Blog Archives

XNA and Visual Studio

Much of what I might say will most certainly not be supported.  Which is not a big problem as the I am sure XNA is not properly supported at the moment.  But XNA is a VERY good set of tools to help people learn the process of games programming.

You might find that when trying to install XNA Game Studio 4.0

I found this post Installing XNA on Windows 8 with Visual Studio 2012.  I followed this very post for Visual Studio 2013 and despite the folder differences and one MSI not installing, it worked.

Visual Studio 2013 will be within;

  • \Program Files (for 32 bit versions of Windows)
  • \Program Files (x86) (for 64 bit versions of Windows)

The folder referenced in this post is

Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Common7\IDE\Extensions\Microsoft

So follow the post as it states with the follow changes;

Step 6.  This MSI might not run.  I ran this MSI and I found it caused an error.  There could be a couple of reasons for this, the Main installed asks about enabling settings through the Windows Firewall before the installation starts but it might be just my machine.  Is this required?  My believe is, it enables the ability to communicate with the Xbox 360 components to perform debugging on a console (I did like this feature version much).  But as the Xbox One is the console of choice from Microsoft and their next version of Visual Studio will have the support for the DirectX 12 games this will be moot.

Step 9.  This is the path that will differ for Visual Studio 2013 over 2012.  So each reference to “Microsoft Visual Studio 11.0” in the path replace with “Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0’

Step 11.  Use the “Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0” path as opposed to “Microsoft Visual Studio 11”

Once this is complete then the framework will work in Visual Studio 2013 in Windows 8.

New Project

  1. Open Visual Studio (I was performing this in Visual Studio Community 2013 ). 
  2. Click File | New Project
  3. Under Templates, look for Visual C# and you will find XNA Game Studio 4.0, click that item.
  4. Click Windows Game (4.0)
  5. Click OK
  6. Wait until the project loads and Press F5 (Click Debug | Start Debugging)

You will find that wonderfully familiar but also quite strange blank screen of a blank XNA project looking at you.

image

Why would I use XNA in Visual Studio 2013?

It is an interesting question.  Microsoft has moved away from this framework in favour for a closer to metal approach with DirectX in Store/Phone or Universal Apps.

My opinion is, utilising the newer methods to create games is more difficult from an absolute beginner’s perspective.  Game Development is tricky for seasoned developers if you think you know the way it works, but when starting new the XNA Framework offered a very simple perspective to getting simple things working on screen.

There has been many games released that were made using the XNA Framework (See 6 Partial list of games that use XNA for more information).  But it is a shame in my opinion that Microsoft discontinued this as it was a great addition.  I know why, unified platform was the direction they were heading, which is why when Windows Phone was released, Windows 8 and then an update to the Xbox 360 OS saw a common look and with Windows 10 they have brought all their platforms together creating an App for Windows 10, Windows Phone and Xbox One should now provide a single set of source.  XNA thought simple merely muddied the waters as a game for Xbox and Windows had a the same content pipeline but created 2 different projects.

Why bother when the paradigm is changing with VS2015?

Visual Studio 2015 will provide support for DirectX 12 coming with Windows 10.  It will also provide additional frameworks for game development in Cocos2d, Unity and Unreal Engine 4.  Each of these frameworks are available and provide the ability.  The benefits of these frameworks is cross-platform compatibility, XNA is not that.

This starts to become a personal problem, do I learn with Unity or Cocos2d, hell why not go for learning with CryEngine.  You can and the tools are available there.  Many might think that it is better to use the tools you might be using later.  I can’t argue with that logic as it is sound.  As long as you don’t get bogged down in the tedium of ensuring the Graphics devices are setup right, the content pipeline is able to properly and quickly convert your content into assets available for your code to use then great.  XNA does this, setting up the graphics device is as simple as 2 lines of code.

GraphicsDeviceManager graphics;
graphics = new GraphicsDeviceManager(this);

Drawing something to the display is almost as simple with a few more lines of code.

