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: http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/800/800923p1.html

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 www.theblog.net (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: http://www.divshare.com/download/1117858-df0

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

If you have any problems see this post.

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