Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Welp, I haven't watched Buffy yet (I had the VCR's going though), but I watched Gilmore Girls and Smallville. GG was it's typical full-o-funny self. Smallville wasn't quite the action-packed + dramatic episode they advertised, but good none the less. I also taped that new Haunted show on UPN just for the heck of it. No idea what that's about.
For anyone who watches The Screen Savers on TechTV, I'm not sure what I think of their new set. As for the new intro, I think it's too long. I'm glad they got the rest of the crew's names and such in it, but it was always just something short, then they'd hop right into the show. I don't like that new song compared to the old one, either. But they say change is good, so who am I to argue with whoever "they" are. I'm sure I'll get used to it.
I started playing with lights in Direct3d, and got more into using materials. And loading materials from .X files. Since my Voodoo2 can only do 16-bit color, I'm not sure what exactly to do about the color banding on objects when they have light shining on them. I don't think I notice it in other games. So there must be a way to fix it, other than just adding more polygons. It's rather ugly. Any ideas?
Most of my work has been in DirectX8 lately, because it has all the routines I needed to do what I wanted with the least amount of extra effort. But at some point, I'm going to have to write a bunch of my own code to handle loading .X files, and probably a class to handle meshes, because I want to work in DirectX7. It has limited support for both of those things out-of-the-box (if it had a box). It won't be hard, but it's going to be one of those tedious and boring things. In programming, at least for me, the fun part comes in doing new things. When I have to write code to do something that's already done elsewhere, it just bores the hell out of me, cause I have to spend all that time doing that, just to get back to the point I was at before in the other project. So I usually tend to put it off for another time. I want to be able to use the 3d in my Matrox card though to test things, and I also want it to run on my brother's Voodoo1, so it will be worth the effort in the long run.
Anyway, since I probably confused or bored most people that read this, I'll shush about that. Do you guys think I need like a normal blog, and a programming blog? The former being where I just blab about normal stuff, and the latter where I get technical with what I've done. Let me know what you wanna see.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
For anyone who's rented or bought the Monsters Inc. DVD (or possibly the video as well), I think you'll agree that "For the Birds" on the special features disc is one of the funniest things to come out of Pixar. Those birds make the funniest noises.
I've been playing the crap out of Mario Kart 64 again. On multi-player mode, that is. What could be more fun than running around on go-karts, flinging shells and banana peels at your opponents? Well throwing bob-ombs might be interesting...
As for programming, I finally figured out how to load a mesh from an .X file, and actually display it correctly. I took the entire 3d model of the Electris game board and tossed it in (minus textures). Even in wireframe it looked pretty cool to have rotating around and such. And laying on it's back it kind of looked like a hangar of sorts. I might make the 3d model of the ship from the flash logo fly out of it or something just for fun. hehe. Once I have meshes and all that stuff down pat, I may attempt a 3d Electris, just for a learning experience.
Tomorrow is Tuesday... that means all new Buffy, Gilmore Girls, and Smallville episdes. Woo!
Friday, September 20, 2002
As you probably noticed, I added a main page to the site. I wanted a permanent "news hub" of sorts, so that I could post important things on there, and they would stay there until I removed them. Which is unlike how the blog works, where I might mention something big one day, but since I post almost every day, it would get knocked down the page until it went to the archives about a week later, automatically.
That's about it, though. I about ripped myself in half earlier rearranging stuff. My side is still feeling all weird. As long as I don't die, it's all good. ;)
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Not a lot to mention. I've still been working on my 2d engine in Direct3d. I discovered some pretty cool things I can do, which I might stick into Electris. What if the whole screen rotated slowly in different directions at times while you played? Could be fun. What's even more fun is how DOZ is coming along. At this rate, I'll spend more time testing it (aka playing) than working.
I decided that since I seem to have so many opinions about so many things, that I would just start an opinion blog (that's a web log for anyone who doesn't know). I haven't put any links to it up on the site because I haven't created a template or anything yet. I'll stick it up on here soon, whenever I finally update the site and make some of the other things work. I'll also create an extra message board section for people to comment on the things I rant about. I just figured that since so many people (a lot of which from online) like to shove their opinions at me, that I would create a place where I could freely complain and comment about things, and if people don't like what I have to say, they can either speak up, or get over it.
So before I offend anyone else, that's it for now. ;)
Monday, September 16, 2002
I could have probably already had a newer version of Electris out by now, had I actually been working on it. Sorry 'bout that. ;) After I got my Ogg Vorbis code working, I moved on to trying to make a 2d engine out of Direct3d. That led me to actually trying to do a little true 3d, and then dropping to DirectX 7 instead of 8, so that I could use my main video card for 3d acceleration. Then that led me to adding all the extra math for constant acceleration and rotation, and most recently, acceleration based on your direction. Confused? Don't worry. It just means I can make a cool game now.
