i thought. Feeling like the OP should know why i am not going to review the game. Well i got told off by someone with a high and mighty postal score. Someone who must be feeling pretty good about themselves after telling me not to say such things. But isn't information useful. I am sure this person had no idea people will be up in arms about his none community interaction.

Anyway. My game is now in peer review. I hope it goes through. Later i expect i will do an update with more questions or more ineteractive stuff in it. Depends on how many people download it to be honest. How can i change that? Some people on the XNA forums seem to think that i should just spend endless amounts of time on my games and put them up there. I did that, have done that and probably will again. But when pieces of crap sell or get downlaoeded so well why should i bother. It is a crap shoot, the recipe of the day that gets downlaoded. Pellmell, took so long to make, so much effort. So much skill in the details, and hasn't yet reached 600 downloads. How can i justify vamping that up ? Or adding to it. Oh i had plans to. More firepower, new creatures etc. But what is the point, now i have sold like 50 or something.

Man am i going on now :O I had better stop.!!

Good luck 'A Dreamland Chronicles Game' in peer review for the xbox 360.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flow Diagrams

Well i have never really done a lot with Flow diagrams before. I always liked the idea and the lok of ones i have been involved in, or ones that are presented as usueful information to see flow etc. Never have i really had the need to create one of my own.

So for my real job i needed to create a large flow diagram showing the asset content pipeline for our in house engine and toolset. this was going to be a challenege and after two failed starts with freeware, and a shareware prorgam, that really do not do the job right. By right i mean, that you create a box node and type in some text into it. Then when you move the box node the text stays where it was, simply stunningly bad form i say!

So i ended up doing the Trial of Microsofts Visio. This is a bit of a revelation after the other tools. I also wish i had just started with this tool. It is so powerful though that i was overwhelmed at first. Though once i started to get the hang of it, it all came together. So it took me two days to come up with the diagram, but it looks amazing! I wonder if there is a way to link to it.. hmm i don't know how right now. But if anyone requests to see the splendor, then ill try to show it.

I do not believe though, that for one minute it is a pretty diagram. I mean, anyone that does these in their job or has been trained will probably look at mine and laugh. But all the essential parts are there. Maybe one day i can pretty it up, and also add more data types in.

Xmas is close now, My Dreamland game is ready to goto review, the only thing i need is to prepare the video properly etc.. I am working on that.

Also the Adventure Books for Children (5 golden coins) books are now being worked. So maybe i can either self publish or find a publisher that has some drive to do this group of books. time will tell.

Have a great holiday everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Documents can be hard

I am a mood writer. I create documents best when i am in the mood. I have probably already mentioned that. When i am not in the mood it is not only hard to create docs, but also hard to get anything useful done on them.

Usually i write notes on what i would like to be writing about. These notes are always useful thank goodness when i am in a writing mood.

the last few days i have faced something slightly new to me. That is how to get onto paper what is in my head. I know the WHOLE of the Data pathway, but for some reasons cannot seem to come up with a good way of showing this, in a flow diagram form. That is my current task. Which i was failing slightly. Today i made some rpogress and decided to break down the problem into smaller chunks. This is now going to allow me to not get bogged down and do the job more easily.

I can already feel the creative juices flowing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The General Maintenance of a Developer

Here i am working at home for a change. I have a lot of documentation to copy or create. This is an important document for my company, so i want to do a good job. Working at home allows me to peacefully just get on with it. None of those time or attention consuming moments.

But that is not the point of this post of course.

Maintenance, something that takes time away from development. This can be handled by a nice IT department if you are within that type of company, but good luck on that. Myself i am at home typing away and while i am doing that i am taking the chance to fixup a few other machines i have at home that need a service. My daughters PC for example, since it caught that darned virus it has taken me ages to fix. Now i have repaired it, it needs to do all those boring and time consuming updates. I also have a friends netbook that went squirrly after it got 1800 viruses.

So while i work i can keep going to these machines and pressing 'Continue' buttons, and it hardly disrupts my day. But if i was doing normal stuff at home, i wouldn't be able to keep monitoring them. That is all they really need.

Then after ya make sure that they are updated with spybot and avast, and hope that is enough.

time will tell. good luck on your maintenance :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Size is an issue

So following on from my posts about the size of my game, i have to say that i am still complaining.

I think the 50MB limit sucks for me, not so much for normal 1 dollar games though, as they tend to be more program and less artwork, one reason why they are faster to make and therefore cheaper to make. The general rule of thumb is that the more art the more assets and therefore the more time to develop.

Back to point. I have decided that i love the resolution of the images i am using. so to make them smaller res again is difficult for me. I would have to halve their resolution to get the game to fit into 50MB and that is a step too far.
so now i am going to have to publish the game at 240ms points, or 3 dollars.
Frustrating, but what ya gonna do eh!

So whats left i hear you all ask...

I need to make a video for youtube, and erm.. make write some blurb for the marketing of the product and press release.

then i will transfer this game over to the Review section, which is currenty full of 81 games. Yup 81!!!

I have tried to review a couple of games over the last few weeks, but it seems i am not good at choosing games to review. As i WILL NOT post reviews and fail/pass a game that i think sucks. So far i tried 3 games, i say games, but that is a loose variation on the theme. In fact two of them looked remarkably like the starter kits redone mildly. Which is ok i guess, but the jump feel is not there in the starter kt, and is still not there in their game. This really means that i appear to not have reviewed any games in months. Pity really.
Guess i should make a better choice and review with more enthusiasm. time will tell. Now i have DLC done i should have some time.

Though interestingly enough, last night i had a 3 hour meeting with my friend to discuss whats next for both of us. Can we work together, and if so what on...

We made some progress and are going to try harder this time to get the Adventure Books for Children published. I'll keep ya all informed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Plumbers Arm

I was working on some plumbing in the kitchen under the sink on saturday afternoon, when i hurt my right arm. I am right handed and this is now an issue. The elbow was in extreme pain unless i kept the arm folded.

Since then it is getting better each day. I also had it worked on by an acupuncturist and that seemed to help a lot. Now i can nearly straighten my arm.

The down side is that I have not been able to write any code or do much of anything useful since then.

