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10. January 2013


I’ve been at a bit of a loss for what to work on next.  I am still going to be working on game math recipes, as well as the HTML based level editor, but I wanted to start a new tutorial series and couldn’t really decide what to work on.  Then I realized how heavily I’ve been ignoring the artist side of the fence… perhaps because I am no artist.  I do of course follow it as a hobby and have since I got 3DS for DOS way back in the 90s.


blender icon (1024)

Programmer art is a tricky thing, especially when it comes to the world of 3D.


In 2D, you can download a spritesheet from the web and use that as a placeholder.  In 3D, this becomes a bit more difficult.  There exist tons of premade 3D models, some even completely animated, that you can download and plug into your game.  This sounds wonderful… in theory, in practice it is anything but wonderful.  After importing you will often find the animations don’t work, textures are missing, the scale is all wrong, the orientation is all wrong, etc.. 


That’s why it’s often handy for a programmer to be able to create their own art.  That is exactly what this tutorial series is going to cover.  From beginning to end on how to model, texture, animate and export your own 3D models or levels.  The results aren’t going to be pretty…  that part requires years of experience… but it will be functional and will teach you all the basics and you can take it from there.  There are also a ton of resources available for Blender, I will point to or include them as I go.


Of course, you won’t need to be a programmer to follow this series, I am just making the assumption that my target audience is composed of programmers.  This series should be useful to anyone looking to get up to speed with Blender.


Hope you enjoy it.  Any and all suggestions, recommendations and feedback appreciated.


Stay tuned for part one shortly.

News, Art ,

8. January 2013


You may have noticed an unsightly error message if you tried to access this afternoon.  Well, long story short, runs on one of Flexamail’s servers.  On the server where I happen to store database backups.  They occur weekly and are a few GB each in size, so if I forget about them, they rapidly use up hard drive space…  which is exactly what happens.  Apparently Windows Server isn’t happy trying to run with only 5MB of disk space…






Anyways, I used the “opportunity” to perform some long overdue patching, security updates and maintenance.  So, sorry for the downtime and please let me know if you notice any oddities.

Totally Off Topic

7. January 2013

As per this story on The Register, nVidia has announced they are creating a new handheld console named "Shield".


Let's start off with the most obvious.  It's ugly, exceedingly ugly.  The form factor isn't exactly practical either, this isn't a handheld you are going to be slipping in your pocket anytime soon.  Which begs the question then… why make a handheld at all?



The Shield, nVidia's clamshell portable console.

nVidia Shield Handheld console


Told you it was ugly!  Basically it's a tablet pasted to an Xbox 360 controller.  I am surprised with the recent spat of clones and copycat controllers, like this one or worse... the WiiU, that Microsoft isn't launching lawsuits.


Alright, those are all the negatives, now to some positives.  First off the thing is beefy.  It's powered by nVidia's Tegra4 chipset and a quad core ARM processor.  It runs Android, Jelly Bean currently and should be compatible with all the games in the current App Store.  Although I can't really imagine touch only games being comfortable if the controller isn't detachable.  It also ships with HDMI out, for those looking for the full console experience.  The screen itself is 720p.


Now the one feature that might actually redeem the thing… it can connect to your PC and play your Steam games by streaming them over wifi.  Now that feature… is neat.  I've actually done this already with existing iOS and Android software, and the latency is actually fine, it's always the controls that let you down.  So I expect the experience to actually be quite nice.  However, if you are home and able to stream your Steam games, why not just play them on your PC?  Now if it lets you buy games from Steam without a PC, that could be a game changer.


As you may be able to tell from my text, I think nVidia are crazy.  It's too niche a product entering a segment that is struggling already.  Especially when the OUYA Android console already exist and Steam are rumoured to be bringing out a console shortly.  Plus, it really is ugly and unwieldy.  


It's apparently in beta now and could be coming to market within months.

News, Totally Off Topic

4. January 2013


As you can see by the volume of posts here on, I took a bit of a holiday during the, um, holidays.  During that time I did do a fair bit of reading.  One book that came up on Safari is Pro HTML5 Games  ( Safari link if you also subscribe ) that got my attention.  Now, there are a ton of HTML5 game books on the market, of which I’ve read quite a few, but this one is kinda special.  It actually shows how to create a Real Time Strategy ( RTS ) game in HTML5.  I don’t believe there has been a book on creating an RTS since the title Real-Time Strategy Game Programming way back in 1999.  A book I owned by the way and it was awesome… or at least according to my memory of 1999 it was.


Anyways, I haven’t completely finished the book, mostly jumped in and read a chapter here and there, but it is certainly an interesting title.  When I finish it, I might do a proper review.  Unlike most HTML books, this one is entirely about creating a single game… obviously an RTS title.  As a result, it covers pretty much every step along the way, as you can see from the detailed Table of Contents below:




Chapter 1: HTML5 and JavaScript Essentials

The canvas Element
The audio Element
The image Element
Animation: Timer and Game Loops

Chapter 2: Creating a Basic Game World

Basic HTML Layout
Creating the Splash Screen and Main Menu
Level Selection
Loading Images
Loading Levels
Animating the Game
Handling Mouse Input
Defining Our Game States

Chapter 3: Physics Engine Basics

Box2D Fundamentals
More Box2D Elements
Tracking Collisions and Damage
Drawing Our Own Characters

Chapter 4: Integrating The Physics Engine

Defining Entities
Adding Box2D
Creating Entities
Adding Entities to Levels
Setting Up Box2D Debug Drawing
Drawing the Entities
Animating the Box2D World
Loading the Hero
Firing the Hero
Ending the Level
Collision Damage
Drawing the Slingshot Band
Changing Levels
Adding Sound

Chapter 5: Creating the RTS Game World

Basic HTML Layout
Creating the Splash Screen and Main Menu
Creating Our First Level
Loading the Mission Briefing Screen
Implementing the Game Interface
Implementing Map Panning

Chapter 6: Adding Entities to Our World

Defining Entities
Defining Our First Entity: The Main Base
Adding Entities to the Level
Drawing the Entities
Adding the Starport
Adding the Harvester
Adding the Ground Turret
Adding the Vehicles
Adding the Aircraft
Adding the Terrain
Selecting Game Entities
Highlighting Selected Entities

Chapter 7: Intelligent Unit Movement

Commanding Units
Sending and Receiving Commands
Processing Orders
Implementing Aircraft Movement
Defining Our Pathfinding Grid
Implementing Vehicle Movement
Collision Detection and Steering
Deploying the Harvester
Smoother Unit Movement

Chapter 8: Adding More Game Elements

Implementing the Basic Economy
Purchasing Buildings and Units
Ending a Level

Chapter 9: Adding Weapons and Combat

Implementing the Combat System
Building Intelligent Enemy
Adding a Fog of War

Chapter 10: Wrapping Up the Single-Player Campaign

Adding Sound
Building the Single-Player Campaign

Chapter 11: Multiplayer with WebSockets

Using the WebSocket API with Node.js
Building the Multiplayer Game Lobby
Starting the Multiplayer Game

Chapter 12: Multiplayer Gameplay

The Lock-Step Networking Model
Ending the Multiplayer Game
Implementing Player Chat



If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check it out.  Keep an eye here for a possible upcoming review.

General, Programming

1. January 2013


The title pretty much says it all.  A developer working with the developer release of the OUYA console, the upcoming Android based home console,  has released a series of videos to YouTube showing the OUYA in action.


The first video is a hands on with the video hardware.



The second video shows the software side of things, the developer experience, his game in action and more.





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