eldavojohn writes: You've probably got a spindle in your close tor a drawer full of CD-ROM media mailed to you or delivered with some hardware that you put away "just in case" and now (ten years later) the case for actually using them is laughable. Well, a certain mentally ill individual named Jason Scott has a fever and the only cure is more AOL CDs. But his sickness doesn't stop there, "I also want all the CD-ROMs made by Walnut Creek CD-ROM. I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era. I want every shareware floppy, while we’re talking. I want it all. The CD-ROM era is basically finite at this point. It’s over. The time when we’re going to use physical media as the primary transport for most data is done done done. Sure, there’s going to be distributions and use of CD-ROMs for some time to come, but the time when it all came that way and when it was in most cases the only method of distribution in the history books, now. And there were a specific amount of CD-ROMs made. There are directories and listings of many that were manufactured. I want to find those. I want to image them, and I want to put them up. I’m looking for stacks of CD-ROMs now. Stacks and stacks. AOL CDs and driver CDs and Shareware CDs and even hand-burned CDs of stuff you downloaded way back when. This is the time to strike." Who knows? His madness may end up being appreciated by younger generations!
eldavojohn writes: It's 2015 and the EFF is still submitting requests to alter or exempt certain applications of the draconian DMCA. One such request concerns abandoned games that utilized or required online servers for matchmaking or play (PDF warning) and the attempts taken to archive those games. A given examples is Madden '09 that had its servers shut down a mere one and a half years after release. Another is Gamespy and the EA & Nintendo titles that were not migrated to other servers. I'm sure everyone can come up with a once cherished game that required online play that is now abandoned and lost to the ages. While the EFF is asking for exemptions for museums and archivists, the ESA appears to take the stance that it's hacking and all hacking is bad. In prior comments (PDF warning), the ESA has called reverse engineering a proprietary game protocol "a classic wolf in sheep’s clothing" as if allowing this evil hacking will loose Sodom & Gomorrah upon the industry. Fellow gamers, these years now that feel like the golden age of online gaming will be the dark ages of games as historians of the future try to recreate what online play was like now for many titles.
eldavojohn writes: If you didn't partake in the DDOS attack on Dragonmount as fans tried to figure out just what the %&#% was going on last night, you should probably prepare yourself for Billy Zane filled disappointment and watch a curious pilot covering the prologue of "Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan that apparently aired around 01:30 AM Eastern time on FXX. The reviews of said pilot are unkind and appear to contain question marks all the way down starting with Jordan's Widow disavowing its authorization. The world of film and TV development is a confusing one but it appears that NBC initially bought options to turn it into a mini series which were then optioned by Universal/Red Eagle Entertainment in conjunction with Red Eagle Games to do a coordinated release. Red Eagle games announced a combined effort with Jet Set games and around 2012 began releasing information on an "Aiel War" project to target mobile gaming platforms. But that appeared to die with its failed kickstarter attempt. It is suspected that Red Eagle Entertainment is behind the odd FXX airing last night. Was this an eleventh hour "use it or lose it" move by Red Eagle Entertainment without Universal's knowledge? In any case, it was a secretive, odd, low-budget, disappointing start to The Wheel of Time in film.
author David Geary
pages 615 pages
publisher Prentice Hall
The reason this book gets a nine is it accomplishes everything it sets out to do and Geary does a great job dividing up task after incremental task of setting sprite sheets and backgrounds into motion. The reason it doesn't get a ten is that I was personally disappointed with the the author devoting little time to physics and their simulations.
The book is laid out to enable its use as two kinds of resources: cover to cover and chapter specific topics. Reading this straight through, there were only a few times where it felt like I was needlessly being reminded of where I had already read about tangential topics. On the plus side if you ever want to see how Snail Bait implemented something like sound, you need only spend time on the chapter devoted to sound sprites. One mild annoyance I had with the text was that the author seems to always refer to Snail Bait as “Snail Bait” which leads to a Ralph Wiggum-like aversion to pronouns or saying “the game” instead occasionally. It might only be me but it can become tiresome to read “Snail Bait” five or six times on the same page.
You can read a sample chapter here that shows how to implement sprite behaviors.
The third chapter delves into draw and rendering graphics in the canvas as well as introducing the reader to the game loop. It spends a good amount of time explaining the use of animation frame control in a browser to keep animations running smoothly. It also begins the auditing of frame rates so that the game can respond to and display things normalized at the rate the user is experiencing them. It also touches on how parallax can be employed to show things closer up moving faster than those further back in the background. This illusion of depth has long been popular and is even finding its way into scrolling on blogs and I wish that Geary would have spent more time on this perhaps in a later chapter but offer the reader more on how to do multiple levels of depth.
The next three chapters cover the use of loading screens, sprites and their behaviors. Snail Bait uses all its graphics from an open source game (Replica Island). But if you were to design your own graphics for your game, these chapters do a great job of showing how to construct sprite sheets and how to use tools to construct metadata in the code so that the sprites are usable by the sprite artists. Using the flyweight pattern, Geary sets the stage for more complex behaviors and actions to come in the following chapters.
