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30. July 2015


My primary laptop was misbehaving in so many ways I was about ready to do a complete re-install.  It was randomly turning itself on from hibernate for example, which lead to an overheating and half dead laptop half the time I got to where I was going.  Fortunately the Windows 10 release was on the horizon, so I figured I would be doing a fresh install then anyways, so I held off.  Now that I’ve finish the upgrade ( Windows 10 rocks btw… ), I’ve noticed that I have my essential programs that get installed right away on a fresh install.  The following are my go to programs on a fresh install.


Keep in mind, a lot of my needs also focus on blogging/writing in addition to game development, so if some of these have you scratching your head, that’s why!  I am also not completely up and running yet either, so this isn’t by any means a complete list of the tools I used, just the priority stuff I cant live without.


Dropbox To be honest, I think the client is starting to cause issues with both stability and battery life.  At the end of the day though, this IS my file system these days.  Thanks to Dropbox, I can be up and running productively on a new machine in a matter of hours, tops.  Plus, and I totally know you shouldn’t do this… but it’s a great poor mans version control Smile


7zip  Swiss army knife free archiving tool, all I ever need for all my compression needs.


Steam It’s where my games are.  This gets installed early as there’s about 1TB of games in there to download.  It’s kind of nice having all of my games in one spot, makes reinstalls a breeze.  I do hate the constant updates and the CPU hogging that are becoming more and more common though.


Visual Studio 2015 Community  The Windows based IDE, C++, C#, F# all in one home, also thankfully now free in a small developer environment.  I had great timing here, as the torch was just passed between Visual Studio 2013 and 2015, hopefully saving me about 15GB of drive space.  Hopefully.


SublimeText  My go to text editor.  This or Notepad++, I flip back and forth.  I go with the beta version 3 as I like living dangerously.


Blender  Free and comprehensive 3D graphics package


Paint.Net  Free 2D image app.  Not the most powerful image editor out there, but certainly a capable one, especially for the price.  My go to app for resizing and cleaning up images.


Java SE JDK  Even if I’m not working with LibGDX or Android right now, it’s enevitable I am going to have to install the JDK eventually so might as well do it now.  Normally go with Java 7, but trying 8 this time, mostly because Oracle made 7 enough of a pain in the ass to find.  Have a sinking feeling I am going to have to download Java 7 at some point in the near future.


IntelliJ IDEA  Speaking of Java, this is my Java IDE of choice.  Also my Lua and Haxe IDE of choice while we are at it.


WebStorm  While I’m on JetBrain’s site, I also grab WebStorm, my HTML5 IDE of choice.  I subscribe to this, 50$ a year I think.  Well worth it.


Windows Live Writer  Part of Windows Essentials.  It’s the software I do my Windows based blogging on, what I am typing this in as we speak.  Sadly discontinued in 2012, as it’s still the best software for blogging available IMHO.


FastStone Capture  I bought this app like 6 years ago for 20$ and I love it to death.  It’s my screenshot/markup/video capture go to application.


Camtasia Studio  When I started producing video I tried so hard to find a free alternative.  They sucked, every single one of them.  Camtasia has a price tag attached and some glaring faults ( no on screen keyboard display??? ), it’s still the best video capture/editing package on the market.


GifCam  I make a lot of animated gifs for tutorials and this little free app ROCKS.  I used to use a much more complicated process, now I just use this.  Creates high quality but small filesize images.  Highly recommended.


Highlight  I’ve tried all sorts of different approaches to creating marked up code for books and blogs and Highlight has been hands down my favourite.  Oh, it’s free too!


Scrivener  This is my primary book authoring software, and as time goes on I will mix my book and blog workflow into a single entity and this will be home.  It’s a tool for writers and really takes a bit to get used to, but once it clicks… it clicks.  Honestly though the Windows version is only so-so.  It’s the Mac version that shines.


