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May 15

Attic art highs

Hello dear friends!

Firstly some of you may have noticed that there was no blog last week. Last weekend I started what I have dubbed my weekend project. A little interactive statement (I am not even going to pretend to call it a game) for the X-box, still my favourite platform to code for. Sadly I spent so long playing around with various art styles that I never got around to blogging. I now have a style that I want to explore I just need the time to do it.

Grub continues to march on gloriously. I have switched the entire none-game interface (menu system, level select, etc) to use the mouse after a good friend (lets see if he reads this and notices) mentioned that almost every flash game these days uses the mouse for its menu screens. I also setup a singleton to store global variables allowing for things like music and sound muting and re-definable keys. The main musical elements are now in place thanks to the wonderful David Morrision

This weekend I got back into painting and started a new series called Literary Nutcases. My first subject was L.Ron Hubbard. He took a lot longer than I expect but came out rather well except for the odd school boy error I seem to make every time I paint. My hope is to create 4 or 5 more in the series and then sell them. Whatever money I make will go towards future game projects. I am thinking either H.P Lovecraft or Philip K. Dick next. Let me know if you have any suggestions

L.Ron Hubbard Painting

Well sitting up in the attic with all those paint fumes has made me sleepy so I will end things here.

Much Love

- Jon

May 01

Holiday hiccups

Hello! This week has been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster but worry not, I remained stoic through out. Well ok I moaned a little and maybe I didn't give the dog his treat after our jog. I remained mostly stoic :P What caused such highs and lows you probably ask. Well on Monday I could not bring myself to work at all. It turns out the Conchords where wrong in saying When you're unemployed, there's no vacation. No one cares, no one sympathizes. You just stay home and play synthesizers. Because I was in full on holiday mode through out the bank holiday (I also do not own a synthesizer, cant afford one :P). Tuesday I spent researching my options as the delightful IRS rejected my W7 application for an ITIN number. It seems Microsoft have created an impregnable shield between me and the money they owe me. It looks like the easiest way would be to setup a LTD and apply for an ERN, which is just ridiculous. So now I am researching what the minimum is for running a company. I also applied for a job this week; the role is a winforms c# developer which is a very nice and comfortable dev environment. Fingers crossed :P

This week I solved the annoying in game gui design. I finally came up with something I am happy with. I noticed on one of my more hectic levels if the pc was busy doing other things it would stutter a fair bit. So I checked out what was going on to see if I was being overly wasteful. It turns out I was, because of the amount of interact-able elements in the level 1653 collision checks had to be made each frame. So right now I am in the process of optimizing the collision detection by implementing a grid based collision detection system. Basically as an object moves across the screen it will move from one cell to another and only objects within the same cell will be tested for a collision. I have created the grid and have started tracking objects through the grid. I just need to refactor the actual collision detection to use the grid.

Here are some screenshots of the much loved gui elements

Timer gui

Food gui

Over the last few days I have been toying with a new game idea. It is very quirky and strange but I think it could be quite interesting. I am thinking of trying to get it done next weekend. It will be quite a challenge and I will have to have the game fully thought out before the weekend starts but I think it could be quite a fun project.

Best get back to that refactoring :P

Much Love


Apr 23

The hot potato sympathy

Bonjour brick house dwellers! That's right baby no ones going to blow you house down! Not sure why I felt I had to start this blog with a three little pigs reference but I think it is best to humour my stranger impulses, it keeps me on my toes. This week has been very productive. The web site is completed and my client is happy with it and I also managed to make some good progress on Grub. I got a step closer to reading my book on unity. Now all that stands between me gaining 1337 unity h4x0r skills is a rather disappointing book on Python which I will get through sometime tomorrow

Grub wise this week has been very good. I added in the slide show for Dave and my logos so everyone knows who to blame when the game comes out. I also added in a basic menu system which I plan to tart up as soon as the inspiration chins me. I also added in a nice mood background to the game and built the start of the timer visualisation. I wanted the timer to show both how much time is left in the level and if completed what award you would receive. It still needs some work as the whole thing looks a little disconnected just floating in the darkness. Below are a few snaps of Grub in its current glory for you to ogle.

