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My public attempt at developing a Capcom/SNK style fighting game. (Since Jan 2009)

## Engine Research

I spent sometime this week checking out OGRE3D as a possible rendering engine for XB. OGRE3D looks really nice too, although I had some issues setting it up with CMake. Right now I'm mucking around with it via the prebuilt kits.

In the interim I'll most likely go through the tutorials to get a feel for how to work with it and to determine if my art pipeline fits. Depending on how my models and animations show up i'm hoping to use OGRE, I like it so far.

Outside of the search for a rendering engine, I need to find a physics engine and something for networking too.

My updates maybe a little sparse this month due to moving into my new place but I should really hit the ground running the beginning of next month.

Happy Coding...

## Digging in again.

Ok so I've decided to finally forgo all other projects, including side projects, spur of the moment projects and any other projects that I haven't thought of yet. It is starting to become readily apparent that the longer I put this (Fighting Game) project off it will never get done. Damn, I'm sooo tired of journaling about this off and on but never really putting my foot out there.

The truth is that I'm just afraid to fail at the one project that caused me to get into hobby game development in the first place. I'm stuck in a spiral of death where no matter what I venture off into I always end up back attempting this frigging fighting game. Weird how that works eh?

I'm just going to accept the fact that no matter how it turns out I just need to start developing it (committed). Time will tell if that statement was Freudian in nature insofar as alluding to my current sanity.

Anyway, below is a hacked version of the post I hung out on in the help wanted section that saw no action whatsoever, in hindsight I guess it was a good thing, this is something I need to do by myself.

Ok, here we go, no time limits, no additional pressure, just stay on track, focus and get this project done.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Project name:
XTREME BRAWLERS (2D) w/3D Elements

Brief description:

The game itself will be based off of your typical 2D style SNK/Capcom fighters as far as game play is concerned. There has been so much done in this area it's hard to come up with something original but I'm working on it. Nice to haves and areas that will be tagged as a learning experience (ala the whole project) are Networked capabilities and the implementation of an aggressive brawler type A.I. model for single player.

Technologies:
Engine - Custom 2D/3D engine (Project Specific)
Dev Environment - VS2008/ VS2010
Language - C/C plusplus & whatever scripting languages necessary
Targeted Platform - Windows(XP,VISTA,WIN 7)
API's - DirectX SDK (FEB 2010),FMOD,Raknet,ODE Physics
Graphic Suites - Photoshop, Flash, SILO, Pencil & Paper

A samples of previous works
A game I made for a contest over at GI (spent about 4 weeks on it so don't expect too much)
BOOM!

Breakout Clone

Mecha Animation

## Digging in again.

Wow! Has it really been a year and a month since I last updated my Journal (GRIN)? Guess so. Well, that can only mean one thing?I must be in the mood to great yet another (small) game. It?s also been a while since I?ve programmed anything related to gaming so I?m definitely chomping at the bit to create something. Ideas are definitely afoot!

I?m also looking forward to checking out some of the journals out here too, old and new. Just from first glance some of you guys are working on some pretty interesting projects.

Cya around.

## BOOM! Update Three

The deadline for this submission is steadlily approaching and I only have few things left to do in order to be some what satisfied. Add an implementation of a really simplistic A.I. (pattern based of course) and to revisit my collision code because something odd is happening there.

All in all this little "contest" was just what I needed to get me back in the groove. After the deadline ( 8/8/09) I will resume working on my fighting game with a more renewed energy and focus. It's good sometimes just to complete something even if it is small potatoes.

Below are some screen shots from BOOM! I took in-game with an executable download linked for those who want to test it. If you do test it out, let me know if you run into any issues. Comments, suggestions, flames all welcomed :P

Environment Requirements

* Direct X 9 ( nov 08 ) update at least
* Visual Studio 2008 C++ redistributale if you get some weird error stating that the "side by side configuration is incorrect". You can download that package from here

in-game

BOOM! Binary

## Beta...not yet.

Well the deadline for this contest over at GI is looming but I believe that there is enough time left for me to complete a decent entry. I've uploaded a video on youtube of what I had last week which can be found ">here.

Possibly sometime this weekend or early next week I'll have some sort of playable beta.

## Half the summer is about gone

I've been off the scene for quite a bit based on my last post. I've had to put engine development and my "TechDemo 1" to the side as the transition to the new company was more disruptive than I imagined. Things are still hectic but I can feel the slow down coming at work which is a good sign.

