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My brain falling out my mouth.

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Just a tease

Still gotta fix the wall doubling and start forcing the one creature per tile rule, but I've got my basic dungeon generation finished. Now just got ot find some time to do something else ;) For the sake of keeping this short and simple heres a video.

Nothing super spectacular, well actually it is for me, but it doesn't look it.... Found a major bug of sorts in my dungeon generation algorithmn. it refuses to put corridoors were I want them. On top the fact life has been throwing me curve balls left and right, I'm sparse on time.

My factory implementations aren't as concrete as I thought they were. Unknown design issues with third party types threw a big wrench into things. I hacked together a quick chunk to get things loading and displaying correctly, but I'm going to need a refactor. Which I think I'll use my next chunk of time to do. Gotta clean things up every once in a while and make sure I'm staying on track with my original goals.

I use a sorta factory design to load in templates of everything. Such as a creature factory that loads all the base templates of each creature type. The rest of the program is supposed to then be able to create new creatures from the templates. Unfortunately some of the objects with my objects are sensitive :( . Several implement copy constructors and so forth, but I failed to read about the various variables that don't get copied and must be set through the new objects interface.

This made me get sickly dirty to hack together the copying outside of the factory for the video.

Till next time happy coding, I'll have a walking player and traversable floors by the next update. *cross my fingers*

More Rouge

Unfortunately no video, the view component is my next big hurdle though.


I've been putting most my effort into getting the dungeon generator up and running before getting things on the screen. The dungeon is a container the holds a series of floors. Each floor contains a terrain, monsters and items on the floor and other various objects that exist on that floor. The idea is that when the player enters a floor, the game will pull the floor from the dungeon and use it as the active floor. When the player leaves the floor, it gets saved back into the dungeon at its current state.

To generate each floors layout I'm using a rough binary space partitioning method. Starting with a starting quad that covers the entire bredth of the floor. I then randomly split the quad in half along with the resulting childs. This splits the floor into a series of neighboring rooms. I then randomly delete some of the rooms, while making sure they are all still connected.

For now the generator then randomly places monsters and items throughout the floor.


I settled on a list of every action I want to support. I split the actions into different categories based on the data required to perform the action. Combat actions are rather small, but refer to any action that uses the creatures equipped weapon.

Equip actions, once again small, refer to ofcourse equipping items. unequipping, dropping and picking up items also fit neatly into this category. Terrain actions for things like moving, opening doors or using stairs. Lastly, consumtion actions are for use items in the inventory. Things like eating food and drinking a potion. I grouped using wands and throwing into this category aswell. it might seem like it makes sense to put those into the combat category, but the data required makes it fit better in the consumable list.

Consumables are pretty boring by themselves though. Most if not all will have a related effect. effects can be simple things like "IncreaseHealth" which will increas the targets health by the given amount. Effects are further described with what are valid targets for the effect. Items like a potion of healing might actually use a "IncreseUsersHealth" effect that only allows targeting the user of the action. A wand of healing on the other hand would allow targeting the user and other creatures.

This does limit the combinations of item types and the effects that can be associated with them. Such as equipment won't be able to have effects like that of a healing potion. I do want to keep things simple though so no biggy if I can't make crazy items like an amulet that casts fireballs.

Next I WILL have the basic view put together with the logic to move the camera around the floors and traverse up and down them. 'Til then happy coding.

Crawling For Fun

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

I finally crawled back into the world of RougeLikes, I could never bring myself to play any ASCII version consistantly. I've been hooked on 'Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup'. Which has a graphical version (tiles) aswell and is updated quite alot.

The mechanics are similar to D&D rules. You start off as a single guy trying to get to the bottom of a dungeon, steal an orb and get the hell out. Simple as that.... until you play it.

My favourite and the most fustrating part of the game is the immense unknown. The first time you die on the first floor cause you drank a potion of poison will make you scream and laugh all the same. You'll quickly learn how fragile you are and that everything in the game can be a deadly threat. The moment you feel strong you're almost gauranteed to slip up and send your hero to the grave.

Aslong as you can transition to the "take your time" attitude, you'll find the game easy enough but it could take years to actually beat it.

Rough RougeLike

A post or two ago I mentioned a random dungeon generator I was messing around with. I figure it's a great jumping point for trying a small RougeLike project of my own. So I put together a simple prototype, just melee combat.

I've spent a bit of time working out the base structure of the game, the objects and divisions of the program. Hopefully it's just a matter of
coding it all now. The major roadblock I'm trying to decide on first though, turn order and queueing actions. In the prototype, there was only two actions a creature could take, items can't take actions. They either walked, attacked or did nothing. It was pretty easy to queue a simple struct like so;struct ACTION{usertarget;type;}

An actionProcessor object would store all the actions in a vector, then when it came time to process the turn. it would sort
them all by the users speed and process the actions one by one. I plan to use something similar, but I'm also storing creatures, items and all
other objects different then before. Before, the handles to the actors were very loose. The actor could be nonexistant and the handle could
still be used. it would just cause the action processor to disregard the action entirely once one of the actors wasn't found. This wasnt a
bottle neck what so ever in the prototype, but I wouldn't think so with only 15 actors present. I plan on floors with 200+ objects present all
the time, so looking through an entire list of objects everytime I want to find one isn't going to work.

I decided to go with a simple quadTree container that will be used to store the actual objects. Then the controllers and actions will use iterators into the sub containers that hold the objects. The actions take pointers to these iterators as aurguments for the user and targets of an action. This means iterators can't be removed until all actions are processed or so voodoo needs to happen to remove actions with iterators that were removed while it's processing, and that just seems wasteful. Simply checking if either is invalid because of death or out of range or etc seems more logical.

Now that I'll be using more fragile pointers, and quite alot more actions; also with items being and other objects possibly part of a given action
but not all. It makes it a bit more complicated. Hopefully it'll all come clear after I finish my list of every action I want to be possible.

I already am thinking I'll have seperate processors for item type with specific functions for the different actions / effects that can occur because of those items. Equipping as simple as it seems is a perfectly good example of an action.
// basic action infotype = action_equipuser = selftarget = self// equip specificequipment equipment

The action processor can read that its an equip actions which would then pass all the data to equipmentProcessor.actionEquip(....), these could simply be utility functions. I'm thinking of using a base class action that has the basics, user, target, type, but will also have a processor id. This id will simply tell the main action processor which sub processor to pass the action off to. Then that processor will know how to recast it and process the action.

