4 Hugues Ross Writes a Devlog: 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013
Hugues Ross


4k Retrospective: Part 8

This is the 8th and final part of a series where I reread my old posts and write about them. View part 1 here.

As I stated last time, this is the final part. It'll take me to the end of the summer, which I think is a pretty good stopping point.

Sound won't be getting its own file format for quite a while. Doomsday Darren Goes Fishing was my first time dealing with sound on a lower level, and it's a bit of a pain. Instead, I'll be making improvements to the existing formats during the next project or two. Of course, there are still one or two things that I'll be adding before AMAZE is over.

Even if I hadn't been playing for a review, I still would've taken that screenshot. I was so happy about that.

Having just watched Pacific Rim may have affected my opinions of this game a bit. The game's great, though. If you missed this post/still haven't played this, do it! It's fun and free.

At this point, I underestimated how long it would take to rewrite the entity system. It's functional at this point, but I'm still not quite done with re-adding collisions. 

Once in a while, I go on a giant coding binge. Usually, this will take me out of commision for a bit. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. Still, I do get quite a bit done during those times.

The schedule has worked remarkably well so far. I'm planning to put it up on sometime this week. Eventually, I may try and expand it, but I'd rather have my schedule be stable rather than full.

I should try to design stuff like this more often. Feature creep is definitely one of my bigger shortcomings.

I've been having some trouble figuring out what to write about the 'Games I Play' posts. Thankfully, this is the last one.

Recently, I've been skipping on quite a few game jams. It's a shame really. At some point, though, having this engine is going to start seriously improving the quality of my games. I probably shouldn't complain.

Ooh, a technical post! I've been meaning to write more of these. Anyways, the new formats have made reading in files quite a bit easier. they've also made files quite a bit smaller. Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results.

After these posts, I went back to Champlain College and that's where I am now. It seems that my newer posts have been reaching lengths that I want, so I'm pretty happy where I am now. The only real improvement that I can think of right now would be to post more content about my actual code, which I'm planning to try in the future.

Also, I'm going to post 2 programming updates this week. There will be a post about Space Douchebag! on Wednesday, and the usual Friday slot will be taken up by AMAZE.


4k Retrospective: Part 7

This is part 7 of a series where I reread all of my old posts and write about them. View part 1 here.

Now, we're approaching the actual summer posts. There will be one more post after this, and then I'm going back to my old schedule.

So, it was certainly nice seeing a milestone like that. Not only had I managed to keep a blog running for a year, I even managed to beat my goal. Maybe next year I can make a post called '159' or something.

I realize that this footage that I promised is still not up. The main difficulty is getting a decent recording. I have a video of A Wheely Good Time on my hard drive, but it has a couple of nasty skips in it. Unfortunately, that may be as good quality as I'll get on my laptop. Depending on how a Diamond Rush! recording goes, I may just have to upload them like that.

Aargh, GLUT is terrible. I'm not sure what made me think to use it for the jam. Anyway, now that I've been using Vim+Make for a while I no longer have any issues without an IDE. I still need to make AMAZE cross-compile to Windows though.

Aaaaaand there goes the projects page. I might consider making a new one at some point, but I'm not sure when. Singularity's been working pretty well(except for one heart-stopping few days where importing broke), and v2.0 can only bring improvements design-wise. 

Arthritis sucks, but I've learned to deal with it. This was just an unusually bad bout of it. As for ECS, actually finding decent information was pretty hard. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on what ECS actually is, so there are many conflicting answers. I got it straight eventually, though.

This summer had awful weather. It was always 80s-90s with massive humidity levels. Without any form of AC, I could hardly even run my laptop. I can also think of another reason not to use SFML. Being a C++ library, it has some easier bits of syntax, but it's also incompatible with C. That's a downer.

I recently found a Gimp plugin that makes sprite sheets automatically in the same way that I'd been doing by hand. I feel a bit dumb now. Still, having my own asset types is pretty neat.

Idea #2 would be so much fun, in my opinion. However, if my computer can't record my games right, then it certainly can't record the kind of stuff you'll find on the market right now. Idea #1, later dubbed 'Games I Play' has turned out pretty well. Sometimes I feel forced to play something and post about it, but it's usually not too bad.

Incidentally, collision detection is what I'm working on reimplementing into AMAZE right now. I'm hoping to get it done in time for the next development update. I've gotten a ton of work done since my last post, so hopefully I can make you guys a nice long dev post next Friday.

