Things have slowed down for me after the release of the new Tony Hawk. I find myself having more time to myself instead of working on some next big project. Taking this into positive light, I’ve started looking into brushing up my programming skills. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get a big personal project rolling, so I searched for some programming exercises online. I came across Project Euler, which is this nifty math questions that can be solved with pen and paper, but go by extremely faster with programming. I started working on some of these problems, and fell in love with it. It pretty much mixes my old love for math with growing my programming skills. I added my profile badge on the right menu, but I’ll include it in this post as well. At the time of writing, I’ve completed 5 of the 391 problems. I may also create a page in the future that houses my solutions for each problem.
I unfortunately have been neglecting this page ever since I got contracted on to Robomodo. With working on projects and being under NDA, I didn’t really have much to say. But now, the game I have been working on will finally be freed into the wild on July 18th (this Wednesday!) and hopefully people will enjoy it. Below are some previews of the game from Destructoid, Rev3, IGN, and the like.
Rev 3 Games Multiplayer Impressions
IGN On The Download (Summer of Arcade)
Games Radar – QuickPlay
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD feels like classic Tony Hawk – Destructoid
My new game that I’ve been hard at work with a team at DePaul (DGE3 or DePaul Game Envision) is now up for download. Check out the trailer below, and visit MackVsWindows.com to download it and give it a shot!
Any of you who visit my site may notice that I haven’t been keeping my “Weekly Summary” promise that I made a couple weeks back. Trying to get a job while under financial stress, as well as working on the project for IGF has left me little time to even enjoy myself. So I thought I’d at least take a moment and post about what I’ve been working on.
Our tech lead discovered a WinForms XNA model viewer/loading project. This helps us in a lot of ways because our pipeline for art assets was to have the artist make them, bug a tech guy to load them into the project so they could view them and make sure they look right. If they didn’t, the artists would change something, bug a tech guy again, and see if it was fixed. This process happened numerous times when we were first starting to load animations into our game. And for each model/animation we loaded, increased our build time exponentially because we had the models set to compile every time we wanted to compile any code change we made.
With this WinForms application, we could have the artists load up this tool, open a model, and save out the .xnbs that were created into our Assets folder. However, the program in it’s discovered state couldn’t do everything we needed, so it was expanded upon. I was in charge of getting the Animations to load and save correctly. It seemed like an easy task, but I managed to run into a couple problems getting it to draw correctly. When I had thought I used pretty much the same code that we used to draw it in our engine, I couldn’t for the life of me get it to draw. It wasn’t until a friend pointed out to me that the WinForms app didn’t have a Update loop and asked where I was updating the animation controller. I felt a bit dumb for forgetting that, but then ran into the problem of it wanting XNA GameTime as a variable to pass the update, which I worked around by creating a stopwatch and resetting it every update.
We’ll hopefully be able to post our expansion of this tool on Codeplex or something in the future. But for now, we need to keep working on our game.
Nintendo has been doing a lot of stuff recently, and they look like they’re in a bit of a panic. At E3, they looked like they were well composed and had something that could be innovative for the home console market. They pretty much had an upgraded Wii (WiiU) with some cool new features that they showed off, and an upgraded DS (3DS) that everyone seemed excited for.
Then the investors started to pull out during/after that E3. People felt the price point was too high, so they made a drastic price cut, while giving early adopters some old classics as compensation. Now, the 3DS has had a few faults (store being delayed, not much original/new content), but I still felt like I wanted to get one. (Especially the red one). Now there’s talk about some ugly attachment for a second control stick. In my mind, that is a drastic change and one that will split the market. Developers might want to use it, but it being an optional and not apart of the system at launch will either make the early adopters more upset, or the developers will not focus on using it for any main mechanic and the add-on will seem not as worth it. This is something that should have been decided earlier, and I think since people have been less than enthusiastic about making games for a system that might fail, they appear to be trying to fix all the criticisms they had in the past all at once.
