Tuesday, August 31, 2010

High Score Sharing - Done

Yes, you read that right. It is now done. Working really well and the hiccups are very minimal. I cannot say entirely removed, i think because of network session underlying code can do that. However the stuff on top appears to be clean and working.

I found my bug. I needed to make sure i waited a second or two before terminating the session from the Host. For some reason this caused the ElapsedTime field of Gametime to get really really small. As there is a timer on the sharing code to only do stuff every so many seconds, then it basically stalled me out. Once i sent in a fixed time delta (1/60th) it updated fine as well. so with both these things fixed it all works very nicely.

Testing it has taken some time. I am methodical and commited to doing that part properly, so i have left it running over several hours to see what it would do. And it works great.

The last thing i added was a Previous Hosts list. This is a class that will store anyone you connected to (the host). Then there is a timer on them. This effectively causes a timeout from matching up with the again. I might set this at 4-5 minutes, i am not sure. I could see this being game dependant though. for examply 10 minutes playing my game is quite a lot, but 5 minutes is low. So i could set my previous Host expired timer to soemwhere between those figures.

I intend to share this code once i have finished tidying it up. there are plenty of comments already, but some of the names are a bit wrong. Once it is done i shall make it open source. Oh.. and it is about 600 lines of code (including comments and lots of debug messages.

Tonight i go to bed a much happier man. Next up is encrypting my save file.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sneak attack Item

So i never told anyone about the PS3 Home Sneak Attack items that can now be bought in Playstation home.

Here is the promo video we did for it.
Sneak Attack

So what ya do is pickup the remote control for free from the shop in the Mall. Then you can use it to place a single sneak attack sfx. Optionally you can buy some other items that will make the remote do other features and allow several sneak attack trigger placements. Of course i would recommned the bundle as that is the cheapest way to get everything. And the items you buy for expanding the remote also come with gear to wear, like the gas mask for fart sounds and fiery hair etc.

This is a silly but fun item for your personal space. After all, fart sounds when people sit in your personal spaecf never gets old.



Bit of a Poker Video

Mass Media's Brimstone poker table for ya homespace.

Ok, so i know it is only 3 seconds long. but i had enough trouble getting this. We really had nothing very suitable, and we cannot show player names etc. Enjoy...

This one does not show the interface, i have ben told we don't have any footage we can show of that because of player names being present on the screen. We have rules that tell us we cannot do that, sorry. I woudl love to show the interface otherwise.

Maybe today i can find out when it will go live, if not this thursday.

So it looks like uploading this video to Blogspot has severely reduced it's quality, bah humbug i say!!

Networking errors can suck time

And that is the reason for my lack of posting this last day or so.

I have borrowed an xbox off a friend of mine to work on the shared highscore stuff. I needed to make it garbage collection free so i could run it while playing my game. The previous version was so bad timing suck wise that my game would judder badly for a couple of seconds, totaly crapola. The new version works seemlessly i am proud to say.. and i got that running very quickly. However i have a problem that is odd in nature.

I would go into details but i am so tired now. So many hours watching this thing die is very demoralizing, when i was this close a couple of days ago. Such a waste of a weekend, but i truly believe that a shooter should always have a real meaningful high score system, and as MS don't give me one, i will have to get this networking code fully functional.

so over this weekend i must have spent more than 12 hours working on this one bug.

A Joining machine find s a host and receives the scores that are sent. Then he reciprocates and sends his high scores. all good so far... Then....
Occasionally the joining machine will end his session, and hang there. The update call i have just doesn't seem to happen. I get no debug prints or anything. I believe the debug prints stop because all threads have locked. If i break into the code (anywhere) and immediately set it going again, the threads appear to be reset and it all goes along on it's merry way again. Till the next time.

I cannot find any useful (at this time) info on the web about this. The network session is just sort of getting stuck, and as a high priority thread, well it kills all else.

More tomorrow i suspect. so far my latest attempt is up to 5 mins, but i think it is just messing with me.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Xblig - A Shooter and more

It has been a very busy bunch of days for me this week. I have been very productive though and hopefully soon Xblig playtest will see some of the work i have been doing.

