The One Man MMO Project
This week I built a single file downloadable installer for Miranda. This had been on my wishlist for awhile. I had planned to use a regular Windows installer, but I had the patcher built so I thought I'd see what else was needed to make it into a full installer. It turned out to be easy to install the files, and kind of challenging to hook it into Windows. It was the first time I've built a Windows dialog in 8 years!
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Something I think is really important in shipping a product is getting the number of bugs down to zero. The fewer bugs you have, the less people will need to rely on support, and the more time I can spend adding features. I used this theory on a previous product with considerable success.
So before I send the game out for people to play I thought it would be good to have web-based crash reporting in place.
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I've never been happy with the look of the in-game map. This week it occurred to me that maybe a topographical map would be a more in the theme of the game and a military-strategy-friendly way to go.
The Miranda map is made with WorldMachine. A little Googling led me to discover that WorldMachine can generate topographical maps of the terrain it renders. This seemed a whole lot easier than writing a topographical map generator into the world importer I wrote for Miranda, so off I went.
I brought the image into Gimp, inverted it (since the terrain in WorldMachine is flipped on the Y axis in Miranda) and got this:
Originally I looked at old maps and experimented with using a tea-stained paper background, but that didn't really go with the hi-tech nature of a future spacefaring society, so I used Google image search to search for "cool topological map" and found this neat old source of inspiration (12MB).
Next I took the image from WorldMachine, added a transparent layer, then used Gimp's select color to delete the black, then select color again and bucket fill with "Fill Whole Selection" checked, to change the white to blue. I pieced together a background and cleaned it up with the stamp tool and a soft brush, then I added a grid with Filters|Render|Pattern|Grid. Then I added a legend, making up some lore-consistent details, and the final map looks like this:
[The full 2048x2048 image is 5M so it will take a while to download if you click it.]
The map covers the entire 20x20km test area I'm currently running.
I was looking at Twitter today and realized I haven't posted anything about The Imperial Realm :: Miranda since the beginning of May. Still here! Working hard. Well except last week.
Since around March I've been working pretty consistently on the trailer for the game. I worked out a script, did the voiceover recording, put together a roughcut using beautiful hand-drawn storyboards like the one below, hunted down some music, and started showing it to people looking for feedback. Since then I've been building all the features into the game that I wanted to show in the trailer. This is not going to be a prerendered scandal like Crysis 2's trailer, I'm using almost 100% in-game graphics.
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I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.
If you want to contact press (or anybody) that you don't have an existing relationship with about your game, you have until July 1. Canada's new anti-spam law will come into effect on that date and the implications for anyone with a commercial message are huge.
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Did this screenshot a while back for a magazine but it didn't end up being used. The game looks a lot different now but I really like this shot so I thought I'd share it. I'll be showing off the new look in the Reveal Trailer in a few short weeks.
The Imperial Realm :: Miranda - In Search of Prey
"In Search of Prey" gives a hint of the scope of Miranda's single 90,000 square kilometre environment. Anything in the screenshot can be driven to without any loading screens. The area they are searching is known as The Wasteland and it is the most inhospitable part of Miranda. The only life there are a few hardy insects and some curious flowers.
If you're not happy with the quality of your screen capture, just write out the frames as bitmaps then put them together after with a video tool.
Half day coding this up, tried it, crashed, then I did the math. 30FPS * 1920 * 1080 * 3 bytes per pixel = 178MB/s. That's a lot more than the 40MB/s my disk drive can do. Tried a few different things. The best I could do is about 15 seconds of video using PNG with fastest compression and 512K chunk disk writes before it runs out of memory and crashes.
Oh well, at least the game can take its own screenshots now. And I have a shiny new "crash the game" button.
Looks like libavcodec is the way to go with this.
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"I've seen [formations] done really well ... but the guy did spend something like 4 to 6 months on a 2d grid working on just that problem all by itself. And he had done it before." - TheMartian
The one thing you really need to nail with an RTS is unit movement. Unit movement has a surprising number of elements that all have to come together brilliantly to produce smart looking unit behaviour on the screen:
This screenshot shows Miranda's new unit movement systems in action. I still have some work to do on collision resolution, but it is already looking pretty sweet. First, you will notice that the tanks are moving in a square formation. There are some units that are out of position because they've just gone around those buildings (you can tell from the dust trails,) but they'll all eventually get back into a neat grid layout. In the bottom left corner is the formations flyout menu ready to select one of the available formations. Once one is selected, the menu shrinks to display just the selected formation.
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I'm feeling a bit snarky this weekend since I haven't been able to try The Elder Scrolls(R) Online beta. The up-side is that I've learned a whole bunch of things about how to run an MMO Beta program that will be really helpful for Miranda.
After all the time I spent playing Skyrim, I was really excited when I saw PC Gamer was giving away beta keys on Thursday, so I hurried over, signed up for a PC Gamer account and lucky, lucky -- I got a key in the email a few minutes later. Hooray!
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For whatever reason, Ctrl-Tab in Visual Studio 2010 has been broken for a long time. You have to press Enter to select the new window to switch to it. For ages I hunted for a solution to this problem, enduring the frustration of an extra keystroke but no longer. The problem seems to involve Magnifier, but Magnifier isn't really the problem. I've read "solutions" that involve completely removing Magnifier (doesn't work.) But here is the solution I've gone with (since the problem comes back after every reboot.)
Single-File Installer - 2014-07-22 12:03:13 (1 comments)
Tried to add Miranda to Windows Games Explorer, but its too much trouble for now. I did finally find a good set of instructions on how to do it though. The tool for making gdf files is called gdfmaker and can be found in the Windows 8.1 SDK at ...
You Have 34 Days To Avoid a $10,000,000 Fine - 2014-05-28 12:07:46 (6 comments)
I like how one of the suggestions for lead generation is to "send the person a letter." I'm glad bulk paper delivery to my house is still legal. And why is there an exception for political fundraising?
Your tweet on the PR impact is good, thanks. ...
You Have 34 Days To Avoid a $10,000,000 Fine - 2014-05-28 08:32:30 (6 comments)
And about Twitter I found the following:
"In his discussion with the CPRS, Bill Hearn adds that Twitters Block, Following, Report Tweet as Spam functions satisfy CASLs standard of being (i) conspicuously published in content and readily available as ...
You Have 34 Days To Avoid a $10,000,000 Fine - 2014-05-28 08:23:38 (6 comments)
okay so here's what we're looking for: https://twitter.com/DanTisch/status/470675306353680384
"Joe Blogger as conspicuously published his email address on his webpage inviting people to contact him by that means = Implied consent (but CEM must ...
You Have 34 Days To Avoid a $10,000,000 Fine - 2014-05-28 07:52:12 (6 comments)
Well let's take it the other way then:
- The press won't randomly sign up to newsletters to get news about upcoming games unless you are a high-profile dev (even then ...).
- They won't search by themselves new titles if you don't contact them in the ...
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