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October-December 2005 (oldest-to-newest)

4 Oct 2005 - Gareth

Gareth was born last Wednesday at 7:41pm and was 7 lbs and 20 inches long. Just half an ounce and half an inch more than his brother, Gavin.

Sleep has been a priority, which really cuts into development time. We're in bed by 9 to 9:30pm since we know we'll be woken up every couple hours or so by the baby. Right now he's most active at night and sleeps a lot during the day. We're working to reverse that - the pediatrician says it will take a few weeks.

Gavin is by far the more demanding of the two. He's a bit jealous and has gotten very clingy with the baby around. And the tantrums - whoa nelly. I'll stop there before I turn this site into another Dooce.

17 Oct 2005 - Flicker free

Game Progress Weekends being the only time when both kids are asleep and I'm not, I was able to squeeze in a couple hours of time on Invs. I switched to quad buffering before the baby was born and have been struggling with a flickering issue up until yesterday. Found that bug and we're now sans flicker as they say. Yay!

I have three more issues to clean up before I can hand over a build to Kevin for his little shindig in Pilly. Luckily if I can't get them fixed I can revert back some changes to a known working state that just runs a bit slower. It'd be really cool to have the game done, though.

'Course I'll have to revisit Katapila and make sure I didn't break anything there. That's the problem (and benefit) with sharing a lib between multiple games. In the long run, though, it only helps to make the lib stronger. One day I'll even try compiling Decaying Orbit again and see what happens.

24 Oct 2005 - Coolio

Game Progress I got some time this past weekend to fix the remaining issues with Invs. Everything should be good to go for the Philly show next month. I need to verify that Katapila still works, but that shouldn't take long.

I added a more flexible way to select a frame rate. It will let me choose just about any frame rate I need for a given game. I'll set the two Yaroze games to 50fps because that's the speed they run in their original European forms. Allowing them to run at 60fps would make the games more difficult for those of us with NTSC players. Also, limiting them to 50fps gives the games more time per frame for rendering, which will lead to less slowdown.

I also compiled Decaying Orbit again for the first time in who knows how long. Getting that working will give me more confidence in my recent sprite library changes.

1 Nov 2005 - Katapila

Game Progress Well Katapila did not work perfectly, but it's hard to tell if the problems were already there or if I introduced them recently. Regardless they need fixing.

First up were a couple bugs in the line drawing renderer. It took longer than expected, but I finally tracked those down.

The latest (and possibly last) bug is how the game slows down on the title screen. It is full speed when you first start the game, but after playing a round and going back to the title screen it slows down a bit. That needs investigating.

And to throw a wrench in the works I figured that the original game should run at 50fps, not 25 as I had assumed (sound familiar?). Hitting 50fps should be pretty easy once I write a renderer to handle the background. Katapila is not as demanding a game as Invs.

8 Nov 2005 - Almost done

Game Progress I changed Katapila to run at 50fps instead of 25. To achieve this I wrote a new background renderer that uses a tiled image. I also changed a few things in the game that hopefully won't detract from the experience. Once I get the speed up I'll try putting them back.

I sent a build to Kevin to use at the the show. Be sure to stop by and check them out if you're in the area.

I estimate another month or two of cleaning up before releasing the games formally.

I'll be taking some time off work in December and January to care for my son. Assuming he gives me some decent naps throughout the day I'll get in some great development time. More on that later as it gets closer.

16 Nov 2005 - Final stretch

Game Progress I figured out why the frame rate was taking a dive on the title screen of Katapila. It only happend after playing the game at least once. Turns out one of my hints that was supposed to speed up the game hurt it instead. The explanation is likely boring so I won't bother. The upside is that with some final tweaks Katapila stays at 50fps throughout.

Now I'm revisiting Invs again and playing it more thoroughly. I notice that the frame rate isn't as constant as I'd like so I'll try to address that if possible.

30 Nov 2005 - What's happening

Game Progress Sorry for the silence. I'm busy working on the boot loader to add some new features. I plan to release Invs and Katapila (and any future Yaroze ports) as a single download using the boot loader.

I have some pretty cool things planned, which is why it's taking so long to finish. I was going to just wait until it was done before saying anything, but that doesn't look like it will be any time soon so figured I should come clean.

Planned features include:

  • User-supplied fonts so you're not stuck with the standard system font. [done]
  • Up to nine image slots per app (img1 through img9 rather than just img1 & img2 as before). [done]
  • Multiple images per slot - up to 27 (img1 plus img1a through img1z) with parameters to control how the boot loader cycles through them. [tbd]
  • Faster TGA decoding via assembly language implementation. [in progress]
  • More advance positioning of menu elements. You will be able to place everything where you want it and make it whatever size you like. [tbd]

I'd love to have an assembly language implementation of the JPEG decoder, but that won't happen until I sit down and understand the file format. Given that the current C-implementation spans 70+ source files I figure it will be too complicated.

So now you get updates on the boot loader :)

2 Dec 2005 - Child's Play 2005

Hope you'll forgive the splash of color above. I would hope most of the people visiting here know about Child's Play already. Just in case though, give it a click and read about giving the gift of games to kids stuck in hospitals for the holidays.