I will start with A Shooter...
I have been rewriting the highscore sharing class, even though it works in my game. The reason for this is simply because i cannot score share while actually playing my levels. Due to the massive garbage collection issues it stutters my side scroller so badly for a second or so, you will mostly die. That would be unfair and go against my friendly none cheating game policy. So i have rewritten the component to make it so there is no garbage collection (ok, there is a teeny tiny bit). Now i knwo i could have updated to the version2 component, but to be honest. When i lokoed at it, it was huge. I don't write huge anything. I write simple small amounts of code. So i have it mostly working and tonight when i have obtained my friends Xbox, i will be testing the score sharing once more. Efficiency is the name of the game here. A couple of frames hiccup ill be ok, but any more than that and i will have to work on it some more.

I think that after i have gotten this all working i will spend a bit of time tidying up the names of some of the variables and then put it here on the blog for people to use or reference if they want. The reason the names of variabels are a bit odd in places is because they were there while i was cutting the code base down. After it works will be the time to name verything to be more explanatery.

Tomorrow i will post about A Dreamland Chronicles Game update and the idea of Episodic content.


PS3 Home - Poker Again

I didn't realise this would be such a popular subject, but as it is i thought i should do a quick follow up.

There are certain things i cannot say at this time, so i apologize in advance if i am vague about anything you care about.

I will try to grab some video footage later today, but i need to get permission to publish such a thing. I will try however, and i am usually convincing :D

Due to concerns about what can and cannot be done i have some of the Poker team testing that the Voice chat will work with our poker game seemlessly. It will work seemlessly by the end of the day regardless of wether or not it does at present (which we believe it wil).

Info Nugget: If you obtain certain certain criteria in the game you can Win prizes (Here at MMI we love to give out prizes hehe).
Info Nugget:It is a 6 player table and supports Texas Hold-em Limited style poker.

That is all i have for now.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

PS3 Home - Poker

Yep, you read that right. We have been busy producing a Poker table here at work. Well not a real poker table as we are developers and not carpenters. However this new game is a lot of fun. I am sure most everyone know what poker is and how much fun it can be to play with friends. well that is what we have made.

I got to take part along with a lot of my workmates in a big playtest and videoing session yesterday afternoon. It was to work on some video for the promo of the poker table as well as do some serious testing. What a great way to spend the afternoon. All dolled up like pretty girl (which i most certainly cannot pretend i am in real life!) for the video shoot, and then i got to do some great poker playing.

It was all going really well till my 2 pair were taken by a flush that dropped on the 4th card, ARGH! I hate that Mike guy!. The whole office (or most of it) got to take part and it was a real break from all the work we have been doing lately. A real respite. It is also really nice to actually just play ya own stuff and enjoy it.

Needless to say, Brimstone poker will be out at the beginning of September barring any issues with the full test cycle. I have a picture of us in the Neptune suite playing.
That is me on the far table on the near left seat. YAY!

I think everyone will like this item. I have no idea how much it will cost, but it is a piece of scripted furniture. So it gets placed in your personal spaces. (up to two of them, gasp!)

Laters all

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Working with my Peers

Xblig is an interesting place, full of stuff. I say stuff cos i am not sure what some of the things are. It is also full of developers of every type and persuasion.

Last night i deigned to do nothing on my own game and instead look through the Peer review list and also the Playtest list. I was primarily looking for games that some of my Tweeple are working on. Strangely enough i feel very connected to these other devs that i have not yet met in real life. Instead i have grown to know them a little better through 140 character limit posts in twitter. The one thing i like about these peers is their dedication and determination (dang, thats two thnigs already, argh!). They want to produce a nice product fit to be proud of and do it in the hopes that people will notice it and play it.

So browsing through the review list first nabbed me an odd game from Stegersaurus games. Some strange twist of a game with Massage in the name. Very funny i thought when i saw it and tested it. I couldn't find anything really wrong and so passed it. Not quite my cup of tea but my kids liked it.

Then with no other name being known to me on the Reiew list i headed off to the Playtest area. This is where i spend a lot more time, as playtesting and giving back worthwhile feedback is a longer process than Peer testing a review game.I found two games here Old School Adventure and Blazin Balls Xtreme Edition. I have to say i had a rather good time with both and ended up writing many words for the developers, but that isn't the point of this writup. In fact what is the point is the way they took the criticism. That not only read and commented and asked questions about what was said by myself and a few others (Bob Taco Ind and QuimbyRBG). They did it in such a professional way that it warms my heart to think that i am actualy working with these people. Yes, i feel that connected to their product in some small way.

