Saturday, March 31, 2007


I finally bought a scanner, mainly to scan in various bits for the Rock Band Game.
Maybe it's a million to one chance, but was anyone reading this at any of the Blazon gigs at that rock club in Tiverton, Devon, UK about 15 years ago?
maybe one of THESE people

if so, I was the lead guitarist. the fiddly one who did lots of arpeggios and played the ibanez guitar.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Balancing motivation

Don't panic, I'm not writing a motivational article, I'm struggling with this part of the code for The Game That Must Not Be Named.*

MOTIVATION is a big deal in TGTMNBN. Your band members all have a level of motivation, and this level is vital. Motivation affects how well they perform on stage, how well they carry out publicity duties, etc etc. And low motivation can lead to not showing up to gig, or even worse, resigning from the band.
So I have all kinds of mechanisms for deciding what makes motivation high, and what makes it low. They all make sense and they all work.




If it was, then design documents would actually be worth something, and people really would be able to be good game designers without having experienced several product life-cycles. The thing is, although I *thought* I knew what mechanisms worked, and how, in practice, it doesn't balance out right. It's either too easy, or too hard.
So there are too possibilities:

1) the numbers are wrong. My algorithms and design are fine, I just need to fine tune it so motivation gets affected by the right amounts in each direction, then, it will work.

2)the algorithm / design is wrong. The way variables X and Y affect motivation is flawed, and open to exploitation, or easy 'sure-win' combinations. This means I need to rethink some of the ways in which motivation gets affected, and re-code them.

Right now, I'm thinking 2).

The GOOD news is, that the game is still fun, regardless. It has that 'wanting to have one more go and do just a bit better' aspect that good games have. Because you almost always have a gig booked a few turns in advance, you always want to play "just till that next gig".

*My games name was too close to the name of a bit company who waved lawyers at me, so I'm changing it. I haven't 100% settled on a name yet. In fact, I have, I'm just checking its not the name of a brand of cola.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm in my NEW OFFICE!

Behold! I am typing this very blog entry from my NEW OFFICE!
Some might suggest its just a spare bedroom with a desk in it, but BAH.
Even my own attempt at splicing phone cable seems to have worked, as the web connection seems fine. All I need now is a wireless card and a desk (smaller) for downstairs to facilitate gaming in the evenings.
Whats the story with gaming on a wireless network, with the signal going through a floor? it work ok? do I just buy any old PCI wireless card and bung it in?

Ok and a big HI THERE to all the lawyers representing take-2 games. Stop reading this now, and reply to my email.
Double bah.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rock Star Progress

Been very busy lately... heres the current state of Rock Star

The games website has been started on:

Most of the save/load code is done, and I'm regularly using saved games for testing.
The majority of the major game features are in, although I need to do some more work on the end game stuff.
I have selected a sound engineer and musician to do the sound effects and music, and already have a lot of SFX done. The music has been commissioned.
I am getting some trial artwork done for part of the game where my own coder art sucks too badly.
A lot of the coder-artwork has been done, mostly involving Poser.

Still to do:
Bug fixing
Play testing
Demo build
Mod support and online integration, if any.
Final text run-through.

I'm considering dropping record companies from the game entirely. They are fiddly from a game-mechanic POV, and I'm not sure they really add much. The game focuses mainly on smaller bands anyway, and these days, there is nothing to stop you recording your own album and selling it online. I'm still undecided about that part of the game.

I think the game is fun and cool, and could do well, but you never really know these things till they go on sale.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My LOTR Online impressions

The launching application seems fairly stable.

That's it really. I have no idea what the beta of this MMORPG is like, because despite having the client given away on this months PC gamer magazine, there are no beta keys available.
What a shambles.
I'm letting the client update itself with all ten terrabytes it seems to need just in case.

First impressions are vital in securing sales.
My first impression of LOTRO is frustration.

Another example of l33t video game marketing!

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Friday, March 09, 2007


I have struggled a bit with the right way to show the mood of your band members. The band members appear as photos on your 'desktop' basically a 2D poser-generated image with a white 'polaroid' style border.
At first, I had thought you could just double click them, open their details window and take a look, but thats too clunky. So I tried adding some icons to the side of them, or particle effects, but this broke the 'paradigm' of them being photos, and never looked that good.
So then I tried tinting the color of the photo border to show mood, but that looked a bit horrid.
So I finally realised I needed different images for each mood, for each person.
So if I have maybe 50 different people in the initial release, thats 200 poser renders.
Luckily they are jpg, so filesize is not much of an issue. Also luckily, my new dual-core PC renders from poser at superhuman speeds.
I think it's going to be worth the extra effort anyway.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Flying High Again

"Got a crazy feeling I dont understand
gotta get away from here
Feelin like I shoulda kept my feet on the ground
Waitin for the sun to appear"

In other news, I've added a new mino-game to Rock Star, and it's excellent . I also just redesigned the startup screen yet again, and it's better now. Lots to do, but theres lots in the game now.
I saw a stage comedy version of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' last night and its the funniest thing I've seen in ages. Not very heavy metal though. err......

"Where were you in '79 when the dam began to burst
Did you check us out down at the local show
Were you wearing denim, wearing leather
Did you run down to the front
Did you queue for your ticket through the ice and snow"

WTF? was it always snowing in Birmingham in the lates seventies then?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Why all programmers should learn to shoot a bow

Some good reasons why game coders should take up archery:

1) Archery is physical. You do a mental job all day (in many ways), so why not take a break from number-crunching and exercise your body for a change? Archery can be tiring, and should burn off some of those donuts

2) You spend 8 hours a day staring at a screen 1 foot away. Archery makes you stare at a target 60 feet away, giving your eyes some much-needed exercise

3) Archery demands good posture. You simply can't slouch and shoot a bow. You probably have terrible posture from hours hunched in a coders chair. This will be good for you.

4) Archery lets you put those FPS aiming skills to the test. And it's way mroe satsifying. The thwacking noise of several arrows grouped together on a target is way better than the feedback you get in a computer game, Even with force feedback :D

5) Archery means leaving the house. Unless you have a huge house, you won't have an indoor range. Granted, I shoot at an indoor range, but at least I have to walk to the car and back to get there, thus exposing myself to sunlight.

6)You can pretend you are legolas.