Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Made me laugh (copyright debate)

In one of the embarrasing and frankly depressing ‘debates’ on copyright over at piracy-friendly slashdot, I spotted this gem (when discussing copyright on books):

Books: Anyone can write anything anywhere that everyone everywhere can read all instantly, why should anyone be paid for doing what anyone can do from the smallest child to the oldest altzheimers victim.

Which is just laughably insulting and stupid, but someone has already replied with this pithy remark:

The smallest child to the oldest Alzheimer’s victim could design a bridge, too. That doesn’t mean I’d want to drive over it. Are you really suggesting that author’s shouldn’t be paid?

I think gradually over the years more and more people are losing patience with the hardcore anti-copyright zealots. I’m all for campaigns against invasive DRM or sticking up for fair use rights, but its when people insist that the fact that the first mickey mouse cartoon is under copyright still, that we must live in a fascist state that it frustrates me.

I’m reading churchills war diaries (about a billion pages long), and am currently on the rise of Hitler. It puts into perspective all the modern rich western kids cries about freedom of speech and fascism that is apparently just preventing you downloading torrents of the latest Hollywood movies. Free speech is very vital, precious, and worth dying for. To use it in connection with torrenting movies and games is frankly insulting to everyone who fought and died to defend free speech.


Gratuitous Deployment Interface

I’ve just made a change to the games deployment-screen UI, so I thought I might as well share it’s current look: (click to enlarge)

I used to have an icon ‘picker’ on the right hand side when you loaded an un-deployed fleet, and you had to drag and drop the ships into position on the left hand side. This was a bodge and tedious with huge fleets and big monitors.

Now the game will auto-deploy the fleet as you load it, and then you can slide them around and fine tune it. This is the same sort of system used by the Total War games, and I think it works much better. I’ve spent a few days working on some heavy duty re-organising of code for it to render faster, and things are much much more efficient now. Even with bazillions fo ships and things going zap everywhere, it seems to run pretty well. My next big challenge is getting it to run on my laptop…

Any thoughts on the design?

Back to optimising

So the fullscreen / windowed toggling is still shaky, but the game now runs in both windows and fullscreen and in pretty much any resolution, including my own 1920×1200 res. Listening to music from star wars whilst testing the game fullscreen at that res with a big battle is a flipping joy.

I’m in ‘lets minimise the number of textures used’ mode. Even at the start of a battle before much fighting, I have this, and it’s not pretty. (click to enlarge).

The problem is the running lights use a different ‘blend mode’ so putting them in the same texture as the ship saves me nothing :(. Lots to think about here. SetTexture() can be pretty slow, and you ideally don’t want to be doing hundreds of them every frame. Of course, in games programming, everything is a compromise. The good news is I’m only using up 70% of the CPU to do this stuff, given a minimum 60 FPS.

Insane days work just to swap screen res :D

Today, I was awake at 6am as it was holiday morning. Not for me, I’m staying here, but it means I was awake at 6am, and naturally, ended up programming by 7.30am.

Sooo… I thought I’d get the screen res code done today, and here it is at 11.55PM and it’s still not 100% what it should be. I’ve stopped for food twice, and didn’t linger over it. Bah.

Now granted, I spent maybe two hours dealing with the upcoming German translation of Democracy 2, but the rest of the time I’ve had my head buried in the directx documentation trying to find out just how the hell it’s supposed to handle a screen res change under directx9. I finally got there, and I’m still ironing out the bugs in certain circumstances, but my main objective now at least looks doable, which was to retain the feature all my games have of ‘in-game’ resolution toggling.

I HATE it when games ship with a separate ‘launcher’ app that you use to set the screen res. It’s just so fiddly. I much prefer being able to fiddle with such things, especially windowed / fullscreen toggling ‘on the fly’. I doubt it will be possible mid-battle, but at least it will be a part of the main app itself. Plus it makes it trivial for me to test that the GUI works in all resolutions. 768 really pushes it height wise, but I’ll sort it.

Today was not fun, it took longer than it should had, and it was seriously frustrating and involved. The idiot who knocked on my door to try and doorstep-sell me energy supplies got told where he could shove his special offer :D

changes to ship design system

Today I got totally distracted and put in 90% of a system (I’ll finish it tomorrow) where not all slots will take all modules. Most sci-fi games with ship design adopt this system, and I think it’s a good idea. Eve has (at it’s most basic) three different categories, low mid and high. I’ve decided to go with a much more basic two-stage system where you have turrets and standard modules. This means that a ship with 10 slots (like a frigate) will have maybe 3-5 turrets. You will be free to put anything in a turret slot, but weapons can *only* go in turret slots.

I also beefed up my crappy hacky editor so I can easily designate which is which.

 In gameplay terms, this will allow for greater distinction between ship hulls. Some hulls will have a greater proprtion of their modules as turrets than others. You might use these for lots of small weapons like point defense lasers or  anti-fighter weapons. The other ships will lend themselves to small numbers of big beam lasers.

All good fun :D Time for a bottle of wine and the apprentice final. I think yasmina will win. Kate is too safe and steady and ‘sir’ alan is more like yasmina in personality terms.

I wouldnt employ her though. She clearly has no business sense. is not even registered, despite her currently being the most famous yasmina on the net. Someone else even got her full name domain: