Monday, July 30, 2007

Quotes From the Great and the Good

Something a lot of people liked in Democracy where the political quotes. They will be in the sequel, but obviously I need new ones, so I put together the initial list of them today. I want to get some people recognise, some that make people laugh, and some that make people think. It doesn't bother me if people don't know who the people are, they can google the names, that's just part of the educational element :D
Some faves today:

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" - George Bush

"We shall fight against them, throw them in prisons and destroy them" - Vladimir Putin

"We have a lot of kids who don't know what works means. They think work is a four-letter word" - Hilary Clinton

The tough part is maing sure they aren't too unbalanced. Because they are random, you never know which will be the first quote that comes up ( I might hack that). I don't want arch liberals or conservatives to freak out on the first screen :D.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ship Simulator 2008

I ordered this game from amazon yesterday:

I loved the demo. I don't know exactly what it is about the game, but it's just really 'nice' to play. It's a feel-good game. Some games provide an intellectual challenge, some provide a spriti of competition, and some just make you feel good. A lot of the themes for 'casual' games are based around feeling good. Ship simulator somehow does that.
People on the games forums whine about bugs, but people always do. There are often some people with totally obscure graphics cards and sound cards, on spyware-infested machines which they built themselves, and triple boot to linux and some other O/S, which has never been virus checked or defragged, and who install every toolbar and add on they encounter.
The PC is an open platform, and the games will never be as stable as console games. Fortunately, we get about 100 times as much choice of game!

Work continues apace on Democracy 2, got the basic scripting stuff done and next week I'll sort out all the dilemmas, and add some new ones etc.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Various distractions

Working for yourself rules... when its all going well. But you get easily distracted. A phonecall from a family member in the mid morning can waste half a day. They know you don't exactly have a boss who minds personal calls... and without a proper schedule, I can get easily sidetracked. I had to do the DRM for the retail copy of Democracy today, yet the machine with the democracy source code on is dying. garbled screen, blue screens of death, crashes.... i suspect a faulty video card. So I had to copy tons of data to my main machine before I could even start work on it.

But that's all done now, and I'm back In Democracy 2 coding mode. I started work on the fairly rudimentary scripting stuff yesterday. In the first game, a dilemma was limited to 2 options, and the effects were defined thus:

0 = "Capitalist,0.06"
1 = "Environmentalist,-0.10"
2 = "GDP,0.02"

That means the only effects are the creating of 'grudges, and they are specified in a list. The new system does this:

OnImplement = "CreateGrudge(AirportExpansion,Environmentalist,-0.08,1.0); CreateGrudge(GDP,0.02,1.0)"

Which I think is better, although stupidly it's still all on one line. The idea is that the code has a number of functions (createGrudge()) which take up to 10 parameters each. A little bit of script parsing separates out the variables and function names, and calls the right code.
This means I'll be free to add stuff like:


etc., so I can get some more customisation of each dilemma. Ideally, it's just a first step to making much more of the game 'open' so that modders can achieve more than they were able to under the original Democracy. Mod support is something I really believe in, but I never take it as far as I intend to.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shiny interface stuff

I didn't do any simulation code today, but just worked on pretty GUI stuff for Democracy. I think the games basic idea and mechanics are pretty cool, but it's always looked a little bit amateurish and academic, and certainly looks uninviting n comparison with big budget games, so it was time to redress that.

Generally, when people do this, they find some justification for making the game 3D, but that would be pointless. Democracy is a 2D game, like chess. It would be a waste of effort, and would muddy the interface to make that change. I think the game would actually be inferior.
So I've been putting effort into making the 2D interface as nice as I can. It's already looking nicer, and when I'm happy with some sections, I'll put together some early screenshots.

There will always be some people who will not think my games are any good because they are 2D. This bothers me less than it used to, as these people tend not to like the kind of games I make anyway, so it's no great loss.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rendering middle aged men

Sad that it is, the majority of any governments cabinet ministers are white middle aged men. So I'm currently doing some test renders of such people for the ministers in Democracy.

Ministers are a new addition to Democracy 2. Each department will have a minister and the experience, skill and loyalty of that minister will all be things you need to keep an eye on.

In other news, I've started learning to play the piano. I forgot how weak your fourth finger (little finger) can be. Also, it's weird to play notes with your thumb. I didn't do that on the guitar...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pirate Party finally loses it completely

I've long been critical of the 'pirate party' a group from Sweden IIRC, who are firmly opposed to copyright, and think they are basically entitled to leech entertainment from everyone else. They have long tried to dress up this nonsense in intellectual waffle, but today they have finally lost it totally:

"The aim of the proposal is to facilitate efforts to clamp down on illegal file-sharing. This in turn is expected to stimulate the development of lawful alternatives for the spread of music and movies over the internet, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

Tobias Andersson, press spokesman for lobby organization PiratbyrÄn, was critical of the move.

"This is completely crazy," he said, before adding that "it is time to stop pampering the record industry".

"The danger here is that it will speed up the development of anonymous file-sharing programmes that make it technically more difficult to trace somebody's internet use. These kinds of services can also be exploited by people involved in criminal activities, such as paedophiles".

Ok... lets revisit that last bit:

"The danger here is ... These kinds of services can also be exploited by people involved in criminal activities, such as paedophiles".

Unbelievable. So this guy is saying that if anyone stops people being allowed to anonymously steal copies of 'Spiderman 3' in the name of free speech, then they are effectively helping child abuse. He actually thinks that he can defend the anonymity on a file sharing service, and fight against attempts to remove it because removing it would result in developing a more anonymous one, which somehow is only used by paedophiles. Errrrr argument == circular perhaps? If anonymity enables child abuse, how does defending anonymity work in this case?

So remember these words of wisdom. Every time you criticise people who steal games, movies, music, etc, you are basically helping paedophiles. and probably you are murdering kittens too.
Tragic isn't it, the lengths people will go to in order to justify taking other peoples work for free?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Democracy 2

I don't think I've officially announced this yet, But I intend to make, and have even started early work on, Democracy 2.

Right now I'm tidying up the code of the old game, as a basis to work from. The interface will likely remain the same in general terms, but I have a better text system and sound system, so I'm currently ripping out the old ones and replacing them. I've moved a few things around in the GUI, and it will be a while before I'm happy enough with the state of the code to really start to pull apart and improve simulation bits.
But right now, I do intend Democracy 2 to be my next game.