3.28.2010

Light

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A bright ray of light crosses the darkness - blinding all the dark thoughts this blog ever encountered.
I suck at making fantasy-sounding lines, but well. I changed my blog colors to the direct opposite of what it was before. It should cheer up my mood. Also, I love listening to old music like from the Bioshock or Fallout 3 soundtrack. It's beautiful to listen to them.

3.27.2010

Similarities

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Hey, I just listened to the soundtrack of Spyro 2: Riptos's Rage and have to say they use a dozen of sounds/synth you can also find in the Metroid Prime Hunters soundtrack. That's somehow weird... I guess both composers are using the sample pack or synth for sampling their sound effects. Or maybe they're the composers, which would be a great thing since both soundtrack all well made and suitable for listening more of them..

3.26.2010

Hardware 3D sucks ass

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You know what? The Stalker engines sucks for modding. Seriously, the used millions of textures - absolute unsorted. Bumpmaps between color textures, alpha layers here and there... All of them in a couple of folder and mixed randomly. Doesn't make much fun! I thought about picking out some cool seamlessly loopable pattern as texture replacement but that's just to much work. When I wrote the 1-color-per-texture-mod thing I even used a custom tool for replacing files and making whole folder structures of empty files, just using the original names to finally replace what I wanted with new ones. Exausting! To hell with all these shitty ways of making games with modern graphics cards. I hate that every 3D engine requires textures with a power-of-two size. I mean yes, maybe it works faster this way but that's no proper way of beeing creative! It's a fucking pain and slowly I do understand why most 3D games aren't made by incredibly creative guys but rather by people with more technology in mind than actually confortable ways to put in new stuff for fun. I'm glad I don't need/want to make 3D games later. It's a pain to cut down what you really want to do. The world deserves better ways of making 3D games. Something really revolutionary, enabling game creation on-the-fly and affect-wise. Maybe I'll will learn OpenGL next semester, enabling me to see if it's possible to work in the way I want. Probably not. Today's 3D technology is unpredictable silly. I'm still convinced by custom raytracing solutions. I don't like 3D graphics hardware.

3.24.2010

Titanic fail

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One day I said I uninstalled Titan Quest forever. Well, did I say I uninstalled Titan Quest forever? That was a lie. I thought it couldn't harm to rush atleast the Immortal Throne expansion to see what I missed and I discovered some truly disastrous things in it. Everything I said about the expansion is true and it stacks more and more on top of it. At first, I played with a Dream/Nature char and just rushed through all acts without using any of the new artifact or scroll features whatever. Took me two days including optional quests. After killing Typhon the plot did a jump to nonsense by presenting you a silly plot rambling which evolved into killing Hades for no real pre-expansion-related reason. It's just a big bunch of sidequests! It showed off some really nice design elements which should've been in the previous game (mostly level design ideas like the pitchblack marchs or the very first level of the underworld and I also liked the artifact merging element) - but not this way. It's so different, look-wise, from the original game... It doesn't work as an expansion or addon. It's... some kind of new game. The gameplay is the same but the quests and levels and so untypical for Titan Quest that it makes it hard to see the relation to the original game. Titan Quest was an earthly game about humans kicking all nonearthly asses from the surface. Some legends here and there but still using popular mythology elements, giving the player a round world experience. Looking at the expansion I wonder: where is the original world? It doesn't work anymore. Of course, mythology shit here and there again - but so dumpy placed and integrated... It's an expansion you only play once. Just to see what's happening in a level designers mind. I'm also against it's abuse of greek myth elements. Well, it has more legends in it than the original game and then its Greece again! I mean it started in Greece, it spanned across Egypt and Asia to end at the Olymp. Of course, the Olymp is a greek thing again. A place for all kinds of gods - including those from other continents. I see no problem with ending a game there. But why the fuck do I have to go back to greece? It would've been more apppropriate to integrate Aztec mythology as a new act before Olymp rather than sticking new stuff to a final end. But well, it's just an addon. They created it because the original was a success. Therefore it can't be an essential part of the previous game... For me, the game ends with Typhon. Everything else is just a mod. I'm such a fool! I knew it wasn't what I wanted, butI bought it. Like a fanboy. Yeah. Fanboy. I'm glad I'm not a fanboy of the expansion.

