Saturday, October 29, 2011

End of line...

It seems my Time with Mass MEdia has finally come to an end. After a very productive and wonderful time (though there were some hard times of course). It finaly looks like the company has to clsoe it's doors.

16 years, or it would have been this september that i started with the company. It is also when i was brought into this wonderful country called the United States.

I have done many things in my professional carreer and i hope to continue that trend of being creative, but also a big problem solver. At some point soon i can tell everyone what i have spent so many hours of my life on this year. Though until it is officially announced that is still not possible.

I am not sure what i will do next for a Job. For now i need some recovery time for all the work i have done so far this year. I expect i will recover pretty soon and make some sort of decision. Will i go to work for a big company? Are theer any startups that need me and my talents? Could i actually make a business out of the phone and Xbox games? So many questions and so few answers.

Take care, and i hope your jobs are stable,

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

End of Beta Anticipation

Today i am gonna talk breifly about the feelings i have at the end of a big development cycle adn the time of game submission.

We here at Mass Media are about to send to Sony our latest and greatest version of the game. If tonights version is solid, then they will submit it to critical path testing (can they play all the way through the game). Once it passes that, then we can go Gold if no other major issues have turned up.

So here we are about to submit what appears to be a solid version and i find i am filled with several very strong feelings.

Excitment -
I was gonna choose a stronger word, but nowadays that is only associated with taking drugs it seems. Still, maybe this is a bit like a drug. A drug i have been taking now for a year. It will be hard to come off of that is for sure. Still the excitment is really tangible, wondering if the game will get a good critical reception from reviewers oand players alike. Also there is the excitment to finally finish what has been the most challenging product of my career.

Sadness -
I get waves of this. Maybe it is regret, i am not totaly sure at this time. This stems from the fact that this part of my life is coming to an end. It is also a part of the worry in me that feels that the game might not get accepted well. This all mushes together in my head. Missing the intense development and the ridiculous hours is most definitely a double edged sword.

Let down -
It is a strange thing to say and i am sure some people will scoff at my assumption that i wil be on a bit of a let down after this game has gone. I will be going cold turkey once this game ships. I wil suddenly have another 35+ hours a week in which to do stuff. I will have this big gaping hole in my life that suddenly appears. I will have a very strong desire to do more.. as the gap will leave me without something i have been so incredibly connected to. I am not sure what it is like to come off of drugs, but the way it is portrayed in the movies seems to fit my bill. I know already i will be moody, bored, unable to focus on everything i want to. It will be glorious!! Also my family will have to make adjustments, they will have me around so much more, when they are not used to it. This will be a strange and good time.

I look forward to getting so much of my life back until the next big push, i just hope that the next push wil not be 10 months long.

Good luck in finishing your products, i sincerely hope your dedication to the task pays off, and you do not have to suffer your dedication for too long a period.

Da Voodoochief

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pesky Crashes

Why is it that at the last possible minute ya can garauntee that crashes will jump into your so neatly finished game? It happens so often, yet i never get used to it.

Is it because while in that finish the game mode it is all too easy to add some code that was rushed or not thought through enough, or maybe just wasn't tested enough by the programmer?

Still here we are with a few days to go and we have two doozies. Yup two of them. So after working on them all day we have the answer to one and a possible trace of the other. So tonights version of the game being sent to Sony is gonna have to be a little imperfect, but close.

Get a Repro, a reproduction of the bug that can be performed by anyone is best (not justa  trained and professional tester). Also one that can be duped in seconds, or maybe minutes. without repro's it is so freakin hard to find these issues.

Catch ya all on the flip side, i have a new build to test.

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Design is so exciting

Here i am at work. Working on getting the latest creation at Mass Media finished and doing a lot of hours to complete this task. And yet as the end of this cycle comes to an end i am already salivating at the thought of creating my own new game. I do not believe that creating games will ever get old for me. 33 years now and still going strong.

So whats next? Another 2d game or something 3d? Man i could choose an rpg i have or several arcade style games. Or or or.. oh man... My mind is buzzing with ideas and thought processes about what would be best for which platform.

I still believe that my next thing will in reality be Cards on Fire converted using Marmalade to the iOS and Android platforms. It might not make any money, but will be a great way to see how Marmalade might work out, from start to finish.

Once i get that all going, i'll be blogging.

Just so excited.

Da Voodoochief

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cross platform SDK or Ease of Use SDK?

This is the thougth process i have been wearing out lately. Which is what i need more?

If for example i had the easiest to use SDK for prototyping or even completing a game, then i could get more games created faster. However...

If i had a cross platform SDK, then i would only have to write a game once (even though it might take me longer) adn have two versions of it for different platforms.

As i have been back and forth it got me to reading a lot of Blog posts and Summaries by a lot of knowledgable people. And i have come to some conclusions. Some you may agree with and some you may not.

1. Xna seems to be the easiest to pick and develop a game with. I know this can be subjective based on previous coding experience etc, but the libraries are really good and you can have a windows game going so fast.. Which then you can easily port to #wp7 or of course the Xbox. This is also one i am very familiar with and i do think it was easy to get going.

2. Some of the cross platform SDKs seem to make you have things like separate assets for each version, and not automagically adapting whatever your source artwork was and applying it to the new platform. This is a bit of a downer as for fast prototyping you do not want to be altering assets on two machines until the game is mostly done for all machines.

