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Comment: Adobe, what are you up to? (Score 1) 57

by Tronster (#48131151) Attached to: Flash IDE Can Now Reach Non-Flash Targets (Including Open Source)

The IDE with the name "Flash" (or "Flash CC" in it's current version) is by far the best 2d animation tool in the industry. That said, despite an ever increasing IDE set of feature, it's horrendous for coding and debugging. The OpenSource project "Flash Develop" ( http://flashdevelop.org/ ) made AS3 usable by the many hobbyists writing games, as well as the AAA's doing UI work via Scaleform's Flash player.

For those not on the Flash/AS3 scene: there was the meme "Flash is Dead" that started about 3-5 years ago. It's not dead, as-in not at 0% usage, but for about two years it hasn't been a viable tech for most indies to use. (Flash via Adobe's AIR technology does work great on mobile but for some reason, perhaps due to the need of "Flash Builder", this doesn't have as great as a traction amongst indie game devs.) Most indie/AAA devs who really did a stellar job leveraging the low-level bits of Flash, ended up going to HTML5/Javascript or C#/Unity ( http://jacksondunstan.com/ ) . A few did jump over to HaXe ( http://haxe.org/ ), and the award winning "Papers Please" game showed HaXe is viable for indie commercial projects... but it's unproven for larger scale projects and the smaller size of the dev team working on HaXe, has some companies hesitant to explore it.

So it's great Adobe is adding these hooks to allow OpenFL / HaXe to become more accessible, and thereby help out both the Flash community and their own communities. ... but what about "Flash Builder"? The other Flash IDE, built upon Eclipse that is so broken that if you delete a local project through the Finder, it prevents the whole IDE from even starting up? Is Adobe dropping it? Are they adding the functionality to it? Are they going to make it as friendly to use as FlashDevelop? (I'd love to not have to boot Parallels, just to use a Windows-only IDE.)

Half of the (former-)Flash blogs I follow, sound as-if Adobe is transitioning away from Flash, putting resources into HTML/Javascript tools instead. And then occasionally, I hear about some new (usually game industry-related) features Adobe is installing in their Flash tools. But even when 100's of indie developers were making a full-time living, selling Flash games, there wasn't a single year at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) that Adobe had a Flash presence and talked about games with their technology (with the exception of one year showing off "Adobe Director".)

Depending on if/how the sale of Unity goes to Google, or Microsoft, or whoever... this may be the one opportunity where Adobe can enamor game programmers with a Flash-based development environment (maybe other business sectors as well.)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Comment: Re:Why Do You Accept This? (Score 1) 232

by Tronster (#47929091) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

We do this too; we have a "producer" (akin to a manager in the non-game software development) in the stand up. If someone takes an inordinate amount of time or goes off topic, the producer snaps the stand-up back on track. If a pattern of this occurs, they'll talk to the individual after the meeting to work out a solution.

I agree with those who talk about FDD being a cultural problem as the arrangement outlined above could transpire poorly if the standup meetings repeatedly derail and/or the manager has horrible soft skills when requesting a developer to be more succinct.

Comment: Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (Score 2) 92

by Tronster (#46941467) Attached to: What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

History disagrees with the sentiment that it was easier to "make money" as an indie in the 1980s, or 1990s than today....

In the 1980s the distribution channels were being established which meant either you scored a deal with a bricks and mortar retail store, such as Sears, Babbages or Toy's R Us, or you ziplock bagged your PC game and tried to sell them at swap meets and computer stores.

In the 1990s there were more direct retailers and amalgamations of bricks and mortar stores occurred. The shareware model emerged and ziplock bagging disappeared. If anything, the 1990's were a bit of a dark ages for indies as either you had a publisher to get into a store or shareware.

From the 2000s onward we have an increased number of target platforms, and increased demographic of game players (from kiddos to those who grew up playing games for 30+ years... see: http://dmitriwilliams.com/will... (warning: Word doc)) , and increased number of channels (e.g., bricks and mortar persists (barely), online services like Steam, bundles, etc...)

