Thursday, August 25, 2016

SDL-Ball 1.03 Released (Source, Linux, Windows)

I took a look at SDL-Ball, nothing has changed with gameplay, but I took the time to add it to my automated build server, so the latest versions can always be downloaded at now :)

A linux, source and windows package will be automatically built each time I push to github.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ooh, is that the OSGG launcher for Windows? YES!

So, figured out how to get the launcher to... launch with reasonable default settings, and also compiled it for Windows.

See for more info and downloads!

Monday, August 15, 2016

OSGG v 1.0 Released!

So, finally, I decided to give OSGG a slight round of hacking.
I added glorious instructions on both the editor and the game.

And I also got it compiled for Windows computers (but only the game, not the launcher, so windows users will have to start it from a command-prompt if they want to use non-default parameters).

I'll likely add some more levels in the future, maybe during a twitch session :)

Anyway, builds are available on and in contigrator.
Grab the .tar.bz2 for source+linux and, the .zip for windows.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Samsung and/or Google: Do it better!

I got a Samsung Note 4 phone, I'm pretty happy with it. Good display, reasonable performance, software is rather stable (thought I'd have preferred if they'd ship it with stock Android).
However, yesterday I noticed something strange, my girlfriend called me and instead of showing the call as a contact, it showed just her number. Indeed, the contact was gone. Today, 2016-04-29, I digged into it, and found that my phone had a different set of contacts than my gmail (I use for managing my contacts). This is a rather critical thing, in my opinion, I'm trusting my device with remembering phone numbers and email addresses of people whom I may need to contact in urgent situations, so having them randomly disappear seems critically wrong to me. So I spent the better part of a day frustrated, trying all tricks in the book to get them to sync up. I followed the troubleshooting tips from Google, disabling/enabling sync, removing and adding the gmail account, rebooting the phone, all to no avail. What I was left with in each case, was the "sync" icon stuck next to "Contacts" in my gmail account. Everything else worked perfectly for that gmail account (calendar, apps, etc), except for the most important (to me) thing; Contacts. I looked in the marked for a different "Contacts" app, until I realized that this was an issue with whichever component is responsible for actually integrating with gmail, I suspect it is part of the operating system itself, and not something I can do much about. More frustrating is having to search for "sync icon stuck", it's humiliating and reminds me of something you'd have to do with an "I product", not with glorious Android. No error message to help, except for the universally unhelpful "There was a problem with synchronizing, it will be fixed in a moment" which I was shown through several hours of hair pulling frustration. At last, maybe by luck, I stumbled upon a post which helped me, a post more than half a year old (meaning that both Google and Samsung has known and ignored this problem for as long, choosing not to supply a patch). That post, from 2015-07-15, is here:!topic/gmail/OzUCbeu_jfk

While the first thing I tried, was wiping all caches and application data, on all programs I could imagine being relevant (…Google and contacts), since there might be some kind of issue with a newer version of contacts attempting to access an older version of its own database (inexcusable to begin with, when the default behavior is "discard information"), I did not have the imagination that the actual "contacts database" was stored in a whole different program, which is "Contacts Storage", except, it is a system component, not showing the Contacts icon (making it difficult to find) and even though it is a system program, some genius decided to name it (in Danish) "Lagerplacering af kontakter" meaning that it is not in any way close to the "Kontakter" app in the list, meaning I'd never have thought to look for it if not for one comment in the thread I linked to, which instructed to clear app-data not only for a "Contacts" app, but also for a "Contact Storage" app.. Nice.

So, in short, what's wrong here is:
  • Erroneously and silently discarding data on the device.
  • Not fixing the problem via automatic update for more than 6 months.
  • Not providing a meaningful error message to the end user about a critical data-access/corruption/migration error, but "playing stupid" and lying about the issue going away by itself (which it gawk-damn never would!)
  • Not contacting or otherwise informing users that their contacts are silently being deleted.
  • Not providing the actual fix in the official trouble shooting documents.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Making games as a single developer (pt. 2)

