8.31.2009

A smell of stupidity

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Game designers stink, we need more programmers and level designers.

8.29.2009

Fuck realism, gimme DIY

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I decided to drop all that realism physics stuff. I will make my own special kind of physics! That means:

- back to time-/frame-based plus-x-tile-per-move movement (no shitty float positions)
- no real physics, only linear approaches
- faster code/calculations
- rewrite that damn movement/collision/bouncing code only one time again
- give a fuck standard approaches when working with custom engines
- say yourself you proved everything you always said again just to get the shit working

All these super cool physics calculations may work in 2D where you have access to lots of cool maths, but for 3D you have to do a single, simple calculation for 3 axis to keep it universal and working. Byebye, Pythagoras! YOU SUCK IN 3D. So, the world makes is much easier when choosing a simplified/alternative physics approach. I loved my previous physics with time-based tile movement. I deleted it all but now I'm thinking different. The system was ALMOST PERFECT for my needs AND I JUST IGNORED IT.

I suck, physics suck, games suck and everything else, too! I can't believe I was listening to this goddamn "uuuhhhh... use a different approach and delete everything else.... uuuuhhh...." voice! I hate myself for getting those stupid ideas! And now I hate float values. Fine!

8.27.2009

Nowadays Metroid music

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This post may have some spelling/typo mistakes. Just ignore them, I wasn't motivated enough to correct 'em.

In relatively rare occasions I talk/write about video game music on the internet. One of the most beautiful soundtrack series ever is the Metroid music. The first games had sometimes very heroic themes, but it was always a different from the rest. Atleast Super Metroid blew my mind with it's awesome ambient/electronica soundtrack. I didn't like the boss music, but I never liked Metroids boss music - having a more ambientish/atmosphere taste of sound.

The imho first really modernized Metroid soundtrack was heard in the first Metroid Prime game. And really, IT'S A BOMB. Goddamn awesome themes, combining breakbeatsy percussion (at low and high frequencies, never in the middle) with a dozen of todays electronic and classic instruments: Ambient strings, silent acid lines, piano ballades, insanely twisted synth sounds for boss battles... Just AWESOME. Without the music, the game would have only two thirds of it's awesomeness! I even bought a soundtrack boundle, Metroid Fusion and Metroid Fusion in one box. So far the best soundtrack a Metroid game could ever have. Metroid Prime 2 was... different. Very different. People saying it has an equal quality do lie! MP2 was pretty much like a boring interpretation of the first game engine or somewhat similarly degrading. I has it's good features and also some very good tracks, but most of the time you will listen do boring dark ambient stuff. It's not that don't like dark ambient! I partly adore it (the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. soundtrack is a pretty good one for example!), but MP2 was pretty boring to hear. Like remixing old Metroid and Metroid Prime songs in a new, non-harmonically twisted fashion. The Synths were probably the same (I can remember listen to SYNTHS ONLY plus some rare percussion parts), but tweaked in too high frequencies or too low frequencies, too many effect sounds, etc... There was somehow no mid frequencies part, melodies lost it's use and corrupted to background giggles. Yeah, that's it. MP2 didn't have that awesome arrangement... it seemed like a minimal, musicial remix experiment. And the boss music sucked. MP1's boss music was so awesome! MP2's boss music was seriously bad. Just to listen to Phazon Samus's battle music! Stinks. Really. And the boss fights were so long, hard and frustrating... Nah. Not worth a mention anymore.

Now let's get back to music highlights! Metroid Prime Hunters. The game itself was damn bad in singleplayer mode, but have you ever kept listening to the music? Gosh, what an awesome upbeat battle music! No, seriously. It's like a cross of Metroid Prime and Super Metroid! A lot of lofi choirs, sounds, synths and breakbeats. Mostly no acid sounds, vers alternative in terms of traditional video game music. I really liked to the music and killing some deathmatch NPCs. Holy shit (I'm currently listen to it), there was even acoustic bass part! Combined it the rest of the music, it fits really well and is... very close to IDMish breakbeat music. I LOVE IT. Has character, style... yet very different. Not to say the most variant Metroid soundtrack ever. Download somewhere... It's afaik not available as soundtrack CD, so this is totally OK to me. Oh, I noticed there are also chiptune parts in it... Wow, I mean - have ever listened to soundtrack and noticed that it is varied, sounding like an old video game you really loved in a new fashion but with every piece of soul it has before modernization? That's the soundtrack to me. I get really inspired just by listening to it. EVERY TIME.

