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About liquiddark

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  1. Founding a community group

    It's been a long time! When I founded Perfect Minute Games a few years back, I thought I'd be a lot further ahead by now. Instead I've practically given up game development while working on a novel. It's a long road between then and now. I wasn't able to preseve that incarnation of PMG, but I managed to weather its failure without losing good relationships, which I count as a win. But it did damage to my initiative with respect to game dev. Lately, however, I've come to the conclusion that it's a good and necessary moment to build a strong, independent community group here in Newfoundland and Labrador. I've been involved in a few groups in the last few years - as an executive member for one group, as a member and presenter for another, and as a variety of different things for yet another. I decided to take on that responsibility. I've never been much good at community-building, but having some roots in theatre has proved helpful, and my involvement in other local tech groups has proven helpful. I guess that's an obvious outcome, but I didn't realize beforehand how useful those connections would be. Gamedev NL is the fruit of that work. It's still nascent, but I'm already excited by the interest and activity it's generating. I'm having conversations with lots of folks in the local film, game development, and educational communities, and there's plenty more to do yet. Someday I'll get back to PMG. For now, though, I'm hoping to do some good for a few others in the field.
  2. Looking for a Founding Artist

    I mentioned before that I had founded a game studio focused on short, incredible games. We are making slow, slightly unsteady progress on our first game, so I've decided to start looking around for an artist who Believes that short games can and should be the best games Has the experience and artistic vision to make that happen Has the kind of distinct, interesting artistic voice to establish a visual identity for many games to come. I don't want to misrepresent the situation - right now the studio is still an idea more than a business, and very much a spare-time pursuit for those involved. But for the right person I can promise I will do whatever is in my power to bring it rapidly to the point where it becomes a rewarding, professional opportunity. If you think that might be you, drop me a line.
  3. The LEAN Business Model

    I'm doing a pre-incubator business class/program at the Genesis Centre here in St. John's, and I'm actually learning a fair bit along the way. At the moment my big challenge is proving the working model for Perfect Minute Games. This is a place where the artist/auteur in me comes up hard against the pragmatist: on the one hand, I want the products I aim to build. On the other hand, I am not the person who has to buy them, nor am I able to pay for their production. The program focuses on a concept called LEAN. This is apparently also a part of the Startup Weekend model, although that part of the experience was not emphasized during my last crack at that particular can (we're working on it for this year's event). LEAN, in a nutshell, is the practice of proving your theories by talking to people you think will use your product or service. For Perfect Minute Games, that is some subset of gamers, but getting a precision slice of the gaming population turns out to be a bit tricky, so for now I've satisfied myself with simply interviewing whatever gamers I can find who are willing to give me the time of day. It's an interesting approach. You set up a canvas that has a bunch of sections. The really key ones are Value Proposition and Customer Segment - these are the "heart" of your business. If you don't have a customer segment identified (I do, or at least I thought I did before I started talking to people) then you probably don't have a business idea yet. If you don't have a value proposition, on the other hand, you don't have a service or product yet. In the program I'm doing, these are couched in the language of problem/solution. Perfect Minute Games aims to solve two problems: - people have limited time to play - they love deep gameplay but don't want to endure lengthy games Which gamers have these problems, though? I started with myself as a market, so I figured they'd mostly be people like me - 30-some-odd, house, job, commitments. It turns out, asking different people questions about their gaming habits helps to open that up a bit. Some gamers just plain like short games; in particular, they find that long games run out of ideas. This is actually something I'd figured out for myself - you can concentrate limited resources on a shorter game much better than on a long one. I didn't spool the idea all the way out, though. I didn't think about the fact that a gamer who only has limited time wants a game with save-anywhere play. A friend with whom I used to play pen and paper games likened it to those games - you can walk away at any point without losing your work. This is how computers should work, and games are no exception. And there were things I really didn't foresee. My formative experience with coop was on Deus Ex; The Coop Project, to which I contributed a small but nonzero amount of code, never really gained traction in that community. Apparently there's an easier way to make that work now, so that's good. Nearly every person I talked to during this process mentioned cooperative play. It's no longer something that you get to muck about with; you need to be building cooperative play modes. The tool we're using for all this is Launchpad Central, which apparently is only available in this kind of incubation setting. They're using their own stuff to decide that, or so I understand, which is at least nice to see. The process has really given me some new muscles to target in the future, and I feel a little less overwhelmed by the concept of building a working business at this point. I'd love to hear from other devs who are trying this or any other method for planning the business side of things.
  4. Perfect Minute Games

