Archive for November, 2009

Stocked and Loaded

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

An intense month of work awaits. Crunch time, and then some!

Early/Mid last week, I spec’d out the plan for my time between now and GDC. Quite a busy schedule, with a lot of really cool things coming up. Smiles stuff, and a quick collaboration with a friend, which I’ll talk more about later. I should have plenty to talk about with my internet colleagues in March.

But the icing on the cake was a development Wednesday/Thursday of last week. I’m going to be a little vague right now, but what I will say is I am porting Smiles to a new phone, and have been for the past week. Between this and that, I have a whole bunch of little things going on too. My brother’s wedding tomorrow, a little Apple event I’m attending next week in Toronto, getting Ludum Dare 16 started on time, and deadlines galore. So wow.

But what this post is about is a little ritual of mine. Fridge stocking.

Yes, I even have 2 mustards

Yes, I even have 2 mustards

Now, I do normally have a nice variety of drinks in my fridge, caffeinated and whatnot. But it’s only special occasions where I go the extra mile and pack it this full. Not seen is the bottom left crisper filled with Jones Cola, and a couple packs of Monster.

The freezer is replenished with a fresh stock of frozen dinners, cereal in the cupboard, and last but not least, noodles!

Thanks to advances in technology, scientists are able to put peanut butter inside pretzels

Thanks to advances in technology, scientists are able to put peanut butter inside pretzels

Numerous varieties of quick junk meals and drinks. And I can guarantee you, there will be pizza. 😀

Oh yes!

So that’s what’s going on with me right now. Powering through code, caffeinated drinks, and ramen noodles.

I’d hope to talk a little more about the design process as it happened, and I may still do that. But I know for the next couple weeks it’ll be nose to the grindstone.

See you soon.

(Annoying) Differences between Visual Studio and GCC

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Or in other words, awesome C an C++ language features you’ll learn to love in GCC, that’ll break your heart if you ever have to use Visual Studio. 😉

This is a list I collected whilst getting my Smiles PC code to compile with Visual Studio 2008. Most have no equivalent in Visual Studio, but one simply has a slightly different syntax (compatible too).

As before, long and technical. Hit the link if you’re up for the challenge. You’ve been warned. 😀

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Visual Studio projects for GCC/MinGW/Xcode coders

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

One of the things on my blogging TODO list is to show how I work. Many coders find it odd to hear that I work on Windows without Visual Studio, or that I work on the Mac by rarely touching the Mac. Just me, a text editor (a good one), and a bunch of useful scripting.

In my current project though (Smiles PC), I’ve run in to a slight brick wall that requires me and my development arch nemesis to join forces. It’s almost funny, but it’s been about 10 years since I’ve had to touch a Microsoft compiler. Normally I’d be reluctant, but we’re talking a distribution issue here… and that’s how I get paid. 😉

So, today’s when I swallow my command line pride and get Smiles building with Visual Studio.

This post is long, nuanced, technical, and mostly for my own benefit. So if you’re up for an over analysis of Windows Developers favorite development tool, hit the link.

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Ludum Dare 16 Announcement

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Ludum DareToday we announced the date for Ludum Dare #16. This upcoming December 11th-13th weekend.

Ludum Dare is that other thing I do. Along with Phil, Mike and Seth, we run a community website based around the infamous Ludum Dare competition. Game developers from around the world assemble, pick a theme, and make a game from scratch over the weekend. Then we vote on our favorites.

http://www.ludumdare.com/…/announcing-ludum-dare-16-december-11th-13th-weekend/

Nowadays, we do it 3 times per year, this one being our regular December competition. In the off months, we also have members of the community choosing a theme for our mini monthly competitions. These mini competitions also gives us the opportunity to try out new things. Rule tweaks, and whatnot.

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/

So if you’re a game maker looking for a reason to make something, check us out.

Introducing Smiles PC

Monday, November 9th, 2009

This is not what I’ve been up to all year, but it is what I’m up to right now.

So, let’s introduce the project.

Officially, the project is named Smiles. Specifically though, the project’s working title is Smiles PC. Just as you’d expect, it’s Smiles the iPhone game for PC, Mac and Linux. Actually it’s more than that, but lets stick with this for now.

At it’s core, Smiles PC is about removing the dependencies of the iPhone from the game. Although Smiles has always run on both PC and iPhone, a number of interface decisions were made to suit the iPhone as opposed to other platforms. Many were good ideas, but some things need to be tweaked to suit conventions familiar to PC users.

For me, it’s also a bit of a clean slate. There were some things in Smiles original design that I realized I’d like to change, but haven’t since I don’t want to break what’s familiar to existing iPhone players.

