Blog Archive 2008

[Real life] A merry christmas to all of you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008, 7:48 PM

I wish you all tons of presents, a peaceful time with your beloved ones and some little break from daily business.

I will play with my kids (we got a Wii and some board games for christmas so fun is guaranteed :-)), read some new books and try to get some more sleep as usual!

Fun, love, peace and health to all of you!


[Game Dev] Poor Waldo...and PlayBasic FX

Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 10:23 PM

Progress is slow. It takes ages to change all the code to use the new bitmap font routines. And I need to modify the input routine which needs to use the bitmap font stuff too.

Anyway, over at Kevin Picone released a new version (1.74) of PlayBasic FX. PB FX is the bigger brother of PB, using Direct3D with HW acceleration instead of DirectDraw. Additionally the new release uses a brand new version of the virtual machine giving some dramatic performance boosts to PB games :-)

Some more promising features are to come in the future. Jump over to the PB forums and read about it for yourself!

[Real life] It's that time of the year again...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 10:19 PM

End of year is nearing so there are kids birthdays, christmas and the terror named cold ahead.
First boy is already sick at home and I'm just waiting for my other kids and my wife to follow :-/
Somehow all this coughing and snorting and sneezing seems to miss me - I like that :-)

But my spare time is close to zero. Bad times for game coding...

[Game Dev] Who stole Waldo? progress

Tuesday, November 04, 2008, 11:36 PM

As promised I'm working on an improved version of Who stole Waldo?.
Right now I added an option screen to switch between windowed and full screen mode. Furthermore you can adjust music and sound volume. These options are stored in a settings file of course and reloaded on game startup.

This night I improved my bitmap font routines. Based on some stuff from Kevin I can now use proportional bitmap fonts. Next task is to integrate these new routines into the game.
Another bigger task is to replace my cumbersome animation routine with a modified version of Kevin's animation library. Makes organizing and playing of animations much easier ;-)

Progress might seem to be a bit slow but at least it's somewhat steady.

[Game Dev] Making Games Talents

Tuesday, November 04, 2008, 11:13 PM

That was the title of an event I joined last friday. I took a day off and went to Hamburg, St.Pauli, Reeperbahn. For all you non german readers: that's the german most famous legal red light district 8-0
In the "Schmidt Theater" the people from the german game developer magazine "Making Games" ( initiated some "come together" of german game developer studios who were seeking for talented people (designers, coders, artists) to join them.

It started at 9 am with a nice key note of some Microsoft XNA game developer evangelist who introduced the audience (around 50 to 70 people I'd guess) to Microsoft's efforts regarding game development.
XNA sounds pretty cool, especially if one owns an XBox 360 and wants to make some money with own game creations. You can create games for Windows, XBox 360 and the Zune media player. Microsoft claims that to be platform independent ;-)
Anyway, yesterday I ordered a book about XNA game development and will fiddle around with it a bit. I always wanted to look at C# and this looks like a fun opportunity!

Following the key note all participating companies spent around 45 minutes each to introduce themselves, their current projects and their open job positions.

My main interest in going there was to get an answer on a question that nagged me for several weeks now: Would it make sense for me to quit my current job and completely get out of the "commercial" IT business and jump into the game developer zone?

The answer was given after the first few talks to the companies' representatives: The salaries are way too bad and the working conditions are worse :LOL:
At least compared to the conditions I'm used to...

So I guess my future is bright and clear: I'll keep my business job and game creation will stay a hobby!

[Website] Title changed

Tuesday, November 04, 2008, 11:09 PM

Okay, it might only be a minor change for you but for me it makes a huge difference ;-)
"Tommy tries to code some games" is gone. I am coding games! You can already download three games on this site (the tiny Space Invaders from my Space Invaders tutorial part 1 doesn't count...). And there are more to come!

[Game Dev] I made the second place!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 8:11 PM

Woot! I made second place in the HeroesQuest PlayBasic 2008 competition!!!
I'm really happy about it although there were only three entries. Two years ago I was third out of four entries ;-)
The best thing was the fun of coding a platformer! Now it's finishing time. Some issues are on the list that I want to put in:

  • a way to attack the enemies (throwing the collected bombs popped into my mind),
  • a "real" level editor, not just any text editor
  • more graphics and animations (using the Animation library of PlayBasic - now that I found out how to use it properly with my given graphics format),
  • an option screen to change sfx and music volume and toggle between windowed and fullscreen mode,
  • minor things that I don't remember yet or that raise as normal "feature pollution".

