May 26, 2005

OGRE!

I've been trying to decide my plan of attack for this new version of Duffers for the past few days. My initial thoughts were that I would write most everything from scratch, but since I'm not that experienced with C++ (I've worked with it a bit, even wrote a WinAPI version of Pong), I did a little research and found that the hard stuff (i.e. rendering) could be handled by a nice OOP open source framework called OGRE. It's under the LGPL license, so I don't have to worry about licensing fees. It's also very well written, and I'll have the flexibility to extend it and implement other libraries for sound, input, networking, etc.

The next big step is to document as much of the design as possible. I've learned from my current work project (Adapt 2.0 Content Management System) that pre-planning is essential. We walked into the first Duffers meaning to plan but not actually getting around to it. It wasted a bunch of effort down the road. Since I'm building the engine and have total control over this iteration, laying everything out becomes that much more important.

I've also been thinking about my goals for this project. Basically it comes down to this: I would like to make a decent income from it for at least myself. I don't think that is a lofty proposition. I'm not going to try to pitch it to publishers (though if approached with a favorable deal that allowed me to keep online distribution rights and IP ownership, I would consider it) or try to get it into stores. I'm considering releasing the base client for free, possibly with the editor, and charge for extra content. I'm also toying with the idea of in-game advertising, but that adds a higher level of commercial complexity, so I'm still researching it. My main goal will be to drive traffic to a website project I'm going to be building, and have that be the main source of income. This idea came to me a little while ago, but apparently I'm not the only one.

I figure, the only risk to me is wasting my time which, given the amount of experience I stand to gain from these projects, is minimal. What I stand to gain is the freedom to continue my development goals, and more experience in this crazy world of games.

Posted by mix at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)

May 23, 2005

Let the Healing Begin

I'm back. E3 was, as usual, both exhilirating and frustrating. I got to see some great games and catch up with some old friends. However, there's quite a bit I missed, and of course there's the fatigue associated with walking that much.

Probably the best things I saw there were the new King Kong game and UT2007. I didn't see as much Xbox 360 or PS3 as I would have liked, but it's too early for the really good stuff. Next years will have a ton of software for both. The 'Waiting in Line' game was the thing I played the most this year. I must have spent a good 8 hours in line for something or other. Thankfully I had my PSP to pass the time.

I had two celebrity sightings. Greg Grunberg of Alias (one of my favorite shows) was watching the King Kong preview at the same time we were; and Warren Spector stood right next to us as we waited for the Zelda preview (which was great, I have photos I'll post later).

All in all it was a great show and I'm glad I went, even though I spent a ton of money to do so. I'm not sure yet whether I'll go back next year. I guess it depends on where I am with Duffers and how things are going.

A big shout-out to the GameSpy peeps. Let's not wait another 4 years...

Posted by mix at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2005

LaLaWood

I leave for sunny California tomorrow afternoon. I'm slowly compiling my list of games I have to see while I'm there. I find that if I don't get organized, I miss a bunch of games that I'll kick myself later about.

We're staying in Hollywood, which is funny because the whole time I lived in CA I never took the time to go there. I'll hopefully find time to see the Walk of Fame and such.

Speaking of Hollywood, I've already got my tickets for Star Wars. We're going to see it Thursday night in LA, so I hope it's died down by the time we go.

I'll try to post some pics either while I'm there or shortly after I return.

Posted by mix at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

The New Toy

I got my PSP. I went ahead and picked up Metal Gear Acid. It's basically a turn and card-based strategy game with a Metal Gear skin. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just different than what most people would expect from Metal Gear.

I haven't messed around with video because I'm still stuck with the default 32 Meg Memory Stick, but I did throw a few tunes on there to try it out. It works well, but while trying to listen this morning while I was on the treadmill, I kept hitting the top triggers which navigates between songs. A little annoying.