I thank these devs for treating me and my other Peers with such respect, even when we say stuff that isn't very nice. And to all those devs that get so annoyed and aggravated with playtest reviewers, please learn some decorum!

I now look forward to my next delve into the wonderful world of Xblig playtest and Peer review.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Still No Release Control for Xblig

Here i am working on closing out another game. This means that i am close to putting the game through a final (i hope) Playtest review and then onto the Peer review. Once through that it is onto the marketplace. Once again without any idea or control of just when it goes live.

This game is going to be more of an issue than my previous ones. Mainly because i am setting up some competitions to run for T-Shirts and hats. However it is difficult to launch those comps when you don't actually have a good control of when your game will go live. It has been asked for of course and i know Microsoft are looking at it (ok, i don't but i hope they are :). If i could pass Peer Reveiw and then have 14 days or so before it auto releases, that would be awesome. I am sure most of the people that publish on Xblig couldn't care less when their game goes live. Then there will also be the people that feel friday night is the best time to go live (they will be playing with fire for that one though).

My reason for needing control is of course that when my PAID FOR press release goes live and i announce my competitions, it would be nice for people to be able to find the game on the 'only chart that matters' the new releases list. If the game goes live several days before my marketting gets out, then i will already be way down the list thanks to crapps and barelygames. This is not ideal. Not that i need perfect of course.

I just need a bit of help, i put so much time and effort into the marketing and extras and a lot of that effort could be wasted depending on random factors.
Maybe the situation will work out well, and maybe next release will have some kind of control... Time will tell.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Demo station

I have been busy going ahead and building the demo station, even though i did not get financed by Kickstarter. It was already half built anyway. Today i hope to get my Xbox inside it and maybe the top connected to the bottom.

So the new news, and why i am writing this post is that i chatted with the manager of my local Gamestop today. He was very nice as always and was trying to be helpful. However his hands are tied in respect to my wishes. So he kindly gave me a couple of phone numbers to contact the corporate offices of Media and store operations. I hope that phoning them this week will allow me to get in store asap. We shall see.

The game is nearly ready for playtest again, what i hope will be my final playtest, but one never knows. The only real issue i have currently is that the intro video has decided to start playing at 1/4 screen, very very odd. It never did this before, and it makes the rest of the screen green for some odd reason. Most weird. ahh well...


Friday, August 20, 2010

Charitable Games

I just wanted to take a couple of minutes and write about something that i believe to be an exception and not the rule for developers. We have seen some great charitable events running focusing on giving away packs of Indie games for whatever you want to pay, and the proceeds go to charitable foundations. One of my Xblig peers has just released a version of his game Clover: A Curious Tale on Xblig. The proceeds for this weekends sales will go to charity and that is something to be applauded.

So why are Indies so concious of charities and other causes? One would think that the bottom line for an Indie would be very important to them to be able to keep on making games. Maybe it is because what they do is theirs, and not some large corporation that has to turn a profit to make their investors happy.

To be honest i don't know the reason, only that we should all support these causes when it seems appropriate and when we are able to do so.

Good luck BinaryTweedDeej

Check out the Web site for this Game  HERE!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Court Quotes and links.

One of my workmates and an excellent musician just finished this most excellent song. It is done in the style of AC/DC and it will be the last song of the night for the band, when they are supposed to tell everyone the bar is closed, GTFOOH. I think it is pretty darn good, and the video helps too. See what ya think.
  It's Last Call

So i got an email froma  friend a few days ago with a bunch of these Court recorded quotes, below are a few.

These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said , 'Where am I, Cathy?'
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No , I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitting me?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Intro Video On the Xbox Issue

I got home tonight and spent some good times trying hard to Code 4 Kris Steeles new game Hypership Out of Control. He just got it through peer reveiw and Bam, one of the reveiwers finds a code 4. This is serious business as it in theory just went onto the new releases list I have no idea how that will lay out, i sure hope he gets it on the list when the game is fixed. In comparison to Kris's problem mine are basic.

