Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hello all!

Sweet monkeys it's been a busy few days for me D:

I just got back from a trip to Paris and in the next two weeks I'll be in Berlin. So that means not much progress will be made on my little projects until after I get back.

I really enjoyed Paris and my rusty french got a little bit better! :D I really needed to get out of London for a bit seeing as how job hunting was getting me all down.

I'll be posting my latest dev stuffs and site update asap! But for now I gotta get packing :D

Wie gehts dir Berlin? :D

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Previous Work page coming real soon!

Good morning all,

I’ve not been able to update things as often as I’d like. It’s either time to be at work, or home writing code. Writing these updates takes some time unfortunately but I have some free time now so, let’s do this!

In this post I wanna talk about some new functionality on my website! I am in the process of setting up a “previous work” page. It’s not up just yet but it should be soon ™!

I have thus far made the page and set up the layout. I finished the scripting last night to show headers that expand on click (hiding any other headers that are open). I’m super proud of how this looks at the moment! This allows me to have a list of previous work. When clicked on, the header will expand showing all the information which I am planning to load in externally again.

No fancy fade effects are on this page outside of the initial load up. I might take this out entirely as it is really slowing down things on mobiles. We’ll see once I do some more testing.

I’d like to post some pictures or code but I don’t have any on me at the moment. Guess you’ll all have to see once I have to site updated!

I’m planning on using this area to show off previous work I’ve done. Not just game related stuff but all code or software systems I have developed. Since I have some pretty neat things I made ages ago, at University or in my free time, it’d be a shame not to use it in my portfolio. I also want to use this area to show off neat little things I’ve created but can’t use in any official project. Things I find of value or interest code wise!

Anyhow, I’m hoping to have this page up and running real soon. This should be doable as the only bit left over is to create the external data documents. As usual you’ll be able to see it on clusterbuggames.co.uk once it’s ready!

Have a good day everyone :D

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Website redesign and Management Game update

Happy Saturday everyone!

So as some people may have seen Clusterbuggames.co.uk has been updated with a fancy new look. No more horrible framesets. I'm using div elements and all that good stuff. This means that my site looks and works fine on all* browsers (PC based). My site also works ok on mobile but can be improved on a little bit (only tested this on a few Android phones).

I use Ajax and JQuery, to load data onto pages and fade them in all nice like :)

Apart for the website update, I have continued design and prototyping on a management-based game. It is going well! I currently have a basic level generator which will generate a grid of rooms, based on parameters given. After these parameters are given, the grid will procedurally generate itself. I did this in Unity with C# script and I'm ok with the way it currently works. In the below example the top-left most room I use as a button to start the "level generation".

Right now I only have 3 types of rooms, they all look similair but they are going to be the "generic room" types in the game. I made these graphics myself :D (With some help from a texture). Not bad for somebody who can't art:

Room 1

Room 2

Room 3

I can generate a grid based on Y and X numbers. For example a grid of 3 by 4 will generate a grid of 12 rooms. 3 rooms down and 4 across. I'm happy with the ability to specify the size of the grid myself, as maybe I can add this to the UI for the player. They can pick how large they want their grid to be. Or perhaps they can pick from a bunch of preset sizes. Food for thought.

Still a few kinks to sort out. The major hold up at the moment is, as usual, content. I am spending a lot of my time making the graphics and UI elements for my game. It's taking a while but I'm going to keep on trucking. So far I have an awesome backdrop thanks to Spacescape made by Alex Peterson. A neat program I found while working on my DroneBoats project. It allows me to make graphics that look like this for example:

Example backdrop

Its actually made for skybox creation. You guys can check the program out at http://alexcpeterson.com/spacescape. I found it real useful!

The next steps are to continue content creation and also figuring out how to connect my rooms together dynamically and randomly but not have any rooms be unlinked. That last part is going to be fun :)

I still need to continue my Android book and exercises which I hope to get back to soon. It's constantly at the back of my mind.

Anyhow, Please check out my new home site update :D I'm going to continue working now that I have some time to spend on this. I am having a lot of fun and I'm happy that I don't have to spend hours trying to model anything.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Finaly the week-end!

