Archive for April, 2010

Smiles running on the Palm Pre, plus other things

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

One of the sessions I saw at GDC this year was Palm’s talk about their new PDK (i.e. their native SDK). The promise was a Linux based mobile device featuring SDL and OpenGL ES. Since my Windows and Linux code base also uses SDL and OpenGL, that certainly caught my attention. In theory, all I need to do is just recompile my Linux version with their tools and I’m done, right?

Pretty much.

There were 3 changes to the code I had to make. The first was a minor #DEFINE bug of mine that assumed SDL would always use OpenGL (rather than OpenGL ES). The second, I had to explicitly say what OpenGL ES version to use (“SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_CONTEXT_MAJOR_VERSION, 1);”). The third, I had to disable writing to the Alpha channel (“glColorMask(GL_TRUE, GL_TRUE, GL_TRUE, GL_FALSE);”), as that was conflicting with a feature on WebOS that lets you composite OpenGL on top of video… pretty cool. And really, beyond configuring my makefile correctly, that was it.

There’s still a bunch of platform specifics I need to walk through, but the majority of important stuff is in and working. This weekend I’m busy (running Ludum Dare), but I’m hoping to package this port up and send it off next week.

Android, well until Google stops hating Canada, that’s not going to happen yet. (i.e. Canadians can’t create Google Checkout Merchant accounts). I have a G1, a Nexus One, and a Tegra board, but they’re all just gathering dust. Previously I had the game code compiling, but I still need to set up the dummy Java app.

Mystery platform, the game code compiles, but I still need to port my graphics library (it’s all just stubs). Some dramatic changes are needed to finish it, so it’s likely easier ports will come first.

Moblin, that should be soon. I ran in to “THE” bug with SDL_Mixer on my Windows build, so I need to either fix it, report it properly (ugh), or just do an IrrKlang audio port like Phil.

Bada and Maemo, I’m still waiting for motivators. 😉

That’s it for porting.

I have a whole bunch of website work that I… well… just haven’t started. Smiles HD needs a website, and for that matter, Smiles for everything needs a more general site. Sykhronics, it still says 2009 on it. I started a new design, but I left it needing some new artwork. And this blog STILL uses a default theme. So yes, while I fail at website progress, other stuff is certainly getting done.

I did some computer maintenance over the last week as well. Installed Windows 7 64bit in anticipation of Adobe CS5 (since nobody wants to support XP64 anymore). I’ve actually been avoiding the “Adobe way” by using Paint Shop Pro instead of PhotoShop and Illustrator. However, Corel kinda ruined the software since it bought Jasc, and hasn’t released a notable update for 5 years now, so I’m finally jumping ship. Yes, ready to join the rest of the world the true way of PhotoShop.

Dabbled a bit with the new Blender 2.5, but that’s going to require a new export plugin. I’ll be sticking with 2.49 for the new project, or at least until 2.5 matures a bit more.

Doing pre-production for the new project. It’s something better suited to mystery platform than Smiles is. I still want to be well in to production of the vertical slice before I get in to details, so sorry, that means this will continue to be a Smiles and Ludum Dare topical blog for a few more months.

And that’s all I can think of for this light ranty post.

Ludum Dare #17, April 23rd-25th Weekend

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

And it’s that time again too. Ludum Dare #17 is coming up next weekend. If the idea of crunching together a game from scratch in 48 hours interests you, check us out.

Now, this compo has been a little different. We announced our date nice and early, so the people at GDC would know about it, and to save us from silly “when will the compo be?” questions. So really, it was probably our best pre-announcement for a compo date to date.

I even made labels!

Then something happened.

Watching Twitter as I often do, I catch an offhand remark from Nelson, a friend and former coworker of mine.

TOJam #5 (http://www.tojam.ca) happening April 23 to 25th at George Brown College – not officially, but I have an inside source.

Now that’s a familiar date.

At GDC 2009 I had the chance to hang out and get to know some of the ToJam guys. Jim, Mike, etc. So GDC 2010 was rather funny to meet up with these guys again, like “Hey, I like 2 hours away, but I only ever see you in San Fransisco”. Jim and I regular some of the same forums and sites, so we do hear from each-other in passing throughout the year.

And then, there was the date conflict.

When I first learned about, I was totally thinking to myself “Dude! We totally have to play this up!”. Fortunately, Jim did not disappoint, and began this e-mail exchange.

On Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM, Jim McGinley wrote:
Subject: TOJam #5 – April 23 to April 25

Registrations >just< went live.
Makes Ludum feel like Dulum.
>BURN<

You can read the rest here.

One of the many silly things we do on the Ludum Dare site prior to the compo is motivational posters. So I’ve kicked off our motivational poster game with some ToJam bashing.

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

Also we had a brief back-and-forth on TIGForums.