So i wanted to get my new intro video onto the Xbox, to see it in all it's glory... Only i had to wait while Hypership was being tested (i think my game was crashing others, so i left it up). The waiting mean't i got some other coding jobs done, so all good there.

However when i got the intro onto the Xbox it was al choppy. ARGH! so i went straight to the video editor and worked on smaller less Mbps Wmvs. In fact i have ended up spending more than an hour and a half, thanks mostly to the export times of Video. sometimes they would generate corrupted stuff. Others they worked great on my PC. Then when i put them, in the game and ran from the solution, they looked choppy and crap. It took me quite some time to realise that when streaming from your PC, it is crap. Only when i decided to work on a trial mode feature and launched my game fram the Dash did i see that the video was in fact alright. which means i have wasted sooo much time tonight :(

So the lesson is,
Don't believe all ya see.
Video running through the debugger will almost certainly look awful.


Camping was fun

So it seems i haven't told the whole story, like how my bike wouldn't start in the morning, so i figured i wouldn't be going camping, cos commuting in an F350 is a bit much. Of course i did get it started when i went home and so i took it as usual on the back of the truck while towing the trailer (it was out of fuel).

So back to where i was with yesterdays story...

There was a knock on the door and, oh i wrote that already. So this nice german lady (mid twenties) asked if we had also gotten space number 58 when we booked. As it happened we used the machine which just gives a ticket and you go find an empty space. There musta been about 20+ spaces but of course they had to be given the space we were in.

There was no way i wanted to strike camp and go in search of another space i could fit in, and thankfully these very nice germans, who were on a holiday touring the western United States said they would just setup their tent next to our Trailer. We weren't really taking up any grass space so there was plenty of room. They parked their car over in another unoccupied space next to ours. And then we chatted for a while even suggesting that they visit Universal Studios out of their choices of places to go the next day.

When they turned up the next night we got to hear all about their adventures at Universal and the fact that they went on every ride. They seemed to enjoy King Kong the most ad that is cool. Memories to go home with i am sure.

So in the end it all worked out great. I got back from work and had a stroll to the creek and thought a lot about the next weeks worth of work for A Shooter, also for what i might do For WM7 as well.

Still there is so much to do, and so little time.
The next Blog post will be about work i am sure haha!

Maybe vacation is over for the summer, i am not sure. I am glad my Bike works and am looking forward to more off roading, but then that is another story.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Camping is good

But unexpected Camping can seriously hinder ones Blogging. There appears to be no Wifi in them thar mountains.

So i got home and with issues from the day did not expect to be going camping. However my wife had other ideas and was already very busy preparing food and stuff that we need to take with us. Luckily we only went about 20 miles from where we live. Cos it was actually dark before we set off from my house :|

Still we got there and after driving around for 30 minutes dodging kids on the camp ground road and cars parked l over the place, i finally founda space i could reverse into (i am towing a 23ft trailer, so not real camping). Reversing in the dark into these awkwardly angled spaces is a nightmare, or it is especially at night. The main reason is that they line the roads and spaces with large boulders, and they are below my line of sight most of the time, so reversing while not hitting them can be very awkward. Still i found a nice space, number 58. And after getting it in there.. at a rather odd angle, i declared it a victory and detached the truck and setup camp.

All seemed well untill about 10 minutes later there was a knock on the door and this pleasant Frauline asked if we had booked number 58 as well... OUCH!

more later (i'll try to get some pictures too!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kickstarter and A Shooter a No go

Today i got my notification from Kickstarter that it didn't work out. We should part ways and you won't get your funding.
Anyone reading my posts since i started the kickstarter project will realise that i mentioned a few weeks back that i was feeling a bit 50/50 about whether or not i wanted it funded. I have positives for both, but was interested in knowing how it would go down either way, once its time ends.

Now it has ended on a negative note and i do in fact know how i feel. I feel rather let down. A bit demoralized and i think a bit under appreciated. I truly felt i was offering something interesting, something fun and great value for money. To get so few pledges feels like a slap in the face tbh. I commend those friends and those few people i do not know for pledging. If i can get your information i will add you into my credits regardless. I won't be working on the PC version i don't think, otherwise i would also send you a copy of that too.