Before I continue my rant about how everything was better in the olden days.. err about creating a completed computer game as only one person. I want to take a moment to define a few concepts as I see them in relation to games created by only one developer. The concepts that require refinement, are in no particular order; complete, game, successful and good. Starting with successful, you usually think of a game as being successful if you and your friends have heard about it, it sold well for its time or some other less obvious metric. Those metrics will not work well for you if you apply them to your own one-man games. Surely, there are several examples of games made by a single developer that fit those criteria, but for each of those, there will be hundreds that do not. So, unless you can reasonably expect to create the next Minecraft, I offer a another, and softer definition of success, which I believe work well for the hobby developer. Success is when your game is picked up by others, when it is distributed by magazines, mentioned on blogs and forums and, if it is open-source, is included in third-party or official software repositories for popular and less well-known Linux distributions. Further criteria are mentions/pages on wikis or archive sites such as moby games, is being ported to new platforms by other people without your knowing or consent, or is being distributed by a platform such as portableapps. I realize that a single developer could achieve some of these things by themselves, but if other people are doing it, it shows that others like your creation enough to do work to spread it, and in my opinion that is a great honor. I must admit that these criteria comes from how my own games have fared, I've not put a large amount of work into spreading the word myself, and I've been so greatly positively surprised when I Google my stuff and find it spread throughout the Internet, for me, personally, that is a great motivation to try to do good stuff which brings me to the next definition that I would like to make; Good, what is it? It is highly subjective, and it is a requirement for any worthwhile game to be it. I've read a definition elsewhere with which I agree and shall repeat here. A game is good when it meets or surpasses the expectations of the player. Simple as that. If you're like me, the type who sometimes go to MC. Donald's, you know what I'm talking about. I'm so very rarely disappointed at Mc.D, not because the food is amazing, but because my expectations are usually met, a warm slob of fat, just like the last one I got, with the correct amount of ketchup, served fast and relatively inexpensive. Thanks. Expectations met, happy fat guy who will say, "the food was good" without meaning great. You can make the MC. Donald's burger of computer games, if you adjust not only your own but also your players expectations. You're trying to make something that feels finished, complete and, for what it is, good, which, in turn brings me to the last definition: Complete. When is something complete ? As a developer, and especially programmer, nothing is ever complete. Games are large enough that there will forever be something to improve upon, be it some algorithm which is less than elegant, a pixel that's definitely wrongly placed on a sprite, or the way difficulty increases. So again, with no other credentials than the wish to write something down, I give you a definition of done that I'm struggling to accept myself. A single-developer game is complete when there are no placeholders, no dead-ends and nothing missing from the menus. When you can start the game without knowing any of the command-line parameters, configure the game and have the settings be saved in a configuration file, have a way to store and retrieve progress so that the player does not have to start over each time, and when the game is long enough that anyone would actually want to be able to continue. This of course, depends on the type of game you're making, and the type of audience you're trying to entertain, but making load/save functionality is great fun, and shows that you've got at least some idea of the state of your game. Your game should not only start and exit flawlessly, it should be packaged in such a way that players can download and play it. That means that the game is either web-based and hosted somewhere, or that it can be downloaded for Linux and Windows without the need to compile from source-code. But a game is not really complete before users can add their own stuff to it, and change the existing stuff, if your game is loading levels from files, are those levels going to be created in a specialized tool ? If so, that tool will likely need the same rendering routines as your game, and it will need to be able to load the data the same way as your game, so, how would it be less than obvious to build the level-editor right into the game, design and implement it already from the beginning, with the idea that someone else is also going to see/use it, this way, you also get a nicer level-creation tool and a more enjoyable time creating levels yourself. The last thing I want to touch on, is game. To the purist, a game is a set of rules, or laws, under which the player must complete a specific task or set of tasks. To the holist, a game is the whole system. So, to make your own game, you first need to go to the beach and dig sand for the transistors you will use to build your CPU. Okay, that's taking it too far, let's skip the CPU architecture and also the operating system (if you're making a game on a platform which has one, which I'm going to assume). So, the game is the whole executable and all the linked libraries. It's the OpenGL library and audio driver, it's the joysticks, mice, keyboards and monitors, and it's also about defining entertaining rules and enforcing them in an entertaining manner, because, entertain. The reason I include the whole executable program in the definition of game, is that every choice is going to affect the finished product, the things that limit you will have you find alternative solutions, the things that are easy will have you sink way too much time into trying to come up with the right shade of pink for your invisible unicorn. To the player, the game is the executable they start up, the whole thing. Your players won't distinguish between the graphics library, your drawing routine or the reason behind there being entirely too little ammo on level 2. The experience is holistic, how files are handled will affect your decisions on level sizes and loading screens. The input latency will affect (along with the genre, and intended audience, surely) the tightness of the controls. Rendering methods will affect not only how the game looks to the player, but how moving and looking around "feels". In some games, such as Quake3, vsync on makes me feel "weird", and I always notice it, even if the game is stuck on 60 fps, it's just "weird".

With that rant out of the way, maybe next time, I will talk about my thoughts on creating a complete RTS game.