Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Coding in the Sun

One of the best things about my current situation is the feeling of freedom. For the last 3 or 4 days I've taken to doing around 2 hours work a day in a nearby park. Its pretty tough to focus on a laptop screen in this sun, but its worth it. Plus the park == no internet == no distractions.

One problem is the poor sony laptop battery life. Coding on the laptop makes me realise that most people in my taregt market have older, slower, and less well-maintained PCs. If the game loads in 3 seconds on my main PC that's fine, but it needs to do likewise on a laptop with a slower and more fragmented disk. Also, if I want a game that's really laptop-friendly, I need to reduce it's CPU and disk access needs. Disk access kills laptop power.
A batch of optimising yesterday and today has worked wonders, and I'm happy that the games much more efficient now. The problem with optimising (as always) is it makes the code more complex, especially the text rendering. I use GDI for text, and the state changes for device contexts are SLOW. I've done a pile of rejigging to only render some text when I really have to.

I also considered ditching DDS files for PNG, but it seems PNG is only 256 colors, which sucks, and also my DirectX7 SDK doesn't support them. I've switched from ARGB DDS to DXT3, and that looks as good, and is maybe a fourth the size. This is partly to get download size down, partly to allow for a pile more avatars.

I also bought a licence for FRAPS so i can do a gameplay movie at some stage.

In other news my share dealing hobby has returned a 20% investment in 4 months. I am the god of the stock market.

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