Coding : Line of Lights

My coding goal today (after much website design) was to make a controllable sphere run down a long flat plank of something… AND be able to jump. I am proud to announce I have achieved that goal! And with pretty lights! I can’t really put a video up, and it would be underwhelming, so heres a screenshot just to prove I did do something :)

It’s just your standard AWSD and space button. Lots of tweaking to be done, but that necessarily needs to be after I have some sort of level designed! No point changing much now.

Unconscious Music Making

As I’ve been slowly updating this site, I’ve been forced to go back and listen through my old music. This thought occurs to me every now and again, but when I listen to my music I have no idea how I’ve made it! Yeah sure, I know I’ve used a 12 note musical scale and some synthesizers and the liberal use of ‘Save as’…. I know the mechanics of the creation, but as to how I’ve pulled the particular themes together into a (sometimes) coherent musical thing…. I can’t remember, my mind is blank…. I do have snippets of little bits of time in particular songs where I can remember particular little moments of ‘aha!’, but never anything like “Sounds like a good place to stick a wavering spacey G.”, all that stuff just comes out automatically and pre-consciously. And in fact, the less conscious I am of the creation process, the more I actually like the track. So my theory is that to make good music, you have to forget how to make music to make it and let your trained subconcious do the creation. If you think too much about making the music, it comes out formulaic and contrived, the less you think about it, the more innovative and unique it becomes…. Just a thought, but I made a graph as well. And as usual, Nietzsche has something poignant to say about the process.

For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication. – Nietzsche.

Immune System to USB to Computer to IV

Here’s a crazy invention that will pop up eventually.

1) Get a device that hooks up a blood sample tube to an analyser to a computer.

From information from the analyser, your computer, which may well be an iphone like device, compares your readings to some that you took a week or so ago and checks that everything (like vitamin/mineral levels up to things like immune cell function early indicators of cancer) is all hunkydory. This keeps a longitudinal track of all of your health data.

3) In your other arm, you stick an IV tube, which is hooked up to another outboard device also connected by usb to a computer. It compares the output of the blood from one arm to what you should get, and then injects what you need through IV into the other arm.

I guess you could get a funky device that has both an input and an output valve and just put it in one arm. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2040, we all walk around with permanent usb plugs in our arm for this process. Insurance companies would demand it… people would pretty much use it as it would tell them if something is up rather than having to go all the way to the doctors to figure this stuff out.

Anyway, thats my cyborg idea for the day. Connecting your body by USB to a computer.

Viva la Trans-Human.


Amstrad CPC vs Commodore 64

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Commodore 64. The SID sound chip in the C64 still makes me cream my jeans, and I’m working on a SID MIDI synth but in terms of quality of games, the Amstrad CPC always wins out. It was like the underdog of the mid 80’s game computers. Better colours, more power, SOMETIMES better sound when someone didn’t know how to squeeze the SID the right way. But I mean I’m trying out the old style games that I am getting inspiration from, and trailblazer on the C64 (disk image here) is simply a bucket of lame compared to the CPC version (disk image here). (Emulators at end of post).

CPC Version of Trailblazer

C64 Version of Trailblazer

Sure it has a lot to do with the fact I grew up with a CPC (464… tape version, none of this funky disk crap for me!), but I mean the colours are better, the sound was better, CPC had music, the c64 didn’t and the game was more playable…. but I guess one of the oddest things is that it is a different game! The levels are completely different in the CPC version than the C64 version. Completely. Its not like a Mac vs PC thing… different levels entirely, as far as I’ve played!

Amstrad CPC 464

Commodore 64

I guess the main thing you can say about both versions of the game is that they are both $%#%ing impossible! None of this nice second decade of the new millenium stuff where you are slowly edged into the difficulty building skills on the way. None of this fl0w business! The first few games of trailblazer on the CPC I got past the first level with milliseconds to spare and never past the second as yet so far! No tutorials, just BAM. You’ve got to be the king of the joystick and king of the game from the first sitting in the seat. Relentless. Thats one quality in gaming that has changed… letting the plebs into the exotic world of crazy video games. The only people who played games in the 80s were coked up schoolchildren as far as I can tell. This was long before there was any theory of game making and it was just dudes sitting in their bedrooms and garages making up shit that had never been done before. I know quite a few golden games made out of infinite creativity from this era, and as I come across them, I’ll wack them up :)

Anyway, the point of this post? The Amstrad CPC was a heaps better unit than the Commodore 64 :) Given the same game, 7-8 times out of 10 it would be better on the CPC.

Emulators :




New Coding Adventure

Over the last few years I’ve spent a fair amount of time tinkering around with making games on and off. They can be inspiring to think and talk about, but the two major shots that I have taken at making a game have been put off for one reason or another. The first major shot was using pygame and python using the Eclipse IDE. After a while of learning the ropes of python and the libraries, I realised that I really had to use something that had a lot of libraries written for it already, as necessary libraries for the more advanced stuff down the track were not written, so I could see a huge great wall coming up to wack me in the face at some undetermined future date. Although I did make a really nice spirograph thing, and a relatively simple game for my friend Cass, which took me 3 or 4 hours to write, 90% of which were me in the hysterics :) (Get them here).

The screenshot above is from a simple early spirograph experiment in python/pygame. (To Download this go here)

So after a rest and a breather for about 6 months, I eventually hooked back in, and went near-pro style, coding a little 2.5D shooter up in C++ with OpenGL, FMOD and SDL. Its actually sorta finished, in terms of the basic game mechanics. But the wall here that I didn’t expect was, as well as the known complexity of the code giving me quite a number of headaches, was the somewhat sluggishness at which I could create and incorporate content into the game…. I basically had to raw code the geometry for the objects in the game myself, which is cool, but beyond the 2.5D shooter I could see no future unless I just quite everything else and became a hermit for a year…. No Dice.

Above is an early shot of the 2.5D C++/OpenGL geometry shooter. Might get around to finishing it one day.A closeup of one of the geometric enemies from the geometry shooter… Sorta need to imagine it pulsating…..

So another year or two passes, a lot of that time swallowed up by my PhD studies (which continue of course 😉 ) and now I am turning my attention, to what I hope to be third time lucky, to an already made engine called Unity, which rather than being code-focussed like Python or C++ (80% of time writing code, 20% working with content), it turns it on its tables and becomes very content-focussed (80% of time content, 20% code), and also provides all of the raw skeletal necessities that any game program needs so you don’t have to start from scratch. I’m fairly confident that I’ll do really well at Unity, especially in the coding sections given my C++/Python game coding ability. Unity code is basically Javascript or C#, and then you only need to write snippets rather than full code.

So wish me well! My first attempt will be a Skyroads/Trailblazer kind of game, which I will also review at a later date. It seems that this type of game is well within my grasp. I might make an iPhone/Android version, and perhaps XBox Live. We shall see, we shall see :) Might make me first million 😛 But what I’d really like to do is to get as good at making games as I am with guitar or music, and bash out some unique games with unique style and feel. Thats a bit in the future, but I’ll get there :)