SpriteBatch spriteBatch;
spriteBatch = new SpriteBatch(GraphicsDevice);
spriteBatch.Begin();
spriteBatch.Draw(Game1.SpriteSinglePixel, new Rectangle(0, 0, Game1.SCREEN_WDITH, Game1.SCREEN_HEIGHT), Color.DarkGreen);
spriteBatch.End();

And a blank provides you most of the code, lines 3 to 5 above are the only ones you need to add yourself to draw something to the screen.  This isn’t a tutorial on coding XNA merely an example of the simplicity of it.  I have yet to delve into Cocos or Unity to determine the simplicity or difficulty of it but I have had experience in XNA and have developed 3 games using it.  And being a 20 year veteran of commercial application development and I have been trying to get into the Game Development side of it.  I found personally XNA was simple enough to get me up and running quickly but also powerful enough to enable more complex things and larger games.

My games were nothing to write home about but I got them up and running in a short period of time.

But Why?

Why, because I can.  It has been a scourge of my industry for years the pace of technology and the people who use it, lag behind and you are lost.  I spent years developing Visual Basic 6 applications and when time to come to find new work I found I was on the outer, .NET had taken over and it took me a few year of different jobs to build up my experience enough to be able to secure a .NET development role.  So thinking alone these lines I should learnt to adapt quicker and move forward into using the new technology.  But when I do not have the fundamentals of game development down, understanding the graphics process the content pipelines the waiting for action as opposed to reacting to action, each of these are vastly different in the commercial world and thus I need to get my head around them, but in order to get my head around the concepts I need to remove elements that can trip me up, like the technology, like languages like platforms.

Understanding things without those distractions will make my process a less painful one.  And since I struggle to find time to be able to sit down and do any form of coding or learning in this area (let alone write a blog post, hence my LONG time absence) I need to be able to hit the ground running and get as much done as possible.

Want to go further

Once you have gotten into XNA you will find there is more to it than what Microsoft stopped with.  Check out MonoGame which provide that extension to more modern platforms and also that Cross-Platform extensibility of the newer frameworks.

End Goal

A game for my boys to play. 

Advertisements

The Truth in the Stick

PS3%20JoystickWell, I occasionally put in posts about games I play (I am not counting SWTOR here OK).  But I managed to get some kid free time to play South Park; The Stick of Truth.  I was going to rant about the censors of Australia, like so many places of public officialdom believe that know better than I, what I want.  Suffice to say that not banning the game in Australia enabled me to get the game from overseas in Australia.  I am one for watching and playing the best version, Director’s Cuts, Game of the Year editions and so on, so knowing that some elements were cut from the game and replaced with just a crying Koala and a textual description of what was happening was not the same as seeing and therefore opted to spend my money overseas.  Another local Aussie retailer loses money because of the government (and it has nothing to do with the GST (Goods and Servicers Tax)).

So, with that disc in my hot little hand, I found my controller (the one not used the kids which means it still works as in Dual Shock and SIXAXIS) and I decided to boot up my PS3.  I am a fan of Role Play Games on the PC, enabling to play RPGs without the required organisation and room and time needed to find enough people with the same time to sit down and play a pen and paper RPGs these offer the next best thing.  I am also a fan of Obsidian as a game developer they have created some great games, Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol and et. al.  But they seem to have some problems with delivery, unsure of the backroom machinations and who says what they are either over stating their ability to delivery what they can or are being forced to, either way it often leaves the game not properly finished or properly tested and as a consequence will otherwise mar a potentially great game.

I will use Alpha Protocol in this, the story, the game play each of these elements gave the game this feel that I have not had in an RPG in a long time, it sat me on the edge of my seat, wanting to push ahead in the game.  But so many times was the game hampered by problems, technical problems.  Which shows the game was not properly tested before being released as it was often commented on by reviewers.  This game got OK scores but had they released a properly working game it would have had better scores.  The same went for KOTOR2 and Fallout: New Vegas, a great game hidden by a myriad of bugs and technical issues.  Many have been fixed, but in KOTOR2, there is a large portion of the game never released because the game, already delayed was on a VERY tight timeframe to follow up on the massive popularity of KOTOR.   PC owners can download and install a mod that is meant to restore as much of the content that can.

K2_00020

That aside, when I read about the delays in the release of South Park, which like many of the Obsidian games, I have been excited for this game for sometime but when the delays were announced and when THQ went under things were starting to not look good.

