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31  Java Game APIs & Engines / Java 3D / Re: Java3D 1.5.0 released on: 2006-12-28 17:00:55
here, perhaps?
32  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Why am I an idiot? on: 2006-12-23 22:43:35
Does anyone have any advice that which can help me remove myself from my self destructive behaviour?
Learn from your mistakes.

Read up on YAGNI and keep reading up on it. If you are inclined to overengineering it is really important to be able to seperate the What Ifs that lead to good design from the What Ifs that lead you up blind alleys of eternal, unfinishable, architecture. Usually that distinction comes down more or less to designing so that you don't cut of your options if you need to revisit the code later, but not to building every possible thing you may ever need.

Even if you did build the ultimate library, you would never finish it because by the end you would have become a better programmer than you were at the start and you would probably think of better ways to do half the things you did at the start. So you go back and rework that and before you know it you've refactored everything and you're a better programmer than you were when you started refactoring...
33  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: The Path of Neo: how could they do that? on: 2006-12-22 16:40:57
But they can look just fine. Play Beyond Good And Evil. Looks lovely on PC even years on. And plays lovely on PC, come to think of it. One of the best games around, close to pure fun (or close to Zelda, in my mind the two are pretty much equivalent) and very ace on any platform.

Not the normal, unfortunately.
34  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Java or C++ for an industry univeristy game project? on: 2006-12-22 16:37:02
The easy decision is based on memory management. Find which languages requires that you do least and use that one. It's a bastard and every optimisation it offers is lost in weeks of debugging.

I wonder if you're thinking more of what will make you most employable in future, rather than what would give you the best project. I thought that with my MSc project, I figured the job ads all wanted C++ and I should use that.  Instead of making sure that I developed some excellent development skills, as I thought it would, I just ended up not finishing the project and never gaining the qualification. An expensive mistake.

The aim of your final project is to make a show of the skills you have learned during your course. As a team project you need everyone's skills to be pretty good.

OT but interesting thought- if you have an art or design department see if you can steal anyone from there to help out with the look of your project, you could probably wangle it for them to get accreditation for it also...
35  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Having 'too' many skills/variables in RPGs... on: 2006-12-21 11:55:08
Trust your instinct, if it feels like too much complexity, it is.

A good approach would be to design your combat engine very carefully so that you can make the calculations as modular as possible. The easier it is to change the better. Then you can start simple and make your system a little more complex until you find that sweet-spot where it is interesting but not too confusing for the player.

One way to combine depth with simplicity is to make your skills and abilities really non-orthogonal so that you sacrifice speed for power or accuracy and vice versa. That way you can have fewer skills but still make balancing them out an important skill.

As long as you can always answer "yes" to the question "is this fun?" you've got a fair chance it will work out alright.
36  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Turn based fight systems on: 2006-12-14 11:41:14
Stuff like using formations might work in that direction. Perhaps if the objective is to get across the combat zone rather than just to kill all the enemies that might make for a different approach. While the objective remains the same I think maybe the method ends up remaining the same. Maybe something like the "Control Point" approach would work as well- there are certain squares on the battlefield that you need to hold in order to win. Whether that could be incorporated logically into the gameplay.
37  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Turn based fight systems on: 2006-12-13 14:20:29
So how would you convert those strategic approaches into gameplay that works for a computer game, in the context of your turn-based combat type setting?

I don't mean that as a criticism, I am intrigued to see how the ideas could be transferred.
38  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Turn based fight systems on: 2006-12-13 12:32:53
It sounds almost like Rock-Paper-Scissors, but it could be entertaining if implemented properly.

Pretty much any strategy game comes down to rock paper scissors at the end of the day even the huge and deep battles of the Total War series can be boiled down to cavalry/archers/spears...
39  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Turn based fight systems on: 2006-12-13 12:29:21
The verbs thing is a bit like what I was trying offering multiple command slots per turn. Basically the problem I was running into even as I started to prototype was that because I'm also including movement in my combat, so most hand to hand weapons only work from a neighbouring square for example - increasingly I realize I may need to use a hex grid, much as they are more annoying to conceptualize - the problem becomes that you can easily just have characters and monsters chasing around and swinging at nothing, which works out as fun for no-one.

If you used a more Final Fantasy or Grandia kind of system where characters just charge up and attack their target then run back it would probably work ok, but I worry about losing strategic options that movement and positioning on the board enable.
40  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: books u read to learn , and read for pastime on: 2006-12-13 12:24:13
1. I rarely bother with language-specific books unless I'm learning a new language (currently trying again with Paul Graham's ANSI Common Lisp but it's hard) although I do keep some references on my desk, mostly Agile Web Development With Rails at the moment. The best programming books I have read are Code Complete and The Pragmatic Programmer - both absolutely excellent guides to the activity of programming rather than it's application to any specific language.

