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Game Development

Hello All!

I’m back, once again! I haven’t forgotten about this place, but I just kept pushing back any attempts to write another post until now. I woke up this morning feeling like I had to sit down and at least try to write on blog post and I’ll try to continue doing this at least once a day even if it is a short one.

For today’s post I’ll be getting into some programming and game development I’ve been working on lately. More specifically, I’ve jumped right into Gameboy Advance (GBA) development. The reason I chose this was due to three main things. First, my brother just recently received a GBA for Christmas and with my assistance, bought a flashcart for it. This means that I can test out my programs directly on the actual hardware and not just an emulator (boo!). Second, programming for the GBA is done primarily with C (and touch of ASM for speed), which is my favourite and my primary programming language! And lastly, I know of probably the greatest, and I mean it, the greatest introduction/tutorial/bible of GBA development out there. This awesome GBA development resource is called Tonc and can be found here: http://www.coranac.com/projects/tonc/ . I actually found this site years ago but I was never comfortable enough in C to actually make use of it. So now I’ve been slowly working my way through it taking in as much as I can and spitting out as much code as I can.

I should note that GBA programming isn’t for the faint of heart, this stuff can be a mental struggle, or at least it is for me. This is due to the programming being so low level, way farther than I’ve ever really done. For the GBA I’ve had to re-learn the bitwise operators and force myself into thinking about bits and bytes. In some ways it’s really cool but in others it becomes really daunting as it’s new. So for example, when working in a “bitmap mode” on the GBA, to turn a pixel to a certain colour you need to find it’s location in the video memory array and then turn that group of 16 bits into 15 bits of colour. Again, for those savvy with this low level stuff, they are chuckling right now but it’s a big change for me.

So far I’ve only been playing around in the “bitmap modes” with changing pixels and just getting used to changing and modifying the different registers to get different things on screen and viewable. But it’s still pretty fun and exciting, especially when I was able to get it onto my brother’s GBA to test on the actual hardware! In some ways this reminds me of my university programming course where we played around with a drawing program in Java which was kinda fun at times.

Anyways, I think that’s enough for now, I’ll just leave you with a small showing of my GBA drawings and/or tests that I’ve got working properly.

– Notice the well formed parabola and square 😛

-AlphaRed

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Over the last little bit of the summer I decided to see if I could play through some retro games that I’ve never had the chance to play before. Games that either I didn’t own the system (console) to play on or even just games that I never cared for or were too difficult to keep me going. Currently, I’m working my way through Final Fantasy as I never owned a NES (my first console was a PlayStation) and I have never been that big into RPGs.

So why would I play an RPG game if I’ve never really enjoyed playing them? Well, part of the reason is I’m bored and I need to keep my mind busy and working on something and trying something new is excellent for that. Plus, I have a brother who is crazy about RPGs and I wanted to beat him to playing the first Final Fantasy (he beat it shortly after I started 😦 ).

So after a very rocky starting (failed to equipped my weapons or armour LOL) I finally got a good save where I wasn’t dying every second battle :). This is my current team: Ahab (fighter), Vij (red mage), Tisq (black-belt), and Ofeb (thief). I should note that I made up all the names (except Ahab => Moby Dick reference) and that’s mostly because the game only allows for the names to be four letter long and since my name is five, it got shafted. Of course I’m playing it on an emulator (JNES) since I lack the time to go on a wild goose chase to find a working NES and reasonably priced Final Fantasy cartridge.

My Team in Final Fantasy I

In playing this game, I’ve come to realize a couple of things about the gaming industry. This game, whether you deem it as a flaw or not, doesn’t really tell you anything. Granted, I don’t own the manual, which as I understand it actually tells you about the spells and what they do which would be mighty helpful :). Regardless, the game makes no attempt to actually tell you how to play or really teach you too much about how to succeed. At the end of the day, you actually have to put in the effort to play and figure some stuff out. For instance, I didn’t even realize that I never equipped my weapons or armour until I actually tell the game to. Putting the stuff in the guy’s inventory isn’t enough and you have to actually equip it. Although probably not the best example, as I may just be a huge dunce at RPGs (I will admit to it) it wasn’t so obvious to me. Other things, such as getting poisoned and realizing you’re still poisoned after you healed up at the inn. How was I supposed to know that I have to use a Pure potion to get rid of the poison? Again, this doesn’t make the game bad, just a little frustrating in the beginning. Though I do feel that the game could be a touch more friendlier in pointing me in the right direction sometimes. But then I get thinking that this is exactly what Egoraptor was talking about in his Sequelitis video.

If you haven’t seen it, you should. Egoraptor goes into great detail about why the games are so different from today’s generation to the NES/SNES generation. He primarily talks about how games teach the player how to actually play the game. I won’t go repeating what he said, cause he said it so well already…HERE. So in essence, Final Fantasy to me at least is actually fairly good at teaching me while playing or, as Egoraptor calls it, Final Fantasy has solid conveyance. I learned most of the game through actually playing rather than googling FAQs or guides (which I hate doing and consider it just a touch below cheats). Of course, as I mentioned before, there are a few spots where they could improve on the conveyance in my opinion. But some of it may be just that I’m a newb at RPGs, which I can totally see ;).

Anyways, I hoped you enjoyed this post and I hope you take a look at Egoraptor’s Sequelitis videos (unfortunately he only made three 😦 ) and maybe let me know what you think. Have you ever been in the same situation? Or have you even encountered a game where you had no idea what to do? If so, give me a shout. I’d love to see what other people think.

Oh and as usual, here is my song for the week ==> The Strokes – What Ever Happened

-AlphaRed

Been a few months since I last posted so I thought I’d have a go at it.

