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mittens's Articles In Game Developers » Page 2
December 23, 2008 by mittens

The iPhone/iPod Touch is a pretty rad little platform. It has vastly more powerful hardware and a far greater ease of development than I would have ever expected going into it. The biggest problem for me at the moment is that I don't actually have a Mac to call my very own. Someone deemed me responsible enough to borrow a Mac for the course of the Christmas break so I could finally make good on my long-desired and very loud-mouthed wish to see what kind of independent development environment Apple provided to the public for the platforms. Turns out that if someone can stomach a bit of Objective-C and a lack of Microsoft Visual Studio (the latter being the biggest dilemma), Apple seems to have done quite well for themselves. Even if one doesn't own an iPhone or an iPod Touch, the iPhone SDK ships with an iPhone Simulator which seems to pretty accurately represent the environment (sans the real-world tactile focus). I haven't had more than two days to really experiment with the setup yet, but thus far I'm impressed and I'd like to hear some thoughts from people who have spent more time with the platform.

Hell, from what I discovered shortly before I left for my brief vacation -- where I am so clearly vacationing at this very moment -- it seems that even the Objective C requirement may be negligible. It seems to allow for simplistic integration of traditional C/C++ code into the whole mix. I don't know what kind of exposure any of you readers have with Objective-C but, my god, as far as I'm concerned the less I see of its demonic syntax the better the world will be for it.

The biggest issue I'm facing with the whole iPhone/iPod Touch development experience thus far is that, for obvious reasons, an Intel-based Mac is required for development. I'd love to pick-up a Mac Book Pro or something at some point but, at least right now, that's way above my feasible price point for such a thing. If my short time with the Mini proves productive (and it has so far) I might try and pick up one of those on the cheap. Much like the sentimentality I have for Microsoft's XNA development environment, I think it's another quality step for independent game developers to have such easy access to a prominent and up-and-coming platforms like the iPhone/Touch (and mobile gaming as a whole).

The iPhone and iPod Touch seem to be an especially viable platform for independent game developers due in large part to the superb App Store accessible through the aforementioned devices and iTunes. In the mere two days I've had my iPod Touch I've already racked up about sixteen games ranging from free downloads to $0.99 titles all the way up to $9.99 (the maximum value I've seen). I'm not sure what kind of success the developers of Fieldrunners, Galcon, Enigmo, and Trism (to name a few) have seen but their titles seem to be very popular on the App Store. Galcon, especially, seems to have had surprising success given the very uniquely-nerd sort of gameplay it represents while being crossed with a more approachable and palatable mobile presentation.

If anything, it would seem that Apple made the accessibility of the App Store to independent developers almost too easy. For every great gem I've found hidden in the gaming sections I have seen three or four more titles which seem to present some meager offerings of something that can only barely resemble careful game development or a sound game design choice.

I am looking forward to getting back to my iPod Touch game experiment in a few days. I haven't had nearly enough time to provide much more than these barest of first impressions so, as I said earlier, I'd love to hear from others. I'll surely write some more on this topic as I get a bit more reacquainted with OpenGL (the ES persuation). I hope my first small game test, lovingly given its ridiculous working name of Asplodestroids!, will at least see a glean of the light of day before I find myself Mac-less again. It's also Christmas so feel free to toss a Macbook Pro into my stocking if you're feeling so inclined.

Because I'm sure that was someone's first instinct after reading this.

November 16, 2008 by mittens

Short story made shorter: I'm putting my XNA Action/RTS Cubegasm on hold. My framework isn't nearly robust enough to make the kind of game I want to make and, since this is strictly a hobby project, I'd rather not have to put all of the gameplay on hold while I flesh out the necessary backbone in order to get to the "fun stuff." I didn't see this as a reason not to release the current code for the project, though. So I'm doing that. You can get the source package: here.

It's not a very big release. Nor a very done one. It basically doesn't do anything. It'll load up a game map with one fortress firing bullets (that never get destroyed) at the player's five cube-spawning points. That's about it. How exciting!

Replacing Cubegasm is a game that I can actually play alongside development (also using XNA); it's called Brain Snack. I'll post some more information/screenshots when they're not embarrassingly bad.

