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Tetris got sacked!

Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 11:06

I recently came to the conclusion that I wont continue tetris, and instead restart my third person shooter-beatemup zombie & soldier slayfest Survivors. I always knew I was going back to survivors, I just didn’t know that I was going to give up on tetris. In reality it has to do with I got bored and can’t come up with a satisfying way of designing the menys. It sucks really, but all of the time wont go to waste since most of the code is basic boilerplate and I’m happy with most of the layout.

In researching the fighting/beatemup part of the game I’ve made a small application that parses a combo-list and generates a graphviz compatible combo-tree. Basically what it tells me that ninja gaiden has a maximum node-depth of roughly 6 combos while oni has a depth of 3, so close to nothing

Excursions into the UI

Thursday, 25 June 2009 at 11:08   // reading time ~4 minutes

I recently read scarabus’ post regarding guis and I wanted to follow up/ add a few notes of my own. Since scarabus considers blender to have the worst user-interface(ui for short), I’m going to compare it to other similar applications and guess why it might be non-intuitive.

So, beeing picky I have tried several mesh modelers. The imcomplete list is anim8or, google sketchup, misfit model 3d, xsi modtool, blender, art of illusion, truespace and wings 3d. All of them are free and can be found through google. Other applications are 3d studio max and maya.

Out of all the 3d-applications I could get my hands on(the free ones above), only google sketchup, anim8or and milkshape 3d used the standard windows dialog. All the other applications have implemented their own, and they seem to be lacking several features the standard dialog has. Among the features they seem to be skipping are:

  • rememberering the previous folder
  • user filers (dog lists only files with dog in)
  • autocompletion, i.e. when I write the folder/file-names the dialog suggests names based on the existing files/folders
  • using my customized spcial folders. I’m refering to thoose folders that appear of the left that usually is my computer, my documents etc.
  • pasting the folder/file instead of navigating

Like the google search-bar the filebrowser has a simple interface, but alot of hidden features that you can learn about at your own pace. So to conclude the file-dialog, the clear winner is Sketchup since they went to the extra length of adding a preview to the standard dialog.

Next, and the only other thing that I want cover is the complexity, and since this is such a huge topic I’m going to split it up into a few categories, the first is shortcuts.

According to wikipedia blender was/is considered hard to use since some of its commands are only accessible though keyboard-shortcuts. Originally it only had those shortcuts, but since it went open-source a lot of the time spent has actually been spent on making the software more usable for beginners.

Actually when speaking about shortcuts they are really stupid. Sure they are quick, but unless you use them often they are really hard to remember. A better option is perhaps the return of the command-line , like auto cad, vi or launchy/quicksilver.

Then again, the blender interface looks much cleaner than the icon-filled interface of maya and if I’m not mistaking alot of the time in 3d studio max was spent on scrolling through the list of commands(on the right ).From what I’ve heard about the keyboard-shortcut interface design of blender is that it is a steep learning-curve, but once you know the shortcuts, it is faster than both max and maya.

Onwards with custom controls. One reason blender might have gone with the complete custom gui, is that it makes porting easier. First and foremost there is basic compatibility. Radio buttons in main-menus doesn’t exist on the motif platform for example. Then there are the user-interface guidelines, for windows vista this is a 100+ pages document, and for mac ther is the cocoa api that helps you, and I’m guessing implements some other standards that aren’t documented in the ui guidelines. Something a simple as the OK & Cancel button combinations are placed differently on the different OS’s. Windows places the OK to the left, while mac places it to the right. For windows there are even a few documents (10+ pages long) that describe how icons should look. Perspective, details color-scheme and that sort of things.

Blenders solution to this complicated mess is to be completely different, and hence use it’s own ui-conventions, and if we are going to rant on applications that ignores some ui-conventions. Autocad uses space and right-click as accept in most contexts, Maya seems to have thrown out the standard dropdown-context menu for a pie-menu and the handy cmd.exe ignores most common text-commands.

To complete this post on why blender isn’t the worst gui, and as a recap of some sort, I thought it would be a good idea to quickly go through scarabus’ list and compare it to blender.

  • left/right mouse buttons are switched – you can change/switch them easily, but given that most of blender’s ui is context click and selecting objects in menus I like the default setting better. This might also be a conscious decision because of touchscreens/pens(wacom) and single-button-mice.
  • ctrl-c/ctrl-v doesnt copy/paste. I’ve never copied/pasted in blender but I assume you can change the shortcuts to whatever you want. Then again, what should the default be? A solution might be to have a different default-configuration per platform but that might be hard to maintain.
  • common controls have already been discussed in greater deatil above, and to keep a long story short, the big issue is compability. motif doesnt support radio buttons in menus, windows and mac have switched places between ok and cancel so I assume blender took the easy route and made their own gui, like qt and mozilla did.
  • there are hover-hints within blender.

Well thats it. I hope you learned something

Yo frankie!