I've actually pondered lately on whether I want to go with true 3d, or just use an overhead 2d view but still use the rotation and scaling abilities of 3d video cards. To tell you the truth, you might not even need 3d hardware to do the calculations fast enough if I make something using the latter method. Most people have faster machines than me, and even when I force DirectX to use 2d acceleration only, it still runs okay. I might even go for a fully 3d appearance, but only allow 2d movement (making action parts much simpler to play). Ever played Starfleet Command? There's you a perfect example.
I still want to make another update to Electris though. I extended the original music track, and converted it to Ogg Vorbis. All I need to do really is rip out the old WAV-based streaming music stuff, and add the Ogg code in it's place. I don't want to release a version with just a music upgrade, though. I want to flare up the top scores screen, because I don't like it. Aside from just placing it better on the screen and adding colors, it's still basically the same code I used just as a place-holder originally until I made something better. Sooner or later I'll fix all this stuff though, and release the final version of the game. I'll make it so that whenever I create new music, all you have to do is download the track and throw it in the Electris folder, and it'll take care of the rest.
I'm really excited about the new Defenders of Zentax. It's actually a game I've wanted to do for years, but just never had the right hardware or tools to do it. Everytime I've tried to make a game in the past, the platform would become obsolete. The original DOZ was a BBS door game. But since there was basically one or two BBS's left in this city, neither of which were very active, I just decided that there was too much work left to put in (mostly maps and stuff though, the engine was mostly complete), and there weren't enough people left to really care if I released a new game. Well then I got a fairly decent computer (compared to my older one), and started tinkering with VGA graphics in DOS. But by that time, everybody was using Windows. So I gave up on that idea, and pretty much took a break from programming. I tinkered here and there, and made a few utils for my own use. But never anything major. I'm slightly ahead of the obsoletion curve this time, though. I could never design a top-of-the-line fully 3d game with beautiful 32-bit color high-res graphics and 3d sound. Not with the hardware I'm using. But I have enough to make something I would consider fun, most everyone could play, and would hopefully enjoy. I haven't found a game yet that mixes the right amount of simulation/rpg/action that I want, so I'm going to do it myself. If it turns out the way I plan, I will personally think it's a kick-ass game. Considering where I'm currently at programming-wise, expect some screen shots before long.
Anyway that's enough rambling. I still want to update the site too, and put up the artwork and such. I just haven't gotten around to it. I need about 48 hours in a day. Or a whole lot of caffeine.
Friday, September 13, 2002
DirectX7 is my new friend. I discovered that as long as I'm in Windows 98 (not XP), I can use the 3d built into my old crappy Matrox Millenium II video card. Not many newer games would support it at all, so I didn't think it could do anything in 3d above like DirectX 6 or something. The only 3d game I can remember that worked on it was Flight Simulator 98. Half-life and all the other good games would only work on my Voodoo2.
Don't get me wrong, DirectX8 is fine and dandy. But when they tried to merge DirectDraw and Direct3d into one (called "DirectX Graphics" now), they basically made making a plain old 2d game a lot more complicated than it should be. Plus, my old Matrox card isn't DirectX8 compatible, so no mo 3d with that. So unless I plan to program for my Voodoo2(which can only go up to 16-bit color), I'll just work with DirectX7, which allows me to still use DirectDraw for 2d, but to throw in Direct3d on top of that for the cool stuff.
Speaking of cool stuff, I took a single block of a tetrad from Electris, and made it rotate and bounce around the screen. After getting bored with that, I decided to let multiple sprites be on at the same time. So by the time I was done, I had like 1000 blocks (no exageration) bouncing around the screen at random speeds, while rotating in random directions at random speeds, with some of them scaled to different sizes. When I made them stop bouncing and just "rain" down, it started to look even cooler.
So anyway, this means I should be able to make some cool games and such. Especially Defenders of Zentax. Though I thought I'd start a little simpler, and try making Asteroids. I'll render some asteroids, throw in the ship model from my flash logo, and blast away. I'll stick it up on here for you all to play with when it's done. It won't be a full game or anything like that. Just something fun, so that I can build up some more experience with ship movement and shooting and such.