My brain is brimming with ideas now... Happy coding, next time I should have a worth video ;)

A man of few words, but the attention whore inside me has been waiting for over a month now. Here goes smile.png

Design and learn by prototyping.

Prototyping I've found to be a great exercise in teaching myself to pump out better code, faster. If only I could find some time to be less tired and motivated to do more than a 1-2 hour burst of coding. Only one project have I ever wrote or actually developed a fleshed out design or layout of the application. My framework has been the only big enough and intricate enough project to make that worth it. Everything else, I just get an idea and once I have time, I sit down and just code until I can see something on the screen. Then hack in all the other ideas I had with it. If it's looking good, I'll go back and clean it up or actually take the time to design it on paper then re code the whole thing.

I still see alot of posts on gamedev that are all along the lines of "What's the best way to do this?". I've come to believe there is never a best way to design and build an application. Sure there maybe a best way to optimize a small operation, such as the best way to sort a list with specific parameters. I'm talking about full fledged applications / games. The best way can only ever be found by coding the project and seeing how your implementation works. Even then, after you've come up with the best way as you see it. Down the road you'll probably think of an even better way to do it as you learn new techniques.

That's why prototyping is so great. It lets you see your design ideas in action. You get to actually see how your code interacts as a whole. I still always find so many flaws in my ideas once I've coded them. There is just way to much an project that you'll never be able to plan for everything, and why would you. All the time you spend designing and just thinking about your game, is time you could spend coding and actually seeing if it works. Believe it or not, even after you've got your design down, once you start coding. You're design is going to start changing constantly to fix flaws you can only find by running the actual application.

Now I'm talking about the average coders projects, not the next "Skyrim", or projects that take on multiple programmers (which i see over done on such small projects in the help wanted so often). Most average projects at best are on the size of a platformer, or top down shooter. I'd even say a single player rts game falls in this category as well. All of these can be thrown together as a prototype with very little pre planning or designing.

*Warning I get rude here*

If you have to spend more than a couple hours fleshing out the basics of what you're trying to create with something this size. You really should ask your self, "Do I know enough to finish this project, let alone in a timely fashion?" If you find yourself perusing the internet for solutions or asking how to implement your concepts on the forums every time you sit down to code. You're probably biting off more than you can chew. There is a huge difference between asking "How do I move a sprite in the direction it's facing?" and "How do I add a technology tree to my RTS project?". I see the later style question, asked alot on the internet. If that is you, you should go back to the basics and work on alot simpler projects until you can come up with solutions to these questions on your own.

*rudeness hopefully over ;)*

Prototyping is also great practice in churning out lot's of code that works. Programming is one of those things that is best learned kinetically, the more you do it, the better you're going to be at it. Code, code, code and code some more. You don't have to prototype a whole game. You want to be prototyping features and ideas. Take for example, the trading card based game I've been working for a while. Everything in it was prototyped by myself, before I ever designed the complete system. This took me through several iterations, were even at one point I ditched the whole idea of using the card mechanics. I prototyped the idea of loading a series of cards as a deck and being able to draw cards into your hand and place them on the game board. I prototyped the interaction of the actual game pieces and how the went from being cards to being an interact able object on the game board. I prototyped the animation system. I eventually even prototyped the idea of using a whole different base engine for the game.

Doing so helped me see how the actual concepts fit together, how they might fit better if I did things different. I got to play the game in different ways and which forms were boring and which were fun to me. I found lots of organizational flaws and the bugs they caused. All of which has helped me put together a far more accurate design of the game. One that so far, I have yet to go to implement something in the design and said "Nope that design sucks, how am I going to fix this without breaking the rest?".

a couple quick vids to demonstrate a little of what I'm talking bout here. Note this game was originally intended to be a blend of tower defense and trading card games.

My first prototype was fleshing out the card system. Loading a deck of cards, and drawing them into your hand then placing them onto the game board.


Shortly after a couple more prototypes I put together one that ditched the cards and used a set selection of towers. This eventually felt boring to me and started realize my brain was just copying another famous tower defense game ;)


The most recent I threw together a version that uses pathing rather than the row based design.


In short what I want to get across to all you beginners, instead of asking how to do make a game. Just start coding the smaller parts of it. then code, code, and code some more till your idea is complete. You can clean the spaghetti mess up later.

Happy coding and have fun... Ill leave you with this

Busy busy this man is. Well as usual I'm very good destroying hardware... but keep it to yourself. rawr, servers beware, the cursed one is here. I actually went computer less for a couple months. Stuck to pen and paper to flush out my ideas and phone for surfing the 1's ad 0's.

As I last left off I was working on a little game trying to use trading card game mechanics. At one point I took this to the tower defense genre. It didn't fit very well and when it did, it seemed way too much like a rip off of 'Plants vs Zombies'. So back to the four player version using a game board not unlike a chess board.

The basics of the game is each player plays his turn out one at a time. Everything is turn based, each game piece can execute one action a turn. Each turn the player resource pool grows slightly allowing them to play tokens to the battlefield or cast spells from the tokens in hand. To win a player must get his token within reach of the players home squares and attack (move onto) them to deal damage to the player.

By moving tokens to a square they consume it, converting it to one their tiles. The point here is that tokens can only be placed on the tiles you own. Your home tiles of course can never be converted or occupied by your opponent. Therefore there is always somewhere to place your tokens. Bolting your tokens straight for a player can be beneficial too, as it lets you play new tokens closer to the enemy's home.

I'm still implementing the base structure of the game, and making sure the mechanics work correctly and are fun. The player cant play it at the moment, but I have a rudimentary AI in place to test things out.



I also picked up some crack from Blizzard North earlier this month, and boy was I dissapointed. Only time will tell if it was really worth it... so far nah. It did create this itch in me to mess around with procedural generated worlds again though. Spent a couple hours yesterday and through together simple dungeon generator. Only floors and walls at the moment.

Each piece of wall is a game object though. Which every object in the game from a breakable barrel to the player will be based off of. I think Ill throw together a simple gauntlet/zelda clone to get my feet wet in component based designs. Right now it uses an inheritance design, as that was a lot easier to throw together for something I was just messing around with.

Got an hour or two before work, gonna throw together some code to populate the dungeon with things like barrels, bookcases, candles and other little nick-nacks that will all be interact-able with the player.