This was, as the title suggests, my first 'Games I Play' post. I wasn't sure how to approach the post so I just went for a general breakdown of the elements. I don't like that style too much, but I just sorta stuck with it for the next few posts. Eventually I changed things up, though. I'm happier with what I have now.

The final post will be tomorrow, and following that I'll be returning to the schedule. That means that there'll be a programming post on Friday, and the next 'Games I Play' post will be on the following week. EDIT: The final post is up. Read it here.


4k Retrospective: Part 6

This is part 6 of a series where I reread all of my old posts and write about them. View part 1 here.

We're finally approaching the newer projects. Have another 10:

  • Nothing to See Here [DELETED]
I really don't have anything to say about this.

That's a bit better. This is the very beginning of Singularity, right after Google announced that they'd be getting rid of Google Reader. At the time, I couldn't find any decent alternatives that didn't rely on Google Reader. I'm pretty sure that there are some better services out there now, but I'm still sticking with Singularity.

Hmm. I don't really mind Atom too much anymore, though rss is still much simpler to deal with. Many of the things listed in this post are still true, though. This is more or less how Singularity works now. The only major difference is that the next version will have a separate background process for updating subscribed feeds that continues to run even if you close the application. That way, you won't have to wait a few minutes every time you want to check your feeds. I won't start work for a while, though. I want to finish AMAZE at the very least.

  • A Long-Delayed Update [DELETED]
This was just a notice about summer break. With that over, this post is pretty much useless.

I've made many changes to Singularity, trying to improve load time. Apart from the first time, these have all been pretty minor speed gains. With any luck, the next version will remove this issue completely. Also, somewhere along the line 0.1 and 0.2 became 1.0 and 1.5. I'm not too sure why, but I don't mind too much.

This is definitely one of my best posts. I recommend that you read this one, because it's great. Unfortunately, it doesn't really leave me with much to write about. 

  • Summer Plans [DELETED]
Alright, this one was a bit unrealistic. I managed to get the new Singularity version done before the deadline, though. I mainly just underestimated how long it would take to make the complete engine for AMAZE. Even at this point, the engine's not quite complete enough to finish AMAZE.

Here's another reason why I didn't get much done this summer. The fishing jam went alright, but as you may know trying to port it took quite a while.

The development of this game was interesting. It started out ridiculously slowly, and it slowly sped up. If I had to take a guess, I'd wager that 90% of the game was made during the final 48 hours. If I'd spent as much time during the first few days as I'd done then, It would've been one heck of a game. It was still pretty decent, though.

The game's fun, but it really is a pain to get it working correctly. I recently ironed out some of those other issues with AMAZE, thankfully. I'm aiming to make AMAZE the first game I make that doesn't require much fiddling to get working.

Well, that's today's post! There seem to be around 3 more days worth of posts, so I'm almost done. Next post here.


4k Retrospective: Part 5

This is part 5 of a series where I reread all of my old posts and write about them. View part 1 here.

Alright, here's another part. This suggests that I might be capable of posting more frequently, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to try that yet.

I like this idea. I don't think sounds should drown each other out like they do in this post, but it's still a neat idea. This is also the last design post for Chainsaw Deathrace. I think I stopped once the second semester started to heat up, but I never continued where I left off afterwards.

I was really happy when I finally managed to get the walls working nicely. I didn't get a chance to do anything beyond that, but it's a cool concept piece.

MAN, do I hate actionscript. It's a real pain to work with, and Flash is inefficient(not to mention the arbitrary FPS cap). I'm still a bit split on the whole SDL vs. Allegro deal. SDL 2.0 came out fairly recently, and I'm not certain if either library is definitively better. Hard to say.

  • The Global Game Jam - Now Starting! [DELETED]
Here's another short game jam post. I'm starting to think that the reason I forgot about this is that I haven't done a 48-hour game jam in a long time. In fact, apart from last summer's fishing jam, this was the last game jam I participated in.

  • Done! [DELETED]
Same deal as the last, just about.

Hmm. I'm not too sure which 'next project' I was referring to there. Weird. Normally I'd delete a post like this, but I really like the image.

I think this is the first mention of AMAZE by name. In the end, I actually decided to scrap the map editor project in favor of converting Tiled's .tmx format. So far it's been working beautifully. 

