Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hong Kong Day 2

Used the awesome public transport system and got over to Ocean Park today - Hong Kong Island, of all places.

We saw the "Massive" Aquarium - can't remember the name.  Anyway it was big.  Then headed up the hill via awesome cable car.

The kids and me got a little wet on the water rafting thing.

Then Andrea decided to pwn us all by going on the fastest rollercoaster ride in the park.  You can see it as we approached on the cable car.

Here she is second row from the front.

Here's some of the action.  Lot's of screams :D (should've had my glasses on as it's out of focus)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hong Kong Day 1

Got here at night and wandered the streets a bit.  Seems to come alive after dark.  Did the obligatory recce to find the 7/11.

Here's a view from the balcony.  Us in ritzy hotel, with old style digs directly opposite.  Interesting how they use bamboo for scaffolding (building right next to us is being reno'd totally covered in bamboo scaffolding 20 stories high) and also use it for plain old balconies.

Next day went for a stroll down to the Avenue Of The Stars.  Wow!  Big!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In a sketchy kinda mood.

I used to be able to draw well.  I'm just out of practice.  So I started practising again after I bawxed up a concept for an alien for my new game.

Here's what I started with, and it depressed me a lot to realise I had to practice.

Next I did a concept sketch making it a little more 3d after watching a video on how to do concept painting... and then I realised it was a long way from here to what I wanted.

After that I decided to just practice lighting.  Here's my first attempt at a sphere.
Then attempt number 2.
Finally I felt brave enough to sketch something more adventurous.  I copied this from a book by Marc McBride.  A book on drawing epic monster battles. I'm happy with the result, but the adventure has just begun.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

TRON Space Paranoids Fan project.

I had some problems with my arcade machine of late, and now it's school holidays I've had a chance to fix up the wiring.  As something extra I decided to put on the current build of my fan project that attempts to emulate the game Space Paranoids as played by Kevin in his Flynn's arcade.  Here's the current version running on my low-boy cabinet.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

SuperNova 2012

Just wanted to blog about my experience at SuperNova 2012.  Phew!  First thing that comes to mind is the paperwork and cost.  $330 to get a small space in artist alley, OH&S forms, application for power form, application for booth form, $70 for power, $100 for print material, $100 for insurance, $100 for security cables so people didn't walk off with our ipads, food (ka-ching), coffees (ka-ching), petrol (ka-ching), presents for my kids because I was away from them all weekend (ka-ching) and stuff I bought for myself, Ultimate Spiderman #1 and Vader's Quest comic (ka-ching, ka-ching)... my wallet is smokin'. So I split the costs with BRad from Rockethands and it was a great initiation in the pop-culture event that is SuperNova.

Here's me and Brad behind the desk at our booth.  I scored a deal from BigW for printing and while I wanted a big poster for my new game (secret unless you join up at ) I was able to print 16 smaller pics to make the photo montage @ $1 each!!!  The banner cost me $22, other prints were $1 each for Surf Prodigy and Turbo Flick, and 21c a print for the small postcard sized handouts in front of me in the pic.

We stuck the iPads to the table using these security cables I found and they were perfect, though interestingly everyone was afraid to pic up the iPads.  I was running a pitch on my new game and developed my spiel over the two days to get people to signup to become part of an elite community that has a say and an insiders look on the development of a game from pretty much day 1.  
I'm going to put it up on Facebook as well, but unless people join the newsgroup, you don't get "in" on the "goss".  Someone mentioned that what I was doing was like crowd source funding, so I tweaked my spiel to reflect that it has the benefit of crowd sourcing without having the members having to spend a dime.  

We got set up and they opened the doors!  Woah!  What a crowd!  I suddenly realised what SuperNova does for the local business.  Not sure of the numbers but basically we had thousands of people walking past our booth wanting to test our wares.  I had to learn fast on how to attract people and it wasn't too hard.  

They walk past, look at your stuff and if you don't acknowledge them eye to eye they move on because there is so much noise!  Not noise, noise, but visual noise - so much to take in.  The trick was to speak!  Simple enough but it broke the ice.  I made contact and they came closer.
Then I went into salesman mode pitching my new game, and getting them to play some Surf Prodigy (available on the AppStore) but mainly Turbo Flick (also on the AppStore).  I had one guy saying about Turbo Flick, "I would never buy this game, but I like it"  He stayed at the booth for 20 minutes playing the game.  He and others were a valuable source of feedback for Turbo Flick.  I really pushed that game because it's not selling so well and I believe it's a good product.  
I was proven right when lots of people stayed and played.  However I also found people didn't like some of the mechanics of the system such as the help popping up at the start of each level - so I'm going to minimise that.  Also for some reason the Retry button popped up before the next button if you completed a level and people being used to twitch reactions just hit it, having to play the level again - I'll fix that.
Other things I noticed about the game was it was too hard in places, so I unlocked it for others to play.  Then I found my favourite level, an homage to Tron and Bally's Rapid Fire ( and discovered if you let it play without firing you get a perfect score.  A bug there :)  
Turbo Flick is available for 99c on the App Store

