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April-June 1999 (oldest-to-newest)

5 Apr 1999 - Burned out

I must be getting burned out from programming. I haven't done anything on Decaying Orbit in quite some time. Kinda sad since the demo is close to being done.

In the meantime I finally got all the golds in Wipeout 64. I must have tried that Super Combo Challenge #5 a couple hundred times before getting lucky. The Time Trial Challenges were a pain in the arse too. Hmm, what's next? I never did finish Goldeneye or the single player game in Bomberman 64. Then there's Body Harvest which I haven't done much with.

I also started and completed The Neverhood on Sunday. Wonderful claymation, but the puzzles were a bit simplistic. And there was too much backtracking/repetition. Good thing I didn't buy it when it first came out.

16 Apr 1999 - Yikes!

Holy crud, it's been a while hasn't it? Truthfully there's not much to report. I was spending a lot of time replaying Silent Hill to get the Good+ ending. With that out of the way I continued with Syphon Filter. BTW, I still need to play Silent Hill a third time to see the UFO ending. Hopefully it won't take me that long though since I've already done it twice.

Anyway, I'm mustering up the will to finish off the Decaying Orbit demo so I can finally put it to rest. Of course it will only be one fifth done according to what I have planned for it, but it's a good breaking point to start on something new.

I can't promise when it'll be ready, but look for it in the coming weeks.

19 Apr 1999 - Back in the swing of things

All I needed was to sit down and plunk around with the code for a few hours to get back into it. And woo I'm back!

I finished up the last two system pics and scanned them in. I just need to color them and get them in the game. I also created some cut-scenes to go with the opening text. They're just still renders, but better than nothing. I'll need to create maybe one more to go with the ending text.

I also did some minor tweaks to the game. All that's left are a few more sounds, *real* boss graphics, and some method for replaying levels after beating the boss (right now the game just ends). Not too bad.

21 Apr 1999 - All systems go

I colored the last two remaining systems and put them in the game. I'm spending a lot of time getting the Decaying Orbit website going. An adventurous person might even be able to find the prototype out there somewhere...

27 Apr 1999 - Price fixing

I had a first go at fixing the prices of the systems you will buy. I'll play through the game a couple times to see how they work out. I'm getting pretty excited about the upcoming release of the demo.

28 Apr 1999 - End game

Okay, now when you beat the boss on the last level the screen fades to black. Then it fades back in with a star background and some text scrolls by, further developing the story (in a similar manner to the opening sequence). I still need to render a scene to go with the text, but that shouldn't take long.

I just finished this up before turning off my computer last night so I still need to do testing and such on it. After that I'll work on some sounds. Oh, and I realized I forgot a system pic so I'll draw that at some point.

29 Apr 1999 - Sounds, Part I

I added some new sounds last night. There's now a tone played when you activate all the beacons. Missiles now make a sound. And I changed it so the different turret types make different sounds when firing and exploding.

3 May 1999 - So very close...

The game is on the cusp of a demo release. I can smell it. Oh wait, I just forgot to put on deodorant.

This weekend was absolutely awesome coding-wise. Here's the list:

  • Created remaining sounds
  • Drew/scanned/colored last system pic
  • Drew system powerup pic
  • Made floating money/systems disappear after 15 seconds. I didn't want to do this, but some levels were seeing framerate drops with too many floating around.
  • Implemented a cheat menu. There are a few cheats already and I'll add more as needed.
  • Lots of miscellaneous bug fixes/enhancements

Here are the things left to do:

  • Ensure shop backgrounds vary from shop to shop
  • Add something for when you get all the bonuses in all levels
  • Bug fixes as I encounter them

All this week and next weekend I'll be playtesting it, tweaking the difficulty. I need to balance the price of each system, define the time given to complete each level, and make each level have suitable difficulty.

5 May 1999 - Feature complete

I finished up the last two bullet items from below: making sure the shop graphics vary from shop-to-shop, and adding ending screens for when the player finishes the game.

There are three endings total. The first is when you play through it and beat the boss. The second is when you get the "All Bonus" in every level (and then beat the boss). After you accomplish that the Time Bonus for each level gets set at the "Insane" level. The Insane time will be the fastsest I have been able to complete each level and get the All Bonus. I've been playing this game for over a year, so if you can beat my times then you're truly a master. I'll add a little slack so as to ensure that it's possible to do, although the slack will be less than one second.