The editor I was working with for the RPG was pretty slick. I really liked it. The new one(which I eventually named LevlEd) went pretty well, but it never got all of the features that I wanted. Of course, that's a bit of a moot point a Tiled easily blows them both out of the water. I knew of it at the time, but I didn't know if I could get it working with everything else too well.

  • Apologies [DELETED]
At this point, I was starting to get better at writing these posts, even when I didn't have much to report. Last Spring was a pretty boring time, as I recall.

"I'm hoping that this sudden burst of energy lasts me until vacation."
Guess I'd already forgotten about the first semester's finals. In case you were wondering, the friend is Peter. He's an ...interesting guy. Perhaps a bit mad, but quite competent.

Man, that's a lot of exclamation marks. I think this series is going to keep on into next week, so I'll be missing a few more posts still. Read the next part here.


4k Retrospective: Part 4

This is part 4 of a series where I reread all of my old posts and write about them. View part 1 here.
I meant to post part 3 yesterday, so here's another part!

Oh, there's another update post. I knew they'd be back. The Linux version of Chainsaw Deathrace obviously never got released. I think I have a working Linux build somewhere, but at this point it's so much worse than everything else that I'm just going to wait until I eventually release v2.0.

I only used SFML for two projects before moving on. It's not too bad, but it feels like there's much better stuff out there. As for the multiplayer, I managed to get everything in order without the networking. That was quite a relief!

Wow, did I really (sort of)reveal #7's name? I'm still not planning on saying any more, except that it's in the same state as the old RPG. I also mentioned putting up a demo of AMAZE, and I really should've done that. At this point, the new version doesn't yet have enough content for that, but I might reconsider later on.

  • Back to Business [DELETED]
This is a pretty boring little update post. One thing that I can talk about a little is my friend Peter Orzell. As I've mentioned before, we're roommates and he composes all of the music in my games. Someday, I might become competent to make my own music, but for now it's up to him. If you want to hear more stuff that he's made, head over to his Soundcloud page.

  • Finished! [DELETED]
How odd. Another jam with almost nothing written down, even at the end. I always feel like I've written a ton, but that may not be the case. Again, this is a tiny post with little more than a link to the game, so I'm deleting it. A Wheelie Good Time may be the best jam game I've made so far. It feels the most complete, in my opinion.

In order to ensure that I got design work done on Chainsaw Deathrace, I decided to post about the design as I came up with it. It was a short-lived series, but I still like it. From a design perspective, I still really like Chainsaw Deathrace because it gives me an opportunity to come up with weird balances of good and bad. The characters are the most extreme part of this. Once in a while, I find myself thinking up of all kinds of crazy new ideas for it. For instance, I considered adding the ability to find new limbs which wouldn't correspond with what you'd lost. This could bring a whole new set of weird advantages/disadvantages.

I'm not entirely sure if I like this idea still. it's pretty cool, but I might rethink how I go about it later. It's tough to say.

Y'know, it's a shame that I couldn't keep up with the 2 sprites per month idea. normally, I make far more than that but just don't think to post any. Space Douchebag has 15 art assets alone, and I haven't even finished the first level! Also, a quick bit of head math tells me that I'm getting more views on average per month now than back when I wrote this, so that's pretty sweet!

What an overly dramatic title! Granted, I was not having a very good Christmas break on account of my lack of both work and drive. Anyways, nowadays I could fix a horrible OS-breaking issue like that in a couple of hours. It's amazing what running an unstable OS on your primary computer will teach you. I also mention trying out running Windows in a VM. What a splendid idea!

OK, maybe it wasn't a splendid idea. It seemed good at the time, I'd just forgotten about the whole 'Needing maximum resources for my Windows installs' sole purpose' thing. So yeah, don't run your gaming OS in a VM. That's just silly. Oh, and spoilers: I've reinstalled my OS countless times since that post. I'm just good enough at it now that it hardly loses me any time at all.

I've gotten pretty far now, but there's plenty more to go. I really like how these posts go perfectly to the end of the year. The next part is here.

4k Retrospective: Part 3

This is part 3 of a series where I reread all of my old posts and write about them. View part 1 here.

As I mentioned in the last part, the posts I'm reviewing here are going to be about Chainsaw Deathrace. The only exception is the last one, which is a quick postmortem on my 0 Hour Game Jam entry. I figured it fit into the game jam theme, so I decided to add it in.

