Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Just spent a while going through the details of a possible retail contract for Starship tycoon. Hopefully they can sort out the things I need changing and I can sign the deal.
That geocities warez site is still up. REPORT IT! the more emails they get, the more chance of a site being closed down.
In fact, its sad that people have to report these things, you'd reckon that some kind of web spider could trawl their subdomains for the words warez or crack, and flag up sites for manual checking by an abuse teamm.
if they actually cared about abuse...

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Want to do something to help small game developers? It will take 10 seconds.
Click this link:
And complain about the warez site here: (its just 2 or 3 fields to enter, select copyright infringement)
They seem to have gone out of their way to crack small games. None of mine are there, but the guys making these games arent EA or activision. These guys will give up if everyone cracks their games, and then you will have ZERO innovation or variety.
Report it NOW, it costs you NOTHING

Monday, March 29, 2004

Hey just sold 2 copies. hurrah!

Just been trying to find out from my mortgage company if their insurance covers my new conservatory. 5 phonecalls later, numerous hold music and lots of inane requests for serial numbers I do't have, and I have learned NOTHING.
I've been passed between 3 companies, and still not got an answer. C&G tell me that they don't handle enquiries by email, I MUST phone them.
well fuck them.
I'll write a letter, its quicker and easier than listening to some patronising voice, and that way I'll have a response in writing.
email is SO efficient, any company not taking advantage of it to deal with its customers is stupid.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Well I haven't sold a copy of Starship tycoon for a few days which is unusual, as well as highly unexpected seeing as though my advertising has now been restarted. Oh well.

I spent some time working on the new game (I'm calling it 'government' at the moment), but I have also taken some time out to think through the design. I have done some interface mockups, but the more work I have done, the more I realise I'm falling into the old 'traditional' sim-game interface of lots of complex windows, dialogs and options. During a meeting on the design of the Movies, I recently got very interested in designing game interfaces in a far more 'liquid' and 'fuzzy' way than the standard look for these games. It very hard to explain what I mean without using silly language and waving my arms around, but what I'm aiming for is the design equivilant of fuzzy logic, rather than the very discrete logic of separation and classification that happens in most games.
I won't really be able to explain whhat the hell I mean until I succesfully implement it in a game.
cue lots of scratching my head and drinking of tea...

Friday, March 26, 2004


And they have made their prescence known within a tub of revels chocolates. I have discovered a 3 pronged proto-revel. This must be the work of alien intelligence.
its the first ever EQUILATERAL REVEL.

I am actually getting a few hours work done on the NEW game! hurrah!. The interface is still very crap, but I'm working on organising the simulation side at the moment (as much in my head as in the game).
In other developments I've started a 20 day advertising blitz at and started reading THIS BOOK which is ok, readable, not bad but not amazing. I read Steve Grands last book and that was kinda interesting. If nothing else it introduced me to the game of life and cellular wossnames.
I'll probably sell the book back on amazon when I'm done, I've done this with quite a few books.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

ISP came back quite quickly.
At work Ive been playing the desertrats game a bit more, great stuff. Also doing some fairly fun gui code.

The net connection at work is truly deadfull, and for the last two months there have been about 35 people in an office sharing 1 kettle which takes 15 minutes to boil.
a new ketle is maybe £20?
Why havent we bought one? - beauracracy, my old nemesis. I am truly staggered at how inept large companies are. It seems the bigger the company, the less flexible, the less efficient, the more red-tape bound it becomes. I worked somewhere once where they thought it costs £100 to order anything because of the red tape. You want a new stapler? yyou cant get it at the shop and claim £1 back, you have to fill out forms... waste time... etc
Lionhead isn't vaguely that bad, but it amazes me how much bullshit not related to making games is involved in a big games company.
Thankfully I don't have to worry about any of that crap doing my own games. And I don't have to worry about hype or other bullshit., If you want to try my games, download them in 2-3 minutes, if you like em, buy em. You can ask me a question by email or my message board and get a real answer, not some bullshit form repsonse, or have to register and hand over your privacy to some huge multinational like EA just to find out why the game crashes....
Some days I HATE this industry ;)

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

My home ISP ( has no mail service at the moment. they have a status message on their website, but still... this is bad.
Not half as bad as DEMON though, the WORST ISP on the planet.
I'm fixing some minor bugs in Starship Tycoon, and formatting the leevl editing document.

