Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.


Sorry things have been quiet here for a while, I've been busy going to a couple of weddings and making it to 36 without dying ( Quite an achievement considering my lack of doing anything healthy ).

The pinball game still isn't quite gold yet, we're hoping to finally kill it off Thursday. In the mean time whilst it's sitting on FGL we've been included in the new "First Impressions" feature of the site, which I think is a really great idea ( I think it may well still be beta, so I don't want to blab too much about it here as it's not my place to ).

The thing with feedback is culling out the good useful comments from the noise. And by good I don't just mean the "nice work" style comments, but the comments that make you remove the blinkers a little and be objective about the game.

The main concern which has come up is that people really don't like the fact that it scrolls. I find this weird in that I'm used to the 16bit era of pinball games where they all scrolled. It allows for a playfield which is a lot less cluttered and just gives everything a nice sense of scale and scope. I'm just hoping that the slighty broken camera in the version they tested ( Which is fixed now and hopefully always gives you the best view of what's happening and where the ball is going to go ) is the main reason people weren't liking that aspect. If not, then well it's not going to be that popular and that's all there is to it.


Yeah, that's a reflection on there.

Another interesting point raised was about the flipper movement, a lot of people felt that there was almost a lag on them, so that was fixed last night to make them more responsive.

Aside from that ( And filtering out the noise like I said earlier, eg "there are not enough features on the pinball board/play area itself (no bumpers/ramps/etc)", aside from those 3 bumpers and 2 ramps you mean ? ) it's just a polarised comments ( "Too complicated", "Not complicated enough", "Instructions too brief", "Instructions too wordy" ) and things we were aware of anyway, such as the animations running too slow ( This was due to developing at 60fps and then having to drop it down to 40fps for the browser version ).

So a bit more love, a couple of bug fixes, a few more assets from Olli, and it's good to go. We just need someone to buy it off us then.


A fanboy moment

I'm old and cynical and very few things give me a real "Oh cool" moment any more. Too much too young I guess :)

Although today I had a real bit of sickly fanboy-ness. I was checking the FaceBook version of Brain Voyage, just nosing at the stats and in the top five was Jon Hare. Someone I've really admired for years has played my game. He may have thought it was crap, and it may have made him vomit, but I don't care 'cause he's played one of my games ( About 20 years after I first played one of his ).

So yeah, he may have worked on Parallax, Wizball, Cannon Fodder, Sensible Soccer etc. but I've done a blatant piece of advergaming for Eidos, basically a glorified banner ad, so it all balances out ;)

This has been a pretty sickly post, but I don't care. People like Jon / Sensi were a huge influence on me writing games in the first place so I find this really fucking cool and don't care that I look like I'm 12 again.


Paranoid again

When I'm nearly done with a game, I start to do the paranoid thing and looks around for competing games. I did it with Toxic Shock ( That's the working title of "Professor Sauernoggin and the Landfill of Doom!" and that's what I'm going to call it from now on ), and made a blog entry about Fire and Ice

So with pinball game a week or so away from being done ( And then hopefully a week or two of whoring it around to sponsors before it finally gets out there ) I went a googling.

Bugger. I found a Flash pinball game apparently built with Box2D. And it scrolls. Bugger. It's here if you're at all interested. I'm not too sure how to word this without sounding too much like an arrogant cock, but it's not put the fear of God into us. That intial "Oh hell" quickly turned to a "Phew".

Olli's busy as busy can be rendering out the table, as soon as it's ready to show we'll be putting it here, then hopefully we can put together a video once it's done but still in that waiting to be sold limbo. Check us out, we're being all pimpy and commercial.
I guess it's 'cause we're trying out the whole world of in-game ads and sponsorship that we're slipping into being like a lot of other Flash devs. at the moment that we really admire with a well oiled self pimping machine.
It's a very fine line between generating interest in a new game, and just coming across as promising the earth only to fall flat on your face ( With the resulting backlash ). We'll see.


It's the truth

I just got to thinking ( Not keeping myself awake at night or anything ), but with the self importance of the whole "blogosphere" where we all act like our words may be of some importance to strangers, today would be a good day to get something really bad off your chest, and just put it down as an April fools day joke.