Cant let the whole week-end go by without making a post! :)

Things are going slow you guys, I think this may be because I'm trying to cover to much. Then again I'm not going to stop! I spent this week working on the following areas.

Converted my site to not use Frames, I am still reconstructing everything now. It's taking time, as usual. I am loading everything in from external files using Ajax then showing the content in Divs. I am planning on doing this with the mobile version on my site also.

I also found a neat plugin called google-code-prettify. Weird name I know but it allows me to make any code I post on my site go from this to this:

I tried combining the Ajax loading in functionality with the plugin but for some reason I lose all colouring data when it runs. Like I'd get the line numbers and background to load up fine but the text would be completely unformatted. I'm sure this is due to the fact that the plug-in only runs once the page is loaded and only runs once? I tried for a long time to get it to update and fix this but I couldn't figure it out. I'll have to be creative in my design to get around this problem I guess.

I have also continued design for a game I'm working on, thus far I'm writing out all my code on paper and trying to get this to make sense first. I'm going to be using Unity and GUITextures for most of this game. Using a 3D engine for a 2D game may be overkill but I can use C# which I love. Also using Unity means I don't have to spend time using a new IDE. Learning two is enough for now!

I realise that using Quads seems to be the way to go performance wise, but this is a PC game so I don't think performance will be a problem. Even with all the draw calls GUITexures supposedly make. (He says now watch down the line as I panic that my game is crippled).

The game I'm designing is a management game, dealing with the running of a space station. I am planning to have the levels prodecurally generated depending on 1 of three sizes. The level contents will consist of different elements and are picked at random.

So the player will always have a random level, and have to change his plans depending on the station he is presented with.

It sounds simple enough, but I want to get the code planned out properly before trying to implement anything. Below I pasted a screenshot of one of the station concepts I was tinkering with. I can get levels loading up in Unity quickly, but procedurally generating them - that's a bit more interesting.

This would be the main view panel in the overall GUI. I am planning to have lots of neat things shown in there. Once I get everything working.

I am still reading my Android Development book, but wanted to break the tedium of reading and actually make a game. Having a site with only one game on it is bumming me out.

I have been developing something small at work also, or shall I say amending something I developed as a prototype ages ago. Some training software, written in an overly basic language. I don't think it'll be used though. Not officially anyhow. But it's been draining me. It's approximately over 500 lines of code. I'm really proud of what I managed to get it to do; all things considered. It even prints to a printer now! And dynamically finds the assets it needs to run, regardless of where it's placed. It'll even run off a USB!

Nobody at work is a code monkey apart from me. So I waste my breath trying to explain just why that's so awesome.

Work in general has been draining me. I come home during the week and go straight to bed. There are reasons for this that I'd rather not get into. Not worth it since I ain't planning on sticking around.

Anyhow I spent this week end sleeping-in late and having some fun. I can't get anything done if I'm burnt out. Tomorrow it all starts up again :D

I have to get to doing:
  • Updating my web site - finishing off the mobile version and upload it (all HTML5 and sexy)
  • Continue making the graphics for my space game above
  • Keep reading my Android book so I can get my Dragon App goinggggg!

For now I'm going to have a beer and play The Last of Us.
Have a good Sunday guys!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Trucking on, slowly

Evening all,

I have been continuing as usual but I thought I’d take a break from the studying and example-code to post an update before bed!

I’m going to be honest when I say that I am hitting a little bit of a low point what with all the reading and continuous examples. I am extremely anxious to start making something cool to add to my portfolio! I have too many ideas and I am tired of mapping them out on paper. I want to code!

I am now approximately halfway through my book on Android development. I have covered many different areas and I am finding the book very well written and the content interesting! I have been working my way through all the examples, written in Java and been coding along in Eclipse using the SDK. Thus far I have covered touch, multitouch (Android does this in a “fun” way haha), dragging, basic graphics rendering, threads, audio playback, key presses and storage (external and internal). I have all the basics to develop a game!

I am now working my way through the game example and hope to make good progress. After that I will finally be able to start making my own games I have been designing. I cannot wait! :D

In other news I have been tinkering with my website. I have pretty much made a version that got rid of framesets. I instead use only Divs to make things more HTML5 compatible. I am hoping to modify it for mobile phone viewing. Unfortunately once I finished the layout of the mobile site, I found the wonders of JQuery and Ajax. I have been looking into loading pages via XML since that would be an easier/more efficient way than using Divs with Javascript. 