If you (have aspirations to) develop indie games, it may seem likely everyone is creating them and the market is saturated but it's the same mentality as a musician at a "Guitar Center" thinking everyone in the world is now in a band; no, it's just the community they choose to surround themselves in. The signal to noise ratio is such that indies can succeed if they spend time build a great game and heed the lessons of other indies in how to market it through these channels. (GDC Vault has many free videos on this topic, such as: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1... )

I even have a personal example of a AAA dev who use to work with me, but left years ago to start his own 1-man shop. He was a graphic programmer who taught himself to become a better artist and has been making a living, creating games, for a few years now. Check out his studio: http://www.epacegames.com/ And can also site Discord games ( http://discordgames.com/ ); larger than a 1-man group but by making an awesome game and marketing it appropriately, have an opportunity to sell Chasm to eager players, an opportunity that would not have existed 20 years ago.

Comment: Re:late 80s into the 90s (Score 2) 92

by Tronster (#46941071) Attached to: What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

tl;dr: Accessibility has always been a concern and, there is more innovation happening today than 30 years ago.

I also miss the (video game) days of my youth; learning about games from friends, or by going to an arcade and seeing what new machine was front and center...later making ANSII ads for BBS's so I could obtain a high enough credentials to get access to their warez section and learn about the latest games.

That said, I chock my emotions of those days as nostalgia and recognize an indie in the 80's/90's had a much more limited set of options than today. From middle school to college my options went from Applesoft Basic with the Beagle Bros compiler to Turbo Pascal/C++ with the XMODE library. That's it. Innovation in game design, and mechanics was regulated to a task that could be accomplished only after you figured out how to get a framebuffer up, sounds playing, and all the other nit picky things required to build a game.

Don't mistake accessibility with complexity. I make games for a living and some of my co-workers have been doing this for 30+ years; accessibility has always been at the front of the games developers build. When 4k of memory was a lot, the best games could do was have paddles, a ball, and text written on an arcade cabinet to describe how to play. Later on we introduced demo mode and how-to-play screens, which worked particularly well with most games as they didn't scroll and limited play modes and/or mechanics to demonstrate.

And when games became more complex (powerups, scrolling screens, etc...), the games people played were the ones that continued to innovate on how they were accessible. A great example that codifies this early push for accessibility by design is in "Sequelitis - Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X" https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

If games haven't always found a way to be accessible, demos, tutorials, etc... they wouldn't be played because only a handful of us die-hard geeks are willing to read through the manual. So as awesome as it was making games in 320x240 with 256 colors with my own game engine, I know what I was able to produce then pales in comparison to what an eager indie can create today.

To see this innovation just poke around Newgrounds or go to any global game jam site or just look at the entries from one of the quarterly Ludam Dare's ( http://ludumdare.com/ ). At the Game Developer's Conference this year there was a whole section of alternative input games ( http://www.gdconf.com/news/gdc... ). And there are plenty of other sources showing innovation game play mechanics, some fun, some not, but plenty of experimentation.

Comment: Now is the time, seize the day... (Score 5, Informative) 92

by Tronster (#46938435) Attached to: What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

What constitutes indie is one questions (and AAA is even harder to come to a consensus, even among my work peers) but that said...

As a child of the 80's, who adamantly played video games (e.g., Apple ][, arcade, 2600, NES, etc...) and got into professional game development over 10 years ago (I work for a AAA studio and my have my own gig for nights/weekends) I'd agree with those who say now, 2014, is the best time for indie game development.

Powerful engines and Middleware tools are accessible with licenses that fit indie budgets (e.g., Unity3d, Unreal4, etc...) as well as a swatch of free software for development. (e.g. Phaser: http://phaser.io/ Blender http://www.blender.org/ Love https://love2d.org/ Flixel http://flixel.org/ Haxe http://haxe.org/ )

The internet, as-is, provides indies with a way for
- distance-collaboration (Skype, E-mail, Groups, etc...)
- community building (Twitter, CMSs, Facebook, etc...)
- fundraising (IndieGogo, Kickstarter, HumbleBundle, Paypal, custom web-based donation system, etc...)
- advertising (game communities, news outlets, etc...)

Organizations, such as the International Game Developer's Association (IGDA, http://igda.org/ ) and events like the Global Game Jam, PAX (IndieMegabooth), and MAGFest also contribute to the community of indie game developers.

It is a great time to be an indie game developer in terms of accessibility and ability to achieve a sustainable income.