The real downer though is that....
Th plumbing still leaks :(

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pricing Curveball

When MS altered their pricing structure for the XBLIG games, i never noticed that they also altered a few other things. I know this is my fault for not reading the whole article or at least not comprehending it anyway. But it depresses a bit.

This time it is because I finally got the Playtest version of DLC up there on the XNA playtest area. Woohoo! That was big, and thanks go to Scott for some last minute artistic surgery for an Icon and Box art.

I always intended that this product go out for 1 dollar. It is about getting new people into this wonderful comic book series, and not about making money, although that would be nice obviously. But once again i feel curve balled, and MS used to have their second tier pricing set at 100MB. Now they have chnaged that to a measely 50MB. That is bad for me, as my current ccGame take about 77MB.

What can i do? I first noticed this when submitting last night, and it would not let me choose the lowest option. It would be very tough to get this down to 50MB. It would mean that i would lose 25% of my resolution for the comic pages. And i like the way they look right now, BAH!

Not sure what to do at this point. But i feel that 3 dollars is too much.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Whats in a name?

Just how important is the name of a game?

I would have to say it is one of the most important decisions a design team can make. Of course nowadays a lot of games are named by the marketing department, and i guess that is a great thing.

I do not place too much importance on the name from a personal point of view. Though i do like names that make some level of sense for the game. Calling a card game 'shooterdude' would be wrong in my mind, even though, in a round about way a shute can be used in card playing.

So what do you name your games? Myself I want a name that i think will stick with people, so it should be a name that describes my game in some way. Sometimes this is hard and you want a sentence instead of a small name. Which is better though? that i do not know. Single named games have done just as well as multi part named games. 'Warcraft' vs 'Knights of the Old Republic' for example are completly two ends of the spectrum, and both did well. So maybe the name does not matter. These games though were both huge and probably for other reasons.

Now lets take my first game.... Aceball
It had a ball in it and erm, we themed it to have playing card references throughout. The reason for this was that we wanted a game that started with the first letter of the alphabet. This therefroe was a marketting decision, and one that has stood the test of time. Or we believe it has, cos it still downloads about 6 a day. Is this because it is on the first search page of all the apps? Or is it becasue people are looking for bat and ball classics and mine stands out because it has wonderful artwork? Either way the naming of this game was god i think in retrospect. I was going to call it 'ball breaker' or some such :o

Now we move on to my second game.... Pellmell
I liked the name. It was a word i am familiar with from who knows when and where. It means to run headlong without to much care, how appropriate a name for my shootemup where ya go running headlong down a corridor towards enemies, firing away with your blaster as you go. However this clever name was NOT a good marketting name. Most people I have met in the States are not familiar with the word (yes it is in the dictionary). It is also bad from a merketing perspective as it begins with the letter P, right smack bang in the middle of the the alphabet. BAH! I hardly make 1 download a day from this game. The sell through is good, so i take it people like it.. Woah! now i am drifting off target for this post. Pellmell was not a great choice of name for this product. I live, and I learn.

Now here i am about to go with my latest creation. This oe is a little different as it is a licensed product. So the name is mostly set. However nothing is easy eh! I wanted to call the game 'A Dreamland Chronicles - Trivia Challenge'. This described my game, and also started with an A and finally it had the license name in the title. How clever and marketting too. Woot!
But fickle are the MS laws of game naming, and to my chagrin i found last night that i am limited to Only 30 characters in the name. I cannot believe it!

so now i am considering my options. Though they are small in reality. As i will keep the license name and also the 'A'. So there is not really much to decide in 7 letters really.

Make good choices on your name if you can.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Are short posts possible ?

Not usre about that, but i'll try with this one.

Having a wart burnt off the end of my middle finger is not only painful, but also intereferes with my typing. BAH!

Heres hoping you never ever get a wart. I am told they are a virus that is caught from someone else, and can then be spread all over your own body. Eeewwwwww

Monday, November 30, 2009

Trial mode is not always a Trial

Trial modes for the XBLIG are a required Item. MS says we must make sure that we do not give everything away when people are trying our game. That way they have a reason to purchase the application. This is great but there are no real rules on what the Trial version can do, and also can NOT do per se.

A Trial could be as simple as allowing only a certain number of your multi level game to be playable. Another idea is to Create a special level/s for people to Trial. This is what i did in Pellmell. Still the Trial has it's own limit of 8 minutes of playtime, although you can restart the application and get the 8 minutes again. There will not be saving of progression in Trial mode to make sure that people cannot just keep doing this to get to game finished etc. In Aceball i did something easier than creating special levels for the Trial. I simply allowed them to play as much as they wanted, and used the 8 minute trial timer to halt their progress. The simplist form of restriction.

However some of the games on XBLIG are not really suited to this timed format. Some of the games up there are so BIG that you do not even get through the instruction/training level before the 8 minutes are up. This is a bit of a travesty really. And shows the inate dumbness of the 8 minute trial. It was a great idea, but now seems a little out of date. I could easily have restricted my previous two game to ignore the trial timer, and in fact on Pellmell i did. Aceball would have been easy to restrict to say 15 levels or something (that takes about 12 minutes to play through :O) Also some games are too small to use the 8 minute trial efectively. Is it wrong that there are 1 dollar games that do not last more than 5 minutes at a play? I don't think this is wrong, as those 5 minutes could be the most awesome time ever! So those games need to restrict themselves in other ways. That is possible, as you do not have to last the 8 minutes in your Trial. You can end it any time.

So My new application is a Comic with a Trivia game built in. How to Trial mode that eh? Well the 8 minute Timer i cannot alter and if people kept re-launching the application they could read the whole of the comic (the main draw for this pplication). so what i have done is restrict the number of pages to about half (50), and also restricted the trivia game to only be the easy mode and ask only 10 questions. I also restricted the questions it could ask to the first 10. this is a hard restriction, but i certainly hope one that will not annoy a player, ballow them to be drawn in enough to enjoy the application and therefore make a purchase.

A good trial is King, but it is not yet a science. Therefore a lot fo trial and error go into trying to create what is a compelling trial mode and yet not show off everything you have. I am not sure i did the best job with Pellmell, as it's sell thru is only at about 10%.

Here's hoping this Dreamland Chronicles Trial mode works out for me and Scott.