So i feel a bit sour, after posting on Xbox sites and forums and facebook pages and more. I do not know what more i could have done for this. My press release went everywhere, but nowhere it mattered...

Well i am a bit down about this, so let me just tell you that i will be writing up a post mortem on the subject of my kickstarter project. I will also post it in the Xna forums i reckon. Maybe people can learn from what i did, and do better.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Planning for WM7

I haven't yet setup a machine to handle giong to Windows 7, so i am a bit stuck as far as trying it out. (i have all machines here at home on XP). I do not mind the change up to Windows 7, and i sure hope it acts as an upgrade and not a fresh install. I just have too much stuff to want to re-install it all. Thyough a nice pristine machine does sound appealing.

Anyway i also use T-Mobile but am a little excited to see if T-Mobile wil offer WM7 phones. I like my phone, it is old, it is a simple clamshell. Going to a touch sensitive screen one is scary, i am wondering just how long it will last till i break it (usually by dropping it!). But i shall get one anyway to work on the WM7 Xna stuff. I am already planning some new game designs around both the Xblig and WM7 platforms. Time will tell how that works out. But it might actually be able to recoup it's costs.

One nice thing about going to WM7 is that i do have 4 games that i can port... Watch this space, but more than likely it will be The Dreamland Chronicles game first. (as it is my simplist and will get more awareness for my friends IP).


Friday, August 13, 2010

New Mass Media video channel on Youtube

One of my workmates has finally setup a youtube channel for the company i work for. It includes a number of videos he actually edited. Here is the link
Youtube MassMedia

I hope ya enjoy the videos. We try to make them a little light hearted, and just wait till ya see the new one for our new items in Home called Sneak Attack.

Xblig and A Shooter,
Well there is now just a measly 2 more days to go till my Kickstarter Project fails. I am taking the time to rest up and make notes on what aspects of the game i want to alter/work on. Also notes on what needs to be removed, like the work in progress Networked multiplayer, or the inclusion of Avatars. All for another project. why do i drop these i hear ya ask?

Well it comes down to economics. Will these added quality items make the game sell more. The simple answer is nope. The complicated answer is well, more complicated. To start with i shall mention the adage for Indie games devs. 'Make a game YOU wanna make'. Well with A Shooter i have. So if avatars are missing i don't care, well in some ways i don't. It is just i would love to add more quality, which will net me a better conversion rate, but i still am unlikely to be able to get my game seen by more than a coupe of thousand Xbox owners. And in that last statement lies my problem. If i believed that adding in several months of dev time and features would allow my game to be seen a larger audience. Then i would without a doubt add more fluff and quality.

Now i don't blame anyone, and i have tried quite a lot of different things to get noticed. so far i seem to be alergic to the Zombie or Avatar popularity (adding in those things is another set of posts entirely). Though i have to say that i find it quite disturbing that a game i do not respect (Avatar Showdown) has been on the Xbox.com main Indie page now for several months. This is a single button game that isn't interesting to me in any way. I have no idea how it can possibly be interesting to anyone else for more than say 2 minutes. Then Bam done, So why do people buy it after the trial, god may be the only one that knows. Anyway i won't write such rubbish. Yeah, an insult woot! I write games for gameplay reasons. I write for them to be played by people who have friends. So far i think i am doing ok.

Maybe it is just time to step on the bandwagon, so at least some people know my company name...


Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to find a Bug

Today i worked in The Midway for PS3 Home. In fact i spent quite a number of hours looking into a couple of annoying bugs in there. The first one ended up being quite easy to fix once i had figured out what was wrong. the second one took a while but i got it in the end.

The first bug is simply a sorted list problem. I say simply but in fact it took me a while to fix because it wsn't an error on an existing line of code. It was in fact a missing line of code that was the issue. So the list (actually an array) needs to be shuffled down to let in the new element. Simple enough and i could see the shuffle code was there. Only the bug happened to be the fact that although the list was being shuffled for it's main attribute, it's other attribute was not. So that mean't that a sorting element was not being suffled along with the main element. DOH! Easy 1 line fix.

The second bug was interesting as it was a network bug. We had no idea what was causing it and yet we know of certains apsects or manifestations of the bug. So i spent some time in the midway trying different things to no avail. Then i examined the code directly to see what i could see. Finally i ended up talking with the designer and another prohrammer about the bug and i got some useful ideas i could try out. As it happened the first thing i tried worked great. The fix will be easy enough tomorrow.

