Monday, March 13, 2017

Sensible Soccer

I was watching one of the excellent Kim Justice videos the other day, this one being about Sensible Soccer.  (If you like watching videos about games, especially of the retro variety, then I thoroughly recommend his channel).  It got me thinking, how come no-one has remade Sensi for the modern day?  After all, there are thousands of "retro remakes", and this game was incredibly popular back in the day.

Needless to say, someone has.  (In this day and age, it's impossible to find something that someone hasn't already done, especially with regard to games).  It's virtually identical to the original, but with all new updated teams, online play, plus presumably loads of other modern improvements.  However, the main aspect of the game - kicking the ball around - remains as great as ever.  Which makes me curious why this game isn't more well known?  I guess that in this day and age, there is so much going on it's very hard for anything to get noticed.

The only "issue" I could find was a problem I had actually starting a game: the menu options are selected with Enter - apart from the one that selects "Start Game"!  I spent a while pressing every button on the keyboard, and also going through every other menu option, since I assumed I must have selected something that prevented the game from starting.  There was very little documentation (that I could find).  In the end I had to join the Chat channel and ask.  It turns out that Ctrl (which is the default "fire button" in the game) is used for this single menu option.  It would be a shame if this obstacle put off any other potential new players to this great game.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Forum Nazis

Why do forum moderators always feel like they need to stamp their authority when there's no reason to?  Users don't get paid to post messages, we do it usually to help other people and have a debate.  Unfortunately I've recently encoutered a sudden bout of forum nazi-ism on a few forums, where a moderator has shut down discussion and/or deleted posts with no obvious reason that I can see.

Stack Overflow seems to be the worst, presumably because there's thousands of wannabe moderators.  They're very strict with the rules (especially with what can and cannot be asked) and if you dare to ask something that's not allowed (or seemingly not allowed) you will be downvoted and your question probably closed.  Do you need an online compiler since your computer is too slow?  Then go somewhere else.  Are you a beginner at programming?  Then go somewhere else; answering easy questions is beneath them and you'll just get downvoted, along with a few unhelpful comments.  (It's interesting to note that often the questions that are closed as being "of-topic" usually get high votes).

Even the normally friendly World of Spectrum forums seems to have acquired a forum-Nazi.  I recently posted a link to a BBC article about the doomed ZX Vega.  The next day I couldn't find it.  I posted it again, also mentioning that the original seems to have disappeared.  I got the terse reply saying "It's been moved", and that discussions was closed, making me unable to reply asking why or where to.  Why close it?  Is WoS running out of disk space?  Or is WoS somehow linked to the shady goings-on with the Vega?

And don't even think about posting to the Subreddit "Explain Like I'm 5" without prefixing your title with "ELI5:", or your post will be deleted immediately by a computer.  Presumably it's beyond the job of a computer to automatically do this, and they'd prefer to get humans to do it.  I don't know why they feel that their subreddit is so important the posts need differentiating from all the others.

Moderators are often required for when arguments get out of hand, but unfortunately, some of them seem to feel that a moderator's job is to control the discussions, or even just create arbitary rules to give them a sense of power.

Spaceship Roguelike

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tips for keeping interested

When developing a game, as other amateur game developers will testify, it's very easy to lose interest.  This can be for several reasons.  Here I'm going to codify some tips to help prevent this:-

1) Make it procedurally generated, so it's different to play each time.

2) Make it actually fun to play.

3) Make it single player with an AI.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sole Collector

Here's a screenshot. I tested the physics using skulls.

And now it's available to download.  You'll need Java of course, but doesn't everyone have that?

Monday, January 09, 2017

Unnamed Horror Game

My newest project is going to be a 3D Horror Game.  I think 3D is the way to go (hello 1995!) these days; it may be harder, but for me at least, simple 2D games just don't interest me, and certainly don't interest my kids who are my main audience.  With this in mind I thought a horror game that scares them would be fun.

Here's the very first video.  it's just me walking around:-

It's written in Java using the excellent JMonkeyEngine for the 3D.  I did have a look at using LibGDX which is also very good.  However, for the physics aspect at least, it was just a "leaky" wrapper for Bullet.  Bullet is written in C, and so even in Java it seemed to be a case of remembering to dispose of objects and other things I'd hoped to never have to do again.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Tips for Software Developer Recruiters

I've had quite a few Software Developer jobs, been an interviewee even more times, and sometimes even been the interviewer.  This is a brief rundown of some tips that I've picked up along the way to avoid wasting both the interviewers and interviewees time, and help you get the right people.

1) Read This

For the love of God, read this before you do any interviews.

2) Be flexible with interview times

...preferrably holding them out of hours.  A consciencous interviewee who already has a job doesn't want to risk endangering that job, or waste their holiday allocation, or go through the minefield of taking time of work, if they can help it. 

You will make it so much easier for potential recruits if you can do the interview out of hours, or in some way make it as easy as possible for them to get to the interview without disrupting their current job.

3) Test their development skills by getting them to develop something

Software development is about developing software, not about knowing the definition of Dependency Injection or what the definition is of each of the method modifiers available in your chosen language.  There is so much to know in Software Development the no single person can know everything, and by asking specific quiz questions, you're turning the interview into a lottery (for both you and the interviewee) where the "winner" is determined by who was lucky enough to have recently read the specific fact that you asked them.

Go through the process of developing software with them.  Allow them to use Google and Stack Overflow, and discuss their code as they write it.  Allow them to use technologies they are experienced in (or claim to be experienced in).  In short, get them to carry out a microcosm of what the actual job would be.

4) Look for Passion

Good software developers love programming, whether it's part of their job or their hobby at home (or anywhere outside their job).  I'm always wary of an interviewee who doesn't write code at home.  If they do, don't worry or expect that it's actually any good; most hobby development is just for fun, and once it stops being fun it gets abandoned.  The fact that they do it is the only important thing.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Escape from Krakatoa Remake

I've been working on my remake of the classic game Escape from Krakatoa for a few weeks now.  I'm already the top Google result for "Escape from Krakatoa remake" (about the top 5 results actually) which says more about the fact that no-one has attempted a remake of this game rather than my internet omnipresence.

The game "components" that I've managed to create using JBox2D is the helicopter, a rope, the landscape, water, the tanker and the rocks thrown from the volcano.

Here's a video of a few of them combined.

They are all basic polygons at the moment (with the exception of the water), but it shouldn't be too difficult to replace them with proper graphics once everything has come together.

At the back of my mind is what new aspects I can add to the gameplay.  I was thinking of something like, the player can (must?) transport crates to the islanders or the tanker to keep them supplied, whilst also defending them against rocket attacks.  And, unlike the original, maybe the player can actually help the islanders escape from Krakatoa?