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I'm Back...

Yo Everyone

It's been about 8 months since I last updated this thing. A lot has happened since then. I'm at university now at the University of Cape Town studying mainly Maths and Physics, although with one of my electives I'm doing a couple of Computer Science. The traditional computer science course is Java, but this year their running a first semester only, test course on Python for all those familiar with Java.

Things have been going well, although some of the lecturers are completely hopeless at explaining things. Especially in our Modelling course where we have to learn to model in Matlab. The only problem is that he goes too fast for people who have never used a computer before or have had very little experience(of which there are quite a lot, probably the majority) and too slow for anyone who has programmed in anything before. He also spents ages on things that are intuitive and everyone grasps and then goes on to glance over really difficult things. *sigh* Oh well.

Our second term project for Python was very interesting. It was a Battleships game. It was split up into three parts: the server, the client and the AI client. Doing each was an 'experience' to say the least. At the end we had a tournament of our AI's. I came 8th out 10 contestants. The main 'thing' about my AI was not its AI abilities, but rather it's ability to have pluggable AI using dynamic importing. By the way, to anyone thinking of doing 3D graphics in Python: DO NOT USE THE VISUAL MODULE. It's hopelessly slow and the GUI is buggy and isn't very good for building UI's on top of it.

It's near the end of the first semester so we're currently in the middle of mid-year exams. I've only got two more left to write as of writing this. After that I'll have 6 weeks of free time. I plan on taking a small trip for a few days to a game reserve or safari or something. I also plan on doing work on my 4E5 entry. That's right I'm entering the 4E5 competition. So far I haven't decided on exactly what to do. Right now I'm going back and forth between RPG and RTS.

Before I knew about 4E5, I had originally intended to work on an RTS. Well, space-RTS so I didn't have much in the way of graphics for land and stuff like that. In fact. I'd say space games are the easiest to make graphics for. Spaceships can be the easiest models to make(EG: Battle of the Borg!), but I'm guessing its also probably the hardest to make good models for. There are a couple of flaws in current RTS game idea as well so I think I probably won't be doing RTS.

My other idea, the RPG, is graphically-based on Betrayal at Krondor. The game would have the same sort of look and feel. There would be a great deal more 2D graphics than 3D graphics which I feel more confident with. I'm pretty sure I've got all the E's over here. Well, almost all of them. I've just got to think think of a way to incorporate emotion into the story.

I'll be sure to post screenies as I get them. [smile]




I'm back...

Well, I'm back after a month of work on projects and other stuff. It was tough. Gosh, the teacher was like threatening us with everything to get us to hand our projects on time.

Well, I did hand in 100 out of 120 marks on time and I negotiated to hand in the other 20 marks the following school day.

The main project took the form of a chess program. I learnt two things in that project: Java is not the language for making AI and such in chess games, especially the type I chose. Determining check mate in a chess game really put a lot of strain on the processor if you're not using any form of AI. This entire thing counted 70 out of 120 marks.

There also had to be a System Development Document, Technical Document and a User Document. All in all, I had about a 150 pages of documentation. This was thanks to the Code Listing being about 60 pages as well as the Javadoc being about 40 pages. In fact, we had to get a new printer to handle this.

The group project was a Java Performance Benchmark tester package. My package was the physical program itself. The program basically calculated and drew a simple Mandelbrot fractal to the screen, similar to the one further down, and recorded some information about your machine into a database.

My research project was basically an essay on encryption methods and such. Kinda technical for school level and yet very simplistic.

I've had plenty of other non-computer related projects to get through as well. Good thing is all of my hard work throughout the year has paid off. I came first in the class for Computer Studies Higher Grade. This, however, is not very difficult if your entire CS HG class consists of five people. Most of whom, do not work very hard. I think I got close to about 90% for the year and exams.

Anyway, enough of school. During the past year or so I have worked with a friend on a game (currently) called 'INSERT_YOUR_OWN_NAME_HERE.' It does actually have a name but I am to lazy to find out what actually is called.

I have been doing work for making the game more script and trigger related and things like that. I'd love to upload it now but I don't know if I want to make an installer for it. There is another brilliant problem being that uses WAV files for music and a few AVI files for intros and credits making it over 200MB big. The music is not a problem as I have figured out a way to play MP3s from the Delphi TMediaPlayer component.

Anyway, here are some in-game screenshots.

There are plenty of other screenshots from earlier versions but I don't have those so you'll have to wait for the next instalment of my journal. Also, here is a sample track from the game. NOTE: This track was not made by me.

This game has gone through a lot of transformations and is pretty different from the very first. There is still a couple of bugs to iron out. However, as soon as I have gotten it 'suitable' for a live internet audience I will put on the Gamedev.net Showcase. Gotta love being a GDNet+ Subscriber.

Also, I have decided to discontinue my RTS project due to it being a bit out of my league. I am confident about it in code, but I am not confident about it in the art department. I would rather work without an artist and build up the art skills first. When I have done that I will be, hopefully, continuing it again.

When the Delphi version is done I will make a C++ clone of my friend's game. The art may be (not-so-bad) programmer art but at least it's done and I don't have to worry about it. I will probably improve a few of the things. I will probably make it using DX9. Hopefully, this will decrease the flicker that is sometimes evident on the Delphi version.

Also, my final exams are right around the corner. Next week I write English and I've already written my Computer Studies Practical Exam(if you can even call it an exam, way too easy).