I am drowning in a never ending list of small bugs in Starship Tycoon. I fixed 3 this morning (tiny things like text being wrong in a data file, some numbers being wrong in the config files...) before leaving for work. I really want to have them all 100% fixed, but some would require fairly in depth code fiddling which is always dangerous when you have a working game with an old(ish) codebase. I don't want to run the risk of introducing any new but obscure bugs at this stage.
In all the fiddling with ST, I haven't done any work at all on the new game. I will try and get at least an hour or two done on it this week, just so the momentum doesn't die totally.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Back at work today, getting lots of cool stuff done on the movies, like work on the dogs and horses (who are really cool). The game is coming along nicely.
On the home front, this was day 1 of dealing with some builders, first impression? well they have already got there wires crossed, so not a great start.
Yesterday I was highly drunk so didnt get much code done, although I have an almost finished level editing tutorial for Starship Tycoon for when I hear back from the publisher? and also sales are still pretty good, averaging more like 2 or even 3 a day at the moment, so thats very good news ;)

Sunday, March 21, 2004

An autorefreshing web page builder. seeing as though the muppets at want to sell me viagra enough to email me about it, I'm sure they will realise that I'm REALLY interested in their products. at a 5 second refresh on ADSL, I'll let this run overnight... thats approximatley 5,760 hits on their main page. lets say thats about 100k in images etc? thats 57g megabytes of bandwidth. Not a lot really, but if maybe every thousandth person that got this spam did that to them they would soon die out.
heh i hate spammers.

Did some work on a level editing tutorial document for Starship tycoon today, and sold another copy.
Got some spam today, and maybe I'm drunk, but its really annoying me. I read a bit about the idea of 'Filters that fight back' and want to find a progrm that actually does this.
The next time someone tries to sell me viagra, I want a program that can send 20,000 emails to that idiots website to tell them to fuck off. Just deleting the email isnt doing anything.
or maybe just an app where I could load their webpage and refresh it once a second, then go to bed, a few thousand hits on their site should at least go some small way into costing these swine money. grrrrrrrr

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I just used the excellent web interface at RegNow to set up a special offer, People buying Starship tycoon or StarLines will get a 45% discount offer coupon on purchase of Planetary Defence. This is well worth trying, it might generate a few extra sales. we will have to see what happens... Seems to be getting me quite a few sales by the looks of it, so I am considering expanding my advertising there.
Sales have been better tan average, I'm probably selling 30 copies a month, compared with the 6 a month I used to sell of StarLines. I was hoping Starship Tycoon would double my sales, and it seems to have more than done that, even after I factor in the advertising costs. So thats great news. I'm also getting the game more and mroe stable thanks to bug reports from the 'potential' retail publisher.
I have a level editing tutorial to do, but I'm a bit wary of doing work towards this retail release until I see a contract and a date for the advance payment.
ho hum.

Friday, March 19, 2004

lots of code to write on the movies this month. I managed to fix a rather bizzare bug to do with starfield scrolling in ST last night. this weekedn ill be doing a level editing tutorial to ship with the retail version, if and when I get a contract for that.
My work amchien still crashes playing COD, which is a bummer as its such good fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Sales have been very good the last few days, I will probbaly renew my current advertising when it runs out.

I've been busy fixing stuff on old games rather than really getting my head around the complex simulation code require for my next game. One of the problems with doing a sim game is you can write thousands of lines of complex code and have virtually nothing to show for it onscreen. Its very difficult working out what approach to take for the new games simulation, but Im concluding that I think it through best when I'm not at a PC.