On a sidenote, it "epifies" everything. Epic quest descriptions, epic NPCs, epic dialogs... Everything more epified than needed. Titan Quest itself is epic enough and too much epicness is bad for business, you know. It's too epified to be an epic fail, hu. That requires a more epic version of epic fail to define how much it missed the orignal game. Something like... titanic. Titanic fail. Indeed the right word for how it turned out.

Another titanic fail is my desire to play Titan Quest again without expansion. To blow away the winds of Hades. It stinks down there.

3.13.2010

Why expansions suck

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Almost all successful Diablo-like games do have expansions: Diablo II, Titan Quest, Sacred... And all of them SUCK. Why? Well, that's obvious. They release a game. A game to be playable and absolute. Diablo II did it well: play hardcore and you have a simple combat-oriented pseudo-roguelike. The expansion pack was rather silly. Of course, I played it more than the classic game. But if I look at it and think about what was more fun to play, it definitely was without expansion. Titan Quest is similar: Classic version awesome! Expanded version ridiculous! I bought it today (5 bucks) and it really sucks. Does change the visuals (destroying the originally fine ones) , the sound (well, atleast here in Germany the syncro sucks ass) and the gameplay. The new class does make almost every possible character immortal to a specific degree. That's bad! The balancing was so great, not to say perfect! No, I uninstalled it and Titan Quest, too (and reinstalled it to get the much better english syncro back!). It's just silly to expand games if it destroys the original balance. Discovering all the mechanics of the original game make you realise how super-fluous an expansion would be. There's nothing good in poisening the essence of the original game. The worst thing at all this: if it's a multiplayer game, you'll stop finding players if there's a new expansion out. I can't find Titan Quest players of the original version. I mean why? The expansion is so silly and only good if it comes to new levels and such. I haven't played til act 4 and I never will. I prefer having a good balance and better visuals. It does add so many bad things to what was so good without. Developers, please! Keep it original. Expansions suck.

3.12.2010

Supersmooth

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The PC works great. Quiet and efficient. I can every game I have laying around on max settings and ~50 fps. That's great! I think about splitting some of my engine features into seperate threads, so that I can make use of multiple processors. However, I'm not experienced when it comes to multi-processors programming. But I have so many CPU-consuming ideas - I will probably be able to cope with whatever I need for making it real.

3.10.2010

And there we go

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My new PC arrived! At first I was shocked - no HDD detected! It's a complete PC system, so I was somehow nervous after my stressy and fruitless efforts to rescue my previous one. Fortunately it was just a loosely plucked cable and it worked after that. They shipped it with Windows 7... I played a bit with it and have to say there is obvious reason for me to use it. I mean XP works ok, it's less different from what I'm used to and such... But it's good to know my PC works fine with it! I'm installing XP right now and will hopefully be able to play Bioshock 2. Yeah, that's it. The PC is silent, doesn't make noise and looks excellent combined with my gear. It feels good not to fiddle ages with hardware. Just plug it in (and check your HDD connector first...) and stack software on top. I'm really not a hardware dude and I shouldn't about things like that. I have to know how to do some basic things and that's all. I'm a code monkey! Atleast is this what I'm capable of. And this what counts if I want to get a job as a developer, right?

Great, installation almost done. Just some configs and I'm ready to rumble. What should I play at first? Stalker could be cool. Without stuttering and such things. For anyone who's interested, here's are my game-related specs:

AMD Athlon II X3 435 processor (2,9 GHz)
4.096 MB DDR2 RAM
ATI Radeon HD5750 graphics card (1024 MB)

And thanks Bool it's a PCI-E board! I can't believe it. Also, this PC was cheaper than my old one... Weird world, really.

3.09.2010

After all...

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I'm somehow glad it isn't my inability to understand how physics work.
I always distill formulas to alghorithm (not using their calculations) and I'm usually right in doing so. Oh god, I'm so glad it worked again. Ok, yes - I still need to find the problem, but that's emotionally different. I still believe complicated formulas aren't that necessary, only for special cases.

