Oh man... It's been a while since I've had a really bad game addiction. (The last one was with Wolfenstein: ET, and ended up in me joining a clan and writing a 200 page strategy guide. :ohnoes:) AoE3 is such a fun game, but I finally managed to kick the addiction. I have really weak eyes though so even for a few days after I stopped playing, I wasn't very productive because my eyes were really strained.
So... what have I been doing. I've been doing a lot of recruiting for Hero of Allacrost actually. Found a couple of awesome artists, right now trying to find a good programmer who knows Lua to help out with data/scripting engine.
I've also been reading more of ShaderX, but reading that is like trudging through mud for me, compared to reading most other books. The first part of it is just basic fluffy intro to shaders, but once it gets to the explanations of each technique, the material becomes pretty dense, and sometimes everything isn't explained in as much detail as I'd like. Hopefully as I do it more it'll get easier.
Oh yeah... I also ordered ShaderX 2 and GPU Gems 2 online for $4.90 each. (!!!) There were also a couple of other books that the same seller was offering for that price, but when I ordered them I got an e-mail saying they were all sold out. (d'oh)
I finally got around to downloading the AoE3 demo, so today I spent about an hour messing around with it. Man, that game is fun :) The gameplay isn't terribly changed from previous Ensemble games, but I do like the physics... Buildings collapsing and crubmling, ragdolls, etc. Here's my money shot, I just personally think this is pretty funny stuff, you can see the poor little peasants being blown away by these massive cannonballs:
In other news... I finished reading the book on C#. I was thinking of doing a project with it (like a clone of Gradius 3 or something) but I decided to put that off for now. I'm more interested in using it for tools than to make games themselves, so I think I'll just wait until I need to make a tool and then use it for that...
I read the 1st half of Mat Buckland's AI techniques book (all about genetic algorithms), and I'm pretty pumped thinking about all the possibilities. I read an article in gamasutra where they used something called particle swarm optimization along with GAs to optimize the AI for a racing game. Very cool stuff. I'm going to learn about neural networks next and then maybe put together a demo sometime...
I've also been reading ShaderX... I read the Cg tutorial about a year ago and I have a basic knowledge of HLSL, but I'm going back to the basics now and learning shader assembly properly so I have a better idea of how to optimize shaders, and also get a better feel for what effects are compatible with what hardware...
I've been working on Hero of Allacrost since July now, and now the graphics engine is more or less done, so I decided to take a break from coding and help out with recruiting. It's d*** hard to find pixel artists, I got one guy who said he might be interested but so far that's about it.
Finally, since I have more free time now because I'm not coding much for Allacrost, I volunteered to help with Raduprv's Eternal Lands MMORPG... I had only heard about it up til now but hadn't played it. It's a really amazing game, I was surprised that the server was so lively even though I tried it out for the first time at 8am or so :) So I'm definitely excited about getting involved w/ that.
OK got to make this one quick otherwise I'll miss my train :)
Been a while since I posted so I figured it was about time to make an entry... I've been pretty busy, downloaded VS 2005 Express (C++/C#/VB) and been playing around that. I got a C# book for xmas which I'm just about done reading. I'd also read a lot about writing a software rendering engine, but I decided to put that on hold because it's not too practical.. Other than that, just... reading lots of various articles and things. Also today I finally got around to fixing the last of the Bobo bugs, like disabling the screensaver, responding properly to Windows Key + M, etc. I'll submit that to GDS when I get back (FINALLY!!). I'm really happy with how it turned out though. Getting rid of those minor glitches makes the game feel a lot more clean and professional. That's about it for now :)
Edit: Submitted Bobo to GDS... That was really easy, I always thought it'd take at least a couple of weeks from the time you submit until the time it shows up in the showcase.