2. Absolutely anything, especially new fantasy. Currently I'm reading Michael Scott Rohan's excellent Winter Of The World trilogy, after which I'm planning to start on the Neil Stephenson historical ones. Looking forward to the next Steven Erikson Malazan book too. Not sure that's what you were asking, though.

3. I find books tend to have more guaranteed good information - the most reliably excellent seem to be the Pragmatic Press ones, but O'Reilly do ok too. The web is great when you have an error message you can't explain or you need a detailed reason for a problem. I use newsgroups and IRC channels for reasonably quick solution when possible.
41  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Turn based fight systems on: 2006-12-12 12:50:53
One thing I'm thinking on having is some quite smart spellcasting, so that my heavyweight casters can create devastating spells of absolute doom, but it takes them several turns to do so and if a spell-caster is attacked during their cast they lose it. The outcome of that is that major fights become a game of defend the spellcaster  where formation and defense become very important - single out enemies capable of ranged attack and stop them getting a direct line on the spell caster and take them down if necessary.

Defense is much underused in RPGs, it doesn't tend to confer much in the way of benefits and in games like Final Fantasy you end up pretty much never using it, so the opportunity to offer good counterattacks might make that more worthwhile.

Lines of attack make things more strategic as well, because you can defend your ranged fighters with your heavies and generally make your attacks more co-ordinated.

All of which gives me an idea for what I'm going to do with my system...
42  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Turn based fight systems on: 2006-12-11 16:28:43
Me me me! I'm working on something like this too.

Hmmm, now I come to think of it I don't have any good ideas. My idea of having everyone pick a few moves per turn worked out stupidly complex although it had potential for very cool fight sequences it also had potential for endless, pointless battles...

I'm whipping up a prototype of my system in Flash, while I work out how exactly it will work. That should let me allow a bunch of people to try it and give feedback on what is and isn't fun so I can have something well tuned before I have to actually write it for real.

If spells aren't appropriate then I would use equipment and character classes to add variety and strategic depth. What type of setting is it? Sci-fi? Contemporary? Historical?
43  Game Development / Newbie & Debugging Questions / Re: How to create a simple maze ? on: 2006-12-10 21:55:59
If you can't follow the suggestion above about using arrays, you'll probably need to learn a bit more with J2ME before you really get into maze design, I'm afraid. Any answers you would get are likely to be beyond you if that is.
44  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: The meaning of life and everything else + immersion in the game on: 2006-12-05 23:02:29
I did think the driving sections, especially the boat, ended up being a bit Tony Hawks' Extreme Post-apocalyptic Gunboat particularly the end battle there.

I enjoyed HL2 - many  things about it were great, but there was something about it that seemed like a Transparency to me- I could see through the game to the gameplay mechanisms too easily.

Funnily enough something that has a lot of the same ideas along with charm and genuine brilliance is Beyond Good And Evil, a beautiful and brilliant sci-fi/zelda type game that i would recommend to pretty much anyone. It really is on a par with the Nintendo games, even bettering them in some respects. When I played Half Life 2 there were a lot of places I was noticing stuff that I'd seen done before in that.
45  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Game design patterns, any pointers? on: 2006-12-04 15:50:47
Almost certainly what I meant. Every organisation I have ever dealt with seems to have a different set of names for the major documents that the development process is built around.
46  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: The meaning of life and everything else + immersion in the game on: 2006-12-04 15:38:52
If I've learned anything from the games of the last five years it's that there is no problem that can't be solved by crates. I'm amazed they haven't become the standard unit of global currency by now.

Also good: barrels of stuff that explode when shot...
47  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: The meaning of life and everything else + immersion in the game on: 2006-12-04 12:20:53
Now look here, 640k should be enough for anyone  Grin
48  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: The meaning of life and everything else + immersion in the game on: 2006-12-03 20:21:04
I can't wait until we get photorealistic graphics (not far off now seeing screenshots of stuff like Alan Wake) because then game developers can stop worrying about getting photorealistic graphics and maybe work on some decent AI instead. No matter how much the graphics have evolved since Pac Man first appeared, the AI seems to still be at pretty much the same place.
49  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Game design patterns, any pointers? on: 2006-11-30 12:11:48
the problem is in your decision making not in your uml part. next to that your achitecture probely isn't an good achitecture to begin with, it's should guide the program allow parts to work togetter and allowing parts to work if it restricts you from adding or using parts then your "achitecture" goes against everything it's suppose to stand for.
Look into how games are written by the big companies. They put together a design document, give it to the development house and expect it to be matched exactly. That may not be how we want to imagine it works, but it is how it does work for the majority of professional game developers; here's the document, here is your deadline; build it in time for the Christmas market. No leeway, no room for experimentation. One of the main reasons that when EA bought up Bullfrog a few years back (they were based just round the corner from me) pretty much all the Bullfrog developers, who had been used to a more creative environment, quit within a few months.
50  Game Development / Game Play & Game Design / Re: Game design patterns, any pointers? on: 2006-11-29 00:38:38
People are reluctant to apply Software Engineering practices to video game development. When I see video game project, I rarely see any UML or architectural documents.
In the real world a whole lot of stuff gets written without any UML or architecture documents, but I follow your point. I suspect if you look behind the scenes at somewhere like EA you would find a whole load of documentation that produces the solid and predictable sequels that all EA fans have come to know and love.

