Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Usual Progress Report

Which is of course: Nothing to report :(

That is mainly because this week has been work hell. I've been finishing off one project and getting properly stuck into the next, and it was Anitas birthday yesterday. Coupled with not much free time last weekend has ended in a week where about the most I have managed is to uninstall VC++2008 and install VC++2005 in its place, which is a slight improvement except that I now need to recompile my dev libraries (SDL and Glew being the main ones) and problems are occuring from that.

Ah well, another weekend is looming and I should be able to get some free time over this one to at least sort out my libraries. I will attempt to get something on screen for about mid-way through next week (until I post next Thursday with more procrastination and excuses anyway ;))

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Midweek update

Well, this is mainly because I am currently bored at work, and feel I should do a quick progress update due to the problem that I'm not going to be available over the weekend to do so.

So, my current update progress is: Nothing on screen yet.
The reason? Because I'm being my usual self and spending too long on my input code system. I must have written something similar to this system almost a dozen times now, and each time I get fed up and then lose the code. This time, I'm going to write one extra class (I currently have mouse and keyboard) to handle 'actions', but that will come after I have thought a bit more about how to design the actions. I will write a quick, hard coded wrapper around my current input code to create a window and have something moving around over the next few days, and then you may get a screenshot towards the end of the week of a badly drawn sprite or a simple teapot or something :)

But for now, I should probably attempt to get some work done.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Race to Saturn - Update and Setup

Well, I'm getting started with games stuff. I have a couple of ideas as to what I would like to develop and I have set my computer up as a fairly comprehensive (to me anyway) development environment. I currently have set up:
VC++ Express 2008 (I may downgrade this to 2005 express at some point. it is still a beta version after all :))
GLEW (for opengl extensions, in case I ever want to go into shaders and stuff :))

and just because I'm interested:
C# 2005 express and XNA 1.0 refresh

So I think I am set up for most of my development needs.

As for other stuff, I have put a bit of thought into my roadmap, but it is in no way finalised yet. My current thoughts go:

Set-Up (completed)
Refresh knowledge on SDL and OpenGL (in progress)
Develop first game/demo
Learn sound and networking stuff
Develop second demo
Learn how to use TTF font rendering effectively
Add some menus etc to previous demos
Advanced OpenGL
More impressive demo (graphically anyway ;)
Some physics stuff (possibly look at havok, or possibly develop some demos on my own. Depends on how I feel :))
Start designing/implementing an engine
See how things go from there

Now, I've dabbled in a lot of this stuff before, so I hope that this initial set of things won't take me too long. I'm going to set an initial timescale of 6 months for it though, just so I can feel better if I go faster (and so I don't feel bad if I act like a lazy bum and find myself entangled with work more than this ;))

So, with that, I'm going to sign off for the week and update next sat/sun with any progress I have made towards relearning SDL and OpenGL :)

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Race to Saturn - Initial posting

Well, its been a while since I posted here, although not much has changed. I've gotten settled into my job and have almost ended my probation period. I've helped out a lecturer on a research project and should be doing some more for him soon. And I've entered a competition called 'A Race to Saturn'.

A Race to Saturn is an interesting idea for a long term project/competition. The basic idea is to improve an entrants game development skills by having a weekly progress posting (which will be here for me incidentally, and probably on a Saturday or Sunday) with releases of any small games/tech demos that the entrant has created. The final end goal is to have created a commercial level game and sell 100 copies of it, although this could be some time in the future (I'm guessing a year or two probably :))

My motivation for entering it was mainly to provide myself with motivation for continuing to develop my game development skills. It also gives me a reason to post something here at least once a week (even if its a 'work has been hell, nothing to report' posting which will happen more than once I expect. Just a warning up front ;)). When I do my first competition post I'll provide the entry details I am required to for the competition and will also do a quick roadmap of what I would like to do in this competition and (very) rough projections for how long I think each item will take.

Thats about it till Sunday. Now I'm off to do some work :/

Monday, June 4, 2007

Working man

It finally came.... I've started my job now. I'm now a graduate software engineer developing stuff for mobile phones :) Or at least, I will be once I get a computer at my desk at work :/ They ran into build problems with the machine supposedly for me, and when they got it sorted, it got requisitioned by someone higher up, so I have to wait till tuesday or wednesday for that slightly vital piece of equipment :)

So, my first day was spent reading the notes for the '3 day Symbian OS Essentials course', which is essentially the minimum required knowledge for my job. Hopefully it will make more sense once I have a computer and can do the exercises at various points along the way.

