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

GSB patch error, and how to fix it

The auto-patching screwed up for GSB yesterday. It was a typo. Sorry!

Anyway, it’s fixed server-side, so you just need to re-grab the patch, here is how to do this:

Delete this file:

\my documents\my gamesgratuitous space battles\patches\GSBPatch156.exe

Delete this file:

\my documents\my gamesgratuitous space battles\web\up

Then re-run the game.

The symptoms for this bug are:

1) An error “The program cannot start due to a program incompatibility…” or similar

2) the downlaoded patch seen above is only 2k in size…

GSB update, new campaign maps, much easier

A few weeks ago I selected a new padawan to do some map design for Gratuitous Space Battles. His name was Carsten Lensch and you are all about to see his work. Today marks release day for version 1.56 of GSB, which has some major campaign updates. Here is what’s new:

Firstly (and most obviously) there are new maps. Instead of the one, static map in the original release of Galactic Conquest, there are now 4, all hand-designed, so they have interesting setups and chokepoints. They play quiet differently. If you have played the basic map a few times and think you have your big strategy all worked out, you will enjoy playing with the new ones.

Secondly, the campaign has been tweaked and adjusted heavily on the play-balance side to make it tons easier. If the game was unplayably hard for you before (even on the lowest of the 3 difficulty settings) you should definitely give the new version a try. Of course, you can still switch to high difficulty if you now find it a tad easy :D

Thirdly, a whole bunch of crash bugs and minor bugs have been tracked down and fixed. Anyone who found that the game would occasionally freeze at the end of a turn should find that squashed, there are some performance boosts and some rare crashes to desktop are fixed. Plus, all you people who had a problem clicking the buttons at the very top of the deployment screen should find that fixed too, plus the flickering of the titlebar now and then. HURRAH.

This update is all free, but for technical geeky reasons it can’t be entirely done as a new auto-patch. The game will get auto-patched to version 1.56, but to get the new campaign maps you need to either re-download the campaign installer, or run this patch:

Galactic Conquest Patch

Make sure you install it, like everything to the same folder as GSB, ignore any messages saying the folder exists, it should do :D. My next game will handle all this sort of stuff much better, it’s my #1 tech support issue (people installing the game in the wrong place).

Have fun!

I don’t ‘get’ the ipad

Not long ago I actually left the house and went shopping. Obviously I didn’t actually buy anything, but I did end up in an apple store, for the first time ever, fondling an ipad. I used to be an apple hardware engineer, so I have no hatred of them, but I haven’t ever owned anything more than an ipod. Anyway…

I just don’t get it.

I can see that it’s a geek fantasy to have a ‘padd’ from star trek as a geek toy, I can imagine all sorts of cool commercial uses for it, I bet a lot of admin staff in airports or warehouses or any sort of travel hub or whatever, have a legit use for something like the ipad. In other words, places where you are stood up and consulting notes now and then.

But at home… no.

Basically if me and my better half are surfing the net, or wanted to look at photos or whatever, then My default position is to stick my feet up on a pouffe, slouch like a student on the sofa, and park a laptop on my legs/belly. This works perfectly. The keyboard acts as the base, and the screen is constantly adjustable to get the perfect viewing angle.

With an ipad, I’d have to hold the stupid thing, or grab a cushion to prop it up, or some other silliness. I also find it much easier to control whats on the screen with keys or a touchpad, so I can still…you know…SEE the screen as I do it. The first dozen times you zoom in by splodging your hands on the screen is cool, but isn’t this just the silly tom cruise interweb interface again? (I admit it is cool to turn pages this way though).

Seriously…who reads like this? (img from

I also don’t think the ipad is especially thin, or lightweight, compared to a fairly high-range lightweight laptop. Obviously, I didn’t buy one, I also think it’s hilariously pricey for what it is. So tell me, what am I missing? Am I just lazier than everyone else? am I just tragically uncool? Or after a month of fiddling with your ipad do you wish it was the same form factor as a netbook?

Attic Insulation again…

Theres some games conference going on, but I’m not there, and it’s very pazazzy, so I thought I’d blog about loft insulation instead. I’m sticking it to the man.

I live in a very old (1750s) house built out of mud and dead peasants, and it’s extremely cold at times. This is because the house was built before mankind invented double glazing, or indeed, glazing, it sometimes seems. Anyway, part of my five year stalinesque plan is to insulate the darned thing, and we are currently working on the attic. the attic is big, has lots of old beams and is about two hundred degrees below zero.

Taking away the side panels to see what was behind them revealed this:

Which is to say mostly 18th century rubble, dust and the remains of fossilised birds nests. Not a completely poor insulator, but not exactly aerogel. Clearly we could do better, but we needed to preserve an air gap to allow air to circulate. These old houses need to ‘breath’. We ended up wedging individually cut pieces of reflective-backed foam insulation between the rafters, with tiny blocks to hold them in place. That felt is all that is between me, and the stone roof tiles, and then open country…

Eventually that was all done on this bit, which is the lower section of a quarter of the half of the room we are currently doing. This will tke years. (we ended up doing a quarter of the attic, to date). a secondĀ  layer of felt goes back, pinned on top of all this.

Then the fun bit, which is laying lots of ‘semi-rigid’ sheeps-woolesque soft insulation between the floor rafters (not visible here), and then laying an additional layer of really wooly even more sheeps woolesque stuff over the top, curved around to prevent any drafts. You can also see a big thick mega-chunky piece of foam insulation that will go in front of all of this, behind the wooden side panels (the panel itself is very thin and crap). The sheeps woolesque stuff was horrid. cue lots of spluttering and itching.

This is everything put back in place, all I need to do now is fill the slight gap where it meets the beam with flexible filler, then I’m going to give the whole thing a coat on nano-paint. it sounds like bullshit, but we used this in our living room and it’s very very good. Basically a nanotech paint additive that reflects heat. great for insulating where cavity walls don’t exist and internal insulation isn’t an option. This is what it all looked like before we started. This time it might be warm though. It’s certainly quieter.

The other end of the room is much much harder to get to, so we are employing someone to come balance on ladders and do that end for us. One day, the temperature of the house will get to the stage where we can have just 2 duvets in the summer. One of the positive outcomes to doing this, is that as I lay there covered in dirt, hammering nails and swearing, I remembered why I gave up carpentry to become a computer programmer. Woodwork sucks. Debugging might be annoying, but C++ doesn’t bend when you hit it.