It could be anything from "I had a sly smoke in the bathroom this morning" to "I shook a baby to death", so use the cover of it being a day for big fat lies and jokes to purge your soul. It'll make you feel much better.

Maybe I'll do the same.


Nero did not only burn Rome - he busted Vista as well ...

Another rant post (but once I get back on game coding I'll do some more coding oriented posts. Promised.).

The reason I din't post about the current game of mine is that it's more or less on hold while I slave for another project (which is I'm sorry to say 100% not game related :|).

So why is that another rant post?

I bought a new box, a new shiny f$%&ing fast one (and to slow it down a bit I also installed Vista Ultimate on it :) ) (no need to point out that there are other OSes, because I *like* it).

Sometime last year I bought a copy of Nero Burning Rom, the once best cd/dvd burning app. You may have noticed "once".
The version I got was 7.5.7 and except for the darn amount of useless shit that came with it, I was quite happy with it on XP.

Because I like the ease of Nero Express I just wanted to install this (and the Nero app of course) but who the f$%& needs "recode", "showtime" a wave editor(!) ?
Anyway, I decided to install it on my new box and it turned out to become quite a nightmare ...

Once Nero was installed everytime I opened a folder that contained a video file I was greeted with as "rundll32 crash". Sweet.
First and (why not) choice to blame was MS for their OS, but after a quick google I found out that the problem is Nero. To be precise, one of the things I didn't chose to install, the shit codecs that came with it (there's no option to *not* install them).

But how do you remove a codec under Vista?

Quick google again, here we are: InstalledCodec v1.00
"InstalledCodec is a small utility displays the list of all Codec drivers and DirectShow filters currently installed on your system. For each component the following information is displayed: Display Name, Type, Disabled Status, Installed/Modified Time, Description, Company Name, Filename, and more...
It allows you to easily disable or enable any Codec/DirectShow component or export the list into text/xml/html file."

A few clicks later I disabled all codecs that started with "Nero" and viola. no rundll32 crashes.

So far I noticed no problems.


Day x - back from the dead

I doubt you noticed my absence from posting about the current game but I tell you anyway :).

Basically I had a few days off (unplanned) and then a f#%&%$ยง cold (unplanned, too) so work came pretty much to halt.

The worst what happened during that time was the constant flow of new ideas. Yesterday was the first day I was working again and I learned my funny little lesson about AS3. I haven't used it much (or for more than a few quick tests) but when I started to code the basic functions of the editor I learned to hate it.
Seeing AS3 from an c++ point of view it all makes more or less sense, but when dealing with it having a few years of AS1/AS2 experience some things just don't come a "natural" as they should.

I think that one of the biggest problems existing AS2 users have when starting with AS3 is the way AS3 deals with the display. It's easy to get by the new event model (which I really like) but the new display model just pissed me off big time during the first 3 hours.
For the editor there are a few things that rely on a timeline so I have to use exported MCs, I got the strong feeling that AS3 isn't made for handling timeline based things. (Some of them might have been coded but to be true I don't see the point in coding a color / alpha tween for some 15 elements.)
But handling a "classic" attached MC from AS3 feels as clumsy as a one legged dog.

back to work ... and hopefully some more code oriented posts in the future ...


More lazy boy links...

...and a bit of self centered bleating.

As Flash developers we all know how a lot of sites just pull the piss and will quite happily steal games ( And if you're really lucky, drop their ads into them. Nice ), but this story is just a whole new level of pulling the piss.
Really worth a read.

Now on to the self bleating. GOL got a review at Channel 4 games. 5 out of 10. Visitors to the site actually rated it less than that. It works out ( Using channel 4's rating, let's not make it worse ) at 1 point per game. And nothing for the front-end.
Following that down it's natural path, it means that say "Souper Bowl" would only score 1. Hang on, perhaps it scored less 'cause it's a collection of mini-games, let's double that. 2. Out of 10.
It's a sickener to think that the whole is actually less than it's parts. That's quite an achievement.