Anyway I put this level up because the robot space invader things approach the screen making lots of pretty exploding particles and it became an attract mode for people.  It was weird but the sequence did draw them. To some I had to say "it's okay - you can play it" before they would - I think it's because people thought it costs lots of money for an iPad and perhaps they were afraid to take the risk to pick it up in case they dropped it - not really sure.  But more importantly I realised that like the good old arcade days, iPad games in an expo need an attract mode - where if left alone for a minute it plays a demo of the game itself.
So what's in store for DrewFX next year @ SuperNova?  Bigger and better I'm thinking.  Maybe a stand-up arcade machine, perhaps a ride in/on machine and maybe something using Kinect.  Bigger space, more money and I might even dress up :)

All in all a great experience, and I loved the Cosplay aspect - great to see so many people dressing up for the event.  I don't really know what SuperNova is about because if you take a big picture view, it's a bunch of retailers mainly, with choke-points and one big producer stuffing people through tight spaces to buy things at pretty much retail prices, with the option to dress-up to add some colour - is it a festival or a market?  That accounted for the retail part anyway, but as Lindsay Fley put it, "it's like the Royal Show for (urban) Perth (businesses)" - not farmers or carnies, but real local artists and businesses. 

Oh yeah - saw a double rainbow the other day...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chuffed and all that

While looking for some old references to my Skeleton Pack I found this (also found a torrent - bastards!)

I'm very chuffed at what he had to say about my service.

Indie devs try harder.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Diary of an Indie Dev #4

Have been working for a client today.  I needed to come up with a schema that persisted how the player uses their inventory items.  I couldn't really determine how many items they might have and so I need an unlimited file system.

I came up with using a Varchar of 10000 bytes for now on the server, and the choices the user makes are put into a hash table.  When it's times to serialize the data I convert the hash table to xml and then the resultant xml to string for upload to the varchar for each player.

It reverses and when I get it back I convert to xml, iterate through the child elements and rebuild the hashtable which implemented all the users choices again when they log in later.

Here's a snippet of the xml generated [ note for NDA reasons I changed the values ].  It's extensible too.  The item child can have anything inside it, such a sound effect, or hit points if I choose to add more later, without the need to rebuild the database.  ( EDIT:  Doesn't work so well at the moment as the http POST it trying to interpret my XML - Need a way to cloak it )



Monday, April 2, 2012

Diary of an Indie Dev #3

Had some success today with Android dev.  I need to develop a short course for work which focuses on Flash, making games commercially and putting it all on mobiles.  iPhones are impractical for a short course because the logical step is to teach xCode using Cocos2D, but that means I'm the only one that can teach it.  If I develop it using Flash, there are about 3 lecturers that also know Flash and ActionScript 3.0 so they just need to learn the game biz stuff, you know, marketing, Agile, bugfix, QA etc and then we can all deliver it.

So the breakthrough today was getting a swf file  running on my new HTC Wildfire S (Android 2.3) and work's Motorola XOOM (Android 3.0).  I found AS 2.0 commands weren't supported by a 3rd party Flash Player, but AS 3.0 was.  I also found a simplistic pipeline for students to come to class, setup their phone for game dev and quickly test a sample SWF to determine if they can use the phone during the course.

The student needs to do the following
  1. Install their phone sync software (HTC Sync for example-the official one for your phone) which also installs the required USB driver free of charge -that's the important part.
  2. Download Flash Player from MarketPlace.
  3. Install Adobe Flash Player 10 if you can from the Marketplace.
  4. Turn on USB Debugging on the phone and connect as a Mass Storage device.
  5. Drop the SWF on the root of the phone's storage device which is basically putting at the root of the SDRAM card.
  6. Open Flash Player on the phone, ignore errors to download Adobe Flash, and click on the sample SWF.
  7. A benchmark test was to go to (thanks Nick) to test if the Flash Player installed a simple SWF player for the browser.

We think students will want to make a build every night they go home (who wouldn't) so they can show it off to their friends.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Diary Of An Indie Dev #2

Struggled today to get the Android dev environment set up.  Concluded that cygwin doesn't like Windows 7 UAC to much.  I downloaded everything now, which took the most time.  I'm going to uninstall everything and try again later.

