No news is good news…

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life, Pioneer | Posted on 27-09-2012

This may be a little rambling as I don’t really have anything solid to discuss but it seems some people read this now more than LJ or G+ so here goes!


I had an interview at Crytek last week on Thursday, actually a week ago today – go me and my ability to remember what day it is! The interview seemed to go well, the programming test was apparently good too, we chatted and got on ok and although I vacillate about absolutely every single decision I ever make I would like to work on their tech in the tools department. It’s got lots of upsides compared to regular gameplay coding, the possibility of going home at a reasonable hour regularly being one of them, but more than that it’s because the CryEngine tools are fucking amazing with lots of shiny shiny cool things in them!

They were supposed to get back to me at the start of the week to let me know if I’ve made it through to the 2nd stage of interviews but erm… they haven’t. I guess this is just because they’re very busy, which they seemed to be on the day of the interview, but of course it does leave you hanging in limbo for a while.

This is becoming a bit of a theme actually and yes, I am getting bitter about it. Of the last, ooh, 9 jobs applied to Crytek were the only ones to actually reply at all. The others? I don’t even know if they received my application, my CV, anything.

So that’s the job front covered, 1 interview, 8 places ignoring me, ooh no sorry, 9 places ignoring I forgot about another one near Leamington Spar!


Hows the money situation going then? Well I, along with many other ex-Monumental Games Ltd staff, finally received the compensation claim from the liquidation of assets. At last some cash eh… I was owed ~£980 so I was really hoping this would come through and maybe help out with the mortgage a bit and when the cheque arrived I ripped open to envelope to discover I had been given … £13.78! Yes, amazing eh, what a waste of time that was. Dave was owed over £2100 so he got about £30, just… so pointless. Mortgage still screwed then.

Which is a double shame because I really bloody want the new Halo 4 which is due out on November 6th! Dammit need a job FAST!

Fun stuff:

Danni and I went to the National Space Centre down in Leicester last weekend. I’ve been wanting to go ever since I discovered it was there a couple of years ago and finally we got the chance so Danni treated me. It is totally aimed at kids from 5 to 13 it seems but that’s fine with me as my mental age is probably somewhere between those two figures (do be kind in your judgements). I got some photos and played on lots of the exhibits AAAAAAND there’s a cool planetarium which made me feel dizzy and queasy but was worth it anyway, there’s also a couple of rocket assemblies, boosters and things which sit above the food hall area. Skipped the last bits with a simulator ride and some other bits as I was getting a bit worn out (past my nap time obviously). I can recommend taking along a child or any adult like me :) I wish we’d been able to take Tom actually – for those who don’t know him, Tom is not a child, he’s my age but… similarly… brain-ed.

Other than that I’ve been hacking away on Pioneer and trying to get my brain around water/ocean rendering from space (SPAAAAACE) which is a fiendishly tricky thing to understand actually, which is why I’m still working on it. On the plus side I’ve gotten lots of other things into the upcoming version of Pioneer so that’s keeping me motivated and coding away. I should probably be making a log actually because there’s a bunch of Pull Requests that have made it in like these:

  1. Commodity Icon Size
  2. Add the Achernar star system from FFE
  3. Fix the VC2010 project files
  4. Another fix for the VC2010 project files, this time re-adding Lua!
  5. Vertex cache optimisation and GeoSphere render call reduction
  6. New Visual Studio 2012 Express Edition solution and projects.
  7. Add support for compressed textures.
  8. Updated the vc2012 3rd party libs/pdb files for ogg and vorbis

Then there’s the ongoing work which is only:

That ones taking a while because of a few reasons, the simplest one is that I want to make as small a change as possible that enables the minimum functionality and get it into the game. This is because I just don’t know where the idea/system is going to go design wise. No-one does which is why no-one has wanted to do the work in the first place. The trouble is that it means there’s not really a lot there to discuss other than the choices I’ve made which I’ve only made to give us a minimum working system to then build on. I fully accept that it’s probably not what we might eventually want, but it’s meant to be a starting point rather than an end because currently… there just isn’t anything.

