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January-March 2006 (oldest-to-newest)

1 Jan 2006 - Vacation update

So I've been off the whole week as have my wife and kids (day care provider takes Christmas week off). I finished off Shadow of the Colossus and caught up on TV shows Invasion and Threshold (only to find out the latter has been cancelled, grrrr).

Game Progress As for the boot loader, I'm in debug mode now. I added a lot of knobs to turn and am going through all the combinations to make sure everything works reasonably well.

Here's what I added:

  • Horizontal menus. Scroll left and right instead of up and down. Obviously you can't fit as many entries on the screen as the normal, vertical kind, but it gives a different look and feel.
  • Absolute positioning for screen elements. Everything on the screen can be positioned exactly rather than having it automatic as before. It takes more work to get stuff lined up, but the extra flexibility gives more power to the disc creator.
  • Various menu options. Like centering the menu, wrapping around from one end to the other, limiting the number of entries displayed, and turning off the strobing effect for the selected entry.

That's in addition to the previous updates of custom fonts and increased number of images.

Coming along nicely. Here's a current, but not finalized, shot of the disc-in-making. Sorry about the crap quality. I took the capture from my TV input since the screenshot routine seems to be busted.

4 Jan 2006 - Day 8

Game Progress Good progress today making more content (images) for the Yaroze Classics boot loader disc. I just need to take some new screenshots to wrap it up.

Philippe sent me the code for the NUON version of Invs that he made. (And I just noticed that I spelled his name incorrectly in the screenshot down below.) I ported all my changes over to the new files and got it running. Let's just say that I like it. A lot. I think you will too :)

Despite constantly breaking my own release dates I'll go out on a limb and say that I expect to release it all within two weeks.

6 Jan 2006 - Day 9

Updating for yesterday. This week was shifted from my normal Monday, Wednesday, every-other-Friday routine due to the holidays - I was off Tuesday and Thursday instead. I'll be back to normal next week with all three days off.

Game Progress I spent some time acquiring new Invs screenshots for the boot loader. I'll need to do the same for Katapila this weekend or Monday. I'm almost done content-wise with the Yaroze Classics disc.

I'm also playing Invs to test it. I was a bit disappointed to hit some serious slowdown a couple times. It doesn't last long - just when there are lots of bits flying around the screen - but it's enough to make me want to try optimizing it further.

I also need to tweak the background clear routine. This is the one that takes the previous frame and fades it out slightly so that things leave a nice trail. Due to fixed point precision it doesn't quite get faded to black, which causes objects to leave permanent streaks on the background. It's kind of a neat effect, but is not representative with how the original game looked. I have some ideas on how ot fix it.

10 Jan 2006 - Day 10

Game Progress I didn't get much done yesterday due to the baby being very demanding in the afternoon. I think I have a way to fix the background fading mentioned last time. I just need an hour or so to try it out. Maybe tomorrow.

12 Jan 2006 - Day 11

Again, I didn't make much progress yesterday. Partly due to baby fussiness, partly just too much house work. Not to worry, I have decided to dedicate most of Friday to getting this thing polished.

Game Progress I still haven't confirmed my changes to the background fader in Invs, but I'm getting closer. I had introduced a bug during my optimizations and just recently found it. Now that everything is working with the old renderer again I can try modifying it. I think after I'm done that not only will it be 100% accurate with regards to the original, but it will actually be faster than the other, estimated method.

16 Jan 2006 - Day 12 (late)

Oof, this one's a bit late. I forgot to post on Friday. I'm back to full time at work for two weeks while my mom takes over my baby-watching duties. After that I'll do two more weeks of half time before returning to full time permanently.

Game Progress I finished the background fader for Invs. It works great and is accurate to the original.

I'm ready to put together the final disc, but am having trouble. As sometimes happens the disc works fine on the dev system, but not on a real player. I didn't change the file accessing part of the boot loader so it must be some interaction with other changes I made.

As soon as I can nail this bug I will be able to release the disc. Heck, maybe I can even get it out by Wednesday so I don't make myself a liar.

18 Jan 2006 - They're here!

Introducing Yaroze Classics!
Download (2.9 MB)

Kicking off this ongoing games compilation are Katapila by Ben James (website) and Invs by Philippe-Andre Lorin (website).

These two games were originally created with Sony's Net Yaroze platform. Using the same library developed for Decaying Orbit, I'm pleased to introduce Katapila and Invs to world of NUON.

To use, download and extract the zip. Burn the two files to a CD and pop it in your player. (Having trouble? See these burning tips)

Along with the Yaroze Classics disc comes a contest! First, play Invs.

Now, think you can create better sound effects? Philippe has given the go-ahead to do a total replacement of the in-game sounds. The winner will receive a signed NUON Games & Demos disc and have their sounds immortalized in a future version of the Yaroze Classics collection.

Here's what to do. Download this zip containing the original sound effects from the game. Then create your own sounds to replace them. Here's a list of the sound files and how they are used in-game:

  • plshot - Standard player shot
  • plshot2 - Player shot when powered up
  • plenrgy1 - Collecting shield energy
  • plenrgy2 - Collecting shot power energy
  • pldead - Player got shot
  • peonfull - Peon finished getting energy
  • peonshot - Dark Peon shot
  • attaatak - Atta leaving formation
  • attashot - Atta shot
  • gorratak - Gorr leaving formation
  • gorrshot - Gorr shot
  • kkexpl - KeeKee hitting ground
  • swshot - SeeWee releasing triple bomb
  • swbeam - SeeWee shooting the player's shot
  • protshot - Prot bomb
  • protbeam - Prot beam
  • expl - Various explosions
  • miss - Shots that miss
  • explsmal - Smaller explosions (shooting Invs)
  • pop - Bubblers' bubbles popping

Refer to this page for a description of each enemy type.