5 Dec 2005 - Half time

Today is my first day off now that my wife has gone back to work half-time. We'll be trading days off for a couple months until we finally put the little one in day care in February. I take off Mondays and Wednesdays and she has Tuesdays and Thursdays with the baby. We're trading every other Friday off - I get the first one this week.

If our first son is any guage, I expect these first few days to be a challenge as the baby will have to take the bottle full time when I'm home.

Enough about kids. So while I'm off I'll be working on various things during his naps or while he is playing quietly. I plan to get at least one productive thing done every day (house projects) and one non-programming fun thing every day (reading, catching up on stack of unplayed video games). The rest of the time (what there is left) I'll spend on development.

Today's productive thing: Install new medicine cabinet.

5 Dec 2005 - First day

It's been a surprisingly pleasant day. The baby has slept through most of it. He took the bottle just fine. Here's hoping this continues.

Game Progress I wrote an assembly program to decode TGAs to offload the boot loader. It should speed things up tremendously. I got it feature complete recently and spent today debugging the assembly. There are so many modes and possibilities with the TGA format. Combine that with the limitations of the platform and it wasn't as straight-forward as I'd hoped. I'll be creating a special debug data file for the boot loader to verify all the different kinds of TGAs are handled correctly.

It's not full-featured yet. It can only handle 8-bit RLE encoded images (either 24 or 32-bit color). I'll probably leave it at that for a while since that's all the original C implementation could do.

There is still a bit of debug to do and then I'll start creating test cases specifically to stress the program. Hopefully I can get it fully working on Wednesday.

7 Dec 2005 - Day 2

Game Progress Huzzah! I got the first TGA decoding and displaying properly and it is blazing fast compared to the original. You know how it would take a second for each image to appear when you scroll to a new app? Well now it's near-instantaneous.

The assembly is interrupt driven so it will be quite easy to load images in the background. Plus I'm only using one MPE for TGA decoding. You could run it on all three MPEs for triple the throughput. Frankly I don't think that's necessary, but it's always an option. I'd like to keep those other two MPEs free for future use ;)

Now I'll go through and make some special-case TGAs to test every corner case I can think of.

Time for lunch.

10 Dec 2005 - Day 3

Game Progress So I made some TGAs with which to test the assembly. Before I can test them, though I need to implement some of the other features I mentioned. I want to be able to display more than two images per screen and position them arbitrarily on the screen.

So I spent the afternoon on Wednesday implementing this. Friday was a debug day. I now have some of the text displaying correctly, but not the images.

It was a good first week. If I can keep this up it should only take me a week or two more to finish everything.

13 Dec 2005 - Day 4

I received a spam with this little nugget at the end. "Even your friends would have to potato submit to your arrest, or if you resisted sick it would plunge us all into misery and unhappiness". Gotta love it :)

Game Progress Just a little update on yesterday's progress. I've had a cold so it wasn't the most productive day. Plus I started Shadow of the Colossus. Neat game.

I got the new image implementation working with things displaying where they should. With that I went back to debug the TGA decoding routine. I fixed a couple bugs, but they're still not showing up on the screen. Hopefully I can tackle that one tomorrow.

14 Dec 2005 - Day 5

Game Progress I got the images to display properly and after fixing one more bug in the assembly, they are correct. The first image is the original. The second and third play with the CLUT in a way that shouldn't affect the final image, which as you can see it doesn't. The fourth image reverses the horizontal swap bit, the fifth the vertical swap, and the sixth both. The last image tests wrapping of RLE packets across scanlines - something that I recently found out was not allowed in TGAs in order to facilitate finding the beginning of an arbitrary line. Still, my implementation can handle it so I'll just leave it in.

Funnily enough, Paint Shop Pro can't open the second, third and last images. They must have a weak implementation of the TGA spec. I can forgive the last one not working, but the other two should.

The mangled instruction text under the title is a bug I still need to fix.

19 Dec 2005 - Day 6

Game Progress Well, technically days 6 and 7 since I did some work over the weekend too. But I'll just keep counting my days off for now. I'm nearly done adding features to the Boot Loader for the time being. One more major one and then I'll put together the disc with Katapila and Invs.

Speaking of Invs, Philippe has been working on some tweaks to the game for the NUON release. Nothing major, just some updated text to reflect the button layout and tightening up the game in a few places. I need to transfer the optimizations I made to his code over to the new version.

22 Dec 2005 - Day 7

Game Progress I spent some time creating the background and loading images for the upcoming disc. I'm still not happy with it so I'll likely have to rev it again.

I got the horizontal menus working, although I haven't had much time to test them. I need to add more options to make them look good - limiting the number of app titles displayed, centering the menu text, etc.

I remembered I also need to add code to rotate through multiple images when given more than one. I'm thinking of three modes: static single image (same as now), pick a random image every time you navigate to the menu entry, pick a random image and then pick a new image every X seconds.

I'm off work starting tomorrow through Monday Jan 3rd (forced vacation during the holidays). The kids will be home too, but I do hope to get some work in on this over the break.

31 Dec 2005 - Background

Game Progress Just a quick update. My connection has been down most of the day and we're about to turn in for the night. It's not even midnight yet, but such is life with kids.

The image to the right is the background to the boot loader for Katapila and Invs. Click for the full-sized version Much better than the horrid mess I had before. Things are coming along nicely with the boot loader. I have all the features implemented, but not very debugged yet.

I'll post more tomorrow. Happy New Year!

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