    Thanks so much!
  5. Perfect Minute Games

    Myself and a buddy here in Newfoundland have founded a game development company called Perfect Minute Games. Thus far it's going pretty well; I've had a year or so to really get my feet under me since moving home and now I am at last reasonably stable again, so it is a good moment to dive back into this realm. Perfect Minute is an idea that came out of getting older and still loving games. I've got friends that run the gamut of family structures, from confirmed bachelors (a category that included myself until quite recently) through three kids, a dog, and a minivan. I think a lot of us have discovered as time rolls on that regardless of one's circumstances it becomes increasingly difficult to find the time to play. I found myself wondering why I would try to get through yet another days-long marathon of grind-style content just to get myself a prettier shoulderpad or a two minute cutscene. There are exceptions to this description - for me Mass Effect is a big one - but it is largely true of modern games. I realized somewhere along the way that length was not a valuable axis for me when it comes to games (or any other medium, for that matter). I would much rather pay $15 for a game that focused its dollars on a two-hour campaign that offered me something like catharsis than a 60 hour game that had its rewards laid out on a carefully sculpted reward curve to give me maximum addiction. I also realized I'm an addict when it comes to games. If you give me infinite gameplay and lay that addiction schedule down, I will snort my way through the checkpoints for a long, miserable time. There are exceptions to this - FFXIII is a big one for me, more because the game is dull than anything else - but there are a lot of non-exceptions, and I feel comfortable stating that that's my relationship with games now. I want self-contained, short, incredible games. So Perfect Minute Games was born. Our first game is called Contension. The misspelling is purposeful, although I'm not sure exactly how much it will play into the overall theme just yet. It's the barest prototype of a concept as yet. Here are a few screens of the WIP: I hope you'll drop in on us now and then.
  6. Back in

    I started prototyping something new tonight. Nothing very difficult, just a 2d particle fountain with some on-click effects. But it reminded me of something that has recently hit home: even very simple mechanics, paced correctly, can lead to deep gameplay. More importantly, the simpler a prototype, the easier it is to find inspiration.
  7. MMO: Start over when you die

    I think being a jerk was proved to be fun for nobody except the jerk a while ago, and after that everyone just sort of came to their senses.
  8. It is at this point in the conversation that someone should say the words "Shattered Galaxy" followed by "look it up". The terrain you're treading has been tread before, and it seems like you're asking many of the same questions without getting good, workable answers, so you may as well start from the spiritual ancestor of your game.
  9. Lightspeed and lorentz

    Quote:Original post by Lode Well there exists a 128-bit floating point type in the floating point standard now (or at least soon), but do you think the C++ standard follows? Unless you limit the growth of your speed in some way, this only gives you more wiggle room. Numerical instability isn't a consequence of the length of the mantissa. It's a fundamental problem with floating point numbers.
  10. Lightspeed and lorentz

    If you really want to push into the extremely-close-to-lightspeed problem, then you should not be using floating point. You're just asking for bad behaviour. Switch to a fixed-point representation, or limit the speed, or find a better way to scale your numbers when you get close to light speed. Digital computation is not your friend in this domain, I'm afraid.
  11. Are physics engines overestimated?

