Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marmalade #3 - Getting over it

The Hump of course. I am finally getting over the initial learning curve associated with any SDK for any machine, or machines.

Now in this post i want to talk a small amount about actually working with Marmalade.

In the previous posts i mentioned setting up Marmalade on my PC, i also tlak about the issues i have had with REAL asimple tasks. BAH! Well now i know more and am learning all the time, i can say more about working with this system.

1. If you remember i had issues getting the simplest asset into the project. Well no longer. In fact i now use what they term as resource groups. These are great for organising your assets into various groups for say levels or maybe cut scenes etc. Though i currently load everything in one go, I have still organised the group, in fact i have oprganised a couple of groups, one within the other.

2. I got the GxFont working for my game. This is the font handling side of the SDK and i have to say quite feature rich. The main issue i had initialy was getting a Font to use. Well it was easy, i can say with certainty that it was very easy. All ya have to do is use the provided tool and whammo ya get the two files ya need per font. Then using them is also really straight forward and easy. I was very happy with the way it turned out. Then.. i realised that the strings being rendered were all below the layers of the sprites and this was an issue. I really needed them to be in rendered overdraw order. Well a quick post on the forum and a short time later i had my answer. It was as expected a simple answer. They use batching to render like or similar mode operations, like drawing sprites for example. This is a great thing, as i believe in batching tasks myself. So all i had to do was add a single line of code whenever i was going to draw some text, and hey presto it was all aok.

3. My only current problem using the Iw2D for rendering sprites is i cannot seem to scale the X and Y independantly. Which seems a little odd. I hope at some point soon to locate the way to do this, or i shall ask for the feature to be added. I see no logical reason for it not to exist. Still, only a small problem.

4. Sound looks like it will be a doddle to get into the game as i will use tutorial for this purpose, and glancing through that makes the task look really easy.

5. Next up will be the handling of the Ad api, and that will bring me into a whole new area of using the SDK with an extension api.

Next Blog post will be what happened when i wanted to test my game not in the simulator but on the iPhone for the first time.

Good luck,
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Marmalade #2 How i struggled

New SDKs are always trouble. There are so many things ya don't really know about how it is structured. Whether things are capitalized or not etc.

So i had several issues. None of which were really to do with the instal process. Here are the first three issues and what i did about them.

1. The Simulator ran the Debug text Hello world version no problem. YAY! But when i tried to run the GX version the simulator would just crash in a nasty locking way. what the heck was going off? After an hour or so of trying a number of things i went to the forums for help. there is a lot of info in those Marmalade forums i have to say. I very quickly located a thread(or several :O) that mentioned this kind of graphical driver issue. One fix that was mentioned was to copy my DLLs down a directory from the Quallcom one. Well It worked, or mostly. I still have an assert when i run the samples, but at least they all work. YAY!

2. After playing with the samples for a bit i decided it was time to do some coding. So i got going and was going well till i needed a texture loaded so i could manipulate it on screen. Dang.. now this little problem took me a long time to fix i have to admit. In fact it took me approximately 4 hours to solve this one. The simplist tasks it turns out can stop most anyone. This time i was stopped as i could not decifer where to put my assets for my project. Now i would make a suggestion here that the MBK file comes with it's assorted option segments already defined but empty. Anyway i found the answer on the first place anyone should visit after installing Marmalade ( I was reading his how to training segments using marmalade and i saw how he added a texture. It is simplicity itself, adding an assets segment to your MBK file. Bah! so much wasted time.... Manipulating the texture has been very easy though :)

3. I never expected to say this but... I had some difficulty with my C++ coding. It's true. It has been quite some time since i last actually coded in C++ and boy does it show. It was taking me waaaayyy too much time to come up with a good conversion for certain classes or data initializations etc from C# to C++. Of course now i have spent a few days hacking away it is all coming back to me. Only issue is the code i have already converted and written may need to be redone. I really thought the conversion was gonna be a doddle. It has not been, but it is getting easier.

So far i have very high hopes for Marmalade. My conversion is coming along well and although there are several things not yet hooked up. I am expecting the game to be up and running by the end of this week.

Next Blog post I will discuss more about working with Marmalade itself.

thanks again to

Da Voodoochief

ps. yes, i also realise that getting to know any SDK takes time. With Marmalade i hope to cut my time in half from learning both Android and IOs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sony Announces Jak & Daxter

I am very excited tonight, as finally Sony has made the whole thing public. We have tirelessly worked on this project for about a year now and it has been one of the most technicaly challenging titles we have ever done. And for me at Mass Media to say such a thing is gonna be very rare. As we have done some other very difficult and technical conversions over the years.