Since May I’ve finished my spring/summer semester at university, passing all my courses (thankfully!) and was even able to find accomodations for the fall semester. Turns out that finding a room/apartment for four months is nearly impossible as every single landlord wants at the minimum eight months, which I completely understand. Especially given that most students that they rent out to only need the eight or 12 months. I, on the otherhand, am only at the university for the fall semesters and I head back home to my co-op placement/job. So an eight month lease/rent is of no use to me.

I also started digging into more C programming during that time. I even got super confident and tried my hand at modding the Quake 3 engine. Only to find that it’s not as easy as I thought, so I went back to square one. Started learning the SDL API so that I could start cranking out some graphical games, even if they are only 2D to begin with. Built a crappy Tic-Tac-Toe game, I say crappy because it had some major flaws to the program if you knew how to exploit it. I keep saying that I’d have to rewrite it to fix all the problems but I’m a lazy programmer and it kinda scares me to have to rewrite it all. Currently, I’ve kept at the SDL and C programming and I’m writing my own blackjack game, though it isn’t turning out exactly how I’d like it to. I can say for a fact, that I’ve learned plenty from writing both these programs and realize that I’m only gonna learn more.

Anyways, I think I’m done for now. I’ll try and post sometime soon (end of week maybe?) but until then I’ll leave you with a song that has grown on me over the past few months…

Interpol – NYC
-AlphaRed

Yo yo!

Had a few hours to myself a weekend or two ago and decided to tweak and update my Wilson CQB animations. I even got a little bit fancy and added the proper textures and self-illuminated lighting to show it off. And I must say, it looks quite good now. I’ll leave a link here for anyone to take a look and comment or critique as they wish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3fwEbVmpGk

In other news, university is coming to an end so I’m getting ready to hit the books and buckle-down and study. This term should prove quite a challenge so I’ll probably be not spending any time on any 3D projects nor any coding projects. But after, I can see myself taking a closer look at the Q3 source and maybe trying to whip up something along with going through the rest of my Learning C book.

And in between all this, I still gotta purchase some more Christmas gifts which is proving to be quite the challenge. Some of my family are easy to pick out things they need/want but others are a little harder to buy for. I think I just need to sit down and really put in some time and think about it. What I find is that I think of the best gifts AFTER I purchase their gift or even after Christmas itself. Of course my hindsight is horrible, though my OB textbook says otherwise with a perceptive bias known as hindsight bias. Regardless, I’ll hopefully get all my shopping down ASAP so I can concentrate on other things.

So in the meantime, I’ll try to post something new every few days whether it be a new song that is stuck in my head, or a website or game that I’m playing/addicted to. So I guess I’ll see you all later…

-AlphaRed

So it’s been over a month since I made my first post here. And no, I haven’t forgotten about this place. I just haven’t had anything to really say. But since I feel the need to say something I will do that now. So get ready!

Game development-wise, there hasn’t been much. I’ve pushed quite far into a C programming book but not far enough to really have enough confidence to write anything of much value or of much use to me. I haven’t modeled much since way back in August (which really isn’t that long I guess :/. But I would like to pick back up the ropes soon and push on. If I do happen to get anything started (and I mean /anything/) I’ll let everyone know.

The main reason why my game development area has suffered is due to a variety of things but mostly school. As of September 8th, I’ve started my third year of my degree at Brock University. It has been a great first month, though not without its own challenges, but I enjoy school very much. It’s probably something wired wrong in my brain that allows me to enjoy my school work and just everything that school encompasses. I know many people enjoy the social aspect of school, which I agree is very much enjoyable, but I think it’s more than that. Learning has always been at the fore-front to me and it excites me to learn new things every day I enter a classroom. As I said before, I’ve met tens of people who hate school so it may just be me.

Anyways, the whole university aspect has become quite a time-sucker. Not that I have no time, but the time that I do have (which is amazingly a high amount) I spend on a variety of other things. Between some short gaming sessions to mountain biking and then onto writing short stories and playing guitar. It’s become quite much, that I’ve realized how many “hobbies” I have. Now if I added a female companion (made to sound as awkward as possible) that would probably put me well over the top. I can only imagine the amount of focus and energy I would need to keep everything in check. But I can only imagine ;).

It’s probably best I do not travel down the girl avenue too much. Not much to see down there, but far too much to explain. Let’s just sum it all up by saying that I’m not successful at all in that department.

So that’s probably it for now, I may post tomorrow (if I get bored) or some time this week (more likely). So until then, stay frosty.

-Alpha Red

Oh yes, always wanted to use that opening line and now I can with perfect justification.

So it really is the beginning of a blog that I’ve wanted to start for a long time. All those years of procrastination have stopped and I will try to keep with this for as long as I can. So in the meantime, I invite everyone to come and stay awhile.

I guess a good introduction would be what I intend this blog to be about. A solid start, no doubt. This blog will be for a dozen things, many of which I’ll try to outline here. So instead of having many blogs for various different little things I think I’ll keep everything to my one blog (this one). That way, my posting absence (just for foresight here) would not be entirely missed if I have everything in the same spot.

One of the major topics will be any game development/3D projects that I decide to undertake. At this very moment I’m in a little bit of a conundrum as I am deciding on my next project to do (the details of which I will be sure to post here). I actually learned 3D modeling many years ago, I think its been 5 years now and I still suck ;). So ya, you’ll see any of my projects posted here (hopefully) and you can comment on anything or give feedback when necessary.

The other major topic would have to be anything personal-related. I’m not talking about anything too deep, like personal relationships and etc. I’m just talking about crap that goes down, ya know? I’m sure between now and my death there will be something eventful enough to post on here about, atleast I hope so.

I guess that’s it for now. I’ll try to post whenever I can and whenever I have something to post.

-AlphaRed