Monday, 6 July 2009 at 11:18

Given that I sacked tetris more than a month ago, gamedev has been pretty stale at the moment. I’ve been studying fighting-systems and analysing combo-lists for the fighting-system in survivors. The usual stuff. However since the last post I’ve been thinking about remaking Yo Frankie! with my tetris engine.

Tetris actually outlived it’s purpose, as the purpose of the tetris project was to build a solid foundation for survivors and all my other 3d games. So the purpose of Yo Frankie is to get a solid 3d game. The reason why tetris and Yo Frankie are a great choice for these games is that both tetris and Frankie have all defined game-play elements written down in stone and free media already available at start, I believe this is to be a huge motivational-booster. This is especially true in the case of Yo Frankie. I get free(cc licensed) good-looking 3d test data, with a cohesive design. On top of that it also includes high-quality animations and appropriate sound and music effects.

I really couldn’t ask for more

No more sweden - It can't be true

Monday, 13 July 2009 at 11:20

So I’m attending this game-jam called No more sweden (funny name) this week. Wednesday/Thursday to Saturday/Sunday. I’ll be attending most of it, though I have to work at Thursday and Friday, which is a bummer, so Ive been thinking at what kind of game I’m be making. I’ve been thinking about making a simple plat former for some time now, and this might be good time as any to make it a reality.

I think I’ve chosen my tools. C# as the programming language for it’s rapid development time, for it easiness (actually I’m forced to compile it since the official distribution was missing some things though the C++ version is the best 2d/OpenGL launcher library) and tiled for it’s easy-loadable data and unfriendliness.

Since any preparations is allowed I’m gonna jump-start and code that plat-former starting today, I might have a huge merge-problem when I get my topics, but that’s a problem for future gustav

On a small side-note, my aggregator tells me that I got ~200 unread items, most of them are lifehackerposts . I’ve been postponing the unavoidable and I think should read some of them – soon. I just gotta do this first

Say, that's a nice bike

Tuesday, 14 July 2009 at 11:22

So my bicycle have been trashed for some time now. Since Thursday actually. It really isnt a big deal unless I was attending No More Sweden and bicycle is my only viable transportation. I might have to rent one if it doesn’t get finished. It was actually supposed to be finished this Monday, but they are missing spare parts. That’s right, I bike hard.


Though my extreme/hard-biking might be beacuse I’m so


Considering my transportation the hardcore game-development, that I entered at the start of this week, hasn’t taken a all that serious blow. Yes I am behind schedule, but not that much. Considering I only had a black screen with no code whatsoever and I now have a almost complete level-loading, collision-detection and game-state code I am might proud

Epic fail

Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 11:26   // reading time ~2 minutes

I probably should have posted this earlier, however I been sleeping and sobbing over the fact that I didn’t finish no more sweden :). A few hours before deadline all tiles in one layer went 3 tiles up, but collision-tiles were still in the same place. I though that was strange so I went to check the map in the (external) editor , and to my horror it didn’t load. No message, no crash nor any exception – just silence.

So the map-editor didn’t want to load my map, some tiles were 3 tiles away(kinda makes platforming hard) and my here, who was going to be a noble knight, looked like a 3-year-old was trying to draw the spaghetti-monster and failed. I gave up.

Next time around I use my own editor that doesn’t require you to exit when loading, doesn’t write a schema link that forces a proper xml-reader to verify it and support external entities and rotated sprites, plus I’m gonna use a library that’s a little bit more stable.

I made the mistake to use without prior testing. Turns out that there is a bug in it that makes fonts unusable. I should be a good open-source developer and track that bug down, and let the sfml guys know of it, since they have done such a nice library and are quick with the support/responses on the forums.

Anyway, no more sweden was a fun, despite the fact that I was at work for the most of the time, and I hope to do it again next year, hopefully with a better planned vacation.

I've been busy

Sunday, 1 November 2009 at 12:16

Since last time I’ve entered Ludum Dare and actually finished at 75ths place and a bronze in community – yay me.

Since then I’ve integrated the half/16-bit float from the glorious OpenEXR-project into my game-library pwn .

I’ve also been thinking about creating a 2d level editor as editing text-files suck, and there doesn’t seem to be a good level-editor. Most of the 2d level editors are focused on tile-based editing, but I want a more free-flow sprite-based editor, like the aquaria editor (nicely captured by wolfire design tour ) or the boingo editor that is briefly visible in their sga trailer . Preferably I like the editor to be integrate-able with box2d (so that it generates the collision geometry).

I'm not dead

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 at 12:19

Whoa… almost 5 months since last time! I gotta post more than twice a year

Anyways, I’ve been quite busy since last time:

I’ve posted my first entry, let’s go cave exploring, earlier in this blog. My second entry for the “Explore” theme was “Xplorer – the game” a kinda unfinished 2-player game that ends when everything is explored

And my entry for the “islands” theme, that finished roughly one week ago, was “The Traveling Salesman Problem” where you are a saleman byuing and selling stuff, trying to avoid pirates and saving your dad.