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About this blog

Sprawling text for ocular consumption written by a hobbyist game developer.

Entries in this blog

 

I heart the new style

Dear Admins,

Please don't give into the haters. This new scheme is much more professional and trendy than it used to be.

Dark and bland color schemes are not professional looking, and they are not attractive. By increasing the visual standard of this website you have also increased its appearance to those that visit here, and its position among the game development community.

Dark color schemes do not reflect the majority of the games produced by the community on this site. Granted there are games that are made by community members here that enjoyed the dark color scheme to reflect the dull and muted colors of their game. Well those games generally don't seem to be gaining much interest anyway (case in point a recent popular commercial release which has made very little proft).

Game design isn't just about game programming. Just because the color scheme of the website doesn't match the lighting scheme of the parents' basements that some community members reside in, that doesn't mean its inherintly bad. We all know programmers are often lulled into a comfort zone and are generally unwilling to accept change. Some times they just need to be shaken up.

So yes, I approve of the new layout.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Added meshes

Added some meshes to the game's alpha version. The larger meshes represent computer systems on the network the player is invading and the smaller meshes represent actual files on the network. The blue square is just the "picked" tile that the mouse picking ray has found.



I'm pretty happy overall. I just wish MS would release VS.NET 2k5 real soon so I can really get down and dirty. Sharpdevelop just doesn't cut it for me as an IDE.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

First!

Well, I just figured I'd drop a post, as I've just completed my first full game. I've uploaded it to the showcase, in case anyone is actually reading this and wants to check it out. I wish I had more time to write a full entry, but with finals in full swing and graduation right around the corner, I'm going to have to cut it short. I've got some ideas brainstorming for my next project, and I hope to be writing a design document soon. Until next time kiddies,

Ether

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Today I made something beautiful

The following is an IN GAME RENDERED SCREENSHOT! (wewt).


Basically what you are seeing is a test level randomly generated. Below the tile mapped spaces are two layers: one has those crazy words/symbols and the other is the cloud layer. I also added some alpha blending into the tiles and symbol layer for a really "dream-like" appearance. Let's just hope my artist doesn't flip. The neat-O thing you can't see is that the cloud and symbol layers are scrolling independently of one another.

I know it's a relatively simple thing, but I'm pretty proud that I was able to accomplish what I set out to do for once, and solve all my problems on my own along the way. Can't wait to add some models to this sucker!

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

More Concept Art

Just some basic concept art for what the boards look on the overworld and combat areas of the game.
Overworld Map view

and this is a theoretical combat board:

All the pics above are provided by my artist Kelsey Doherty and are his property.

I'm currently working on a font engine and I'll have some some screens when its done.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Just an update.

As you can see I've got the main title screen up and running. I've also laid the ground work for the game's states. Things are a lot more cleaner this time around than in the original game, and I am pretty happy of how smooth things are going. I have also added a fade-to-white fader instead of my old fade-to-black fader. The artist and I thought it might fit the game's color scheme better, and I am really liking its overall effect and a trasition mechanic.

Certain things are a little rocky though, as I am using both textured quads and sprites. Occlusion has become an issue at times. But we press on. My only regret right now is not spending the amount of time that I should. Especially since I've been having thoughts of starting a new side project.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Quick one

Just a quick update to keep myself in the posting habit. Work on Tuss Toss is continuing, at a slightly slower pace while some graphics content is being produced.

Meanwhile I've started a small side project. Basically its a system that procedurally generates NPC's through the use of evolutionary and genetic algorithms. I'm naming the system "MEGEA" for Massive Entity Generation with Evolutionary Algorithms, at least for now. Code is being written in C++ with a strong emphasis on Object Oriented programming concepts. I will include a small graphical harness/game with the project is complete. I plan on using OpenGL for renedering and hope to make Linux/MacOS variants along with a Win32 release.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

There comes a time...

There comes a time in just about every game programmer's life when they decide that they will take on a task which is generally only tackled by the insane, the stupid or the brilliant. Because I feel like I fall into all three of these categories, it is a natural progression for me to take on this task. No, I do not mean making an MMORPG...I'm talking about rolling my own engine.

There's always two sides to the debate as to whether or not a hobbyist or indie should ever bother with such a task, but I am going for it. I feel like I could learn a lot in the success and failure. The end result would give me a piece of software that I could reuse for rapid development. Of course, I also have a game in mind with which to use the engine, if I didn't I wouldn't even bother.

