Sunday, August 31, 2003

I have just finished watching Tuxedo, the latest Jackie Chan film. My god this film is bad. Its one of the worst I've seen in ages. I feel embarrased for Jackie that he is in such a poor film. This is so far behind classics like Rush Hour or Shanghai noon, or some of his earlier more obscure work.
It saddens me to think that the scriptwriters and co-stars of this film might still have jobs.

I bought a copy of Republic today. I am not even listed in very small ink in the credits, but as my first impressions are that its pretty poor, Im not too fussed.
Opening up an ini file reveals these entries:
Which reminds me that I did do some work on the game, as I recall putting them in. ho-hum.
It pains me that it can take 5 years to make a game, and that at the end of the process, nobody has thought that everyone expects th ESC key to quit the current screen, or the mouse wheel to be reserved for zooming in and out. AFAIK you cant zoom the camera in Republic.
After 10 mins of looking at the interface, I am not motivated to learn how to play it all, especially while I have Eve-online to play, and StarLines to work on. (not to mention a Roast dinner to cook - its Sunday after all ;)).

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Im sure I have some missing blog posts...most worrying.
Anyway I've more or less decided to go buy Republic:The revolution tommorow, even though Its been slagged off, and I reckon I should get a free copy for having worked on the thing.
I did some improvemnets to the menu for StarLines this morning, and also played quite a bit of eve-online.
I've also been checking out the visuals created by the game-of-life which is a mathematical phenomena based around a single, simple equation, which is a graphical way of represneting how virtual organisms can evolve from chaos.
There is some great stuff on this here:


And I reckon one day Ill use this to do a seriously cool screensaver.
My indie game survival guide book was dispatched today, which im looking forward to reading. hurrah!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Yesterday I was at this Activ8 trade show thing to promote The Movies (although all i did was drive a lot and play games). One of the other games on show there was Rome:Total War. This game looked totally amazing, way beyond the sprite-based mess that was Medieval:Total War. The only problem is that the anims are all synched (no dithering) so the units look a bit robotic. Easily as cool looking as Hal-Life 2 anyway.
One of the other imrpessions I got from the 'show' was how noisy and conflict0based all the other games were. There were about ten million World War 2 games, all involving lots of butch men yelling and screaming and stuff exploding. Im sure the target audience loves this, but I doubt these games sell well with the over 30s or women.
Hopefully StarLines has a 'slightly' broader appeal, if I ever get the update to it finished ;)
I have sold a copy of Planetary Defense, and a Super Games bundle in the last 2 days, so thats encouraging.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Upgrading my video card drivers to the exact version that eve online recommends has totally banished ALL of my crashing problems, so I almost feel tempted to cancel my recent PC upgrade order.... But there agian, it won't do any harm to have a faster PC! I might even be able to play Half Life 2 on it once it comes out.
Its only a few days until Republic:The Revolution is released. This was the first big game I ever worked on, and I'm interested to see what its like. Doesnt look like I'll get a free copy, which is totally insane, so I guess I'll borrow someone elses. I refuse to pay money to play a game I helped to make, even if my contribution was only minimal.
3 copies of starlines sold this morning through RealGames, which is good. I'm planning on selling the upgraded version of StarLines through them, I'm still surpised at the number of sales the old version gets considering they are mainly a puzzle game publisher.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Work continues slowly on the new Menu code for StarLines. I've also been dithering a lot about what new motherboard and CPU etc to get in order for my home PC to be a suitable system to play Eve Online. At the moment I'm leaning towards an Intel Motherboard, 2.4 gig chip and 512 meg of RAM. The thing that puts me off is the thought of having to install Windows 2000 again, which is sad really as I am MCSE qualified, but I just know it will lead to lots of cursing and getting depressed about having screwed it up etc...
Of course reinstalling your O/S is a good thing to do some times anyway, and the stupid partioning on my current 2 drive setup means that doing so is long overdue. Personally I hate Windows XP, so won't be upgrading to it anytime soon, although hopefully a fresh W2k install will mean it will actually allow me to service pack it properly, unlike my current install which is extremely flaky.
I've sold a few shareware copies of Starlines in recent days which is pretty encouraging. I've decided I'll be radically changing the monetary values in the new game, so that instead of a module costing 200 CR it will be more like 2000. The bigger numbers just 'feel' better, just one more thing I'm learning from Eve.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Got a check from RealGames this morning, but its a pittance, partly because they reckon they made an overpayment in the past and are deducting to pay it off, but partly because of the myriad discount schemes they operate, meaning someone can get an (older) version of StarLines for $7. I'm not especially keen on that game being available at that price, I think you should always charge what you think your game is worth. I reckon $19.95 is fair enough for that game, its got lots of gameplay, a fair bit of content, and you should easily get your 20 hours of gameplay from it, which works out pretty good value.
I have been lured too much into the dark evil world of Eve Online to get huge amounts of code done, but I'm still making progress.
If you have played StarLines you'll know that the menu screens are quite dull, so I'm spicing them up a bit.
Today at work for some unknown reason Peter molyneux was wearing a hat made out of magnets. We have photographic evidence. I wonder if we can sell it on ebay....

