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Showing posts from 2012

Why I don't enjoy mobile gaming

Mobile gaming is all the rage. It's where the money is. It's where all the hip new games are. And by golly, it sucks.

I should like it. I love having a portable computer in my pocket to play games on. I like firing up a game while I'm sitting around waiting on something. I just don't like the games. Instead I buy all of Robert Broglia's excellent emulators, and only play ancient console games on my phone. I know this has been discussed to death, but hey, it's the internet -- what's the point of the internet if not to soliloquize into the ether?

So here I go, the main reason I don't like mobile gaming?

(And it's not the lack of control pad. I do miss a control bad, as touch controls are awful for certain genres. But this can be worked around with creative games, or with well-design onscreen touch controls (Robert Broglia did a pretty good job!)

Really, the big problem is long load times, and tons of slow menus.. This is the real kicker. When I want t…

Coding for a broken phone

So I've been very slowly working on a project to create a network-based garage door sensor (and possibly opener) which will let me check whether the garage door is open (when I left for a trip and suddenly panic because I can't remember if I closed it), and will also alert me if it's after 10 and I accidentally left it open. (Eventually I'd like to add a controller, so I can open/close it from my phone, but that's a long way off).
The first step was finding an easy way to sense if the door was open, and report that to my home server so it could serve it up to me.  Luckily my office-mate handed me his old android phone with a busted screen. Nothing shows up on the screen, and it the touch sensors don't work. 
Theoretically, I can mount the phone near the top of the garage, and write a program for this phone that will monitor the proximity sensor to tell if the door is open or closed (if I position the phone so that the open garage door will sit right in front of…

Subsonic: questions in open source ethics

So there's a great open-source project out there called Subsonic. It's a streaming media server -- it will stream your music and videos from your home server across the internet/network. It's easy, user-friendly, and has a number of apps for mobile devices.
There's only one problem. You install it, get it configured, then realize that despite being open-source, it's actually shareware. You get the base program, but can't unlock streaming video or mobile access features unless you pay the developer money. And despite him saying "you can donate any amount you want," he only gives you an unlock code if you pay him at least 10 Euro. These locked features are part of the open codebase, but just won't work until you enter an unlock code.
This brings up some interesting ethical questions that I've thought about for awhile. I have no beef with people making money off their software. But the fact that it's open source makes it interesting. Also there…

Maven (cont)

So I finished the book I was reading about Maven. It was amusing paying attention to my own feelings about Maven as I progressed through the book. It went like this:
Introduction and initial explanation: Hmmm, this is interesting, but sounds a bit lame.
Basic tutorials and walkthrough of Maven: Wow, this actually looks really awesome!
Advanced topics, explanations, etc: Seriously, that's how you're supposed to do that? That's awful! And what's up with that weird special case?
Really, it confirms my initial reaction -- if you play the maven way, things are pretty simple. If you try to do something weird, There be Dragons. I'm going to play with it a little more on a hobby project, but I'm not sold on it.

Maven (and Ant, and Make)

For some reason I've had a lot of ramblings in my brain lately, making me want to post. So here I go.
I've been reading up about Maven (thanks, Rob), trying to wrap my brain around it. And I'm torn. I can't decide if I think it's wonderful or if I hate it (most likely, it will resolve to being like most tools, which is "useful but with a handful of caveats").
For some background, most of my experience with automated build systems comes from Make. And let me tell you, other than the syntax (which is one of the worst crimes against humanity), Make is incredible. Make is less about procedurally defining your build, and more about creating a bunch of rules about what files you need, and how to go about generating them. It then recursively looks at the dependencies of those files, and how to generate them, etc. It's a thing of beauty. (Again, other than the syntax). When I was working on Anguna, my makefile did all sorts of crazy nasty things to build my …

Oh, and why I gave up on Anguna for IPhone

While I'm here posting stuff, I never really explained what happened to Anguna for iPhone.
I gave up and quit.
For a few reasons: First, I got a bit bored. I was tired of writing the same game for the 3rd time. Most of the interesting parts ported over pretty quickly and easily. The parts that were left were mainly fiddling with asset (graphics and sound) formats. And that was no fun at all. (If I was smarter, I might have figured out a way to automate some of the conversions, but they tended to be really fiddly based on how I handled them on the GBA/DS side).
Second, I got frustrated at Apple. I paid them my $100 for a dev license. And then part way through development, they changed their developers terms with a clause that strongly sounded as if they wouldn't approve any apps that were using the 3rd party toolkit I was using. Their wording was just vague enough that it was hard to be sure. Talk about discouraging. I paid my money, was half-finished developing my game, and sud…