Yoshi the office dog is here again. He is very cool. All offices should have a resident pet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

the source control code at work is borked again so im sat here doing nothing.
doesnt happen to the indie developer does it ;)
Anyway, my latest game xtazy advertising kicked off today, and I already have 2 sales so thats good (but prob a coincidence) sales ahve been pretty good in fact for the last few days.
I have been having some problems with debugging in DevStudio, I suspect that a dll is corrupted, and whenever i hit a breakpoint it also triggers some random assert message. Im pretty convinced that dbghelp.dll is to blame, but even using system restore to roll back didnt change it, whihc is very strange.
on the bright side i fixed a bug last night in ST regarding changing screen res. It only manifested itself when changing to super hi res (1280 1024 windowed in this case) which is very weird as i was accessing beyond the bounds of an array (ouch).
I really need to get serious about testing and checking ym code in an organsied and modular fashion.
Supposudly they started building our conservatory on monday, but I still havent seen anything actually happen yet. Builders eh? its money for old rope I tell you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

games are going insane. Im in a bad mood today, so im probably not being impartial, but one of the games at work has a soundtrack done by a 90 piece orchestra.
Needless to say, that costs big money. it probably means several hundred meg (minimum) of music.
Is it REALLY that much better than synthed music? I'm all for games having good production values, but the whole industry has gone bananas. Companies are canning perfectly good, playable, fun original games, just so they can concentrate on the 1 or 2 generic bullshit titles that will be popular.
As a gamer, I'd rather have a choice of 10 games, each costing £200k each to make, with reasonably good production values, than the choice of 2 games, costing a million bucks each, both looking as good as The lord OF the Rings.
Maybe im too old school, but I play games to interact have fun and experiment, not to go "whoah look at that" all the time.
I can buy the Star Wars prequels and sit and watch them whilst eating maltesers if I want a visual feast.
Games are fun.
The industry has forgotten this.
Thank god for small indie games.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Been real busy.
I finally fixed a very obscure bug in ST. the problem was I thought it was fixed months ago, but as it rusn out, this bug ony manifested itself when run outside the IDE, so i kept failing to reporduce it.
I still dont know why that was the case, but once I could reproduce it, it wasnt that bad tracking it down. It all came down to an old lvie of code where I created a window, but faield to use that same window to fill out with graph data.
My gui code was a bit sloppy and didnt initialise stuff implicitly, so i had a non initialised window frame lying around when this code was called. Because the UV positions were not being set on the window frame, it was drawing a load of gibberish in an unused window frame on the screen. But its fixed now, and a few other small bugs are also fixed.
Yoshi, the movies dog is at work this week. Yoshi is cool. He is so obedient, he will offer you his paw to shake hands with. My cat is very cute and full of personality, but she wouldnt meow at me if I spontaneously combusted.
I guess you just cant train cats.

Friday, March 12, 2004

I feel really ill today.
Anyway... Im trying to find all the bugs the retail publisher reported in ST. I've fixed one silly one, but the others are eluding me. I just can't replicate them at all, even though they are supposedly class A crash to desktop bugs.
very frustrating.
anyone know any good code checkers or memory utilitys that are free?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

screenshots were released today. yay! (movies ones)
also played an afrika corps rts that rocked, and some jedi academy, before watching Black Books on CH4.
Am now drunk with champagne (mates birthday). *hic*

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Screenshots didnt get released today. *sigh*
I am currently in the phase of negotiating an american retail deal for Starship tycoon. It could be good, but I'm not counting the chickens until the cash is in the bank. As part of this deal, I need to get the very hacky level editor for St into a more usable state. I did some very basic work on it tonite, but I don't have very much experience at all with normal Windows coding (its a standalone editor using the windows GUI) and almost none at all using MFC. I'm not using MFC for the editor, and maybe one day I will have to learn how it works and take the plunge. Of course, its probably very old hat by now, everyone must use the .NET framework, or Active/Java/C# net-Beans or something.
"In my day" etc...

