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October-December 1998 (oldest-to-newest)
I have a new font which I will use on the title screen
(and other places eventually). It has much more personality
than that boring Courier I was using before. Now I just
need to think of a new way for the opening sequence to be displayed.
I hope to get a bunch done this weekend. The last few
weekends I've had some activity that's eaten up most of my
time. This weekend I hope to get a large chunk of time to
The fates conspired against me this weekend. I ran a
few errands Saturday which ate up more time than I would
have liked. Then I played Magic: The Gathering with a
friend most of Sunday. Not that I minded playing, but I had
my heart set on coding (pathetic, I know).
The level editor is nearly complete. I'm pretty happy
with how it's coming out. I'll hopefully have some
screenshots by this weekend.
I'm also working on the level advancement. You will no
longer be able to just head directly for the ending planet,
but rather have to blow up some stuff first :) I'm debating
adding mission briefings, but the thought of coming up with
100+ missions is quite daunting.
Only one last thing to finish up with the level editor
before I switch to something else. I'm happy it only
took a month to create from start to finish. Of course
as the core game evloves and I add more things I'll have
to update the level editor to include them. But as of
now it's got everything I can think of. Here's a list of
what it does:
- Add game objects:
- Change attributes of the objects (not all attributes are
applicable to all object types)
- Add/delete up to 8 moons for each planet and change
each moon's attributes
- Make any planet a target planet and adjust that
- Change the level size from 640x480 all the way up to
(almost) 4096x4096 - that's over 54 screens worth of
- Change light source direction and intensity per level
- Select multiple objects to be manipulated at once -
objects may be added to the selection either individually
or by dragging a rectangle around multiple objects
- Move/copy/delete objects either individually or as a
- Minimap available at any time by pressing SELECT -
movement while in the minimap is much faster than normal
- Status box showing all valid button actions (not
- Print level objects to SIOCONS output in a format
suitable for #include'ing into the main program - not
that that's useful to anyone else
I still need to add the ability to save/load levels
to/from memory cards. That'll probably happen much later
as I haven't fiddled with the memory card functions
Once again this weekend looks to be free of
distractions (famous last words). I'll just leave it at
that so I don't jinx it :)
Here are some
from the level editor.
Just a quick update to the
Next on the agenda is level advancement. While in the
shop you will be able to choose your next level. That way
you can go back and retry previous levels if you didn't get
everything the first time.
On the side I'm also adding more game objects. There is
now a fragmentation mine in addition to the normal explosive
one. It sprays shards in a circle when you trip it.
Another object I've just begun is a wormhole. Appropriately
it will teleport you to another part of the level (or maybe
even a different level), although it doesn't do squat quite
Level selection is in place. In the shop if you move
the cursor over to the minimap and hit a button, the map
will zoom out and be replaced by the galaxy map. You can
then move to any level you've opened. Selecting a new
level zooms back into a minimap of that level.
I've also begun to add the level bonuses. Right now
I'm planning on five bonuses: finishing the level in a
certain time limit, destroying all targets, touching all
beacons (more on that later), and not colliding with any
planets. The fifth bonus is if you get all of the other
four at once. Not an easy feat :)
What are beacons? Basically each level will have a
bunch of inactive beacons strewn about. Flying by a
beacon will activate it. To get the bonus you will have
to find and activate all the beacons in the level.
Naturally they will be set up in a way to provide a good
challenge. I haven't actually added support for them yet,
but it should be a trivial matter to do so.
You know, I can actually see the light at the end of
the tunnel. Decaying Orbit will be the first game
to come out from DSI since I joined the Net Yaroze program
last year. Originally called Planet Graviton
(anyone remember that?), it was going to be a simple
little demonstration of my sprite-handling skills. The
game was going to be similar to the shareware game
Scorched Earth. You would fire off your rocket, trying to
hit the target planet. You would have to take into
account the various gravitational forces in each level.
Once your craft was launched you would have no control
Yeah, I know. What was I thinking? :) In my quest to
make Planet Graviton into a real game the whole
thing just mushroomed out of control. My notebook became
scribbled with suggestions to myself. The amount of work
grew and grew such that I debated scrapping it all a
couple of times. Afterall, the reason I got the Yaroze
was to learn 3-D game programming and this wasn't serving
that function at all.