Yeah... Where was I? Ah, Metroid music! Exactly! I just forgot the purpose of this post... Next game in the series with important music is Metroid Prime 3. The soudntrack is creepy. Yes, you heard right. Creepy. The title tracks is ace and makes feel small and minor, not to say petty! You'll get goose pimples, immediately! The bad is that there isn't much to say about it. It's good and epic, but it has also no deep character in it's sound... There's no intrumental variation, most stuff is synthesized orchestral plus some synth/percussion parts here and there. And epic soundtrack for an epic game. And let's say the game WAS fucking epic! But I prefer listening to Metroid Prime 1 and Metroid Prime Hunters.

The Variety is what is makes more interesting to me. I don't orchestral-sounding soundtracks are bad, it's just that they don't sound uncommon and/or varied - they are very strict in terms of what they should sound and what not. I like listening to simple synth sounds in alternative, not to say oldschool-fashioned arrangements. Yes, I think these two awesome soundtracks have modern production and sound quality (for these platform limitations) but oldschool spirit in terms of composition and arrangement. It feels just right, how could that ever be wrong?

Let's see what happens to the new Wii Metroid. It's 2D-controlled with 3D graphics and level layers to have enemies in the background. I'm curious how music will turn out... Hopefully good and not just plain epic and orchestral.

8.26.2009

Fixed

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Solved the raster/float/physics stuff problem. It's done, it works, ready for shipping. It feels good. Hm. It wasn't that difficult. Just needed a pause and some quiet moments of (nearly) endless time. Mysterious...

I think that's all. Ranting takes so much time and expression, I wonder why such a wall of energy doesn't happen after solving the problem. Maybe ranting is not a short burst of emotion but rather a long tail of negative expressions or somwhat. Means ranting is a process, joy a short state/impulse? Interesting, very interesting.

8.22.2009

Blank cartridge

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It's over. No more physics. I gave up. I have to recode it completely. My first system worked extremely good for non-gravity things and was probably the most interesting physics alghorithm I ever wrote. But it didn't work. It was shit. I recently thought about simplified physics, but that wouldn't work so that good. I would be as glitchy as the follower was (float values + tile-based raytracing). No, the future doesn't look like that. Tilebased raytracing won't work that good here. I found a way to integrate it, but that was just too complicated to imagine. I can create extremely complicated alghorithms in my head, but coding it? That would be too complex to extend from time to time. Simplicity is the key to maintainable code, I guess. Otherwise, some things will work, but you'll never be able to enhance it in the way you really want. My next try will be a very normal way to do that: Normal wallchecks for moving points. For fast movement/a lot of tiles per frame there will be a simplified/modified tracing alghorithm. The old one works good, but isn't very good for float values. I'm kinda broken. About 2 weeks of coding, research and brainstorming for nothing! For nothing but experience. I had so many different ways to achieve a hopefully better code, nothing really workd. I shouldn't always code every possible micro-change, I should try comepletely different alghorithms! Now I know more about. I'm still extremely grumpy, a will of desctruction. It's possibly a sign of necessary changes.

I really don't know what to do now. Once I said I understand why everyone chooses other programmer's engines - but should I use an external engine, too? I mean I thought about using an engine for physics stuff. But then I discovered that there is no way around. I have to code my own engine. I don't have normal standard stuff, everything is custom. I will continue my bruteforce way of coding by reinventing every wheel I need to get this game working.

And I hate myself for saying that.

8.19.2009

Buying new equipment for my inner musician's pleasure

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I'm not a very happy person at the moment. This is because there are a lot of things bugging me! At first I thought it's just because I haven't continued the development of my game, playing games and browsing forums instead. But otherwise... It's something different. A problem deep inside my soul... something heavy and undefined. Several days of uninspired doodlings went by and nothing happened.