Oh and both these little projects are using SFML, instead of my homebrew engine. I got to say it's very nifty and fast to get up and running. Though lacks alot of the specialized things I had incorporated into my framework. Losing my hardrive, I lost all the new build of my framework and decided to put the refactoring on hold for now. It has given me some great ideas on how to overcome some of my shortcomings though. and saved me the probably 3 months of recoding to get it were I wanted it.

hope you enjoy, and all have a good week.
Pitter patter goes the heart. Something I forget so often, and I've noticed it amongst my peers. Not taking care of my self, no I'm not talking about that you perv. I find my self so caught up in the minds of others, that I don't think about how I feel. It's been almost two, weeks and that's exactly why. Too worried that I'm upsetting others, not realizing I'm not moving forward.

So lets all put those demons away, put on a fat smile and walk towards the sun. Not asking for a world of narcissist, but if not for our own lives, what's the point.

I'll leave it with my next ink... painful back arm to boot... going to be a great release. "The demons that distract us"

Code on dev world!


I was listening to this song earlier and it just had this great verse in it.

Cause you
You're so calm
I don't know where you are from
You're so young
I don't care what you've done wrong

Too me it screams the essence of childhood, being an adult and whatching children grow up. To not take the world so seriously that you never do anything. Everyone makes mistakes and it's not the end of the world. I constantly find my self reminding my own kids to not worry so much. Seeing how easily people get fustrated these days, it's not what I remmeber as a kid. "Tokyo Police Club - Shoulders and Arms" is the song for anyone interested.

Well I started doing a little more remodeling then I thought I was going to. The following snippet is the current and probably old renderList. These lists are the back bone of my renderer and do all the heavy lifting for me. The list stores a struct called drawcall, which is the basic information about what is trying to be drawn and how; position, size, texture, shader, rotation/origin, and diffuse coloring. Which actually isnt the original layout either. The old drawcall, stored the actual vertecies along with the texture, shader and so forth.

A year or two ago, I switched to the concept that all I needed was rectangles/quads. Why store all the extra data when I could just translate them later? Since then I've had countless times where a trangle or line would've been so much more helpfull, then trying to aligned a quad textured with the shape just right. If you poked around my last post, you probably remember the DrawQuad function, there did used to be DrawTriangle, DrawLine.... hence why I didn't call it something more associative like DrawSprite.

Once all drawcalls have been made for this frame, everything move onto the renderer which mainipulates the render lists and presents them to the screen. Starting at the preFill. Any sorting of the list happens here. I sort all my calls so that transparent textures are at the back, orderer back to front, and opaque textures orderer front to back. Using the z depth of the textures, This allows alot of flexibility in game design. THeres no need to design you code around the fact that certain images have to be drawn at certain times to appear right. Aslong as they're positions are set right, they'' appear correctly.

After sorting any render target swapping happens here. This is one aspect that is being remodeled. Currently the renderList only supports one render target per renderlist. This meant I had to hardwire a seperate pipeline for doing lighting, else suffer the fact that Id have to have a seperate renderList withe the exact same data for each buffer required by the lighting system, and relock the vertexbuffer for each list and everything else that has to be done for each list, added up pretty fast. The new list is going to store chains of effects. each link in the chain is simply a renderTarget and shader to be used. This can even be the backbuffer just rendering with different shaders each time. Also each link can have a set of secondary textures that should be included into the stream. Such as passing the gBuffer along with what is being rendered to do lighting. It will be a bit experimental, as honostely some of the functionality I've never used before but always wanted to.

Once things are sorted, the rendertarget is set. Fill, lcoks the vertex buffer for the current texture and shader combo. Using the drawcall iterator, fill walks through the drawcall vector, any call that matchs the current state gets translated and placed into the vertexbuffer. If a new state is found, fill stops immediately. This is all to take advantage of the iterator and try to not process any drawcall more than once... ie the pipeline should walk through the list only once.

All the translation though is being moved to the point when the drawcall is made, except that or view -> screen translation which happens in the shader using an orthogonal projection. The pipeline uses it's own camera to tranlate the call from world to view space. Cull, then rotate if nessecary. Culling is really generic, I use an oversized view (bigger than the screen), and just do a quick bounds check with the center of the quad and the screen. Aslong as you're not trying to draw a 512x512 or bigger texture it shouldn't have any popping as it leaves the screen.

PostFill is pretty much the opposite of prefill. it resets the rendertarget to the back buffer if it was changed, then resets the drawcall iterator so new drawcalls will start by overwriting the old ones before pushing new ones on the stack.

namespace ZEGraphics

class RenderList

LPDIRECT3DSURFACE9 backBufferCopy; // used to save the backbuffer while a secondary buffer is being used.
LPDIRECT3DSURFACE9 tempRenderTarget;
IDirect3DVertexBuffer9* vertexBuffer; // dynamic vertexBuffer used by this renderList only.

std::vector renderTargets; // list of secondary targets that will get rendered to in order withe the assigned shaders.

std::vector drawcalls;
std::vector::iterator drawcallIterator; // the iterator is used by the fill process only, to save the readers position inbetween state changes.


RenderList(ZEGraphics::Device* device); // Basic constrctor, sets iterator and reserves space for 5K drawcalls.

~RenderList(); // releases all data including vertexBuffer, drawcall vector... etc.
void Reset(); // resets the drawcallIterator, and other temp settings.

* PreFill - sets up the list for converting to vertexbuffer. Sorts by state change,
* resets the iterator and prepares the render target to be used.
void PreFill(ZEGraphics::Device* device);

* Fill - Enters the vertex data for the drawcalls of the same state.
void Fill(ZEGraphics::Camera* camera, IDirect3DTexture9*& _texture, DWORD& _shader, UINT& _primitiveCount, bool& _isTransparent, bool& _isEmpty);

* PostFill - Resets the renderTarget and clears the list for re entering new draw calls.
void PostFill(ZEGraphics::Device* device);

* AddDrawcall - pushs a single drawcall onto the stack.
void AddDrawcall(ZEGraphics::Drawcall _drawcall);

bool Full(); // Return true if the drawcalls have exceeded the vertexBuffer capacity. 100K calls (200K triangles).