In order to get my mojo back I decided to join a game contest over at Game Institute. Deadline for the entry is Aug 8th which leaves me about 4 weeks. This past weekend I finished all the art assets and sounds for it as well. Now I'm busy working on the actual game itself. Nothing grandiose, just shooting for a space invaders clone slash Shmup hybrid.

After completing this little game demo I'll be ready to rock and get back to developing my engine for the fighting game.

I'm contemplating the idea of participating in subsequent challenges over at GI in parallel to my engine development. Possibly working on such small games would keep the art side of my brain in check.

Screen Mocks

Hoping to have a downloadable demo of sorts by end of week.

## Quick Update

Been pretty busy with "real life" stuff over the last several weeks so my game engine sat on the back burner until this past weekend. There are still quite a few features that I need to implement before I can start producing the game. Yet I'm close to having enough code written for a few tech demos fairly soon.

Like most, I have always started off and ended up developing my game projects with intermingled core and game specific code. Why is it that I never realized until now that a game engine allows the best jumping off point? A conundrum?... seems likely.

Who the heck wants to either a.) start from scratch again and again or b.) piece meal code from other projects every time you start a new game project. IMHO (b) has to be one of the many reasons game projects fail in the initial stage.

That aside, the only personal drawback is that an engine requires something to drive it so if you used to getting something up on the screen ( game specific ) pretty early, it can be kind of tough when after all your coding the engine does nothing worthwhile ... yet.

And of course I still have a list as long as my arm of features, must haves and wants to implement and I'm sure I'll never be satisfied either. The beauty of it all is that once it's coded and tested it's done and you can always expand and update the technology at any time. I'll be glad to get over that hump, trust me. As far as my planned game, I'm just focusing on what I need to drive the fighting game specific code.

On a side note but related, I finally broke down and started to use Doxygen ( yep..I'm late to the party. I know). Doxygen has been something I've wanted to take advantage of for a few years now but always put it off. After spending a couple of days with it I'm hooked and cannot see myself without it. The class hierarchy and call graphs alone are worth the minimal effort to get it up and running. It's funny how much more of an understand you get about the code that you yourself have written! This will pay dividends and serve as decent road map considering that I'm hoping to focus on just game related code for future projects based off this current engine. To be able to peruse the Doxygen generated doc versus the traditional comments will really help to re-familiarize the brain if and when I start to add to the engine again.

Before I forget ... the art work. I'm such the consummate perfectionist, this behavior is also a cross to bear as well and is causing a serious creative block ( no I'm not making excuses). It's starting to sound like broken record but sketches, ideas and semi finished game related artwork is forth coming. Really...I'm not kidding ?

Damn... the second half of the year is upon us Monday. Time is flying and I still feel like I haven't come close to accomplishing the goals set fourth for the year (Depressing).

## Right side of the brain action

Nothing gets me going more than the joy of creating CG. I can and have literally sat for hours and hours making stuff in photoshop, drawing in a sketch book, creating 3D objects all while losing track of time. As it relates to game programming, creating my own graphics helps to keep me motivated while working towards the goal of seeing my artwork and visions come to life. I'm sure this is true for most...

Today, I started to put together some of the screens for "Tech Demo 1". For the most part I'm satisfied, it's not as if I'm trying to go all out, yet. Below are some screenshots of the menu screens, etc. During the session of creating these screens I had no idea what I wanted, most of the time I usually don't. These screens took a couple of hours to conceptualize and finish.

Next steps is to start designing the only level that will be in TD1 and punching out some character sketches. To keep it simple, I'm only going to shoot for three characters max including the main character. As far as animations, I'll need to keep those down to a minimum as well. I have a tendency sometimes of wanting to do too much even when the end result is minimal.

Hopefully I'll have some character sketches before the end of the weekend....

## I found Sarah Connor

Today is officially my first day back in a little over two months as far as hobby game programming is concerned. I'm just a tad bummed because we're already a quarter into the new year and I don't have anything to quantify my time with other than the code on my hd.

It sucks sometimes how life, the economy and ones human nature can dictate so much of what you may feel and or how one reacts to those event driven emotions. At this stage I kinda feel like I'm in Dante's Inferno, Circle one "Those in limbo". Sitting here, waiting for someone to come and save my ass.

Anyway, it's time to dust of my code base which is just the early beginnings of a 3D engine that has a long way to go. The engines main purpose is to serve as a platform for a what I've decided to be a 3D fighting game.