Got some cool collision code done on the Movies. Also sold 2 games today. We should be releasing new screenshots from the game today, but that seems to take ages as their are far too many layers of beuracracy involved. ho hum.
Played Call of Duty against the test team at lunchtime.
Games testers, as you may expect, are pretty good at games...
I didnt come last though ;)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I emailed RealGames last night pestering them for a decision on Starship Tycoon. They replied to say they rejected it as it would not 'resonate well with their audience"
Nice of them to let me know though, I bet they made that decision months ago. grrrrrrrr. Looks like they are determined to limit their audience purely to puzzle games, which is pretty silly if you ask me. Anyway, I just sold a copy of Asteroid Miner, a copy of Starship Tycoon, and a copy of Starlines (ironically) through Real games, so I'm not really that bothered.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Im sure some of my blog posts just dissapear..
Anyway. I can't go into detail but..
The games industry sucks. Its truly shit. The attitudes of some of the people at the top just makes my blood boil grrrrr!!!!
I remain 100% convinced that even in 5, 10 or 50 years time, there will still be people in their bedrooms churning out great games. Teams of 2,3 or 4 developers will make some awesome games and they will make a shedload of money.
Popcap have proved you dont need 100 people and 5 million dollars to make a game. I know a huge list of people who are also raking in the dollars from their home grown games.
I just bought a fcking new car on the basis of games in which I did everything, including the artwork.
I have high hopes that said games will also pay for my conservatory (fingers crossed).
They may not make me a millionaire. But then, most people I know working for big developers aren't exactly loaded either.
And ANYONE who says otherwise is WRONG. I don't care who they are ;)

Saturday, March 06, 2004

IGDA Forums might be of interest to some. I never even knew they had forums until yesterday.
Been a good sales today today, sold $60 worth of Starship Tycoon and maybe made another $20-30 from StarLines through Realgames. Plus probably earned some money through retail stuff as well (checks come quarterly).

I did some work on my new game, the design has just changed radically (again). I'm experimenting with this idea of doing a mockup of the games GUI before doing the code. Its very helpful, you quickly see what would be a crap or a great game.
After all, a game IS just a GUI at the end of the day. Or at least, thats one way to approach things.
I think I hve quite a good game idea, but the devl is in the detail and the implementation. Its like TheMovies, its not a clever or radical idea for a game at all, others have done games like Hollywood Mogul or Movie Studio Boss. The quality of the game will be won by the cleevrness of the design, and the GUI.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Games are too big
They cost too much money, are too big to download, require too much investment of time on the part of the player, and take too long to make.
Sometimes I want to have fun for 15 minutes, to play a game. These days I need to spend 3 or 4 hours just learning the complexity of a new game. This is grim
Also I want to downalod a game in 20 mins or less. It took all evening to downlaod Universal Combat (no it wasnt worth it). Why does any game need a 27MB logo avi at the start? is it really worth downloading?
Any cool idea for a game loses its enthusiasm after 6 months - a year. Once you have worked on a game beyond a year people just start to get fed up.
And lets not lose sight of the fact that games are about £20-30. Thats a night at the cinema.. ONE... NIGHT...
These days we seem to expect a 20 mission campaign, tutorial, freeform play, level editing and online play.
Thats insane.
If you play a £30 game for 30 hours in total, thats a true bargain. Imagine 30 hours down the pub.
You shjoudl be able to make a game with half a dozen people or less in just 6 months (or less). Keep it small, keep it fun. Dont spend a million pounds, forget the FMV, forget the spinning logo, forget the level editor (sell it as an add-on), forget all the flash.
Just make a fun game.
Or people like me will grow old playing small fun shootemups like Star Monkey, or puzzle games like chainz.

Why is source control software such a pile of crap? is it really THAT hard to code?
Here I am sat here twiddling my thumbs waiting for this piece of shit tor espond. Im about to give up and go home instead. Great productivity tool huh?
still no sales today. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Proper crunch mode approaching for the movies. Had some inspired ideas for the enw game last night. alas no sales today. ho hum.Movies is looking pretty cool. Some of the scenes in the game are truly hilarious. I'm really looking forward to seeing what people who buy the game will come up with.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

sold a copy of St and Asteroid Miner last night hurrah!. Also did some preliminary GUI design for the new game!
At work I am sat here doing bugger all waiting for source control software to respond. how tedious.
Managed to spend the whole of lunch doing scenes in the movies just for fun, its that addictive!
There is a film crew here at the moment filming various stuff to do with lionhead. All very interesting.