* helper functions to split the big functions up and make them easier to read and edit, blah blah blah.

bool NextDrawcall(); // move iterator to next available drawcall. return false if no drawcalls available.
void GenerateQuad(ZE::VEC3 pos, ZE::VEC2 size, ZE::VEC3& vert1, ZE::VEC3& vert2, ZE::VEC3& vert3, ZE::VEC3& vert4);
void SetVertex(DWORD index, ZEGraphics::Vertex*& vertexData, ZE::VEC3 pos, ZE::VEC3 normals, ZE::VEC2 uv, ZEGraphics::COLOR diffuse);




The new renderList will be moving one from the all in one bucket for every drawcall. I'm also going back to the old way of string vertecies in the drawcall to facilitae the difference between triangles, quads and lines. The later being the only one that is actually a special case. Circles I use a precision variable to determine how many triangles I use to build them.

Drawcall buckets, that's what I'll be calling it now. The idea is to store drawcalls in seperate buckets for each state combo. So shader and texture will be stored in the bucket instead of individual drawcalls. No need to check if a drawcall is valid anymore, if it's in the bucket then use it with this state. Shaders migh even be removed to only the renderlist and the render chains. So if a shader is going to be used by a rednerList it's going to apply it to all of them. Off the top of my head I can't think of any time I used a seperate shader within the same renderList. So buckets will probably be sorted just by texture.

Render chains will be another big change, already mentioned, a chain is a render target and shader to be applied. it will also have a way of assigning secondary textures to be applied to the stream. Say you build you color buffer, normals and other gBuffer goodies. Then need to render your scene to the screen using all that light data, but you can only use one texture at a time. Makes it kinda impposible right?

Well the skeleton is in place and some of the dta types are finished, I still got alot of coding before it's what I want. I am trying to keep the old pipeline untouched though, so all my old projects still work just fine. They just cant use any new features. :) But now I'm all typed out... good luck and happy coding dev world... YORDLES!
Gotta love how easily kids pass along the sickness. I'm a walking disease today, no work, don't want to hang out in fear I'm may be too far from a bathroom ;) So here I am, clean or code... let's code. While were at it lets toot my horn aswell. Yes there is more than one in this head.

Wasn't expecting to start this till tomorrow, but with my situation, I started today anyways. Torn my old render interface a new one and put together the skeleton for the new interface. Be proud of me, I kept the old interface and everything in the engine is still completely intact. There's actually two interface to choose from at the moment. The only thing lacking from the new one, is font and particleSystem support. The old system had a hackish way of using fonts and the particle system was very reliant on the old interface to work properly.

Funny I'm looking at the two headers... old header 145 lines ~15 of it comments... the new header 95 lines ~ half of it comments. That's also including that I incorporated the window, input, and frame timer into the new interface aswell.

new interface

#ifndef _ZECloud_H
#define _ZECloud_H
#include "ZEMath.h"
#include "ZESystemWindow.h"
#include "ZESystemTimer.h"
#include "ZEInputInterface.h"

#include "ZEGraphicsDevice.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsTextureCache.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsEffectCache.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsCamera.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsRenderList.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsInterfaceParameters.h"

ZoloEngine - Cloud
2/2012 - Corey Marquette

namespace zecloud
class Cloud

Default Constructor - This constructor should not be used and will popup a
warning message if it is.

Contructor(...) - This constructor must be used to initialize the engine.
It initializes everything based on the data from a config file.
Cloud(HINSTANCE instance, std::string configFilepath);

Destructor - all cleanup is done here. releasees everything from textures to

Update - calls update on all sub components, and returns false if the engine
has shutdown from any errors. If it has shutdown, the engine should not be used.
bool Update();

Render - processess all renderLists and present to the screen, use this
function after all drawcalls have been made for the frame.
bool Render();

These accessors are meant to be used to create resources for the engine to use
instead of doubling implementations in the interface.
ZEGraphics::TextureCache& TextureCache();
ZEGraphics::EffectCache& EffectCache();

CreateRenderList - adds a new renderList to the queue and gives a pointer back
to be used for rendering. ownership of the RL's still remains with the
engine interface. RenderList are never released until the engine is.
bool CreateRenderList(ZEGraphics::Sprite* renderTarget, bool clearTarget, ZEGraphics::RenderList*& renderList);


ZESystem::Window window;
ZEInput::Interface input;

ZESystem::Timer frameTimer;

// Renderer specific data
ZEGraphics::Device device;
ZEGraphics::Camera camera;
ZEGraphics::TextureCache textureCache;
ZEGraphics::EffectCache effectCache;
std::vector renderLists;



simple, just the way I like it. Starting a new project is as easy as adding a couple directies and creating a winmain file like so.

#include "ZECloud.h"

int WINAPI WinMain(HINSTANCE _instance, HINSTANCE _prevInstance, LPSTR _cmdLine, int _cmdShow)
Engine initialization

zecloud::Cloud cloud(_instance, "data/config.xml");


while (cloud.Update())


return 0;

super simple... me really like. I have the tendency to be creating new projects constantly just to test out new ideas all the time. So having a fast setup proccess is very crucial to me.

The old interface took on a master type role... every sub component had a double set of functions in the interface that would call the actual functions in the sub components. Don't know if that would be considered "PIMPL" or not, eitherway it was cumbersome. Anytime I wanted to add new functionaliy, I basically had to do it twice. Then ownership started to get blurry, which brings up the truth behind font rendering and the particle system. because they are seperate from the render interface, and they should be. They required the interface to render anything. This meant any changes to how the DrawQuad function worked, would effect how those system worked aswell. Especially when I added diffuse coloring to allow quickly changing the fonts colors. I had to dig deep into the rendeerlist, then change things in the interface, then had to change thins in how textures were loaded... it was just a mess.

This time I've centralize, the act of drawcalls to renderList only. Similar to how XNA uses spriteBatch. The interface is no longer required to draw sprites to the screen. It is instead the point were resources are created, and manages the work flow of the system. It's still a major joint in the system, but should facilitate changes better.

The one hurdle I'm still contemplating, is the difference between translated and untranslated coordinates. My camera is run in software, so its simple enough to just skip it when process translated coordinates. ie for things like the UI or other screen aligned sprites. I'm not sure if I want to store a tranlated flag in the drawcall struct or make it global and keep it in the renderList class. The former would allow alot of flexibility, but require an if branch for every drawcall (upwards of ~150K per frame). Keeping it in the renderList would mean only one if branch per renderList, but also means more work for the user (me). Creating seperate renderList for translated and untranslated rendering. I'm leaning towards the later, since I kinda already do this... but not always. and could easily lead to renderlist with only 10-20 calls stored, but requirring that many state changes. Defeating the purpose of batching.

This will also problably mean more clutter in the draw function. I've been trying to minimize the require arguments over time, so I really didn't want to add more. Should I just create seperate function for translated and untranslated? Probably not.