Here's some rules for the contest:

  • Avoid using copyrighted sounds directly (Galaga, Galaxian, etc). Original works will be scored higher. However, feel free to use existing sounds as a starting point as long as you edit them sufficiently to be original.
  • Enter as many times as you like. Make a funny set, a serious set, a western set for all I care.
  • Entries must be less than 1MB for the 20 files zipped.
  • File format must be WAV 16-bit mono 22050 Hz.
  • Use the same file names as above. It makes my life easier when dropping them into the game.
  • Entries must be submitted by midnight Sunday, February 19th Pacific Time. Depending on how many entries there are, the winner will be announced one to two weeks later.
  • Do not send entries by email without contacting me first! Best for me would be if you use your own web space from which I can download. Alternately you can upload entries to my FTP space at ftp.dragonshadow.com in the "incoming" directory. Send me a mail when you do so I can grab it (and so I know who sent it). Don't worry, no one can delete or download files you put there.
  • I will be happy to generate a custom build if you want to test out some sounds before submission. In fact, I suggest doing this to be sure things sound as you expect. Drop me a line and we'll work it out.
  • Anyone can offer to be a judge, but then you can't enter the contest. Mail me if you're interested.
4 Feb 2006 - Boot Loader 4.0
Boot Loader 4.0

Up for grabs is the latest boot loader. Get either just the executable (3.6 MB) or the source (6.4 MB).

The latter includes the source for the boot loader, source for the BOOTPACK utility, and all the files used to create the demo bootload.dat (same as previous versions). Plus as a bonus I included the files used to create the recently released Yaroze Classics disc. This will let you see how that disc is put together to help you understand some of the changes I made. There is a NUON.CD in the YarozeClassics directory - this is a compiled version of the boot loader that uses the init image for the YC disc.

Please see the accompanying README included in either zip. It explains the changes and how to use the boot loader.

Psst. Is anyone going to enter the contest?

8 Feb 2006 - And now for something different

It's been a while since I talked about something non-game related. So has everyone been watching Surface? Good show. It took me some time to get into it.


At the beginning the characters were very flat and stereotypical. Oh, the parents are idiots and don't relate to their kids - that's original. Oh, the brother and sister hate each other's guts. Oh, the government is covering up everything, making the early episodes frustrating.

About half way through it got really interesting. The Miles/Nimrod thread took an interesting turn when Miles and Phil were on the run and got arrested. The Laura/Rich thread really gets going as they dive to the bottom of the ocean. And the conspiracy behind it all is revealed. I'm hooked.

Still, there were several points in the show that bugged the bejeebus out of me. A bunch of them hit once Laura and Rich resurface from the bottom of the ocean.

  • How is the submersible staying afloat? Sure it was tethered to the life raft, but at best that would mean that the submersible would dangle some feet below the raft - below the surface of the water.
  • Okay, they get out onto the raft and discover a dime-sized leak. Umm, how about PUTTING YOUR FINGER ON IT! Jeez louise. The raft is the only thing keeping you alive and you have nothing but time on your hands. Take turns holding a finger on the damn hole.

When Rich was locked in the Iderdex room below ground I don't think he was in any sort of danger from the Tsunami. Even if the water got down that far it would have just flowed down the tube to where the monorails were going. I guess the building might have collapsed on him due to the weight of the water above. I'll let this one slide.

Miles jumps off the ferry to save his girlfriend and everyone - his parents, the girl's dad - just watches him go. I don't know, as a father I sure as hell would have jumped in too to help him. "Bye son! Call me if you survive!"

13 Feb 2006 - BreakDown

Game Progress As I stated in the forums, I'm sticking with the Yaroze Classics for a while. Chris Wallace offered up his game BreakDown for porting so that's what I'm doing now.

It's going amazingly well. I had the thing running within a few hours of work and have now ironed out a bunch of the issues. I've even done some optimization and think it should stay at 50fps throughout. It helps that the background is static during each level. I'm pulling the same trick I did for Decyaing Orbit in that I use the overlay channel for the dynamic objects and the main channel for the background. That way I only need draw the main channel once per level.

I encountered a strange crashing behavior. I think I fixed it, but need more time to determine if that's true. I also need to put some serious time into playing the game to see what pops up. No estimated release quite yet - I'll have a better idea where things stand after this week.

28 Feb 2006 - Rocking out

The lack of updates can be entirely attributed to two things: Xbox Media Center and Guitar Hero. Both are lovely :)

Seriously, though. Regarding BreakDown I'm still getting a crash in some minibios routine. And I have some graphical oddities that I'm guessing are DMA related, but I don't really know how to track them down.

14 Mar 2006 - ...

I severely overestimated how much time for coding I'd have after going back to work full time. Two kids is not quite twice as much work as one, but when you're already operating at 80% "daddy" with just the first one, adding another eats up that last 20% and then some.

Of course Guitar Hero is still taking up fun time, but can you really blame me? A sequel and genre-specific expansions? Just wow. When will I find time for breathing.

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