Thankfully Ubisoft took over the distribution and the game was finally released and I will say, it is a great game.  An RPG that feels like an old fashioned RPG but captures 100% the essence and feel of South Park.  This game comes so close to watching South Park that anyone who were to walk in the room, would not think twice if it wasn’t or not.

south-park-the-stick-of-truth-ps3-boxart

So like many of the games the kids play in the TV show you find a way into the game they are playing.  Everything seems to be in this game that you might expect.  The number of times I have found myself just laughing out loud.  Trying to open Stan’s Wardrobe and hearing Tom Cruise say “I am never coming out…”  was a nice touch.

There are some minor flaws here and there but nothing that seems to have been on account of Obsidian rushing their releases and more to do with specific mechanics. 

As far as the RPG goes, it has all the elements.  The standard 3 class and the additional Jew class system.  The character customisation which is as good as it should be for this game and the fact that you can change your appearance throughout the game means you can pick what you want, and certainly when I got the Chin Balls I felt that I needed to walk a mile in Butters’ shoes.

Turn based RPG system that also requires timing of the button presses to make the critical strike.  There is weapon stickers and strap-ons that enable your to augment the ability you already have.  The special abilities are a good touch and provide a decent ability to help with vanquishing the “elves” that are in South Park.  Coupled with Magic, a special South Park Magic gives additional boosts and the ability to clear paths when needed.  But this is the mechanic that seems difficult to properly grasp and can often be ineffective.  But accompanied with Summons (like many Fantasy setting RPGs), you are able to unlock some of the friends you get in your journey but some being Mr Kim (from City Wok, or Shitty Wok) and Mr Slave to name but two.

personajes-south-park-mr-kim-600x337

This is South Park, all the voices are here and all of them are well integrated into the game.  As for other sounds throughout the game, it give that feeling you are in that town but also don’t feel out of place for the type of RPG that this is.  The music is a combination of music from the TV show, custom music written for the game and there is a nice choral element where Cartman is in the background of the piece. 

As for game play it as as much depth as many RPGs of the past.  No crafting system but it would have been limited as to what you could craft.  But potions a plenty, revives, mana and power potions means you can help your allies or yourself.  One element I like is Butters’ Healing Touch, where he comes up, pats you on the back and tells you everything is OK.  It was a nice Butters moment.

Graphics, what could one say about the graphics of the game, it is South Park, it look like no matter where you go.  From the characters to the backgrounds to the weapons.  The PS3 version is running at 720p, but I don’t think it would matter if this was running at higher resolutions on a PC, since the graphics on each version would look the same.  This is South Park and no matter how many pixels you have to show it, it will look like South Park. 

tumblr_n2edwjZt321rlo1q2o1_1280

Adults are not Children

The only grievance I have is not with the game, it is over the version that was released into Australia (and it also seems some other parts of the world).  There was some content replaced in the game with that of a crying Koala and the textual description of the goings on.  To me, we had a recent introduction of a R 18+ rating for games and under these new censorship laws, this game was either going to be banned or needed to be edited.  Rather than fight, they decided to edit the game and replace it with what is above.

As an adult who has children, I have not played this game in front of my kids, ever.  I understand the concepts portrayed in the game and understand the contexts of what is going on.  But to be told as an adult that I am not able to view certain elements because they are, well for whatever reason not clean enough for me is just rubbish.  Now my only possible reasoning for this is that despite the R rating that they assume that children will be playing it (I personally know of several children who are under 18 years old who have played this game (the censored Australian version that is).  So regardless of the law children will still play the game.

But due to this crappy situation local retailers have lost out because I have ordered this game overseas.  It cost me less money in the long run and also gave me a game that is completed and unedited.  I am responsible with whom I let see or play this game, but those who are responsible are being subjected to antiquated laws even ones drafted in 2012, because they believe we are all children, or that children will see this.

That said, elements I have already seen in this game (unedited) are no worse than what I have seen aired on TV in Australia, which doesn’t make sense to me since that is only rated M or MA at the worst.  Interactive or not there is no excuse at all.

</RANT>

So, with the ranting over I would say, RPG fans who do not like South Park should not get this game.  Though it is a solid RPG and has all the elements an RPG should have, it is South Park, from the classes (Jew) to the Summons, Mr. Slave, to the taunts in the battles, all of them come back to the fact that you are in a South Park game, RPG or not.  South Park fans, who might not like RPGs will still get much out of this game.  Accessible for those not used to the concepts but certainly can be played on easy just to enjoy the South Park portion of it. 