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Well A friend of mine has ordered one of these, and The pains of playing Eve Online on an 850 Athlon are pushing me towards upgrading. I'm reluctant to splash out on a new PC, as I'm happy with my monitor, hard disk etc, and resent buying things like modems or soundcards that i already have.
I think I'll wait a month or so, then get myself a new mobo, Intel pentium 4 and 512meg RAM.
I managed to get up ealry enough this morning to update some of the menu screen code for starlines, but its tough finding time away from eve online to do any code at the moment.
It looks ike I might get an article published here which will be cool.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

This mornings mailbox brings me a $17 sale of StarLines (Shareware) plus 2 sales through RealGames, which isn't bad going. After reading an article about marketing yesterday(sorry can't remember the URL), I was inspired to jazz up the info page for my first ever game: Star Miner. The basic thrust was that there wasnt enough information on the page, which tends to 'undervalue' the game. I added a download calculator to help persuade people to get the 1.8MB zip file, plus instructions on how to unzip the game, with a link to the winzip homepage.
Doing stuff like this takes 20 minutes, but its stuff I often dont bother to do and Im sure over the years Ive missed out a few dozen sales as a result at least.
Work continue slowly on StarLines, but now I'm security officer for the L33t Corp corp in Eve-Online, its hard to find the time ;)

Thursday, August 14, 2003

I've found the only way to ensure I get work done on StarLines is to do it BEFORE I log on to eve-online. Such is its addictive nature.
I discovered today that I won't get a free copy of THIS GAME Which is a bit grim considering I worked on it! For the record, I did some collision detetcion code, some newspaper layout code, some sound programming and some tools work. Knowing how big games companies work, they probably redid all of my code all over again at some stage. When a game is in production for fourty thousand years like some of these big projects (Duke nukem forevere and ever and ever...) They always end up redoing everything after they have spent 2 million before working out what the game will be like.
Its a bit depressing, but reminds me just how much more viable Indie games are! And I don't see my day job taking four years either, the Movies is already looking pretty cool.
On a separate note, im getting increasingly put off THESE BOARDS which were once the best forums for the whole indie developer scene. Unfortunately they are now swamped with lots of people wanting feedback on very amateur puzzle games, much like GameDev became. Oh well... hopefully Steve will sort it out, and moderators can redirect newbie questions to a central FAQ.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Its been amazingly hot recently, and I've been too busy coding and playing Eve online to make any blog entries. Lots of the Fault stuff in StarLines is finished, I sold a few shareware copies after a brief period without any sales (always worrying when that happens). Also got a pretty good rewrite of some of the AI stuff done at work over the last few days, which is finally looking like some organised code rather than a spiders web.
I got my Jem hadar phaser delivered, but wasn't very impressed with it, so there you go. I must stay away from ebay in future ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Today was the hottest day in Britain since records began, at over 100 degrees F. As a result I didnt spend much time coding! I have spent most of the day playing Eve online which has been great fun. Also sold quite a few games today, which is excellent news, and finally remembered to fill out my VAT return. The govt owes me £109. woohoo!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Wrote some good stuff at lionhead yesterday, very pleased with a rewrite of the actions system that will allow a lot easier editing and expanding of the AI for all the characters.
Evening was spent chatting to pals about eve online and drinking. woohoo.
The eve-online server is down for an hour at 11.00am gmt every day. this is a real pain for British players. ho-hum, better do some code instead I guess...
Got an email this morning from my brother who is kayaking in canada. Thats the life.
Hopefully I'll have some decent screenshots of StarLines ready soon.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