Comment: Re:If you need Flashbuilder, try Mac (Score 1) 155

by Tronster (#46148667) Attached to: Eclipse Foundation Celebrates 10 Years

I have FlashBuilder on my Mac, I only use it when deploying a project to iOS - it is awful. One example: With the latest version (4.7) I deleted a project through the OS X Finder on my hard drive, that I had previously built with FlashBuilder. Afterwards it refused to start up, immediately crashing/closing, even after a reinstall of the entire Adobe suite (a recommendation on various forums.) It took a few hours combing through posts to find a helpful one that mentioned some obscure user data directory that had to be deleted.

Who writes an IDE that crashes when a project on disk is gone?

It's for this, and various other reasons, I continue to use the free, open-source alternative FlashDevelop ( http://flashdevelop.org/ ) for my Flash IDE. It's the only reason I keep a Parallels partition on my MacBook Pro.

Comment: Re:Great player missing some key things though (Score 1) 127

by Tronster (#44962885) Attached to: VLC Reaches 2.1

Thank you, you are correct, in haste I posted a bug which appears to be related to screen rotation but not the one iPhone users have.

IIRC the post was in the forums, and it was answered in a similar manner as these bug reports, e.g., it's not a standard so VLC doesn't consider it a "bug", if a user requires this extra functionality they need to take the appropriate steps to manually change the rotate transform in settings.

Just searching through the forum brings up various threads related to users asking for this functionality (searched on "rotate iphone"):

Reading through them now it appears that the issue, more specifically, is that EXIF tags are stored with the video clips that VLC is not reading.
https://forum.videolan.org/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=79068&p=260277&hilit=rotate+iphone#p260277

Comment: Great player missing some key things though (Score 4, Interesting) 127

by Tronster (#44960737) Attached to: VLC Reaches 2.1

VLC is a fantastic free program, but the attitude some/one of their devs have towards it's users is disheartening for the project as a whole.

A friend recorded a video with her phone, and held it so the video was taken in "portrait mode" vs. "landscape mode". On a PC I was surprised when VLC was unable to correctly orient itself as I was use to my Mac's native application always orienting properly.

I spent the time looking for solutions on their forum and the devs responses is nothing short of arrogant:
https://trac.videolan.org/vlc/ticket/7766

Essentially users are told this is not a bug in VLC because the videos use a non-standard way of marking the video as rotated. Further they go on to say if a user wants to look at it, as it was shot, they need to manually tweak the rotation on the transform for playback. After a 7 step menu navigation process, this has the side effect of having to change the transform back for the next video you wish to play if it was shot in landscape mode. Essentially this has to be done on a video-by-video basis.

I'm hoping there are some Open Source projects that actually implement this correctly, but from the few I've tried so far, they all seem to have the same bug as VLC when it comes orientation. Standard or not, ignoring this rotation bit is rendering the program as crippled for 100,000's of people shooting videos this way. Coincidentally, I haven't found a commercial program that is subject to the bug, everyone I've tried (e.g., Quicktime, Adobe Premier, etc...) renders it properly.

I can always hope that, eventually, someone on the team will see the value in implementing this fix.

Comment: Re:bitching is essential (Score 1) 469

by Tronster (#43158431) Attached to: Is It Time To Enforce a Gamers' Bill of Rights?

Maybe it's semantics, but I see "complain" to be different than "disagree". To that end there is a difference between having the "right" to complain vs. being "justified" in complaining.

So sure, you have a "right" to complain whether you bought it or not; but you're not really justified in that action unless you put money down for it.
But you can disagree with the product either way.

I havent' bought an EA game that uses Origin because I disagree with the service, restrictions, and how some vocal (complaining) players have lost access to their catalog. I fear any company having that power; that as I purchase more games I have more to lose if I speak up against something I find to be an injustice (such as DRM).

If enough sales are made, a publisher is initially not interested in the voice of those who did not purchase the game until the long tail starts and new market segments have to be tapped. As of today, EA is focusing only on those who purchased the game, because they actually fronted money to play. From everything I've seen, they've been doing an excellent job to, as quickly as possible, fix a really crappy situation; namely failure by their own success.

Now if the game was never initially purchased by the target market, and the reason gamers gave on surveys was "DRM", the studio would remove it, or at the very least scale back on how pervasive it acts. The fact is: the wide majority of gamers hate DRM, talk a good talk about how it's evil, but still shell out money because, as sconeu writers in a thread below, their mentality when told they should just abstain from purchasing it is, "'But then I can't play my shiny!!!!'"

