Month: June 2006


I just realized…nobody asked me what the music was that I used in my combat prototype, nor said anything about it positively or negatively.

Summation of Feedback

First, I’d like to thank everybody who sent feedback! I got some great stuff.

The overall response was pretty positive. I am encouraged, and will continue to develop the prototype. I will also be making the following changes:

1. I’ll be adding A* to all units so they can pathfind better.

2. I’ll be beefing up the resolution to 800×600. I’ve needed to do this for a while, but I liked 512×384 because of the nostalgia factor (which I’ve already discussed) and because screenshots in that resolution fit on my webpage really well. But it’s time to get unstupid about this and give myself some more screen real estate to work with.

3. I will be adding the ability to change a unit’s orders on the fly. I will probably implement this by allowing the player to press the spacebar to pause the game, after which clicking on one of your units will dump their orders and allow you to give new orders.

4. I will add a radial menu or a movable command card to make it so that you don’t have to continually click on one side of the screen, then the other.

I may also add some features like casting simple spells (probably the same ones from Inaria). I don’t want to turn this into its own game, but I do want to get it to the point where people think it’s really fun before I consider the system “done”.

Star Revolution Update 7

The combat prototype is here. Please read the rest of this page before attempting to play it! Really!

Installation: Download the zipfile to your computer and uncompress it to a folder, preserving its internal folder structure. Then run StarRevolution.exe.

This game runs pretty much in real time, so combats happen fast. When the game starts you are presented with a combat arena.

The combat prototype!

Your four gladiators are at the bottom of the screen and the four computer-controlled enemies are at the top. On the right side you can see the interface. The top half of the interface shows the statistics of your units.

Shows the number of hitpoints the unit has remaining. This is also shown by the red bar on the bottom of each enemy unit in the arena window.

Shows how fast the unit is. Faster units both move faster and attack faster.

Shows how good the unit is at making melee attacks.

Shows how good the unit is at making missile attacks.

On the bottom half, you see the command card for your units. This card will only show up if a unit needs orders. The unit that requires orders will have a white flashing circle around it.

This icon is for movement. Move your mouse to the arena window and you will see how long (in real seconds) it will take for that movement to move to where the mouse cursor currently is. Click in the arena window where you want your unit to move. Once you give a unit a move order, that unit will not require any more orders until it gets to its destination (or is blocked). Units can move over dead units, but not through each other. A unit that tries to move through another unit (enemy or friendly) is blocked and will need new orders.

This icon is to make a melee attack. Click on it and then move your mouse to the arena window. Move your mouse over enemy units and you’ll see them highlighted with a red flashing circle. Click on an enemy unit to attack them. If the enemy unit is out of range, your unit will automatically move to intercept the enemy unit before attacking. Once your unit is in range, your unit will make one melee attack against its enemy, and then require new orders. If you want one of your units to stay on an enemy until dead, use the Engage version of this command.

This icon is to make a missile attack. Click on it and then move your mouse to the arena window. Move your mouse over enemy units and you’ll see them highlighted with a red circle. Click on an enemy unit to attack them. Missile fire can hit anyone anywhere in the arena. Your unit will make one missile attack at the enemy and then need new orders. If you want one of your units to fire at an enemy until dead, use the Engage version of this command.

This icon will make a unit engage and melee. The unit will intercept its enemy as before, and once it does it will make melee attacks against that enemy until dead (or until it has an attack cancelled; see below). The downside of this command is that you lose control of the unit – it will not take new orders until it kills its target or has its command cancelled.

This icon will make a unit engage and missile. The unit will make continual missile attacks against its enemy until that enemy is dead (or until it has an attack cancelled). The downside of this command is that you lose control of the unit – it will not take new orders until it kills its target or has its command cancelled.

This icon quits the program. When the combat is over, the only way to reset it is by quitting and restarting…sorry about that.

Cancels: All actions take time to perform. The amount of time it will take for a unit to perform its current action is represented by the white bar on top of each unit in the arena window. If a unit takes damage, time will be added to this bar, representing the fact that the unit must recover from impact before it can continue its action. If a unit takes a lot of damage quickly, it can have its action cancelled. Only combat orders can be cancelled; move orders cannot. If a unit has its orders cancelled it will then require new orders from you.

Hints: The enemy units are all completely average in all statistics. Your units are specialized; you have two fighters and two archers. Use that to your advantage. The AI is actually pretty brain dead and it shouldn’t be that hard to beat it.

Please give me feedback on this prototype! You can give whatever feedback you like, but in particular I’d like the answers to the following questions:

1. Did you feel that things were happening too fast, too slow or just right?

2. Did you feel like you had enough control over your units?

3. Was there anything about the game that confused you?

4. Did you feel that your units were having their orders cancelled too often?

5. Did this game remind you of any other games you have played in the past? If so, which ones?

6. Did you find the game fun to play?

7. What would be the most important improvement to the game, in your opinion?

You can leave feedback in a comment on this post, or you can email it to Thank you!

Star Revolution Update 6

The combat prototype will be ready tomorrow (Monday). I could have released it today, but I want to add some sound effects. The game actually flows pretty well, I think…its biggest problem is that, even with all the changes I’ve made, it can still be hard to tell who is doing what to whom. I think adding some sound effects will help a lot. Animations would help even more, but that’s beyond my ability at the moment.

Looking forward to getting feedback from you guys.

