Thursday, February 24, 2005

Just made a great discovery. I don't need to save out the neural effect data in democracy, the network structure is deterministic. Its only the neuron values that fluctuate, the effect parameters are fixed and recreatable. In practice this means save games are way smaller. I have some debugging to get done on Starship Tycoon, plus publisher builds required for democracy. Plus I'm off on holiday (hopefully in the English snow). Busy Busy....

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

By Bose, arrived today. Im sat here in the office wearing them. Jesus christ its weird, I can't hear anything. They are awesome. Because the UK is such a ripoff I imported them from the US and STILL saved £90.
I think I'll do this with everything in future, sod paying stupid UK prices. The headphones are superb.

Friday, February 18, 2005

forgot to announce this here:

Source Code Released

Thats a zip containing the complete source code to Asteroid Miner, the first game I ever released. the code is darned embarrasing in terms of how rubbish it is, but it did the job, even made a few hundred bucks, probably over a thousand bucks by now, so I shouldn't complain.

I've got some polishing done on democracy, still re-jigging icons and re-arranging stuff, plus I added a progress bar for the load screen and made the custom currency stuff work so that america uses dollars etc. One of the beauties of using GDI for text is that the euro symbol is no big deal :D

Is it me or is MSDN really hard to use these days? theres so much crap on there that the search stuff is useless. Im not into .NEt development, c#, VB Windows CE or any of that other crap. just show me the goddamned platform SDK for C you swine!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I just watched Sky Captain and the world of Tommorow. Great film, really cool to see something different and original from hollywood for a change.
I've been working hard on Democracy, as well as setting up some promotion for Starship tycoon. Basically Ii bought a few days as the top strategy game on a popular download site. I use this site for advertising now and then. personally I think its a bit expensive for the results you get, but I still do it from time to time as it keeps my games profile high. Measuring advertising results is a bit fiddly and not that accurate, but I think I just about get value for money.
I really want to get beta testers trying Democracy but its just not ready yet....

Monday, February 14, 2005

I just had a few trial playthroughs of democracy on my laptop. Its handy doing this because I don't develop on the laptop anymore so all I can do on it is playtest and thus I'm not tempted to stop and change code every 5 minutes.
My impressions of the game at the moment are that its just too damned hard. I also have a slight nagging feeling that its possibly too complex, although I'm prepared to accept that the real problem is not complexity as such, but complexity without clear player feedback. Giving clear feedback on such a complex system is NOT easy. Ironically I CAN visualise the system very well in my head as a kind of virtual heightmap terrain with complex connecting levers and pistons, but thats not something I find easy to translate onto a screen.
I guess I should count myself lucky that I DO have that vision intact in my head, its just a problem of translating it for the player.
I am a long way off the perfect interface design for this game. I take solace in the thought that I reckon will wright went through a lot of ideas before settling on the right Sims interface :D

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I've put some basic difficulty code into democracy, also added a new 'startup' dialog which sets the scene for each country. At some point I need to add some custom content and more custom setup per country so that they 'feel' different as you play each one.
I just did a few playthroughs, I tended to rush through them a bit, as I'm actually not used to playing turn based games. (ironic isn't it). I lost both games, which is kind of encouraging because it proves it can beat you :D
I need to do a LOT of playbalancing on this game. There is such a fine line between a really complex simulation and just a total mess. I'm pretty sure that even now its more the former, but this needs to be obvious to the player too.
I guess writing a breakout clone is a lot easier....

Thursday, February 10, 2005

There are two main news stories in the UK tonight.
1) Prince charles (queens son) has proposed to his long time mistress camila parker bowles.
2) North Korea announces it has Nuclear Weapons.

Guess which was the top story?
Sometimes I HATE being English....

anyway, I uploaded the new site at today. Feedback welcome.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I've been working on democracys save/load code, as well as knocking up a brand new website for it which is still unfinished. I'm aiming for the website to be totally fresh and new looking, rather than just use the same layout and stylesheet as It will still link back to the positech website, but hopefully it will have more content than some of my other sub-sites.
One thing I need to get adding is a press page for the game, as well as maybe a technical page on how its made and specifically how easy it is to mod.
I have a steady trickle of people signing up to be beta testers, but i'm getting close to finishing it now and I need a better site if I'm to generate more buzz.

On an unrelated note it seem spamcops filters on their webmail have died. This is a poor show indeed.
I came accross the website for piratesoftheburningsea a new pirates MMORPG today. Looks extremely good fun. yarrrrr!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

I got some serious work done on the save and load and resolution-switching code for democracy today. Res switching is now so fast on the game that it practically happens without you noticing. To be honest I can't see much justification these days for games having seperate (external) mini-programs to set options like screen res. It really is trivial to code, even in Directx7 which is what I deliberately use for my games. Because textures are loaded 'on demand' you only need to reload a single menu graphic once youv'e freed and re-initialised everything, and that's trivial.
Quick and easy resolution changing, windowed mode and alt+tab support are 3 of the easiest things to implement, yet 3 things that some big (multi-million dollar budget) games don't bother with. As a gamer I find this insulting, but as a coder I just find it amazing.
If you make games, make sure you support these 3 features, your customers WILL notice if you skip them.

Still playing Sid Meiers Pirates! its very very good fun.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Well the truth is that I've been not doing much to democracy lately, although i intend to fix that.
I'm currently tarting up the save game stuff GUI-wise, I also need to get the laoding in stuff finished, maybe I'll spend some time on this tommorow. I then need to do some elusive playbalancing.
Last night I got hugely drunk with lionhead buddies, I probably embarrased myself massivly. I have a seriously bad hangover.
Despite this, I downlaoded and installed perforce source control from
this is the same SC Lionhead and Elixir used, but the interesting thing is that a 2-user licence is FREE. This is great news and I'm amazed how easy it was to get it up and running. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I think its only right and fair to give a huge thumbs up to Sid Meiers Pirates! (the new one). I bought this game second hand today and I love it, there's so much to do, its more a collection of linked pirate-themed minigames than anything else, and its superbly playable, I think I'm enjoying it as much as Half Life 2.

Recent work on democracy included getting the anger and cynicism stuff in, so there are now 'end game' moments between elections if you upset people badly enough for them to assassinate or overthrow you. I probably need something more in the way of graphics for those bits, but then its a case of finishing up save games (could take a while, probably a weekend task) and doing a bunch of playtesting before I start the first beta testing round.

I've even had preliminary discussions about banner ads, that's how confident I am :D