I've dubbed it "Machina Ex Machinis" (MxM for short) or "The Machine from Machines" because Latin makes everything sound a lot higher on the coolness scale. Current features include the following:

-Completely modular Object Oriented design.
-Written in the C# language.
-Cross Platform (thanks to Mono and Tao, Windows version may use MDX).
-Primarily 2D engine, will contain support for 3D rendering features.
-Highly scaleable through a modular design to promote a longer shelf-life.

Right now I am unsure as to whether or not I plan on making it open-source. I most likely will. As you can see I have a lot of details ahead, so now I'm working on the planning and design side of things. Hopefully more frequent journal updates will follow.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Good stuff

I ordered the parts for my new coputer, and they should be here on Thursday, which is pretty sweet. However I would like to share with you the first image for Project: Delphi. Check it out:


Etherstar

Etherstar

 

K.I.S.S. is GOOD.

Once again like I predicted my implementation of the Effect class was waaaay overblown than necessary. I've trimmed it down to only cover status effects. Most bruntal damage dealing will be done by the actual "programs" (spells) that I'll implement later. Keep it simple, stupid.

I've also ordered my laptop. Went with the Dell Inspiron 6000D and I think I'll be happy with it.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Since I haven't provided any content, check out the following music snippet from Project: Delphi's soundtrack


Etherstar

Etherstar

 

The Sucks Strike Back

I can now draw blocks again, so nearly everything rendering wise is back to normal. Here's a shot:


Next (and the final part of the first phase) is to draw the tusses animating in their burst effect.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Know thy enemy.

The ASP or Automated Security Program is the most common of network securities. It is both versatile and ruthless in its hunt to expell network intruders.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Untitled

I've finished the story/script for Project: Delphi. I have a short version of the script you can read at Here. Most likely all of the information kept in there will be in the shareware demo version of the game. Feel free to read an comment on what's in there.

Next up is to flesh out game mechanics.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Groundhog day!

......and six more weeks of winter.

I hate the cold.

Lately I've just been working on assembling and organizing the development team for my project. Right now I've only got me (programmer), and artist, and a music guy. I'm hoping to increase those numbers soon though.

Other things I'm working on, is hammering out the details of the game's story. Hopefully that will be done in a couple of weeks.


...I hate groundhogs.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Notebook

I'm looking to get a notebook that I can do school programming and game programming on. It's gotta be able to run the game's I'm programming so I'll need a halfway decent video solutionl Anyone out there got any suggestions? I'm going as cheap as possible, and HP's laptops with ATI Radeon Mobility 200m might be the way I go.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

I need to learn Java

So I restart school come September to get my B.A. in comp sci from URI to go along with my English degree. In order to complete this degree in 3 semesters I have to take a begenning and intermediate programming comcepts class at the same time. The language being used is Java (sigh). My work in C# convinced the department head that I had a chance in hell of pulling this off, mainly because he feels Java and C# are similar, and they share the concepts that are being taught in the advanced class. So when I'm making hello world in one class, I'll be designing a linked list in the other with the same language. The department head wasted no time telling me how he has little confidence that I will make it past this semester. I think he underestimates my programming chops. Needless to say I need to get the Java syntax down before heading back to school. Something I have no time for, but shouldn't be too difficult.

Delphi has been going at a decent pace lately. We've recruited a new artist who is working for a professional game studio in Washington. He's an old friend from the town I live in and I'm looking forward to working with him.

Basic things I'm working on now are the renderer and game entities. Hopefully I'll get some more visual stuff for people to take a look at soon. Peace.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Particles

I've employed particles into Tuss Toss v1.1, and I'm pretty happy with them. There are two types. The first is a "streak" which occurs when the player uses the quickdrop button (also a newly implemented function). Check it out:



The other kind is a droplet, which is created when a block explodes. The droplest match the color of the corresponding block destroyed. Here's a closeup shot:



In other random news, I'm now working at my summer job on campus as an apprentice desktop technician. Also, I was recently met with a couple faculty members at my local community college. They were looking for some one to possibly teach a course in game programming and apparently my boss at my current college gave them my name. They are trying to work out the logistics right now, and if they manage to get the approval, they assured me that I would be the one teaching it. Sounds like a good opportunity so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Musings

I haven't updated in a while because I took a couple days to step away from the project. I've been contemplating where I've been and how I got to this point in my indie development path. I started learning C++ only 2 and a half years ago. It's kind of hard to believe all thats happened occured in that time, and how I've grown. I've become a good programmer, not great but certainly good. I've become a good game designer, and an adequate team leader. These are two things I am trying diligently to become better at. My knowledge grows everyday and I know that I have a long way to go still. However, I really have come a long ways from the day when I was scripting a mod for Neverwinter Nights and said to myself: "I don't really want to make mods, I want to make games, and beautiful ones."