So how do ya find bugs?
Number 1, Find a reliable repro for it (reporoduction steps). If you have this you can find any bug. Though some are still harder than others haha!
Number 2, don't be afraid to talk to others about it, even none programmers.
Number 3, don't ignore any coincidence, however remote or inconsequential it might at first appear.

G'night and happy bug hunting.

My Arm is Attached

This morning i went for my final Physio for my dislocated shoulder. This morning physio session also included an evaluation. Something i was excited to be getting done. The arm is feeling a whole lot better, and after each week goes by it seems so much better than the week before. However getting solid measured improvements listed for me was exciting.

So the results were very good. I still have a bit to go on my flexibility and range, but it is getting there. I have a long way to go on strength. It seems the last 10 weeks have drained my shoulder of most of it's strength. So now it is onto light weights to get the arm back in shape. Maybe soon i can go off roading again or rebuilding my house in some way. Maybe i can even go play some tennis again soon. Woohoo!

So i did not post last night, my mind was full to the brim with excitement for todays results, and so i went to bed early. Completely forgetting to post a blog post. So i will most likely do two today of course :)

I need to get back to my bug hunting in someone elses network code...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Web can Help

It is always a good idea to know where you can get help when ya get stuck.

I recommend work mates, but if they are not programmers, then maybe that won't work. I am talking of course about all my Xna part time programming buddies, they do a variety of jobs so they may not be as lucky as myself when needing to ask some technical question about programming.

I also recommend the web. Some people it seems do not give it the proper kudos it deserves, but as i don't remember much of pythagorus theorum, the web can be the bext bet. I can implement most algorythms but cannot remember them for the life of me. The only real hardship with the web is that it can be hard to locate anything actually useful. Or useful enough to my brain type. Depending on how some people write their info i will do better or worse at understanding it. Anyhow the web has the answers, they can just be a bit hard to decipher.

Line drawing algorythms were the order of the day today for one of my workmates. It was good to see that article again. It has been a number of years. Just great stuff.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting Stuck

Sometimes it happens that we think we have a bug. We can spend so many hours on this bug only to discover that it wasn't a bug at all. Today or more accurately this afternoon i had one of these experiences. I am going to share this in hopes that it might just inspire others (and maybe myself) to not waste as much time as i did.

Here is a basic timeline
1. Afternoon starts at about 1:30pm and i am working on repacing some graphics. It is going well but i need more artwork from my artist.
2. Shortly after chatting with the artist i realised i can work on some difficulty circles. These items mark for everyone to see what level of difficulty you are playing at on the game in The Midway.
3. The code was very simple and i changed it out very easily for our new coding style. This will save memory and make it run faster, woohoo! a Double win! (love those)
4. Added the new smaller assets and code and busy testing it. (2:15pm)
5. The numbers on the circles look great, however the colors lok a lot muted. That is odd.
6. Spend 1 hour trying to figure out what i have done wrong. Did i alter the shader somehow to break the colors?
7. Went for a walk to ease the fact that i have found nothing at all to help me out and suggest what i am doing wrong.
8. 4pm and still looking at the models and textures. Decide it's time to go back and see what it looked like originally. but i go half way, including old stuff and some of my new stuff.
9. BAH! the colors still look muted. now to go the whole way back.
10. Discover it looks EXACTLY the same as the new version. ARGH! It is the lighting and the angle i was viewing it at.
11. So annoyed at having wasted several hours on something that was great. Now it is about 5pm or so. Grrrr

I wish in hindsight i had not refered to how my memory visualized the colors on the circles, and had instead gone and looked at a real live version. This would have saved me several hours of confused pain.

Good luck in your issues, real and imagined!


working that design

While i was busy today working on the design for my new game i realised i could include another major player in the game style, one where i could dig holes and fill them in after trapping aliens in them. I cannot off the top of my head remember the arcade game this comes from, but i do remember enjoying playing it. However it does not quite fit my current design criteria, but it may in a sequel.