PTFSD, June 24, 2006

Weight: 348.8

Grade: B. I occasionally drank something other than water at work (usually when I got something to drink with lunch and took it back to the office) but at no point did I ever drink anything carbonated or caffeinated. And my caffeine gum ran out on Wednesday, so I’m really off the stuff now. My energy has been kind of low, but I know that will get better.

Goal for next week: Drink only water, and do 20 minutes of exercises on at least three different days next week. This is going to be hard, because really the only time I have to exercise is right when I wake up, and I hate exercising right when I wake up. But I’ll do it anyway if I want a good grade.

Gibbage and Angst

Gibbage is a potentially-great little 2D platformer/shooter by Dan Marshall. Gibbage is simple and fun to play (except that the double-jump is too hard to do, in my opinion, and…I can’t seem to beat the computer).

But as I read through Dan’s blog about the development of Gibbage, I couldn’t help but notice his attitude throughout the project. Yes, there were lots of coding books hurled at poor, defenseless walls as he learned, but for the most part his posts are things like, “I’ve got a little guy! Whee!”, “I can run him around! Awesome!”, “Now there are two of them, yipee!”, “Now they can shoot each other! Brilliant!”

Basically…well, he seemed to have more fun developing Gibbage than I did writing Inaria…and a lot more than I’m having writing Star Revolution. Star Revolution in particular is turning into a real slog. I’ve got procedural textures, procedural planets, procedural cities on the planets, aliens, ground combat, space combat, trading, mining, talking and questing in this game. It is possible that I, flush with the moderate success of Inaria, bit off more than I can chew.

Now, I can see flashes of fun in the future for Star Revolution. In particular, when a friend at work pointed me at this site and I saw these pics of the starship interior molds they sell, I thought, “Wow, that’s exactly how I want SR to look!” And I can foresee putting that together inside the computer as being really fun.

But the amount of infrastructure I have to put together before I get there is just huge, and trying to get it all together is just grinding me down.

Plus I just got a really good book on DirectX and now I’m thinking about moving the whole project off of SDL and OpenGL and onto DirectX and Direct3D…

Star Revolution Update 5

I refuse to let this project slide just because I don’t have as much free time as I used to.

You'll have to imagine the screams of pain.

This is the latest version of my combat prototype. It is nearly ready to release, but after playing a bit tonight I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s not enough feedback about who is doing what. I’ve got bars on the screen for how long it will take a unit to finish its current action (the white bars at the top) and bars for how many hitpoints each unit has left (the red bars at the bottom) but there are no hit animations so it can be hard to see who is doing what to who. I think I should fix this before I release it, so a few more days.

I also want to get some sound in. I think that will go a long way towards making the game more exciting, and also giving more feedback.

So, progress is being made. I haven’t given up on the project. And I’m close enough to finishing this prototype that I can look forward to doing pretty stuff with math again.

Dissolution of Warcraft

So, we cancelled our World of Warcraft accounts over the weekend. All three of them. Two of them were collector’s edition accounts.

WoW just falls to bits at 60. I know that’s got to sound weird since they have over five million subscribers at this point, but it’s true. My wife went back to Dark Age of Camelot briefly (she got into that waiting for WoW to come out) and noticed that when she does her artifact raids in DAoC, she’s guaranteed to get the item she needs if she completes the raid…unlike WoW’s “there’s a .03 percent chance for the item to drop and then you have to roll against everyone else in the raid to get it” bullsh- er, crap.

Now, my wife is a hardcore MMORPG player. She started with Ultima Online and progressed to Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft, and she’s tried many, many more. And since she’s staying home with our young children right now, she’s got a whole lot of time to throw at these games.

And even she eventually got sick of WoW’s “Better luck next time, try again” gameplay at 60.

Now, sigh, yes, we will probably go back at least temporarily when Burning Crusade comes out, but it’s going to take a lot to bring me back into WoW permanently. Basically, it’s going to require 60 casual content, which WoW doesn’t have at all. Once you get to 60, you raid or you farm faction. That’s all you have to do. No quests – you’ve done them all (except for raid quests that get you the keys to new dungeons). No more getting better armor and weapons from world drops – now the only way you can improve your armor and weapons is by raiding. Basically there’s no reason to log in unless you’ve got a nice three-hour chunk of time and you’re ready to raid. And you’d better be willing to do it every night of the week or you still won’t get anything.

Yeah, I’m bitter. And yes, I keep harping on this. I can’t help it – the game was so damn good until 60. It just hurt when I realized that gosh, there’s nothing more for me to do in WoW now.

Harmonix Convergence

There is a rumor floating around that Guitar Hero II will feature a track from the Megaman 2 soundtrack as played by the Minibosses.

That much geek coolness in one place could destroy the universe if misused.

PTFSD, June 17, 2006

Weight: 348.1. At one point this week, I weighed about 345, which was encouraging.

Grade: C. My original goal was to drink only water; I ended up changing that to “nothing caffeinated” and then I was able to fulfill the goal. It’s not just the caffeine from soft drinks that you miss, it’s the constant supply of sugar calories. Several times this week I got home from work and had to go straight to bed (I expected this, it happened last time). Next week will be better.

Goal for next week: Drink only water while I’m at work. Drink nothing caffeinated and nothing carbonated. I’m pretty sure I can fulfill this one.

Tom has actually been really good at keeping me on track. I would like to publicly thank him.