Since then though there is one thing that I haven't been able to shake, and its the lack of interest in my team's first graphical game Tuss Toss. It currently has a measly 53 downloads on the GDNet showcase. It really is a good game. I know it has its flaws and I am doing the best I can to learn from them. The game is completely full featured. You'll be hard pressed to find a more vivid and lively color scheme and high quality 2d art. It has great sound and music. Cool custom level design and an endless free play mode. The gameplay is simple yet addictive. Is it fun? I thought so, and so did a lot of people. Not everyone did though, and there were some pretty glaring shortcomings.

My first review on the showcase was not a good one. The reviewer is entitled to his opinions and I truly believe they meant well. However I really think it stopped a lot of people from trying the game out. I ask myself constantly how I could have prevented that review, and I know one simple way: by speeding up the gameplay.

How could I have done this? A couple ways come to mind. I could add an autodrop button as suggested. It would do wonders to speed up the game, and assist the player. Having to wait for a block that you don't need to land is boring and dumb. Another thing I could do is go back and tweak some of the levels. A couple of them were just plain tedious and could be redone. One that I made personally was from world one where I made the level appear like the Suck's world these were from. Waiting to get that many blue tusses is just awful. Speeding up the gameplay in these ways also favors the player, which makes the game easier and more enjoyable. A block drop game isn't a brain buster, it's a test of quick wits and reflexes.

I really don't want to turn this entry into a post mortem, but suffice it to say all these thoughts have brought me to a single question. Should I try to fix Tuss Toss? Is it worth it? I know what gameplay decisions I would change, but what also would I do? I've been toying around with the idea of even rewriting it in java and a different graphics API to make it incredibly portable. I've even thought about rewriting it to run only in a window. The one thing that stops me from doing these things is this question: Is it worth the effort to try and rebuild this game the way it should be, or should I cut my losses, acknowledge my mistakes and learn from them by not repeating them in my future (and current) projects?

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

So yeah...

I want to start a side project (which will end up being my main project). I am stuck with the age old developer question: "What Language and API do I want to use?"

Details regarding the project:
1) It will use a 3D perspective.
2) I may plan to sell it, or at least make it commercial quality.
3) This will be a main portfolio piece, showcasing my best work as a designer and developer.
4) I would like to complete it in a year.

Things about me:
1) I am proficient with C/C++, C#, and Java.
2) I like object oriented programming.
3) I am confortable with Managed DirectX, I have used a moderate amount of unmanaged DirectX. I have never used OpenGL.

Gut Feelings:
1) I would like to port the game to other OS platforms if possible, but finishing the project on time is more important.
2) I have had some recent disappointing realizations of Vista, and have recently started using Linux (but still mostly Windows), thus spurring some desire to learn and use OpenGL.
3) Being infatuated with OO programming, OpenGL's syntax is a little "ugly" to me.
4) I love C#, but I have desires to port my work, and since most professional studio jobs I see require a display of C++ skills, this makes me want to use C++.

Any suggestions are welcome...please. I'm looking for some divine inspiration here! [lol]

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Objects, objects everywhere!

So yeah, still working on creating my entity objects and their associated data and functions. Holy crap, I never realized how many classes, structs, and enum's I would need to pull this off. Since this is my first time writing something this big...and first time using a pure OO language I'm questioning my program designs desicions at every turn.

I thought OO was supposed to make things easy :-p

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

Sooooo I got lost today.

Today at work I got horribly lost trying to pick up product for a customer. The supplier that I was getting then material from was in a town called Podunk...I found this midly humerous as I was in an angered state from being lost. So after 5 hours on the road today the morale of the story is this: "Retail sucks, get your damn degree in comp sci so you don't have to sell rocks anymore."

In Delphi news I am currnetly programming an Effects class. This class is slightly complicated and will be used to apply any type of offensive or defensive effect. From dealing a simple amount of damage to creating graduated attribute buffs, this class is going to describe it all. No doubt this will take me a considerable amount of time to implement right, only to find that I've done it all wrong.

Yes, I sell rocks.

Etherstar

Etherstar

 

No no, I'm awesome.

So I'm wondering why Tuss Toss fps drops by about ten frames when there's around 100 or so particles on screen. I found it quite perplexing, so I decide to add some profiling code to find out the problem. Lo and behold I discover this wonderous line of code that I must have put in my infinite wisdom of a late night coding session:


// Stall for timing.
System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(30);



Yep, way to test how long it took you to render the whole frame, dumbass. WTF you can't get 300fps in debug mode?!

Seriously though, I'm awesome.

Etherstar

Etherstar

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