So to the OP, no; we don't need a "Gamer Bill of Rights" because we have one right now: it's our wallet. Only purchase games that you believe in. If the DRM, ethics behind a company, or anything else that has to do with a game/publisher/etc... is disagreeable with you, simply don't buy their product. That's what I do. I look forward to seeing what indie makes a SimCity-like game that compares on it's level of fun; that's where I'll be putting my money, but until then I'll wait and find other games to play.

Games

+ - Women in Game Development explored on podcast->

Submitted by
Tronster
Tronster writes "For the past half a year, I've been hosting a game development themed podcast with another AAA dev: Brett Doerle. We recently hosted women from various disciplines at three different, Baltimore-based, game studios to talk about their experience of being game developers in a male centric industry.

Some of their stories were surprising, and I wonder if women in any CS/IT related field are subject to similar situations."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Money won't bring happiness (Score 1) 397

by Tronster (#41320071) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Much Is a Fun Job Worth?

Years ago, I left a contracted programming job at a startup that paid about $150k annually, to pursue AAA game development, starting in the low $40k.
Whether working the 40 hr/week or in crunch, I was doing something I absolutely loved.
It was both one of the riskiest and best decisions I ever made, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Comment: Re:Another Kickstarter Slashvertisement? (Score 1) 122

by Tronster (#40856319) Attached to: Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Blows Past Kickstarter Goal

...Here's an idea, how about we start running Slashdot stories when something from Kickstarter goes from rendering to shipping actual products.

I'd rather hear about promising emerging techs we'll see in the future than press releases when these are out to the mass public; near future projects (consumer or otherwise) is one of the reasons I read Slashdot daily.

I'm sure in the process some items will be vaporware, but I'd expect the majority of these editor approved stories will make it to consumers.

Comment: Re:VB6 surprising power (Score 1) 406

by Tronster (#40268331) Attached to: Why Visual Basic 6 Still Thrives

I think VB5 also supported COM. (Unsure of this.)
MFC was around long before VB6. We were looking to leverage it at the project's inception but found ATL (with WTL) to provide a lite-weight alternative without the bloated class inheritance. Looking back, as good as ATL was, I don't think we would have survived using it without the WROX books and great samples from CodeProject and similar websites.

The problem is both MFC and ATL are essentially just wrappers to a high procedural, highly struct-passing Win32 API. I prefer them to straight Win32 calling, but they are complex and I'd be surprised if there was a way they could be simplified without losing the flexibility offered.

As for VB6, I believe the EXE's it generated were inherently COM enabled. Each program would support IUnknown and IDispatch. If you wanted a C++ program to talk to it, you needed the IDispatch. Inside of the VB6 world, types were great because they were abstracted, but you are right in that once you marshalled a type out of VB6 into the C++ COM space, it was a bit of a pain to have to work with types like a SAFEARRAYS instead of C array (or STL container.)

So for simple communication, it wasn't too bad. For complex interactions (like the ActiveDocuments we implemented) a crippled object model wasn't required but I would agree that it was a complex setup.

Comment: VB6 surprising power (Score 3, Interesting) 406

by Tronster (#40267745) Attached to: Why Visual Basic 6 Still Thrives

VB6 is simple, but there is a surprisingly large amount of power to be tapped from it, if you understand the underlying infrastructure.

Having done some hard core COM programming 10 years ago, for a Computer Based Testing "test driver", our team learned we could spend 2 days to get up a "ActiveDoc" in C++ using ATL, and WTL, or we could do the same thing in VB6 within an hour. Considering how fast it was to implement ActiveDocument and custom COM interfaces, I changed my mind on how weak I perceived VB6 was. (Unfortunately many of the VB trained, customer-based implementors of our interface were not as astute, and even in a VB6 environment didn't understand what they needed to do to create a component that would properly talk to the rest of our system.)

Still, knowing how quickly VB6 would let one get up an interface, I was able to help a room mate of mine create a level editor for our own rolled version of Zelda. It was a little cumbersome to learn how to read individual bytes of the palette based sprite files, but VB6 had all the power there.

All that said, VB6 should die IMHO. After (C# / VB).NET came out, it became a lot easier to make object dynamically talk to each other and perform byte level manipulation.

Hold on to the root.

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