The next three chapters cover time, stopwatches and their effects on motions and behaviors within the game. The author starts and works from linear motion to non-linear motion and then using transducer functions to affect the time system. The game now has bouncing coins, a jumping player and Geary does a good job of showing the reader how to emulate behaviors in the code.
Naturally what follows next is collision detection and gravity. The collision detection strategies were adequate but I wish that there was more depth at least referenced in the text. This isn't a simple problem and I did like how Geary referenced back to chapter two’s profile and showed how collision detection performance as you implement and refine and optimize your algorithm. The nice thing about this book is that it often tackles problems with a general solution in the code (runner/sprite collision) and then provides the edge case solutions.
In the fourteenth chapter, the author tackles something that has long been a plague in HTML5 games: sound and music. The author doesn't sugarcoat this citing the long history of problems the vendors have had trying to support this in browsers. There’s a great explanation of how to create and handle “sound sprites” (similar to sprite sheets) so that there is only one download for background music and one download for audio sprites.
Next Geary covers the problem of multiple viewport sizes with a focus on mobile devices. Of course this is one of the biggest issues with mobile gaming today. The chapter is lengthy and deals with the many intricacies of scaling, sizing and touch events. This chapter is long but the highly detailed support of multiple platforms and resolutions is a justified discussion point.
In sixteen, the reader gets a treatment of utilizing sprites and their artists to simulate sparks and smoking holes. The book calls this chapter “particle systems” but I don’t think that’s a very good title as the code isn't actually dealing with things at the particle level. Instead this chapter focuses on using sprites to simulate those behaviors via animation. This is completely necessary on a computation inexpensive platform but it is misleading to call these particle systems.
Now that the game looks and functions appropriately, the book covers UI elements like player scores and player lives. The auditing of these metrics are covered in the code as well as warnings when the game begins to run to slowly. It also covers the ‘edge’ condition of winning in the game and the routine that is followed when the user wins the game.
The next chapter introduces the concept of a developer backdoor so that the reader can manually speed up or slow down the game while playing it or even test special cases of the runner sprite interacting with other elements. It’s a useful trick for debugging and playing around but does devote a lot of time to the specialized UI like the speed slider and other things that won’t (or rather shouldn't) be seen by a common player.
Chapter nineteen really felt out of place and very inadequate on important details. It’s a blind rush through using node.js and socket.io to implement server side high scores. The way it’s implemented would make it trivial for someone to submit a high score of MAX_INT or whatever to the server. The metrics reporting is done in a manner that (in my opinion) breaks from long established logging structure one would be familiar with. While it covers important things to record from your users in order to tweak your game, the inadequacy of discussions about shortcomings makes it feel out of place in this text. It's a topic of great depth and I have no problem with an author touching on something briefly in one chapter — this chapter does lack the warnings and caveats found in other chapters though.
Contrary to the previous chapter, the final chapter is a fast application of the entire book’s principles applied to a new game (Bodega’s Revenge). Geary gives a final run through showing how the lengthy prior discussions quickly translate to a new set of sprite sheets and game rules. If this book is ever expanded, I think it would be great to include additional chapters like this although I would pick a more distinct and popular two dimensional game format like a tower defense game or a bejeweled knockoff.
eldavojohn writes: A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865 Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world.
eldavojohn writes: There have been suspicions that fracking has caused minor earthquakes in Ohio but last year seismic data recorded by the Earthscope Transportable Array was analyzed by the Seismological Society of America using template matching and has resulted in a new publication and press release making the statement that Hilcorp Energy's fracking in Poland Township in March of 2014 "did not create a new fault, rather it activated one that we didn’t know about prior to the seismic activity." The earthquakes occurred in the Precambrian basement and lead the researchers to posit that further unknown faults may be activated by fracking. The press release ends with urging for "close cooperation among government, industry and the scientific community as hydraulic fracturing operations expand in areas where there’s the potential for unknown pre-existing faults."
eldavojohn writes: In a country where it's illegal to insult a government official, State Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina has proposed an amendment to ban swearing on social networks, bulletin boards and all websites. The website would be blocked if the offending material had not been removed within 24 hours. The name of the law this would be added to? "On the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development." Mizulina's title in regards to this legislation? Chairwoman of the Committee on Family, Women and Children (No joke!). Of course, Yelena Mizulina is no stranger to unwarranted censorship as she was behind the law banning gay propaganda to minors and invoked laws to try to silence critics on twitter. The article also notes, 'United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov put forward a similar initiative on 25 July. He proposed to tighten control over social networks and allow people to dating sites through their passports.'
eldavojohn writes: A recent poll from the YouGov consisting of one thousand responses shows that Snowden's support among Americans has shifted. Now, according to the poll, more Americans think he did the wrong thing rather than the right thing when asked 'Based on what you’ve heard, do think Snowden’s leak of top-secret information about government surveillance programs to the media was the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do?' The results and breakdown can be found in this PDF. Without getting into racial or political breakdowns, the results now show that 38% say he did the wrong thing, 33% say he did the right thing and 29% remain undecided about the results of his actions. Instead of charging the populace into action Snowden may be facing apathy at best and public disapproval at worst.