Phew. I think I can finally put Bobo to rest. After pretty much 3 whole days of rewriting huge chunks of Bobo and fixing bugs, the game is done. (Hopefully no one reports any more bugs!!!) Three whole days is a lot of time, but I'm glad I did it. It feels good to create something of the highest quality you're capable and know you did your best, even if it's not impressive technically. Also I don't know for sure if this is the kind of thing I'd show to employers if I go for a job (I imagine they want to see 3D stuff) but at least this way if I do show it to someone, it won't be a complete disaster :)
If anyone wants to check out the thread btw, please take a look here :D https://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=363712
So, now I gotta figure out what to do next... My list of things I want to do is pretty big... learn C#, Lua, special effects programming, write a software graphics engine, read Jim Adam's book about making RPGs, work on a HL2 mod, make a GBA game, make an RTS, read John Robbin's debugging book from cover to cover, and learn more about graphics, physics, AI, networking... damn, that's just about everything lol.
I also really want to make a game like Gradius III (oldschool SNES game). I've been listening a lot to a remix someone made of the theme from that game, it has me totally pumped to write some 2D space game but with way more effects than were possible back in the day. Maybe I'll work on something like that before tackling the RPG project.
Meh... too many things I want to do. I guess I'll just stick with my plan of coding small things and absorbing new knowledge until I build up the skills/inspiration for a new major project to work on.
OMG. So, I found there are a bunch of bugs in Bobo thanks to the guys who tested it on the forums... working on fixing them now. At the time I wrote the game, I found an article on how to write a Win32 game sequentially like a DOS game, by using 2 threads. It sounded like a good idea at the time... So now I'm trying to untangle this mess of spaghetti code and make it single-threaded. I should forget submitting it to GDS and just send it to one of those "obfuscated code" contests. Anyway the re-resurrection should be done hopefully within the next couple of days.
The good news is that I finished distortion meshes for Allacrost, plus some other minor features that had to be done. Now basically the "pre-shader" portion of the graphics engine is done, so finally it's time to dig into some shader work. Fun stuff.
Also I got some books for ridiculously low prices... The one that is most relevant to me right now is Mason McCusky's book on special effects programming in DirectX. (I'm using OpenGL, but the techniques should be transferrable). Seems like a pretty good book from the 5 minutes I spent scanning it.
Today I decided to finally resurrect my "Adventures of Bobo" game I made a couple of years ago so I could polish it up and submit it to GDS. The first thing I had to do was get it compiling in VC++ .NET 2k3 since it was originally made in VC++ 6... Then, I fixed a bunch of bugs. It's freaking SCARY how bad my coding was back then. There was one bug which I struggled with but never figured out how to fix, and then today it took like 5 minutes, really simple stuff.. I posted the game on the forums, hopefully someone will try it and let me know if it works and then I can call it "done".
Here's Bobo in action:
Other than that... This whole working 18 hours a day thing is going pretty well :) I read 100 pages of the Intel optimization manual, worked on distortion meshes for Hero of Allacrost (almost done, probably post a screenie tomorrow), and brought back Bobo from the dead. I'm still spending a ton of time getting distracted surfing GDNet or reading articles though, it's so tempting! :)
Yay, my own journal on GDNet :) Hopefully I won't be lazy and actually update it once in a while...
Today my quarter ended at school, and I'm starting my crazy journey to become a better programmer and get into the game industry. When I'm on winter break, I'm planning to spend 18 hours a day studying game programming topics or working on projects. During school, it'll be 12 hours a day on game dev, and 6 hours on school- classes + homework. I always slacked off in undergrad and crammed for tests, but I think if I spread my studies to a few hours a day and keep my head above the water, I can manage to keep up with my coding instead of getting swamped.
For now my goal is to learn as much as possible. I'd love to just jump in and start coding some FPS or RTS, but I think it's better to learn how to do things the right way, and it could save a lot of wasted time from trying to puzzle through things that are above my head. Today I read all the PDF files for the Gameversity course about Design Patterns. It was pretty useful and I'm glad I finally took time out to learn about patterns, although I don't know if it was really worth the money for 50 pages or so worth of PDF files. Right now I'm learning IA-32 architecture from Ars Technica and reading the awesome optimization manual that Intel created. I also want to finally learn how to use VTune properly.
The other thing I'm working on is Hero of Allacrost as the graphics programmer. It's a lot of fun, especially since all the guys on the team (including me) are oldschool RPG fans. I'm working on image warping effects right now, not exactly sure how I'm gonna do it but I've heard Haaf's game engine (HGE) uses "distortion meshes" so maybe something along those lines.