RenderList.DrawQuad(position, size, sprite, shader, rotation, diffuse, translatedFlag)

not too bad I guess.

Another big change for me, is moving from only translated coordinates, to using world coordinates then letting the camera translate these. I've been comtemplating letting the engine do all the culling instead of doing it in game logic. Should this be done early at the point when drawQuad is used or later when the renderer starts processing the renderLists? I'm thinking early, but this can have problems. Take for example, we make some drawcalls that get rejected for being outside the camera, but before processing the renderLists, we move the camera and the old calls would be in view now. This would cause were popping, were objects aren't visable for a split second, then suddenly are. But would also keep the RenderLists at resonable sizes. They have always been a bottle neck in the pipeline, so anthing to make them a little quicker is beneficial... it's just the drawbacks are icky.

for the weirdos out there, heres the old interface for comparison and a look into my madness.

#include "ZEGraphicsInterfaceParameters.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsTextureCache.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsEffectCache.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsDevice.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsCamera.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsRenderList.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsSprite.h"
#include "ZEGraphicsColor.h"
#include "ZEVector3.h"
#include "ZEVector2.h"

namespace ZEGraphics
/** DEBUG information struct. */
struct DI_Interface
: drawPrimitiveCalls(0),
largestBatch(0) {


void Clear() {
drawPrimitiveCalls = 0;
trianglesDrawn = 0;
smallestBatch = 0;
largestBatch = 0;

DWORD drawPrimitiveCalls;
DWORD trianglesDrawn;
DWORD smallestBatch;
DWORD largestBatch;

/** Graphics API main Interface. */
class Interface

ZEGraphics::Device device;

ZEGraphics::Camera* camera;
ZEGraphics::TextureCache* textureCache;
ZEGraphics::EffectCache* effectCache;

std::vector renderLists;
IDirect3DVertexBuffer9* vertexBuffer;


ZEGraphics::DI_Interface dInfo;

/** Data used by the deferred lighting pipeline. */
ZEGraphics::Sprite gbNormals;
ZEGraphics::Sprite gbPositions;
ZEGraphics::Sprite gbColors;

DWORD gbShader;
DWORD dirLightShader;


ZEGraphics::InterfaceParameters parameters;

Interface() { };
~Interface() { this->Release(); };

int Create(HWND _windowHandle, ZEGraphics::InterfaceParameters& _paramters);

/** Display will process all the renderlists. Internally it will run these lists through the desired pipeline, specified by the renderList. */
void Display();

/** Specific pipeline for rendering the drawcalls. */
void DefaultPipeline(DWORD rl, IDirect3DTexture9* _texture, DWORD _shader, UINT _primitiveCount, bool _isTransparent);

/** Release... releases all the allocated resources. */
void Release();

/** Drawing functions for drawing textured primitives. */
void DrawQuad(DWORD _renderList, ZE::VECTOR3 _pos, ZE::VECTOR2 _size, ZEGraphics::Sprite* _sprite, DWORD _shader, ZE::VECTOR3 _rot, ZEGraphics::COLOR _diffuse);
void DrawQuad(DWORD _renderList, ZE::VECTOR3 _pos, ZE::VECTOR2 _size, ZEGraphics::Sprite* _sprite, DWORD _shader, float _alpha);

/** Texture loaders. */
ZEGraphics::Texture* CreateTexture(std::string _filename, D3DFORMAT _format, bool _transparent);
ZEGraphics::Texture* CreateRenderTarget(int _width, int _height, D3DFORMAT _format, bool _transparent);

/** Effect Loaders */
bool CreateEffect(std::string _file, DWORD& _index) {
if (effectCache == NULL)
return false;

return effectCache->CreateEffect(device.direct3DDevice, _file, _index);

/** Deferred Lighting interface. */
bool SetupDeferredLighting();
void BuildGBuffer(LPDIRECT3DTEXTURE9 _texture, UINT& _primitiveCount);
void ProcessLights();

/** The renderer stores pointers to a light source, so that it can be moved easly outside the renderer.
The renderer won't cull the lights so it's up to the user to remove lights that are no longer visible. */
void AddLight();
void RemoveLight();
void ClearLights();

/** Misc resource loaders. */
DWORD CreateRenderList(ZEGraphics::Sprite* _renderTarget, bool _clearTarget);

/** Resource access. */
ZEGraphics::EffectCache* EffectCachePTR() { return effectCache; };

/** Debug info. */
ZEGraphics::DI_Interface& DebugInfo() {
return dInfo;

void ClearDebugInfo() {

/** anchors return the screen position at the specified position. */
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorTopLeft();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorTopCenter();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorTopRight();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorCenterLeft();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorCenter();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorCenterRight();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorBottomLeft();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorBottomCenter();
ZE::VECTOR3 anchorBottomRight();




Tomorrow I bother you again about the renderLists, the backbone to my renderer... its a yordle, run!
Later in the week, next week, same thing. Right?.... right? Real simple real quick, get the highest score possible and brag to your self about it, cause that's what life is all about. Right?

Playing the game - You're given a set amount of turns, each time you reveal a colored square it takes a turn away. Everytime you reveal two matching colors you get points and your turns back. Each pair starts a combo timer (4 sec), everytime you reveal another pair in that time, the clock gets reset and a chain counter goes up. Wghen the time runs out you get bonus points and turns based on the combo chain.

Each pair revealed, reveals the surrounding blocks for a few seconds, but also explodes blinding the area. good luck and have fun.

Download the game here -

For those who don't have visualStudio 2010 installed, can get the runtime (~5mb), here -

The game also requires directX9.c or higher to run, you can find that here -

Ok I feel better now, a quick project out of the way. Time to focus on a few other thingies. I've been dieing to do some rework on my framework. Mainly making it a little easier to translate from the physics portions into the graphics portion and vice versa. As they were designed so far apart, they used different variable layouts let alone different coord systems. ie my graphics always conciders the position to be the upper left corner and the bounding box to stretch outwardfs from that. My physics component took on the convention, that position is the center of the bounding box, and size stretchs in all direction from the center. This is mostly because of my choice to use Box2D, and it uses a similar approach.

A few major rethinkerings of my renderer interface needs to be done to finally get me back on track with "Kylar's Valcano". The current system has some major limitations on how much pixels I can push. A quick couple refactorings already pushed me from ~20K triangles @ 30fps to 250K triangles @ ~40fps. This ofcourse is all at 1280x720x32 using my particle emitter as a testing ground. Which brings me to another portion that did get rewrote, but lost when my pc decided to die.