What I haven’t installed:

A Browser.  Normally Chrome would be item number 1 on a new install.  Thing is, Chrome has gotten worse, a lot worse.  Microsoft Edge however… check it out, really, do.  I did however disable Bing after about 30 seconds…

A Mail Client.  I’m giving the new Windows 10 mail client a go.  Actually pretty impressed so far.  Normally I use MailBird.  If I dont like Windows 10 mail I will go back to Mailbird.

Microsoft Office.  I have a license, and will eventually need to install it, at least Word, but I try to put it off as long as possible. 


What I’ve not mentioned:

Game Engines.  I also install game engines… LibGDX, Unity, Stencyl, Unreal, Paradox3D, etc…  These vary based on the tutorials I am currently working on however, so I don’t include them, although they are certainly essential.  The cool part is, pretty much every single one of them is free.


Honourable mentions:

Krita or GIMP – 2d painting

Inkscape – Vector Graphics

Visual Studio Code – Sublime Text like editor, fairly new but becoming a bigger and bigger fan



It’s actually kind of cool if you look through this list just how low the total price tag actually is.  The amount of stuff I need to install is actually getting smaller and smaller too, thanks to more and more functionality being move to the web.

Totally Off Topic ,

27. May 2015


So today I fired up Steam to finally pull the trigger on Pillars of Eternity and what do I see….



It seems that Degica games, the makers of the popular RPG Maker series of game building tools are having a sale today.  Their flagship product RPG Maker VX Ace ( … quite the name ) is currently on sale for 80% off.


On top of RPG Maker Vx Ace, RPG Maker XP and RPG Maker 2003 are all also discounted, 80% and 50% respectively.  What perhaps caught my eye most of all however wasn’t the RPG Maker line of products, but Spriter is also on sale for 75% off.   Spriter was a successfully kickstarted project made by BrashMonkey, I had no idea Degica was now the publisher.


About Each Program


RPG Maker



This is a program that has been around for a very long time, first released in 1988.  As the title suggests, it’s a game building tool for making RPG’s, generally of the classic jRPG format.


That said, this is a proper game building application, a number of commercially shipped games were created using the various iterations of RPG Maker.  RPG Maker was mentioned as an option in my guide to getting kids started in game development.  Bundled with a ton of premade assets, it is a good way to get your hands wet in game development.  In addition to world, character, dialog, etc… building tools, there is also a programmatic layer using the Ruby programming language. 




Perhaps of most interest to GameFromScratch readers is Spriter.  Spriter is essentially a modular 2D animation system.  You basically cut your sprites up into multiple independent pieces which in turn can be animated.  You can also apply an IK chain ( inverse kinematics… think skeleton ) that controls the animation for you.  You can then export the resulting animation as a sprite sheet, sequence of images or as an animated gif.


Most likely though you will want to use the Spriter API, or one of the pre-existing plugins, and use the Spriter animations directly in your game engine, such as Construct, Unity or LibGDX.


Truth is, I did a pretty lousy job there describing Spriter, so I will just show their video instead…



Both are on sale until May the 29th. 


Oh, and as I finish typing this up, the Steam page for the sale now appears to be broken…

News ,

29. April 2015


Well this one came somewhat out of the blue for me.  Microsoft just released a cross platform ( Windows, Mac, Linux ) code editor called Visual Studio Code.  It’s not a full blown (and bloated!) IDE like Visual Studio, more of a streamlined code focused editor like Sublime Text or Brackets.  It is of course a preview release, so expect issues. 


In Microsoft’s own words:


Why Visual Studio Code?

Visual Studio Code provides developers with a new choice of developer tool that combines the simplicity and streamlined experience of a code editor with the best of what developers need for their core code-edit-debug cycle. Visual Studio Code is the first code editor, and first cross-platform development tool - supporting OSX, Linux, and Windows - in the Visual Studio family.


