Monthly Archives: January 2009

Top Selling Indie Games On Steam (January 2009)

Steam has its own category for indie games. Here’s a recent shot that lists the top selling indie games on Steam right now.

Quite interesting that Garry’s Mod (been there for ages) is selling so well taken into account that the game mod was published on 2006 (really cool!). It’s also quite interesting that World of Goo (80-90% of players are pirates) is also in the top. I’d wish to see more indie games getting there.

Programming Is Bit Like Solving Puzzles

Actually, programming can be a lot like solving puzzles.

Recently I added a flashlight functionality to my zombie game and started pondering how to make it look better. I had some ideas, but thought to ask about this at Leadwerks forums. Here’s how the shadows look at the moment. (yeh, I know it’s very dark picture)

I had some other functionality under development, so it wasn’t until now that I checked the forums and saw idea by tylerp: “Use a transparent cone/cylinder.”

I think that’s a brilliant idea – and bloody simple too. (I’m leaving town now, so I couldn’t test the idea yet)

Programming sure is puzzle solving.

Okay, That Is NOT The Way to Fix Bugs…

I was discussing with a friend of mine who described how one guy had handled bug fixing. My friend said that instead of actually fixing the bugs, the programmer wrote scripts to fix the data that the bugs created.

So, now there was code that was producing corrupted data.

And instead of fixing the erroneous code.

The guy was writing more code that would fix the corrupted data.

Talk about getting to the root of the problem…

How You Ended Up Into Making Games

Here’s my story:

It was near the year 1991 when I got Commodore 64. It was an awesome machine and we spent hours and hours playing either MicroProse soccer or the Bruce Lee thingy game (can’t recall the name but somebody cloned it using BlitzBasic I think) with my brothers. At some point I figured out that I could actually create games and borrowed books from library.

I spent hours writing example code just to see that it won’t work (it was BASIC code, but there was no guarantees that it would work with C64). For some reason that didn’t bother me, I just moved to the next page and wrote new code until something worked (hmm, that’s actually a bloody good business principle).

I was totally amazed to find out that I could take a cassette and record my game (I think it took 33 of those “rounds” – you remember those “cassette rounds”, right – to record the “space ship in a tunnel” game)… and I could actually make it work. The game I wrote looked something like this:

#|…..|##
#|…..|##
#\……\##
##\……\#
##|..^..|#
##/……/#

You could cruise a ship (the ^ thing on that above example) through a tunnel – and the game would never end (until you crash your plane to the wall).

Boy was I proud to see that working.

And this stuff I did (spending hours and hours writing code and hoping that some of it would work so that you could see ^ mark moving on the screen?) was so cool… that after almost 20 years, I still get kicks from spending hours and hours to write code (and still hoping to see if some it actually works ;).

I wonder when I grow up?

How about you? How you ended up into making games?

Coding At Night, What a Strange Feeling…

It’s been 15 years since I’ve coded anything at this time of day (night to be exact). It’s now midnight, and for some reason I didn’t feel like going to bed so I decided to stay up late and just code. Coding at night is probably familiar to many of you readers (I have bunch of friends who code especially at night), but I’ve personally switched my internal clock and adjusted my coding times to daytimes.

It’s kind of a strange feeling to code in the middle of night.

Especially when you are working on a dark room, coding tiny flashlight for a zombie game. Spooky.

I think I head to sleep now…

P.S. Right now there’s only about 5 spots left, so those who are still interested to join the Insiders before the price goes up, take a look at it.

How to Stay In Heaven (Keep Inbox Clean)

Chris points out that staying in Heaven is hard when your inbox is getting alerts from certain places. My very simple solution for this thing is:
1) Stop the alert (why would you need to get alerted anytime somebody posts a comment somewhere? Couldn’t you simply check those comments via the forums at some point?)
2) Create a message rule (these might get bit ugly when you start wondering what there rules were, and that way you can miss something… but if you can make a really strict rule that takes the email sender + email subject, and throw these emails to certain folder, it could be ok) – basically the idea is to get certain emails automatically moved to the place (folder) they belong.

I’ll be giving more reports on my progress here. Right now there’s 12 unread emails, gotta keep cleaning…

Grand Theft Auto IV “Review”: 76 out of 100

So, I’ve been playing some weeks Grand Theft Auto IV (PC) that these guys bought to me (thanks again folks). I was asked for a review (by you readers), so here we go.

So, those bastards tried to attack me…
This is what happened me when I first time played the game:

I was walking on the streets of Liberty City when I walked and knocked some fat guy. He shouted and called me bastard (or something) and I turned on to him. The next thing I knew the guy was asking for trouble and was ready to punch me. I was about to punch back, when I noticed his friend was running to help him.

I decided to do what any sensible wanna-be gangster would do.

Run away.

Those who run away…. can run away another day is the motto I follow and so I run. I noticed that these guys were following me so I started running towards a car. Just when I was about to get hit by that car I did a maneuver and dodged the blow. Those who were after me weren’t so luck. I turned to see that other guy got killed by the car, and other was getting back to his feet.

