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The Pestering Squad - Demo produced

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Last week, I announced the creation of the Pestering Squad. Here's what's up after 2 weeks.

The first thing I did was create a top-secret, password protected website, which I dubbed PesterPanel. It's a really simple interface where I post news for the pesterers to read, along with polls or questions for them to answer. When actively developing, I try to update the "P-Squad" daily.

Although only 23 of the original 72 pesterers ticked the "receive e-mail updates" checkbox, 55 answered the first poll.

In the poll, I asked my newfound faithful followers which project I should work on first. The choices were:

- Hardkore Blackjack (HB), the fast-paced arcade puzzle casino game I was working on before I began losing focus.
- Chemical Mayhem (CM), a lemmings-like puzzle game inspired from my cellular automaton experiments and high school chemistry.
- Super Penny Thrower (SPT), a physics game where you cause accidents and crush pedestrians by chucking pennies off the top of a tall building.

The poll was "blind" in the sense that it was impossible to see the results before you cast your vote. I took care to add a "TLDR" answer, which is selected by default, to make sure answers were carefully considered. A comment box was also provided, but not shared with the other pesterers.

HB won in the end, with over 38% of the vote, 31% for SPT and 29% for CM. Some complained that I hadn't given enough info about CM and SPT, while others said they would have voted for CM or SPT if HB didn't already have some assets and code finished. It's too bad I didn't think things through -- I did notice that the way I presented the projects was very uneven. When we vote on the next project, I'll try to offer an equal amount of details about all the projects I have to propose.

And so Hardkore Blackjack it is. Hopefully, the P-Squad will continue to follow my progress!

This week was an exercise for me. I set out to create a little demo application, mainly to see if things run on the beta testers' machines. I implemented some changes into my "EDBJ" framework; I phased out all my GUI code and all my SDL graphics code and replaced it with OpenGL. + CEGUI. I think this change will come in very handy to procedurally animate cards and add some visual appeal to the game.

Yesterday, I uploaded the first Pesterer-exclusive download, "Ballin Demo." The demo is basically a 640x480 window with a picture of an alarmed "rage face" in the center and a small dialog box at the top left. One button is labeled "Ball!" and the other is labeled "Boom!" If you press "Ball!," a ball appears out of thin air and starts bouncing around the screen. You can keep adding thousands of balls this way -- I've only tried up to 10,000. If you press "Boom!," all the balls start blowing up at random intervals. Since the mixer is very basic and all the sounds are identical, they add up to generate monster noise.

I got good performance on both of my systems; around 100 FPS with 10,000 balls bouncing around on my desktop (>2000 FPS with reasonable balls), and around 400 FPS on my netbook (10% single core CPU usage @ 60 FPS). That leaves plenty of processing strength for the meatier stuff.

All this talk about balls has made me tired... Which is pretty bad, because I'm supposed to upload a new Week 2 page for my pesterers to tell me about their totally ballin' experience and eventual hardware issues, and tomorrow's theoretically Week 3!

Once the demo runs for everyone (who has reasonable hardware), I'll resume work on Hardkore Blackjack. Hopefully, week 3 will be sufficient for me to finish up the Classic Blackjack play mode, which is already 90% finished (the last 10% are actually the other 90%, though).

Until next time...
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