So now Trial mode is finished i have two things left to do..
1. Alter a few annoying SFX,
2. Redo Upsell screen (promotion screen)

then it's into Peer testing it goes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stupid Comic and the laugh is on me!

Well here i am struggling i thought to get all the questions i needed created before i ran out of pages in the application. However i took an odd step of coming up with the questions from the real comic, and not the graphic novel compilation either.

This has caused me an issue it seems!!!

I have been stressing a bit as i have been running out of pages, but still needing to make more questions. So here i am this morning trying hard to come p with 10 more questions (a personal goal i set each time i create questions). Once again stressing as i see i only have a few pages left, but i need about 15 more questions, for my 100 minimum!!

Then as i finally turned to the last page i realised it did not look right. So i boot up the game and jump to the last page. They are not the same!!. Waaahht?

I then of course start looking back and lo and behold i find that the comic i have been reading is page 52....

Therefore i have another 48 pages of comic in which to draw my questions from. Needless to say, although i felt a bit annoyed and silly. I realise this is a great problem to have. so coming up with my 200 questions once again seems plausable.

So onward with the questions. Next time maybe i will do better having possibly learn't something from this, though at the moment i am not sure what.

So the Graphic novel is 6 books not 3 as i somehow got into my brain. DOH!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Questions questions

Who new it would take so long to generate questions.

Those people that produce trivia games get my new found respect for their art!

I find it a little boring to type them all in, but coming up with them is fairly interesting. Some of the questions i am coming up with actually get me excited. HAHA, how clever i am etc...

So 50 questions in, and not quite half way through the book. Woohoo! On target!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The website is down

ARGH! the sky has fallen, what am I to do.

Noone wil find my blog now.. ARGH!

Server maintenance and migration i am told by the Hosts. I know birds migrate, but not Web page data!! I mean, it has no wings :o

Ok, so they say it will be back midnight or so tonight. That is something i guess.

Cy'all when you can find this blog to read it :D

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Questions, questions.. And answers :o

So finishing up Dreamland Trivia Challenge means that I need a stock of Questions to ask. I want a good number ranging from easy and obvious to hard and more subtle.

It is not a job I have ever done before and man was i slow a couple of days ago. Still i find as i look for more questions from the book, i am finding them easier and easier, just showing that practice will make one better at something. Even if that something did not seem hard to start off with.

Still i have 100 pages and need at least 200 questions, so i need to maintain an average of at least 2 questions per page. yeeouch!

I found this so hard at first, but now i seem to be flowing the questions out.

Ok, so how many am i on now ?

25 :o So a bit of a ways to go. But perseverence will win thru for me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Who shall get the work done? Me ?

Who will push till the product is complete ? Me ?

Who will push to get the best ? Me ?

Who will do the Coding, the Art, the Audio ? Me ?

Who will revel in the glory of a finished game ? Me ?

It seems the answer is me....

I feel alone today. Working on this current project all by myself. Trying hard when i get the chance to engage other people, such as my wife or friends. My friends that all want to do something in the industry do not appear to want to do it with me. As i have talked to so many of them about joining the fun, the cause. I still find myself alone. Doing all the jobs, and trying hard to do them well, and in a reasonable amount of time.

It must be me, as I have talked to so many capable friends, but nothing has really worked out. I am the common denominator, so it must be me.

Yes, My friend the artist for Pellmell and Aceball is awesome and will remain so. He is now busy and with a full time job.

The real question is a two parter...

Will i find a cohort ? Or will i run out of steam first ?

Monday, November 16, 2009

How do Bumble bees fly ?

I don't know the answer! At the moment i am not sure anyone does. I do know that people stufy this phenomenon and write articles about it. There are other mysteries and hard to understand things going on all around us. If only we see them, if only we take notice.

These strange things are very interesting to me from a coding standpoint, in fact probably from design too. The main reason is... If you put a bumble bee in your game, how does it fly ? what kind of algorythm are ya gonna use ? If ya do it a normal basic way, or in fact many normal ways, it will not quite feel or look right. We inately know when that kind of thing is wrong as well of course.

So i find myself taking notice and studying all sorts of things that probably make me a strange person. But a normal coder who wants to do his best.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Bring Life...

From my mind and my body. I bring life.

I breathe it into the elements I put together, yet I am not god.

I put together seamingly random BITS of data to represent something that is a lot more than the sum of it's parts.

I bring life...

I am no God, but then again, maybe i am to all the little BITS that float past my eyes and from my finger tips. For somewhere there, a form of life brought about by what I do.

I like to create, and when I am held from that, I am not the same person, with the same voice.

So let me create, see what i create. Don't just damn what I create out of hand, as that just doesn't seem right. Prejuduced is a word I would use for it. Although I know that not all I create is viewable. Some are travesties of ideas, and are more related to corruption than creative beauty.

I just went to the Movies and saw '9'

Saturday, November 14, 2009

DLC Progress is being made

Yup, it's true. I am not procrastinating at the moment I am getting on with the job of writing DLC as i knew i would.

One of the unexpected features i have just added is to put a nice darkened area under the buttonhelp text. I have a full drop shadow already. This did not seem to do enough to separate the buttonhelp text from the nice comic pictures behind it. Now however that is solved. I suppose i could now remove the drop shadows.. haha

Now i also have it so you can go into the Trivia challenge whenever ya want. But so far there is not way back.

Bonus is, Pause functionality appears to work fully and properly in Trivia mode (with no special coding from the Story mode).

Friday, November 13, 2009

I love it when...

I procrastinate for ages over something.
I have the drive, the strength of purpose and will to get done what needs to be done.

Now don't get me wrong, i wish to some extent that i did not procrastinate at all. Sometimes however that extra time allows ideas to perculate and form and take a real shape. One that i am able to bring into being with my coding.

This is now the time for one of these wonderful moments as i now have mostly completed the Trivia section of the Dreamland Chronicles Trivia Challenge. It is not fully hooked up into the game, but it is close. And at a fraction of the time i thought it was going to take. Though it isn't finished yet...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some work is not worth the time or expense

Sometimes we come up with logical and cool ideas. These ideas of course make so much sense that we start coding them. Only to find later that the amount of time it would take to get the idea written or even tested is beyond the cost value of the feature.