I have also moseyed away from using Notepad and am currently using UltraEdit for my web development. I am really happy with this editor! I am going to show off some screenshots below. It has this awesome built in web browser demo panel so you can quickly see the results of your changes and edits. It gets a bit wonky when using scripts in the HTML but to combat this you can load the page into your default browser with the click of a button and this fixes it. I am really loving UltraEdit so shout out to them :D And it sure beats Notepad!

The code/html layout in UltraEdit

Check the changes with a click of the button! (draft site I know it looks bad)
I also started rereading my HTML5 games development book and I was surprised that I now understood a lot more than before. I set it aside as I got a bit overwhelmed with the HTML terminology used in the book. Making my own site and getting it hosted however really does seem to be paying off. Very slowly things are starting to come together. I now love JQuery and I understand what a DOM is. Before these things may as well have been Latin to me! I am hoping to work through that book once I finish my Android book. I think making a facebook game would be really cool!

Lastly I am toying with the idea of showing off a few older Unity projects I put on hiatus. Just to show something interesting. Even though I have been spending 3-4 hours a day on this after work my portfolio is lacking in examples. This is not a good thing I’m afraid. I might make a little prototype area on my site or a demo bits area. We’ll see how it goes. 

For the next few weeks my Android development takes priority though. After that I’ll fix up my site and maybe get the mobile version up and running. I also miss using Unity– if I have time after all the above things I’d like to mess around with it some more!  But right now I need sleep.

As always thank you for reading,

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Designing ALL of the things!

Hey all :D

Just got home from work so I thought I’d do a quick update to talk about what I'm currently in the process of working on.

I'm currently working on the designs for two games. I may have mentioned some of these in previous posts.

The first project is in a very early stage. I want this game to be really good. Like super good. So I am spending time getting the design properly thought out. I'm also thinking about the art style and once I decided that I can decide what I want to develop it in and which engine I want to use with it. More on this later though :D

The other project is a small android app game. I thought it was time I added to the extremely sparse android marketplace :P The game will be free to play - mostly because I am developing it to teach myself android development. I am currently designing it while I clue myself up on all the android stuffs.

I read through most of the SDK stuff, did the “hello world” button tutorial and I'm currently reading through "Beginning Android 4 Games Development". I was a little bit overwhelmed by all the API information. So when in doubt, get a book!

Originally I was planning on using the Unity engine but I thought I'd learn more if I didn't abstract myself from a lot of the grunt work. So instead I'm going to try and develop my project in Java. Seeing as how it's going to be a pretty basic game I don't think this is unreaslistic.

I love the way android development looks thus far. Using bundles to save data making it easy to resume from where the user left off is awesome. Localisation made easy, use of XML and making it easy to support multiple devices (well in theory anyhow) is awesome! :D

Anyhow I'm trying to quickly work my way through this book while at the same time working on my game designs. Hopefully once the book is done I can hit the ground running on my very own android project! I really can't wait!

By the way, I thought I'd try out a "mind mapping" method of doing early designs. I do this so that I have a whole project planned out properly this time. My plan is to iterate on the mind map design rather than use prototyping as with my Runes game. Since this lead to really messy code and a silly amount of bugs. It's just to damn tempting to use prototypes as the real deal.

I've been using Freemind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page) to do the mind mapping and I really like it. It's nice and basic and allows me to get my ideas organised in a quick and easy way! Just thought I'd give a small shout out, since it’s been helping me lots :)

Well time to get back to it. (*Peon voice* Work-work!)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Clusterbuggames.co.uk is now up and running!

Hey all :D

I got my website uploaded and running! Yay! Check it out at Clusterbuggames.co.uk!

I know the layout is pretty basic. But Rome wasn't built in a day (and they had slave labour!)

Please note that this site was made with Firefox in mind but runs real nice on Google Chrome. If  you use Internet Explorer however I'm afraid you're gonna have a bad time!