People like me, who are fans of RPGs and South Park will find that the amount of content in the game will satisfy that RPG itch you might want and means you feel like you are watching just a South Park episode.  So if you are in Australia, then I might recommend Play-Asia.com, the PS3 version is not region encoded and therefore is playable on any PS3 but some versions of the XBOX360 version can only be played in certain regions so be careful with what you get.

New Alien Game

PS3%20JoystickSega has announced a new Alien game.  We desperately need a really good Alien game, but I am afraid this will not be it.  A couple of things to note here is the change is it a story of Ripley’s daughter.

I love Alien and Aliens, Alien3 is OK with outstanding performances from Charles Dance, Charles S Dutton and of course Sigourney Weaver.  Alien Resurrection, to me Ron Pearlman makes that film better than it really is, but Ron Pearlman is one of those actors who had something to every scene he is in.

Talk of an Alien 5, not sure, Alien V Predator, interesting concept, the best hunters in the world going after the most difficult prey, but they seemed to lose something in the translation and I won’t go into Alien V Predator 2.

This might explain a lot more about the history or Ripley’s daughter, but she got married, not sure when she got married, but interestingly I find that surely, records of her looking for her, coming across Xenomorphs, she had to survive, to get married if after and return to Little Shoot, Wisconsin to get cremated, 2 years before Aliens was set..

Now, unlike Star Wars there is no specific lore regarding the world.  They create Alien games to make money, but they fail to realise they would make more money if they made a really good game.  I am not one to shy away things that are different from the Lore setup previously, even if it breaks some of it to a point but provides reasons for it. 

An example of this was Alien3, the egg that was supposed to be there, it impregnated Ripley with a Queen as we have seen, but there are a couple of questions NEVER answered by the film, the Queen lays eggs from an egg sack, we saw that physically.  Bishop could have brought an egg on board since Carter gave him instructions to keep specimens.

Both living specimens were destroyed, we saw Hudson kill one and Vasquez also kill one.  So, the only face huggers were the ones being laid by the Queen.  The fact that there were two as well, since the dog was also impregnated so, we need to find two eggs, not just one.  But, in Alien3, they overlooked that part, and just had them there. 

So, having Ripley’s daughter come and look for Ripley not is only going against what has been stated before in the Movies it is a futile exercise in reality.  The Nostromo was blown up not too far away from LV-426, the shuttle, with Ripley aboard was jettisoned and then, it floated right through the core worlds and as Carter said “It was blind luck that a deep salvage team found you…” so, if it was blind luck that a team, specifically looking for salvage came across this, we know already that her daughter doesn’t find her since it takes 57 years of floating in space for her to be found. 

So, the story now is barely holding onto anything that looks like a thread and now they want us to believe that Ripley’s daughter, Amanda will now come across the Xenomorphs which so far at this stage, considering it is only a few years after Ripley went missing (I think Amanda is in her 20s) so we knew the state of LV-426, 57 years after the events of Alien.

If they make a good game, then all might be forgiven, if they provide a good reason and plausible reason for Amanda to be confronted with Aliens when the only Eggs we know of are on LV-426 and Carter was the one who requested someone check out the coordinates that Ripley told him about.

Let us hope, this will be the Alien game we have all deserved and not the dream of one what we have seen with so many trailers for Alien games in the past.

fb-image

Alien Isolation will be available Late 2014 for PC, PlayStation (3 & 4) and XBOX (360 & ONE).

A Great Old Game

There isn’t much said about this that hasn’t been said before.  It was one of the first games I ever bought when I got my new 486 DX2 66, 1MB  Cirrus Logic VESA Local Bus Graphics card, Sound Blaster 16, CD-ROM and 8MB RAM.  For the year 1994 it was a beast.  The first games I ever bought, which I put on lay-buy while waiting for my computer to be build was;

Links
Links 386 Pro – Access Software
syndicate
Syndicate – Bullfrog

So what can I say, two of the most graphically hungry games of their time.  Both brilliant looking, the Links game especially, since previously my run in with golf games was Links: The Challenge of Golf.  It was a great game, using the PC speaker with digitised sound was wonderful, but this was a whole new ball game, no pun intended.

