Sunday, September 28, 2003

Sunday is roast chicken day. woohoo!
Also a day when Ive managed to squeeze in a bit of work on StarLines inbetyween playing Eve Online. I'm tidying up the tutorial, removing any text that reffered to old features that arent there, and making the system more robust. I also intend (at some point) to add support to highlight certain areas of the screen so that the player knows which buttons or tabs etc I am talking about in the tutorial.
Basically I'm trying to make sure that nobody is turned away from the game in confusion in the crucial 15 minutes of their first game. I remember reading years ago that Age Of Empires was a success because it had 'a great first 15 minutes'. This is even more important for indie games, as I suspect many people want to be impressed by a downlaoded game in 5 minutes, or its a quick hit of the delete button. Hopefully that won't happen to Starlines ;)
Time to dish up the roast spuds I reckon...

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Have you ever seen this before:?

Now somebody tell me why the software that controls the scroll wheel on my mosue wants to connect to the internet?
Thank god for firewalls. I do not want my mouse or any other piece of hardware or software on ym machine sending information over the internet without telling me first. I have also noticed DevStudio try to do the same thing. Talk about sneaking behind your customers back? There may be a legitimate reason for this mosue to 'phone home' but Im buggered if im letting it do so without a ncie dialog box to tell me exactly what information microosft want from it first.
This kind of thing really bugs me. Remember kids... dont connect to the web without a firewall... I recomend sygate personal firewall

Well I was off ill on friday thanks to some horrible cold given to practically everyone at liopnhead. Jeez if you are ill, you dont go in to work, its as simpleas that isnt it?
I've been redoing the tutorial on StarLines which was always a bit dodgy, and recent changes had broken it somewhat. Still lots of work to do until its finished.
Ive had reports of serious bugs in copies of StarLines, and Ive swapped all my links on the main webpage so they point to my server and not the people kindly hosting the game, as I suspect they are hosting the latest (buggy) version.
Hopefully now they all point to a more stable version I should get some more sales again.
I've also been chasing up a retail company for royalties from StarMiner and Rocky Racers, and it looks like I'm going to get paid after all.
No thanks here to Crystal Interactive who basically took the money and ran. If you are ever approached by that company, or a guy called Riza Rahman, just tell him to F**k off ;)

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Today I am teaching an old dog new tricks. literally. I am working on the CPooch class in the Movies. Lassie here we come...

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Recently I work I emailed round Steve Pavlinas article on Zero-Defect Software Development. Doing so has helped me to reevaluate my own style of work and where its sometimes alcking, which is the ensuring that on bit of code works 100% betfore moving on to the next thing. Its all to easy to develop really slack coding practices when working on a game, and Ive been trying to hard to do things in a more robust way these last few days.
I've also been considering (and even did a little bit of work on) writing a screensaver that takes the human genome as an input. As basically the genome is free to download (albeit huge) and you can get it in text format as just a huge string of AGCT, I figured I could take the frequency of those 4 Bases over time and make a ncie little animated program, similar to the visualisations in windows media player. Thought it might look quite wacky, but I havent got enough done to show any screenshots yet.
I've also had a few new GUI ideas for StarLines, so that games no nearer to re-release ;)

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Most of friday was spent getting queues to work again in the Movies. Its amazing how much simpler and 'cleaner' the code is now, even if there arent any major changes feature-wise. And finally , the guys towards the end of the queue now do the 'trying to see what the holdup is' animation properly.
There has been debate over the weeks at work about what queues should look like. A lot of the Team are French, and they claim that French people dont stand in a line when they queue like British people do. I think that generally people do form a line (albeit with some dithering) when they queue, and anyway Lionhead is a British company ;). Besides, straightish queues look cool.
I'm keen to improve some of the AI code on the movies, which is becoming very very cool. AI is definitely the best part about working on a game, although thankfully Im not having to worry about pathfinding at the moment (which is hell).

