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26. September 2017


Do you find that 8/16-bit games aren’t retro enough?  Yearning for an even earlier art start?  Well then, do I have the perfect software for you!  RexPaint, an ANSI painting package.  So, how exactly does it work?  Well just like any other paint package frankly, except instead of drawing with pixels or voxels, you using ASCII characters.  RexPaint supports many of the features you would expect from a modern art package, multiple drawing tools, palette tools, layer support etc.  The end result can then be exported as a PNG or in several text formats.


To see RexPaint in action, be sure to watch the video below.  Oh, and it’s completely free.

Art


19. September 2017


Perhaps the biggest complaint about Blender is the user experience and this argument has some merit.  Once you learn Blender it starts to become somewhat zen to use, but getting there is a painful process.  3+ key hotkeys are rampant to do some of the most common tasks and a few of the design decisions, such as right click selection are just simply bad.  Granted many of these options can be configured away but that again requires a fairly advanced amount of understanding and by that point many new users have already been turned off.


You would think, being an open source project and all, someone would have forked it and made a more accessible version by now?  Well… someone has!  Meet BForArtists (as in Be For Artists), a Blender fork focused on making the user interface more intuitive.  How did they do that? 


Well first is an over all face lift.  Better contrasted theme really does make it easier to distinguish different features and functions.

image

You no doubt also noticed the prevelence of icons throughout the interface:

image


This cuts down on the amount of scrolling and is useful for people who learn by exploring.  They have also configured toolbars for common tasks:

image


And perhaps nicest of all, have camera pre-set controls available as icons instead of just hotkeys:

image


On the topic of hotkeys, they have also reconfigured most of them.  One nice option available is the ability to display the most common hotkeys in the background of the window:

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Other new options are the ability to lock and outright hide the 3D cursor… a point of confusion for many new users.  You also have extended control over wireframe display, very useful for modellers.

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Menus have also been greatly streamline:

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While default layouts for common tasks have been added:

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They even have their own manual!  What’s impressive is, at least so far, they’ve kept up with each new release of Blender.  There are of course downsides to learning via BForArtists, a great deal of the tutorials for Blender wont work without translation.  Additionally once mastered, Blenders default user interface can be great.  In my opinion though, BForArtists is a vastly superior experience for new developers and one I recommend to those put off by Blenders user experience in the past.


BForArtists is free and open source available for download here and in source form here.


Art


6. December 2016

 

A couple years ago I did a detailed text tutorial on how to use a debugger which oddly is a massively important skill that simply isn’t taught.  Given that this article is still popular two years later I’ve decided to follow it up with a video version.  This video, Debugging 101, walks through the basic tasks involved in debugging.  It used Visual Studio 2017 and C++ but should be applicable in most languages and IDEs.  The video shows how breakpoints and conditional break points work, how to step into, over and out of your code, how to use the local and watch window, call stacks, how to do memory debugging and more.  Basically the video shows you how to get started using a debugger.

 

The following is the code used in this example.  There is nothing special to this code, it’s extremely contrived, but it enabled me to show the various features available in most debuggers.

#include <iostream>

// These two functions are used to illustrate how the call stack works
// As well as how step into and step out of behave.
int innerFunction(int input) {
	int meaninglessCounter = 0;
	for (int i = input; i > 0; i--) {
		// First show stepping through the loop
		// Set a conditional breakpoint that breaks when i is a certain value.
		meaninglessCounter++;
	}
	return input;
}

int outerFunction() {
	int i = 42;
	return innerFunction(i);
}


class Demo {
	std::string stringValue;
	int intValue;
	bool booleanValue;

	public: 
		Demo(std::string a, int b, bool c) : stringValue(a), intValue(b), booleanValue(
		c) {};
};

int main(int argc, char ** argv) {
	// Callstack demo, jump into, jump over example
	int someVal = 0;
	someVal = outerFunction();

	// Data example -- simply create a char buffer, fill it with 'a' then null 
	terminate it so 
	// it can be treated like a string.
	char * data = new char[1000];
	for (int i = 0; i < 1000; i++)
		data[i] = 'a';
	data[999] = 0;
	std::cout << data << std::endl;

	//set a watch on d.  Demonstrates watches and drilling into complex object
	Demo d("Hello", 42, true);
	
	std::cout << "End of demo" << std::endl;
	delete[] data;
	// delete[] data;  Calling delete again will trigger an exception
}

Programming


24. November 2016

 

Every year there are a large number of great Black Friday deals of interest to game developers.  This list is an attempt to capture as many of them as possible in one place.  If you see a great Black Friday or Cyber-Monday deal of interest to game developers that isn’t on the list below, please let me know in comments below. 

This list will be constantly updated so be sure to check back regularly!

 

Deals on Amazon

Software

 

Hardware

 

Deals on Steam – Autumn Sale

 

Deals on Unreal Engine

 

Deals on Unity

 

Misc

allegorithmic

udemy

Microsoft Store

Dell

HP

tsugi

 ClipStudio

3D Coat

Reallusion

ASoundEffect

GameMaster Audio

Smith Micro

Adobe

Corel

AutoDesk  -- Something Fishy with this promo.  Seems no longer available in Canada and never Available in the US.  BOO

Daz3D

Blender

PaintStorm

GameSalad

News General


18. October 2016

 

Inkscape 0.92 beta was just released.  Inkscape is a popular open source vector based graphics application that was featured in my free game development tools guide.  From the WIP release notes, the new features include:

 

  • The new Object dialog allows to select, label, hide and lock any object in the drawing from a dialog that lists them all Spirolive
  • Selection sets make it possible to 'group' objects together regardless of document structure
  • Guides can now be locked to avoid accidental movement
  • Several new path effects have been added, among them Envelope/Perspective, Lattice Deformation, Mirror and Rotate Copies
  • There are several new extensions (e.g. a seamless pattern extension) and a new filter (colorblindness simulation) included in the release, many old extensions have been updated or got new features
  • Many SVG2 and CSS3 properties are now supported for rendering (e.g. paint-order, mix-blend-mode)
  • Spray tool and measure tool received a set of nifty new features
  • Interactive smoothing for lines created with the Pencil tool
  • BSplines (and more) are available for the Pen tool
  • Checkerboard background can be used to more easily see object transparencies
  • Open Type font functionality

 

 

 

This bullet list is nowhere near complete however, check the release notes for all of the new features, including animations of much of the new functionality in action.  Currently this release is only available in source form, to download the 0.92pre2 source package click here.

Art


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