It is at these times that you have to evaluate really hard what it is you want and is it worth the cost. Objectivity is a nice word, but for some reason is really hard to do, especially if the idea is yours.

I recommend if anyone comes to you and mentions that a feature is not worth its cost, that you listen. Then ask them to come badk in a short time, meanwhile you really evaluate it, as objectively as you can. This might hopefully save you some time and money. Now if only i could get this through myself...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Trivia challenge ahoy

So here i was going to thread the Trivia questions into the book every so many pages or so. This sounded great, but had me concerned that it would distract the reader from reading. Still, it seemed like a good macth when all i really wanted was a book on the Xbox.

I told Scott of the idea and he had the same concerns as me. He seemed to like the idea of the triva, but then Whammo, he came up with a modification that was sweet. We just let you read the book, and then ask questions later. The Questions are all about the book of course.

This makes the Trivia challenge not interfere with the reading of the book. Which is great. Now i am coming up with what i need for what is effectively a Triva program. It could be a trivia program even without the book. To make it effective it needs to be able to stand alone. Oh oh.. Now we are talking writing a new app effectively. Ok, so the bottom line is I am now doing twice what i hoped to at the start of DLC. Dang!

I estimate about 10-12 hours minimum for the Trivia part of the application. Then i have to seamlessly add it to the Trial mode as well, which won't be straight forward.

So i have my solutions, but i also seem to have a Lot more work to do. And this doesn't feel good for what was supposed to be a Quality quick application.

See how the world changes right before ya eyes ?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scott Rocks

Scott at BlueDreamStudios got back to me today. We had an excellent and rewarding chat about the DLC game and what we can do. My idea of making it into a Trivia game went down well with Scott, and he even came up with a modification.

We are both concerned about distracting a reader from teh book by inserting trivia questions etc. so Scott suggested i put it at the end. This sounds great to me and that would mean i can make into even more of a game. YAY! With Timer and scoring etc. this is an awesome idea.

Trial mode however might be a bit odd. Simply because the 8 minute trial might cut out while the reviewer is still reading the first several pages of the book. DOH! So they may not even get to witness the trivia game at the end of the reading... We shall see if this is aok with Peer reviewers at some point soon i guess.

So for now, i have my direction. Scott also suggested that he can use his readership to come up with the trivia questions, Woot!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Waiting can be hard

I am waiting for Scott from BlueDreamStudios to get back to me on the Dreamland app i sent his way. He has a few suggestions already which i will try and incorporate what i can. Hopefully when we get to chat we will find a few more ideas to put in.

Now back to why i worry... That MS mandate about games being more than just a video player etc still count (in my mind) for something like this book as well. So i do not want to take that chance. So i reckon i will be adding in my backup plan. Which is to simply make it a Trivia game. This should be simple enough, adn hopefully will allow anyone to get more out of the book ultimately. I am not sure why i never coded it this way from the start, but haha. Looks like i will now, and enjoy doing it too. I just hope Scott likes the idea.

Now onto the Questions..... :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Playstation Home

This is an odd place, so much dead space.

We at Mass Media are trying hard to change all that. the current Scene we are working on (top secret) is going to open a lot of peoples eyes to what can be achieved in a Spcae for Home. This makes it quite exciting to work on, even if it is in one of the most restrictive environments ever created.

Now if only they would get rid of Lua (not gonna happen of course), and let us save to the Hard drive. haha

Anyway, this new space is exciting for it's levels of interaction (10 minigames at the moment!), and it's Spectatoring (is that a word ? sounds like potatos with glasses on, lol).

Ok, i am done now, not much more i can say at this point. But maybe soon i can say more? time will tell.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For Scott and BDS

I made a special version of the application for Scott and uploaded it to his site BlueDreamStudios. This is so he can look at what i have done and give his approval, or that is what i hope for anyway. I had to put ina bunch of PC keyboard controls, but it is the only way he can se it till he obtains an Xbox joystick.

I cannot believe he went out and bought a PS3, he musta wanted that Blue Ray player bad!

anyway, if scott likes it, all i have is trial mode and then it's onto Peer review.

Aspect Ratios and forced perspective

Well now i changed all my page artwork to 1024x1024 pictures, they are as big a resolution as i can fit into this XNA product. But of course this leaves me with the aspect ratio problem, as my pages should be 1.5 times taller than wide. and obviously 1024x1024 is a square.

Simply by multiplying the render size of the width by 0.667f though i got the desired result and i was soo happy. It all fits in memory AND it is a power of two size so no issues with DXT or render performance, not like i had performance isues anyway, lol.

So i then run it on the Xbox and OMG i forgot that i am using the 1280x720 standard res, but i view my development on a normal 4:3 tv. Soo The nice Xbox scales the width for ya in a nice way. This sounds great and for my previous games it was AOK to have the pixels none square. This time however that is not the case. So what to do ?

I looked into the XNA graphics calls to see what i could find, the simple idea was to find out what aspect ratio the game was currently displaying in, and then use this float value to resize my pages. This went quite well and i find this nice Vieport part of the class with DisplayMode.AspectRatio. Wootilicious, it tells me either 1.333f or 1.777f. I now have my solution.

However i Did add the multiplier to the page width and it appears to work, but upon reflection i realised that Wide screen will now not work properly and my pages are gonna be Uber wide, DOH! Not sure atm what i will do, but probably not mess about with calculations, i will probably test to see if it is bigger than 1.444f and then just set it to 1.0f. Therefore maintaining the aspect ratio for wide screen or 4:3.

Now i need to go onto Trial mode and i should be done.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Reduced Artwork, reduced excitement

Ok, reduced excitement is in direct relationship with heightened apprehension... Why am i apprehensive? I can tell you it is because this dreamland project is nearing completion, and with that comes the fear that I won't be able to publish it.

Whether the reason is because Peer reviewers don't want to review it, or maybe it is because i think they will discount it as it is ot a game application (and we all know how well those have done for sorcerygames lol). Maybe i am fearful that Microsoft will declare it as not an applicable application for XNA. The reason for this last one is because recently MS has declared this is not a video service, so projects must have soem game that the video supports. Here i am without a game, and a different kind of entertainment.. What will i face? That i will know soon enough i guess...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Fish in a small pond.. Or ?