September 29, 2008 by mittens

There are, as of my last counting, approximately a gazillion journalistic locales which offer game reviews on the internet or in print. There are not, to my knowledge, any columns which analyze a game mechanic within the context in which it appears along with detailing what is actually fun about the mechanic, and how it could be improved or exploited in the future. This particular edition of Mechanics will do none of that.

Majoring in English in college meant two things: I read a lot and I talked about what I read a lot. There is nothing more self-indulgent and pompous than a bunch of people sitting around a classroom talking about books in the setting of higher education. College students and, more to the point, English majors come up with some of the most absurd talking points based on their interpretations of a given text that it all becomes laughable at some points. I'm talking discussion matter along the lines of absurdity if I was to say that Clifford the Big Red Dog's existence merely served as a metaphor for the presence of communist Russia in the global sociopolitical scene and all of the people he comes in contact with in Norman Bridwell's line of children books are all analogous to various world political figures throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Of course such a theory is absolutely ridiculous, but when intellectuals are asked to find a deeper meaning in a classical text there are instances of such crackpot theories.

June 24, 2008 by mittens

In lieu of actually doing any development tonight I, instead, chose to write a gaming article (still no Metal Gear Story; I'm still thinking about that) and then a particularly-lengthy GameDev.net Daily. Now, since I've given up hope of getting work done tonight and have accepted the idea that Battlefield: Bad Company will dominate my nights for the next few days, I'll write about what I'm actually working on for the moment.

I've never worked on a project that had any sort of physics simulation occurring within it before; when I found out that Havok released their SDK that could be used by hobbyists and by any commercial product that retailed for less than $10, though, I retreated from my previous stay at Hotel XNA and back into C/C++ Direct3D9 Land. I didn't want to spend months writing a framework and a rendering engine, though, since I'm currently in the kind of mood where I want to put out a game every two-three months -- a timespan which is variable based on game release dates, occasional social interests and obligations, and work schedules. It is a direct result of this mindset which led me to using OGRE. I spent a few days configuring my project, the engine (and all of the modules for it which I planned on using), and Havok in Visual Studio and then got about implementing a basic Havok simulation and rendering aesthetic worked out.

 

April 27, 2008 by mittens
For this update, my role in Asplode! was absolutely minimal. While I'm in the middle of a mild crunch for The Political Machine 2008 and then away at Rochester, New York for a Paramore concert, Josh was working asininely hard on version 1.2 of Asplode!. As started, my role in this update was purely peripheral as, in my spare time, I've been working on the start for Bipolar and taking some of Josh's code for his game and turning it into a more generic library that both of us can use in our curren...
April 20, 2008 by mittens
Yeah, so, I'm releasing Asplode! now and such. And, along with the game, comes all of the source to the game.

I originally wasn't planning on releasing the source but as development winded down and I started to play the game for longer sessions I soon realized that the game became virtually unplayable on my machine after about seven-eight minutes. I thought this may have been a result of poorly-managed graphical assets so I took a couple days to optimize them (and, as a result, the VectorMod...
April 17, 2008 by mittens

I've been playing a very time-intensive game of musical chairs with various three-dee engines over the course of the last two-and-a-half weeks in an attempt to find the one that would be best suited to my particular development style and the kind of game I want to create. And I can safely say that, tonight, I have reached the ultimate solution. That's right, after toying around with things like TorqueX, Torque Game Engine Advanced, OGRE, Irrlicht, Nebula3, and, finally, PowerRender. The latter two of the list appeared to have the most potential, with PowerRender being the closest thing to what I was looking for, but the most recent iteration of the engine is still under heavy development and, what was the most troublesome, seems to be getting very infrequent updates. So, after all of the wasted time, I decided that I was going to dig out my old C++/D3D9/D3D10 framework and just rip out the D3D9 parts for use in a new framework which I could use in the future.