I hooked my SNES back up and thought I'd play some old-school stuff. Maybe I'll finally finish Secret of Mana this time.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Sunday, September 08, 2002
Ya know, Ogg Vorbis is a pretty spiffy little audio format. Not only does it get comparable (some might argue better) quality and compression than MP3, but it's open-source, royalty-free, and they give you convertors, utilities, and the SDK (software development kit) right there on the site. Not having an amazingly detailed understanding of compression algorithms, I thought before that implementing compressed music into Electris would be hard. But now, in just a day's time, I've put together a whole Class (basically a thing in C++ to hold variables and functions in one big thing) to take care of loading and playing *.Ogg files. It took me some time to get buffering to work perfectly, but I think it's bug-free now. Winamp can play Ogg files, but I thought I'd whip up a better interface for the player I made today to test all this, and stick it up on the site for anyone that might want it to download.
It shouldn't be hard to stick some music into ERF files now, so I guess I better be coming up with some more! And longer this time too I hope. That'll be what I work on next I guess. I'll have it added to version 1.2 of the game.
In other news... It's a shame they didn't do a better job on World's Scariest Police Chases for PSX. It's fun, but seems to have been rushed. It needed a few more features to make it realistic. There's spike strips in the intro movie, but are there any in the game? Of course not. Well aside from that one mission, but they were just there to make you have to drive around the other way. Can you shoot out the baddies tires? No. Can you pit them? Not really. You're pretty much one low-polygon shape cruising along after an even lesser-polygon, and the only way to damage that person is ramming and shooting. Sticking out the window to shoot was a nice touch. Ramming them to death would have gotten old really quick. And I'll give them credit for making the siren have more use than just light and noise. Other cars actually pull to the right for you. But my biggest complaint are those damned LIGHT POLES. I'm sure that if you hit a real light pole, it would bring you to a stop. But when you're flying down the road after a guy, and swirving to avoid the other stupid drivers, with the less-than-speedy response from the controller ... it's not very fun to smack head-on into one and come to a complete stop, while the other guy happily eludes you. Midtown Madness is a perfect example of how a game should be. You can run over pretty much everything except trees. Trees aren't our friends in that game. But it's amusing just to see how many light poles, mail boxes, garbage cans, etc, you can knock over. hehe
But anyway that's enough about that. One day, when I have a 3d video card, I'm going to make my own driving game, just how I like it. But until then, it's 2d for me! (or 3d if I wanna reboot to 98 all the time so I can use my old Voodoo2 accelerator).
I do still have a couple of fun game ideas, both of which can be done in 2d. One though might be better suited for 3d, but I've seen the types of things I want to do done in 2d. It kind of depends on which game I take a notion to develop first. One is a cute-ish platform thing, and that's all I'll say. The other is the new version of Defenders of Zentax. I've got papers and papers worth of ideas, and math (yes, math) for it. I guess when I get the ends tied on Electris, I'll start tinkering around to see which I want to do first. Or maybe sooner... ;)
Oh yeah, and if I'd stop yacking long enough, I might think of the important stuff. I signed up for a new redirector service, so forget abou the zentax.redir.net address. Just go to http://zentax.cjb.net. If for some crazy reason that IT decides to stop working too, there's still the direct link here at zeltar.tripod.com.
Thursday, September 05, 2002
Electris v1.1 released!
Go to the Electris page to get your copy now. You'll also see the new features, and some of the possible problems as well. If you run into any of those, let me know your hardware configuration, as best to your knowledge. Hopefully I can get the bugs worked out for everyone. And if anyone finds any new problems, or things they just don't think seem right, then make sure to let me know.
Also, there's still only one music tracks. And it's the same one. The one nobody seems to like but me. But I wanted to get this release out, and worry about music later. With this release, you can just turn the music off if ya don't like it!
Like I said in my last post, I won't start charging for the game. It'll be free now on. And I'll keep working on it until it's polished, and feels like a solid game all around. I would never make a game I didn't enjoy playing, and I must admit, Electris has managed to keep me entertained. hehe. My only gripe at the moment is the top scores display. But I already have a cool idea for that....
Oh and just so you know... the redirecting service I've been using seems to be screwed up today. I wonder how many other times it hasn't worked. The whole point in me getting the zentax.redir.net address was so that whenever I change hosts, I can just switch it to point to the new address, and nobody would have to worry about not finding the site. But for now, if http://zentax.redir.net doesn't work, just use http://zeltar.tripod.com. Maybe I'll look for a new redirector.
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Okay here's the thing. I recently found out that the Tetris company has sent out threatening letters to other authors of Tetris clones, saying their games infringe on the "look and feel" of their product... that people could mistake it for the original, and that they'd have to remove it immediately, blah blah. Basically threatening to sue retroactively from what I understand, and take every cent you profited from your version(plus legal fees). Part of me says that's the lamest thing I've ever heard, but another part kind of thinks the guy that made it does deserve to make money off his idea without other people "stealing" it.