Friday, September 19, 2003

Been busy at work lately, and also still addicted to eve, despite some severe bugs cropping up. Those guys dont have the first idea about quality assurance or basic product tetsing. Luckily Lionhead has a great group of Testers.
When I look at the junk some people sell as games, I know the Movies will be a big hit.
Also been playing Star Monkey a lot, a great arcade shooter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The worse thing about working on Save and Load code, is that every tiny change you make often involves recompiling everything. The Movies might not be the biggest game ever made but thats still a hell of a lot of files, and its not really practical to code other stuff while its building. (Although I do sometimes make notes on the next code Ill be doing using Textpad32, an excellent text editor.
Over the weekend, I lost my cruiser In eve, decided to quit the game, got LOADS of code written before being seduced back into the damn thing. grrrrr.
I did manage to tidy up some very old code in StarLines, replacing a whole series of array indices with pointers to objects (much better IMHO, as you can more easily check for invalid objects with a pointer).

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Well its the weekend. Hurrah, maybe time to do some work on my StarLines INC game ;). I was reading Slashdot This morning and there was a very interesting article on Hybrid cars. For a long time I have been interested in the Honda Insight, and This just makes me want to get one of these cars even more. Pity I have absolutely zip money to spend on such things at the moment. Maybe when The Movies becomes the biggest selling game of all time, It wont be an issue ;)
I also chased up egames today having read a discussion about them on egames royalty rates are indeed low, but they pay up and they pay on time which is unheard of for retail publishers, so I have a lot of time for them. Hopefully my minesweeper game Minefield will make it onto their next collection, and its only a month or so until my next quarterly check from them. hurrah.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Been working hard on the movies and playing Eve, so not much has got done shareware wise, and sales are now back to normal. Theres a new website for the Movies HERE
I got a huge complex and tedious Inland revenue (tax) form through today for my business which Im dreading filling out. Even though I store all my earnings in Quicken (which I got as part payment for some soccer game AI I worte ;)), I still dread the Tax stuff, because the Tax office are so pedantic about every I being dotted and T being crossed. The assumption by the Tax people is that you have an accountant, and although I have had one in the past, Im buggered if Im paying hundreds of pounds a year to someone just to fill in one or two forms. IMHO most accountants are a total ripoff for a small business without employees.
Last year I was fined £100 for missing a form deadline, so I better get this one in on time ;)

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Well sales have dropped back to normal now, just a temporary windfall I reckon. I have got a fair bit done codewise, but its hard to tear myself away from Eve online. Maybe I can classify playing it as research?
Various things have happened recently, got the kitchen tiled at last (hurrah!) and watched Lord Of the Rings on DVD. Most excellent.
Bugs have been creeping in to the Movies, and I spent most of thursday and friday hunting them down. Its always good to go back over old code and see if its still working as it should do and if there are any bits you can simplify or redesign.
Saw an interesting thread at about Crystal Interactive, a company from whom I have more christmas cards than royalty checks. Basically anybody that tells me they can sell my games in stores and make me money is talking rubbish and i ignore them. Over the years I've learned that if you make a good fun playable game it will sell online. I plan not to be distracted by publishers and retail deals in the future.
If I can get the new version of StarLines INC to double the sales of the old version then I will be happy with that, especially as I have a perfectly good day job anyway ;)

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Have been far too engrossed in playing eve online to get much code done, although sales are going well (thanks to google adwords maybe?) So things arent going too bad.
I've recently seen the second but last episode of the West Wing (series 4), and have to say its absolutely fantastic. By far the best television I've seen in years. ANy thoughts trhat the series isnt as good as it used to be are way off the mark. This is fantastic TV. Highly recommended to all!
Still reading davids book ;)

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I started using googles adwords again yesterday, and within 24 hours I've sold a copy of MINEFIELD which I havent sold many of for ages. So maybe adwords is working? ;)
Also been reading the Indie developer survival guide, which seems pretty good, although so great revelations in there yet. I've been forcing myself to get up early and get code done before going to work. Still a long way off re-releasing StarLines though. Eve-online is definitely taking up too much spare time ;)