And then I started playing with my DS-10. I edited a test (sound)track for my game, tweaked some knobs and instantly got interest and fascination. I also created some very good sounding bowed instrument-like strings and a brass sound. I love my little box. It's so diverse and simple! You can make a lot of beautiful things with it - if it weren't so limited in terms of chords and number of voices. I even started exploitation of the drum samplers. Long, sampled synths + short delay effects can do a lot of dirty sound magic...

This lead to a shorter experimentation with FL Studio. I thought I could so some bigger and better sounds, but it didn't work. I couldn't get the beautiful DS-10 on my PC. Total crap! Nothing worth working. There was just no right equipment for it, no good instruments. Then I took a look at other high quality music, especially the stuff from ManMadeMan and decided to upgrade FL Studio to a Producer edition plus some or atleast one Image Line Synthesizer. I will download every demo there! And I will probably experiment a lot with Ogun, a very interesting new synth from Image Line.

Yes, I want to have more for pleasuring my musicians soul! Better sound and more flexibility in terms of music production. Not doing it would knock me out for months. I have to do it! It's my duty!

Beware, world! Exocore is coming! With pleasure!

8.11.2009

position in Integer + gravity in Float = SUCKS

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Yeah, that's it. I have problems implementing it. It's that it won't work with another movement system - it's just that I want to keep existing code, it runs FINE and probably better than any other tile-based "engine" I ever coded! Except the gravity stuff... That's obviously a problem for ALL physics games with tile-based movement (I wonder if there is atleast ONE game out there playing with physics but limited movement options...).

Hm. Yeah. What to do now? I'm totally annoyed. My goal was to make a game with roguelike appeareance and oldschool movement limitations. And now it seemed that I FAILED? C'mon on! There must be another solution for it! A better solution for timer-based movement in a tile-based world!

I know I have to make a compromise with physics.

There are two ideas I had in my mind - the first one has a fixed update rate and is kinda... bad. The second one is a physics timer - every tick a delay increase/decrease by x milliseconds. So, a different will need a faster timer - I think this is best variant. Nah, Ok. Maybe its not the best one, but will work I think.

8.08.2009

The big physics problem

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Yesterday I started coding on my physics engine for the game (which is pretty simple - only kinetics = gravity + wall bouncing) and encounter a really serious problem... The point is: Once I decided to use timers for each axis as a movement vector instead of a pixels-per-frame movement vector (means that every x milliseconds the object moves 1 pixel). The result is a fairly simple/effective collision and bounce detection - I'm very proud of it! But the problems began with gravity. Gravity is usually a movement vector multiplier/divider per frame and as such it is comfortable to use - simple maths, no problems at all. But how to applied it in a timer-based physics system? My first try was to work with the direct delay values. Means if the object moves towards the gravity direction, I'm dividing the delay by the related gravity axis value. Means a shorte delta time and faster movement. The opposite calculation for a reversed movement direction and the timer delay increases - a slower movement. If the delay value is greater than a specific treshold, I switch the directions. So, this should work fine, but doesn't. That's because of accuracy loss. Delays are Uint32 (typical SDL-format) and gravity is float value. A simple addition/subtraction of Uin32 values would work, but looks stupid. So, I need the float values for correct timing and such... A combination of Uint32 and float is unpredictable in behavious and can result in chaotic movement vectors. My next approch is to make a timer with float delays. I already have an accurate timer class that uses a similar way to archieve timing, but bases more of an Uint32 and a integer part... I think it won't be aproblem anymore after implement the float timer, but isn't it a bit sad? Was such a cool idea - only Integer values for movement vectors with awesome accuracy!

8.06.2009

Things which shouldn't be in games

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I recently read an article on the TIGSource Forums about a competition game called "Edmund". The competition themes were/are "Adult" and "Educational", the developers had to choose one or two of them. So, Edmund is a game about raping - I didn't play it and I really don't want to. Just think about it - what will happen to the dreamy video game world after integrating the element of raping? Raping is one of the worst things in the world, so who the fuck can make a game that features it? Even if there's a goddamn small percentage of raping in the game, it's still there and the creator can't deny he implemented it - if it's just a cut scene or not! I'm really pissed off at the moment, especially because this Edmund youtube video was fucking atmospheric - like in a game that wants be real. This said, I fear that there's a game out playing in the same league as Manhunt and Postal. A game where you do things that shouldn't be in games, shouldn't be allowed to make interactive and easy to access. There's also a competition entry called "I HAVE CANDY IN THE VAN" which seems about child abuse. I was interested in it, because the creator mentioned that is possible to do bad things, but not neccessary (if I remember correctly). The creator even showed that it's very hard to cope with making a game like that. He showed that he was atleast human and not just a "I need to make that game because it is possible" guy. In the Edmund thread I never read something about that. Are the developers so goddamn cruel that they can make such games without fear and human behaviour? Is THAT what they think indie game development is about? Making games just because there is a special theme that makes it possible to do cruel things and they want to win a cup of tea or whatever? That's what came into mind after watching this video. Seriously, my indie game world broke after it. I hate persons who make such things. And I also fear them now.

