Mar 012013

These weeks are busy as hell, and those edx courses take more time than I had estimated. It’s a lot of fun though, and I especially enjoy learning about AI.

Anyway, I have put up the first update to End Run over here. It’s still very basic because I didn’t have time to do much, not least because my SVN host has been unreachable for days. As you can see, I intend updates to be incremental baby steps, and I’ll upload more or less every little change as long as the game still runs. I want to share as much of the development as possible, so that maybe one day someone might find it useful and can learn how to do or not to do stuff from it.

I’m still fighting against extremely bad Firefox performance compared to Chrome, even in this simple state the game is in, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to do if the frame rate drops so hard already with only two sprites and a unicolor background yet.

Feb 182013

Let me start with a small excerpt from my new year’s resolutions: “Write Spoonforge posts more regularly.”

That worked out well, huh? Year’s off to a good start. I don’t usually believe in the number 13 as an unlucky number, but at this pace, the year 2013 has a good chance of convincing me otherwise. With financial woes, a breakup and an ongoing something from last year that I will not call a depression because we all know it goes away if we just don’t call it what it is, I’m seriously considering locking myself into the basement, rocking back and forth in the corner for the remaining ~320 days until I can start fresh in 2014. Unfortunately, the rat population in the basement has declined drastically, and with no other source of nutrition, my plan is flawed.
Instead, a tiny flicker of optimism inside me hopes that I can somehow channel this into something productive, by digging into other things to take my mind off of the bad things and thereby stop with the self-pity – such as taking free MIT and Berkeley online courses, generally increasing knowledge (programming language, algorithms, AI, etc.) and maybe even finally completing a frickin’ game that I wouldn’t be ashamed to show.

There’s a lot more going on in my mind, but I feel that going into detail would be a bit too personal for this blog. Instead, take away from this that I will probably have a substantially larger amount of free time this year, and if I manage to not waste all of it mindlessly playing games and watching TV shows, this might be the year that I finally get something done – although I’m the first to admit that I said pretty much the same thing last year.

Anyway, back to game development! I decided to start with something simple: End Run – an autorunner (I think that’s what the genre is called – think Canabalt and similar games). The (maybe) interesting thing for you is, that you will be able to not only play, but follow its progress “live” right here. Right now there isn’t much to see, but I will update it along the way and you will see how it evolves and changes over time, and I’ll make a gallery with screenshots (and maybe videos) from each step along the way. I’ll update the page with what I’ve changed, what problems I’ve encountered, what I’m currently working at, etc. and I’ll offer zip files of the source of each version. It’ll not be a tutorial as such, but I hope beginners might be able to learn from it. Of course I’ll also be open to questions and suggestions, so don’t hesitate to post!

Jan 042013

I hope you all got into the new year safe and sound. For me, a new year is a time to look at the last one and think about what went right and what went wrong, as well as planning what I want to change in this fresh, delicious and just a little frightening new year. So, let’s see: where have last year’s resolution gotten us and what wonders do this year’s promise us?

Read all last year’s and this year’s resolutions!

Dec 012012

So, here it finally is: the last update for Minimalistic Tower Defense. It fixes some of the bigger issues and makes the game almost playable. I’ve also decided to fill the source code to the brim with useless comments and release it here. Before you say anything: I know it’s not pretty. It has some serious scars from partially rewriting things, shoehorning other things in that I hadn’t thought of before and a couple of less than beautiful hacks or shortcuts. Better look at it as an example of how not to do it.

I’ve been rather stressed out by work, and personally I haven’t been feeling too well either, so there’s not much I got done over the last few months. Instead, I tried to combat the everyday with XCOM and Assassin’s Creed 3, and I have to say, both do a very good job at it. I know that it’s apparently cool to hate on XCOM for not being complex enough, too different from the old X-Com games or whatever, but I love it. I dare say it’s one of the best games I’ve played in recent years. I’d say AC3 is a good return to form after the somewhat disappointing Revelations. It looks good, it feels good, the cities are cool, just as the nature areas, and climbing through the trees is fun. Even the bits on the ship are kind of cool. There is one thing that bothers me, though:

Why the hell do they keep changing Desmond’s face? He looks different in every game! Now, I get that they probably try to mix features of the ancestors into it, but while that made at least a bit of sense in Revelations, where you could argue that what you see of Desmond is his minds projection, it is absolutely nonsensical for present day Desmond to have his appearance changed just because of memories. Except maybe if by Assassin’s Creed 8 they reveal that the real protagonist is Ultrajax The Futuristic, and he has been using an animus to relive Desmond’s live as well as his trips to the animus. Assassin’s Recursion, so to speak.