I'd also like to congrat Green7 for his first place! His game Never Dawn is really great and deserves to be number one! Green7 also announced to release an improved version of his game so visit his site once in a while for the best version of Never Dawn!

Of course right after you played Who stole Waldo? :LOL:

Now give me a break as I need to play around with all my prizes! You want some too? Join and win a competition ;-)

Need a good tool? Give PlayBasic a try! For 25$ it's a bargain!

[Game Dev] No decision yet...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008, 8:53 PM

Sigh. Competition deadline is nearly over for two weeks now. Still the judges didn't come up with a decision. Shouldn't be so tough as only three competitors sent in their entries.
Which is kind of sad. Organizing a competition, getting sponsors into the boat, doing the websites, announcements, rolling the drums and more is a huge effort...
I hope Kevin Picone of PlayBasic fame still gets some awareness for his cool product out there! He earned it pretty much!

I am going a bit slower in game coding issues but I already started improving Who stole Waldo? as it's not finished at all. Not only do I plan to add my personal missing features but I also got some more nice graphics from BlinkOk and some good tips from Kevin regarding code optimization.

And although the levels for Who stole Waldo? can be created with any simple text editor I am thinking about creating some comfortable level editor as a coding exercise :LOL:

So stay tuned for updates!

[Game Dev] Who stole Waldo? is released

Sunday, October 05, 2008, 11:59 AM

Yes, I managed it! I finished my HeroesQuest PlayBasic 2008 competition entry just in time. The last two weeks were very exhausting and I spent quite a lot of long coding nights in front of my PC to get this game out of the door ;-)

But now it's done and I present to you Who stole Waldo? Jump over to the game's page or click the button below to download it!

Have some fun playing it! Any feedback appreciated!


Who stole Waldo?

[Game Dev] SpiderTrap source code released

Sunday, October 05, 2008, 11:04 AM

In the Slick forums some guy asked about some help coding a smooth scrolling map and he mentioned SpiderTrap as a working example.

So I decided to release the Java source code for the game (just the .java files, no sounds and no images!).

Jump over to the SpiderTrap page to download ;-)

I hope the source code is not too messy and ugly...

[Game Dev] Jump!

Saturday, September 13, 2008, 10:20 PM

Finally found two hours tonight and got the player control code working. So my player can now move left and right and jump and even fall down when he's no longer on a platform!

That's a great progress and very good for my motivation as I got all essential parts now working :-)

The platform collision stuff can be reused for the enemies and the sprite collisions between player and enemies or other game items is dead simple thanks to PlayBasic's builtin pixel perfect collision routines.

Now I think I can get at least a one level version of the game out of the door when the competition ends...

[Real life] Improve your life

Monday, September 08, 2008, 11:10 PM

The last few months I spent some time reading here and there about ways to improve my life in one area or the other.
I decided to post some of those findings on my site. You can find them at Getting better.

Have fun,

[Game Dev] Slooooow...

Monday, September 08, 2008, 11:00 PM

I am nearly done with the player logic but not completely. The main collision function is still missing. I hoped to find more coding time at the weekend but my wife was on a workshop over the weekend so I was busy with my kids and too tired at night to produce something game wise...

The competition deadline is 1st of October and I'm afraid I might not make it. But I decided to keep on going and send in what I have so far on the last day. We'll see :-/

For my project They Come I found some nice routine to generate a planet texture procedurally - look here.

And by the way - I'll definitely switch back to Java and Slick after the PlayBasic competition. Struggling with the language and it's limitations (no OO features at all, limitations with data structures, bad debugger and buggy IDE) eat up too much of my precious time.

[Website] Blog comments via PHP?

Monday, September 01, 2008, 10:04 PM

During vacation I read a book about WordPress. Why? Because I want to be able to allow readers to add comments to blog entries (and not just a simple feedback form). And I would love to have categories and dynamically created pages containing all paragraphs for a given category.

WordPress does offer these functionalities and I could even install it on my web space. But configuration and handling of WordPress is so uncomfortable compared to TOWeb that I trashed that idea.

The next release of TOWeb is not yet announced so I'm looking for some PHP scripts to get that functionality, maybe even using a MySQL DB.

Any suggestions or links? Then send me an email please ;-)

Send an email to Tommy

[Game Dev] It's a level!

Monday, September 01, 2008, 9:20 PM

The level loading code is more or less done. I can now add new obstacles or level components by copying some lines of the UFF level description. I only need to add appropriate functions to create the proper sprites and objects in the game itself.

