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Showing posts from 2014

Reading Stephenson

Was long time ago when I read Neal Stephenson for the first time. His cyberpunk titles are excellent, but recently I got a few more books and discovered that, when teamed with his uncle, they write great political thrillers.

I read Interface last week, and now Im reading The cobweb. The first has some light Sci-fi details, but the second is pure political intrigue, which reminds me a bit of Tom Clancy, specially because of the detailed setting of the scene before getting into the actual peak of the plot. Both books have kept me reading in every free minute I have, or even in every minute I dont need my eyes for something else, which doesnt happens too often.

And considering I still have 4 more of his books, probably I will be busy for a month or more.

Feature: day/night cycle

Yesterday I implemented basic day/night cycle in the game. Some lights, like the one you see in the screenshot, are only active during night. Still have to tweak progression of light color through the day and calculate the correct sun (and moon) angle.

Luckily, I dont have to deal with sky boxes, but I do have with weather, because I want to have some sort of precipitation and fog. The ideas about how to implement it are crossing my mind (and leaving it so quickly that I cant grasp them) but I think it is better to wait for Urho3D particle system to get better (and until I can grasp one of those runaway ideas).

Also I have been working on the interface, but not too seriously; I must sit and design a proper layout for the UI. I looked at style definition file and it is not too hard to modify to create the game's own look, it just takes some time.

By the way, the FPS count seems low, but I consider it quite good for an Intel integrated GPU, although eventually it wont be enough to …

Image

A couple of weeks ago I asked a friend if she knew some guy with drawing skills. She studies in university, which some times seems to be a nest of talents, even when lately quality is going down, at least in the programming field. Lucky me, she had one candidate: a genius, she said.

I met with the guy and, by coincidence, he is not only good at drawing, he also writes.


Definitely, better than my current book's cover, I will ask publisher to hire him for my next novel. Also, Im trying to lure him to work with me in the game project as concept artist. The problem is that his free time is limited (college work tends to eat time), his PC time is limited and my capacity to generate motivation (pay him to work) is limited.

Godot is moving fast

Last week I noticed a quite big commit to Godot engine, associated to its 1.0 release. The repo had been quiet lately, but since last week, I have seen a sudden surge in activity, with commits involving several files.

I have in my To Do list to take a serious look at this engine and assess its capabilities and I think the best moment is in the upcoming free days in the end/beginning of year. I have been delaying it to avoid breaking the good pace with the project, but perhaps changing my focus for a few days wont hurt the progress too much.

Now they even have better tutorials and youtube videos!

Weekly report

What a week! December 17th was a unique day, which deserves a post by itself, but it is too late for that. So, better to write about latest progress in the project.

The changelog includes the following features:

Clickable scene triggers, regrettably, couldnt make collision based triggers work.Cursor modes: normal, view and trigger. Now the mouse cursor changes when hovering over a trigger or an object that can be examined.Changing scenes. Now you can travel from one scene to another, and go back to previous one. Though still need to properly save entity states.Dialog checks: now the dialog parser validates checks (right now only quests) and proceeds to the corresponding answers. Still very early work. Maybe I forgot something here, but thats the more relevant additions in the code side. Im reaching the 1000 code lines! and that is just in AngelScript. The dialog editor is C++, Qt based and it is already around 100 lines of code. Expect some screenshots before the end of the year.

OGA is getting better

Lately I have been browsing more and more Opengameart.org, trying to get a few assets to fill my scenes, test UI and add background music. And about music, I have to say that Im really amazed, the quality of the tracks you can find is really good. And by quality, I dont mean mere audio quality, but in the artistic sense.

Im already using Eric Matyas tracks in the game project, but today I discovered a few more orchestral works that literally made my jaw drop (yes, I drooled like a dog and had to clean it later). So, seems that the music department is 100% covered for the project.

What we need now is that 3D art gets as good and useful as music. There are a few assets worth using, and a few that can do as placeholders, but we need more collections. They can really save your prototype, mostly because inside a collection there is an uniform style. Also, 3d artists must learn to model for engines, Im having problems with a large house collection I downloaded, just to find that they are m…

The road so far

(Play here Carry on my wayward son)
Very productive week, at least in terms of Urho3D forum posts, if I keep going on this pace I will have more posts than the engine developers. Almost damaged my wrist yesterday trying to assemble a good looking scene, definitely I need a precise mouse, a better table and a better chair. Cant pay for neither of them.

Code is growing, slow, but steady (which, coincidently, is almost the same as our President's slogan when asked about our "economic model update"). I wish I could announce that I already started the project, but I cant consider this bunch of lines as a project, but more like a better organized workbench. Cant discard the possibility of throwing all to the archives and start from scratch.

Every day I learn a few new details, and sometimes I also have to leave features behind because they dont work as planned. right now while I write this I have figured out a workaround for one of those features. Cant say I know AngelScript,…

Want dialogs?

My first encounter with an RPG was in the... well, cant remember. My cousing brought a Fallout 2 CD from UK, the game was weird, I didnt had my own PC to play, and sleeped in a box for some time. When I played it, I was impressed by the dialog system: the choices depends on active quests, your stats/skills, items, etc. That was the kind of game I wanted to develop!

Even when I asked a lot in forums and mailing lists, I couldnt implement a dialog system as I wanted. Yes, I made one, quite powerful, but the dialog was just a long Lua script with dozens of if/then. It was a mess, and had to be edited by had, by a programmer. What I really wanted was something I could edit with a tool that a non-programmer could use.

Seems that Im closer to achieve it. Yesterday I finished an XML structure and basic parser that allows me to have dialogs. What I did this time was to split NPC lines and answers in separate elements. As I thought, the correct approach was to see the conversation as a tree, …

At last we will reveal ourselves to the public

It is here. After a long wait (for some), we have a brief vision of what Star Wars VII is going to be.

