Windows 7

Previously I tried running Angband v3.0 on my laptop. The graphics would not scale correctly for my screen. Plus the thing kept aborting. So I decided to go on an Angband hiatus.

Recently I decided to give it another try. Version 3.2 has graphics that better suit my screen. The application still exits mysteriously from time to time. However I am able to restart my game where I left off.

Right now I am a human mage character level 4. I knocked off Farmer Maggot to get a shield. It has not been identified yet. But I am wielding it because I am pretty sure it is enchanted.

Pie in the Sky

The game software business seems like an easy one. You code up a great game and get rich right? Well nothing it ever that easy. I gained a lot of insight by reading the history of Pie in the Sky Software. Check out their history starting with Comcob.

You need to time your advertising correctly. Otherwise you might sell a lot of copies before the thing is done. Then you might be forced to ship before the product is ready. That in turn will create a lot of unhappy customers.

How do you handle these unhappy customers? Well you can provide technical support. That is very labor intensive. And you still might have customer who are mad. You might also have to ship out a free upgrade, fixing bugs that have no right to be in a release. Did I mention that physical shipping of software is an expensive activity?

Full Sail University

I saw an ad on my own web site for Full Sail University. It looked interesting. They seem to cater towards game development. The time it takes to graduate is normally half the time of a regular university. They are located down in Orlando, Florida (hello Disney World).

What caught my eye was the interesting and relevant classes they seem to teach. Some of these classes were Windows Programming, Direct X, Open GL, Engine Development, and Optimization. You can get a bachelors degree in either Game Development or Web Design. They also have a masters of Game Design.

Total cost for the masters is around $30k. This works out to $615 per credit. You can graduate in just 3 semesters. The total cost for the bachelors program is $76k. Ouch. It is around $535 per credit. This program takes a little over 5 semesters to graduate.

You can start any month. They have about 12k students attending now. Full Sail does offer campus tours. They also have an online program. In general I do not recommend online classes. And they offer individual courses on a case by case basis. Might be something to look into.

Call of Duty

Activision released the latest version of Call of Duty this month. It has been breaking all sales records with ease. On the first day, it sold over 5 million copies for a revenue of $360M. In the first 5 days, it has raked in $650M in sales. Damn.

This is the seventh installment of the Call of Duty line. The game is titled Call of Duty - Black Ops. The game was previously announced back in April. It has some sketchy material like torture of prisoners and assassination of heads of state. Good stuff eh?

You are going to need some serious hardware to run this game. A lot of people with decent gaming machines have complained of severe lagging. The stated system requirements are Windows XP/Vista/7, 2G RAM, Intel Duo Core2 processor, and Direct X 9. I don't think my weak laptop can run this thing. Man I need me a good gaming PC.

Hello World

I just read a post about a veteran game developer. He shared his advice on how to break into gaming. And no, you should not start out trying to write a doom clone. Instead you need to take some baby steps. Your first program must be Hello World.

Well I decided to follow the steps exactly in the order that he recommends. I tried learning some Java in the past year. Now I am getting a little rusty. So I banged out a Hello World Java app in a little bit of time.

Now comes the next challenge. You got to write a Tic-Tac-Toe game. It don't need any fancy graphics. In fact, it does not need any graphics at all. It just has to work. So let me go off and code it. I had a hankering to write it up in HTML (my current college class), but I will stick with Java.

Don't worry. At the end of the 10 program journey, I will be rocking with a Pong clone. No it won't quite be Doom or Quake shattering 3D. But it will be a fun journey. I think that is what my guru is trying to teach me here.

Minecraft Hype

I heard that there was some game developed by a dude that was earning $250k a day. WTF? How can a game make that much money every day? The thing only costs 13 or 14 bucks a pop. Looks like there is a lot of hype out there about the game. And that is a good thing for sales.

So I figured I would try out the game. Now I was not a out to go out and pay $13 for the thing. I wanted to play a free version of it. I went to the web site. The thing had some weird message at the top of the page about the servers being overloaded.

I downloaded an executable. It required Java. So I downloaded and installed Java. Then the game I downloaded said I needed a login. What the heck? I went back to the web page and tried to sign up. Got a user ID and password. Tried again and the game would not accept the credentials. Then I tried to play the game on the web page instead of the one I downloaded. The thing hung my browser. If I have all these problems, I doubt the thing is selling 20k copies a day. Must be a fluke some type of fake propaganda to get sheeple to buy the thing.

