Archive for April, 2009
Its not quite the end of the month, but it’s close enough to write my monthly review on the rQuest project.
Work this month was slow as I’m starting to pick up other (non-computer or only semi-computer related) projects / hobbies to do in the evenings.
Programming a video game after spending 8 hours a day programming line of business applications can be a little hard on the brain, eyes and body. Getting exercise and spending time away from the computer to degauss in the evenings can be really satisfying. Realistically I can only commit approx 8 hours per week for rQuest, but thats ok – as it’s a non-zero amount and it’s surprising what you can acomplish in an on-the-ball-ready-and-focused 8 hours.
This month I created the CRUD to add items to the project – For all your wands and shields and swords of much smiting +12 against trolls.
This was actually one of the more boring tasks to do as it is stupidly similar to what most database front-end working programmers do day in and day out – Someone has a product and it has these data fields which mean stuff and an end-user needs to enter new products and edit existing products etc…
Basically if I was running a medieval shop (or is that shoppe?) this months work would have been scarily similar to the functional specification of that shop.
I also did a little bit of story development. So the ‘soft’ areas of the game, if still neglected haven’t exactly been forgotten about.
As I have worked on the game editor it has become pretty obvious that I need to get another monitor – Often I need to run two IDEs (Visual Studio for C#, CodeBlocks for C++) with perhaps a paint program, or an Internet browser open. (Three monitors would be cooler, but my budget doesn’t extend that far just yet.) It’s almost an exercise in inefficiency to keep developing on only a single monitor.
So next month it’s dual monitors!
And it’s awesome.
I know, I know, I’m like 5 years behind the curve. I’ve been wanting to get one for a while and last weekend I was anticipating a long bus journey, so in order to give myself something to do so I bit the bullet and bought a DS.
And it’s awesome.
I probably wouldn’t have got one if I hadn’t seen “My Japanese Coach” on the store shelves. Which is essentially what you think it is – A Japanese language tutor.
Having a touch screen and memory games and being able to hear the words when you touch them with the stylus makes it much more fun than sitting in a classroom and feeling dumb because the other kids seem to get it much quicker than you do.
It also has a dictionary, phrase book and other more advanced stuff that I’m just not up to yet (I’m only on lesson 5)
Brain Training came free with the DS which is also fun. And although it took a couple of days for the game to recognise my handwriting (or was it me who started to recognise how the game interpreted my handwriting?) It’s really neat to see little graphs about how much quicker you get at being able to do 20 quick fire arithmetic questions.
Also has lots of Sudoku puzzles which entertained me on the bus.
Playing the DS has rekindled a sort of passing interest in games as educational tools. Thinking back at all the parser driven and point and click adventure games as a kid I probably learnt alot simply through osmosis. And educational titles such as Carmen Sandiego where, you know, actually fun. Unfortunately a cursary look at all the educational titles for the DS makes it hard to gauge the titles worth – It’s hard to tell if a product is simply trying to appeal to parents by using familar licenses. (Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob etc..) And thus sell more copies, or whether they are actually worth what they are pedaling.
I think these heldheld devices are more suited to these educational titles than larger PCs as they don’t require alot of space, bulky input devices, keys that do the wrong thing if you hit them (the dreaded windows key for example) and there’s something about the stylus and touch screen that just feels right.
I can see why the DS has sold 75 million units worldwide – It’s more than just a toy, its a useful and entertaining tool.
A) I bought a DS lite, I would have liked a DSi but didn’t think that paying twice the price was worth a 0.3 megapixel camera that I would never use.
B) I also bought Sonic Rush which is a decent old school Sonic game.
C) The iPhone is probably another good medium for educational software due to its touch screen but the problem with it is that 1) It’s a phone and 2) No one is going to buy one for their nine year old.
D) The DS is region free, so when I feel my Japanese is good enough, I can play actual Japanese games.
Well I’ve been on it a while, but if you would like to see what I’m up to outside of my (rather) infrequent blog posts you can follow me at http://twitter.com/joshuasmyth
That is if you are not bored by tech stuff, video games, going for runs or my latest drumkit addition.
March was a pretty slow month for me.
Most work this month was spent re-organising the level editor, which is slowly transitioning into a complete game editor.
Instead of creating maps, you now create a project – Which contains multiple maps and each project has its own data for monsters, npcs, scripts and tilesets. This is largely a bi-product of deciding to go episodic, but it also centralises much of the workflow involved in creating a game.
This process will take a while as it’s much more complicated to write an application that manages n things when you only originally planned to handle one thing.
So work this month will probably continue to improve on the game editor. But I should really get around to getting the C++ game engine UI stuff implemented sometime.
Also, does anyone know of a (Preferably Cheap) syntax highlighting edit box for .Net? – I want to add the ability to edit LUA scripts into the game editor and would like to have some syntax highlighting.