The problem with that is that if you have your plan and your UML doc and everything else and one of your engine guys comes in and says "hey check out this neat effect I've just found how to do" but it's not in the architecture document or given it's own corner of the UML then it's out, regardless of how much it would add. In games writing more than pretty much any other area of software development you need a bit of room for sponteneity and that is something that Architecture-first development doesn't allow for. My experience is that it's actually too rigid for any non-trivial development task, but I have never worked for a Fortune 100 software company and it probably works great for them.  My view would be that a more Agile approach would be better suited to game development, but then I've never worked for one of the major game development houses either so I have no idea whether or not that is what they are doing, that's just what my programming experience suggests. I can imagine that a comprehensive test suite that you could apply on lots of different hardware and OS combinations would be a big help with the basic QA stuff so your testing team could work on the more sophisticated things.
51  Java Game APIs & Engines / Java 3D / Re: how good is java3D for real time gaming like fps on: 2006-11-21 18:02:15
I definitely see benefits of Java over either of those languages, but each to their own.

The fact remains that you will spend 80% of your time working on content rather than code. Whatever you can do to reduce the burdens you're putting on yourself is worth doing...
52  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Ideas for an undergraduate game development course on: 2006-11-21 17:59:58
Learning about Ant would be very valuable as it's not necessarily a core teaching topic but it's a very useful tool.

The problem I'd have with using Java2D is that any remotely savvy student could legitimately say "I could do this more easily with Flash - why am I using Java for this?"
53  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: 4000 posts later on: 2006-11-20 15:26:12
Yes, Endolf is only on 999 - it can't be his fault.
54  Java Game APIs & Engines / Java 3D / Re: Packaging a Java3D app (with library) in one file on: 2006-11-19 22:00:48
I've done it in a way that packed the whole JRE and all of J3D into one package, but it wasn't small. Fine if you're handing out CDs, not great for downloads.
55  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Ideas for an undergraduate game development course on: 2006-11-19 21:41:55
I would definitely think about using an existing engine or at the very least about using one of the existing openGL interfaces. The reason I would suggest this is simply that the sheer amount of work involved in creating modern games is so great that if you want your students to have something with which they can impress their friends at the end of the day they will need as much help as they can get and if you are teaching modern games writing you need to be using 3D accelleration even if you are only using it for a 2D game.

One thing that might be very useful would be if you could get hold of a bunch of content students could use be it sprites, models, textures, whatever. That's one of the big problems that you run into if you are writing games and it could make a big difference to how the students' projects work out. If the college has an art and design course it would be a fantastic opportunity to give both sides practical knowledge of the whole thing. Maybe not for this year, but something that might be a smart idea going forward...
56  Java Game APIs & Engines / Java 3D / Re: how good is java3D for real time gaming like fps on: 2006-11-16 10:09:20
What Riven said- I'm reasonably handy with J3d but I'm writing on jME (MonkeyEngine, not Micro Edition) because it has a really good community and it gives you so much of what you need straight away. Writing games is a hard and massive undertaking, you need every advantage you can get.
57  Java Game APIs & Engines / Java 3D / Re: Still slow on: 2006-11-12 23:23:18
Mostly I'm using jMe these days. I still use J3d from time to time, but jME saves me a bit more work and given that developing games in 3D is a huge endeavour for a one-man band the more things that I don't have to sort for myself the easier my life is...
58  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Windows Vista on: 2006-11-02 23:42:14
I wonder if it's sort of like the Browser thing now, where Windows is the IE of the operating system world, lagging five years behind it's rivals in terms of functionality but winning out on popular usage statistics because the majority of people are mindless sheep.
59  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Windows Vista on: 2006-11-02 17:12:02
Even as and informed user, but one who isn't a real Microsoft worshipper I could see that XP was a whole lot better in most respects than the old '95-98-Me family of operating systems. I don't really see the improvements that Vista offers over XP in nearly the same way.

Maybe I'm just not paying attention to the right channels, but even the features it does have seem to only work on some of the product ranges - I mean XP Home and XP Pro I could make sense of, but the five different versions of Vista mean nothing to me and if they can't get the benefits and advantages of their new OS over to me as an MCP who tries to keep up with what is going on in the world of IT then I'm not sure they're doing a very good job.
60  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Windows Vista on: 2006-11-02 15:02:05
I think it will see a migration of power users (and maybe regular users if the 26 different flavours of Vista work out too confusing) towards apple and linux, which will ultimately be good news for people writing games that run on multiple platforms...
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