News Archive Q2 '98
June 24, 1998

Whew! I haven't updated in a quite a while. My life has been on fast-forward the last couple weeks. I got back from Virginia on the 17th and started my new job on the 22nd. This Saturday I'm moving into a new apartment. I'll try to post a more organized status once things calm down.

June 10, 1998 (hey, it's after midnight)

Bet you weren't expecting this (I know I wasn't). The next GFKAEV demo is ready! (link removed)

I really wasn't planning on releasing another demo until I had met certain goals. However, things just fell into place in the last couple days so I figured what the heck. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing. :)

Also, I'm leaving for Virginia later today so I'll be away from my email for a week. On the plus side Dave and I can bang heads for real (instead of this ICQ nonsense). I'll update when I return!

June 6, 1998

Here's a message I posed on the newsgroup in case anyone doesn't read them:

Hello all,

I have a proposition for anyone that's interested.  A friend of a
friend is looking for a game programmer.  He has a board game that
he'd like to translate to the computer.  He intends to ultimately
sell it so there definitely is some money involved.  I've met with
him and he's described the game to me.  It sounds relatively easy
to implement, but since I have very little Windows programming
experience I wouldn't be of much help to him.  He fully expects
this to be an on-the-side job so this is something you could do in
your spare time.

If anyone is interested in getting more information about this
please email me:  shade@dragonshadow.com

Thanks,
Scott
June 3, 1998

I updated the Staff section to reflect my new Canopus.

I also updated my public mirror to the news as of June 2.

Only three days left at Intel. Then it's off for two weeks before starting at VM Labs. During those two weeks I am going back to visit my folks in Virginia. So I won't have email access during that time.

June 2, 1998

While I haven't done much I just felt like writing something (don't want to disappoint my 2 visitors a day :) ). I don't know why, but I haven't been as jazzed about programming lately. Probably just a phase since I'm really enjoying playing Unreal.

I've also been tweaking my computer more. Not the components, but the physical appearance. I'm in the process of covering the case with game-related stickers (anyone got some from E3 they want to donate?). I changed my green power LED to a blue one. I bought some of that "crackle" spray paint and painted the front of my floppy drive. Finally, I'm attaching the front half of a plastic M&M dispenser to the front of the case (adding red LEDs for eyes of course). I'll try to get a pic up as soon as I get it finished.

May 28, 1998

Wow I actually did some work last night. I added a nifty routine to the shop. Since I have lots of sprites on the shop screen (100+) the Yaroze can't handle them all at once (and they are all "FastSprites" to boot). So I added a routine which only redraws those sprites that changed in any given frame. It also needs to redraw sprites which overlap or are overlapped by those sprites (to preserve ordering and transparency, respectively).

I also got my Canopus Pure 3D II in the mail a few days ago. I went out lickety-split and bought Unreal. Oh my God is this game cool! I can see my two weeks off between jobs being consumed by this game (at the expense of the Yaroze).

May 26, 1998

VM Labs it is! I've given notice at Intel and will start work at VM Labs next month. I'm taking a couple weeks off in between to chill. We're talking major Yaroze time :)

While my job will be in hardware, I'm hoping I can do some programming for Project X even if it's in my spare time.

May 22, 1998

The job hunt continues. I now have offers from both Rendition and 3Dfx. I'm expecting VM Labs to get back to me soon (yesterday actually). Once this is all settled out I'll have more time to program.

May 18, 1998

Once again my time stamp was updated undesireably. I had to fix the main page since all the links in the navbar were being opened in the top level rather than the frame on the right.

As for this weekend, I didn't get much done. I'm plugging away at the shop again. It's funny how when I switch between the shop and main program how I think the code I just left is awesome, while the code in the other module looks awful. For instance, when I quit the shop and worked on the main game I thought the shop code was awesome and the main game was terrible. Now that I've fixed up the core program I can see that the shop code is, in fact, crap. Confused yet?