I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT

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Do you know what's annoying? It's annoying to discover that every problem you encountered during physics implemention is no specific physics problem. It's much more annoying to realize that you never failed when it comes to delta value alternatives. Well, I'm coding the physics shit and I can't believe that after MONTHS of coding the standard solution has exactly the same problem all other variants have, too. WHAT THE FUCK? What is this shit? What's the black magic behind here??? I so fucking damn pissed off, dudes. It's hilarious. Months ago I had the think working - exactly the same but with less effort and less implementation problems. I wrote the essential same alghortihms over 5 times in different variants and all of them sucked.

I'M FUCKING DAMN ANGRY.

3.08.2010

Another problem

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I also read some comments below this article and someone mentioned that he asked one of his tested dudes how to swap variables without using temporary variables. I never thought about this problem, so the commenter (not the dude) said the "standard" solution is:
a=a+b
b=a-b
a=a-b
It immediately blew my mind! It's so tricky. And clever. But at first I doubted it would work for everything. Maybe for integers. But for floating-numbers? What's with too high/low values? Isn't a temporary value more clean and will work for every case? Well, the same doubts I found on stackoverflow. I always prefer optimal and proper solution. But a and b are not defined. Nor you know what content they have. So if it's something different from values, it's not possible if not proper defined. And this question as a test? Come on, someone asking that must be a dumbass. Temporary variables are much more readable and safer to use for ANY kind of data. This little trick may work, but my brain says me that copying is always better than calculating (just think of the differences between an exact copy and a maybe just approximated calculation). Let's say a and b are string variables. Calculation would takes ages in some cases, so it's better to plainly copy in a temp variable. I hate it if people think those "clever" tricks make a better programmer. It's not. A programmer needs to work within a team and good AND understandable code is therefore more important than tricky quick'n dirty code lines. I never used such tricks. My professor ones mentioned a trick how to change the content of a number with bitshifting. But then I mentioned there are Little/Big Endian differences and he said that it -of course...- will only work with one Endian variant. Things like that make me angry. My prof didn't even think about other situations. He told us students case-specific shit that doesn't work in every case.

As I always say, I'm a perfectionist. But this isn't a perfectionist rant. It's a rant about people beeing ignorant and elitist about silly things. Those tricky things can cause serious problems during software execution and I wonder if they already encountered such situations - probably not on the computers they designed the software for. Ever thought about portability? Goddamnit, that's pissing me off. I hate ignorant people. And guess what I hate more? Ignorant programmers. I always tell them why it's not good to do their things like that, but they keep beeing ignorant.

3.07.2010

The FizzBuzz problem

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I read this article on codinghorror about non-programming programmers and found an interesting little code to test if you can plan a simple program or not by reading some the linked blog entries:
Write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100. But for multiples of three print "Fizz" instead of the number and for the multiples of five print "Buzz". For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print "FizzBuzz".

This is interesting. You may say no, but after thinking about it, there are some variants which do the same but beeing pretty different. First version:
for i=1 to 100
  if i%3==0 && i%5==0
    print "FizzBuzz"
  elseif i%3==0
    print "Fizz"
  elseif i%5==0
    print "Buzz"
  else
    print i
  endif
next

That's the most natural variant, it's an exact representation of the task. But... there is a question I always ask my self: Why do we need to do so many modulos? I mean if it's just a multiple of five, we need four modulos. Four! Modulo is relatively quick but it's still not optimal if it were a more complicated check like with string numbers. So my second variant uses a temporary variable:
for i=1 to 100
  bool x=true
  if i%3==0
    print "Fizz"
    x=false
  endif
  if i%5==0
    print "Buzz"
    x=false
  endif
  if x==true
    print i
  endif
next

We always need two modulos, better than a two to four modulos! But we need another variable for that. So, this may be not optimal, too. Third Version:
for i=1 to 100
  if i%3==0
    print "Fizz"
    if i%5==0
      print "Buzz"
    endif
  elseif i%5==0
    print "Buzz"
  endif
next