So now it's time to add the player and enemies and so on. Just right after (or then before?) I invented my personal time machine ;-)

Only 4 weeks left - this will become tough. I hope my family bears with me cause this could end up with some long coding nights 8-)

[Real life] Vacation is over. Too bad.

Monday, September 01, 2008, 9:15 PM

Although we had lots of rainy days and spent only two days at the beach the vacation was fine. We slept a bit longer than usual (our little boy was nice enough to play for a while alone in the living room while we were still asleep) and that was already a great difference compared to "normal" school, work and kindergarden life :LOL:

On the bad weather days we visited some nice places near our holiday apartment or went shopping - not this bad.

The only thing I missed was a PC :LOL: Luckily I installed a 4GB memory stick into my cellphone before we left and had lots of music and podcasts with me - very cool! Oh, and using the built in camera I can present you "Tommy on the beach" 8-)

[Game Dev] Loading, loading...

Friday, August 01, 2008, 11:14 PM

Right now I'm still coding routines to load a level from an UFF file (which is written manually with a standard text editor). The progress is not very fast - struggling with UFF bugs (it messes up if indentation is done using blanks instead of tabs :-/) and my constant lack of time...

After vacation I'll have to dedicate much more time to finish the game...



Friday, August 01, 2008, 11:12 PM

Just spent a few minutes to revamp the game development area. Now I have a Game Dev menu with submenu entries for tutorials, source code and tools.
It helps me to add new stuff more easily. Now I only need more time to add some more content :LOL:

[Game Dev] There's a blue screen

Monday, July 21, 2008, 9:48 PM

...but no blue screen of death but just the one I draw in the main loop of my platformer.
I finally continued with the game itself and now have game states and a basic main game loop running.
After thinking back and forth about the levels and how to design them, draw them and check for collisions I made a decision.
The levels will be stored in UFF files. Due to the fact that the platform images and the vertical elements all have different widths and heights it's too complicated to try to fit it into a tile sized PlayBasic map structure.
So I will take the simple sprite approach and use sprite drawing and collision mechanisms for the levels. Should work as good as the map stuff although not that comfortable. We'll see ;-)

But now back to the game - vacation is nearing and I fear it will be a hot september while finishing the game for the competition...

[Game Dev] Tool time

Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 9:12 PM

I wrote a little tool to have a look at the graphics and animations I got from BlinkOk for the competition entry.
It allows you to specify frames with width and height, start position and offsets to "rip" the single images for the animations.
The tool can dump some XML like description and reload it again.
I will write a loading routine to use those description files in my compo entry to load all the animations.
See the piccy on the right or download it here.

But now it's time to continue with the game itself!


[Game Dev] It's competition time!

Thursday, June 12, 2008, 10:58 PM

The nice guys over at Underware Design are doing their annual game making competition. This time it's all about heroes, treasures, princesses and adventure! Create a platformer game with PlayBasic and win one of the many prizes! There are more than 1400 US$ in the prize pool!

All the details are available here!

I couldn't resist and decided to join the fun - so it's PlayBasic coding for a while :LOL:

Should you decide to join the competition you could have a look at my Game development pages and at my Space Invaders tutorial part 1 to learn more about PlayBasic and its nice game creation features!
Great performance, easy sprite and effects handling, support for many sound and music formats and tons(!) of demo and sample codes!

There's a free Learning Edition available to get you started and if you're fast you could even be a "CleverCoder" (this is a hint!) and get a 25% discount of the bargain price of 24,95$.

What are you waiting for?

Come on and beat me in the competition :LOL:

Heroes Quest - 2008 PlayBasic Game Making Competition

[Real life] Envy me!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008, 9:25 PM

Yup, it finally happened - I bought a new PC and it's up and running (many, many thanks to Jürgen who helped me assemble it!) - yeeeehaaaa!
It's an AMD dual core (2.3 GHz) with 2 GB RAM, a 500 GB hard disk, DVD burner, a Geforce 8600GT graphics card and a marvelous 22' widescreen TFT!
Compared to my old trusty Celeron this machine is faster than light :LOL:
And it's all black: a black Sharkoon midi tower, a black Logitech keyboard and mouse. That's the way I like it, aha, aha!
And of course I'm still running Windows XP and not Vista but I left 40 GB on my hard disk unformatted to install some Linux (Ubuntu?) on it.