I got exactly an hour-and-a-half of work done on that last night before I realized that it felt way too much like the kind of engine work I do at my job every weekday. So now, and for realsies, I'm back with XNA. I'll be releasing Asplode! this weekend in its terribly-performing state (and open source) and, hopefully, everything I learned in the development of that will help me create a far more useful toolset this time around as far as memory management is concerned. The most important lesson I have with me that I learned from Asplode! is that the most important thing about memory within a managed environment isn't necessarily the allocation of memory so much as it is the deleting of it. Apparently the garbage collector is a wicked beast that must be appeased in order to maintain stable gameplay performance. I don't know. I'm still getting the hang of the intricacies of C#. When I was working on Asplode! -- and this will be readily apparent in the source if people peruse it -- I didn't know anything about C#. I simply coded as if I would code a game using C++ and, when code didn't compile, I read up on why the error occurred and what I needed to do/learn in order to fix it. Hopefully, this time around, I'm a bit more well-prepared. It also helps that Drilian and I are teaming up for some of the more game-independent stuff.

April 5, 2008 by mittens
Last weekend as a result of being hungover after my first time drinking in over a year and waking up on a couch in the apartment of a gay nineteen-year-old friend of my friend's and the first thing I saw being a Hannah Montana poster on the ceiling above the couch where I was sleeping I bought a license to TorqueX Pro. I've used other GarageGames products in the past for various experiments and random fun, but I've never used one to make a full game. I thought I'd use TorqueX for my new game ide...
March 25, 2008 by mittens
March 17, 2008 by mittens
At this point, I think that it's fairly safe to say that the meat of Asplode! is finished. All of the primary gameplay is in place, the enemies are all implemented and handled in a state that I'm fond of, and the player controls, responses, and such are all implemented. At this point any more features that I add to the gameplay portion of the game are either polish points or experimental ideas that I may or may not keep as part of the game (a few automatic weapon upgrades, various ideas as to ho...
March 13, 2008 by mittens
Not that I spent recent nights playing stuff like Army of Two, Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer, Company of Heroes, Master of Magic, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, Bully, Ratchet & Clank, Geometry Wars, Everyday Shooter, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, or God of War: Chains of Olympus instead of actually updating my dev journal or anything... But, yeah. Pretty much did exactly that. I've still gotten a bit done on Asplode! every night but, by this point, I'm mostly making various optimi...
February 24, 2008 by mittens

Former intern-turned-remote-worker Nick told me that I should start posting some of the development journal entries that I have been previously posting over at my GameDev.net dev journal here. So that's what I'm doing. If the idea of developing a top-down space shooter in the fashion of Robotron is an attractive one to you, then I'd recommend reading the backlog of posts as a form of "Previously on the Journal of Rawr" catch-up.

One of my design mantras -- and I use the word 'design' loosely -- is that while coding the game I keep things as simple, quick, and efficient as possible. As one might guess, this can become problematic at times. Less so in the implementation of routines and ideas so much as it is the necessity of shooting down some gameplay mechanics that, while fun, would defeat the purpose of such a simple Robotron/Geometry Wars knockoff. And, really, that's all I'm hoping to accomplish with Asplode!.

September 25, 2007 by mittens
I watched Saving Private Ryan over this past weekend, since I hadn't seen it in a few years (and had only previously seen it on VHS), and I had forgotten just how great the movie really is. I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it after watching Band of Brothers so many times due to the fact that Band of Brothers devoted so much more time to character development, as it had the luxury of a lengthy running-time as opposed to the time constraints placed on Ryan as a theatrical feature movie. The wo...
May 20, 2007 by mittens
Jump to: Introduction :: The First Day :: Three-Week Mark :: Personal Implications :: Conclusion

Introduction
As of now, I am officially a two-week-old intern programmer at the game development division of Stardock; a company most likely best-known for their Object Desktop suite of Windows desktop customization software (of which I believe WindowBlinds and ObjectDock may be the most well-known). Within the game development scope of things, though, Stardock is famous for their turn-based str...
December 18, 2006 by mittens
After a very small and virtually unidentifiable break from the monolithic RTS series, I decided that it was time to put my completely empty wallet's worth of money where my ever-so-large mouth is and get to work on developing some sort of game. Yes, that's right. I am actually going to work on a project that doesn't (d)evolve into me getting obsessed with some component of the overall tech which I eventually spend months trying to perfect. I, this time, pinky-swear (cross my heart, etc.) that I'...