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Member Since 27 Jan 2010
Online Last Active Today, 08:46 PM

Topics I've Started

Recommendations for USB Laptop Monitor

13 January 2014 - 05:06 PM

I'm thinking about buying a USB monitor to give my laptop at home a second display, which I've been wanting for a long time. But I'm having a hard time choosing a model. I'm looking at these three, with my current front-runner being the first:


Lenovo LT1421


Asus MB168+


AOC e1659


Does anyone here have any recommendations, on these three or in general? My budget tops out around $200, so if I can't get something adequate for that I'll have to go without.

Science Fiction Book Recommendations

22 April 2013 - 12:19 PM

I'm looking for sci fi recommendations to read. I've burned out my current collection of books and am looking for something new, but nothing jumped out at me on my last few trips to the bookstore.

Can anyone recommend a good hard sci-fi series for me? I won't turn down any recommendation out of hand, but ideally i'd like:

-Hard or semi-hard science fiction
-A big operatic plot, with lots of characters and socio-political elements
-A series (I'm imagining 1,000+ pages across all volumes)
-Post 1970's writing

I've been badly disappointed with my recent book choices lately (most recently, I really thought that The Diamond Age would be almost as good as Snow Crash...), and so rather than take another stab at it myself I'm reaching out for suggestions.

Reference Types and Scope

13 March 2013 - 10:50 AM

I'm trying to figure out if a problem that I had last night is potentially a scope issue or not. I have a Game object which has a field called currentScreen. currentScreen is a variable of type Screen. Game also has a method called ChangeScreen(Screen nextScreen), which has a single line of code assigning nextScreen to the currentScreen field.

When the Game object is constructed a pre-defined Screen object called TestScreen is assigned to the currentScreen field. TestScreen has a method that generates a new screen like this, where Popup is descended from Screen just as TestScreen is:

private void GeneratePopupScreen(){	Game.ChangeScreen(Popup p = new Popup());}

When this code executes, what lifespan will p have? It's declared and instantiated inside of a method, so it seems like it should have local scope and go out of scope as soon as the GeneratePopupScreen methods ends, which is immediately after the ChangeScreen method ends. But because memory is explicitly allocated on the heap via the new operator, and a reference independent of the GeneratePopupScreen method is assigned p's memory address immediately upon p being instantiated it also seems like maybe p could persist after GeneratePopupScreen ends.

Will p go out of scope once GeneratePopupScreen terminates?

Cost of a Design Consultant

16 January 2013 - 11:56 AM

I've been in kind of a rut with my programming lately. A lot of what's causing that is design troubles, and while I assume that's normal for someone at my stage in learning the de-motivational effects of re-coding and re-designing every couple of days are stopping me from getting anything done.


I've been thinking of posting an ad in the Help Wanted section for someone to help me with program design. I'm interested in help with class design and separating class responsibilities in particular, though I suspect that I'm deficient in more areas also. I'm not expecting the consultant to do any coding, just help me plan sound classes, their interfaces, and manage the flow of information in the game.


But I'm not sure how much money to offer since I have no idea what the going rate is for this sort of thing. I don't even know how to quantify the amount of stuff I want to design in a meaningful way. What are some ways that you have seen in a job posting for a design consultant that the amount of work is estimated? What kind of costs might I be looking at, and how are they determined? Should I list as much information about my goals as possible and then entertain bids?


The program I'm working on is a fairly basic RPG game which will take a visual novel approach to gameplay. I'd like to add lots of features in the future, but I think that getting a basic, linear-progression prototype up is a reasonable goal for now. I'm working in C# and using SFML for the interface (which is already up and running, though it will probably need to be updated to accomodate the game as it progresses).

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

The Immortal Ruler

03 September 2011 - 12:25 PM

So I've been thinking about 4x games lately from a design perspective, and one thing that I keep bumping up against is the player's role in such games. The player is more or less always an absolute dictator, who exists undying forever. Think Civ (Ghandi adopts slavery, and keeps it for the next century of his rule) or Master of Orion, and so on.

This isn't a big deal for some simulations, particularly ones where the timescale isn't large or is abstracted (i.e., time passes to progress game events but has no meaning otherwise). But for others, particularly empire building games, this seems pretty odd. If we're dealing with the birth and death of thousands or millions of citizens, it's hard to reconcile the player's eternal role with that. Some other games, like the Total War series, have different leaders which change over time and have different attributes, but it has little effect on gameplay.

It seems like a convention which isn't going to go away for sure, since it works well enough for actually playing the games. But would you be interested in a game that shook this up somewhat? Here are some ideas that I had:

1.) The player controls a succession of leaders with different traits that materially affect the player's ability to develop the empire. The biggest downside I imagine is that changes in what the player can do could make it difficult to pursue long-term plans for empire development. But it could also introduce new challenges and goals. Something like a political aspect to the game could make this interesting, as the player takes the role of the leader at any given time, and also allow the player to maintain goals across leaders but affect their ability to implement those goals at different times.

2.) Perhaps the player does take the role of some immortal thing which influences (but does not directly and minutely control in every detail) the decisions of a society's leader. The player has "influence points", or something similar but less lamely named, which build up over time or by results of player actions, and these can be expended to varying degrees to influence or compel the society's leader (AI controlled, I suppose) to take certain actions.

3.) Immortality as a mechanic. For a game set in space, maybe the player takes the role of a leader who lives for centuries by flying around at relativistic speeds. Periods of time pass in which the player has little to no influence (as communication with the empire is cut off or severely restricted), but when not flying around can issue policies and then see how they unfold after time dilation.

4.) Immortality as a goal. The game unfolds in some manner like 1, but the player can pursue some avenue towards making a given leader immortal, which allows them to play as that leader indefinitely. I think that the player would need some influence on the traits of the succession of leaders so that they aren't relying on whoever happens to be in charge when immortality is within reach.

These are just products of brainstorming which need games around them before they can be fully judged. And obviously not all choices would work equally well for all settings. But do any of these seem like systems that might be fun to play with as compared with the current "you are an immortal dictator" design? It's functional, it's simple, and the game genre has definitely developed around that role for the player. Does anyone have other ideas for shaking up this mechanic? Or do people like that design well enough that change would be unnecessary and annoying?