After turning the Internet inside out, collecting as much data on fighting games imaginable. It is painfully clear that a 2D fighting game featuring the amount characters and list of necessary moves (that's the killer!) would be a futile attempt. Even so, 3D itself will be an undertaking but I feel like I at least stand a chance. What's the worse thing that could happen? (Don't answer that!).

There is another issue on the table too. Aside from the rigors and pimpage of everyday "life" there is the obstacle of recharging my motivation. Taking into account that I only have a certain amount of time to dedicate to this project each day. Factoring in my wants/feature list engine design wise, a large majority of what I want to implement fall into the category of "Um..I never implemented anything like this before". So here I am, staring at a laundry list of things of which I need to learn and books I need to read/buy/steal.

Bear with me, I'm getting to the motivation part. In order to maintain my sanity especially since I'm a highly visual person. I've decided to do a series of micro-games along the way as I'm sure my fighting game project will take at least a year+ working it alone. The micro-games will keep my artistic side happy and allow me to have something to show for my time as I work towards the main goal.

With that said, I'm looking to put together what is wittingly titled "Tech Demo 1?. Yes I know, I'm pretty clever...I even amaze myself at times :)

Tech Demo 1 is exactly what the title implies. The style of this demo will be a cross between the typical jump and run / run and shoot games. The demo will feature only one level, baddies with minimal A.I. and simple scoring.

The art work will be a cross over of anime and marvel style influenced graphics in a neo futuristic setting. There will be a simple set of play mechanics . Player has a gun, player can run, shoot, jump, duck, kill baddies and ultimately die if health is zero. The only objective is to survive the number of baddies on level one. This objective can be obtained by killing all baddies, or surviving the time limit if health is still intact.

## Hold the phone...

As it turns out I may be able to continue my hobby development using Microsoft technologies after all. It appears via the rumor mill at work that I may be pimped to another company due to a possible acquisition of our division, still not confirmed though. After further investigation of the possible suitor, it seems they are heavily into Main Frame, Device Driver, and Low Level Profiling development which is similar to what I've currently been around for the last several years.

This is actually great news for me, all I care about is being employed and taking care of my family. The bonus of course is the ability to continue on with my current engine and working with DirectX. Someone asked the other day why can't I do both, Java GDev and DX but who has the time? Definitely not me...if this works out the way I think it will, life is good and I won't even be pissed about the time lost thus far pursuing these JCerts :)

Fingers crossed!

## Two months later...WTF?

Life has a way sometimes of reminding you who's in control and most of the time...it's not you.

Looks like it will be while before I go back to C++ & DirectX game development. In order for me to stay employed, I need to re embrace that which is JAVA. This means acquiring certifications such as SCJP,SCJD,SCWCD & SCBCD in order stay competitive as well. I've already paid for three vouchers and looking to take the SCJP (or will it be OCJP?) in early June.

Truthfully, I was a little upset due to making some nice headway with my current game engine. It was refreshing to get back into working with Microsoft technologies and C++. Now, it looks like I'll have to convert everything over to JAVA 6.

As my disappointment began to fade, it dawned on me or rather I had an epiphany of sorts. Why would/should my goals change? Why couldn't I continue on and develop my fighting game engine using Java technologies? Surely there are some decent API's to choose from right? The demos games I've tried that were built with JAVA run pretty fast too. Also, I wouldn't be limited to distribution on one platform such as Windows either. (If you can tell by now I was really trying to make myself feel better).

Anyway, I've done alot of initial planning, game designing and have a decent framework. Converting the engine over to JAVA shouldnt be that difficult and at least memory management should be a little easier too.

Java game development at least for now is completly foreign to me, I need to research gaming libraries amongst other things but it's all part of the fun. Definitely new and unexplored territory. Right now I'm looking at LWJGL which seems to be the most popular API and the most stable.

This also means I go from DirectX and back to OpenGL. Luckily for me I've had a stint with OGL in the past so the leap shouldn't be that difficult. Plus, a lot of the NEHE tutorials were converted to LWJGL amongst others which is helpful too. My first goal while trying to get my head wrapped around all this will be more or less cutting my teeth on a couple of simple projects. Basically I just want to demonstrate rendering, collision, sound and possibly networking. Again, low hanging fruit objectives before I submerge myself back in.

Now you know I had to go hunting to see if there were any fighting games created in JAVA and surprisingly enough there are a few. In my travels I even found a open source project where they are porting over Mugen to JAVA...how cool is that? JMUGEN. I actually wanted to help and contribute to that project as well, It would have helped to give me some insight of how things are done on that side with LWJGL. Check out the youTube vid..."Click the picture".