What I’d like to do is walk through and talk about the various changes I’m making to the game. Technical and design changes. Some will be improvements, and other are simply to suit more platforms.

Alright, so lets take a look at one of the first changes. The home screen.

Smiles home screen UI Changes... Bubble Buttons!

Smiles home screen UI Changes... Bubble Buttons!

At first glance, it’s pretty much the same as the iPhone version. The buttons are still nice and large, and everything is still bright and colorful.

Probably the most noticeable change is the 4 “bubble buttons”. The familiar “?” button, the sound toggle that’s now in a bubble, a gear bubble (configuration) and an X bubble (exit/minimize). The standard way to exit an application on the iPhone was by pushing the large home button on the device itself. PC’s and other platforms don’t have a physical standard exit button, so there’s now an X for that.

Also PC’s tend to have a lot more subtle things you can tweak. On iPhone (or any closed platform for that matter) we can refine the interface to suit the system. But with computer monitors coming in many sizes, coming with numerous potential peripherals, we need need options.

Hey, and since the other 3 were in bubbles, it only makes sense to put the sound toggle in one too. 🙂

The other noticeable change is the detail. Smiles PC uses HD 720p versions of iPhone game art. Textures are 4x the size of the original iPhone assets (double width, double height). I also have HD 1080p assets, but I’m currently using the 720p assets because they load faster. The 1080p assets are 16x the size of iPhone (quadruple width and height).

The final detail I want to point out is the Sykhronics Logo. On the iPhone version I use a blue logo, but for this I’m using a brown. This is a minor thing I’m doing to differentiate the two versions of the game. The final iPhone game and PC derivatives will all be called Smiles, but the logo color will tell you which development branch it’s from. Generally speaking, all new non-iPhone versions will be from the brown logo branch, and where appropriate I will continue to do updates to the blue logo branch.

So what is a PC?

Anybody that’s worked with me knows I like my theory. Smiles itself was a very theoretical project, designed from the ground up to remove the most frustrating aspects from matching games. Things that, in my opinion, defeat the goals of the concept “casual”.

Continuing the theoretical journey with Smiles PC, I want this port to suit the ever evolving concept of computers. Computer resolutions come in all shapes and sizes, the key point right now being shapes.

Smiles' flexible UI goes wide or tall

Smiles' flexible UI goes wide or tall

The 720p and 1080p artwork handles the majority of resolution cases, but one of the foundations of Smiles iPhone’s research was getting game to work in any orientation. All the backgrounds are generated, so the user interface elements just need to fit. And as shown above, that can be wide or tall.

Now this isn’t only theory. A number of computers today ARE doing bizarre things with resolution and orientation. The key area being Netbooks and MIDs.

Smiles running on a Tablet PC

Smiles running on a Tablet PC

The above is actually a Tablet PC (as I don’t have a slate Netbook), but it demonstrates the idea. Netbooks specifically are, for lack of a better word, booming. And why not? A mere couple hundred dollars for a fully working PC. Heck, I use one myself (the rectangle with the red cloth on it).

Computers have multiple input methods these days. From mice, trackpads, pens, pointers, touch screens, accelerometers, to mere keys or joysticks. So a goal of Smiles PC is to be inclusive as it can be (within reason). Any practical computer a consumer can buy, there should be a way of playing Smiles on it.

So that’s my introduction to Smiles PC. Hopefully I keep talking. 😀

Final cross promotion and freebie changes

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

As planned, Smiles Zen 1.3 and Smiles Drop 1.3 were sent late Friday night (technically 5 AM the next day). I made the mentioned addition of arrows after discovering some people didn’t realize you could click on the icon. Here’s a snap of that from the iPhone build on the PC.

Cross promotion, now with arrows!

Cross promotion, now with arrows!

I had some friends look at this screen, and got a good reaction from the “love hearts”, so I made a similar change to free version.

Free Smiles, now with more LOVE.

Free Smiles, now with more LOVE.

Also now, the “support the developer!” starburst takes the place of the music instructions. It works just like clicking on the Smiles icon does (brings up a popup confirming that you want to open the store). And for fun, all the popups play the “Woo Hoo!” sound like the Zen and Drop cross promotion does. For the free version only, I’ll be making clicking “no” play the “Aww!” sound, as there’s really no other place to fit that in.

My hope is to be finished integrating the 1.3 updates and testing by noon Sunday (i.e. today). I’ve actually been up since 1:30 AM, which is one of the perks of being self employed (your hours don’t have to make sense).

Monday I’m hoping to be back on the PC version of Smiles. I’d like a release candidate finished before the end of the month, so I can iron out the distribution plans.

EDIT: Free Smiles 1.3 sent to Apple. That’s all of them.