Otherwise, news is pretty much standard. Anita is ill again (or possibly still), so I've been taking care of her as much as I can, and I've finally managed to borrow a copy of Design Patterns and have been reading that for a bit of extra insight :)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

End of an Era

4 years of my life have almost reached their conclusion... finally. This time next week, I will have just handed in my last piece of coursework for university, and will be relaxing before I start my new job as a Graduate Software Engineer the following Monday. Before that, I need to get through a presentation tomorrow, and the wedding reception of my Step Brother over the weekend. I'm envious of Anita now, as she is ill and can't get down to it :P Hopefully the bar will be free though :)

The business plan is finally handed in though, and I think it turned out better than most of the group thought it would. Should get a mark back for that sometime in the next few weeks and see for certain.

Other than that, I've been making sure my C++ knowledge is pretty comprehensive by reading the Thinking in C++ books, which are a nice and fairly comprehensive C++ guide.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Its been a while - Update time

Not posted for a while, even though (or perhaps because) I've had a lot going on.

Firstly, all my exams are over, and I have only one bit of coursework left for my entire degree. Its a big one though, a full business plan with feasibility studies and everything :/ Not the most interesting stuff in the world to me, but its all thats standing between me and graduation.

Secondly, I have a job that I'm definitely going to be taking, as opposed to my first job offer that I wasn't too sure about. This time, its with a Mobile Phone application developer company based nearby, so I don't even have to move (which is a good thing, both for me and Anita). Its a 'bit' less in salary terms (almost half the salary :/) but the atmosphere seemed friendlier, its a lot less cost in living expenses to stay where we are and overall, it just seemed like the nicer offer. Anita isn't exactly thrilled, as it is a huge drop in pay, but I think she understands.

Finally, I'm finally getting back into playing games more :D I had a bit of a dry spell in terms of computer games (I was only playing mahjong and freecell... they seemed the most interesting for a while), but I'm coming out of it and wanting to play more and more. At this rate, I may even be able to get up to my old level of skill at games like UT, and then I won't be embarrassed to play it online again :D Will just have to wait and see though.

Well, thats my life updated in not very much time. I guess less happened than I thought, either that or my life is boring enough that all that seemed like a lot :) Expect a couple more posts soon as I complain about my coursework though ;)

Friday, March 30, 2007

My first taste of Ostrich

Had quite a nice meal this evening. My sister came up for a visit on her way up to newcastle and her, her new boyfriend and my aunt and uncle that live close by took me and anita out for a meal at a nice chinese restaurant. Very nice food all the way through. As we were leaving, my uncle looks at the menu and announces that one of the starters was ostrich meat. Kind of surprising, but the meat was quite tasty :) Slightly like beef according to Anita.

So, my first taste of ostrich.

SOGL Update 1

Well, after a couple of days of thinking and coding, SOGL has gotten another stage towards being something useful. This latest improvement is to have a decent input system, built to be included into the Event system programmatically using boost function pointers. As such, my input system can exist entirely independently of SDL and pretty much any other part of the system. All that is required to drop it into another application is for that application to have some way of updating the state of the components. I think this is pretty good for an input system :) I will just have to see later on if it can cope with a heavy input load though.

The other nice thing about the input system is that it lets you register actions, assign keys and button presses to them (either 2 keys, 2 mouse buttons or a combination at the moment) and then query the status of the action, which will perform the necessary checks on its assigned keys. This will allow me to write a keymap config file later, arong with a loader for it, and have a configurable key configuration. I have also steered away from making the EventPump class or any of the input classes singletons, which will allow for seperate input configurations at different points in the program simply by changing which event loop or action manager is active.

The next stage is to start wrapping the OpenGL calls into either classes with some state (such as for textures) or simply overloaded function calls. Once this is done, I can start showing off some examples next to the code producing it. Expect screenshots in a week or so ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Current Project - SOGL

Well, I'm finally kicking myself into actually doing some game development work, and I'm starting with a framework that I can use to ease my way into larger projects. I'm building the library around SDL and OpenGL and I am currently calling it SOGL (soggle) :) My current plans (probably slightly ambitious, but we will see) are to have a more polymorphic and easier syntax for OpenGL and SDL, with some callbacks for events to make an initial project setup easier with almost no boilerplate code.