Perhaps because my expectation is not the same as years ago, I didnt noticed the time. One day we had the announce, one day I find the trailer is a few days ahead, and probably I will forget about it until next trailer (which we surely will have next year, or even two), and then until release.

The trailer has everything that defines the original Star Wars: X-wings, Millenium Falcon and Tie fighters.Which means, in my opinion, that it will more closely connected to it than the New Trilogy, a weird story, totally inconsistent with previous lore. I hope Kasdan and Abrams have done a better work than Lucas did.

Check this article in The Verge if you want to see the cast and a short bio.

Hello Ello

A few days ago I got my Ello invitation. This new social network is still in beta stage and I thought I would never get it, anyway I was curious about it and the words minimalistic design attracted me. My connection is not so fast, or better to say that it is quite slow, so any web site that doesnt require to download megabytes of Js code and AJAX stuff is a relief.
And yes, Ello is minimalistic. So much, that takes some time and tries to figure out how to comment or publish. There is no quick way to express your approval for a post (thanks Facebook, for making us addicts to Like), except for commenting something stupid like Amazing! or Wow! The interface is clean, light, I would say empty.
Havent found anything interesting in Ello yet. Not only the interface is empty, the lack of users can be perceived. All your friends (or your enemies) are in Facebook. In G+, all your Gmail contacts were there, and there was interesting info since the first day.
So, as I feel so lonely, I want to …

WTF, Windows?

I always had an issue with Windows as development platform. I have found all kind of weird problems when compiling my projects with Visual C++, weird crashes, and of course, the redist hell.

After a very productive weekend, VS 2012 totally fucked my night yesterday. The project compiles and runs under Linux, but Visual C++ yields lots of syntax errors. Can you believe that? Syntax errors! Produced by an Urho3D class, whose header file is already included, a few lines above the offending line. Thats why I have a rule (which I forgot this time): never write more than 20 lines of code without testing in both platforms.

But thats not all. Seems that neither Urho3D editor can load the scenes I worked this weekend, there is some textures it cant load.

I have only a solution for this: move the development to Windows and migrate much more code than I expected to AngelScript, implementing in C++ a minimal launcher. So, I have to go back to study sessions.

Book cover

Today I got my first glimpse to my book's cover. A very brief one. Even when the contract states that the author should approve the cover, the book went directly to printing without me even seeing, not the cover, but the whole edition. So, I dont know how it looks or whats inside.

As usual, a contract in my country is just a paper required to justify Company A's payment to Subject X in case of audit. The actual content should not be taken seriously. Which means that I dont know how many printed copies there will be (surely no more than 3000), how much I will be paid (not too much, anyway), or when.

Still working

Yesterday I spent the night looking at Urho3D scripting system (finishing Wasteland 2 has been like raising a heavy stone that was compressing my free time). During weekend I found a weird build problem that ignores some options, preventing  Lua scripting and samples from being built, so, to avoid potential problems to future users, I will stick to AngelScript, which is a sort of default language for this engine.

Seems that I will have to keep the C++ code minimal, and write everything in AngelScript. I had the wrong idea that LuaJIT was faster, but somebody kindly mentioned in the forums that, as LuaJIT is not using FFI, AngelScript is faster. At least, fast enough for my needs.

What do I dislike in Urho3D? Well, obviously the lack of editor integration. And the use of OpenGL 2 instead of 3. Yes, it does supports a broad range of devices, which I appreciate, but OpenGL 3 does too, and it is much more advanced. And I think I still have a lot to learn about it, and it has a lot to ma…

Magister, minister

Master (or Maestro, in spanish) comes from latin Magister, which means chief,  director or teacher. Magister comes from Magis: more or great. So, magister can be defined as somebody above the rest in knowledge or skills. For example, Magister equitum, cavalry chief in Ancient Rome or Magister militum, military chief. The word minister derives from minister, which means attendant, servant; and this one from minus: less. The minister was the lesser skilled assistant.

So, latin explains why any asshole can no be a master, but perhaps can become a minister!

Happy with Urho3D

I had this engine in the pending tasks list since a couple of months (couple>4, really), but at some point I was motivated by a project I saw in FreeGamedev forums. Urho3d is a young project, and the first time I took time to look at it, I wasnt too kind with it. The editor was ugly and non intuitive, from my point of view, I didnt spent time looking at the samples, and also experienced troubles when trying to compile it.

Cant say that all the problems are gone, but in the last weeks I have learned to appreciate Urho3D, despite the lack of certain features, like terrain edition tools. Or (I really miss this) having the editor integrated into the engine itself, like Unity3D and most ocmmercial engines. Being able to run the game, see how it looks, and go back to edit the scene is something really useful.

But something in Urho3D got my attention: it is really easy to learn. Even when I still far from mastering all the engine, I have achieved in a week much more than I had with any o…

The long story of a short novel

Some months ago I was contacted by the publisher office to sign my contract. I have been waiting for two long years until at last I got a confirmation that my first novel (actually, my first novel that is worth reading) was on its way to the bookstore shelves. And some months later, I got a mail from the editor in charge of reviewing the book. Indeed,a  long process for a novel not so long.

My story as writer goes back to 2001, when I got a new job and decided to start writing in my free time. The first novel started as a Sci-Fi story of a boy that must become a bounty hunter, inspired by Boba Fett. Later it changed to a fantasy novel, and the boy became a monster hunter. I released it on Internet a year or two later, but only got a hundredth downloads, maybe. I abandoned the second part, almost finished, and forgot about writing for while.

After such dissapointment, perhaps the wise choice would have been not to write anymore, but I decided to write a short novel as background for a…