But, I wanted to actually finish a game. Since we
were kids, Dave and I started creating many games, but we
only ever finished one (a simple 2-player game called
Mega-Gun on the C64 using Gary
Kitchen's Game Maker). I wanted to get a real game
under my belt. Plus I wanted it to be a whole
package. Meaning it should have an intro, title
screen, options, in-game menus, a half-assed story,
cheats, and all the other things you expect from a
commercial game. Also, being such a fan of customizable
games such as Racing Destruction
Set and Lode Runner, I
simply had to include a level editor.
The amount of work seemed overwhelming at times. I
look at all of the other Yaroze members generating some
wonderfully creative and fun titles. Some have finished
3 or more games and here we are still working on our
first. I got a bit discouraged, but stubborn as I am I
didn't want to leave yet another game half-finished.
So here I am. The core engine has been complete for
a while, although I still add new object types every so
often. The in-game menus work okay. There's a
preliminary intro screen. A level editor allows me to
create and test new levels quickly. All in all things
are shaping up nicely. In fact, getting back to my
opening statement, I can now see that this game
will be done at some point. The list of
remaining features is now dwindling faster than it
grows. I can't say when exactly it will all fall into
place, but I've recently renewed my vigor to put that
much more effort into it.
Enough of the essay. I figure now's a good time to
list out the things left to add:
- Official DSI intro (to be used on all our Yaroze games)
- Decaying Orbit intro
- Title screen
- Ending screen for when you finish the game
- Method for entering cheats
- Money system for purchasing new items
- Different graphic types for each of the five galaxies
- Enemies that actually fly around with some reasonable
set of AI
- Level bonuses which result in monetary rewards
- 2-player battle and tournament modes
- Memory card for saving/loading: 1-player progress, 2-player
ship configurations, player-created levels
- More/better graphics and sound
- And of course, more object types as I come up with them
Time flies yadda yadda. I'm trying to make an update
every couple days, but I look at the date and lo-and-behold
it's been almost a week.
Oh well, judging from the dismal hit rate I get it
doesn't matter much anyway. In the heyday of 1997 I was
getting a consistent 2 hits a day to my Yaroze page. Now
I'm lucky if I get one every other day. In fact my
public mirror (which isn't even updated as often as this
one) gets 5-10 times as many hits. *sigh*
Not much got done this weekend due to this little
thing known as Metal Gear Solid.
Dagnabit this game is shweet. I've been on a game-playing
binge the last couple weeks, trying to keep up with my
purchases. You see I usually buy one game every other
month or so. The last N64 game I got was Banjo-Kazooie
which was released back at the end of June. The last PSX
game I bought was Point Blank. In contrast, over just the
last few weeks I've bought Spyro,
Unholy War, and
Metal Gear Solid. I'm thinking
about getting Tenchu and
Trap Gunner. I rented and
finished Heart of Darkness
(awesome game, but too short to be worth buying).
I will also soon get
Body Harvest, Space Station
Silicon Valley, and of course
Zelda. This is pissing me off!!
I would appreciate it if the damn game companies would
release stuff during the summer when I have nothing else
to play other than Tomb Raider (the first one - yeah I'm
slow). *deep breath*
Back on topic. This was supposed to be an update on
Decaying Orbit. The level bonuses are pretty much
in place. When selecting the next level you can see which
bonuses you already got so you can determine which level
to go back to. I'll probably make it such that it won't
be possible (or maybe just extremely hard) to get all the
bonuses the first time through. You'll have to get
farther in the game to accumulate better equipment before
going back and trying again. The second thing I did is
add a message box during the game. It will display text
messages when significant events happen ("Shield down",
"Hull temperature critical", etc). I'll also add a timer
at the top of the screen to countdown during each level.
It may not be realistic, but adding a time limit will
prevent people from just doing the
< BLATANT PLUG :)>
VM Labs just issued a
revealing the name of our technology. Formerly known as
Project X, the new moniker is NUON™. Want more info? Go to
NUON™ and the NUON logo are trademarks of VM Labs, Inc.
< /BLATANT PLUG :)>
Gravitation competition! The game is a blast and he's
sweetened the deal by offering some prizes. But he needs
more people to enter to make the compo worthwhile. So jump
on over there and check it out!