So yes, we are being quite childish, but it’s all in good fun. Two notable game making events running on the same weekend, it’d be a waste NOT to do something silly with that. 🙂

Automobiles, Interviews, all Smiles

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

To say 2010 has been a busy year would be an understatement.

While we were all waiting for Apple to confirm the existence of the iPad, I was busy tweaking, improving, and porting my game Smiles to a bunch of new platforms. The most significant port by far was to Netbook PCs for Intel’s AppUp Center, a brand new App Store coming soon to Netbooks everywhere.

To say Intel and AppUp have been good to me, that would be another understatement.

Since last year, Intel has been running a contest to attract developers to their platform, and you might say, I hit a grand slam with them. Intel ran 3 rounds of prize giveaways, and I won something awesome in every round!

Late January, I received a note informing me that I came 2nd Place in their Early Bird Deadline contest. The Early Bird contest featured 5 prizes; 3 home entertainment packages, and 2 cars!

This is somewhat appropriate. A car won with a cheerful game called Smiles. Even the car is smiling.

iPhone Smiles is small enough to be downloaded 2x over 3G, and you can fit 2 of my cars in a parking space.

Above you can see my new 2010 “Smart for Two” smart-car, in a very bright shade of yellow. So if you’re in London Ontario Canada, and you see this little yellow beast drive by, that might be me.

Talk about kicking 2010 off with a bang!

I was totally giddy; Cheering, laughing, celebrating the fact that I won a car making games. It’s just such a weird yet awesome thing to happen, and such a fun story to be able to share. What a fantastic start to a very futuristic sounding decade.

Then it happened again!

Around the middle of February, I get ANOTHER e-mail, this time telling me my game Smiles won the “Elegance in Design” award. That was 1 of 2 prizes everyone was gunning for (the other award was “Most Innovative App” which went to FXpansion for GURU). And what was the prize? Oh, an all expense paid trip to GDC!

I don't know about you, but I really did have TWICE the GDC as everyone else

Now I already had my travel and hotel arranged for the conference, but when Intel decides to pay your way and put you in a fancy hotel, you don’t say no. 🙂

I previously talked about my very awesome GDC trip here, so you can go read that for more.

So, holy cow again! Two months in to 2010, and I’m already 1 car and 1 trip ahead of last year on the awesome scale. If I was to think in terms of gameshow prizes, aside from crazy cash, what haven’t I won yet?

How about a free computer?

The final giveaway from Intel was for the first 100 approved apps. I made the Early Bird deadline, so I caught this one easily. Free “top of the line” Netbook!

Smiles on my new Netbook

This worked out really great for me. My old laptop was an original Aspire One Netbook running Windows XP, but I’ve used it enough that the batteries barely give me an hour and a half on a full charge. My latest prize was a brand new Eee PC running Windows 7 Starter, this time with a claimed 10.5 hours of battery life. In practice I get a bit over 7 hours, but wow, that’s a huge step up from the 2-3 hours I used to get from my Aspire One. Excellent!

So, holy crap! That’s a lot of awesome! Clearly I am the happiest game maker in Canada right now with my car, computer, and everything PR wise that goes with winning an awesome contest like this.

Oh hey, there’s actually more!

Submit an app and actually use their site, score a free book. Not bad.

As part of Intel’s dev program, submitting an app and participating in the community scores you points, which earn you belts. When you reach certain belt rankings, you get stuff. As you can see above, I got 2 books from Intel. The first for becoming a brown belt, and the 2nd for becoming a red belt. Also as part of the red belt, I’m getting a free year extension on my dev program membership. Nice.

Oh, and at GDC, I grabbed one of these from the Intel booth too. One of the cooler pieces of GDC shwag, now a permanent desk ornament.

Shake it and it changes colors, while the confetti swirls around the gel.

So really, it’s almost overwhelming how well things have gone. Without a doubt, I can definitely recommend other developers check out what Intel is up to with the AppUp Center. They’re running new contests now with even bigger prizes, you don’t want to miss it.

http://appdeveloper.intel.com

Heh, so really, how do you say “thanks” for being treated so well?

Well so far, I passed a note on to our people in the Ludum Dare community. I got pretty big response there, having several e-mail and IRC conversations with people. We’re a pretty large community of game makers, and like the sales pitch says, we made over 400 games last year! Wow!

Then at GDC, I scheduled 3 video interviews; Two with Intel, and one with NetbookNews.

The most “INTENSE” of the interviews was a live broadcast from GDC. Intel set up a small TV studio inside their GDC both with all the fixings; Multiple cameras (3), BIG HUGE lights (2), and a crew of 2 guys monitoring the video and audio. On the stage there was me, the host (Arti), and a guest host (Bob).