  • And so it Begins.../Chainsaw Deathrace Development Album/Complete [DELETED: Not enough content]
There is surprisingly very little to say about these specifically. They're all very short and any info that they have is available on the Games Page. It felt very weird deleting these, because game jams feel like a very important portion of the content on this blog. In reality, though, I really didn't write much for this one. Just because these are game jam posts doesn't exclude them from the rules.

Moving to another topic, Chainsaw Deathrace feels like one of my bigger successes. I got OpenGL working with AMAZE first, but it wasn't until Chainsaw Deathrace that I started to really feel comfortable about using it.

The 0 Hour Game Jam's hectic, but it's also quite fun! Provided I'm feeling up to it, I might give it another shot this year. I think that once my engine goes through a couple of iterations, I'll be able to throw together good games very quickly. Right now, though, it's way slower than what I was doing back them.

I figured I'd have more to say, but I guess not. The next part is over here.


4k Retrospective: Part 2

This is part 2 of a series where I reread all of my old posts and write about them. View part 1 here.

Let's continue where we left off:

This is a simple little design post explaining how I was planning to handle the RPG project's dynamic map loading system. When I revisit the project eventually, I'll be redesigning this a it. It should work fine in general, but there are a number of tweaks that I would make for this. This was the first post to have 'design illustrations,' and it won't be the last. They're not too frequent, but they help. I don't like these ones too much, though.

  • This Has Nothing to do With Blender [REMOVED - Way too light on content]
This is a really weird post. I guess it's a programming update, but beside the weird bit at the end it's only 2 lines long.

"Null pointers can be a real @#*&%&$^*#$(* to take care of sometimes" is probably the truest thing that old me ever said. Man, do memory errors suck. Thankfully, I now have debugging tools to make my life a bit easier in that regard. I think this is where I stopped working on the game in favour of improving the editor. I may have eventually gotten the whole 'infinite map' thing working, but it's hard to remember and I'm not really in the mood to search through my old code.

I don't remember the non-autotile floodfill being too painful, honestly. Floodfill isn't too bad as long as you've done it before. Anyway, this is the final numbered update for the RPG project. I'm still surprised that I started posting about the project so late in development.

  • The Schedule [DELETED: No longer relevant]
Well, here it is: The beginning of the end. Realizing that I never follow my schedule, but afraid to destroy it, I just make a note that I don't follow it. I also mention the ill-fated projects in progress page that I tried a while back.

This is a weird look into older me. I make a post about updates to Textyventure, and name it after the fact that I'm sick. Old me isn't kidding about the projects, though. Even now, I still have trouble keeping up with them sometimes. I also mention the possibility of making a blog for NSFW content. I haven't had to do it yet, but I've considered it. I have a certain line of what I consider to be ok for this blog, and Space Douchebag/Chainsaw Deathrace are both relatively close to it.
The "Not yet" bit is pretty cryptic sounding. I'm not too sure what old me meant by that, exactly. I have a couple of theories, but nothing definitive.

I think this is the final post about the RPG project. Interestingly, if I had to make that choice again, I'd choose the same languages but for different reasons. The biggest reason would be because I like low-level, non-managed languages and C++ fits the bill perfectly.

I finally delete that schedule. Man, that took a while! I also briefly mention Planets of the Plant, which you can read about in slightly more detail here. Essentially, it was my first school related game project. I think I'm on game 12 now with Space Douchebag.

Oh my, it seems that I actually did talk about the RPG once more. I thought I'd never said anything about the design doc until yesterday, but I guess I was wrong.
More importantly, this is the very first post about AMAZE! This is where it began: a Game Maker tutorial painstakingly(and poorly) recreated in C++. I love how optimistic I am about the schedule here. Now, I think I might finish it before the one year marker, but it's gonna be close. Still, I'm astonished again about how long I waited to post about this. It looks like I've got quite a bit of content, but this is the first mention of the project at all.

Read the next part here.


4k View Retrospective: Part 1

Just as promised, I'm gonna go through all of my old posts and talk about them. I meant to start yesterday, but I've got a ton of work to get done this week. I'll still try to fit these in, but I'll probably end up going into next week a bit.

  • WHAT?! [DELETED - No longer relevant]
This was my first ever post. For some reason, I'd made a blog some time ago...and never posted anything. This post was expressing my confusion, and announcing that I'd be using it.