I've been playing quite a bit of Gravitation this past
week. There's some good competition going on and it's all I
can do to keep in the running. I did get some work done on
the game, though. I'm just starting to add in-game
systems/money. So when you destroy a turret or whatnot a
little icon will appear that will float around the level
until you pick it up. It could be worth money or even be a
system for your ship. I'm debating whether or not to make
these icons affected by gravity. Computing gravity is
really "expensive" CPU-wise so I don't know if it could
handle several of them at once. I also added the timer to
countdown each level.
Just a quick note to say I'm going to Australia for two
weeks and won't be updating or checking email in the
Didn't get much done this weekend. I played lots of
So many games, so little time...
Whoa! Almost a month since the last update. At least I
have an excuse for 2 of those weeks since I was on vacation.
Plus, ever since I've gotten back I just haven't felt like
doing much of anything let alone programming. Probably a
side effect of the vacation. However, it has started me
thinking about moving on with another project. I won't
abandon Decaying Orbit entirely, but I want to at least get
my feet wet with some polygons :)
I'm back baby! I just found out how to connect to the
Yaroze newsgroups from work (shh, don't tell anyone). I
didn't think it was possible due to the firewall, but I
just clicked on the link on the SCEA site and it worked
like a charm! I've been catching up with the past 6
months or so of posts. The SCEE freetalk.english group
has >2000 posts so that'll take me a while.
More importantly, this has renewed my vigor to finish
Decaying Orbit. Reading how there *are* still people
coding the blasted thing makes me feel better. :)
So last night I sat down and played around with the
latest build of DO (first time in almost a month). I
fixed a few minor things that were on the backburner, just
as a sort of a warm up. Today I scanned in some pics I
drew while on vacation. These are for ship systems so
hopefully I can release a more complete demo soonish.
Also, I finished Metal Gear
Solid last night. With that done I'll have more
time to code. Of course there's still the matter of
Silicon Valley and
I didn't do any programming this weekend, but I did
work on the pics I scanned in earlier. I added color to
the black-and-white scans and shrunk them down to 4-bit
64x64 bitmaps. We're not talking high quality art here,
but hey it works. I'll post a few examples when I get a
I also attended the weekly chat in the Auditorium.
First time in a while. I'm usually doing something
Saturday night. On the days I'm free I've always
forgotten about it. There were only five of us total
(though not all at the same time). Cheers to August,
Josh, Bill, and Mario!
Check out www.800.com.
They're having a promotion where you can get 3 DVDs (or VHS)
movies for $1! I can't imagine how they make money on this.
Guess it's just to get people to come in.
Here are a few of the system pics I drew. The first
two are laser systems, the next is an energy system (if
you look you can see people on top of the thing - giving a
sense of scale), and the last one is obviously a missile.
Given that you're probably viewing this at 800x600 or
higher, they will look better in the actual game.
I went for the comic book look (meaning flat colored).
It was difficult getting some of them down to 16 colors.
If I were to make this a real game (on a CD) they would
be 8-bit or even 16-bit.
While most of you visiting this site won't know the
difference, I've decided to consolidate my efforts and only
support one site (this one). I will no longer update my
Yaroze page as it was getting dismal traffic anyway (2 hits
a week). Also, the SCEE folks access SCEA pages through
their mirror, and since the SCEA hit counter doesn't work
for them I wasn't seeing their hits. I figure this is the
easiest way to fix all that. To tell the truth, I was
getting sick of cut-and-pasting :).
Also, I'm starting to add titles to each update. No
real reason. Just trying to make things more
I would like to make a complete overhaul of the site,
but have no real time to do it. Ideally I would eliminate
the frames and remove the links that I'm sure no one even
clicks on any more (Ramblings, Project Updates, etc).
I have this recurring problem that I just can't seem to
isolate. Sometimes after I load the game, a lot of the
sprites will be messed up or not appear at all. What makes
this annoying is that as I add "printf" statements to track
it down, the thing starts working like a charm. Then if I
take out the "printfs" it keeps working. So the
problem isn't repeatable. Very frustrating. Thankfully I
can get it working or else I would never make any
I've added the system pics to the game and they look
pretty good. Much better than the placeholders at least.
I also fixed a few miscellaneous things in the shop screen.
I can feel another demo coming on. Probably sometime in
January after the holidays are over. It's just a matter of
finding time to clean everything up. This demo will have
all new levels (and more of them to boot).
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© 1999-2007 Scott Cartier