Small fish in a big pond.

I have been around developing games for some time now. I have been a part of startups, and established compaines. I have generally been a smaller fish ina big pond as far as my games have been concerned, although soem of them have done immensely well, the companies i have worked for have always been a smaller fish. No Disney or EA here.

Here i am with Mass Media, another small fish that i have worked in for a long time now (14 years). Yes we were bought out at one stage by THQ and also let go a year ago when they were doing their cost cutting and laying everyone off.

Now we have re-established Mass Media and are doing well. As a premiere PS3 technology developer it seems our expertise are in demand, which is great. Btu.. ermm where was i going. Oh yeah. We are a small fish and are doing well with it. But we have an opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond. This new pond is called Playstation Home. We have some items out and a cool space called the Neptune suite. But what next ? We are currently developing a whole new area (i cannot disclose at this time , bah!), but is our internal investment going to be worth it ? Only time will tell, but also. The development area is so restrictive that a lot of our expertise is wasted... Do we carry on with this, well for now we will. Maybe even make enough to cover costs, I sure hope so of course.

But which would you choose?

The more interesting, or the more financially rewarding ?

Who takes the reigns?

Sometimes it is obvious who is taking the reigns of a project and moving it forwards. Other times it is not so obvious. Is it the person with authority who moves things forwards, or is it the person that gets stuff done?

This is a tough one and i am not sure i really know the answers. I am sure theya re all situational and personal.

In my current status i have no real design authority, yet i find myself doing a lot of the nitty gritty design work to keep my programmers productive. It is important to me to keep them productive, as it keeps the job more interesting, and i personally hate wasted development time. So here i am finding i am taking the reigns once more and fortunately to god effect it seems. So at least we have lots being worked on and done. Of course the nitty gritty i am doing could easily be described as the grunt work, the stuff that all games need, so i am designing nothing. But you would be amazed how much of this small stuff there is, and the small stuff that newer programmers just do not know. Luckily i guess i am old and wise, lol! Now that's funny!
Have a good'un

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Debugging code

There are many ways to debug code, and some seem so primitive but are still usefull today. Ok some are not, like for example..
We used to use the border color on the old 8 bit machine to tell us what state we were in, or if something fatal happened it would change color to tell us how it got broken etc. Very useful piece of knowledge that. Of course nowadays the new machines do not have borders to color :o

What they generally do have though is configurations when building. This allows easy setting up of some debg code that could potentially slow down the game or code you are writing. But if you wrap it correctly in debug conditionals, then you will be fine. so during development you can error check just about everything without worrying about the performance loss.

I wish C# worked like the last paragraph, i would love to have the choice to error check my array bounds etc. Instead of it ALWAYS doing it for me, even when i do a full release version for the Xbox. Ahh well, it cannot be helped i guess. It seems we are too thick and need all the help we can get. BAH!

So i am also writing in Lua for the Sony Playstation. This crappy interpretive language has no good things in it as far as i can tell at the moment. It is also missing configuration directives of course. So today i came up with a waay to use debug code, and then simply have a parser that looks at the lua code and strips the debug stuff out of it if desired. Simple yet very effective, and now i can have debug again, woohoo!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Tired Tonight, and why is that ?

It seems it is so easy to be more tired when things are not going your way. So that is how i feel tonight, but even so, after my full day of work and full night of karate going on. I feel tired, too darned tired to work on my own coding issues anyway.

Now tomorrow morning i do not anticipate being tired, so i am going to make a list tonight of what i need to do tomrrow, therefore making tomorrow more productive, and making me feel better about doing nuthin tonight.

Laters everyone

DXT Textures for XNA

Here is my follow up.

It is not all great for me, but then again, it is not all bad either.After following the advice i recieved from Nick and Zman I changed some of my textures to DXT, and waited to see what the complaint about size would be. sure enough it complained that i needed to have the texture multiples of 4 (ok, just one of them, the otehrs were ok). So off i went and altered the canvas appropriatly. This seemed to go through the pipeline fine until i tried to view the results on the PC (currently my Xbox is being replaced). The effect on the title page was terrible. The texture was somehow diminished and stretched off screen. So on with texting various ideas to see whatwent wrong...

Well it was easy enough to actually find out, as one of my first theories worked out, and that is that Textures for DXT needed to be powers of two, and in both X and Y sizes. This is a real downer for me, as it would mean lots of blank texture around my images as my textures are rectangular. This does however bring the size down to about 2.5 times the size of a jpg. So although it still blows my budget for memory it would still be workable with some more effort on my part.

So the facts in a more succinct way...

DXT compression works
DXT textures Must be powers of two in both height and width for the PC
DXT textures are 2.5 times the size of the jpg with a quality setting of 80
No idea currently if the Xbox will accept the DXT texture as just mutliples of 4 and now powers of 2.

This sucks so far. As i have a choice of reducing the size of all my pages, or reducing the number of pages. Both suck a lot!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Texture Textures, you are too fat!

So here i am getting very close to basic completion of my Dreamland book, and whaddya know. I am thrown a curve ball. It is a pretty large curve ball, but one that must be hit out of the ballpark, and soon.

I estimate i have a few hours of work left to make this application viable for release into the community for Peer review, or playtest. So i am a bit frustrated with soemthing i guess i should have tested much earlier than now.
Let me tell ya how it went...
I added in all the pages for the book (300 of them), and published a ccGame file (that is the file that one downloads to your xbox to install the game).
The ccGame once it was produced was a whopping 1.4GB, and seeing as how the limit on XNA titles is 150MB, i am in trouble. OUCH!
So i find that my jpg pages are being compressed to 10 times their jpg size. And i based all my calculations on them being around the jpg size (this is where i SHOULD have tested the pipeline out)
I then tried to see how come they are bigger and failed. The numbers did not add up. I knew that XNB files were supposedly well compressed, as nowadays compression techniques are really well understood and documented. So i had no choice. I read all the posts i could find in the XNA forums relating to texture formats etc. Lots of interesting reading there!

finally i had to post my own question, into a thread that was already quite similar. Within seconds of my post i got two answers of soemthing to try, something i had missed, mainly as i thought it defaulted to dxt compression on the textures anyway. So they instructed me on how to do that. Which is awesome! So after reprocessing the textures into DXT i find they are now only about 2.5 times the size of the jpg file.
This will of course still blow my total out of the water, and i haven't at this time seen what effect the DXT compression artifacting will have had on my texture.
As for size ,i can of course use smaller texture :( which will make me sad.