Now, rumors are circulating that the WiiU is not up to snuff and Nintendo is trying to rush it through production. While I sincerely hope that is not the case, it would make a bit of financial sense since releasing early and taking the market by storm is what they did with the Wii. However, if the rumors are true, I hope Nintendo doesn’t forgo any of it’s quality to get a product on the shelves. The 3DS already has a lack of a library. Wii don’t need another system with no games for itself.
Nintendo is doing a whole lot of things that are confusing and scaring me as a consumer. I just hope they still have their head in the game and not in their wallets. At least we can have the ability to buy a Metallic Rose DSiXL soon.
I thought a good way to get this blog rolling is to summarize things that I have read about in the game industry. Hopefully this also gets me to write more blog posts more frequently.
Diablo III Real Money Auction House, and the Lack of Offline
When I first heard the news about the Real Money Auction House in Diablo III, I did not know what to think. Not being a person who does a lot of trading in multiplayer games, I didn’t think this would affect me. I’d just loot hunt with my friends (or, like most of the time, by myself and running through the story) and we’d have a bunch of fun killing enemies and bosses and have fun with all the other stuff Diablo has to offer. Then, they say that it has the Always Online DRM, which they dismiss as not being DRM, but more of a Digital Content Management so that their Real Money Auction House is not rendered useless. They also commented on not having any mod support for the game at all. I’ll take this bit by bit.
Now, I think I’m with most people when they hear “Persistent Internet Connection Required”. Why make the entertainment product dependent on people’s connectivity to their server, when it has a perfectly good single-player aspect that the player should be able to play without an internet connection. If they want to keep the RMAH secure, and keep players happy, just add an offline character mode, so that players can have fun with the game on their terms, because that is essentially who they’re tailoring the game for: The Player.
Blizzard has crafted an experience for the player (potential buyers) to enjoy. As a game developer, you have to know that the player is not going to have fun just playing what you gave them. They also want to test the limits. Go outside and beyond what was given and see what else they can do. What happens if I jam so many runes into this staff and have it do all sorts of cool stuff like shoot fire, ice, and lightning bolts whenever I attack? That’s also where the mod community comes into play. They spend their time experimenting with the game, adding additional user-created content, and get experience as game developers themselves.
Sure, they might break the game that the developers have intended to make, but that’s people experimenting with the product that they have bought. They should have the right to do whatever they like to the product after they buy it. If they want to use cheats via GameShark or something because they’ll enjoy the game more, let them. If they want to play the game that they hold in their hand without being tied down to something not everyone has the luxury of having, let them. But as of now, it seems like the only thing that the purchaser of Diablo III can do if they don’t have internet is use the disk as a Frisbee or coaster until the internet comes back on.
John Carmack Keynote at QuakeCon 2011
This was a pretty great talk. I randomly decided to visit r/programming and this was the top post. While I’ve heard his name before, I never actually seen/heard him talk. While I was watching the video, I was understanding most, if not all, of what he was saying. After I watched the video, I felt that this was someone who I have to follow. He’s one of the great top programmers that I (now) know of. It gave me more faith in myself as a programmer, that if I can understand what he’s going on about, I can take steps towards being someone like him. While I don’t think that it’s going to be easy, it would be nice/cool to be one of the most talked about programmers in the Game Dev community.
Stuff I’ve done
Still working on our DePaul IGF title. Started a new codebase while using the prototypes as reference. It almost works, and I’m working on getting player spawns in, and from there, checkpoints! Also watched some more PluralSight videos on C# so I can make sure I know all that I can about working with it. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some screenshots in here, with permission of our project lead. You probably won’t be able to understand what’s going on, but it’ll be something. Maybe I can write a small summary of what the game is currently. After I ask of course.
Oh, and I’m also apparently staying up until 6:30am. Which is not the best for me.
The transfer/forwarding seemed to be successful. I’ll hopefully be posting a blog entry at least weekly. I’ll try to cover stuff I’ve learned, and try to keep it tech/game related. If you want to see me post random pics or something, follow my Google+ page. I occasionally do that there, but this will be strictly game dev or tech related.