Lips Syncing

I saw a fun thread at indiegamer.com about lips syncing. Guys at Ovogame said that they’ve done a lips syncing application. Basically this means that a talking head’s lips move in sync with sound.

I tested the application right away and even recorded my own “test.wav” to see if the app can really handle custom made stuff. I was quite impressed when I heard the lips moving in sync when I was speaking Finnish!

The app is not finished yet and not for sale yet, but their initial pricing structure is like this:

  • Professional: 1000$
  • Indie Dev: 150$ (GP note: now… who said indies aren’t professional ;)
  • Indie Dev: 35$ + link to www.ovogame.com on your site + game credits + 1 free copy

The $35 price tag (with links/credits and stuff) doesn’t sound like a bad price for this, and if you really need this sort of stuff then $150 doesn’t sound bad either for indies – especially when if it works with 3D stuff as well. According to them: “At the moment I can only demo it in 2D (sprites) but soon it will also work perfectly in 3D.”

Anyway, check out the site if you need lip syncing. I presume this stuff could be used not just in games, but also in applications.

Thumbs up for ovogames.

ppFonter – Take TrueType Fonts and Generate Bitmapped Images.

I run into ppFonter couple of weeks ago and didn’t have a chance to check out it properly. Now I’ve checked the system. Basically ppFonter does the following: it takes a TrueType font, and generates a bitmapped image.

I think the main limitation of this program is that it only generates bitmaps, not direct font code. There are engine specific font machines available that generate bitmaps and fonts. Naturally the strenght of this system is that if you only need bitmaps then this program is for you: it can generate bitmapped image from any font you might have on your computer. Basically this type of program can help you reduce development time and cost by saving work from artists.

The ppFonter comes with several other features as well:

* Ability to deal with zip archives containing TTF files, singular TTF files and system installed TTF files.

* Packs characters in texture pages reducing wasted space like other generators that use legacy grid spacing.

* Ability to set page dimensions. When generating a font, ppFonter will automatically create as many pages that will be needed to accomodate all characters specified.

* Drop shadow with independant opacity and colour setting.

* Three predefined character settings and the inclusion of user defined text.

* Supports drag and drop of various image formats to texture fonts.

* Font and background colour settings, random “I feel lucky” colour setting and scriptable presets using XML.

* Customisable export and preview plugins using the supplied SDK.

* Supports unicode, making asian localisation a few clicks worth of work.

* User defined text will only use the unique characters that you need, very useful for asian localisation.

* Supplied preview plugin will let you preview what a font will look like in its intended enviroment by just changing the background bitmap and the XML script.

Try the free demo: download

Or buy online

PSPad – Free Editor

I saw PSPad some days ago, a free editor that’s available for download at their website. I downloaded and tested the editor and my first impressions were:
- It’s fast
- It has spell checking
- It supports several languages
- It’s clean and easy to use

They state on their website that the program is useful for people who:
- Work with various programming environments
- Like highlighted syntax in code
- Need a small tool with simple controls and the capabilities of a mighty code editor
- Are looking for a tool to work with plain text
- Want to save money and still have the functionality of professional products

Sounds like indie game producer to me…

If you are looking for a small, and quick-to-use tool, download the program and try it yourself.

Check Your Website Links

A quick and terribly useful hint for website updates: check your website links by clicking them after you’ve updated your site. I just found out that the gameproducer.net interviews category link was broken. I accidently clicked it and found out this.

Don’t just believe that you’ll copy & paste everything okay… make sure to click the links you place – especially the download and purchase links. Check them also when you place them to different web pages. Make sure the links work.

EDIT: James & Ken recommended free link checking software Xenu’s Link Sleuth which seems to work nicely. Thanks for the tip guys.

igLoader – Easy Way to Get Your Game Demo Online Without Java or Flash

igLoader is a neat application that can get your game demo online without need to use Flash or other web programming language. You just purchase the kit & go online. It was actually quite fun to see igLoader to embed a web browser inside igLoader… and browse another igLoader site inside igLoader… makes your head spin.

This is what the developer mentioned at indiegamer boards:

Our product, igLoader, works with Firefox, Opera, Netscape and IE. It’s incredibly simple to use, we have lots of satisfied customers including miniclip.com, who are in the process of moving all their old ActiveX games to igLoader. The latest version allows you to embed movies/music/flash or even complete HTML pages as the game downloads; perhaps giving your customers a flash mini-game to play as the game “proper” downloads.

The author continues:

All the igLoader commands for network and embedding control are native to the language. A leading Basic manufacturer have adapted their latest software to integrate properly with igLoader (not official yet, still beta).

I think the igLoader stands out with these features:
- It works with different browsers (you need the small plugin – similar to Flash, but smaller file size)
- It doesn’t require (almost any) additional programming, the game you have is automatically converted into a webversion. No Flash coding, no additional graphics making, no (almost) nothing!
- Price: about 60 bucks per title – compare to the price of transporting your game to Flash/Java and getting it to web…

The author uses it at their game site cloverleafgames.com, some indie developers use it and I know Miniclip.com (the big game portal) uses it. Can’t be that bad.

As mentioned, the application costs about US$60, and there’s a free development edition available at their site. To find out more, and to download the development edition visit www.igloader.com.

The Best Project Planning Tools

The best tools for project planning are: pencil and some paper. Okay, almost the best. Quite good at least. In some cases.

I’ve been doing years of project work and I believe some things like (parts of game design, preliminary project plan, graphics concept art etc.) are best done in paper. It might sound bit strange… but pencil & paper have some very good benefits:

  • They are available all the time – you don’t have to turn on your computer and wait for the programs load.
  • They are available anywhere – you don’t have to design in front of your computer… you can be out in a forest and draw lines. (I prefer sofa)
  • It won’t crash. I have never seen an memory error while planning on paper
  • It’s darn a cheap! Pencil & paper doesn’t cost anything compared to almost any professional tool (of course there are very good free tools available, but still – they are very cheap)
  • It’s flexible: drawing something in pencil is much easier than using mouse and trying to use freehand tool (even those ‘draw boards’ aren’t so good in my opinion)
  • It’s all in one package: whether you do budget, project plan, or concept art – you can use the same tool (pencil & paper) for all of those.

Use pencil & paper in design – and put finished paperwork on computer when needed.

Project Management & Bug Tracking Software

Question:

I have some really big problem now! Can you help? I can’t find a simple and effective proj management tools: (nice to be: web-based, open-source, PHP, ajax, nice futures)

Answer:
Unfortunately I really don’t know good solution for this.

PHProjekt is not so good. Microsoft Project has nice capabilities, but it’s expensive. DotProject is one pretty good web based.

I haven’t found a proper – so we solved the problem by making our own online solutions for internal use…

Luckily lonerunner came back after couple of days and mentions these:

BugZilla
TRAC (project management really nice one)
FalySpray (bug-tracker, php, nice)
Mantis
phpBugTracker

Excel (or OpenOffice version) can be ok tools for project gantt charts & budgeting.

That’s where my knowledge ends. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to share.