My brother's website is finished, my daughter's PC (my old Celeron) is also up and running, now I just need to prepare the last PC for my son and then it's coding time again!


[Game Dev] Things. Happen. Slowly.

Sunday, May 11, 2008, 9:59 PM

So the nice guys at finished a first beta of LWJGL 2.0 with improved applet support. And Kev immediately added it to Slick. Cool stuff!

My code fragments I slapped together in those 5 minute sessions over the last few months finally fit together so that I have a piece of software that starts and renders something on screen.
This was definitely the motivation kick I needed to get along with it.

The last few weeks I was torn and thought about giving up on They Come but now that's over!

Expect some screenshots starting in the next few weeks.


[Real life] Stress is nearly gone...

Sunday, May 11, 2008, 9:39 PM

So I built my Cajon (see a picture of the half finished state on the right) and it was a lot of fun. Two days carpenter work and a cajon drum crash course! And the course ended with a 10 minute open air concert we gave in some nice park in the center of Hamburg 8-)

And I also did the kajak trip on the Elbe with my middle son which was also absolutely great! We had perfect weather, sunshine and no wind, nice people to join us and no one fell into the water!

Finally we had a nice birthday party for my little boy with picnic in the garden, a lot of children party games and some amazing magic tricks at the end ;-)

My new PC is nearly bought ;-) Tuesday I'm trying to get all the required parts and if they have everything in store the machine will be assembled on the same evening! Yay! My friend Jürgen is going to help me - will be the first time that I don't buy a "standard" PC but just all the components 8-0

Life is getting better again!

[Real life] Bzzzzzz...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 12:36 AM

I am busy. Busy, busy, busy.
No game dev at all :-(

Work is pretty time consuming and tiring at the moment. And so is real life with family and house.
Aaaand I'm currently redoing the website of my brother. Completely redoing it.

I already spent five evenings with it over the last two and a half weeks! But the end is near 8-)
I mean the end of me hacking all this stuff in. Then it's review time with my brother. And then it's hacking again. More stuff. More pictures. More slideshows. And then review again.

And I must not forget my little son's birthday. Of course I need to do some little magic show at the end of his party to amaze all his little guests 8-0
But of course this needs some preparation and exercises. Kids are cruel if you fumble and ruin a magic trick...

Anyway, there are some more nice things I'm looking forward to:

  • I will buy a new PC in the next few weeks (I guess after my son's birthday),
  • I will build a Cajon (some kind of drum kit in a box) this coming weekend,
  • I will enjoy some kajaking the weekend after with my middle son and finally
  • it's our twentieth anniversary and my wife and me are taking a weekend off! YES!


[Game Dev] Pixel ships!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 9:05 PM

Finally an update! It's been pretty busy lately (as usual...) and I got only minor things done. But the pixel ship generation is nearly finished. I can pass String based templates into the random generation class to generate anything from space ships to asteroids or satellites. The generator code just needs to know if the generated object is mirrored or not. With the strings I can define which cells are always solid, maybe solid, always empty or an always solid cockpit part (for different coloring).
I just need to add some nice coloring but that's all "done in my brain already(tm)" since I found the algorithms to generate some smooth 256 color palettes to use for drawing nice ships 8-)

Next thing on my work list is to get a basic random scenario generated so that I can start a dummy game and add functionality and game logic.

XML based scenarios and campaigns will come later - currently coding that is too boring and doesn't show enough progress.

Next graphical challenge will be generation of planet graphics. I want to base my stuff on some code from Phil Hassey again. We'll see.

If anyone has an idea how to procedurally generate faces of humans and aliens for the ingame advisors you can hire please tell me :LOL:

[Game Dev] They Come - but when?

Monday, March 03, 2008, 9:42 PM

Long time no update!
What have I done? I looked at some nice pixel generation routines for robots and space ships.

I am so fascinated by this stuff that I want to create my game graphics based on these ideas. Let's see where this leads to ;-)

So while I'm still coding the XML parsing stuff for the configuration files I'll also start with the pixel generation routines.

I'm back to Java and Slick, just in case anyone is wondering :LOL:
The update of the Space Invaders tutorial with PlayBasic was fun but still Java feels (and is!) a lot more comfy!

Kevin, mastermind behind Slick also uses some new kind of tiny Webstart like mechanism for his new game Mootox which is pretty cool. It allows to create downloadable versions of your game which are able to update themselves over the web! Of course he coded it (his motto: If you need something have a look around at the web. If you don't find it, code it!). I bet he did it in one or two nights! I sometimes feel so slow :-(

So there are a lot of areas to play around - that should keep me busy and happy for a while!