One of the issues i have mentioned is the size of the players and aliens, and how hard it is to get truly connected to your charatcer if he was the size of a pacman. I also mentioned lokoing at bomberman and the way they did it. I loved it so much i skecthed it today. It was very succesful, they look great. So double tall characters it is, and double tall aliens as well. I will try to take another photo tomorrow night to show ya what i mean. I think it looks pretty smart.

I also set out today to work on some coding, but it seems i am in a design mood and not a coder mood. Arg! i waste so much time farting about and not actually doing any coding. I have 3 coding jobs and i have little inteerst in any of them. Though all are very important. But i know from being experienced with my moods that it is best left till another day. One of these days i will wake up in a coding mod and Whammo, one job down etc. Still today i worked on trying to get a new baseapp written. I have started and am about 30% through, i got stopped when i hit the code i really want to change.

We shall see what mood i'll be in tomorrow.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Name for the game is lacking

I love to name my game when i start it. So much character can come from naming a game. Especially if it is a name that i can relate too. So far i have two names, neither of which i really like. Avatar-Man and BombVatar-Man... So i will probably change that as soon as i get more design work done.

On the front of working on the design, i have been pondering an issue my new game faces. If you looked at my post with the design drawings you would have noticed how similar the game looks to Pacman. Now the maze is a bit pacman like for sure, but the issue isn't that. Well not totally that. It is in fact the issue of getting character into my game. Being too far away and rendering my avatar the size of pacman will be a bit of a let down. I have ben wondering how i can make everything bigger, but still retain my granularity of map.

so i decided i knew the answer, i would force everything to a new 45 degree angle and have everything that is in the game be twice as tall as the walls. This will give me double size characters to play with and people to look at. That should enable me to keep characters feeling good and fresh while not killing the gameplay elements i have lined up.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Intro Vid is done

Of course i say it is done. But it is only done if i am not gonna pay an artist to do a good job. Not that i am really complainign about what i have achieved, but it is not really what i want.

Here it is...

So what has changed since the last time you have seen it? Well i started by making some smoke, and then i did a small video sequence of it scaling and  panning. This was because i wanted to have a lot of freedom when it came to transitioning with the logo etc. Surprisingly this method worked really well and i loved the result right away.
You might be wondering why i have the smoke in greyscale. This was a design choice made to allow the logo to Pop out of the screen. Which i think i achieved pretty well. Then i had to choose the transition method of the logo disappearing. This i spent way too long on, as the first one i really liked had a bug in it's sequence (thanks Pinnacle!). So it took me a while but then i got the one i am using and like.

After that it was all about timing. Timing the audio smack and the sorcery name etc. also making sure there was not too much down time in the middle of the video etc. In the end i think it turned out aok.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

What do i do with an Idea?

I have game ideas all the time, some i just leave in my head for when they are ready for a more solid reference in the real world. Some ideas of course do not make it out of my head ever.

Once i have an idea i am ready to record for posterity, i usually make notes. I know i live in the computer age and all, but i love pencils and paper. The way it feels in my hand seems to draw out the information i need to divulge. I write stuff i didn't know i had decided upon.

Below are a couple of pages from my most recent notes on what might end up being my next game. See what ya think.
These notes on Note lined paper are where i start. I have one of these pads around me at all times.

This is where i go once i have written some notes on the note paper. The blank pages are wonderful, though never large enough for me. I hate to change paper half way through writing anything down.

This note taking isn't about quality, or even clarity. It is to see if i have enough ideas to actually make this game work. If it will work with all my criteria. YES, i write down my criteria for the game as one of it's first steps. I didn't take a photo of that, darn it. Anyway, this game has 9 criteria associated with it, and that is only single player!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Encryption For Competition

Tonight i started on encrypting my save game data. The reason i need to encrypt it is so i can  run a competition or two when my new game A Shooter comes out. I want to run a  few competitions based on the score that people can achieve. so rewarding the best players (or most dedicated). However i know people will cheat when there is a prize on the line.

So i worked out what algorythm i will use to encrypt the data, but i am a little disconcerted at this point. Ya see, it doesn't matter how much time i put into encrypting the data, it will always be crackable. There are several well known and documented ways to do this and all of them will work given enough time and dedication. So the question is, just how robust will it be? I know that it is only going to be an Xblig game, so will probably be overlooked by many people. Though i know some people will regard it as more of a challenge than actualy playing my game. Once cracked of course the unscrupulous hacker can insert any score he feels like.

