A game development diary (and other stuff too)
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July-September 1999 (oldest-to-newest)
Well well well. How things have changed. I'm not sure
when I'll get a chance to work with the Yaroze since I
recently got a new toy. I took home a dev system from work
and will be playing with that for the time being.
My first project will still be the board game mentioned
below. I will keep this page updated as much as I can
without violating NDAs and the like.
As for lack of updates to the
I will add more stuff eventually. If/when the game gets put
on the OPSM disc I will surely add a lot more content.
I received my OpenGL Programming Guide in the mail
recently (got it from
- Amazon was more expensive). It doesn't seem too
difficult - much to my joy. I still need to get the dev
system to communicate with my PC. Hopefully I can get that
going soon so I can tinker around with our libraries.
I keep forgetting to put up the source for Decaying
Orbit. I promise as soon as I actually remember (while at
home), I will put it up.
I finally got off my lazy butt and hooked up the dev
system. It works like a charm. I've started going over
some of the sample code included with the SDK. I'll start
tinkering around with the system relatively soon. I don't
know how to dump screenshots, but I'm sure there's a way.
Of course I won't have anything to show for a while
In Yaroze news, I got the word from George Bain that
Decaying Orbit passed QA and will be included on a future
OPSM demo disc. I'm not sure what issue though.
I updated the
for first time visitors. Take a gander at it if you
I am sooooo tempted to keep working on Decaying Orbit!
This past weekend I received the first emails from people
that have played the game on the OPSM cover disc. It's
such a huge motivator to have people playing the game and
telling you they like it - especially when they're not in
the Yaroze program (that was not intended to be a slam to
my fellow Yarozers :).
I need to think about this a bit more. I have some
ideas to update the game engine to make the planets
polygonal rather than sprites. It would still be the same
2D game, but the planets would look (I think) loads better.
I'll have to do some experiments to see if it affects the
frame rate. Plus there are just so many ideas I didn't
have time to implement in the current version. I'd love
to get back to it and put them in.
This way I would still get some experience with 3D (if
the planets are polygonal) and I'd get to continue work on
a game I like so much. If anyone has opinions one way or
another I'd love to
This weekend I will most likely start work on Decaying
Orbit again. My finacee is going to China for a month so I
will have more time to myself to do coding. I'm hoping the
transition to polygon planets will go smoothly.
I read through Peter Passmore's 3D tutorial. In a
matter of hours I had a polygonal texture-mapped planet in
place of his car. That went far better than I had
anticipated. I hope integrating the code into Decaying
Orbit will prove just as straight forward.
First, however, I had to revert the Decaying Orbit code
to its pre-OPSM state. There were a few menu selections I
took out for the mag so as to not confuse players. I've put
them back in so I remember to actually make them do
something. Can you say load/save to memory card?
I think it might be tricky to get sprites and polygons to
mesh correctly. Especially since I need some sprites to be
in front of and some in back of the polys.
My thanks to Bob Shand and George Bain who sent me a copy
of the OPSM issue with Decaying Orbit. I was pleased to see
the game title on the cover of the disc. Here's a couple
scans. The first is of the CD cover with the appropriate
areas blown up. The other is the page from the magazine.
It's kind of cool how my blurb is right above the blurb for
Tekken 3! I'll excuse the editors for getting the analog
controls incorrect :)
Here's a spiffy logo Dave came up with:
The good news is I successfully got the polygonal
planets integrated into the code. The (somewhat) bad news
is that I'm having trouble with the projection step. I
need parallel projection to get the planets to line up
exactly where I want them, but I don't think the Yaroze can
do that. It only does perspective projection. This means
the farther away from the center of the screen a planet is,
the more "off" it appears from where it should be. I can
compensate for that in software, but having parallel
projection would have been the easiest method.
I spent much of the weekend developing a compression
utility. I am starting to hit the upper bound on RAM in
the Yaroze and figured I might as well start compressing
the graphics. The earlier I start doing it, the more time
I have to work out any bugs.
The program I developed works only on TIM files since
Decaying Orbit is primarily a 2D game. As it exists now
it does a reasonable job at compressing 4-bit TIMs and a
not-so-good job with 8-bit TIMs. The problem lies in the
amount of time it takes to compress a file. The 4-bit
TIMs can take a minute or two depending on complexity, but
8-bit TIMs can take upwards of 30-60 minutes (again for a
complex one). This makes it very difficult to test things
as the time between iterations is very large. This is
purely on the encoding side of things (on the PC).
Decompressing the packed TIM on the Yaroze is very
How well does it pack? I compared my TimPak results
with WinZip and for small 4-bit TIMs the results are
comparable. In some cases my compression does better.
In general, the smaller the input TIM the better it
Well according to CNN,
due to the date being 9-9-99. And yet we all know
something did happen. Sega Dreamcast!
I told myself I wouldn't get caught up in the hype.
"I don't need to buy it right away," I said.
"I'll wait until there's a must-have game, and *then*
I'll buy it." Little did I realize how weak my
willpower was. I decided to stop by Target and Walmart
on the way to work this morning on the off chance that
they still had some. Target didn't have anything
Dreamcast related. Walmart, however, still had three
systems left. So I had to get one. I rationalize it like
this. When that game-that-I-must-have comes out, I don't
want to be caught without a system and not able to find
one due to all the stores being sold out. So I got it. I
also got Sonic and a VMU.
Unlike the guys at
I do update the page sometimes. At least they're still
making comics on a regular schedule.
My time has been spent playing games lately. I
recently finished Norse By
which is a sequel to the Lost
Vikings. I loved the original, and the sequel is
almost as good. The puzzles aren't as challenging, but
there are two extra characters to play with (and one is
voiced by Gilbert Godfreid). The voice acting really
elevates the game up a notch. I hope they do a 3D Lost
Vikings on a next gen platform.
I've also been playing Sonic
Adventure and System Shock 2
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