But that's the thing. Tetrads are a part of math. Anybody that's taken Geometry has probably learned about tetrads, and probably even played with real ones in class. The concept of blocks falling and connecting to other blocks is so basic, I don't think anyone could copyright that. But apparently he could sue if someone elses game copied the "look and feel" of the original. Though to be quite honest, how many different ways can one possibly draw dropping tetrads which fit together? You can throw in snazzy graphics, music, and sound, but it's still going to always be Tetris underneath.
Anyway, I thought I would charge $5 to compensate for the time and effort, along with all the graphics, sounds, and music I made. But now, it's not worth getting possibly threatened (or worse), so Electris will now be FREE.
I honestly don't mind giving it away, because I enjoy playing it, and have learned a lot (and come up with valuable routines for future projects), and want everyone else to be able to enjoy it. I just hope I don't get in trouble for even doing that though. Surely one can't get in trouble for giving away something they made, despite it being a clone of something else. We've all seen tons of clones of all our favorite games. The funny thing is, had I never been informed that what I was doing might possibly be illegal, I would have never thought another thing of selling it. I wasn't trying to say my game was the original Tetris. I'd admit to anyone I'm just making yet another clone of one of the most popular games ever. I just wanted to make a little money to help get better computer hardware, to make better games in the future. I was going to sell it for all my images, my sounds, my music, and maybe my addition of the whole electricity concept. But I was never trying to sell it for the underlying game itself. Oh well. Since I'm giving it away, hopefully I won't even get griped at for using a name that ends in "-tris".
So like I said, it'll stay free like it currently is. I won't have to bother adding in registration stuff, or making a seperate demo and full version. I guess there's my bright side to the story. ;) And of course it's good for you, because now you can play all the Electris you want! I'll continue to work on it and finish it like I planned, despite there not being a lot left to do. So speaking of which, let me actually get to talking about the next version.
Version 1.1 will be out anytime now. I've fully implented my ERF file format to store data in, so that there aren't tons of files to keep up with. There's just big files now that hold lots of different things. Compression still hasn't been added, but I can worry about that later. I'm still not 100% sure how I'll handle music yet either, but I'm sure I'll figure that out soon. The way things stand, I'd have to completely write my own streaming audio routines from scratch, to read the music continuously out of ERF files. I'll want to do it eventually anyway, but I don't think I'm going to make the new version of Electris wait for that. I may just leave the music part alone for now. If it aint broke, don't fix it.
I also found a bug or two that were causing occasional crashes at exit. I stomped'em out good. It was messy.
And ya know... it sucks when you play World's Scariest Police Chases for PSX for half an hour, then it freezes up and you'd have to do it all over again.
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
I'm still holding off on releasing v1.01... because I think I'll make it v1.1 before it's done. I'm doing to go ahead and add some of the things I should have added in the original version. Some under the hood, others obvious. It shouldn't take me anymore than another day or two though. It might even be up later tonight depending on how long I work on it today. I'll try to get in a few hours on it. I also want to try and include an install program this time if possible. I know a lot of people don't think anything of having to use Winzip and stuff, but there's some who would rather click right through an install and start playing it. So we'll see.
Monday, September 02, 2002
Well it seems my attempts to get full-screen mode working completely last night for the release resulted in messing up windowed-mode some. I never even realized it, so thanks to Alicia for mentioning it. When you switch away, then switch back, it doesn't start the music again. I also noticed there's a redraw problem. Not a big deal to fix, I just haven't gotten around to it yet, so I'll do that before I release v1.01.
I've also been told by a couple people that the music track I included isn't that great, so I may replace it for the demo. I thought it was pretty good! Despite being repetitive. But that was due to file size. I'll stick a longer/better one in there in the next version or so.
I'll also add some sort of button or visual indication to the game that F1 is help.
Sunday, September 01, 2002
I just wanted to mention that version 1.01 is close to being released. I could probably do it right now, but I want to see if there's anything else I want to add before I put out another version.
So far, the newer version just has some bug fixes, and the ability to toggle music on/off. I'll put it up later tonight probably.
Electris version 1.0 is now officially RELEASED!
I've been working on making this deadline for hours, and I'm finally to the last part. Whew! The Electris page isn't great, but it gets the job done until I have time to make a nice fancy one. I have about 3 download links so far, but if anyone is willing to host the game for me, please let me know! It would be greatly appreciated.
I should point out, this is not a demo release. This is basically the FULL thing, as of the moment. This is so as many people as possible can test the game and find problems. In say, a week or so, I'll have put together both a demo version, and a "retail" version. Lets say two weeks just in case. I still have a lot of web page and image designing to do, on top of working on the game. So keep an eye on the news for the latest.
Look at the last news entry to find out what you'll get with the full version.
And use those message boards! Send me email! I want to hear what you think. You know you wanna tell me.