A few of the changes were me hacking around with how the emitters handle generating new particles. Wasn't nearly as efficient before, and actually account for alot of the performance improvement. Lots of redundancies, that I can only assume were done the way they were for the sake of getting it coded faster. Always fun reading comments couple years old, and seeing the programmer mind set I was in back then. Boy do I see things differently now.


Like every one else, I've always had the idea that I would eventually release my framework to the masses. Then they would all praise me like a programming god. "Oh Corey you're a genius... how is this even possible", "Oh it was nothing, now throw away that useless UDK you got over there." I can dream right?.... right?

Currently as it stands, the framework is split into several major sections with their own interfaces. Non included components are all third party, such as sound.

Misc helpers

But as this is for me, and I alwas strive for simplicity, since my a.d.d. has me starting new project every other day. I always like to design for fast prototyping. So I'm going back to more of an all in one interface. "Cloud", is the new name I'm dubbing this interface. Though the only thing I'm rewritting is the graphics interface and renderer pipeline (sounds like alot, but really it ain't). I'm incorporting the other interfaces into the graphics interface basically. So I can have an all in one intitializer and container for the interfaces.

While you're puzzeled I'll take my leave and bid you all farewell... whatch out for the turnips.

Nextime - Talk about the rendering pipeline and Day 4 (a 2 imager to finish of the tease).
~$2,000 and my truck is finally running after 2-3 months, gonna need a $400 fuel pump soon too... uh. ~$200 bucks and I finally got my pc back to normal, but had to reinstall everything. Thing locked up to the point I couldn't get anything off it... good thing I happened to backup my projects two weeks before :). Minor setback... but windows hasn't started and run this good since I first put this rig together. and with the little ssd (dedicated win drive), power on and coding within 2 minutes.... oooo baby.

Well while trying to geth things caught back up... re coding what I lost... and getting used to the switch from vs2008 to the o10 version. I actually kinda like the new one..but project directories still pisses me off. If there's a way to globaly set the directories so when I start a new solution they are already added... I'm all ears.

Heres a quick vid a little 5 hour project. I'll clean it up, plug a few leaks and release it later this week. It's a mix between "Same Game" and "Concentration", you got to find matching color pairs and remove them for points. Getting 4 seconds each time you find a pair to remove another and create a combo that gives you more turns. Each time you reveal a color it takes a turn away from you, so you got to be careful not to just click willy nilly.

Oh I killed not one, but two birds with my truck yesterday... go figure, just get it back, 5 minutes into finally driving it and a swarm of birds leap in from of my truck. Thump... wo... thump... holly crap, two!. Oh and what ever you do, don't try to convince a three year old, that annakin skywalker is darthvader.... "No darth vader has a black mask", he says.... "He will, yes.. but.... Oh why did I start this?"

A quickie

Just a quick update on the new conquest game.

-- Updated and filled missing documentation for every header within the project. Only game specific headers.
-- Implemented base instances of all phases (upkeep, first setup, pre action, post action, second setup, and cleanup).
-- Identified several depricated implementations, from original design.
-- Finished basic implementation of TokenController to allow dragging and dropping, queing actions for active tokens.
-- Implemented graphical que for queued actions.

Goals, milestones
-- Allow zooming in of tokens to select abilities during pre action and setup phases.
-- Clean out depricated code that is no longer needed.
-- Update dependecy tree and indentify spaghetti code that can be rearranged.
-- Implement graphical que for current phase(s).
-- Fix bug that you can't move to a spot that another token is moving out of.

till next time .. ponder this...

No kids for the weekend... already feels weird. Plus no Sunday magic... and most everyone is with family for the holidays... ah what to do with my time. Well I did some hardcore programming to pass the time. Accessing some of my achievements and future milestones for the project, here's a short version of were I stand.

- Implemented Phase system (my glorified state machine for turn based games), I've rewritten this boiler plate for the last 3-4 projects, I really should abstract it for future use after this project.

- Implemented UpkeepPhase
--- Draws a token
--- Resets resources
--- Processes auto abilities (resource generation only)

- Implemented SetupPhase
--- Allows playing tokens from hand, onto the game board
--- Properly purchases and validates tokens cost
--- no restrictions on where tokens can be placed yet
--- no restrictions on the amount of a type of token that can be played per turn yet.

- Token, hand (deck, library, graveyard), ability, resource, player and game board boiler plate completed.

Future goals and milestones

- Implement pre-action phase
--- Allow assignment movement and attack orders
--- allow playing ability only tokens, but restrict permanent tokens.

- Implement post-action phase
--- process all move and attack orders
--- cleanup dead tokens

- implement secondary setup phase
--- All I should have to do with this, is push another copy of setupPhase onto the stack.

- implement Cleanup phase
--- clean up dead tokens
--- regenerate tokens still alive.


With those four phases complete, I should be able to hit my major milestone of being able to play through a complete turn.

Now take a break from code speak... here's a small tune I've been messing around with for some time now. Yes I know I play guitar like a french dude drinks tea... If I could just keep my pinky down, I might actually be able to up my speed. It's just a habit I can't break though...


Here's my work in progress for the next section of my right sleeve... titled 'The Great Struggle', Gonna redue it so he's coming out of the flames, instead of what is supposed to be dust kicked up from him fighting with the vines to move forward. And the overseer, has to be repositioned to go on the part of my body I want to go on. And the colors, were just me messing around... none of my tats have color and probably never will.


Till next time... hey watch it with the thumb.

P.S. day three is coming soon, waiting for my next milestone before I move the story along.

What? huh, what?

That's right.... What? Delivered freight, from 8am - 2pm, lunch, nap, stocked freight from 6pm - 11:30 pm. Put my clothes back on and left what easily could've been a models hotel room at 3 am. Somehow made it home to sleep. did it all over again at 8am. Yet I still have no money to show for it.... go figure. Definitely feeling nuttier than squirrel turds, and ready to sleep for a couple days, but I sure do like tourist.

Well that was two days ago, feeling somewhat intact, so thought I'd do some refactoring, and reassessing my projects. Reevaluated milestones, and tried to convince myself I'm on schedule. Another swarm of resumes, yet only one phone call returned... dead end. Yet it made me feel pretty good, someone thought I was worth calling back. Just got to brush up on my professional conversation skills.