Reddit Game Jam

I just heard about the Reddit Game Jam. This is a 48 hour period to write a game for a theme that is chosen at the start of the contest. It is sort of like a 2DRL with a lot more rules. In the end they use Reddit votes to determine who has the best game.

You cannot steal images for your game. They want you to make it cross platform. You cannot use any commercial libraries. If you use some personal libraries, you have to supply the source code to everyone.

Your game has to run on minimal hardware. When you are done, you must share all of your source code. That does not mean that you have to open source your code. But you must post it all out there. You get one extra day to package your code. This all sounds like a fun idea. Maybe I can unleash some kind of roguelike on them. It might be tough to get it all done in 48 hours though.

Writing in Elvish

I just found out that it is not that hard to learn how to write in Elvish. Now there are many ways to translate English to Elvish. However one easy way is to use a mapping between the English and Elven alphabet. You combine this with some simple rules regarding the placement of vowels. The result is one simple way to do the translation.

Previously I imagined the written Elven language to be complex, like the Klingon language from Star Trek. However this need not be the case. If you want to learn how to write Elvish yourself, go check out Ned Gulley's tutorial on this. You will be glad you did.

Game Over

I finally completed my new game Mazeband. It was completed in about siz days. So I can say that I met the 7DRL challenge.

Download a copy of Mazeband right now.

Make sure to click on "request download ticket". Then click on "download". Sorry I could not put this game on my hosting service. It is currently down at the moment. This was the best free alternative I could find.

Play the game by navigating with the number pad on your keyboard. Get all the gold in the least amount of turns. See how good a score you can achieve (lower scores are better). I hope to have a more exciting game next year. Peace out.

Mazeband Progress

Now I have my Mazeband game drawing 5 distinct rooms. They never overlap. That was quite an achievement.

You got to make sure a new random room is not in any existing rooms. The trick is that you have to also make sure none of the existing rooms are in the new random room.

We now come to the crux of my project. Time to join the rooms with halls. I only have 1 day left in my 7 day roguelike challenge. Will I make it? I got a can of Mountain Dew. And I have some ideas for the hall drawing algorithm. Wish me luck.

Drawing Rooms in MazeBand

I got it so that your character moves around when you press the movement keys. That seemed like good progress. Now it is time for the main part of my game - the maze.

Everything about programming the maze is math. Sure it is just 2D math. But you got to get the details right. I got some rooms being randomly drawn. However they are all clustered in the upper left hand corner of the screen. And they always overlap.

I think I just need to tweak some values being passed into my random number generator. Then I need to code the rules that throw out a random room if it overlaps another. Then I will be off to the races to connect the rooms. Will I be done? No. But I will have achieved my goal - which is the MazeBand.

Progress on my Game

I finally figured out that I needed to use the WriteConsoleOutputCharacter function to get something drawn on the screen. Now I have the power. The rest is mechanics.

So I got a simple startup screen done. And I drew the outline of the maze. Finally I put character symbol on the screen too. I can retrieve keyboard presses. But they just don't do anything yet.

Now for the fun stuff. Time to experiment to figure out how to draw a good maze. That is the main goal of my 7DRL entry this year. I want there to be a bunch of interconnected rooms. The rooms should be random. Let's see if I can get this done by the end of the week.

7DRL Development

To save time I decided to develop my roguelike entry this year in the C++ programming language. I downloaded Microsoft Visual Studio 2008. Normally this software costs around $600, especially since I got the professional version. Luckily I am a student at a community college. Microsoft gives the software for free to poor students like me.

I know Visual Studio can target a "console application". To me that means you get text output on an old DOS box style window. I got an app to come up and display the DOS box. However I can't get the thing to display text where I want it on the screen. I am calling the WriteConsoleOutput function. You would think that would be simple. But the darn thing keeps throwing an error.

The optimal development environment would be one where I could concentrate on the mechanics of the game. I feel like I am wasting time trying to figure out the mundane programming tasks now like just drawing anything on the screen. If this keeps up, I am going to be doomed and fail in producing anything that looks like a game. I need luck. If you know how to do ASCII output with Visual Studio easily, let me know.

New 7DRL Entry

Last year I entered my first seven day roguelike contest. The problem was that I was just learning the Java programming language. Unfortunately I have not learned much more Java since then.

I still want to enter this year again. However I plan to fall back to using C++. That is the language I am most familiar with. I don't really know much about writing games. That's why this will be an adventure.

Wish me luck. Time to post my intentions on the roguelike development newsgroup. I will keep you posted here.