So what do i do? How long do i spend on this, how many layers of self and extra checking should i put into it? I certainly don't have the answer at the moment. Needless to say, if i get to run a top score competition, then i will need to feel it has some level of validity.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Memory Conservation

I love memory.
I like the way it sits there waiting to be used for any purpose you would like.
I like the way it never judges you.
I like the way it can be wiped once you have used it.
I like the way everyone wastes too much of it.
I like the fact i am good at finding more of it.

In a nutshell, the memory in your computer, or the memory in your console is of a finite amount. It can only hold so much. However it is amazing just how much more it can hold than you ever believed possible. Now don't get me wrong, nowadays most people don't care too much about memory. The basic, 'Does it fit' question is answered, and if it is in the negative, then stuff must be removed. However my personal favourite thing to do is just find more. This can be done in many ways, but here is a simple example to start with.

boolean, this has a True or False value. so why is it generally now a long? (longs take 4 bytes!). The main reason of course is performance. It is just much easier to cache along multi-byte boundaries. Address space registers can be smaller if they do not have to visit every byte. But this simple value takes up a whole whopping 4 bytes. That is 32X the amount it needs to work. So one of those items that can save memory is placing all your boolean values together and then just simply bit testing for your value. That was you get an amazing 32X compression.

Another way to fit more in is simply to compress it, making your textures half sized in the width and height will yield great savings, but of course you are sacrificing the look of your textures. OR are you? I ask this because it has been my experience that the textures programmers tend to be given are way too big for their purpose. If for example you were given a 1024x1024 texture and it was mapped to something that you could only get half distance to. so it filled about half the screen, then you are double your texel overdraw, so making the renderer draw something not at it's perfect size and letting the renderer make the decision about how to chop it down. In this case halving the texture would save memory and noone would notice the difference, or if they did, they would notice it looked better.

Yesterday and today i have been saving memory in Darlas Den and The Midway for PS3 Home. In this case i am finding a lot of memory simply because i have been given a new command. The power to set a texture (or replace an existing one actually). This power cannot be underestimated as to how much i can achieve. I have already saved something like 10% of the memory used in Darlas Den. Yes it is a bit of work, but this will allow us to put more in there than even we suspected i am sure.

I do enjoy saving memory, it is something that i appear to be quite skilled at, even when we feel the code and assets are as tight as can be, i can go in and shave a few more K out of it.

This last note is to mention the fact that at Mass Media we have done and are doing  a number of conversions. Usually to much lower spec machines. I am sure a lot of my skill comes from this. However it still amazes me how companies can give us a game to convert that does not even fit on their main machine until after some cost cutting of their own. Still i guess it is a lower priority than actually getting it finshed. (as it should be!)


Monday, August 2, 2010

Started the new Video

Yes i have been working, but not hard enough or long enough. I have several good excuses, but tbh it has just gotten late and this is currently what i have. Not quite good enough for what i want, but slowly getting there.

So without further Ado, Here is the latest in progress version of my new a Shooter Intro.

So what do you think to my start so far? I think it has potential, but is lacking in several main areas for me. The appearing effect was really supposed to be a way of showing the logo boiling into the screen. This is not bad, but i think i might need an artist to do better.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Sorcery Intro Video?


Not got one!

why Not ?

Well... It took me an hour and  half to install my software to edit the new intro video. so now i have no time left to make one tonight Grrrr.

Ya see, sometimes thing does not work out. I felt i had adequate time to build myself a new Sorcery Games Intro video for a Shooter and beyond. But the stupid disks from Pinnacle decided to be flakey. sometimes working and sometimes not. So after fighting with it for way too long, i have finaly got it installed. I then looked around at some of the transition effects etc, and called it quits. No way can i make something nice in an hour, which is all i have left before i need to go to bed. BAH!

On another note, i joined XboxLiveAddicts today. They have kindly given me my own Forum to play with as a developer. I am sincerely hoping that i can enyertain and inform some new Xbox owners. I also hope of course that this will be another way to connect with my Xbox community and maybe get a few new followers for my games.

Now after all my frustration, i am done for tonight.