Thanks, somebody destroyed my indie world. A place that was different from reality, but is now the same, if not crueler. Don't say I'm overreacting - what would happen to YOUR dreamworld is someone tried to attack it? I'll avoid the TIGSource forums until the competition is over. I really can't stand seeing this game title in my list of unread replies.

Raping, abuse and sex - three things I don't want to have in my gaming world, a lot of people agree here! Sex in video games is for lonely perverts. This competition turned out like there is no social treshold between a peaceful, private sex life and brutal, forced torture. I'm saying this because a lot of posters just ignored the crueal reality. How can somebody say that it looks good if there's a raping part in the game? Raping, abuse and - these three things shouldn't be in games! I'm glad there is are organisations to prevent commercial games from adapting it - otherwise are perverts you now can see on the forums would get some kind of audience. Shitty indie games, shitty indie world, shitty game devs. I'm really pissed off now!

8.05.2009

Physis all around!

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Got a great idea how to implement random gravity in my levels. That's cool because a mage could switch the normal gravity at a point to another in order to make whirlwind traps or other cool things (like the one in Bioshock; a tiny whirl on ground to hurl an enemy walking across it). I have so many cool ideas floating in my head - persistent world changes and such nice things without significant code changes or heavy performance problems (I think so). The only problem is that it makes gameplay balancing harder but more interesting. What a luck that it's a sandbox game! So, yeah. Hm... Reminds of my own words: "Gamedesign is hard, let's go programming!". Exactly this. I don't like gamedesign that much, I think. I know what I want to play and I know how get aspecific gamedesign done as working code... But I really don't want to design tooo much, especially if it's stupid linear gamedesign or other stuff with logical "micro optimization" or wtf whatever. That's the reason why commercial games usually suck - a limited engine, limited game designer mind and just no way to get more interesting possibilities in time. Oh nose - listen to my words! I bet I won't be able to make it better. Or not? Or yes? Or wtf whatever shit?

GAAAAAAAAAAHHH. I should stop playing games while making games. Sucks ass.

8.04.2009

Pause

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I need to take a pause from development. Some basic GUI stuff works now and the gameplay starts to take a real shape. The UI will be pretty simple but colorful. I also have ideas for an inventory screen with big ASCII art stuff! Yeah, that will be cool. I want to have atleast a big weapon screen where you can see the base weapon + all attached goodies. But that's a piece of work I don't want to do at the moment! I want to play games again. BIG induced to think more about games and the "trance" moment of gaming where every thing is fine and you just want finish the next level or get a new item for your hero... Yeah, I want to play for a week or two. Some bits of coding here and there - to keep my head focussed on my own game. I thought about WHAT to play and the best game for me atm is a decent Diablo 2 mod. Yeah, I know - Diablo 2 is addictive. But I noticed that this game is like an engine for me - like "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." or "XIII". It's one of these games you can play over and over again without getting bored (or atleast you don't think it's boring, because there's driving force behind it's concept). They can do everything with you! I just want to play, just play! So, I'm going to play the famous Median XL mod for Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. Lots of new things and I hope that it's fucking different from the original game! I don't want the original game anymore. My first idea was to download the Back to Hellfire mod for version 1.10, but every files seems damaged to me, or my router crashes while downloading. That's bad because it was my first choice, I always wanted to try it.... Is just a more simple and clean gaming experience! But ok, ok - let's try the overloaded and fully blown superduper killer Diablo mod Median XL... Maybe it's so that it induces me to start coding again? Who knows.

Yes, yes, yes - WHO KNOWS?