I also went ahead and added a credits screen. Why not?

With these out of the way the game is now feature complete according to my notes. I still have a short list of bug fixes to do before releasing it, but it shouldn't take long.

10 May 1999 - Aww nuts

I tried. Really I did. This thing is so close to being ready to go. However, I sent it to a couple friends in the UK to test in PAL mode and they reported some problems. Hopefully I can sort them out, but since I can't replicate the problems on my end it makes things difficult (and I even bought a Jam! device so I could view PAL - the problems just don't happen for me).

I do intend to release the demo before I leave for E3 on Wednesday. So if I can't get it sorted by then I'll just post it and deal with it when I get back.

12 May 1999 - Good news & bad news

The bad news is that I encountered two rather large bugs last night while testing the game for release. I sorted one of them out, but the other is still there. So I won't be releasing the demo until sometime after I get back from E3 on Saturday.

The good news is that the bug I fixed actually appeared to be the same bug the UK guys were seeing (see previous update on May 10th). Strangely the bug has been there for quite some time - many months at least. Odd that I haven't encountered it before. Anyway, hopefully that squashes any PAL/NTSC conversion problems.

Sorry for the delay folks! I feel like the guys at bleem! what with the broken release dates. However, the longer I take to get the game right the better.

17 May 1999 - Back from LA

E3 was a blast as to be expected. It didn't start out that great for me the first day, but Friday and Saturday were fun fun fun. The probable reason for that is that I concentrated on the console section the first day and went to the PC side after that. While the Dreamcast stuff looked impressive, the PSX and N64 just didn't do much for me graphics-wise.

With that being said, here's my personal list of show highlights:

  • Watching guys embarrass themselves by asking Lara Croft questions at the Eidos booth. I felt bad for the model playing Lara.
  • Seeing a guy dressed in a big Q-bert suit and just about busting my gut laughing. I took a picture and will have to post it when I get the roll developed.
  • Watching the Rayman cartoon done in complete CG. This thing was just so cool. In addition to the beautifully rendered cartoon itself, it had lots of humor. Watch for it coming to Saturday mornings.
  • Putting a face to the name of another Yaroze member, Wayne Lee. We ate lunch and chatted for a bit.
  • Seeing Dance Dance Revolution for the first time and watching several people's adequate attempts. And then seeing a japanese girl get up there and totally kick ass! Watching the game played by a master is like poetry in motion (to borrow a cliche).
  • Having a nice chat with Bryan from Maximum PC magazine during the shuttle ride home on Friday.
  • Battlezone 2 for the PC - One of the few OHMYGOD titles at the show. I never played the first one, but I will definitely pick up the sequel.
  • Happiness at getting to play a near-arcade-perfect version of one of my favorite games Space Ace. And then despair when seeing the half-second pauses that occur in between each move. And then happiness again after the gentleman explained that one of the enhancements to the NUON version will be to get rid of said pauses.
  • Being taken by suprise at seeing a banner for Dragon's Lair 3D. I hope they don't screw that one up. Can you tell I'm a fan of the old laser disc games?
  • Getting a free Zelda: OOT strategy guide from the Primas booth by just happening to walk by during the 2-hour window when they were giving them away. While I've already finished the game, my finacee is still working on it.
  • Seeing the PSX2 demos firsthand including the playable Gran Tourismo demo.
  • Obtaining no less than 16 distinct free magazines at the show. It was great until I had to carry all the ones I didn't finish back home with me. A dozen magazines in a duffle bag weigh approximately 10 tons. Not good when I'm trying to run to catch a flight in 15 minutes.
  • The lack of recycling bins for said magazines. What a serious shame that thousands of people will throw away all those mags after reading them.
  • Deciding to definitely buy FF8 after watching the movie shown on the huge screen. And then deciding there's no way I'll buy it after going to the interactive kiosks and watching some guy fight the same boring battle for 10 minutes.
  • Ecco the Dolphin for Dreamcast - This game singlehandedly cinched a DC purchase for me.
  • Being very impressed with Ready 2 Rumble for Dreamcast initially, and then bored with it after seeing it for 3 days.
  • Watching people play Um Jammer Lammy on a giant 15-foot TV screen. And subsequently getting one of the songs stuck in my head ("Now put these kids to sleep will ya").
  • Initial impressions of Command & Conquer 2 leaving me unexcited. Units still move in only 8 directions? Come on guys, didn't you ever hear of a game called Total Annihilation?
  • Not trying to tow the company line, but Tempest 3000 for NUON floored me. I'd seen earlier builds, but the one at the show was just sooo cool. Maybe it was because it was played on the big screen. Maybe it was the Prodigy used for background music. Nothing else at the show looked quite like it.
  • Obtaining 46 new stickers with which to cover my PC case. I took pictures and will post them when the roll gets developed.
  • Fear Factor at the Eidos booth was another OHMYGOD title. The rendering is done comic book style so it has a very unique feel. Also, the backgrounds are done with streaming FMV which blend really well with the onscreen characters. This makes the world so much more believable. I can't wait for this one.