I've got some cool code written at home and work recently. The save/load hell is becoming better since I decided to write my own. Your own code is always easier to debug than anyone elses, and it means atr crunch time we can always get hold of the codes author (me).
Today amongst other things I taught my little AI people in the Movies to lean on walls. This isnt a big deal, but the beauty of it was the whole thing was done without changing any code, such is the data driven quality of the Movies code. hurrah.
I'm currently redoing the fualt system in Starlines, having been motivated to work on the game by playing Eve Online. I now have 2 mining lasers and 2 drones on my ship, and life is certainly more exciting as you approach the low law level mining systems on the perimeter of the galaxy. hurrah.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Another sweltering day. Thank god for air conditioning. I just read about a very interesting book called 'Masters of Doom' about id software, but amazon are quoting 4 weeks delivery and it looks like the other major UK chain - waterstones, are practially owned by amazon. Talk about a monopoly. And Books Online dont stock it.
Ive been playing some Eve Online (got my first mining drone - hurrah) and have done some rewriting of the fault stuff in StarLines.
Im impressed by the ability of eve online to change its gui colors, something I might have to include within StarLines. I'm not so impressed by its window management which seem scluttered, requiring multi monitors or high resolutions to have a workable setup.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Hurrah, I won my ebay bid, by bidding at the last 3 secodns before the auction closed. Heres what I got:
Replica Jem H'adar Phaser
Have been getting seriously into Eve Online, which is excellent. Also got some big bugs sorted out at work.
Its frighteningly hot here today. HERE IS THE EVIDENCE So its hard to get much done codewise.
This morning I got a letter from the corp tax man (why can't the inland revenue handle this junk online? i always lose bits of paper) and a nice thousand-dollar check for the last quarter from egames, with whom I sell some of my stuff.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Been playing EVE for a bit. I joined a corporation(NERD INC) and was just begininning to think that there wasnt enough 'action' in the game when some swine comes out of warp and blows my ship to bits.
damn. back to the drawing board.
Got some work done on StarLines to do with ship sales and refuelling. Also tried adding some new GUI stuff, but I'm not happy with it. I want a way to show the level of trade between each of the worlds, and I just dont have a good implementation yet.
I am close to declaring my advertising on gamextazy as marginally worthwhile. However, in shocking news, I have been outbid with just 19 hours to go on an ebay item. Ive raised my bid, but I'm wary of going much higher...

Saturday, August 02, 2003

I bought EVE ONLINE and it rocks. I decided my first character would be female, Im still learning how to play, but my in-game name at the moment is marias irreal. Here she is:

Eve looks to be a great game, I'm a bit narked that you cant add extra modules to your ship, instead having to buy better ships or upgrade existing modules (one tiny area where StarLines is better ;)) There is so much stuff in this game that I want incorporated into StarLines...

Its rare that a game looks so amazingly cool that I rush out and buy it the day after I see it running, but EVE ONLINE looks to be that game. From the looks of it, its the modern MMORPG version of the classic ELITE game from the eighties, and I HAVE to own it asap. Even the character generation looks extremely cool, rivaling the best stuff in games currently in development in terms of facial morphing etc.
Graphcis also look lovely, its got the look that I want StarLines to have one day.
Also saw GTA Vice City running. I dissaprove of games like this because they are so gratuitous and aimed so cynically at young teenage boys, which is why we dont get enough women playing games. I have to say that having seen it running, I think it looks terrible, poor graphics and poor interface. Certainly not worth the money.
I sold 8 copies of StarLines as sharewrae in the last month. At $17 after fees, thats not too bad at all. Also Im only a few hours away from closing the auctions im bidding on at Ebay

Friday, August 01, 2003

Got some cool stuff working on The Movies today, But as per usual it all fell apart when being shown to the rest of the team. Why is it that mysterious bugs only ever show up when you are demonstrating your working code?
Oh well.
Tried the star wars mod for BF1942 today. very very poor stuff. The texturing is awfull and its far inferior to the original game. Why is it that amateur coders and artists try to do a 3D game like 1942 when they are better suietd to doing a good 2D platform game, like the people doing THIS game which looks pretty cool.
Last night whilst trying to fall asleep I had major ideas for some extra GUI stuff for StarLines, which I even started coding this morning whilst chomping my breakfast before leaving for work. Should be pretty cool if I get it looking right.