The other game Syndicate, those who perhaps might not be old enough this is the game that the remake was loosely based off.  My opinion, which is often what is it, felt that Syndicate, the remake version, could have been named anything else and would not have been any less for it.  But the two games share name and simple concept, cybernetically enhanced agents.  Enough of the new one, on with original.

Introduction1

As the world’s multinational corporations grew, their profits began to rival those of small countries. Soon they owned small countries and corporate influence was felt at the highest level of world government. Smaller corporations were swallowed up like plankton in the wake of three behemoth mega-corporations, one U.S.-based, one Europe-based and one based in the Far East. These became the only effective world
government, unelected, undemocratic, but controlling the lives of the people through commerce.

Then the European corporation perfected the CHIP. Inserted in the neck, the CHIP stimulated the brain stem to alter your every perception of the outside world. Better than any drug, the CHIP gave hope to millions by numbing their senses to the misery and squalor around them. One CHIP would convince users that the sun shone and the birds sang even as they walked through the constant acid rain drizzle. Another that
they were glamorous or handsome – they’d look in the mirror and see a different face – while the rest of the world would see them as they really were.

The CHIP was a technological revolution and sold countless units with the slogan ‘Why change your world when you can change your mind’. It also left the user open to auto-suggestion and gave the corporations the perfect tool for manipulating the
populace.

Like any new and potent drug, control of the CHIP meant control of the people. Soon the corporations were at war among themselves, desperate to monopolize CHIP manufacture. But the corporations’ thirst for power left them open to infiltration. With money earned through pirating CHIP technology, crime Syndicates bribed and murdered their way into corporation boardrooms. It wasn’t long before the Syndicates became the controlling force all over the globe, with a finger in the pie of every transaction, criminal or otherwise, worldwide.

And in the crime Syndicates of tomorrow those in control don’t need Uzis for back up. Teams of custom-built cyborg agents hunt down rivals and traitors, and spread the influence of the Syndicates across the globe.

Syndicate Manual – © Bullfrog 1993

Real Time

The game has you as the owner of one of the many corporate syndicates that are running the world in the future.  Broken into regions you are given missions briefs for each region.  The further you progress the harder and harder the missions get.  But it is in real time, one of the first Real Time strategy games and is possibly up there with one of the greatest games of all time.

image

Select the region , then open the mission brief.  Simple missions, persuade someone from the enemy, kill all agents, assassinate someone who has been brain washed, etc… as you can see the theme.  The missions have you trying to get control of the region from the other syndicates.  There are 8 other syndicates vying for the control of the territory.  They will from time to time also make plays at your territories if your citizens are unhappy.

Syndicate4

The Details

One can see the detail that was added to this game.  The environments may not have that same grittiness that current games can have, but to understand the quality of this game in 1993 it was outstanding.  An area of the game that I liked was the use of the special drugs being injected directly, during the mission, into your agents.  These do some interesting things when the agent is left to their own devices.  No controlling an agent directly will enable them to control themselves, if they come under fire they will respond in kind.  But altering these Adrenaline, Perception and Intelligence levels can lead to some often unknown consequences. 

Syndicate3

Later in the game, the carnage and destruction you can wield into these regions is something special.  There is a level of satisfaction as you take the flame thrower and torch the agents and hear them scream in pain or listening to the mini gun rattle off round after round.  It was one of the more notable elements of the game, though the music fitted the game and changed based on the fact that an enemy was near (but you didn’t see them), works, but the rest of the sounds were a great achievement.

Development

There isn’t much one can say here, it speaks for itself.  Bullfrog did a wonderful job and with only a small team their choices for the game helped massively.  One of the things that did get a small amount of flak over but when you actually played the game it really wasn’t a big deal.  A lot of DOS games were running in 320×240 resolution, 16 colour, 256 colours was starting to become more and more common, but the EGA was there and working well for most games.

