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Lack of graphics....

Well, after that exciting start that I blogged about, I've stalled rather quickly.  That's a bit discouraging.  I haven't done much work on the "next game" for a few weeks.  Why?

Two reasons, really.  First, I've just been busy.  I haven't had as much spare time in the evenings.

But the bigger reason is that I haven't gotten confirmation from an artist for the game.  Chris (that did Anguna's art) had expressed an interest, which was enough to get me excited and started, but he's been pretty busy and had some other stuff going on in life, so I'm not sure he'll be able to contribute.  A couple of other leads have come up, but nothing solid. 

Without graphics, there's not really a game, so I'm waiting and dragging my feet on the development side of things for now.  I guess I could use some free-to-use resources from the web or something to get started, but it's just not very motivating.  So that's where I'm at now.  Ma…

Review: Strider for nes

Well, after I got excited and started work, I haven't actually done much recently.  I've been reworking the level loading code from Anguna, but there's still a good bit to do.  I'd really like to get some sample graphics into the engine so I can visualize things better, but that will still be awhile before any graphics are ready.

So until then, I'm still playing old nes games.  The most recent was Strider.  Strider is an interesting game:  it has a great concept, cool story and mechanics, a fun almost detective-style "find the next file of information to see where you can go next" thing.  Unfortunately, the game is riddled with problems.  The play control is glitchy and awful -- if you jump near a wall, often your jump immediately ends and you fall to the ground.  The hit detection is completely wacky.  In most cases, it doesn't really pay off to fight carefully, because you never know when the game will think you've made contact with the enemy, o…

More on the asset pipeline

So I'm still trying to figure out what my asset pipeline is going to be like.  What makes it particularly interesting is this:  the GBA doesn't support files (there are hacks out there to simulate it, but I'd prefer not to use them).  Everything gets packed as data into the single game rom, and run.  The DS, on the other hand (at least for homebrew) has a usable filesystem.  Now you can ignore the filesystem and pack things into the rom like I did for the DS release of Anguna, but working with files can sometimes be a lot nicer -- it sure makes the edit/build/test cycle a lot easier, as you don't have to go through a separate compile step.

The tricky part is thinking about how I might implement both of these.  The core of my existing engine assumes everything exists as structs in C, and references to other data is just via pointers.  (Which is easy when the compiler does all the work for you).  But if I use files, I'll basically need to write a file parser, which w…

Review: Super Pitfall

Super Pitfall for the nes is TERRIBLE.  Completely awful.  Interestingly enough, it's given me quite a bit of thought about game design for my next project.

I've spent the past 22 years trying really hard to like this game. I mean, this game had the potential to be awesome.  It was a huge world that you could explore freely.  Dungeons and spikes and non-linearity and ladders and treasure.  What could go wrong?  Well, everything.  No matter how much I tried, I always came to the same conclusion:  this game was no fun. So, to be productive, I'll try to think about why it wasn't fun, and what could be done about it. First, the challenge level was way off.  There are numerous frustrating cheap kills near the beginning of the game.  And there's a ridiculously long time you have to wait between dying and when you get to play again...it's something like 10 seconds of waiting.  Considering your first life may only last about 4 or 5 seconds, it's really annoying to hav…

Overhauling the Anguna engine

The nice thing about doing another GBA/DS game is that I already have a working game engine.  There's plenty that I want to change, and a lot that I'd like to clean up (see the previous postmordem posts), but it's nice to have working code that takes care of a lot of the grunt work.

So the past few weeks I've been giving some needed love to the code that drove Anguna.  The first goal was to merge the gba and ds codebases into a single source tree, and just have different make files for the different platforms.  Not for Anguna's sake, but to reuse for the next game.  Of course, some of the stuff (hud, menus, all the code for the DS's second screen) will have to be a bit different for the two platforms, but the majority will be the same.

The next task has been pulling out stuff bit by bit and reorganizing it, reducing coupling when needed, and generally making things less "icky".  Unfortunately, this also means breaking things, so I'm back to that c…

Next Project

Ok, on to what my next project might be.  I'm not content unless I've got a project I'm working on, so there's not really an option of "no project".  While working on Anguna, I had lots of ideas of things that I might want to work on next.

I've considered doing some sort of 3d OpenGL-based game on the PC to learn what I'm doing with 3d game programming.  I've messed around with 3d before, but nothing more than little demos. Other things I've considered include some sort of NES homebrew, dreamcast homebrew, Atari 2600 homebrew, making an iphone game, doing a flash game, and finishing a digital scrapbooking tool for my wife. I also bought an Arduino and decided to try to make a simple robot with it.  So that's been occupying a good bit of my hobby time.  (Maybe I'll post some pictures/thoughts about the robot building at some point).

Really, though, the answer to "what's next" seems to be coming down to a few things:

1.  Wh…

Looking back and looking forward

I guess now that I haven't posted anything in quite awhile, and Anguna's been all finished for what seems like forever (it's only been a few months?), it's time to do a post-mortem and then figure out what's next.

I've got a lot of rambling thoughts, so I may spread this into a few posts.

First, looking back at Anguna.

Overall, I'd call it a success. For the most part, I made the game I set out to make. The addition of Chris's graphical magic transformed it into something that was actually capable of attracting attention, and feeling like a "real game" as opposed to a toy project. The game wasn't quite as long as I'd like it to be, but it was good enough. A few thousand people downloaded the game (from my site, no clue about the total numbers), people played through it, and seemed to like it. It's currently ranked as the 19th most popular gba game on gbadev.org. I couldn't ask for better.

The biggest complaints or criticisms …

Open sourcing Anguna?

So I've been thinking for awhile about open sourcing Anguna. I had forgotten about it then until other day when my brother mentioned OSS and Anguna in his blog.

So, anybody out there have thoughts about the idea? I'm debating mostly between:
1. Doing nothing because I'm lazy and don't want to clean up the source and put it somewhere.
2. Pulling the core engine code out and open-sourcing that.
3. Open-sourcing the whole shebang, code, assets (graphics, level maps, etc) and all.

Opening the engine wouldn't practically be all that useful -- realistically, is anybody going to use my mediocre engine instead of some better engine, or instead of doing the fun work of making a new one?

Opening the assets means I need to check with everyone that made assets. Daydream made most of the graphics, so his will be easy to check on. But the music and some of the other graphics already have their own licenses attached, so I might not be able to include everything. Is it worth i…