Of ripped assets and other painful metaphors

Posted by | Posted in Game Development | Posted on 07-08-2012

Time to speak of work and I haven’t been slacking off or wasting my time!

Last night I finally integrated the Gwen UI system with “the project” so it’s now even getting a bit of polish and usable UI rather than bizarrely assigned keypresses. There are some notes that I’d make about Gwen before you pick it as your UI of choice.

  1. Firstly I’m using it with SFML 2.0 pulled direct from the SFML git repository. That means I’ve had to make some changes just to get it to compile with it. These are documented on a number of different sites so I’ll probably upload a patch somewhere and try to document them on here in a separate post later.
  2. The Gwen solution for VS2010 is a classic example of an uber-solution. All of the projects are inside it for all possible libraries that it can build so if you don’t have Allegro or DirectX 2D available or in your global paths then you’re going to get lots of compile errors. A better approach might have been to have a number of different projects for each implementation but nevermind.
  3. This is very much an ingame psuedo-serious UI. It’s not for a HUD – though I’m sure I could twist it to do so, it’s providing MFC alike buttons, text windows, scroll bars and things like that. In this regard it’s exactly what I’m looking for and my impression of it’s abilities will probably change as I learn to use it.

So far it all looks very simple but powerful and I wish I’d actually gone through those minor hassles before now. I can think of a few older projects I’ll be integrating it with post-haste because they’ll look a lot more professional once I have!

Speaking of “the project” this is the one I’ve been reluctant to show screenshots of because I’m currently using ripped isometric graphics from a rather popular isometric Bullfrog game. It’s silly of me because eventually I think only the presentation will be isometric the graphics themselves will be 3D assets but I’m having to learn a lot of things that people back in the Amiga days just seemed to be aware of. I may be trivialising the work of those pioneers with that sentence but I don’t half feel stupid trying to work some of it out.

Ideally there’d be some set of these 3D assets lying around, I could integrate them now and modify the renderer to get everything displaying again. It’s a lot of work to look like you’re standing still but it’s a necessary part of the handover process from pseudo 2.5D to true 3D assets. Nothing is ideal though and my art skills have never been anything more than complete cack therefore I’m stuck with 2.5D and ripped assets for the time being. I can still get on with the system, audio and gameplay though oh and the ingame editor UI which is what the Gwen integration is for.

Broomy was talking seriously about quitting and going indie but needing a year long plan, so we spent most of an evening working out whether we can take “the project” further than my whimsical hacking. He’s actually more clued up about the whole thing than I am and would prefer to start smaller or use middleware like Unity or UDK which is very sensible but does have a learning curve we’d both have to get over. There’s also the issue of what else to make, we’re both talented enough to make some pretty cool little games, it’s more a question of: “What cool little game can two guys make in less than 3 months to start earning a tiny bit of money?” – this is actually quite trivial to answer if you consider the available markets, i.e: PC, Android or iOS. That answer is, none. Or less pessimistically: If 10,000 two man teams made a game in less than 3 months only one of those teams would break even or better.

Currently I find myself in the position of trying this by default since I don’t have a job, go me.

I’ve worked on and off on “the project” since January so it’s not exactly new but finding time and sustaining motivation is really tricky. it began as nothing more than a Syndicate level viewer. I just wanted to scroll around the maps a bit for nostalgia. Then I started exporting them in a more flexible and editable format, then came the different palettes, then dissecting the level construction, then the level collision etc. Now it’s becoming… well “the project”. The Syndicate-level-viewer origins became a bit of a hindrance a little while ago but only in a few minor ways, that’ll all fade away soon. Mostly though what I’m doing is just fun now, something I enjoy going back to work on each day.

Working on this has another benefit, it’s reminded me that I need to focus more, to work on just one thing at a time: Do one thing at a time and do it well.

I’ve lost track of the days!

Posted by | Posted in boris, Life | Posted on 07-08-2012

We all knew it would happen eventually but today I officially lost track of what day it was. This is doubly worrying since my birthday (33, woot!) was only on Saturday the 4th, but here were are on Tuesday the 7th (thankyou calender) and until I checked I hadn’t a clue.

This is the inevitable results of not having worked for so long (about 5 weeks and counting), there’s no regularity, no rhythm or pulse to life to separate the days out according to some greater plan. I think I’ve managed to go so long with that pattern externally enforced thanks to Danni. Being a primary school teacher means that she’s got a very regular 5 day working week with a 2 day working weekend. It forms a good beat to time life by. Of course now its the summer holidays and that’s all gone out of the window and with it any sense of the passage of time aside from how bright/dark the sky is. NB: currently grey.

As an aside I’m currently watching Boris, our pet adult bearded dragon, pace back and forth along the skirting board the runs alongside the sofa. I’m not sure why he keeps doing this but the last few days he scratches at the glass of his vivarium to be let out, then proceeds to skrat around along this skirting board (its right outside his vivarium) then when he gets cold he goes back inside to warm up. He’ll repeat this several times. There’s an entire ground floor that he could go and explore, and he usually does instead of this – in fact he did it most of this morning, but just recently it’s all about the skirting board. Bizarre lizard, wonder what’s actually going on inside that tiny mind of his.

Ebay(.co.uk) has been saving my finances this month, though not as much I’d hoped. Firstly I did well selling off an older phone for as much as I had originally paid for it, yay! Then I tried to shift my Samsung Galaxy S2 (/S II), that one I ended up selling for £75 less than I paid for it, but that was 6 months ago and since then they have released the S3 so it’s not too bad. I just feel dumb for not selling it sooner and limping on with a dodgy phone.

I now have a HTC One S on contract with Orange. Initially I was nervous of going onto a tariff + phone contract again but in hindsight it makes a lot more sense, even financially, for me. If you can afford to rush out and buy the latest super-phone outright then great because you can end up spending a bit less than going on a contract… in my case it would equate to a massive *insert-drumroll-here* £25 saving over 2 years!!! Woohoo, wow £25 I’ve been conned out of with my contract, what a sucker I am. Yup really it’s only £25 difference. I was amazed when I did the maths, so was the guy selling it to me actually :D he then threw in one of those crappy “care kits” that they charge £49.99 for for free so right now I’m technically up on the whole deal. Of course then my contracting job ended which wasn’t great timing but nevermind.

Switching into discussing work next so I’ll separate these posts.