The thing is, we still have 2 modulos, but we don't a temporary variable. Things like that make differences if it comes to actual time-consuming problems. And I'm afraid of encountering such things in a test like mentioned in the blog post. Not because I'm not able to beat it. It's trivial! Not worth a mentioning for me. But more because I tend to optimize as good as possible. I want every information about this case and in the end I will think longer than most people because I have problems to decide whether to goal of this test is to check if I can just program or if I can program and think optimal. I always want to optimize, especially if it comes to microscopic things like that. There is no memory management class (linke lists, stacks, etc...) where I don't try to have the perfect and most comfortable solution. I'm a perfectionist and I know almost every code sucks. If I would be religious, I would initiate a sacrifice procedure or something like that just to get hired without doing such tests. They are traps for me. And if they rate my programming ability by how fast I can come with ANY solution, I don't want to be a programmer there. Or atleast not at the moment. A lot of things will probably change and I'm afraid I won't get a job I like.

May the bool be with me.

Dimensions in video games

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Video games consist of a number of dimensions. If they hear the word dimension, most people think of two worlds in a game or the number of dimensions used to display the game. But there are a couple more!

Rendering dimensions: The way the game is rendered. 2D has no perspective and is perfect for flat monitors like the ones we use today, 3D uses perspective projection to project a 3D scene on a flat monitor. Therefore it is no real 3D - it is still fake 3D.

Level dimensions: A game usually has level data stored in multiple dimensions, usually 2D or 3D. Most old console games have just 2 dimensions (The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, etc). Games like Doom for example essentially use 2D maps, but they have height informations, too. Therefore it has less dimensions than a 3D map, but more dimensional information than a 2D map!

Gameplay dimensions: This does exist, too! Most FPS games play strictly like first person 2D games except there are some bits of up/down aiming. Games like Super Mario 64 have real 3D gameplay with multiple layers, ramps to different heights and giant moving objects which result in an extremely 3Dimensional gameplay. Most racing games are gameplay-wise more or less 1Dimensional. Of course, you can drive left and right, but most of the time it's a pretty 1Dimensional feeling. I'm not sure, but I think Timeshift is one of the few 4Dimensional games with a time dimension for it's game logic. I haven't played it, but the ability to turn back time to a specific point is one gameplay dimension than just going forward. Of course you can say every game a time dimension since there is time and you, the player, can move forward in time. We can also say that it doesn't have to depend on space or time. Gameplay dimensions depend on interpretation of the actual gameplay and the possibility to alternate things.

Monitor dimensions: Rather for completeness than for actual discussion. Our monitors are 2D. With tricks and "cheats" we can display 1D and 3D on them two. A real 3D monitor would a revolution - not to say a holodeck! And, if I'm honest, this would be one of the coolest things ever.

3.06.2010

Found a new PC

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Heyah, I found a new PC for me! This one. It appears to be the right thing for me, silent, effective and powerful enough for gaming. Price is ~600€, which is totally ok to me. The paying conditions are weird, though. I wrote them an email why it is like that and why the delivery time is unknown... Weird shit going on there. I bought from them before and know they are known for beeing good - but if I feel uncormfortable, I don't want to pay. So, let's wait. Let's wait for an answer to a seemingly optimal solution.

3.04.2010

The Secret Album Of Nowhere Near

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If this is an album, it's a pretty short one (13 minutes). Completely done with the DS-10, it's the sum of what more or less quality-sounding music came out of my mind during the last months (Or the last year? I'm not sure...). I've posted three of five tracks here and there but I think I deleted them or removed the posts/links. Well, here it is! I had a couple more unfinished tracks but no motivation for finishing them, this album is more like the essence of what I did on the DS-10. Stylewise it's a mix of chiptuney percussion and acidish breakbeats. Nothing special but definitely something I'm capable of doing all the time without breakdowns. Naa, some bits here and there aren't that good but hey - I only have 16 patterns. That's not much if you always want to include and intro and outro like me! At the moment I only have the DS-10 for making music. Anyway, this is nice because I'm more productive this way. I even finished this album after my computer (and therefore my sequencer) broke, so it can only be a good thing. Enjoy! It's simple music and does (like usually) in no way have a special theme or something like that. If you like IDM/Electronica and/or Lofi Breakbeats, then it's for you. Except track 4. That's raw Acid. Nuff said.

[01] FRBLLS
[02] BRDLND
[03] SMHWBD
[04] IHTSMC
[05] PRTNTS