Read some more of Making of Prince Of Persia today.  Jordan Mechner's struggle with choosing between Film and Games reminds me of me.  Glad I'm not the only one torn between the two.

I gotta wrap up some client work, so I'll try the Android dev environment setup tomorrow.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Diary Of An Indie Dev

I've got some free time!  Starting reading The Making of Prince of Persia which has inspired me to write about my dev adventures too. 

I started on a new game idea the other day.  Gonna be a Smash TV sort of game.  Got the iPhone control system working with thumbstick and four on-screen buttons.  Next day added lots of billboard sprites to fill a room without too many draw calls.  Working all images from the one atlas - learned the hard way.

Have been thinking a lot about what I should be doing and all signs point to doing more for myself game dev wise.  I have a few contracts hanging around but I think I need to finish them off and go on a dev sabbatical, which means no work for them, and all my dev work is for me.  I was thinking the only thing holding me back is them, but I know it's really just me.

I've added some more detail to my other game, a TPS horror, such as sinks, toilets, desks, bags etc to start decorating the section of the highschool that the player does the tutorials in.  Looking pretty good.  I implemented a simple camera technique to never lose sight of the player and it works better that Torque3D's camera so I am really proud.

Starfighter keeps springing to mind and I want to have a crack at resurrecting that sometime in the future.

Last night I bought a HTC Wildfire S, and tonight I'm setting up my PC for Android development. Tomorrow I will do a simple build and work out the release cycle.  Then I am going to port Turbo Flick to the Android first.  I have to reduce some of the assets sizes though - especially the sounds, and I have no idea how to implement the video.  Will put it up for free with the first 5 levels, with an ingame purchase for about $2.50.  Hopefully it will make a mark on the Android market.  Everyone who played it likes it but for some reason it didn't capture the attention of the Angry Bird clone saturated market on the iOS.

Turbo Flick will be succeeded with BlitzBallz- a derivative of Turbo Flick, but it's always been in the plan since I thought up TF.  It will be Turbo Flick 2, still a flick shooter, but more cutesy characters.

Surf Prodigy will follow on the Android, but I really want to make it a different type of surfing game.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Surf Diary 2

Surf Log:  Thurs after work. I knew the cylcone swell was coming in, and to my delight - lines forever coming from a fresh NW swell, unblocked by Rotto.  Surfed at Isolators/Seconds.  Waist / Chest to Shoulder high.  Fairly crowded - I guess the word got out that the cyclone swell would be coming in.  Got long rides.  Wind was SE.  Wind was moderate, and worked out fine.  Bit of rain.

Swell was 1meter rising - but in a cyclone swell I have found it's random what you get - you just have to go look.

Personal Notes:  I love cyclone swell!!!! Got about 10 rides in 1 and a bit hours, between 50 to 150m long, lefts and rights.  A big pack of uni students from the US out there getting in the way, but they were fun, so I just surfed around them.  Got my leg caught in another guys leg rope, nearly got hit by one of the uni students, and in the end got smacked in the lip by my own board. Blood coming out so it was time to go home.

Here's the graph.  Surfed between 5 and 6:45pm.  

Visual Journal: Taken about 2mins after I got out ~ 6:45 pm.  There were lines forever.  Everyone got wave after wave after wave.  Went down the next morning early and it was all gone :(  New swell coming in over the weekend.  Should crank again, but from the SW this time.
(video link if not shown: Surf Diary on YouTube)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

TPS Test for iPhone - Dev Blog # 1

I've been working on an idea for a horror game and I needed an "over-the-shoulder" TPS engine.  I love all the models and the editor from The Games Creators (TGC) and own about 15 of the packs.  The Science Pack is the best for my horror idea but the problem with making a 3d game in FPS Creator is that it won't work on an iPhone. 

So I've begun converting the Direct X models from TGC to Collada format and imported them into ShiVa which is capable of building 3D iphone games.

In this test I've used Cartography Shop - which builds constructed solid geometry (CSG) - and loaded the exported X file into ShiVa, then made it a collider.

Next I've imported the Colonel from the TGC and attached his mesh to a dynamics objects which pretty much rolls along the floor.  The faster the ball rolls the faster he animates.

For the camera I'm casting a ray back from his head directly behind and if it collides with a collider (ie the level) it puts the camera at the point of collision.  This means the camera will never get stuck behind geometry and so will not lose sight of the player.

Next blog I will report on my work on adding detail to the level to make it look more realistic.