">

Until I consider myself officially ready to restart my fighting game project I'm going to suspend development on my engine temporarily. Hopefully this will only be for the summer months. What I will do is continue to create content, no code related things for it though as I work on a couple smaller projects as mentioned above in an effort to get more acclimated with JAVA Game Development.

ciao'

## Liquid Crack? ...Yessir!

That little 5 hour energy drink is legal dope...right?

Over the last week or so I've been struggling trying to get "started" especially after work. I'm usually beyond tired, but yesterday I chugged one of those 5 hour energy bottles and after a few minutes I was in a groove, looked up and four hours quietly slipped by and I was still at it. All I gotta say about 5 hour is this, if you really have the inner desire to get some stuff done but are too damn tired to pull it together, stop by your local crack spot (7 Eleven) and get right LOL.

Disclaimer* "I am not a crackhead"

Anyway, I know I ranted a bit yesterday or was that the day before? About reading that data structures and algorithms book and it's use of SDL. Well, I've decided that I really have no interest whatsoever in learning SDL just to get through a book. I figured the best thing for me to do and would probably make the subject matter stick is just convert everything over to DirectX. The subject matter requires a certain level of focus (especially for me) without adding the overhead of reverse engineering another API no matter "how simple".

So...this morning, still pumped from the 5 hour energy drink (placebo effect) I found myself thinking about how to handle character animations and varying speeds in-game. When you fight it's never really at one particular speed and the action is not always constant. Some moves are faster than others and normal movements are just relatively slower than lets say an attack move.

Now, I know that you can control the speed of animations based on how many frames you add or remove but that is more relevant when working on a film whereas in a game too many frames for a move isnt that desirable (depending on the genre).

Further down the rabbit hole I go, still need to think about what I actually want and how to accomplish this. (More research needed)

Now to get my head wrapped around this little dilemma and because I was itching to code something, I whipped up a little demo. This simple framework features a character sprite (Cyclops from X-men) walk cycle. I'll definitely be doing a lot more tests like this as I continue to plan out my engine.

Speaking about sprites, thank God for these Mugen Character and Background packs. They will do nicely, until I start punching out my own artwork.

Below is a quick screen shot from the demo I created today. You can check out the YouTube video by click on the image if you like.

Ciao

">

## SDL Detour

I've always wanted to increase my knowledge of data structures and algorithms. As I begin to plan out the game engine and it's internal systems. The topic of data structures have been heavy on my mind. So I'm pulling out my book from Ron Penton circa 2004, the one which I had always planned to read.

Skimming through the book it appears I'll have to learn a little SDL to develop and augment the samples. I really don't feel like learning SDL but it seems pretty straight forward.

Anyway, as far as my game goes, I have a lot of ideas for the combo systems, artificial intelligence implementations and game modes. Each of which could have a serious impact on game performance if done poorly or haphazardly. I really want to take my time and build this game byte by byte the right way the first time or at least come close. I'd really hate to spend all that time on quality graphics, animation and sound just to have a game that performs poorly.

Plus, as I increase my knowledge in this area, it will make me sound "smarter" when spewing techno babble related to my ideas and their proposed implementations all over you.

Cheers :)

## Reseach Continues

I'm still on the scene at least for now. Things got a little hairy at work with employee reduction for the third time in four months. Those of us who are left are holding out hope we can make it to the 1st quarter. Under these kind of conditions it's been pretty hard to focus on game development at all.

Last time I spoke on this project I was looking into the art direction. Being a hold over from the good ole day's and heavily influenced by Street fighter and Capcom verses Marvel. I really wanted to go all pixel art with the graphics but honestly, who the hell am I kidding? I'd never finish the game. Plus, I'm not the greatest pixel artist either but in my researching I found some really nice tutorials to share just incase your interested.

Derek YU - Perfect for what I wanted
Drububu - Amazing stuff
Mark's Pixel Art Tutorial

So after a reality check I realized that I'm not going to do pixel art, nor am I going to create 3D characters either. 3D characters would have been cool, but again not enough time (modeling, rigging, animating, texturing and lighting). Now I might model two of the main characters and do 30-sec to 1 minute FMV clip for an intro or something but dont hold your breath.

Where does this leave me? Handdrawing each frame and inking and painting in photoshop, still time consuming but faster than the aformentioned alternatives for a one man crew.

Outside of the art work, I want to do something that I've never done before in order to maintain my motivation for the project. I want to learn some multiplayer programming so the game can be played over the Internet with results posted to a server. I'm sure there are some sdk's out there which would make this easier but I'm interested in learning the technology behind the subject.