My typing without looking at the keyboard is getting ever faster, yet I noticed, my brain is still substituting words incorrectly... don't know how many times I typed things like "could" instead of "good". Darn brain, what is your problem, or "have" instead of "hope", come on now, those doesn't even sound alike. Maybe some paint chips will teach you a lesson.

Nothing fancy, but messing around with the ol' ge-tar + my digitech processor (things been broken for years, finally fixed it) and some art stoof, so say bye to 30 seconds of your life.

Still contemplating a way to incorporate the abilities of tokens, without having to hard code them... but it seems the best I'll be able to do, is incorporate the abilities as functions, and use some sort of tagging to identify what abilities the token has, and call that function when it gets used. This means I'll have to rebuild the exe every time I want to add new abilities though. Ahh I'll find a way eventually.

After 5 hours of refactoring, got to say, this is now the cleanest project I've ever done. :)

Till next time... don't eat the pudding.

Another one

A turn based strategy game with card game mechanics, *sigh* I know... exciting. I've had this on the back burner for a long time and just never brought it to light. Just messing around with art some more I redid all the original 1st grader art. Not really a huge improvement, but atleast it has consistancey and everything is not just solid colors. blah blah blah here is a quick screen at the beginning of my test game.


The game board is just like that of a checkers/chess board. Each 4x4 corner is owned by one of the players. The player can play the cards in they're hand to place tokens onto the game board, but can only place tokens in their area. once on the game board each token can move once a turn, moving into an occupied space will make each token fight. The beginning of each game, each player can pick were in their area they want to place a castle. The goal being to attack the other players castles until they get destroyed.

Like everything it still isn't finished, and is missing some fundamental mechanics for attacking and using the abilities on cards. So you basically just place tokens and move them around till you're out of resources.

Till next time ... uh.. I forget.


Oh bethseda you do love putting out fun and buggy games. They definitely took alot of the good things from the fallout games when it comes to the controls. Oblivion always seemed so hard to gather/collect stuff to the point I usually only picked up things that looked worth it. I love the fact that when you enter a conversation you're not stuck in it, unless it's pertinent to the quest that you hear what they say and respond. Hell alot of the main quest especially when it's a conversation between multiple people. As they talk you basically detach from the conversation and can move around freely. Hell I didn't hear half the conversation with the alchemist in the beginning cause I took off running thinking the conversation was over. Good thing there's a journal.

12 hours in and I've barely covered 2% of the map. The land is huge, and deadly. The graphics are beautiful despite what so many complain about. The first time I went treking into the mountains and got hit by a snow storm took my breath away. I don't know maybe I'm just simple, but I love the fact that heavy rain actually makes it hard to see far away. The snow storm brought my line of sight to barely 5-7 feet. When I was attacked up there, surrounded by 3 bandits, swing my sword everywhere I could. I was just hoping to hit something. I was strafe and backing up all over the place, and then. SSSHHHHH************, backed off the frickin' cliff. At least I didn't let the bandits kill me ;) .

I have yet to try the radiant story feature out... still playing my High Elf warrior. But I can already tell the improvement from oblivion. The areas in the map are split into categories. ie dungeons, towns, forts, nests and so forth. I'm actually looking forward to my second play through. Also quests are alot more enriching, there's alot of times I head off on a quest think I've finished it, then find I'm only part way into a dungeon or fort. I decide to exlore deeper only to discover that theres a secret in the dungeon. Now I just have to go deeper and find this awesome treasure.

A quest to retrieve stolen merchandise sent me into a hideout. Inside I find out that the leader has been cocooned by a giant spider. Died four times, before I managed to kill the thing. Freeing the guy, he ran deep into the hideout which turned into a two hour spelunking deep into an ancient temple. Oh an just because thing dont become hostile right away, doesn't mean you can run up to them. Ran up to a giant ogre, and to have him to around and one shot me with his club before I could draw my sword.

The dragons are awesome and hard. Especially if you insist on fighting them in the mountains near their nest. Even a weakling one (green) whooped my level 10 before I could take half his life. My companion turned into a retard during the fight to. "What? Use a bow. Nah I'll just run circles with my mace and burn like a shiskabob", at least that's what I think she was trying to say.

Running into two wolves, I dismounted from my horse. Too my shock, the horse trampled both wolves before I could encircle him to attack. Thank you Ed, you did more than Lydia who was still running around, cause she won't draw her weapon unless I draw mine. Dumb AI, but she's a good meat shield. MMMM, meat, I'm off to have some fill-it-mig-non.

For anyone that liked the other elder scrolls, gothic, risen or fallout games. I'd definitely recommend this one. My only complaints so far is the fact that the ai's pathfinding still never takes in account the fact that you can jump. I jump across a small gap to take a shortcut, look back and realise I'm now on my own as my companion is never going to find a way to get to me, since they also don't know how to open doors.
Got another hour to work on coding.. heres a quick vid of the editor in progress. I just need to ad a couple visual ques to make color selection easier. Then load/save capabilities and a couple levels to finish the game. :)

*edit* oops forgot the video... I really was that tired.

Yeah, so only 4 and half hours to be able to sleep last nite. For the sake of not sleeping in a gain and getting yelled at for it.. I once again opted to stay up well, unfortunately I couldn't focus enough to get anything done. 36 hours later I feel like a zombie with insomnia. A quick rehash of the graphics... I'm a sucker for simple clean looks. Pretty sure I've got the collision detections close enough to perfect... though I'm sure it could be simpler and faster than the way I do it. There can be an infinite amount of balls and blocks aslong as they can fit on the screen though without optimisations it seems ~2048 blocks and 32 active balls is getting close to the limits... I hit about 24-32 FPS. I'm sure some simple spatial bounds checks to eliminate the amount of collision test done would speed things up dramatically. as for now it's doing 65,356 tests just to see if any ball collided with a block. I don't see why I couldn't bring that down to around 2000 tests... but it's not needed and I've never seen a game of Arkanoid with more than 5 balls active.

I also disabled the effect of balls dieing when they hit the bottom of the screen... as it just causes the game to exit right away. To finish it off, I cleaned a fair bit of the code, splitting it into actions(functions) for easier reading. Also to make it less likely I'll edit or place any code in the wrong place. Next just need to slap together a title screen, gameover state and a simple editor for visually designing levels.

