Sunday, 11 November 2007

Guitar Hero - Guitar Pro -> no chasing the dragon needed

So I've not long watched the South Park episode "Guitar-queero". It's a very good episode, and I would go and watch it if you can. What it did though is hit home something that I've been thinking for a while and that's how much I've been neglecting the real guitar (very sad I know), so I decided to properly try out Guitar Pro and find some tabs for some of my favourite songs from guitar hero. These ones give you a real buzz even in GH . I decided to download them from iTunes no less (my first time!) - that'll make the record labels happy!:

The Allman Brothers Band - Jessica
The Sword - Freya

The butthole Surfers - Who Was In My Room Last Night
Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies
The Rolling Stones- Can't You Hear Me Knocking?
Kansas - Carry On, Wayward Son
Police- Message In a Bottle
Ozzy Osbourne- Bark At the Moon

So I'm real glad
I tried the program out properly, I've just learnt the rhythm for Freya and it really didn't take me long at all. I've just got to make time to keep using it. Guitar Pro does fit the gap somewhat. Cheers to Gaz for recommending it to me. It's good to get away from programming all the time, and it's really enojyable when you learn a new part and nail it down. Learning music is meant to be good for the brain and the soul, so its good to keep it up :). On another note though I am looking forward to Rock Band, and as many people, to the drums, especially if everything people say is true about it being comparable to real drums. Think I'm going to skip GHIII for the moment and concentrate on real guitar and work on getting those achievements ;).

I've also been busy working on the new project this weekend, it seems to be going pretty well. I've lots of classes from my other XNA projects that fit pretty well into the project straight away. A lot of time was spent on getting the jump for the character just right with the physics engine I'm using (Farseer). There was also some niggles with the collision detection and logic involved with jumping that took longer than expected, though I'm sure this will crop up when the scenery becomes more sophisticated.

I've managed to translate the physics co-ords to local tile ones, using a rendertarget method I've come up with, it seems to work - and the performance seems to be good. Some screenshots should be forthcoming when I've got something more interesting on-screen. A few tweaks to make to the Tile Manager then I'm going to work on projectiles - that means weapons and ammo, then I think I might pull out a particle system I've wrapped up in another project and put that. Animation is a priority, theres some ideas that I've got to improve it over Herriman.. so we'll see.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

A post! - a sign of things to come?!

So long time no posty ... I gots me a job, yay! So busy, busy, busy!

Me and the Herriman team have been eager to work on a new project. Gaz has been concentrating on a few ideas on a long time theme, but we've decided to put that on the back burner for a number of reasons. We all still need to learn a lot so we're just going to experiment on a few ideas and see how they turn out.

All that I can say now is that it involves Monkey's .. possibly of the albino variety .. yes we are mad :) Should be a lot of fun

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

IGN mentions Herriman: Under Pressure! and the XNA User Group

Even though Gaz has mentioned it on his blog I feel obliged to say that Herriman: Under Pressure! our winning XNA game has been mentioned on IGN:

The prestige is really great, especially as I read the site nearly every other day. Now if someone would notice and give me a job, that would be great!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Moved blog

Just to say that I've moved my blog from (while I'm waiting for things to compile). Blogger is much more user friendly and has much less (no) broken links. Blogger also has more functionality as well, although my images aren't displaying correctly... I'll have to work on that bit.

Dan: Under Pressure!

I knew about the competition on the afternoon of the 5th June - so we had quite a few days of catching up to do. This started with a frantic brain storming session that outlined some of the foundations of the game, the game mechanics, the characters and the artistic direction, nearly all courtesy of Gaz, one of the artists on the project. The game mechanics were to later change as we saw and played the game in its development state.

The late start was compounded by the fact that I had only worked very minimally with both C# and the XNA framework, coming from a C++ background ... still I had some confidence that we could pull it off or at least enjoy trying to.

A day or to after the brain storming session we enlisted another artist who later came to focus on the level; its design and layout. Dave did a fantastic job on the level design, art wise and the position of the enemies and pickups. I started coding like a man possessed, starting with the animated sprite and pixel collision samples. During this time I learnt/remembered how to use C# and the XNA framework, simple things like using and iterating containers! I had some dodgy collision response for a while and I was panicking a little, as it all rested on it - in the end it works nearly 99% the time which is surprising!

Some days later we recruited a sound artist that made some great music tracks and started on some sound effects, unfortunately we didn't have quite enough time to incorporate them all (or time them correctly!).

I felt my productivity was on a all time high during the next 10/11 days, I was working at every opportunity (mmm.. caffeine) coding and learning more about the framework. The only thing that let it down was time wasted on unimportant things near the end, the pressure (pun intended) was taking its toll and my fingers/brain couldn't work any faster. Its very much against me to not test a piece of software and put good error handling code in, but there was no time for it. I would have also liked some extensive gameplay testing so we could tweak all the numbers as well as the character behaviours.

There's a few obvious bugs in the final version, mostly to do with sound, at the moment the sound API seems very bizarre, especially working with the XACT tool. Another thing that I'm not happy with is the horrible performance (particularly at load time) and horrid memory usage, things I have since fixed surely to everyone's chagrin.

Most important though, I have really enjoyed working on the project and gained many things from it. I think C# and development with XNA definitely allows for an ease and speed improvement in the development process, I've enjoyed using them and I'll definitely use them again.

The team did some sterling work on getting a playable, nice looking game within that time frame and I want to thank them all for there hard work; it would have been nothing without them. I'd also like to say I was amazed by some of the sound and art entries - I felt we were spoilt for choice.

I've been working on correcting/collecting all the bugs, introducing a few optimisations, and incorporating all the artwork from Gaz that never made it in. You can try out the game here:

You'll need the .NET framework and Microsoft XNA Framework Redistributable to run the game. Enjoy!

If you have any problems see this post.

Herriman-Under Pressure6

Herriman-Under Pressure4

Herriman-Under Pressure1


Herriman-Under Pressure5

Friday, 29 June 2007

Win of the XNA user group competition, best overall game!

I've just heard the news that our team has won the best overall game category for the XNA UK user group, which is excellent, excellent news! In the next few days I shall try and detail the time in development, which resulted from the 11 days that we had available from hearing about the competition. This is just a brief post but I would like to thank the team who really pulled together for Herriman, thanks guys!

I'd also like to thank the hosts of the competition; the UK XNA user group and of course Nescafe.... for now I'm going to celebrate and let it sink in!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

New Project - Ion Core

As usual its been a while since I've updated this blog, I'd like to take the opportunity to talk about my latest project; Ion Core. As well as the few tons of report that accompanied it, Ion Core was developed for my Final Year Project at Uni which I've recently finished and waiting for my results. I am really happy with the game and have gained a lot of good feedback. I am currently in the process of improving the game; first ironing out the small bugs or inconsistencies then new features will start to be added. Hopefully I will describe some of the new features here. You can read about Ion Core here.

I should probably mention my previous C++ game project; 'CastleWall'. Although software wise it was going fairly well in my spare time on my work placement I feel the game design has hit a brick wall. As a first project I think it was a bit to much to manage especially with the unfamiliar and unexplored game dynamics. I have learnt that you've got to start with a firm idea, usually described in a design document which to expand on in order to make a good game. Although I am proud of the progress in the game I feel abandoning is the best thing to do because I can work on more sure and feasible projects. I feel at the end of the day it was a good test bed for exploring some game components and features of the Ogre3D engine.






View More photos