Ironically, I didn't post again for another 2 months.

The post itself is unusual, too. I just took a picture of some food that I made for some reason. It doesn't even look all that tasty(Though it was). I think I might've posted this just to get something up on the blog. Perhaps I figured I might start putting up personal updates or something. Who knows. Anyway, it wouldn't hurt to just leave it there, which is what I'll do.

I still haven't tried the game I describe here. I've considered trying it recently, but it doesn't seem as fun anymore. Anyway, this gives me more evidence that I was originally planning to make this some kind of life blog, rather than a development blog.

I know for a fact that one of my friends commented on this. However, I can't seem to bring up the comments. That may be why there are never any comments on this blog. Anyway, I think this is a pretty fun little picture, and I'm definitely leaving it up. It's not very well drawn, but I like it.

  • Schedule [DELETED - No longer relevant]
If you want to see my thoughts on this, go here. I haven't used that schedule in a very long time, so there's no point in leaving that post up.

I'll be back to this project someday, but it's going to be a very long time. As much as I still enjoy love2d, I seriously doubt it's quite powerful enough to handle an entire full-scale rpg. Either way, I'm much better at C++ now so it would make more sense to use that. Anyways, I've got a folder for it lying around, and it's got a barely started design document. Someday I'll get around to finishing that, and then I'll see about making an RPG. I'm honestly surprised at how much work on this project I'd gotten done prior to my first post. Nowadays I post my stuff as soon as I start, but here I didn't even think to write about this until I was well into it, it seems.

I really don't have much to say about this. Even back then it looks like I had little to say. It's a rather boring post, but I'll keep it around.

  • A little starting project: Building a castle in Blender [DELETED - No followup. None.]
"This should've been posted up yesterday, but I'm still pretty tired from starting college. Gimme a couple of weeks."
To tell you the truth, I don't think I was ever too psyched about this project. In fact, I believe this was the only post I ever made about it. I dropped this project almost immediately and never looked back. I think this was around when my original schedule started to really fail, so that may be why.

  • Quick Update [DELETED - No longer relevant]
Oh man, I think this is the first ever 'Quick Update'/'Update'/'Minor Update'/etc. That doesn't mean I won't delete it immediately, though. The contents were basically saying that I'd made a schedule page, but had to change the theme to get it working. The theme that I use right now seems pretty buggy, and at the time I had no idea how to get pages showing up with it. Even now, they disappear sometimes.

  • Things and stuff [DELETED - No longer relevant]
Following the first general update post is the first apologetic post! I've got a few of these lying around, and I'll probably be deleting many them eventually. I also mention teaching myself C++ with a "simple text adventure game." I should've known that text adventures are never that simple, at least not when you're using C++ to make them. Still, the project taught me quite a bit. Again, it's still lying around somewhere and I'll finish it eventually. For now, I think I'll stick to AMAZE.

That wraps up the first 10 posts out of 80+. I made a blog a long time ago, posted about it's existence, and promptly forgot it. Then, I started treating it like a general life blog, made a crazy schedule and went to college. Finally, it started falling apart, a process that will reach its conclusion in the next part.

Read the next part here.


Change is Coming!

Once in a while, I think it's important to step back from what you're doing, look around, and revise a bit. I passed 4,000 pageviews recently and I think this is the perfect opportunity to do just that. This week, I'm going to go through all of my old posts, and write about them. Some of this will be simple commentary(or criticism), while other posts might just finish up anything I promised to do but never did. This does mean that I won't be posting any of the regular stuff, though. Along with these posts, I'm going to be deleting anything old that doesn't meet certain standards. For the most part, this will just be those "Sorry for not updating, whoops" posts that are just lying around.

Of course, just going over all of my  old stuff won't be all. From now on, I'm going to try and make my future posts more interesting in general. For starters, I'm going to start posting bits of code and explaining not just what I do in my code updates, but how. I'll be explaining each step of the process so that those of you who don't know how to code can understand what's going on.

Another big change is that I'm finally willing to admit that I made a big mistake this summer. Honestly, I really shouldn't have tried to put together every bit of my engine as a single project. I've recently been considering yet another rewrite, and that's when I decided that I should stop here. Instead, I'm going to just try and finish AMAZE as soon as I can. After that, I'll keep working on the engine as a part of my next project. Hopefully this will encourage me to make lots of games instead of all of these slow, boring updates.
I think that's everything. Basically, I'm going to try and make a ton of changes to make things more interesting. With any luck, the first review post will be tomorrow.