Whew! Since I got back from LA Saturday evening I did manage to work on the game a bit this weekend. I think I have that last bug licked, but since it wasn't something I could reproduce consistently I won't know for certain.

I added a new little graphical tweak. When mines explode the screen shakes a bit. It adds so much to the game and was so easy to do.

I still have some more testing and play-balancing to do, but my most recent estimate for a release is this coming weekend.

19 May 1999 - Stay on target...

One more bug found and fixed last night. I just need a good couple hours with it to finish balancing things. Hopefully nothing else major will pop up.

I forgot to mention that I've started compiling the game with optimization on. That cleared up all the remaining slowdown problems I was seeing thank goodness. Plus it compressed the size of the binary by about 35% which will speed up download times for everyone.

20 May 1999 - And it wasn't even sold out

Saw Phantom Menace yesterday afternoon. Screw the critics, this is an awesome movie. It's classic Star Wars. And no, I didn't think Jar Jar was annoying.

As for Decaying Orbit, I played through the entire game once last night to get a feel for it. It plays really well actually. The prices of most items are at reasonable levels. The difficulty for each level is appropriate. I increased the total time you have to complete each level just so first-time players won't get frustrated with time always running out.

The end-of-galaxy boss is now more difficult than ever < evil grin >. There are three stages to the boss and each one presents its own challenges. Without going into details, the final stage is very frantic which is great.

23 May 1999 - It's about frickin time

Without further ado, here's the Decaying Orbit™ demo in either NTSC (514k) or PAL (515k) form! The downloadable manual is available here (292k) in glorious html, and the utility to convert screen dumps to images is here (37k).

As you can tell, we moved the website to our own domain. Kind of nice that it coincided with the demo release too!

Along with the demo, we have a site exclusively for Decaying Orbit. You can access it from the main page or just click here. It has (or will have) all the information you could want about the game. I'll be adding lots more stuff to it over the coming weeks (including the source code).

Hope you enjoy the game! As always let me know what you think!

25 May 1999 - Let's try this again

Okay! The files are now available on the official server. I'm afraid the SCEE people will have to wait until it gets mirrored over there. Here they are:

For SCEA: NTSC (514k) PAL (515k)

For SCEE (once available): NTSC (514k) PAL (515k)

If you happened to pick up the version I posted before I would encourage you to grab these. I made a couple minor tweaks to the game in the interim.

I will be gone for about a week starting tomorrow so there won't be any updates until next Wednesday at the earliest.

3 Jun 1999 - Sticker update

Here's how my computer case now looks after acquiring over 40 new stickers at E3. I know no one but me cares, but heck it's my website now isn't it? :)

Also, I finally got my E3 pictures posted. The Q-bert outfit is just so cool.

16 Jun 1999 - Still alive

I haven't done anything with the Yaroze since finishing up the Decaying Orbit demo. I plan to start devling into 3D soon so hopefully I'll have more to say then.

In other news, it looks like Decaying Orbit might make it onto an OPSM disc. I need to clean up a few things to make it presentable, but that's nothing major.

21 Jun 1999 - 3D

I read through Peter Passmore's tutorial on 3D. It's kind of depressing going from someone that knows what they're doing (in 2D) to total moron (with 3D). Still, I had to start sometime.

The first game I will make will be an adaptation of a board game I have. It's a good project since I don't need to bother with collision detection or animation. Keep things simple for now. Plus, I've always desired a computer version of the game so I could play it whenever I wanted. My goal is to get the game done very quickly. I don't want the project to linger on like Decaying Orbit did.

This web page and all other pages on this site are © 1999-2007 Scott Cartier