The guy who was still alive continued the chase and I decided to run in nearby alley.

There I turned around.

After some punches and kicks (which resulted in one dead guy – not me) I left from the scene (with $32 extra in my pocket) and heard the ambulance sirens.

What’s it all about?
So… that’s how I started the game. The game continued with phone calls, missions and of course cars.

I must say that GTA 4 is bit like “good old grand theft auto stuff with fancier cars and all.” That probably sums up almost everything there is. I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post that there’s lots of content in the game, but somehow the missions start to feel like repeating the same thing over and over. At some point I started to finish missions just to see the next cut-scene, and was “rushing” the process.

Bug stopped my progress
After I had progressed the game about 25% I experienced a bug: I could get no more missions. I think it occurred when I received a phone call in the game, and was immediately pressing some button after walking away from building to save things… when it happened: the phone call ended before it had started and I wondered what it was. Then I decided to try accomplishing some missions (I had 2 places where I could go) but whenever I went to the “mission spot” nothing happened. The yellow arrow (which marks “special location”) disappeared… and appeared when I went away from the spot. Normally a cut-scene and a mission would start, but now nothing happened.

Not sure if this bug has happened to anybody else, but at least I couldn’t proceed any further.

Now I remember why PC is so much better than consoles
Due the stupid console saving/loading system (meaning: you don’t really know when stuff gets to saved and there’s no chance that you could actually save the game when you’d want) my last save was somewhere around “20% of game completed” and I felt dip in my motivation to try continue the game from there (instead I came here to whine about it in this blog entry).

I’m switching to my whine gear here, and the GTA 4 reminded me about why I really hate some stuff in games that were ported from consoles.

  • The bloody camera: in GTA 4 it’s “okay”, but still there’s some console-legacy there. The camera just is not as to what I’m used to see in games.
  • No save & load when you want (see bug description above)

Oh well…

Where they put that ‘Multiplayer’ in menus…
You know what you need to do to play multiplayer in Left 4 Dead for example? The process is quite simple:
1) Click the play new game button and you are pretty much done

In GTA 4 it goes like this:
1) Wait for the game’s first screen to load
2) Wait for the game’s second screen to load
3) Press ‘start’
4) Wait for the game to load (!!!)
5) Press UP key (to bring ‘phone’ up)
6) Navigate through phone menus
7) Find multiplayer and click it
8) Notice that the “just loaded game” (that took some time) will now be “lost” (sigh…)
9) Go to a multiplayer finder
10) Whine about the possibility to filter options easily (and not ‘console way’)
11) Realize that you cannot filter options like you’d wanted
12) Click one game and wonder what kind of game it might be (like “how much traffic” are there “cops”, is it day or night or what)
13) Join game
14) Realize that game doesn’t have the options you’d want, and quit
15) Repeat steps 12-14 until at some point you find a decent game

Like… why not have “Play multiplayer game” in the Start menu?

Sorry. It’s easy to whine, but basically I think they could have put some more effort on doing a proper menus, but I guess that is just me. Overall, the multiplayer again is “decent” so that one can play it, but when I compare it with Left 4 Dead the difference is just so big that I must mention it.

So… is there anything good?
Yes, definitely.

There’s lots of good stuff in GTA 4. In fact, there’s lots of amazing stuff in GTA 4. The graphics are really nice. The cars are fun to drive (not realistic, but FUN). There’s all kinds of small details that give you such feeling that you could just go on and keep driving some cars without doing anything else.

I liked the cut-scenes and the possibility to choose between “good” or “evil” acts (don’t know if they play any meaning in the game, but it was still fun to choose whether to shoot the mob boss or not). The cut-scenes are fun to watch (I liked for example the “I said hello” scene – I think it’s in the game’s trailer also).

There’s loads of content, and it’s cool.

(And yes, there’s nudity, adult material and violence and all that stuff in the game)

Bottom line
I think GTA 4 is a good game and can provide fun for those who like GTA games. There’s violence and other K18 material that’s not suitable for children. Even though the game is good and well done (except for some minor things like “the multiplayer menu”) for some reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped (I think the progress stopping bug probably hurt my rating, since I wanted to finish the game & see the ending, but felt that it is waste of time to repeat same missions again).

It was fun to play, car were goods – but something was missing. 76 points from here (out of 100).

(As a record, I’m giving 93 points to Left 4 Dead – I suppose my rating is affected by the fact that I really enjoy playing multiplayer…)

I’m In Heaven (My Inbox Shows “Zero Emails”)

About a week ago I wrote about cleaning your (okay, mine) email inbox and today I finally finished it. I was about to leave 2 emails there, but then thought: “whadda heck, I’d just might do this now” and replied those emailed and archived all my inbox emails.

I was thrilled to see empty inbox.

Seriously, I now have empty inbox, and it’s amazing feeling. I feel like there’s no longer “small matters bugging me in the email”. I think it’s awesome.

I hope to get addicted on this.