Here is a link to the Kotaku article Jak & Daxter

Here is the link to the 1Up.Com article  JAK & Daxter

The second link has the best article simply because it mentions Mass Media. Naughty dog did a fantastic job both technically and creatively to produce these games. We/I am very happy that we got the chance to convert them all to the Playstation 3. Now a whole slew of new people will be able to enjoy how good they are to play and look at. Naughty Dog really know and knew how to push hardware to it's limits and this made the conversion a real doozy. A challenge that Mass Medians all put their heart and soul into.

I am very proud of the job my team did on this set of games. I really hope the buying public also buy and enjoy these games as much as i think they deserve to be.

Da Voodoochief

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marmalade time #1

So here i am jobless. Not even looking for another one. I have a little work to do, to rebuild the games fro Sony submission till it finally goes through FQA. I have been working heavily on my B4IR website for the childrens book series, and i am happy with the way it is coming along. Meanwhile i need to create more stuff.

It is time for me to finally get to play with the Maramalade SDK. I read a lot about it and it looks very exciting, so here is what happened...

Install Visual Studio C++ before installing the Maramalde SDK

Joined the site (3 minutes)
Clicked the download box at the top of the screen and Filled out a purchase form (4 minutes)
I also CTRL-C the Order Id for later use
I grabbed the Trial 165MB version (5 minutes)
Recieve an email with the order Id in it
I ran the installer and accepted the agreement (of course!)
Moved the installer default directory OFF my C drive (hate stuff on root of C)
Hmm, select Max or Maya exporter.. well i have neither, pity
(4 minutes install)
Marmalade Config Utility appears and i put in my email addy + PW and chose license type (eval)
GOT an ERROR.. argh! Could not detect a Visual Studio version
  Checked the readme.txt file for what versions i could use, any C/C++ it seems
  Went to Microsoft site and downloaded the Express version (i only have C# and C# for wp7)
  172MB download for the Visual Studio Express C++, nice (4 minutes)
  So i played Wow for a bit while waiting for the slow installer to finish (10 minutes)
After a Reboot i reran the Marmalade Config Utility and it found Visual Studio and all was well
Then i opeend the Documentation for Marmalade and started reading for a while

Next installment in this blog
I Run the Samples... or Do they?

Well that was my first night, more laters
Da Voodoochief

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oooh the Possibilities

What shall i do next?

Where shall i go now?

Two simple questions, but a myriad of answers come from my brain. Althuogh i am now out of  ajob, i am extremely excited about what the future could hold for me. From either another professional position to all the stuff i can do myself for myself with Sorcery Games. I can also fix some long standing issues with my house :)

I have a number of Game ideas. Some small and some big. Some complex and some simple. I could do one of these, or maybe several of them. I have a large scale game idea (think size of XBLA etc), and i have a way of doing the demo in 2D to show off it's unique arcade gameplay. But the scalablility i have for this project (working title is Pogo Pete) is really exciting. I have so many things i could add into what could be a very functional prototype in 3D, through the addition of power ups. Or maybe minigames, or simply more elaborate gameplay elements.
 If i do a small game though i can make it more polished and maybe get a bit more tech into it, like micro transactions etc. I could also maybe get a couple of small games done in the time it would take me to create a larger one.
 so many ideas, where or how do i stop!!

My childrens book series that brings parents and children togetehr through reading and also gets children excited about reading books is back on the cards. I have been busy with my web site for the books (WWW.B4IR.COM). I have been working on the products->5 golden coins page mostly. It is now shaping up to what i want, though still not quite getting there. This kind of thing is not my area of expertise, but i will continue with it till i get it right enough. Then hopefully around the end of the year i can publish the books. At the moment i need an illustrator or two that will work for cheap enough for me to get a few more of my books illustrated(yes i have 6 written already!).
 One exciting idea is to also create the books as Apps. This will give me a couple of fronts to afttack the world and try to not be so invisible with my products in future. this options also gets me excited because i will be creating something that i believe will make the world a better place. Helping kids find interest in reading , meanwhile helping the parents connect with their kids through reading.

Get a Job already
After these last 10 months of very heavy work conditions (so many hours, so many days). I need a break. I need to recharge my batteries. So i expect i will take the rest of the year off. There are a LOT of exciting companies around LA that i would love to work with/for. For many differing reasons for each one. The only thing i don't like much is commuting, or i should say commuting during busy times. My job tends to make it so i have to be around when the other programmers are around. As most programmers tend towards getting into work at about 10am, that tends to put my hours later in the day to match them. This i really hate as it means i get hiome when my kids are headed to bed. Downer. Still i hope for this not to happen in my next job. Mauybe i will go back to being a programmer only, and not lead a team? Hard to say what could happen there, but again.. a very exciting set of possibilities.

I am an optimistic person and i really feel instead of 'Argh! what am i gonna do, how depressing is this!'.. I am more more 'Woah! the world is allowing me to make my own way.. so many choices, so many options.. I LOVE IT!'

Da Voodoochief

ps. i will continue to blog about whatever i start work on. which should be in the next week or so, (i am still finishing the project for my ex-work?