I also intend to make some classes around OpenGL style objects for certain things that are almost always done in the same way, such as textures and shaders. The intention with these is to ease the code required to set them up and run them, and also some small scale optimisations internally so that requests to change textures are only carried out if the texture isn't currently active and so on :)

There is also some vague idea in my head about some nicer maths objects and classes that I can integrate into the various areas, such as vectors and matrices that can be more easily used to shift between the more efficient opengl vector commands and a nice, object oriented approach to these ideas. This may be replaced with another open source package.

Anyway, my current status is that I have a window class that can create a window, and an event pump that can take SDL events and pass them out to various callback functions as long as they are defined. My next stage is to create a nicer interface to check keys and possibly to generate a system to assign named actions to keys and key combinations.

My ultimate aim is to build an extra layer of abstraction on top of SDL and OpenGL that will allow me to not end up worrying about the mechanics of how they are doing things. I'm doing this myself rather than using an existing framework is because I feel like it :) If I get the code into a decent state then I will probably release it to anyone who is interested as well, but currently this is not really an objective. I will be building some examples and little games as and when I can though, and hopefully they will be easy to understand.

Friday, February 23, 2007

First Semester Results

Results came out today for my exams from just after christmas. Overall, I did okish, with an overall mark of 54.8% (or 2.2 standard). With my other degree marks in (from 2nd and third years) this goes up to just over 58%, and I need an average of 63% for the rest of the year to get a 2.1 mark overall.

So, while I can wish that the results were better, I can still realistically get a 2.1 degree.

In other news, I've almost finished my last 2 modules, and they are both starting to pile the work on :( The next week is going to be exhausting as I need to create a bliki system as part of a group coursework for one module and prepare a group presentation with a different group for my other module.

After that, its just 1 piece of coursework and 1 exam though, and thats almost all my uni work done forever :D

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Post Birthday

Well, my birthday is now over and done with. The day was pretty good, as me and Anita got in a load of nice snack foods, and lazed around eating and watching things :) My recieved gifts were:
Some better smart/formal clothes from my mum (I've had them since christmas time, but they were a birthday present)
The next book in the Sword of Truth Series (book 4 if anyone is interested :P) from my sister
Some small items from my mum for on the day... including some nice smelling air fresheners that smell like sweets... having to resist eating them :)
Money from: My Dad, my aunts, anitas gran, my gran.

So, not too bad, although having only had it for a day, I've already almost finished my book... I have a book token from an online survey that I'm going to use to get the next one soon though... unless my brother sends it as his gift...

Next thing to come will be me complaining about coursework deadlines I think :) Oh, and possibly links to various rails stuff I am using to learn in order to do the coursework for Interactive Systems Design

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Birthday Time

Its coming up to that time of year where I will get another year older. I think I'm just gonna stay in and relax on the day with Anita this year as I
a) have no money (and neither does she) and
b) I'm starting to lose sight of why I wanted to drink in the first place

So, its going to be a nice quiet day relaxing with my fiance, playing Guitar Hero and probably watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer :)

And so it begins, my decline into maturity. Farewell youth, it was nice knowing you... and I really shouldn't be feeling this way at only 22 :(

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Winter-een-mas has started

Today marks the first day of this years Winter-een-mas. For those who don't know what it is, then go and read Ctrl-Alt-Del, one of the best online web comics around created by Tim Buckley.

In short though, winter-een-mas is a week long celebration of games and gaming. You can celebrate by doing anything to do with gaming that you desire. At the moment, I am just playing copious amounts of games as a celebration and relief at the end of exams.

For more information about winter-een-mas, head over to and start reading the comic archive.

Exams are over

Well, thats my exams over and done with for now. I had 4 of them, of which 3 went fairly alright and 1 went pretty badly. I will post up some breakdowns of the exams when I get the results back :)

In other news, I'm about to start on my next 2 modules for my final year of university. One of them needs me to have a blog set up as the main area they are looking at this year is social applications. If you fancy heading over there and looking at my coursework submissions on the subject of Interactive Systems Design, then feel free :P The link has been added to the side bar.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

New Year, New Blog

Well, its now 2007, and I decided I would finally get around to starting a blog. I have no idea what will appear here yet, but I expect it will consist of several long rambling posts about my views on sci-fi, games programming, fantasy books, and just about anything else that catches my attention for fleeting moments of time (such as, at the moment, this blog :P)

Chances are that, if you are here, you already know me. If you dont then be warned: I am a 21 y.o. computer science student in the last year of my degree . I am pedantic, opinionated, and very very geeky. Please bear that in mind while making comments and reading any other articles I may get around to posting ;)

Thats it for now. Hopefully I will think of something more interesting to post soon though :P