Visual Studio Code run's on Max OSX, Linux and Windows


At its heart, Visual Studio Code features a powerful, fast code editor great for day-to-day use. The Preview release of Code already has many of the features developers need in a code and text editor, including navigation, keyboard support with customizable bindings, syntax highlighting, bracket matching, auto indentation, and snippets, with support for dozens of languages.


For serious coding, developers often need to work with code as more than just text. Visual Studio Code includes built-in support for always-on IntelliSense code completion, richer semantic code understanding and navigation, and code refactoring. In the Preview, Code includes enriched built-in support for ASP.NET 5 development with C#, and Node.js development with TypeScript and JavaScript, powered by the same underlying technologies that drive Visual Studio. Code includes great tooling for web technologies such as HTML, CSS, LESS, SASS, and JSON. Code also integrates with package managers and repositories, and builds and other common tasks to make everyday workflows faster. And Code understands Git, and delivers great Git workflows and source diffs integrated with the editor.


But developers don't spend all their time just writing code: they go back and forth between coding and debugging. Debugging is the most popular feature in Visual Studio, and often the one feature from an IDE that developers want in a leaner coding experience. Visual Studio Code includes a streamlined, integrated debugging experience, with support for Node.js debugging in the Preview, and more to come later.


Architecturally, Visual Studio Code combines the best of web, native, and language-specific technologies. Using the GitHub Electron Shell, Code combines web technologies such as JavaScript and Node.js with the speed and flexibility of native apps. Code uses a newer, faster version of the same industrial-strength HTML-based editor that has powered the “Monaco” cloud editor, Internet Explorer's F12 Tools, and other projects. And Code uses a tools service architecture that enables it to use many of the same technologies that power Visual Studio, including Roslyn for .NET, TypeScript, the Visual Studio debugging engine, and more. In future previews, as we continue to evolve and refine this architecture, Visual Studio Code will include a public extensibility model that lets developers build and use plug-ins, and richly customize their edit-build-debug experience.


We are, of course, still very early with Visual Studio Code. If you prefer a code editor-centric development tool, or are building cross-platform web and cloud applications, we invite you to try out the Visual Studio Code Preview, and let us know what you think!


I’ll be sure to check it out and get back to your with my opinion.  Cross platform tools are always nice.  This new Microsoft…  wow they impress me with some of their moves.

News ,

1. February 2015


Today I ran into something extremely annoying while typing some JSON for a LibGDX tutorial.  LibGDX uses a naming convention that IntelliJ doesn’t like…  here, I’ll show you what I mean.




Suffice to say… it’s pretty annoying.  What’s even more annoying is there is simply no way to turn this behavior off.  There is however a way to suppress it thankfully.  It isn’t intuitive however, so I figured I would make this post.  So hopefully if you are struggling with turning off IntelliJ automatic code reformatting in JSON, this will be useful to you.


Go to File->Settings… menu.  Locate Editor->Code Style settings.   Find “Formatter Control” and tick Enable Formatter markers in comments. 



Now add // @formatter:off at the top of your file and edit like normal.   Now…




Much better!

General, Programming ,

9. January 2015


I needed to create a sprite sheet for an upcoming tutorial series and managed to throw one together in an amazingly short amount of time with almost no artistic ability.  Good looking art with no ability is something many indie game developers are screaming for, so I figured I would share the process.


During the tutorial we use the following programs:

Mixamo Fuse (Free version available, MSRP $99USD)

Blender (Free and Open Source)

TexturePacker (Free version available, MSRP $50USD)


If you want more details on Mixamo, I extensively review it here.


The ultimate output from this entire process is the sprite sheet powering this animation:



And here is the resulting sprite sheet, click it for the full resolution version:



Now finally, the video.  You can watch it in full 1080p on YouTube.


Coincidentally, if you want more information on how I created the above animated gif, I used a program called Cryotek Animated GIf Creator, and document the process here.  It’s a very cool program and completely free.

Programming, Art, General , , , ,

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