At this time, i do not quite know what to do. As i would have to reprocess all my 300 etxtures to make them multiples of 4 in both height and width to conform to DXT compression. This is a huge undertaking unless the process can be batched, and my debabilizer has run it's trial course :( BAH!

Time will tell how this goes. I'll update at some point.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Moving in on the Details

Ahh soem days it is hard to work on stuff, i am sure you have heard that before in this Blog. Today was no exception to that, but.. i had a plan this time. I had already set in motion what i would need for a day like today. (sunday :o)

I had made a list, and although i had not checked it twice, i knew what parts were going to be naughty, and which nice. With this handy dandy list in place i perused for what would be the easiest job to do first, to get me into the programming mood. Wow was pulling me in, especially with my sons help :o

The list i made was great, it really did allow me to get into the jobs in an easy way. Heck, i even went on to do more than half my list. Which was more than i expected to do today. So that was a bonus. A list also tends to mean that you are not dithering between tasks looking half heartedly for stuff to do. Instead you seamlessly move onto the next job, usually before you finish the last.

so today i got the initial 'Press Start; line on the screen, with a copyrights screen behind. This launches before my real movie credits intro. I quite like the way it turned out. I also sorted out the Buttonhelp, so only the help 'Y' is showing and that toggles on a nice listing of all the other button controls. Then i went overboard for the day and programmed in the extra buttons as well. Like volume control and 10 page super flips.

Now i need to make more items for my list i guess :D

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tools , the good the bad, and plain ole ugly

There are many third party tools out there. I hate most of themm. Mostly as they sem to be half done. Like someone saw the need for a particular tool, but didn't quite know how to finish it or maybe what was really needed for a development tool.

In house you can take whatever shortcuts ya want with ya tools. have fun with that crappy tool that 10 people will be usng later on in a project, especially at crunch time. I like tools done properly, or as much as they can.

So here i am needing an audio editor, and hating the fact i don't appear to have a good one. so i go looking on the web and find a few different ones to try, a couple even free. After a long frustrating time i dropped one after the other as being too awkward to use, or just plain didn't do what i wanted. then i came across NCH Wavepad editor. Oh man, this is nearly it. Works like you would expect, no surprises. The only thing it is missing is a multi-track editing solution, and then... Hey presto NCH do this as well, and if you buy them both at the moment you can get them for a measley 75 bucks, Woohoo! so my new company purchase tomorrow will be these two third party solutions to my audio woes. I sure hope the Multi-track lives up to the wavepad, which BTW is FREE!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Some Nights are just tough

I find it hard to work on stuff at times. Usually when i have had a hard day at work, or have had a great distracting day with my family. So when it comes time for me to spend a little time programming my own thing, it can be tough to do. Especially when i haven't really got a full idea of what i want to get done at the time.

If i put a little forethought into what i will be working on, i can get that done so fast. So last night i am sitting there, knowing i need to put in the Xmarketing screen and also the Upsell screen, but then i struggle. I play around a fair bit with the xmarketing jpeg, and i guess it's ok. But i am just not going very fast or productively with this stuff. Maybe i should have called it quits when i knew i was struggling, but i am too stubborn for that.

So in the end i have the Xmarketing screen in, and the start of the upsell screen. I really just need the correct text fro that screen and it will be done. Then i finish hooking it up to the Trial version flag etc. Hopefully tonight will be better. But first i will have some Wow arena to try with my druid, should be fun :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Listening to others

There is a saying about too many cooks spoil the broth, and although this could be true in cooking. It most certainly is true of making games. Now i could give some real examples, but that would be calling out people i ave worked with and some i currently work with, so that isn't going to happen.

I do believe that one person should have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. Then they can ask as many people as they want to, to make the product or idea more rounded and just plain better. There is no magic number to how many people should colaborate on a games design. But too many, or no clear vision will get everyone's ideas in place, and you will end up with a mess, with lots of features, but still a mess to play.

So yesterday i happened to bring round my friend and colleague to look at Dreamlands current development. I had some features of design i was not fully happy with. Well he looked at it and gave me some suggestions. One of which i discounted out of hand. However when i got to actually looking back at the game and programming it, i tried his ideas nonetheless. And whaddya know, his ideas solved my problems. It now works as i wanted it to, but i Needed that help to get me there.

So my vision, someone elses solutions. Simple in essence, not so simple in real life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sometimes ya have to take a step back

And look at what you are doing from another angle. Or at least me a bit more objective.

Such was the case with my nice opening sequence. It just wouldn't look how i had envisioned it, and altering numbers and timings didn't seem to help. So i stopped working on it for a bit and let it simmer. The a short while later i came back and just watched it. Finally i analysed what i had seen.

It was fairly obvious, my timings were completely off and rushed. so i decided to space all my timings out for what comes on when, and how fast it scales up and alphas in and out. This helped immensley. so my original problem was i was trying too hard to give an end time of only 12 seconds. This was unreasonable and now it takes about twice that. But i wasn't concerned with the end time, which was the real revelation.. let it goooo i said to myself.

so i started with the sorvery logo, and got that to just feel right, including it's sfx playing. This then allowed me to move onto the second part, 'proudly presents'. Once i had this timed everything went so smoothly and it looks pretty good. Ok, so i can still tweak a few pixel positions, but that is all good.

Now my issue is with the SFX and sound for it in general. I have a nice background dreamy soun supplied by my daughter and synth'd with echo. I like it, but i cannot get it into a format that Xact will load. Boy am i frustrated. It seemd i have now spent more time on sound editing and messing about with xact than i did to write and time the whole intro piece. I hate curveballs.

So what to do ? ... simple! Go find a friend who can sort it out with his better expertise 8]

Yo Paul, how ya doing for lunch tomorrow ? ;) gotta love friends!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Classy or Primitive code

This question doesn't seem to come up as much nowadays as it used to. I think it is because games have gotten more complex and any system that needs to be written has to be flexible in ways that would have cost too much memory in the past. as well as memory of course they take up time.