When you open the game you are presented with the introductions and menus in this standard fair, 320×240, 256 colours.  But enter the game screen and things change.  640 x 480, so many more pixels, well 4 times as many it goes from 76,800 to 307,200 which gave this game a wonderful crispness that you can see while you play the game.  Look closely and you will realise that you have also switched from 256 colours to 16 colours.  But the quality of the art is so good that though it is dithered to provide a simulate large palette, it is something that does not hinder the game.  Having those additional pixels can put a tremendous drain on video cards of the day, so reducing the game back to the 16 colours helped make the game run smoother but gave it a greater sense of detail that would have been missing if it was running 320×240.

Syndicate

Drawbacks

There are a few of them but this one can be a little annoying.  Obstacles, due to the isometric view (all so common with so many strategy games), it means that building will block some visible parts of the scenery.  Now days that would be easy, rotate the game and all done, but the camera in this game (and many other similar to this game at this time), panned left, right, up or down.  You can be attacked while you are unable to see these assailants, you could move your mouse over the area where you might things they are, in relation to the mini-map and hope for the cross hairs.  The best thing you can do, is when you move, keep with a decent distant between you and the hidden areas. 

Tips

There are a couple of words of wisdom I can part about this game and it is to pay attention to the research, especially the mods.  The standard cybernetic modifications available to your agents make them quite squishy.  If you aren’t careful, the mission that has you trying to kill all the enemy agents, this could spell the end of at least one of your agents, and they do not grow on trees, in expensive cybernetic cryogenic chamber and once one is empty there is only one way to get another, more later.

Get the V1 Chest upgrades as soon as possible.  At 8000 a pop, you won’t be kitting out your entire team of agents with them, but certainly it will pay dividends later.  Get these research items as quickly as possible,V2 cost more and aren’t required until a little later in the games.

Weapons, these are good, but the better ones are awesome but cost a lot to research, so getting territories is the only way to get cash therefore you need to start somewhere.  But, anyone in the game who shoots you, if you kill them, they will drop their gun and you can pick this up.  What does this do.  Well it gives you another weapon (ammo can only be replenished at the start of each mission), but if you are researching it, this now suddenly decreases the time to research and therefore cost. 

Listen to the music, when it changes, and it is different from the normal music that is playing during a mission.  Danger is coming, get ready.  Often you will get sometime, the change in music is a cue that the someone is coming, at speed.  Position yourself in an area you get to see them at range.  Keep them at distance, they will often charge off the bat first time but not every time.

Finally

What more can I say, it is an easy game to play, but difficult and punishing those who thing that the first mission will be as easy as the last.  But the fact that the people at Good Old Games (gog.com) have take the time to include and configure a DOSBox playable version of Syndicate for a mere US$5.99 makes it one of the best buys I can think of.  Fans of strategy games I would recommend getting this an playing it, in comparisons to your Star Crafts II or your Total War, this seems small in scale but to play this game can show you the roots of the strategy game which is in my list of the best games of all time.

Syndicate2

Notes on Old Games

There are so many fond memories of playing these games as a kid.  There is one game which I loved, it was a wonderful addition and game one day I would love re-create, if I can ever maintain my enthusiasm and motivation to complete a game I start, long story.  I will write more about it in another post, but certainly I will try Tank Wars.

No Nintendo at E3 – Sort Of

This is a response to a post by Tom McShea at GameSpot.  Tom is giving kudos to Nintendo for not going through with their elaborate stage presentations.  This is all OK for those in the press in my opinion who are often privy to information before others, are invited to events like E3 and are able to enjoy these moments when they happen, where they happen.

I agree, these events are really about stroking the egos of the companies that are represented.  It is also a chance for us simple folk waiting for the big heralding announcements of what is coming next in the world of gaming that when E3 winds around we are nearly salivating at the potential for these conferences. 

He does bring up an interesting point, in that due to the poor performance of Nintendo over the last year since the re-release of the 3DS is a XL format, the re-release of the Wii in an XL controller and HD format, one might say what have they got to show.  Yet another Wiiu Mario, Metroid, Zelda, Insert Nintendo First Party Title here for the umpteenth time and only wind of some 3rd Party Support.  We might look more into it, what do they really have to show this year.  No new hardware, there is only so many ways one can repackage the 3DS and 3DS games don’t have that same impact as FULL HD trailers (pre-rendered or not).

