Category Archives: News

Dyson plans

Thanks to everyone who left feedback on Dyson.

I’ve been discussing Dyson with Rudolf, who is the chief designer on this project. The plans we have laid out for the game design actually incorporate many of the ideas that people have fed back after playing the game. Partly it’s because they’re great ideas and we want to give people what they want, and partly it’s because we had already planned to put these elements of the design in.

Among these additions will be a limitation of how far you can expand; more emphasised attribute effects; interface improvements; defensive structures; improved enemy AI; more visual feedback. Hopefully when we’re done, we will have a more rounded and complete game. If you’d like to know more, do feel free to write to Rudolf or me. We really love getting feedback.

I’ve been on a break after the competition deadline, but I couldn’t help messing around with a few bits of code to make the trees look nicer. This is an early prototype of the code:


I took a month out from Deadrock to participate in TIGSource’s procedurally generated content competition.

I teamed up with a good friend of mine and we are quite proud of what we ended up with.

Dyson is a kind of RTS about taking over an asteroid belt. There’s even some procedural content in there that may be useful for Deadrock, so the time taken to write the game was definitely not wasted in Deadrock terms.

Here are a few screenshots:


You can download the game here.

All feedback gratefully received!

The official competition thread is here.

Fluid dynamics

I’ve collected a bunch of stuff relating to the fluid dynamics work I did with Hardcore Computer Simulator, and from previously when I was working on a water game prototype. The end of the story was that I didn’t implement a new version of any of this, but the links are cool and I reckon that it’s only a matter of time until there are games with proper fluid dynamics that aren’t just a bunch of particles or the sand algorithm. I’ve collected them all here both for future reference and for anyone else who’s interested in this topic.
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Programming games, games where you program to win

In the aftermath of Hardcore Computer Simulator’s canning, I’ve been working on some fine code for Deadrock – proper camera frustum culling, for a start. But I thought I’d post a few things I’ve been looking at that are related to HCS. In this post you can see some games where the main gameplay interface is a programming language. I haven’t tried any of these games, but some of them look terrific.

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Mailing list

I’m starting up a mailing list for important Deadrock news. If you’d like to be added to the list, please drop a mail to news at deadrock-game dot com and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

If you’d like to keep up to date with the blog, you should consider adding the RSS feed to your bookmarks.

Also, I’ll be posting thoughts and updates and various other stuff to the forum.

3D models working / first public devlog

So this is the first public development log for Deadrock. I’ve been posting screenshots for some time to the forum, but I’ve decided to move most of my output to the blog.

Deadrock started as a 2D rendered isometric view much like the old X-Com games. I was calculating all the depth myself and drawing everything by hand. It was all rather tedious and confusing, so for this reason amongst others, I switched to 3D.

It was fairly easy to do in the end, and I managed to reproduce my old 2D view pretty quickly. One upshot of this is that I can draw anything I like in 3D now, so I decided to make all the furniture in the game 3D. The furniture is created in Blender, and then exported to Wavefront .OBJ, loaded in to the game and drawn as a display list (or in OpenGL immediate mode).

Attack of the Giant Chairs

This is 60 chairs each of 6 quads rendered at different angles and at a far greater scale than they ought to be, on top of what the world currently looks like. Most of the draw time is drawing the world, as it’s not properly culled to the camera frustum. It currently takes 2 milliseconds to draw these chairs on my machine. Should be OK to use as it is then.

Microsoft announces XBox LIVE! Community Games – or Microsoft versus professional Indies?

In a rather exciting bit of news for aspiring and hobbyist developers, Microsoft has announced that it will be rolling out its “YouTube for games” service, which it has named “XBox LIVE Community Games”. You can go and download some of the games that have been in development for XNA right now to your 360.

This is great news especially for students, as Microsoft simultaneously announced that it will provide students attending participating Universities with free versions of Visual Studio 2008, XNA Game Studio, and Creator’s Club membership. They, and I, hope that this will foster a new wave of hobbyist game developers and allow innovative and interesting new games to hit the mainstream. Developers can even make money from their creations on this service, although the methods for doing so are still being ironed out.

All sounds pretty good, right? Well, there are two sides to every coin. Several people have independently told me that during GDC Microsoft also made official their rumoured plan of dropping the royalty rate for self-funded independents on XBox Live Arcade to half what it was before – since it was between 60% and 70% before, this means it’s closer to 30% now. I’ve heard that people on the XBLA team think this is a bad idea, and to me it just points to XBLA becoming more of a digital download route for publisher shovelware.

Edit: Kotaku reports on the rumour.

You can read my feelings on XBLA’s output here. It’s nice to see that, at least in part, my complaints in that post have been addressed by the introduction of this new service, but what of professional indies now? How will Ninjabee or PomPom survive with their royalty rate cut in half? Should they move their output to XBL Community Games? If they do, they lose the ability to take advantage of Achievements, Leaderboards and other features of XBox Live Arcade that make the service so popular. Should they stay on XBLA? Maybe they can’t afford to now, what with self-funding the entire project in the first place.

It feels like Microsoft is pandering to the publishers while trying to get as much new content as they can for free (this is unfair; developing XNA must have taken a lot of effort, but on the other hand anyone who isn’t a sudent has to pay $100 a year to use the service). There is no room in this new system for professional indies.

Amateurs vs. indies

Kieron Gillen has come out in praise of Andrew Doull’s article about the distinction between what he calls “indies” and what he calls “amateurs”. The article itself is rather long, but if you read the emboldened sentences it will give you an idea of quite how misguided Andrew apparently is. Here’s what Kieron had to say:

Probably my favourite piece about games this week was Andrew Doull’s Amateur column about the difference between Indie and Amateur. Judging by the comments thread, not many people seem to Get It. You need to accept Andrew’s terminology and then just roll with it. If you do, it manages to nail a fundamental difference in the approach of developers to the work and throw a lot of great one liners too. I especially liked “Indies release when they’re ready for a private beta; Amateurs release when the game compiles”, “Every odd numbered Introversion title (Hacker, Defcon) is indie; every even numbered one (Darwinia, Subversion) amateur” and Peter Molyneux being analysed as the patron saint of amateurs.

I don’t think the people (myself included) in the comments of the gamesetwatch article don’t get it; it’s a pretty basic point to make in the first place and from a developer’s perspective comes pretty much as common sense. As a professional games developer the distinction between releasing a game when it’s ready and releasing the game because even though it’s crap your mates are sure to like it isn’t even one that needs to be made.

I’d have no problem with an article that discusses professional vs. unprofessional software development practices, just as I’d have no problem with someone examining intent; the problem with the article is that it bundles developer’s intent along with their level of professionalism and wraps them all up in two words. Not only do these two words already have meanings, but generalising developers into two groups like this is both inaccurate and pointless.

Professional and unprofessional. Intent to make money and no such intention. These are two axes, not one.