There’s a load of branches that I’m playing around with too but they’re just work in progress stuff and me pratting around trying to figure things out.


Summary? Wtf is this a report or a blog? Oh right yes this is a bit reporty isn’t it, damn.

Well that’s my life at the moment anyway, awesome isn’t it, behold the life of a games programmer, please leave a donation in my upturned hat on your way out :)

In response to critique of a title I worked on…

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life | Posted on 15-09-2012

So, today I have been digging up reviews and information on games I’ve worked on. Right the way back QA on Super Skidmarks Megadrive.

Along the way I inevitably got to MotoGP 10/11, this is one of those games that’s so wrapped up in a very painful set of events that it’s hard to tell whether I love the game because of how great it is, or because of the events that came long behind it. Nevermind all that though, I’m out looking for reviews!

When I find this:

Now the review might be “fair“, a bit harsh giving only 6 out of 10, marked down quite hard by the graphics it seems. Not really fair to compare MotoGP 10/11 against other games out, they ran at half the framerate, it’s very easy to make one game look better than another when it has twice as long to draw each frame but then stutters along when anything happens on screen.

So I go to make a comment on this long dead review when I see the reply from “SpeedEight“… and I laugh my arse off.

I know *exactly* who “SpeedEight” is and the two responses to his post just make me grin so wide I think the top of my head might come off. Sadly he never replied any further, I’d have paid money to read that thread.

Anyway this being the internet I posted my own reply, a lengthy one of course but with a much calmer head… of course the internet ate it and it’s gone for good due to it wanting me to enter the captcha phrase, if you try to comment on that review you’ll see that there is no captcha system. Odd.

I’m not actually going to go into the MotoGP 10/11 review… well I might but first I wanted address another comment from the reviews author.

I would like to point out that I am studying Computer Games Technology so I know what goes into making a game and this is my honest opinion of this game.

Good, we wouldn’t want a dishonest opinion, and perhaps he’s striving to keep reviews around the 5 out of 10 range, excellent goal, noble even, misguided and doomed to failure but can’t fault it idealistically anyway. Then there’s the rest of that sentence:

I am studying Computer Games Technology so I know what goes into making a game

Yes… and I’ve read Shakespeare therefore I can write better books.

I’ve also been into games development since I was 15 and programming for even longer, I did a degree (BSc Visualisation with honours) at Teesside University, I had worked at GAME on the high-street and have played quite a few games across many, many, many systems, I’d even made a few games using Shoot ’em up construction kit, and AMOS and until I’d actually worked in the industry and shipped a whole game I knew absolutely fucking nothing.

This might be an effect related to the fact that the less you know the more you *think* you know, like how teenagers know everything, small children think houses cost £6.85 and because government ministers have never had jobs we’re all doomed. The effect gets thoroughly bludgeoned out of programmers during their first time working with another coder, artists the first time they hold a pencil and designers the first glorious time they try to get a programmer to implement that “one little thing“. Oh, no that’s just a bludgeoning.

It’s the realisation that you really know nothing about something until you’re the one who has succeeded in doing it.

We can try and communicate that love is all consuming, how beautiful a view is, how cold and lonely the middle of the Atlantic was at times, how exhausting that 3rd week doing 7 days a week from 8am to 2am but until you’ve done it you really only have this shell or outline of the experience and a bit of text saying “fill-in-later“.

I’m not sure exactly when I realised I knew nothing, but by the time MotoGP 10/11 had finished I knew I’d learn’t a huge amount since that time and now I was certain, absolutely certain, that I would never be capable of learning it all because none of us are.



The two faces of Capitol

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Pioneer | Posted on 05-09-2012

I MADE THIS! …and it’s awesome :)

Essentially I translated the old Achenar star system, and seat of the Empire, from the Frontier/FFE details into the system we use for Pioneer and placed it out at the real system “Achernar” upon with it was based (the names are interchangeable). It gives everyone who used to love the old games a bit of a buzz and it’s an interesting star system in it’s own right. Future modifications will give the star it’s correct bulge due to it’s rate of spin.