    I think he's trying to say that games aren't made better by higher-fidelity physics. In actual fact I agree with that sentiment when the physics used cause more problems than they solve. But I have absolutely no doubt that the overall effect on the play experience if you evaluate the entire spectrum is to improve the worlds and expand the possibilities for the player. Most of physics, after all is, about the reduction to base cases - relativity and quantum mechanics/chromodynamics have to reduce to the Newtonian case at the level of everyday experience, since we know Newton's laws hold pretty well at the common scale. Physics engines have to provide basically the same simulation capabilities as more specific solvers, and can't be too wildly much less efficient when they're not doing "hard" problems. That's the point of having an engine - it takes care of your needs without exceeding your budget. The features list is meaningless if you can't get the basics at a livable performance price.
  12. Are physics engines overestimated?

    K, I'm back. I read most of the raytracing thread from Beyond3d (highly recommended reading, btw) and started reading for my project, so I'm in a little better headspace to discuss this. Also, I have a hard time leaving well enough alone. Quote:Original post by Raghar Yes they could prevent it by using different coefficient of friction for that model, however they didn't see this situation in testing, or tester didn't noticed the wrong behavior. That could - and frequently does - happen with in-house solutions of pretty much every problem in programming. Testing-doesn't-always-work is a pretty well-understood principle of software development in general. What is your proposed alternative here? The only thing I can see that would guarantee the wolf didn't slide off would be an evaluator which chooses the physical behaviour directly. Can you give an example of a solver that you think many people have access to and that can be generally applied to all sorts of dynamics and that will do the right thing? Quote:dynamic deformable reproduces fast Pick three. If the engine solutions can do all 4, why should I? I know your perspective is that they don't, but frankly your perspective doesn't match my experience of even last-gen games (Half Life 2, Black and White 2). Quote:A copy and pasts solution? Majority of copy and paste solutions needs to be carefully reviewed to avoid problems with variables, and to ensure the algorithm would integrate seamlessly into rest of the code. This sounds like an argument for engines. With an engine, at least, the parameters for use are well-understood. Quote:I see a hard shadow behind the model. The shape is correct, however the shadow behavior isn't. First, what makes you think the shadow behaviour isn't correct? If the source is a point source, then the behaviour is perfectly correct, barring expectation of diffraction effects. Unless I've missed something, nobody's doing much edge diffraction in rasterized shadows at the moment. Second, as was pointed out any number of times at Beyond3d, there are ways to get raytracers to do soft shadows better. Meanwhile most rasterizers do blobby, indistinct soft shadows which are quite far from correct. Ever look at a shadow? It's made up of overlapping versions of the same shadow. Depending on the shape of your light source, the distance of your body from the shadow surface, and the shape of the body, you get all kinds of different fun effects that would, in a rasterizer, basically require individual tricks to bypass. Same with a raytracer - either you model your light as a collection of lights on the inside reflector surface of the light (which, theoretically speaking, could in fact be done by simply extending the ray model to "know about" the reflection surface to begin with) OR you tweak the algorithm to use tricks. Third, it doesn't go to the heart of the original point: Raytracers are demonstratably moving back into the realm of possibility as a means of rendering. They may or may not ever become the "hot" technology, but they're by no means irrelevant technology, which means your analogy falls down - even if people step away from physics engines entirely (which, in all seriousness, is about as likely as the C64 coming back into its prime), they will continue to provide a competitor to custom solvers, and people will continue to have reasons to study their behaviour and evaluate them for use. To take your analogy and invert it: the continued application of ray tracers to real-time graphics indicates that there's ample reason to explore physics engines, even if they're a technology that has yet to prove its worth over custom solvers. Personally, I think that the level of dynamics available in games tends to go against that last point anyways. If the advent of massively more dynamic game worlds coincides with the inclusion of physics engines as a basic tool in the game-making process, then where's the evidence that they're "overestimated"? We have clear exemplars of high-quality physics contributing to play. Where are the exemplars that say we can do better? Quote:I consider an article created by a leader programmer from a real company, that has large experience in the field, as superior to any article made by a scientist. I consider that to be nonsense, and I'm willing to bet that plenty of lead programmers would too. If you talk to hardcore programmers, they tend to keep up with one or more scientific fields of interest to them, and spend a significant portion of their time looking at implementations of the most interesting research. Most cutting-edge engineering is driven off of bleeding-edge science because it tends to be years ahead of the engineering side. Solving an engineering problem usually ends up requiring well-established ways to calculate the problems you encounter, which means research science tends to get to make the mistakes. The entire notion of specification of tolerances - a key to pretty much any engineering problem - is dependent on a phenomenon being relatively well-understood. Furthermore, Intel, who I hope we can agree has at least some credibility as an engineering source, is including raytracing as one of the "interesting" (in the engineering sense of helping-solve-a-hard-problem) applications of its Larrabee processor. The point implicit there, of course, is that we seem to have recently seen a major plateau in the ability to brute-force speed via CPU cycles per second, and fitness for parallelization is going to be a much more important attribute in algorithms for the foreseeable future. Which is, frankly, another excellent reason to use an engine. Even if you understand physics well enough to write amazingly stable, accurate solvers that can be reused over and over, you very likely don't, as an in-shop programmer, have the time and brainpower to work on the very hard problem of shared-memory parallel-computation simulation code. The people behind engines do, particularly commercial ones, and I'm willing to put money down that if an open source engine achieved a critical mass of features and users, the same would be true - on a community level - of said F/OSS solution as well. At that point the computational resources your solvers can harness start to lag behind the engines, and your game stops being relevant because it can't do as good a job of simulation.
  13. Your character should never be able to go beyond the limits of the current viewport; that's just good practice in general. The generic version of this is: (x,y in screen-relative coordinates) if (x < 0) x = 0; if (y < 0) y = 0; if (x > ScreenWidth) x = ScreenWidth; if (y > ScreenHeight) y = ScreenHeight; The locking of the screen is more dependent on how you've implemented scrolling, and I think it would be necessary that you elaborate on what your scroll code does at the moment before a solution could be suggested.
  14. Stop me if I'm boring you.