Anyway, I have some real background graphics in the shop and I'm working on some other eyecandy. Once I get this all ironed out I'll post a couple screenshots.

May 14, 1998

Added a link to ScoTT Campbell's Escotiaescotia

May 13, 1998

Once again I had to change my first page so the time stamp was updated. Oh well...

For those interested, I've created a mirror which is viewable by the public. All programs and such are still on the Sony server, but at least people can read what we're doing.

This isn't Yaroze-related, but I thought I'd share anyway. I'm changing jobs!

I'm psyched because I'm finally advancing my career towards my ultimate goal of the games industry. I already have an offer from Rendition and that looks very tempting. But I just went in to interview with VM Labs and that looks promising too. It'll be a tough decision (if they give me an offer too), but I'm leaning towards VM Labs just because I feel I can transition into games more easily. Plus it'd be exciting to work on the fabled Project X. I hope things go well next week when I go back in for a second visit.

May 11, 1998

I am 95% done with the control scheme now. I just have to put in the ability to thrust with the left analog stick (so you can thrust and turn with the same stick). Also, while the neGcon code is all in, I still need to put in the configuration on the menu screens (so you can adjust sensitivity and the "dead zone").

Speaking of the menus. They can now handle sliders for such things as volume. I can't think of too much more to do with the menus so I'm going to work on the shop for a while.

Speaking of the shop. I'm having some trouble with my graphics. I made up some "official" background shop graphics to replace the placeholder ones I had before. When I added these new TIMs to my list, my game no longer functioned correctly. Either it wouldn't work at all, or the screen would turn all weird colors. If I removed these graphics then it works fine.

The weird thing is, I don't even use these graphics at all (yet). I'm just loading them into RAM. The only thing I can think of is that my graphic is clobbering some system data that the Yaroze expects to be there. This is strange, though since I'm loading my graphic into the user space (between 0x80090000 and 0x801FFFFF). The TIM is actually getting loaded around 0x800FF000.

Here's my hypothesis. A typical Yaroze program loads data (graphics, sound, etc.) into the addresses between 0x80090000 and 0x800FFFFF with the actual program starting at 0x80100000. I think there's a location in RAM somewhere between 0x800F0000 and 0x80100000 that is used by the system. They probably chose this location since it is just before the code space and they think we won't be using it. However, since I have a lot of graphics and sound, my data extends into this space (I actually start my code at 0x80120000). Thus I'm overwriting that system data and fouling something up.

I'll post my problem on the newsgroups to see if anyone can confirm or deny it. Maybe I'll make a rinky-dink program to try to demonstrate it.

May 8, 1998

Added a link to the excellent Tenchikun's Net Yaroze Development Centre (broken link) tenchi

I also changed the link to Sauron Systems Software (broken link) sauron from a JPG to a GIF since that made it smaller.

May 4, 1998

Okay now I'm pissed. While fiddling with my computer power strip this weekend it had a power surge. I ended up smoking my processor (I bought a new one to confirm that was the problem). It's too bad obscene words go against the license agreement because I would be spouting them to no end right about now.

As you can guess I didn't get much done. I did work on the neGcon code a bit and it's coming along nicely.

If you came here because of the recent timestamp on the member index, sorry there's no big update. I've been playing with the frame layout and a consequence is that the timestamp gets changed to the current day/time every time I hit "Enter Changes". But thanks for stopping by anyway :)

April 30, 1998

Posted a new Tech section about this cool utility we got with GCC called nm. Also put up a GFKAEV update which includes some new screenshots. To make them more accessible I created a new screen shots page. You can see how the game has progressed over time.

These are the six new shots. I would have put up a couple to show the shop screen, but all the graphics I have for that are placeholder so they look like crap. :)

ev8 ev9 ev10 ev11 ev12 ev13

Obviously I solved my problem from yesterday. What I proposed at the end of my previous update (below) actually worked. I print each line 3 times (5 just took too long) and then select the one that isn't lacking any bytes.