Grub Logo screen

Grub title screen

the new timer

the new worlds

Sadly there will be no revelations this week as I need to prepare for an afternoon in what I now understand to be a rather undesirable area of Birmingham. Wish me luck in protecting my neck and if I am not back by 12 light a candle for me. BLOCK WARRRSSS (yes I know Birmingham is nothing like Mega-City One)

Much love


Apr 17

The grass tyre resolution

Good morrow friends, family, and fans ... well maybe not fans, as I doubt I have any at present, and I know my family do not read this, nor do my friends for that matter. Let me start again! Good morrow fine people who arrived here by mistake while looking for porn. How goes your Sunday? Good I hope. Now that I have established that it is Sunday and not Friday the day that I should blog I can explain my reasoning. Working backwards Saturday was fully booked with odd jobs and doodad manipulation. Friday I decided to exercise my rights as master of my own destiny and bunk off work to go for a bike ride with a good friend. Sadly I am somewhat out of practice at long rides and came utterly unequipped. Eventually the inevitable happened and I got a flat tyre some 6 miles away from home without a pump or puncture repair kit, or phone, or anything a reasonable person would take. So 6 miles out into the countryside with out a means to contact home or repair the puncture we decided to try and pack the tyre with grass in the hope that we could limp home. A few things you need to know in case this ever happens to you. Firstly prepare for a bumpy ride as it is near impossible to get the density of grass even. So you will be riding home on a lumpy wheel. Secondly the grass tyre is only really good for about two miles. Thirdly expect everything near the wheel to be speckled with a neon green glue like substance not that dissimilar to that of the predator's blood. This is the result of the weight of the wheel crushing the grass in the tyre into grass juice. Finally I have no way of validating this claim but I am sure that ridding with a grass tyre feels the same as riding through porridge. It is hard going and you look ridicules doing it.

At the start of the week I was having trouble with my art. I am still in the funk of not liking anything I produce. So in the name of productivity I decided to build a fire and forget sound system. The idea being that in the game I can just ask it to play a sound and it will deal with killing off the sound object once it has finished for me. It would seem that Flash has a little problem with sound in that there is no reasonable way to detect when a sound has finished playing. What about the complete event I hear you muttering to yourself. Well the problem with the event (other than it being an event when I would prefer to just peek at the sounds state) is that due to changes to deal how sound works with Vista and Windows 7 there is no guarantee that the event will fire on time. This is mainly a problem because the Sound object is unable to loop infinitely so the best way to do something like loop the game music would be to start it playing again every time it stops. So we move on to checking the play heads position in the sound object against the sounds length. Well due to a bug it seems even when the position has reached the end of the sound it reports a smaller number than the length of the sound, so that too is out of the window. What I ended up doing was a horrible system where by I record the previous play heads position and check it against the current position. If it is equal 4 times in a row then the sound is considered to have ended. The 4 times bit is to deal with the fact that it is possible that the play head will report the same position depending on when the sound is started and how often the position is tested. Luckily even with the 4 checks the delay between the sound ending and the end being detected is only 100 milliseconds.

Pictured below is a picture of a test level used to test the interaction between the new enemy type Flappy and the original enemy type Spike

behold Flappy!

Next week I will be spending the days building a website for my good friend Mr Wright, so game development will be compressed into the evenings. Hopefully spending some time on another project will revitalise me and get Grub back on track.

Wow I think this might be the longest blog I have written so far. Sorry for the long read :P

Much Love

- Jon

Apr 10

The Moving

Hello patient (or possibly indifferent) readers, I hope the loving sun is shining as deeply on you as it is for me this fine Sunday afternoon. Once more I must express my embarrassment for not writing this blog promptly. I feel as sorry as Pluto did after it decided to loose some weight. Yeah that is right a declassification of a heavenly body joke. Now we all feel sorry :P

Most of my week has been sacrificed upon the altar of moving, so the weeks progress has been far from stupendous. I imagine next week I will set upon the project with new found vigor. I have also decided that I want to provide an early 5 level demo version of Grub to place on the gaming portals to try and get some feedback.

One thing I did do this week is take a look at Python. On the whole it has failed to grip me like I was hoping it would. Although I really like the idea of __doc__ I really hate how it is implemented. Having a multi-line literal string at the start of a method is just ugly and the fact that it is never explicitly bound to __doc__ is even worse. Speaking of ugly so are the for loops (for x in range(1,10):) Hopefully I will begin to see the merits of the language when I start developing a portfolio piece with it. I have been told that Lua is better but that will have to wait as Unity is next on my list :P

I have secured some web design work which will provide me with a nice portfolio piece and a little bit more padding between my bank balance and the dreaded interest generating red. The work is due to start in a weeks time so I need to get as much done on Grub as possible before then.

In other great news my good friend David Morrison has finished some of the music for Grub and will be releasing it at some point soon. So keep an eye on the twitterscape for news on how to go about treating your ears to some killer music! Below is a poster I put together for the music

Grub The musical

The JonCorp central infrastructure has now been setup in my new accommodation and I am all ready to go. On a giant plus this place has a better garden and the resident dog is far less annoying than the previous place. The only negative is that I have access to every episode of Daria and I have become somewhat addicted to watching it.

Speaking of my new found addiction the monkey is on my back right now so I must pay the organ grinder. 2 episodes should be enough, then its back to the reading

Much Love