Space Douchebag! - 2 - The Story Thus Far

First off, apologies for not posting this earlier. I meant to post this last weekend, but then I guess it slipped my mind. Anyway, I'm going to use this post to talk briefly about what I've done on Space Douchebag! so far.

  1. Week 1/2: Our beloved hero, the mighty douchebag. 
    1. First off, I came up this weird concept. I wanted to do something simple, like a shooter, but I didn't know what to do for a story. I then realized that most of my shooters are just a dude who shoots everyone ever-regardless of anything. Figured that was rather douchey, and the concept was born.
    2. One of the main game mechanics came from laziness. I wanted to make collision simple, so I stuck a circular collision area on the cockpit. I then realized that I could put it in the story. His ego is so big, that his invincible ship can no longer hold it and it physically manifests itself. Unfortunately, his ego will shrink when shot, and we don't want that. Thus, I got a cool concept: a hitbox that shrinks as you take damage.
    3. Shooting was next. I wanted to do something different, and this ended up manifesting itself in an aiming mechanic. As you move up or down, your ship turns, moving both your ego and making you fire in a different direction. this has led to several cool maneuvers, like rapidly tapping up and down to spray bullets.
  2. Week 3: Boring menu week.
    1. Last week was a little on the boring side. We needed to make a menu system, along with a few other things. In the end, I chose a cool pane based layout for the menus. It looks terrible right now due to time constraints, but it'll look much nicer soon enough.
    2. I also came up with a new concept: Fanmail. Space Douchebag has many large hordes of fangirls who love him for his huge...ship, and they send him intergalactic fanmail. He can only hold so much, but reading it is a huge ego boost. That's how I'll handle health pickups, methinks.
    3. Finally, I made the player's shots grow ever so slightly as they move. It's a subtle, but nice effect.
  3. Week 4: The next step.
    1. Week 4 will be next week, but I've got my assignment already. It looks like it's all about depth effects, so the game may get some nice new graphical sheen. It is a graphics class, after all.
    2. I'll also try to add a basic form of enemy.

So there we have it. Next week will definitely have pictures, and I may post about the art style and such sometime. The nice thing about this project is that results will be much more visually obvious, so there's that. It's all Xna, though, so it's probably going to stay Windows only. 


Games I Play #7: Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Note: I'm making a point of reviewing Locomalito's stuff whenever it gets a Linux release. I feel that this guy deserves as much coverage as possible.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a game that I meant to write about a few weeks back, but didn't. The main reason for this is that I really wanted to try out the multiplayer gameplay first. It's another game made by Locomalito, though I believe it was actually a remake of someone else's game. I don't really feel like doing research at the moment on whom that might be, though. A member of a long-dead genre(remember all of those 'Collect X trinkets before monsters kill you' arcade games?), a game like this is pretty unique in our era even amongst other old-school titles.

The Good:
Man, I really have a soft spot for this games chipper chiptunes. There's something about how they sound that like. Making them transition to a more frantic version when time is running out is a nice touch, and makes me panic quite a bit. Using only the arrow keys, it also has a very simple and responsive control scheme. As usual for Locomalito, the game also features a nice air of authenticity. The best feature in my opinion, though, are the tiny creatures that you collect. Each and every one of them is randomly generated, and the game tells you silly little tidbits about them before each level. It's a really fun touch.

The Bad:
Apparently there's only 15 levels. I'd call it short if not for the soul-crushingly steep difficulty curve. Sure, the first few levels are nothing. After that, though, each and every level starts to feel like a desperate struggle for survival. I like games that challenge me like this, but I'll bet that many people would be turned away by it. Your mileage may vary. Co-op mode was pretty annoying when playing with a large skill imbalance. My friend would quickly die when I had full lives because I had several weeks on him, and then he'd have to sit things out until it was over for me. If I could somehow toss a life or two at him, or even if lives were shared, I really wouldn't have minded. As it was, I was sad to see them sit around and watch for minutes at a time, when I'd called them over to play with me.

You can download the game for free here.


