The One Man MMO Project
I was listening to Chris Hecker's talk No One Knows About Your Game this week and he makes a good point. It is a big risk to not talk about what you're working on and then hope that your press strategy all comes together for the game's release. I haven't talked about my game because I don't like to talk about things that aren't done yet, but that changes today.
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I was hugely disappointed when I learned that the developers of Natural Selection 2 lost $30,000 in credit card charge-back fees on 1,341 Steam keys bought fraudulently via the Humble Store. I had a bit of a warm spot in my heart for The Humble Bundle, but indie devs can't afford to take that kind of hit.
I don't know what sort of arrangement there is between The Humble Bundle guys and the developers, but The Humble Bundle is making good money, I'm really shocked that they haven't spent some of that money on effective fraud prevention.
When choosing a payment processing service for your game, don't just look at the discount rate, make sure you look at what they do to prevent fraud and read the service agreement carefully. Credit card fees can bankrupt you if you aren't careful.
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A while back I put together an audio system which I have been using to play music in the menus. While I had the ability to play any sort of sound, it was kind of inconvenient to use -- each sound had a handle that needed to be managed.
I needed something that would run the audio system and manage things for me. With the number of complaints I've heard from audio folks over the years about the general lack of attention to audio in games, I was surprised by the lack of solid information on what kinds of features you would want in an audio system. I looked around on the web, then went through all the Game Programming Gems books until I found Creating an Audio Scripting System. Quite a few of the ideas I implemented came from that article.
If you're an audio person and there's important stuff I'm missing, or if this is all just wrong, by all means tell me in the comments.
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So that last blog post was picked up by gamasutra.com which was pretty cool. It was tweeted to over 70,000 people, hit the front page of Gamasutra and stayed there for three days, was featured, and made their news feed. I got 15 comments, saw 22 new followers, traffic on the website was 8 times normal the first day (almost 25% of those iDevices!), and it has now settled at twice what it used to be.
Between checking out the comments and web stats, I've been working on a bunch of different things.
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I saw this post on Gamasutra yesterday, and I thought "maybe people wonder what programmers do all day." So here it is.
8:12am Wake up.
8:26 Hug the family goodbye as they head out for the day. Cover head with blankets, not ready to get up yet.
9:02 Roll into the office. Check on onemanmmo.com, then Twitter. Gamestop says that 60% of the people it surveyed wouldn't buy a game console if it wouldn't play used games. Yeah sure.
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Singletons get a bad rap from programmers. Just go do a search for "singleton problem" and read any of the first 100 results. From all the anger you'd think they cause disease, or burn books, but no. They're globals, and programmers hate globals.
The recommended "solution" to the singleton problem is to pass the potential singleton to every class that needs it as a parameter so that you can see it is used in the declaration for the class. It's only one variable, or one parameter to a function call, so what? That's the approach I took for my entity system, dutifully passing it to every class that needed it, and having them store it internally if needed.
The problem that developed is that the ES is the central database of my game and it is used by dozens of different modules. Over time, the standard approach had amounted to a few ugly workarounds, hundreds of lines of code to maintain, tens of thousands of instances of one variable, and hundreds of thousands of function call parameters - every frame.
I'm extremely pragmatic and I've always taken other programmer's grand pronouncements on code purity with a large grain of salt. That was clearly an unacceptable trade-off just to avoid a global. Singletons are tools, use them appropriately.
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I'm writing this up because of the unbelievable pain I went through to get it working. It seems like something that shouldn't be that difficult: getting a model to follow terrain by adjusting its up vector to match the up vector of the terrain mesh under it and to face in a given direction, but try and try again, I could not get it to work. Rotation matrices are my bane. Nothing else I do is so unbelievably frustrating. If they worked or didn't work that would be fine, but as I went along I found a lot of variations that would almost work and it wasn't always easy to tell what was wrong. My favourite variation worked perfect when going north or south, but squashed the model into a diagonally tilted pancake as it rotated through east and west.
I found a lot of information on the topic on the internet, but all the detailed examples were for DirectX, the OpenGL ones were all brief, too brief evidently.
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My game's environment is 300km by 300km. In real world terms, that isn't all that big, but for a game world, it is sizeable. Once a rendered scene becomes larger than a couple of kilometres in size, you start running into severe problems with floating point accuracy. Even with my test terrain which is only 20km by 20km, I had very noticeable problems with props on the terrain appearing and disappearing as the camera moved. The graphics card thought the terrain was alternatingly in front of, or behind, the prop.
Luckily there is a fairly simple to implement workaround for this issue.
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Today I got the last major rendering feature running. I also fixed a bug that has been bothering me for weeks. I didn't expect today, or the last two weeks for that matter, to turn out like they did.
I wanted there to be some vivid color in my world. Much of the scenery is monochromatic, so I wanted flowers. Fields of them.
Normally I write about things that go well. Like this week I wrote a bitset template class, nothing super complex, but a few hundred lines of code. To my amazement it compiled without warning and passed its also-brand-new unit-test the first time. That doesn't happen very often. Occasionally I'll write about things that went pretty badly. Then there are the things that go spectacularly off the rails.
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I was designing a faction select screen today. I want there to be approximately equal populations in each faction. While doing the layout, an old bias I noticed came to mind.
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Project Line Counter in Visual Studio 2010 - 2014-04-06 23:28:02 (3 comments)
TURN BACK, ADVENTURER - Beta Lessons from Bethesda - 2014-04-05 11:33:30 (3 comments)
Most companies don't care customer support, which is important to keep audience. Just quickly release a game, get payment and let's jump to another title...
The Wisdom of the Internets - 2014-03-31 12:36:00 (2 comments)
A better excuse is the hours terrain processing takes, but yes.
The Wisdom of the Internets - 2014-03-31 08:04:53 (2 comments)
No! This is the perfect excuse to get 64GB of RAM installed :)
Three Normal Mapping Techniques Explained For the Mathematically Uninclined - 2014-03-30 01:41:45 (7 comments)
Thank you robert. Now I have to check what is wrong =D
Btw, good luck with our game, seems really interesting. I'm following you on twitter =D
(I'm working with opengl and normal maps only for experiments)
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