Sony has told us that the PS4 is coming this year, so they need us to drool even more than we did when they had their own press event earlier in the year.  We have not heard much from Microsoft so we know that their event will be the release of the NextBOX and the multitude of Kinect games that you can dance to or can jump around to.  So with this information were Nintendo right at pulling out.

Reggie Fils-Aime last year’s, after the announcement of the Wiiu and really did a political number on it.  They were in my opinion the most underwhelming of the 3, he would explain about checking boxes, which they did in the post conference interviews, but personally I couldn’t get past the controller, no so much a Wii HD, but more that they were trying to one up themselves and found it more difficult considering that the Wii was something people seemed to want right at that time.

Their reasons for pulling out once could argue till the cows came home.  But the fact that they will not be there is one small dent in the excitement that was always E3.  Will they be back, yes, if things pick up or change for the better for Nintendo, I can guarantee that they will be back in 2014.  So I applaud them, NO, I could argue that scaling back would be better than not have a conference at all.  No-one said you need to compete with Microsoft or Sony and they normally don’t but they could still provide the information they want to the world and make it cheaper.

Nintendo will still be at E3, but not showing a press conference, they will have their booth on the show floor showing the up and coming first party titles for the 3DS and Wiiu.

XNA Game Development – Part 4

The Joy of OO

image

Sitting here I was looking at my game, the image above is the first screen shot of the progress.  Yes not far, but I am working on it.  Anyway, there are a couple of things that I am so very thankful for.  The last time I wrote a game specifically for myself, or anyone (disregard the course I did, since I was referring to that).  But I was referring to a long time ago, the game was in BASIC, yep, that long ago.  What I am getting at is, the ease of programming now days, and I am not talking about libraries or the like that makes things easier I am going on about Object Oriented Programming (OOP).

This might seem like a no-brainer for some people especially the elitist OOPs out there, but in the early days of my programming, BASIC, Pascal, Assembly, Modula-2 and as you can see there isn’t a lot of OO languages in that mix, well certainly not when I was developing them.   Some of them have implemented some kinds of OO, when I was developing them it wasn’t in those languages.

Anyway to my point.  I am amazed that by creating the class, Ship, creating 2 instances of the ship, handling the different input to move each instance, and we have a simple ability to add more ships if needed.  Encapsulating the details of an object tightly into class makes this possible.  I would have done this using the above said languages, but, it would mean all of the code I used to move it, draw it, spin it would all need to be duplicated for each ship.  And if decided I wanted to add another ship, well that is something I wouldn’t have thought of back in the wonderful and heady days of procedural languages.

More Than Pretty Pictures

This is the next part, and it relates to the above image as well.  My friend are developing a game, we are developing the same game using two different technologies.  I am using XNA/C# and he is using HTML5/JavaScript.  Suffice to say I have it easier, Visual Studio 2010 Express is a wonder for a free application.

But the route we both went down to drawing the images on screen are different, and I am not talking about the engines.  He chose to draw a triangle on screen, then manipulate this.  His were nicely contained and he needed to update the image every time, since he is drawing each of the lines of his ship by hand.  Currently that isn’t an issue, see below.

image

This is an image of mine at a similar stage.  2 triangles on the screen.  They perform all the functions I want them to at this stage.  So, in the process of the other one, drawing the single lines to make up the triangles, isn’t a difficult choice to make at the time.  But the difference is not so much now.  But later.

I am utilising sprite, a simple game graphics display option from a long time ago.  See, once upon a time, when game developers were making games, they needed to draw pixels on the screen, sometimes you could draw them as lines or groups  as shapes depending on what you needed.  But all of these need to be done manually, with the introduction of the sprite it meant that art designers started getting more and more involved in the game making process.  This meant that visuals in games started getting better and better.  Granted we are still only talking about not many pixels but as graphics and processing power increased so did the number of pixels.

But these sprites were made by artists, people who know how to draw how to make things look better and use the real estate they have to do it.  See the HTML5/JavaScript version below.

triwars-mp-20121002

Please ignore the trails it doesn’t look like that in real time.  But in his code he will draw all three outlines then fill it in red.

What am I getting at, simple, the second image posted, with the 2 triangles they are sprites, plane and simple.  Must like they were used in the good old days, I simple tell the engine to draw the sprite.  It works out the details of putting the pixels on the screen.