Before I forget, my division at work is ramping up to support Visual Studio 10, Windows 7, multicore processor programming and 64 bit development. Busy during the day I will be for sure while hoping it does not spill into my free time. I truly wonder how much of the game will be completed come end of year. An optimist would say, it will be interesting to see how much of what is learned on the job tranlates to my game project.

Anyway, character sketches are forth coming...really.

Later.

## I'm back....well kinda

Almost a week to the day but I'm back in action. As luck would have it, my motherboard was the cause of all my problems. One of the slots for the memory went bad which means until the board is replaced next week. I'm down to 2 gigs of ram instead of 4 which is a small price to pay for my sanity. Whatever, I'm just glad to be using my rig again.

This past Friday night after working with Dell Tech Support, I spent the majority of my time installing software into the late night hours. Man, talk about a suck beginning to 09 so far. It can only get better I'm sure. God willing, knock on wood while throwing salt over my shoulder, no more personal disasters please.

Anyway, I've been thinking about the engine requirements for this fighting game project and how much reusable code I have access to from current 2D projects. On the surface it doesn't really look like I have much which means I will probably be writing this from the ground up while basing it on the feature set of the game, which has not been hammered out yet. Honestly, I'm quite a ways out before I actually start writing any serious code for this especially with much research still left to do.

I also have not locked down in my mind what I really want out of this game yet. Meaning, I need to figure out the style, game play, fighting system, character abilities, game modes, etc, etc. While at the same time keeping in mind that simple is my friend. Taking the time to thoroughly plan this out will make designing the engine and coding the game play much easier I'm sure. It's just a matter of doing the due diligence, setting realistic goals and creating solid documentation even though it's only me.

So where to begin? What to work on next? Well, I need to start putting together a list of fighting games that I need study and invest a considerable amount of time into that. Sure, I've played fighting games for years, who hasn't? Now, I actually need to study them. I also, need to level set some objectives before studying which will allow for better notes during these sessions. I'm sure I'll talk more about my findings and what I took away from the games that I studied.

Off the top of my head I'll definitely be looking for what is appealing to me, what I would want to try to implement, add, change or improve upon so I don't end up with a clone (as if I'm that good LOL). Yet try to stay as close to what makes fighting games enjoyable or at least what I consider enjoyable.

The development of the artwork although fun will be just as an undertaking as developing the game. For me at least, this will be even more challenging because I'm such a perfectionist (so I've been told) and I will go through tons of revisions before settling on what I like, even if in reality it looks good. I'm one of those programmers that enjoy creating mock screens in order to get a vision of the game early; this usually motivates me a lot and keeps me coding.

Once I lock down the style of the game, I'll need to write some kind of back story. Back stories no matter what the project allows for me to tap into my creative side and come up with artwork to fit my minds eye. The initial concept art usually contradicts this in my case and only proves that my minds eye needs a corrective lens...regardless, I enjoy muddling through it until something I like appears on paper or on screen.

As I embark on this journey, half of me wishes that I had some broad and experienced shoulders to stand on. This would allow me to see how far up the road I have to go and the best routes therein to take. But this is not the case, and I really have no idea and no clue how long or what will be the right or wrong way of doing things.

I'm sure my analytical and problem solving skills will be challenged but when was that never a good thing?

## ...Still no resolution

The frustration continues...

So last night I get my new hd and I install it with all the joy that comes with being optimistic. I mean hell, what could go wrong?

Unbelievable, the same friggin problem! So here I am almost down six days and I have not gotten a resolution yet. Luckily for the Support team I am sick with a cold atm so who knows how much I might have gotten done this week anyway.

To make a long rant short because I could rant for pages about the wasted hours on the phone regarding this $hit. Dell is supposed to send me out a friggin resource DVD that will reinstall the image that was um supposed to be on the damn hd already. Luckily I have a notebook to use at home to continue research for my game but I really prefer using my desktop. I cant wait until this is finally resolved. ## Going in reverse I must be on to something big because as fate would have it, my rig is now sidelined until Tuesday. Friday night and part of Saturday morning I spent a considerable amount of time researching my fighting game project. Then later in the day on Saturday... poof system started locking up and it was all down hill from there. My current rig is the DELL XPS 420. Machine looks nice but deep down I suspect that XPS stands for Xtreme Piece of$hit. Since I've owned this machine there has been problems with it. The friggin ATI card constantly crashes on Vista and ATI keeps blaming Microsoft for it.