Designing how the features work and what features are needed and how to control all these features in the amazing classy routines that needed to be written. To clarify things a little i will explain more of what i am doing and what all that gibberish means.

I am working on the intro part of the Dreamland chronicles Application for Xbox with XNA. the intro is a simple movie style intro where logos fade in and out over each other. they do not have many requirements. Where, fade speeds and timers are just about all that is really needed. Now i was going to initially write a nice classy approach to handle this. Make it nice and table driven for expandability etc. then as i was doing it i realised that it was a huge waste of time. All i need are a bunch of constants to layout timings etc and just hard code the indices for each image i will use etc. This of course has gone really fast and now all i need to do is finish up the timings so i like them. I am also going to add some scaling now, because it will simply look better.

So this got me to thinking that all those games out there with their dedicated systems that have been designed and written have been a huge time sink. Ok, so a sequel will get the systems re-used, but apart from that. Sometimes designing and writing what you really want is so much faster than designing a system that someone else can manipulate to their hearts content.

Of course this is only possible for me as i am the designer and the programmer, so i do wonder if it would have required an editor had i been working with someone else on this.... hmm...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Buttonhelp is done and Defines

I thought i would maybe make the buttonhelp disappear as you used it's features. That sounded cool. You know, like if you used the left joystick to scroll the picture around, i could then fade out that particular buttonhelp. Although this sounded great to me, it did not look very good in the actual application. It looked dumb tbh, like things were randomly disappearing. Ahh well, so much for fancy ideas.

So now i have a nice generic looking buttonhelp, but it is very very invasive. Also it is not currently screen safe i am sure. So once i move it to the Xbox ill check it all out properly.

so that brings me to Defines! or Constants.
These are so useful. They allow you to place all your adjusting values, be they for gameplay or placement controls etc all in one part of your code. This makes iterative alterations much faster then having multiple code pages open in different places so you can alter a set of values in a minor way.

So i highly recommend Defines.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Button Help

What is all the fuss with ButtonHelp nowadays ?

I have dealt with it for soo long, but somehow i still feel it is such a waste of my development time. I know it can be nice to have. Although it only really serves a purpose for beginners to learn the game. After that it is just a mess of distraction taking up screen real estate.

It also take time to make it postioned just so. So the button and text for it line up nicely. I wish i didn't have to do it personally. My methd for not crowding my lovely Pages in Dreamland Chronicles is to make it Toggle on and off with the press of the Y button.

I like Help screens, like when you pause you can see what button does what. But Geez, c'mon. The game should not be complex enough or changing along the way it's control scheme.

Well back to aligning buttonhelp for me, bah!

What a Page turner

Ok so the new class is in. It isn't quite up to what i want.

So far it...

Displays the correct page, alows inc and dec of page number.
Allows Scaling of the page.
Keeps it's aspect ratio.
First shows a page as big as it can, retaining it's aspect ratio.
Allows scrolling around the page.

What it doesn't do...
Doesn't feel great, way too linear movement etc i think.
Doesn't stop the scrolling near the edges of a page, when scaled. (this is going to be the tricky one i think)

So what to do next...
I am going to change the buttons that control the page viewer around and put on some button help. I am sure you are all thinking 'LOL', why am i not tackling the issues i just listed. Well i have tried, but so far have come up blank as to what to do. Actually not blank, more like i have too many ideas, but do not want to spend the time to write them all. So while i write something i Need. I can work all the best possible options out in my head.

What is C# again ?

Dancing around so many languages can get quite amusing at times. Others it can be downright frustrating. With C# it is so similar to C++ that it aggravates me they decided to change arbitrarily i think some of the syntax conventions. Luckily i have code i have already written to fall back on for syntax correcting.

Well i finally started tonight. I made my page drawer. It is not pretty yet, but the class is there and the surrounding architecture should be solid, as i ripped it from Pellmell. I love re-using previous code.

So now it displays different pages, at the flick a joystick. But it is bad. I need to come up with a bit of code to generate me a scaling value for the X and Y, as the pages are not all the same size. Once i have these scalars i can use the biggest scalar to display the page with. Then the page will hold it's shape correctly (aspect ratio).

more tomorrow, man i forget how much i love to code.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The mind never rests

It lives inside all of us game creators. Whether you be a Designer, Programmer or Artist. Th dreams the thoughts the desire for creation. To make things better than before. This desire is strong and allows us to finish what we start. As starting is real easy, but finishing is amazingly hard.

Just think of all the things that could stop you from creating your game. From simple stuff like lack of enthusiasm, there are greater things from outside influences. Friends and family demand time, and significant others have killed more games being created than all other distractions put together.

One such distraction is the fact i today had surgery on my body. Only outpatient surgery, but still a major distraction in my creative processes. Of course i am here writing my blog :), but anything else will be out of the question today. As sitting is rather uncomfortable for me.

But this distraction is something i can use to my benefit, as i lie bored in bed, watching TV go over and over the same boring groud. Instead i can use this or organise and design more of my game, use the boredom of TV to fuel my fire for something interactive and much more exciting. Of course i could also use some information from what i watch to help spice up my next game.

So hope you are all well and have started your next awesome game. I will be doing mine soon, and then these blog posts will take on a more personal note (gamewise).

Back to planning

So ya have a nice basic game thought out. Now is the time to start writing it, but that needs a basic plan.

What to do first ? etc...

Control. I always love to start with the control. This is after all the primary connection between the player and his Avatar, or on screen representation.

Detection. Further advancing control. Platform games really don't work without this kind of thing. Though sometimes it is player vs alien control one needs to write.

Alien Interaction. The first Alien does not have to be the best AI. Something simple will usually work. With this basic Alien and controls now written. It is possible to know if the game is fun. Fun is what we are bauot, or maybe not if you are doing a new gameplay test or idea etc.

So these important steps do not require awesome graphics. We have written many games up to this stage with colored Cubes or spheres etc.

Now go write that fun feeling demo of your game.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What to create Next ?

Well here i am about to start something new. But what should it be ? The exciting remake of my shooter Pellmell with less creativity and more back to ye olde arcade stylings which appears to be what gets XBLIG browsers excited ?