Tomorrow is magic day, so wish me luck. Last time I got my rear end handed to me over and over again. Think I got to comfortable playing casual games and wasn't ready for half the cards I went up against. I had to revive my burn deck and revamp it to counter the stupid "no win, no loose" cards and fast control decks that were being used. So far it hasn't taken me more than 10 turns to win, and if they can't remove artifacts, I can usually take the game by turn 6.
So I pull the switch, the switch, the switch inside my head.
And I see black, black, green,and brown, brown, brown and blue, yellow, violets, red.
And suddenly a light appears inside my brain

Back to coding along with the hundred other projects going on in my life. Been several weeks if not a month or two since I've done more than tweak numbers. So I thought I'd put together a quick Day-Project. A clone of Arkanoid... or breakout as the young ones call it. No need for pimple jokes now. I hit the ground running on this one. Coded everything up to the point I'm at without creating a single asset, or even hitting the build button. Told myself not to over think it, just code the damn thing. So my fingers trembled on. An hour later I hit the build button... slapped a couple squares and a circle together in Photoshop... filled out a couple config files... setup a quick font with BMFont... and hit play. This is what came out.

Like I said its a day project, so I plan to finish it later after work. Since I usually only have 4 hours to sleep on Fridays... I tend to just not, and take a nap on Saturday. I'll see if I can't finish it within the 4 hours. Finished meaning to me that it should have a title screen, allow the player to enter their name, keep a persistent score across several levels. It must have a minimum of three levels different in they're own way, probably just by layout. The player should be able to loose and it should say they won, after the last level and show of their awesome score.

I think I'll take this project when it's done as a way to brush up on my math knowledge. As you probably notice it uses a very hackish way of detecting collisions and tends to respond on horrible unrealistic ways (it works though). I think I'll expand my vector3 class beyond being a struct with three floats, and make it more of a true vector rather than a free vector. I would like to use a more mathematically accurate way of detecting collisions, the point they happen and how an object should react to them. The big one, is detecting collision along an objects path, instead of detecting collision at the end of it's movement like I do now. That's what causes the instances were it hits more than one block or gets stuck inside the walls and blocks. It's because the ball can move so fast it can pass through a block before a collision is checked... and so on.

Hey if I can keep this high going.. I'll sit down and put some time into Kylar's Volcano since I haven't even looked at the project in a month. The engine should've been ready 3 months ago... go figure. Now atleast I know more of my limitations... just got to figure how to get over them and improve.

Also for yall intellect types that can read the books... I know ya out tur. If you like technology and the ways of the past... checkout 'Timeline' by Michael Chriton. It's a good read, I finally finished it. For someone who reads a book every five years it was a big accomplishment ;P. Now I got to buckle down and read the "Song of Fire and Ice" series (Game of Thrones quadrilogy). Having already watched the show, the books move at such a slow pace which is hard to get over when I know what is going to happen. I'm constantly thinking in the back of my head... "Oh I know he's going to die in the next episode... Just get to it already."

Music - a blast from the 90's. Just a couple bands I recently rediscovered after not hearing them in 10-15 years. Check em out;
The rentals - "Barcelona" or "The Man With Two Brains"
Meat Puppets - "Backwater"
Pixies - "Something Against You" - "Gigantic" (Yes that is what she's talking about)
Breeders - (wasn't going to mention them, but I mentioned the pixies, which was her first band)
Face to Face - "Resignation"


moist...? Messing around with the water simulation in the ecosim. Trying to get it to flow over the height map properly. I think my values are just off scale or I'm still not getting the rules right.

Currently this is the rules governing how water flows.

For each Cell;
-- if Cell water > threshold

---- if Cell height > neighbor height

------ if Cell water > neighbor water - height difference

-------- Spread water from Cell to neighbor

Basically, the cells height has to be greater or within a range of the neighbor. Then the cell must have more water that the neighbor before the cell will spread it's water.

Happy Coding


Funny how a smile can lift your spirits. I just had an idea for mixing, tower defense with card game mechanics. Kind'of a more dynamic tower defense. If you've ever played plants ves zombies, you'll know what a row based tower defense game looks like. Well imagine that turned vertical. So there is a series of columns, probably 5 or 6. At the bottom is your avatar, at the top, the avatar you're facing.

The game would be turn based. Each player would start out with a hand of cards, or tokens. Each of these tokens can be anything from, units to abilities or boosts, debuffs and the sorts. Some of these will be energy producers, and generate a small amount of energy to use each turn. Which doesn't carry over each turn and instead resets. Energy is used to play tokens.

The play area would also be a grid, probably 7-9 units tall. Allowing each player to place tokens 2-4 units deep on their own side. Each turn, if a token can move it moves the stated amount. Tokens can never land on another token, If to opposing tokens would occupy the same tile, the moving token would attack. If your unit reaches the opponents side, it deals damage to the player. The goal being to reduce the players health to 0.

[quote name='Zethariel' timestamp='1318110878']
I don't know if that counts as a TD. A TD includes towers and enemies in a lane going towards a point -- this would be more or a Tower Wars. Instead of turn based, maybe real-time? With creep cards that could travel one of the lanes/a single lane and fight oncoming monsters, with tower cards that can be placed beside the lane(s) and fire at incoming enemies. Buffs could include stuff like faster card drawing (as in, twice/trice per "tick"), making the enemy throw away one of his cards etc.

In any case, do explore the idea, it seems interesting :)

Then maybe more of a RTS-TD. I just like the idea of useing abilities and other more strategic pieces, instead of just plopping down towers and hoping for the best. Let's explore the idea of real time combat. Though that would throw out the idea of drawing from a stack of cards, I think you'd either have to have a huge stack or run out eventually.

So say the player can choose a group of tokens to use, say 10 - 15 tokens, these would randomly popup as available. The player would have a 5-7 token tray of currently available tokens. Every time one is used another takes it's spot. Choosing randomly from the token types the player selected. When a player plays a unit(creature) token it immediatly begins to move along the column it was placed in. If in range it fires upon oncoming units. If it reaches the end it damages the player it hit.

The other part of that. I wanted to make long range units seem important, so what if they were able to attack units in adjacent columns? Instead of being able to jump over units. Then abilities or boosts as I was thinking of. Would be things like, +10% attack power. Also things like "Deal 50 damage to target unit", "Gain 5 life". Could help your units do more, damage or kill enemy units to allow yours to get through.

Debuffs could be things like, "Slowed for 10 seconds", "-15% attack power".

As a theme I'm thinking more a futuristic look, tanks, helicopters mass amounts of robots and lasers.