Sorry, I don't like wallowing in self pity, but when it's the best thing I've ever done, doing so poorly, it's hard not to have 5 mins being a tart about it. All out of my system now, although don't get me started about Loved Up getting poor reviews 'cause it's "gay"
( Wait 'til Loved Up II - A mouth full of spunk, that'll get the homophobic vote ).


Kentish Town smokers

Smokers who live / work in Kentish Town ( London ), here's an idea for you, instead of asking me if I have any "spare" cigarettes, why not go to the shop and buy your fucking own ?

Bad couple of days, don't know if you can tell.

AS3 continues to twist my melons. I've been working on a card game, always fairly straight forward. So I have a card movieclip with 52 frames, nice and old school. In that I have two other clips, one the "back" of the card ( So a quick flip of the visible property and it's facing upside down ) and within that another clip which has a tween in it for a glow effect.
A card gets picked, and it's just a simple gotoAndStop to the correct frame. But, within as3 I couldn't get to the glow tween clip. It just wouldn't find it ( So I couldn't call sprite["card"].face.gotoAndStop(1); to stop it going to frame 2 where the glow tween starts, and with it being as3 you can't just drop a stop(); on the mc's timeline ).
The fix was to trigger a one shot enterFrame and wait for a frame before being able to get to the mc. Logical in a way, pain in the arse in practise.

Speaking of the card game, I managed to delete the source code by accident ( Around an hour after it was feature complete. Obviously at any other time it wouldn't have had quite that same ring of irony ). It wasn't a recycle bin delete, it was a delete from within Flex ( ie Eclipse ). If you ever have anything dodgey on your machine, I dunno a list of drug dealers you employ, store the info in Eclipse, 'cause if you need to delete it no one will ever find it.
After a bit of a blind ( No backup anywhere ) panic, I thought ok, not a problem. Files aren't actually deleted, it's just a flag that's set on the block allocation map and so an undelete app will be able to find them, undelete them and everythings cool again.
4 undelete apps later ( Oh, 30 day trial, but without the ability to actually restore a file. What is the fucking point of that ? It's like buying Stephen Hawkings a great pair of trainers ) and not one of them found the files. They found files from a couple of years ago deleted by the God knows how many other people who have had this machine before me, but not a single one of mine.

No worries, Eclipse has this sweet local history feature. Hang on, if you delete the actual project file you can't get into the local history via Eclipse. Joy. So after a lot of hunting around I found the history files on my hd. Thank fuck. But joy of joys, they're stored in the most human unreadable form possible. A huge number of folders with hex names ( The catchy 8F, or the rather cheeky 5A ), and within those folders each little back up has a name like: 803d36994be9001c1049f5beb7af7d50
No file extension, no nothing.
Never mind, it's just an easy task to go through every folder with that days date ( A mere 60 or so ), sort each file by date, open it to see which class it is, and make a note of that. And then once all the notes are taken for each file in each directory I know which are the most recent and I can rebuild the game's structure from that.
3 hours to do that.
Yesterday with my 6 pages of notes, and the help of a decompiler ( The first time ever one has been useful, as opposed to allowing script kiddies to drop their own ads in your game ) I managed to fix everything as good as new.

There's a big fat lesson to be learnt there about backups ( Which I always do in-doors ).

Also discovered another fun little thing last night when working on Orbs. I've got senoculars' key.isDown class in there which works a treat. I've added the title screen, and you can click a couple of buttons to get into the game. What I found was though ( Which I wasn't expecting ) was the game lost focus in a way, so the key reading methods would only work by clicking on the game screen again ( I don't mean clicking away from the swf, just by clicking buttons on attached Sprites before hand meant that once in the game itself focus would be lost ).
After some hunting around, I found this would fix it,

There is more, so much more ( Don't get me started on Banks. I've been trying to sort out a foreign draft to pay someone for over a week now. From branches listed on google maps which it turns out have closed, to branches which are meant to be open at 9 but at 25 past still aren't ), but there's only so much venom one blog post can take.


Sweet walkthroughs

Some of the gimme5 community have gone a bit above and beyond and posted level walkthroughs for the Phantom Mansion games onto youTube, which really rock.

Here's a sample one, I'm pretty sure if you're stuck on a level you'll find it on there.

( Oh, if you want to actually play the games, here you go ).