The interview was for Intel’s gaming and graphics show Visualize This. That’s online and archived now, so check it out.

http://software.intel.com/…/mike-kasprzak-on-netbook-game-development-and-smiles/

Next was a short interview for Intel’s Software site. Not as in depth, but a slightly different discussion.

http://software.intel.com/…/intel-atom-developer-challenge-winner-mike-kasprzak/

And there’s one more video interview with Netbook News, buuut I can’t seem to find it online yet. I did notice the host (Nicole Scott) just now started following me on Twitter, so I can imagine that video will be up soon.

However, Smiles did make appearance on Netbook News, in their CES report:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xufnKVYrw8

So wow!

That was a VERY new thing for me, doing video interviews. Well really, I’ve done maybe 2 e-mail interviews and a podcast interview prior to that, so yeeeep, it was a very new experience for me. 😀

It’s fun, and quite shocking to be in a position that people actually want to interview you. It’s also reassuring and encouraging that maybe you really are doing something good.

And now for something a little more up my alley; Crazy technical mumbo-jumbo!

Over the past week and a bit, Bob from Intel and I fired a couple e-mails back and forth which became this:

http://appdeveloper.intel.com/en-us/article/porting-iphone-appup-smiles

An interview, but at the same time, a very technical rant on the stuff I do to keep my game code and assets portable. I’ve talked about this stuff here on my blog and in my book chapter, but we cover a lot of ground in a short article. I think it’s some good context for those looking for some insight in to porting to AppUp, but it’s just an article, you still have to do all the work! 🙂

And that’s all I’ve got.

PuffBOMB Featured on GameJolt

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

I’m actually in the middle of a rather large post, but I still felt this was worth noting (while inappropriate for the other post). PuffBOMB, my explosive little freeware game is currently featured on GameJolt.

GameJolt is a unique games website that’s a bit like a “Kongregate” for freeware. I put PuffBOMB up there some time last week to try it out, and it’s pretty cool.

The site has a neat feature for downloading and playing PC games right from the browser. Give them a zip file and tell it which file in the zip is the executable, and you’re laughing.

Anyways, back to the BIG post. 😉

Smiles HD bug list (and launch day thoughts)

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Wow! So that was iPad launch day.

I’ll talk a little more about the “day 1 FREE” experiment after some results. Just before disappearing, the game was sitting at #60 in the Top FREE Apps (#13 Top FREE Games). Earlier today, I caught it at #55. Anyways, I said I wasn’t going to talk about this!

Like many other developers, I shipped the game to Apple for launch day without actually testing it on a real device. There were rumors that some developers had devices, but that wasn’t me. I plan to talk more about my “no actual hardware” process, but it is getting late, and today was rather exhausting.

Anyways, now that I have an actual iPad (see above), it’s bug hunting time.

Smiles HD actually did extremely well. No showstopper bugs, the game is fully playable top to bottom, just a small handful of oddities. Those include:

1. Music is sometimes jumpy when a game/the menus start.
This one was unexpected, and unfortunate. At the moment I’m not sure what’s causing it, since music plays just fine in the simulator. But admittedly, music was added last minute, so it could be something I messed up. *shrug*. To be investigated.

2. Clipping bug on Achievements Screen when wide.
Awww! I was pretty sure I caught all the clipping bugs, but the clipping on the Achievement screen I am doing something stupid, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Ah well, easy fix.

3. Skip-track then mute causes game to crash! (submitted by Angelo)
Yikes, I totally missed this one! It actually crashes the PC version too! Should be an easy fix. Nice find Angelo! 🙂

And… that’s all I’ve got. If you find any more, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.

There are some frame-rate issues that pop up at times, but none of them hinder the game at all.

I will be getting on those soon. I also have a list of things I’d like to sneak in that didn’t make the March 27th and 31st deadline. I’ll detail those when I get a chance. The above plus that should make Smiles HD 1.1 a good incremental update.

I’ll be playing the game lots on a real deal device in the coming days. If you have any thoughts on play, responsiveness, stumbling, etc, feel free to leave me a comment.

Online scoring, I want it just as much as you! 😀

If I can make a healthy dent in the Top 100 paid charts, it will be sooner than later. Giving the game away for FREE was definitely a risky move, but I know the game is good; I just needed some way of standing out in the launch day crowd. So hey, if the crazy scheme works and everyone plays it, loves it, and tells their friends, then you will definitely be seeing online high scores soon.

Unfortunately, that appears to be all the rational thought my brain has left in it for tonight.

Until tomorrow.

Smiles HD is now #100!

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

It took all night, but Smiles HD has finally made it on to the Top 100 FREE games chart!

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the night. Thanks everyone! Keep spreading the word, and have fun with Smiles HD on your iPads!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smiles-hd/id364871736?mt=8

Remember: Smiles HD is FREE *ONLY* until the end of the day April 3rd! Regular price, $4.99. I think you’ll agree, it’s worth at least that. 🙂