Anyway, to make a long story short I could no longer login to my box. I could get to the login screen but only to face a locked system. I tried everything from system tests to reinstalling the OS. The end result was always the same which is a locked/hung OS. Which only seemed to work in safe mode.

After being totally frustrated I decided to call DELL. To my surprise I had an option. Talk to a foreign English is not my first language rep or spend $150 to speak to a North American rep. I opted for choice one until I could not take it anymore. For my$150 I got a guy who basically said "Hey, you seemed pretty smart and did all the trouble shooting already. Verify your address and we will send you out a new hd." WTF?

So I spent a bill fifty to have a guy who obviously had the authority to authorize a new peripheral being shipped out. Sweet? Not. This will be my last DELL and from here on out I'll build my own rigs to suit my needs.

Thank God that I at least back up all my \$hit on removable hard drives or I would be really pissed right now.

So what was the problem really? According to DELL there may be a bad sector on the HD which is preventing the login. I actually agree with this but to me the video card here is the 800lb gorilla in the room everyone is ignoring. As much as the system crashes due to the vid card, I'm sure it had a hand in corrupting the HD.

R&D of course will be short to non existent this week as I try to get my lab back on line....stay tuned.

## A Defined Project for "09" and beyond

I spent some time really thinking about "my time" as it relates to what I can do and want to do this year. When you work a demanding day job you don't have as many hours as you think you do for hobbies. So planning for several projects within a years period is just not plausible for me. Too difficult to stay on track too much of a let down when nothing is completed.

Over the past year or so I've been working on a 2D/3D engine and trying to pull off a side scroller during that process. Truth be told, I don't mind attempting the side scroller (God knows it should be done already). Regardless, the game is not finished because it simply is boring me on all levels. Plus, I was always thinking about working on something else while attempting to work on it.

This leads into what I have always been interested in, developing a fighting game. I've had the source to games like SFRIBM Street Fighter and Moah's KOF source for ever. Dabbled with Mugen and the like and for years wanted to but never really attempted to develop my own....um, well I did try a Serious Sam TC Mod back in 01 (Don't ask).

I figure that I've also downloaded and studied every available animated fighter sprite on the known internet. Not to mention that I probably own and have played all known, unknown and obscure fighting games available to the living.

With that said, this year I'm going to start down the path of research and development for a fighter and see where I end up. This is one of my favorite game genres and something I enjoy playing which should translate into much fun "trying" to develop one.

In the past I've been going with the sheepish flow...I "thought" I wanted to attempt a first person shooter, a SHMUP, (insert next thing here multiple times)...at the end of the day I was only betraying myself. FWIW, I know a lot about how to go about making such kind of games so I tell myself but again....interest wains, progress dies and after awhile your back to square one with nothing to show for your time.

By attempting this fighting game I know all too well the uphill battle that awaits me and I'm OK with that. Many have attempted to create a fighter from scratch...only a small few have been successful imho. Luckily for me that doesn't matter as I have a feeling it's going to be more about the journey than the destination. Don't get me wrong, I want to finish the game but I'll have a blast regardless. Plus, considering the limited amount of time I have, I might as well devote it to something I'm going to want to sit down and do when time permits.

Anyway, my goals are modest at best and I plan to keep it simple. Truthfully, I really have no idea what will happen, nor the faintest ideas of where to start. In a weird way this is pretty intriguing and exciting because it means I'll have to do a lot of research. My interest should remain high as I delve more into my favorite genre.

Next to figuring out how to go about developing the engine for this and the type of data structures and algorithms I will need. I'm probably most excited about the art work and developing the character animations...that will be something to see.

Another plus is this being the beginning of a new year. How much can I accomplish in a year in my spare time? Time will tell.

But you gotta love this journal though. No matter what happens, I'll be able to record all my research, ideas, links and files in one location (Just in case I stop and start over again in a year or two hahaha..J/K.)

Now I kind of feel like my journal finally has it's raison d'etre or at least justification for all those charges on my credit card!

Should be fun though. Stay tuned.

....Oh did I not mention?....but of course. The game will be 2D :)

## Begin again

Well 2008 is gone, in the wind...yesterdays..um last weeks news and my last journal entry was back in September.

Fresh start? Of course. Same goals though.

Anyway, I'm looking forward getting back into the groove and finishing off my side scroller project that has eluded me since the beginning of 08. I'd also like to try my hand at a small scale version fighting game this year too with sort of a rock, paper, scissors AI to keep things really simple. But hey, first things first which is the rekindling of my side scroller project.