Oh, and Niels/Juggler, whenever I mention again that I'm thinking about changing dev tools - just give me a friendly slap, okay? :LOL:

[Game Dev] Space Invaders Tutorial is done - again?!

Monday, February 18, 2008, 11:42 PM

I reworked the tutorial once more, based on great input from Kevin Picone, the mastermind of PlayBasic.

As I said in the previous post here: Have a nice read, I'll go to bed now ;-)

Space Invaders tutorial part 1

[Game Dev] Tutorial is done!

Monday, February 11, 2008, 12:10 AM

Just finished my Space Invaders tutorial part 1! You can have a read, I'll go to bed now!


[Game Dev] Still ongoing tutorial update

Sunday, February 10, 2008, 10:09 PM

Sigh, a week's gone by and I am still not done with the tutorial update.
Real life and real job leave only few minutes for game coding time...

Anyway, if you can't resist, jump over to the Space Invaders tutorial part 1 and have a little read.

Collision is not in, although all preparation is done. Maybe I finish it tonight, but maybe not...


Sunday, February 03, 2008, 11:05 PM

I just switched from my hoster's visitor counter to some free one.
Advantages: Instead of tracking unique visitors only I can now track all visitors of my site, also frequent visitors.
But this new counter does not just count page impressions (so hitting "Refresh" on your browser won't increase the counter). Instead every visitor who comes back after 3 hours will be counted again. I think that's an "okay" timeframe to give me a better impression how many people get lost in the internet and land here.

Just to let you know...


[Game Dev] Tutorial update time

Sunday, February 03, 2008, 10:56 PM

Recently I've been revisiting the Underware Design forums, creators of PlayBasic.

I detected four things:

  • my version of PlayBasic was totally outdated,
  • my Space Invaders tutorial part 1 was also totally outdated and doesn't even compile with the current version of PlayBasic,
  • the new features of PlayBasic like pixel perfect collisions, native linked list support and a new virtual machine with hardware acceleration made an update of my tutorial not only necessary but promising :LOL:
  • a quick look at my website statistics showed that still around 100 visitors each month read the tutorial!

That were enough reasons for me to justify an update of the Space Invaders tutorial part 1.

It's currently a work in progress but it's a lot of fun and the new features simplify coding life a lot!

[Game Dev]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 11:05 PM

Some more tiny bits of coding done but still the progress is slow...but hey, I'm just a bedroom coder (indeed I'm a living room coder) and I don't get paid for it ;-)
Maybe I should add a Paypal donate button and see if anyone wants me to hurry up...

Recently I played Frozzd, the winning game of the Yoyogames winter competition and I like the game play and the graphics style a lot.
I would guess most of the graphics were made with some vector drawing tool...
Anyway, the game is a wonderful example of what can be achieved with Game Maker.

Have fun,

[Game Dev] Any progress?

Friday, January 18, 2008, 10:45 PM

I coded a bit more. And I played around with stuff. The last two evenings I played around with Express Animator which is a tool to create SWF animations or 2D animations in general. Currently it misses some functionality to be useful in game development but it's just version 1.0. Let's see how that tool progresses...

And today my friend Niels borrowed me his Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet over the weekend - that is fun! Inkscape worked immediately with it and drawing with such a tablet is cool! I scribbled along and enjoyed it very much - now I need to get 70 Euros to buy my own one :LOL:

[Game Dev] Return of the code?

Sunday, January 06, 2008, 10:55 PM

Don't be too optimistic - progress on game development can still be considered "on hold". I coded two or three hours the last week - and that was a vacation week!

Coding took place with Game Maker - I am jumping back and forth again 8-0
At least to be fair I have to cancel some statement regarding Game Maker I made end of October...
Of course you can create persistent objects which are existing as long as you need them. So data containers or stateful objects are no problem for Game Maker...

I don't know how long this Game Maker period will last so I'll just keep my mouth shut. I will let you know as soon as some positive result can be presented - either in Java or in Game Maker...

[Real life] Happy new year!

Sunday, January 06, 2008, 10:44 PM

Okay, okay, it's already nearly a week gone but anyway - a happy new year to all of you!
This new year's eve was pretty nice - I wasn't sick! And although I missed by new year's single malt at 4 am it was a good step into 2008.
Let's see what this year has got in store for us ;-)


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