Anyway, bye for now. PS: Comments, suggestions.




0% Work!

Hello everyone.

Contrary to popular belief I am not dead. Basically I have been swamped with a whole lot of crap that we have to do for school. However, I'm sure that the thousands upon thousands of loyal readers were wildly anticipating my return.

Well, EDI's game is looking pretty good and finished. I haven't played it but I'm sure that the game they made is pretty cool just from the way it looks. I love playing those types of non-intensive 3D games because, in my opinion, they look more "LOOK AT ME BECAUSE I LOOK COOL" and less "PLAY ME BECAUSE I'VE GOT A REALLY GOOD STORY/PLOT". EDI has really put in a really awesome amount of effort for this game and it shows in not only the pictures I've seen of the game but also EDI's journal is really top-notch. It's probably longer than Mushu's(EDIT: Okay, just checked and, umm, nevermind. Mushu is crazy.). Speaking of which, where is he?

EDIT: Exams start tommorrow and after that my projects are due. Hopefully after that I will be free to run amok on my own projects. Also, I got a letter in the mail from UCT (University of Cape Town) saying that I have been 'provisionally accepted to study Mathematics, Physical and Statistical Sciences next year. All I got to do is not fail the year (basically). How hard can that be?




Sick of the sickness

I hate being sick. It really sucks, big time. Especially at this time in matric. I only took one day off and already I've missed a truckload of work. I'm still sick and if miss anymore days of school then it will be the end of me!

My school projects have taken the bulk of my time so I haven't really gotten 'round to doing any work on my RTS. Hopefully, however, these are all about to be completed.(well a couple of weeks at most) I decided, with help from Salsa of the Visual Arts forum, to do the program art completely in 3D and just keep the camera in a fixed(I'm still debating if I should though) starcraft-style position.

Here's a good question: Have any of you tried to make a design document for a program after you've made the program. I have to do this for my projects. It's kind of weird putting goals down when you already accomplished and putting 'impossible goals' down you already relagated this to the history books.




Got some ideas for my RTS

Well, I'm sure anyone that reads this by now knows that my current off-school project is an RTS. I have an idea for the this one as well as a story. My previous attempt was really unplanned and in the long run this helped to relagate that project to the 'broken hard-drive in the sky.'

My friend, who is an excellent short story writer has provided the story for the game. The game takes place in a story of a series of short stories called 'Dark Planet'. This is a really awesome series. The stories are set some time in the future where they follow the role of several main characters.

The game will take place on a planet called 'Kartran' and you play one of two factions of 'Neurvamp'(The Keil'rak and the Eternal Doctrine) vieing for control of the planet. Neurvamp are incredibly strong(bullets and missiles have little or no effect on them) and very intelligent.

These two factions of Neurvamp are basically evil and desperately want control of the planet. The planet is, however, already occupied by 'Sylves.' The Sylves are weak compared to the Neurvamp.(who would basically rip right through them.) Humans do exist in the Dark Planet universe but are very seldom heard of as they are very weak compared to other races.

The planet is valuable due it's oceans of oil(which are used in an unspecified(probably unconventional) way for weapons and propulsion) and expanse of deserts in which valuable minerals can be found under the surface.

The AI will be similar to something on a previous thread on the forums where each player will have a 'pheromone map' drawing units of high defensive ratings to 'defend-pheromone areas' and units of high offensive ratings to 'offend-pheromone areas.'

Basically, both sides will have the same units as well as one special unit that only that faction can get. Each side will also have two unique heroes each.

Yeah, so this is my basic idea for the story. I haven't officially begun work on this yet but when I do, I will make sure the design document is the first on the to-do list.

Also: Kitty

PS: This cat is fat and huge. That's an A4 book he's lying on.




Three days of torment!

These last few days have been the worst days I have ever had in my school career. I have been so loaded with work that I have barely been able to finish it before the next day.

I think I have stumbled upon a new conspiracy theory, though. In the week before the Matric Dance, the teachers try to make as many assignments and 'portfolio pieces' for the next day in order to stress us out. They have then ensured that all of us will get as drunk as possible on the night of the dance.

The amount of school-unrelated computer stuff I did in the past three days was minimal.

For those of you who didn't look at the comments, my current project is an RTS. Then, one day about a month ago, my hard drive just said: "I don't feel like living anymore.", and promptly died. So, all of my work on the project is gone. This probably for the better as I had way too many problems with it. I didn't even make a design document so I could see how it would work. This time I won't make the same mistakes again.

Anyway, I guess I need a picture of some sort. Well this is a picture of my group project.

No, it's not a fractal generator per se but it does generate this one in doing it's job.

Also, because they're sooo cute!





Well, getting GDNet+ was nowhere near as painless as I thought it would be. It was pretty good and easy considering I had to sign up for a PayPal account and all.

Anyway, so this is my journal. I still don't know whether or not I'll update this journal 400 times a day but I guaruantee it will be at least 1 post per year.

I am a Matric(final year) student at a private school in Cape Town. My programming language of choice at the moment is Java. This is the language taught at my school and once I am finished I will hopefully continue with C++.

Next year, I will hopefully be studying at University of Capetown in the science faculty.

My outside school project is an RTS game in C++. I am hoping for it to be similar to Starcraft than Warcraft 3. IE: More 2D than 3D. I have yet to see an RTS 'meld' with 3D.

Cheers for now.



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