Thank God for this journal and my ramblings....at least for me, I can consider them good notes and a jumping off point everytime I veer off the path :)

All was not lost since I have been away. I actually learned 32-bit assembler and now in the process of learning 64 bit assembler using Masm64. Work related of course but the good thing is that my crash dump debugging skills are getting better. I'm sure it will come in handy when I start testing my engine and yes it crashes more than I would like sometimes.

Hope everyone had a great holiday and happy new year. Happy posting!

## ..still in the starting blocks

Lo all.

I've spent sometime watching and playing more 2D side scrollers. I've always loved the stuff by Behemoth (Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers). Another notable mention is Viewtiful Joe although one could consider that 3D.

Also, downloaded tons of game play vids from the net in an effort to basically study implemented techniques and game play. The act of studying game play footage is pretty revealing when your trying to find things you necessarily wouldn't have discovered if you were playing that game.

Here's an example...

I was watching an Alien Hominid clip to study how they implemented parallax scrolling. Foot note, found it amusing how a number of people just say "Oh it's easy, implement it like x" (Googled forum replies on the subject). Truthfully, or should I say conceptually, it's not that difficult to pull off but it appears the Devil is in the details if you want it look good.

Ok back to the example. On one of the levels for Alien Hominid, depending on what was going on on the screen at the time, none of the background layers moved. Typically, but not always, when a characters moves one way the backgrounds would move the opposite way at their designated speeds. Well in this case the game play seems to box you in if you will to a set of fixed x/y coords, basically freezing the screen boundaries. During this time period you fight all the the enemey's within confined screen space while running, jumping etc. Regardless of your movements left or right, up or down there is no parallax effect or even character layer level movement. Only after you have satisfied the game logic conditions to move forward and you actually begin to move does the parallax begin to kick back in. I actually thought this was a really cool effect and may have not noticed it while casually playing. Just makes you realize how creative one can be with this stuff.

Anyway, my goal right now is to get my engine to the point where I can put together a proof of concept. I'll need to be able to demonstrate a few things though.

My current engine is missing functionality for...

1. Layered backgrounds
2. Parallax scrolling
3. Vertical Scrolling
4. Character Animations
5. Animated Tiles
6. Character Jumping
7. Simplified AI routine(s) for at least one enemy.
8. Whatever else I forgot

I figure once the above is implemented and I pull off a proof of concept of the type of game I'd like to make. One could argue that I'd be in a better position to create the design doc for the game.

By the way, finally got my Visual Assist issue worked out. I got a key :)
Strange thing though, every now and then I can't compile my work, it just hangs. Did some Google searches and it seems like something fishy is going on with VS2008...tell me it aint so.

R & D continues...

## Tomato on my face

This weekend I installed Visual Assist X not realizing that my license had expired. After the the uninstall it appears that my intellisense stopped working. Ended up searching Google high and low but nothing I found helped. Out of frustration I tried writing some code with intellisense and that was pure torture. It's bad enough that I didn't have Visual Assist. I've been using VA so long that I forgot what it was like without it let alone intelli. Needless to say I'm in hell right about now.

Finally, I broke down and accepted the fact that I'm being pimped by Whole Tomato. Hell, I don't know if their tool breaks the intellisense on purpose (kidding obviously) but I cant live like this. Now I'm impatiently waiting on my renewal key.

On the flip side, I've been trying to come up with some ideas for this side scroller. The best thing I've done so far was actually play quite a few. I'm still leaning towards hand drawing just about everything and taking it into photoshop. Right now, I'm not sure how much 3D if any I will add graphically.

Have not even begun to flesh out the outline for my design document yet. Giving myself until Sunday to get it done was unrealistic because I'm still not sure of the game type yet. Plus, I would like to get something up on the screen before I nail down any specifics.

Hopefully soon I will have something to show even if it's not the end product. Pictures and vids beat text any day of the week (sometimes).

## Research...

I find my self dead smack at square one...weird. I'm so used to someone handing me a set of business requirements or design specs that I actually froze for a second at my keyboard.

Damn, square one is square one. Idea, concept, visualized reality in one's minds eye, etc, etc. (Deep breath) Ok, so after I figured out where/how I wanted/needed to start, things begin to slowly fall into place.

Research.

I checked out some Power Point slides from the Game Dev Conference of 2004 "An anatomy of a 2D Side Scroller" by Luis Barriga Some decent stuff there. Kinda, wished there was some audio for it.