The screen is fantastic and easily the best small LCD I've seen. It comes with a full UMD version of Spiderman 2, which looks great. The only drawback is a tiny amount of ghosting, but given the device's size and cost, I'll let it slide. For $250, it's really a sweet piece of hardware.

Web Game of the Moment
Bejeweled 2 - I have to mention the most addictive web game there is. I've spent quite a lot of time with this game and it's still entertaining. What's better is it comes in a variety of flavors: Browser, standalone, Pocket PC, Palm, Phone, etc. Do yourself a favor and check out all of PopCap's games.

Posted by mix at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Is That For Real?

New details have been leaking about the new Xbox 360, and I have to say I'm not really happy with the design. I'm a fan of silver, but the new shape is about as pretty as the old brick. I'm also not sure of how practical it will be to place with other components. Since I'm in the planning stages of a new home theater setup, this is a concern for me. The last design wasn't too friendly in this regard, either. Would it kill them to make a decent design that fits in with your receiver and dvd player?

The new Xbox Live features are interesting though. Looks like the prediction that Halo 2's matchmaking system would be rolled out across all games is coming true, which is a good thing. I just wish they'd make it easier to filter out the annoying pre-pubescents.

As a new feature, I'm going to be spotlighting interesting web games that I come across, and link them here. I'll try to have one every day or two.

Web Game of the Moment:
Experimental Gameplay - A project from Carnegie Mellon that challenges students to come up with 50 to 100 games in a semester. Some are browser-based, some downloadable.

Posted by mix at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2005

Head Shot

Some new info has come out on the next Unreal Tournament, and while I've been a big fan of the series, it's mostly been because of the possibilities the technology provides. I've played quite a bit of UT in my time, but there's only so much deathmatch I can take. Sure, the Assault, CTF, and Onslaught modes offer a little variation, but it's still basically trying to blow the other guy up with a rocket launcher before he gets you.

I enjoy it in doses, but what I really like is the Unreal Engine and how well it's built. It's really the best engine of its kind. Considering we were able to create a golf game using it speaks to its flexibility, and the next version looks even better.

Posted by mix at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2005

PSP, Thy Name is Destiny

So I'm getting a PSP through a little barter deal that was proposed to me. Hopefully I'll have it in time for my pilgrimage to LA in two weeks. I'm finding myself less interested in the games (although Metal Gear Acid looks right up my alley) than I am in the video capability. I've been downloading episodes of Robot Chicken and it would be perfect to throw a few of those onto a Memory Stick and watch them on the plane trip. I'll just have to get at least a 512. Oh the possibilites!

I haven't made much progress on the game, as I haven't found the time to sit down and start hammering out a framework. I've coded Windows apps before, so it's not a stretch, but I've yet to do any serious DirectX work (which is the API I've decided to go with), and I'd like to build a nice OOP foundation for the rest of the game to grow from.

Site note: As you can see I'm starting to have more regular updates. This stems from a desire to grow the site as well as document the process of creating an independent game. I'll try to write some longer pieces that are more content-heavy and knowledge-based as the game progresses.

Posted by mix at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2005

Indier Than Thou

I registered duffersgolf.net and moved the site from BeyondUnreal. This reflects my move from UT2004 mod to independent game. Hopefully I'll make better progress this time around and stick to it. It's one thing to continuously talk about game development, it's another to get in the trenches and actually get something accomplished.

I researched a bunch of techniques over the weekend for course creation. I think I've settled on this. Regular heightmap terrain with GeoMipMapping, with bezier curve intersections making up the course area boundaries. It shouldn't be too hard to accomplish; there's loads of info about these techniques on the net. The critical part is getting the editor to a place where it's easy to create content. Since there's only one person on the project, maximizing efficiency is a priority. The problem with UT2004 was that is wasn't made for golf, it was made for FPSs. Creating an engine from the ground up for golf should remove a lot of the hurdles we encountered previously. At least that's my hope.

Posted by mix at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)