Final conclusion:-
 Surprisingly i came up with what i think is a revelation. If i had a cross platform SDK that was also really easy to pick up and use. That would be the best bet to move forward and make more games with. So i did some more research to find what people think is the best cross platform SDK for phones. Now the information is not very well researched and there is not a plentiful supply of peoples opinions in this area, but I did manage to glean what i hope to be accurate information. In the end i came up with an option i am Very VERY excited about.


This SDK looks to be what i need. It has quite a number of recommendations and i hope to get some time to try the trial version soon. I will start by seeing how easy it is going to be to port my Xna WP7 game 'Cards on Fire' to it. Heck, i will even blog about that process once i start it.

If you have any comments or knowledge or opinions on this exciting subject, please email me or comment below. Especially if you believe i am making a mistake with this SDK and i should try a different one.

Da Voodoochief

I do love the look of Untiy, However i have read several blog posts about getting stuff going in 2D and it seems a bit of a trial. Not bad, but still not what i would call ease of getting going. After it is setup and yiou have used it a couple of times, i am told it is simply amazing. What i really need is something i do not have to think about setup for if i can help it. So i can get straight to the coding (i am also a lot more used to C++ than C#, and i LOVE (yes love) pointers.

The single machine license sounds a bit iffy. I had that on one of my NCH Software programs called Wavepad. It wasn't fun when my pc crashed and i added a few new pieces of hardware when i also upgraded to Win7 from Xp. Bah! Not sure if this will effect my decision or not. the main thing is... Could i start programming the game immediately.

As i am still working more than full time on my day job, i still have some time to kep trying to research my best choice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beta Testing so close to the End

Whenever I enter Beta i get so excited. Even though i am usually pretty tired by all the hours and work thart has gone on through Alpha, Beta just gets me pumped right up again.

I know that in a months time this game will be done. Though it will be ahrd it will also be exciting. Ya see i love to mark things off of lists. I make lists of Lists just so i can check mark or cross out entries. As that list gets smaller i get more excited. So to have several hundred bugs and then start smacking them down is very fulfilling to me.

Also there is the anticipation of time off. Though in my current case time off will be after i get the Downloadable versions of the games done. So no rest for me for a while. Also of course i might fail first submission, which will mean more development time for those fixes too.

Either way i look at it though. Beta is exciting and a means/path to the end.

Da Voodoochief

Monday, October 3, 2011

Collision Detection Thoughts

My collision thoughts are about the way people implement collisions in shmup or platform games for such things as sprite to sprite detection. Though some of the thoughts could apply to ground just as easily.

I only have three main thoughts about the Indie games I have played these last few years.

#1. Man they overthought this collision detection. Some games come with perfect pixel collison systems. Even though they didn't need them. Do i really care as i carouse along a platform that the horn of the rhino kills me the moment a pixel of it crosses into my avatar? Well to be perfectly honest i DO care. In fact i care so much that it does this i am unlikely to keep playing the game. The reason is that i do not think that a pixel of the horn into a pixel of my hand as it swings forward in it's running animation should constitute me taking a hit. Especially as i was a little late in my reaction and i was busy tring to pull away from the charging rhino, but wsa pixel or so too slow. I realy hate this kind of collision. About 30 years ago when i was creating games this was more normal. Then i discovered more friendly detection made everyone a lot happier. Friendly being that the horn would have to penetrate a lot further into my avatars body for me to suffer any damage. In Shmups i used to call the effect scraping paint. The bullets were allowed to scrape the paint off my ship for a while befor ei would take damage. The big benefit to this approach is that the player feels like this soft collision is forgiving and allowing them to be a bit more sloppy. I have to say that i have whooped and hollered before when getting away with this.. So close to death, so alive mwuhahha!

#2 They did not really think about this collision system I reckon. Some collision systems seem to be broken. The Coder has the avatar running around the screen and when the bullet gets to ya you die. However in some games the distance the bullet is away from my avatar when i take a hit seems to vary. I hate this of course. I like games to be consistant, so i can learn the rules and play accordingly around and within them. Collisions that happens at odd times just make me feel like i am being cheated. And i have played several arcade games in the years past where i felt like this as well, it is not just the Indie dev. Thinking about what collision system you need generally goes along with what kind of game you are writng and the graphical shapes of what you are colliding with. Choosing generic geometry shapes i always think of is best, no need to complicate things most of the time. Unless of course you are writing one of the pixel collision games where the player swoops along the pixels you have drawn etc.

#3 I never noticed the collision in this game. OMGoodness they musta done a great job and got it right to the point where i do not think about it. YAY! Nice job you folks. Not much to say here.. and that i think is the point. If collision feels natural. Noone will remark on it.

I tend to use two shapes for collsion, Rectangles and Circles. I do not seem to need anything else and stacking circles is easy as well. If i have a shape that has bits sticking out of it, but not too far, i don't really want the player to suffer a hit if that nodule gets hit by something. so i tend to make the circle inside of the avatar etc. Then i have a multiplier on size that i can easily adjust to make the paint scraping easier or harder. This is also another way to have a more difficult game without having to add more enemies or bullets etc. Now a player would have to be a bit more skillful and accurate as he plays.

Heres hoping your detections stay true,
Da Voodoochief