Probably going to have to spend a few days pondering before committing to the type of platformer I want to create. Battle style (Double Dragon), Traditional (Mario), Run Jump and Shoot (Earth Worm Jim), etc. I'm kinda leaning towards a hybrid, battle system mixed with the game play of EWJ. Still trying to keep it kinda a simple but with enough depth to where I'll want to play it more than once.

Another issue is graphics. 2D or 3D?? or mixed? I could actually draw the characters for the game and animate them. This would take some time depending on the anim states for the character. On the flip side, 3D can take just as long. From modeling to rigging, texturing, animating and rendering. Time is still a factor...

For some odd reason I think I can pull things off faster in 2D...dunno why.

Once I settle on the style of game play I'm after I need to nail down a design document. Funnily enough when I gave the breakout a go without a design doc I found myself wanting to add more stuff. The problem was that I never felt like I was finished because I never defined what finished was.

If I can have the design doc finished by Sunday night I'll feel pretty good about where I'm going. Realistically, considering all the things I'm thinking about including in the game. I'd be happy with a working demo by xmas and finishing up the game early next year.

Time will tell.

## Race to the end of the year

Well, so much for the "EPIC" side scroller that was supposed to have been created this summer (circa February 2008) LOL.

But hey, I just cant let 2008 go by and only have finished a measly Breakout Clone...seriously...could I?. Jeez...I could...

I refuse...so this leaves me with about three and a half months to get a little one or two level side scroller done...NO SWEAT!! :) (3 - 4 hours a night after work and little time on the weekends)

Truthfully, I haven't even looked at the code for the engine which I started on late last winter. But, getting back into that groove should be a piece of cake. The biggest hurdle in front of me right now especially with this short window of beating a December 31st deadline is mainly graphics. I need to have the graphics and char/sprite animations wrapped up fairly quickly. (Doubt it though)

If you remember my last project I kept tweaking and changing the graphics. Depending on what I want included in this side scroller I'm sure I'll be redoing a lot.

So, here we go again, one more run at another little game demo that I can post out on the GD Showcase. Heck, for my money, I need to take full advantage of membership here at GDEV :)

Anyway, it's good to be coming back to Journal Land again. I plan to stop by and check out what everyone has been up to. I'll also be sure to leave comments as usual or just say hey. And you know I'll be back to posting almost everyday until the end of the cycle :)

Hope the people who end up cruising my journal get a kick out of some of the crazy graphics I'm going to create for this game. I'm truly looking to do some silly/crazy/fun but "simple" stuff.

By the way...looks like I wont be doing XNA. My day job deals with low level debugging software which constitutes ASM/C/C++ and I honestly don't have the cycles to become fluent in C# (3.0)...yet. So I'll be sticking with the industry standard (ANSI C++) and my favorite graphics api(Direct X).

Cheers,

## The Sleeper Awakens

5 Months since my last post...wow.

Well, I definitely don't have enough room to fill you in on what the heck that has been going on so let's just say I've been pretty busy.

Anyway, it's good to be back...I miss this place and I miss game programming too. This time around I'm trying my hand at C# and XNA. For the longest time I didn't want to drink the kool-aid. I've been a staunch supporter of C++ & DX since XNA's debut. But honestly, I'm being ignorant because personally I cant come up with a legit reason for why I shouldnt look at it.

So I'm going to approach this from the very beginning just like a noob and see where I end up at. On another note I haven't dabbled in C# since 2001 and am shocked at all of the changes. The 2008 version running under .NET 3.5 is a totally different beast.

Looks like the next couple of months is going to be a grind...should be fun though :)

No matter how far from Java I run, it's always there. The phrase write once run everywhere appears to mean the following. Write once, and no matter where "I" run...it will find me because who else will fix it? (Rant over...don't ask)

Well, it's been a minute since I've looked over my code after the release of my BreakOut Clone. Which I might add has had 98 downloads and counting...and...no complaints. Honestly, I didn't even expect anyone to download it at all :)

Although, it is really cool to know that someone ran your (game) because they were genuinely interested. Oh, and that your time well spent didn't crash their system. Well, I'm hoping at least it didnt.

But now it's time to move on to bigger pastures which means moving starting the next project. A quasi killer side scroller of epic proportions. Yessir, I am trying to push the envelope this time around like never before. It is definitely going to be a challenge this time around(sarcasm).

Anyway, this is all a part of the plan (grin). Hmmm, I wonder how fast I can crank this baby out. There is already a code base to run with and all I need is time but what else is new? Not to mention, create new graphics, sounds and an actual game doc. bleh...

Stay tuned...this very well may be the start of Mario meets GTA. You never know!