Monday, 18 December 2006

Whatever you do, don't drop it!

My creation is done. As you can see it looks just like Tetris. What did you expect? Legally, I could not use the term "tris" in the name, and I choose to call this version DropIt. This name is also a clue -- you get serious bonus points for dropping the tetromino. If you have not played Tetris for a while, here is your chance.

Quite a large download for such an insignificant, but yet surprisingly brilliant ;-) game. That's what you get when you develop a light weight game to learn more about heavy weight libraries.

Sadly, if you do not have Visual Studio installed on your PC, you will also need to download vc_redist.exe. Not having this Microsoft distributable installed on your system causes a very ugly error indeed. I tried to include this as part of the installation, but because this exe is an installation program itself, it could not run from within another install. Anyway, it really blew up the size of an already hefty download.

The third source of distress is the Ogre configuration window that you see when starting up. Don't panic! It has been left for a reason. Firstly it is a tribute to the Ogre library, and secondly it is really helpful to change the settings to get the system to work. I even got the game running on an old PC with a very basic graphics card. The game has strange behaviour and even crashed on this machine when the settings were ill chosen. I'd be really interested if you cannot get this game to work on your system.

So much for the boos.

On the up side, I have learnt a lot about Ogre. I still have quite a bit of ground to cover though. I love the idea that I can define overlays and materials in scripts. Not having to compile the application every time is such a pleasure. Also, it is quite easy to pull in any true-type font into your game.

OpenAL is really impressive as well. It has the ability to move objects around in a 3 dimensional sound universe. If you combine that with a moving listener, sound effects can become quite amazing. I have not used any of these great effects in DropIt, but I can't wait to use them in some future endeavor.

All and all it was a good experience to put this game together. You can judge for yourself by downloading the game from here. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Wherefore art thou going, Draco?

Imagine you want to write a game -- you know quite a bit about programming and you have a few hours a week. Naturally, within minutes your imagination go ballistic, boundless ideas spring into being, wonderful concepts are conceived. However, reality dawns, and you conclude that you're ideas are not that original -- in fact they are best vague reflections on games you have already played. Of course, you could be a highly gifted individual, and come up with something that is new, at least in your experience. But a quick Google will burst your bubble, and you might conclude that even this idea is not that phat. Then you come across a cool new game, such as the The Blob, and you marvel at the innovation shown by a bunch of noobs (or so it appears), while also wondering why can I not think of something like that?

The conclusion I came to is that I need to bring down my expectations of myself. Way down. Not only do my ideas suck, but I am also simply not able to deliver even a radically boiled down version of these virtual concoctions. I then found an interesting article that not only made me feel better, but also provided a practical road-map to get to where I wanna be. It says : "Do Tetris first!", and that is exactly what I did, I started a Tetris project.

I chose a few tools, and some libraries that looked good during my window shopping expedition here on the net. There is Blender for 3-d artwork, GIMP for 2-d artwork, Ogre for 3-d graphics and OpenAL for sound. These tools might be an overkill for the task at hand, but I am doing this for fun, am I not?

There are other libraries that are specifically geared for gaming, but I have decided to ignore these for a while. I might have a better appreciation for these after I try to build my own glue between the tools that I have chosen. Time will tell, even though it has no lips.

Leave a comment, or at least take my poll.