Sure, the HTML5/JavaScript way is also saying I want to draw a line at this location and it will take care of putting the pixels on the screen.  But, if you look at the first image, the ships now look more detailed, same size in pixels, except they look better, more refined.  This was only done by me, imagine if I got a proper designed to do it.  In fact, this is what a proper designer can do;

BrettShip

Same number of pixels, well close,

RedShip

But the differences are staggering, from the original,

RedShip

I will leave all of that to a different time.  But, using an engine to draw things make it that much easier.  Why is the other way only have triangles, it is what he wanted to do.  Nothing more or less.

But the differences are in code and are up to the programmer;

HTML5/JavaScript

ship.drawTriangle = function() 
{
	context.save(); 
	context.translate(ship.x, ship.y); 
	// set the position of the center of the ship for rotation context.
	rotate(ship.direction*Math.PI/180); 
	// rotate the ship 
	context.beginPath(); 
	//Build the triangle 
	context.moveTo(ship.triangle[0][0]-ship.triangle_centroid[0],ship.triangle[0][1]-ship.triangle_centroid[1]); 
	context.lineTo(ship.triangle[1][0]-ship.triangle_centroid[0],ship.triangle[1][1]-ship.triangle_centroid[1]); 
	context.lineTo(ship.triangle[2][0]-ship.triangle_centroid[0],ship.triangle[2][1]-ship.triangle_centroid[1]); 
	context.lineTo(ship.triangle[0][0]-ship.triangle_centroid[0],ship.triangle[0][1]-ship.triangle_centroid[1]); 
	context.strokeStyle = ship.colour; 
	context.lineWidth = 1; 
	context.stroke(); 
	context.restore(); 
	context.fillStyle = ship.colour; 
	context.fill(); 
	context.closePath(); 
	// this is just for debugging context.font = &quot;bold 16px Arial&quot;; 
	context.fillText(ship.velY, 10, 50); 
	// draw it all 
	context.stroke(); 
};

XNA/C#

//Loading the sprite into the content manager 
shipSprite = gameContentManager.Load&amp;lt;Texture2D&amp;gt;(spriteContentName); 

//Draw the sprite, different function to above. 
spriteBatch.Draw(shipSprite, //The texture 
				position, //The position 
				null , //Not used, but Source rectangle 
				Color.White, //tinting colour 
				rotationAngle, //the rotation of the texture 
				origin, //the origin of the texture (centre)
				scale,  
				SpriteEffects.None, //Any simple texture manipulation 
				0f); //layer

There is a great difference here, but to compare them as apples and apples where in reality they are apples and oranges.  They are fruit, but I am relying on the content manager to handle the converting the data through its PNG import pipeline.  I then rely on the sprite batch instance to handle the drawing of the sprite in the manner I tell it.  Does it make me or him any better or worse programmers than each other, no, not at all.  But it shows the differences two programmers and the same project go about doing their coding.

But in essence what I am getting at is utilising the methods of drawing all of the elements yourself creates a lot of additional code you need to write and maintain.  Using the sprites like I am, and you can in the end get better looking results, but in the end I am at the behest of the developers of Content Manager and Sprite Batch objects, which is OK.  And any developer using an engine is also at the behest of the engine developer, but if it means I don’t need to write ALL that code, then I will be a happy chappy as graphics engine programmers are much like OS programmers, they need to do a very difficult job so the rest of us can have an easier one.

Sprite enable an easier method to get better look to your game without all of the fuss behind the scenes (if you aren’t coding it all yourself.).

References

E3 2012

I have been hanging out for E3 for sometime.  For the last couple of years I have watched all of the events live, thanks to .  We aren’t that lucky in Australia, especially when it comes to games conventions and the like.  It also takes a lot of effort, waking for a 1am start to start the procession of media events to end at mid-day EST AU.  Then the next day start at the same time and go through till 8am.  Then it will be off to work for a 9:30am start on the Wednesday.

I will be posting my thoughts and views on E3 and I will also do the usual and rank each of the majors on how well they did.  I will also be publishing this up on my blogs on Game Trailers Profile and my GameSpot Profile.

I will not be blogging live, as this to me will suck up valuable watching time since I am not the best typist and who knows what I might say.

 

Stay Tuned and I hope I can make an entertaining read.