I know it’s a bit early for new year’s resolutions, but I hope to pick up some speed again with more regular updates and being at least somewhat productive again. I miss my C#, my vectors and textures and all that. XNA, if you still want me, I’ll come back to you! Of course, I might port you to Monogame as soon as I want to go multi platform, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

Oct 022012

Oh man, I really don’t know how I’ll ever title blog post when I can’t just put “Minimalistic” in front of everything. Anyway, this is the post-mortem for Minimalistic Tower Defense. I want to talk a bit about what I learnt from it, what went right and what went wrong.

What did I want to do?
I wanted to create a tower defense game. Not because I thought the world needs yet another one, but because I know tower defense games rather well and thought it would be simple to make my own. That’s the first mistake and the first thing I’ve learnt:
Nothing is as simple as you think before doing it. I’ve learned that creating music is not exactly my talent, I’ve learned to create buttons, and if you want to know more, there is a whole wall of text waiting here.

Face the wall!

Aug 312012

I have thought about Minimalistic Tower Defense a lot. It is at a weird point right now; almost kinda-sorta functionally finished, but still miles away from being good or polished. I have strong feelings for the game – developing it without an existing engine has taught me a lot, and I’m certain it has already made me a better programmer, designer, project manager and general game developer. But the sad truth is, however valuable it might have been (and still is) as a learning device to me, at the end of the day it’s still a cheap, half assed tower defense game with crappy graphics and sound. Read on about MTD and my future plans

Aug 232012
Back to front.

GamesCom Report

So, as I told you before, I went to GamesCom last Sunday. I wanted to be there right at opening, but due to a series of unforeseen events, I only went to bed at 5:30 in the morning and was already being kept alive solely by energy drinks and coffee. I won a VIP session for Borderlands 2 though, which started at eleven, so I somehow forced myself out of bed something past nine and drove off, the temperature already at roughly a million degrees celsius (which translates to roughly eighty billion degrees Fahrenheit, +/- 10).

Because of the ridiculous amount of visitors the lines in front of every game were almost surreal, so I didn’t see much except those games which I had won fastpasses for because I didn’t feel like waiting somewhere for three hours or even more. Here is what I experienced, expressed in those trendy things they call “words”. Read more about my GamesCom adventures!

Aug 152012

Sometimes, I wonder when the future will finally come, and when we’ll get our jetpacks, flying cars and hoverboards, and get a little sad. But then I turn on the NASA live stream and remember that we have a space station orbiting the earth and a science lab on our neighboring planet. What does that have to do with Spoonforge? Well, nothing of course!

But on a related note, Spoonforge now finally resides on its new server over at the Host Europe guys and is alive and well. Maybe you noticed a downtime of 12 hours or so; that was because apparently either I can’t read or the domain people can’t write. I thought that the domain transfer was scheduled for 12 o’clock, high noon, while it was in fact due at 00:00 that evening – midnight. And while I was sleeping, Spoonforge and everything around it collapsed into a giant pile of crap and I only got around to doing stuff later the following day. Anyway, now everything should be running again and I’ve even given the forum a little facelift with a new style. Now there’s only the little problem left that it’s more or less empty.

What now? Next up is a trip to the Cologne GamesCom on Sunday, where I’m invited to play Borderlands 2 and also have a fastpass or two for some EA games. I’ll try to take pictures and soak in as much of the day as I can and form a beautiful post out of that later, complete with words and sexy interpunction and all that. When that is all done, I’ll hopefully find more time to work on private projects again. Work on the next update for Minimalistic Tower Defense is almost done, now there are only a couple of rough edges left that I want to take out before releasing it. Stay tuned for more news about that and my projects soon.

Aug 082012

This has taken longer than expected. But after climbing some mountains, threatening some important people with a steak knife and defeating the odd dragon or two, the domain transfer seems to finally be picking up speed again and Spoonforge will finally move to its new home at Host Europe on August 12th. In other words: this coming sunday. Being a sunday, there are two equally probable outcomes:

  • Not having to work results in me having enough time to move everything over properly and quickly, so that the move will hardly even be noticeable.
  • I will sleep far, far, far too long, wake up, do other stuff, get around to working on Spoonforge at some point in the evening and end up with a half-assed import or even just a dummy site.

I really hope for the first one, because in theory, it should be quick and simple enough.

Of course there is often a difference between theory and praxis, so let’s just see how it goes. In other news: we still have a science lab on Mars!

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