Should i finish the Dreamland Graphic novel reader first ? Or should i put pressure on my friend to make that one, and thus leave me to create something entirely new.

I do not know how to make this decision to be honest. I am not sure anyone really does. Go with some marketing idea, or go with gut feeling, or just maybe go with what is most interesting at this time.

Too many options, i have way too many ideas. Some are more experimental to be sure. Although it would be nice for my stuff to make some money, even if it is to cover just the outgoing costs like the music i buy etc.

I guess we will see in a future post what i end up doing.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meetings are essential

But man, they can certainly feel like they get in the way of 'real work', or are just plain borrrriniingg! Meetings generally get out of hand in several ways.

So what do ya do about it. Below i List my fave things to do, to make a meeting more productive and also a lot more 'fun'.

1. Organise the eeting with notes to go over beforehand (Have a meeting plan).
2. Keep the meeting on subject. Once you diverge to talk with 2 people out of a meeting of 8, then you are most definitely doing something wrong.
3. Keep the meeting as short as it can be.
4. Wrap up with asking around the meeting group to see if they understand and also if their are any more questions. This is a great way to get everyone to leave and get started immediately, and not wander off chatting at the coffee machine.

Well, i am off to several meetings today. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What should one do?

This Question is based on what you should do to create your Indie game. Or in fact create any game. There is a simple answer really...

Do what you are best at, and try hard to avoid doing the parts you are not.

Now although the answer is easy. It does have the annoying logic that you must know what you are good and bad at to actually perform in this way way. Finding out what you are good at and not so good at takes practice. this knowledge can also be obtained by asking friends or family or workmates or even superiors at work. This seems obvious, but to be honest it is really hard to believe them, or even take the criticism from them, and mark my words. It will sounds bad to your ears to learn you are not an all-star at everything you try.

It is however really important to get help on the areas you are not great at. so you now know you need to fins out your strengths, but while you are at it. Look around at your friends and workmates to see what you think their strengths and weaknesses are.

The sign of a good and experienced manager is one that can discern this information, even when you yourself might not agree... at first.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Organising a project development

Most people appear to think that organising a project starts with commenting it, and sometimes they feel that organising starts with laying out what great systems they are going to code.

I disagree with this theory. I believe that organisation starts with knowing what kind of game you are going to write and then designing the directory structure that all the code and art and other little parts are going to live under.

This can be an invaluable time saver later on, because you know where everything is, and so does everyone else. It is basically better to have a designed place for stuff that just placing stuff where you feel it should go when you create it. That leads to a mess, just like the drawers for your clothing that mom used to yell at you about haha.

I will give one more tip here though... Never duplicate any folder name, and if possible keep all the file names for data and code etc unique as well. This was a recent pain in the butt for me working ona title that had so many sub directories all named the same, ARGH! that kind of thing makes me insane.

... and with good organisation comes time savings and a great feeling of confident knowing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To pass a Submission is a glorious thing

Today we found out we have passed PS2 SCEE certification on the latest game i have created (in this case converted from the Wii). We now just have a PSP SCEE version to go through and we have them all done, YAY!


Enjoy the brief feeling of fulfillment because it isn't going to last long. Not long enough that is for sure, till once again you are back into the fray of trying to keep your company afloat by working on the next game or content.

So i work for a small company and we have already started on our next undertaking, because money is tight and failiure is NOT an option. As one workmate and friend put it, I want to know that i did my best, and if we fail then it isn't my fault.

Not everything is under our control with our development, but some things are, like how hard we work each day. So give today a special amount of attention and get-er-dun.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Whats the most important aspect of any game

Well i have heard this discussion many many times in the past 2 dozen years. so i will not bother to consider all the possibilities like graphics and sound and atmosphere etc etc.

Instead i will put forward what i personaly regard as the most important feature of any game.

Argh i hear ya all shout. That undefined word that everyone bandies around like it was candy for the ears.

My version of playability is fairly simple... If the basic gameplay feels like fun, the rest of the game built on top has a good chance of being fun too. But in this day and age most people are building envirenments and designing levels, without even having a basic control prototype setup to play with. My example would be how would ya design marble madness levels if you had no dea how it felt. they are so integral to a level, that if you misjudged the area setup for fast turns, the level is ruined.

So i say, make ya control prototype (i do), and have some fun with it. You should know when it's ready to become a game when you want to show to everyone around you. "Come try this game out".. Not "come look at this game"

My thoughts, my opinion. But Gameplay rules games for me, i don't care how good it looks. Or what the license its. (well, not till after the playability seems alright).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Energy for getting a job done

One of the most valuable assets a developer can have is friends. Ones with a like mind are the most helpful, but any energetic and enthusiastic friend is worth all the time you have put into your friendship.

When a project is stalling for lack of energy, or maybe it's because your day job is being brutal at some points. Having a nice lunch with a friend (or friends) and discussing your goals and desires can give ya the much needed boost to get past a particularly difficult part of the dev process, or even get you across the finishing line.

I had one of those lunches today with 2 friends. Not to get me over the finishing line, but it had the effect of making me want to write more games immediately. It instilled me with so much energy i could burst soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So here we are near the end of a productive day. A day where i spent all of it chatting with various team members about the possibilities laid out before us. Actually they are not laid out at all. We are in control of our destiny for the time being, in as much as any developer is. I can not say more at this time, but it is an exciting time full of ideas and dreams, and if we did not have those, why would we bother.

Now i go home to think and dream of more Sorverygames possibilities.

First Blog is always the hardest

1. This Blog will detail aspects of the creation pains and processes related to both Indie games development and original product development for Sorcerygames.
2. This will also serve as a Blog for aspects of professional games development as that is currently my day job. (Indie games do not pay at all atm)


So what should i say. Where should i start. Without a nice reference of background information it is surely not possible for anyone to relate to this blog at all.

I am not going to give my lifes story at this juncture, but i will probably try hard to point out proper references later as i begin to discuss where i am in the game and original product development cycle.

Of course, currently noone knows who i am. that is simply because i wanted to stay anonymous, and let my products and company do the talking. But this is not really possible with a blog. And as that is something i really want to do, well it might be time to come clean with some basic bio or whatever.. BAH!

Let me see what i can knock up quickly for a subsequent post.