It's one of the many quirks of web development I learnt. You're all "Ah this looks pretty swanky...I wonder what it looks like in IE.... OH GOD WHAT IS THAT? WHY? WHYYY? D:"

So yea, don't use IE until I fix my site for it.

Most important note of all is you can now play my Runes game on it :D

I'm working on setting up an email for feedback, so hopefully that'll be available soon so I can have the internet insult me Youtube comment style.

Have fun!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Little steps, little stumbles

Hey everyone,

Well since my Runes game is as done as it's going to get I thought I'd make a quick post to cover what I'm currently working on.

It is strange how, while you're working on a game, you just want to keep adding to it. You feel the need to improve on it more and more. There are a few minor bugs left in my Runes game. And there are a ton of features I wanted to put in. But I feel that I need to use my time working on something new, to learn new things and to try and apply the things I learnt thus far.

Today and yesterday I spend working on my website, which I'm hoping to host soon enough. It'll allow everyone to actually play my games rather than just read about them!

The site is pretty much done and I have my Runes game running in a web browser just fine. It took me a while to make the site and get it all running properly. I found that I hate web developement. There is no writing code in web developement. Only trying to match colours and get boxes to go where you want them to go! Uurgh!!

But I did a pretty ok job I think, seeing as how I was using Notepad and don't have that much experience. I know that somewhere in the near future I'm doing to have to convert some of the HTML into HTML5 compatible stuffs. And I know lots of web developers out there will laugh at all my Framesets. But screw it I have games to develop!

Other than that, since the Unity3D guys have been awesome and released their mobile licenses for free I have been messing about with that. I have got the android SDK up and running and made my first hello world app. Testing it on the emulator and its working :) I'm working on improving it now - just working through all the SDK tutorials.

After that I'm hoping to hit up the Unity3D mobile tutorials and get a game on mobile! :D Andriod preferably since I can test on that phone.

I am also designing two games at the moment. One a mobile app that I want to develop once I get more XML savvy and refresh on Java a lot. And also wrap my head around how the mobile developement pipeline works. So much to learn and so little time!

The other game is going to be a stand-alone PC game. I was planning on making this an HTML5 based game and perhaps linking it to Facebook with the Facebook API but the game I have in mind wouldn't work on a browser. I wanted it to be single player anyhow. But I'm still designing the actual game and padding things out.

One big thing I learnt thus far is the importance of design so I'm not skimping on it this time around!

Anyhow, I think I'll play a game for a bit before heading to bed. All work and no play something something ...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Runes: Songs of the Gods - Version 1.3

For this I mostly added polish issues that were annoying me during development. I also got two very skilled people (testing is what they do for a living! :D) to check out my little game and make suggestions.

All of these things lead to the following issues being addressed.

  • Improved the runes after three were done being selected. To make newer ones spawn faster so the player isn’t left waiting too long.
  • I did this by calling the GetNewRune(); function immediately after the three runes were reset
  • Tweaked my light fade in / fade out function that I was quite proud of. Made it so it doesn’t blind the player completely.
  • Cleant up the introduction audio so the wind didn’t start until the whispering voice was done. This meant that you could now hear the voice and not just sense a mumble :D I did it by adding a check to see if the voice audio was done - if(!IntroTalk.isPlaying).
  • Made the bonus score more interesting. It now adds your score at certain thresholds rather than a simple + 10 points. This means that you’ll get around +50 then +100 then + 150/200 as you reach the bonus thresholds. BUT I made it work like a killing spree works in other games. 
  • This means that when you reach a threshold and mess up somewhere along the line the bonus score is completely lost. So it’s a lot trickier because you either have to take your time (and waste game time) or risk it and try and click that one lingering rune a split second before it changes.
  • Made it so that runes were now de-selectable as long as only 1 or 2 runes were active. The new AddToArray functionality made this super easy :D It adds a little more pace to the game. 
  • This was a very good suggestion from feedback I got and also allowed missclickes to be corrected!
I found that people playing the game were seeing things that I never noticed and felt the game played in different ways. They had different points of view about what the game was lacking or needed to improve on.

I really started seeing the benefit of having people play unfinished versions of my game and I wish I had done this sooner. I will make a note to get people to play earlier versions on my future games as often as possible!