Space Douchebag! - 1 - Don't Panic

Please don't panic. I haven't stopped development on AMAZE or anything. I'm going to use this post to explain what's going on, and the next few will focus on actual development.

First, AMAZE is in a bit of a slow spot. I finished rewriting the import/export stuff, but now I need to add more to some of the files as well as making other various changes. The binary file stuff has only recently shown just how bad an idea it was, but I'm pretty much committed to getting it working now. Obviously, it sucks and makes me not want to work much, dragging on the process further.

Second, I've had my programming time seriously cut into by college. I knew it was going to happen, but I'd forgotten how dramatic a cut it was. I'm also teaching myself how to use Vim in the meantime, which is making me unproductive since I'm still not used to using it. I can feel sometimes how it'll help make me faster once I've used it for another month or two, but it's going to be a while until I can really make use of that latent power.

Finally, my Graphics Development class requires me to program one or more games in C# via XNA, so I figured I could post progress on that stuff during slow weeks. It's win-win. I don't have as much pressure to get work done, and you guys don't have to suffer through another year of boring apologetic updates.

Well, that's out of the way. It's pretty late, so I'll explain Space Douchebag! and get you all caught up on its' development in a later post, probably this weekend.


No Post

So I didn't post yesterday, breaking my schedule for the first time since it began. I have a pretty good reason, though. After a Windows update, the wifi card stopped working on my Linux install for some reason. I then tried booting into Windows, which immediately bluescreened. Running startup repair seems to have fixed most of my problems, but my wifi still occasionally dies for some reason. Also, some of my icons changed somewhere along the line.

Needless to say, I was busy last night. I've also been mostly working on school stuff this week, so I may post about that later to compensate.

EDIT: As of yesterday, I think I've sorted everything out. Regular posting will return on Friday.


Games I Play #6: Bastion

Anyone curious why I keep writing about games that have(mostly) been out for a while? Part of this is that I've been slowly growing my Steam library for a couple of years, but I also just don't usually buy games right when they come out. It's not even much of a conscious decision, it just sorta happens. Anyway, on to the game of the week: Bastion (No pictures this time because I was lazy and distracted today). So, Bastion is a 2d isometric hack&slash-type game that rests firmly in the 'action adventure' supergenre(It's really a bit too big to call a genre at this point). The core gameplay revolves around fighting your way through fantastic monsters and such using an ever-growing variety of weapons. The story is pretty interesting, but the most interesting part is how this story is relayed to you. I'll just put that in.....

The Good:
The game's got a narrator. Not the occasional monologue, a real narrator. As things occur, both in gameplay and story, He comments on it, or sometimes straight-up tells you it. So often, the rule of story is "Show, don't tell." This game beats that rule by both showing and telling, and it does a great job of it! When you talk to an NPC, no dialogue occurs. The narrator just comments or summarizes, giving you a clear idea of what they said. It might seem awkward, but it feels quite natural. This is especially true when you do something rather gamey, like breaking all of the destructible objects in some area, and he actually comments on it and finds some reason why you might have done that in-character! This is some crazy stuff that no other game that I've ever heard of has done. It helps that he never seems to repeat himself. On top of it all, that narrator has the best voice ever. I wish he'd come over to my dorm and read me a bedtime story every night. That would be so great. As for gameplay, it's pretty fun. There's a decent selection of enemies that I've seen so far, and more show up often enough that they never really feel stale. The game also offers tons of character customization, at least mechanically, but it serves it up over time. There's at least enough that it feels like you could make many very different yet still viable builds, something that can often be tricky to balance. Towards the end of the options, you even get the ability buff your enemies for extra challenge and bonuses.

The Bad:
There's not much ground. This might not sound too bad, but in a game with a dodge roll and fall damage... it felt to me like I had to be overly cautious. Ranged weapons are pretty much essential, but aiming felt horrible at first. I couldn't tell if I was aiming at head level, or the ground. It seems like a small difference, but it will screw you up quite a bit. Fortunately, I eventually realized that holding down the guard button makes me lock on to an enemy. Unfortunately, that makes you turn automatically, so locking onto the wrong enemy can prove disastrous to your health. The fact that you can't revisit old areas just to experience them again is a big downer, too. Such are story-centric games, I suppose.

In the end, the narrator alone makes this game fabulous. The fact that everything else is well executed too is just icing on the cake. I'm willing to call this one of gaming's few unique experiences.

You can buy the game here.