Just to be clear, there is no Empire faction with it’s seat of power here in the Pioneer-verse, this is just the system made to look like the FFE one and it’s located at sector (4, -9, -16) so it’s a long way to jump out to it.

Really happy whenever anything I’ve done makes it into the main trunk on Pioneer, it gives an overwhelming sense of achievement, even if it is only using some Google-fu, doing some simple maths and then a bit of typing.

One side is lit by Achernar, the other is lit by Achernar 9 (a brown dwarf sub-stellar object).

This should be available in the next Alpha build and probably in the nightly ones pretty soon.

September, still unemployed but happy update!

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life | Posted on 03-09-2012

So it’s been 2 months since I finished my last contract, well, 2 months and 3 days. It’s also now 3 months (+3 days) since I was last paid! Neither of these things is great news but I’m doing surprisingly well right now.

A quick recap just to get my brain in order:

*Sept->Dec (2011)* – Sony London (soho) studio worked on the Harry Potter Book of Spells using their new WonderBook platform, top secret at the time and I can still only mention that I worked on it. That was ok, frustrating at times as they were really hunting around to find the best bits so a lot of stuff fell on the cutting room floor. At the end they offered me another contract on more money beginning when I returned from sailing.

*Dec->Dec (2011)* – Sailed across the Atlantic with my Dad in a slightly broken boat! You can see the photos if you look in my photo archives. Scary, a bit dangerous but not too much – certainly seemed and felt dangerous at the time in places. Good experience, I can’t believe this is already 9 months ago.

*Jan (2012)* – Sony didn’t contact me before/over Xmas – total panic as I needed a job and thought I had everything lined up. Thankfully Rik had been trying to contact me about doing some mobile development for Android & iOS for his new company AppCrowd. This was interesting, I’d be able to work from home a lot and the pay was good enough, nowhere near Sony but not in London and working from home lots meant it was about equal. I took the job with AppCrowd.
Of course Sony contacted me a couple of days later and it was all down to a slight snaffu with HR etc, it’s always HR that screw things up but I’d made my mind up and stuck with the AppCrowd decision.

*Jan->Jun 29th (2012)* – The AppCrowd contract came to an end after a 1 month extension. In some ways I was glad because the publisher we were working for were becoming a real nightmare. It was like they simply had no clue about how to do game development despite being in the business for years before. I think they were just too used to being able to make big changes very easily in the older J2ME games. When the games get bigger and the resources required balloon you need to plan out those changes before work gets done on them or you end up paying multiple times for a single task.

*Jun->now (2012)* – the publisher decided to withhold payment for work done so they could negotiate a better deal, that meant AppCrowd don’t have the money to pay me for the work extra month of work I did in June…

So as you can imagine things are a bit tight money wise right now but they couldn’t be better on other fronts.

Danni is awesome, we went on holiday for a few days and did lots of Shakespeare related stuff (saw a play, visited museums etc), then she was away for 2 weeks travelling around Europe but I got her back this weekend :) she’s gone back to work (teaching) today which is a bit of a bummer as I’d have liked to have her around for a bit longer all to myself!

I have a new niece (see my photos) called “Poppy Isabella Lydiatt” who is, as babies often are, quite adorable. My other niece Amelia Joy is being a good older sister, she especially likes the fact that all of the babies things are pink because this means that she can be the boy and have everything blue… I’m buying her a Transformers toy :)

Also I’m actually getting interested in programming again rather than just doing it because I feel I must to keep my skills in shape, or for programming tests or indeed for work. Mostly this has meant doing things to which I’ve just been submitting various little patches covering some basic icon scaling and keeping the VC2010 project compiling etc. However I have also been working on the Factions code that I started months ago and it’s coming along nicely now.
In other coding news I have been working on the Syndicate level viewer and adding pathfinding too it and the GWEN UI etc but that’s gone on hold once more :)

…so there, end of braindump!