April 29, 1998

I'm trying my darndest to get some new screenshots. I found this cool program on the SCEE site which does a RLE-type thing on the screen, converts it to ASCII characters, and prints them out to SIOCONS. All you have to do is turn on a logfile with [F5] to capture the output. Then you take that and run a DOS utility called log2raw.exe to convert it to a RGB raw format (which can be read by paint programs).

My problem is that SIOCONS seems to be dropping characters randomly. Each line should have 1920 bytes of RGB data (640 * 3), but some lines only have 1914 or 1912, or some other number. I've checked the function on the Yaroze side and it's working correctly. Plus log2raw.exe is okay. It just seems that when you're printing out lots of text some characters get dropped.

I've tried a number of ways to work around this. I invoked siocons redirecting output to a file: "siocons > outfile". I figured that since the text is getting stuffed in a file rather than being actually printed it would help things. Maybe it helped a little, but some characters were still dropped.

Next I tried slowing the baud speed down. The lowest SIOCONS will let me go is 2400 and I was able to get a perfect screenshot doing this along with redirecting output to a file. However, when I tried again it didn't work. So it doesn't seem to be consistent.

Tonight I'm going to try something else. I will print out each line 5 times for redundancy. Then I'll make log2raw.exe go through each of the five and decide which one contains 1920 bytes of info. Of course I'm screwed if all five drop some characters, but the odds of that are smaller. Ug.

April 27, 1998

This weekend I focused on the in-game menu as well as the control scheme (since they go hand-in-hand). Analog pad support is almost complete and I've started adding support for the neGcon.

Once I get things stable I'm going to focus on updating the web page with some new sections. I'll have a GFKAEV update and a new Tech section.

The screenshots from Update #4 were broken (plus they still had that awful Java script). They're fixed now.

I update the Staff section to reflect my new hardware as well as Dave's.

April 25, 1998

I finally put the scroll graphic in the top-left frame. If you don't see it try reloading. I also updated the staff section with my new PC setup.

April 20, 1998

Another great programming weekend. This time the changes aren't as obvious. They involved cleaning up the code to make it more streamlined.

I finished up the homing missile code (for the most part - there's always something to add). When you have the missile selected a box appears around your target. Then you can hit a button to lock onto it and any homing missiles you fire will head towards that target. You can release the lock and acquire a new target any time.

April 19, 1998

Added a link GIF to SCEE member Nick Ferguson's page nick. He's keeping a diary of his exploits with the Yaroze. Check it out!

April 14, 1998

Got a bunch of stuff done over the weekend:

  • Created new explosion sprite. It looks a lot better, and takes up less room to boot.
  • Fully implemented the ship's energy system. The game just got a lot tougher :)
  • Changed the HUD to the "final" version. It has five guages: energy stored, thrust power, laser power, shield strength, and ship temperature. There's also two sprites depicting what extras you have selected at the moment.
  • You can cycle through the extras installed in your craft.
  • Integrated the shop code with the main game. I haven't tried to get it working yet, but the code is there for when I do.
  • Did my taxes :)
April 8, 1998

Implemented three different analog control schemes: absolute, scalar, and polar. In absolute your craft will turn to face whatever direction you move the stick. In scalar moving the stick left/right rotates your craft CCW/CW. The farther you push the faster you turn. For polar mode, pushing away from center (up) rotates left/right. The greater the angle between the center and the stick, the faster you turn.

Interestingly, while testing these out, only the scalar mode seemed playable. Of course I need to do some more testing. I'll probably leave the other modes in the game for people to play with.

April 7, 1998

Wow I actually programmed this weekend! It was a good feeling to make progress after so long. Here's what I did:

  • Finished the menu system for the most part.
  • Created the actual menus to be used during the game.
  • Enabled button configuration for digital and analog controllers.
  • Began implementing support for analog input in the game.

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