    I know this isn't particularly related to my Two Things, but forgive me, I haven't set up a formal AppDev blog, and I wanted to get this thought down. I was reading O'Reilly's What is Web 2.0 and I read this: Quote:BitTorrent thus demonstrates a key Web 2.0 principle: the service automatically gets better the more people use it. While Akamai must add servers to improve service, every BitTorrent consumer brings his own resources to the party. They're right to an extent, but there's something more to the equation - the very fact that users are the empowering force behind the network means that you're putting power into the wrong hands as well as the right ones. Take PageRank consultants as an example - the formal notion that a trusted user causes implicit improvements in page ranking is counterbalanced by the fact that there are experts whose entire business is focused on gaming the system. This is part of the reason why Google's searches turn up a lot of garbage, because the least honest/desirable players are the ones most willing to engage in this activity. Similarly with Bittorrent and p2p in general, you get massive numbers of fake sharers that try to frustrate the normal service operation. They're not all that great at the moment, but it seems likely that, particularly with the legislative help they're getting in certain countries, they're going to get much better as time goes by. Malicious software is already a well-known meme; I have to wonder how many folks walk that idea up the chain and conclude that malicious content is eventually going to come to life as a strong presence. Happily, the decentralized systems are, for now, relatively resilient against malicious users. But as Wikipedia's ongoing debate about editor credentials gives a good indication that the risks are slowly becoming commensurate with the rewards, and history indicates that that situation is something we should expect to worsen. I'd like to be able to see where the next set of network memes are likely to come from - are we going to go to a trusted-circle version of Tor, where content is associated primarily to trusted entities? Maybe we'll just see a much stronger user-driven community, a la Wikia and other emerging user-driven search sites, with a market emerging for users to drive content ranking via digital payola. Maybe DMCA-type regulations are going to kill a lot of the infringement-heavy user-driven communities, and an upwelling of entirely original content will result. Maybe robotic overlords will by that time have destroyed us.
  15. Homogenous coordinates for physics engine

    I respectfully withdraw my comments, heh. It has been way too long since I thought about this stuff. Apologies.