XNA 3.0 CTP Released

by Jon Davis 8. May 2008 14:12

For fun, I watch the XNA community, although I haven't participated as much as I wish because of time constraints (of course).

An XNA 3.0 CTP has just been released, which targets both Windows and -- yay! -- the Zune.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=DF4AF56A-58A7-474C-BFD0-7CF8ED3036A3&displaylang=en

I want to get me a Zune. Now they just need to tie Zune with Windows Mobile for Smart Phones so I can carry only one brick around with me instead of two...

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Software Development | Cool Tools | Xbox Gaming | Microsoft Windows

Xbox-style LOTRO With SwitchBlade

by Jon Davis 11. February 2008 02:11

Before I call it a night I wanted to blog a note that I thought I'd stumbled across mention somewhere that it was possible to play a PC MMORPG with a wired Xbox 360 controller. Sure enough, I found the answer to this at http://www.switchbladegaming.com/. It targets World of Warcraft alone for now, but the controls are customizeable and LOTRO is a WoW look-alike anyway so the mappings pretty much just work. There was a little bit of learning curve, but once I realized that I need to hold the right bumper down to rotate my character I was good to go.

I didn't have time to play it much, but testing it, it seemed promising. An MMORPG is meant to be played with a keyboard handy--those are real people you're playing alongside, after all, so you should be free to chat. But I like the idea of running around as a Hobbit without a mouse when I'm sitting at my sofa.

Tomorrow or sometime this week I hope to try the Xbox controller with my PC flavor of Call of Duty 4. I had the Xbox flavor of the game as well, but I immediately sold it when I realized that the PC copy would suffice.

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Yes, I Game

by Jon Davis 6. January 2008 18:10

I still find it irritating when non-gamers look down on me as someone who needs to "grow up" when I admit I still play PC and Xbox 360 games. But I keep having to tell them, "Games aren't for kids. I'm 30 years old; I'm still roughly the average gamer age."

These statistics are pretty telling:

  • The average game player is 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.
  • The average game buyer is 40 years old.
  • 38% percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (30%) than boys age 17 or younger (23%).
  • In 2005, 25% of Americans over the age of 50 played video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999.
  • 44% percent of game players say they play games online one or more hours per week. In addition, 32% of heads of households play games on a wireless device, such as a cell phone or PDA, up from 20% in 2002.

I can't speak for everyone, but I believe that one of the big reasons why my interest in games never waned is because, frankly, it was my generation that saw the industry develop and blossom in the first place. When I was a little kid, Pac-Man was it. And even my sisters played that; I still have memories of looking over the shoulder -- er, around the waist, rather -- of my oldest sister playing Ms. Pac Man when I was, like, six years old when we visited the skating rink. And as my blog sidebar points out (as of this entry), it was in playing computer games that I knew that I wanted to be a programmer when I grow up, although I knew even at the age of twelve that it wouldn't be games I would program, it would be stuff that makes the economic world turn.

Generation Y (twenty-somethings) and kids these days grew up with the dazzling 3D games my generation could only slobber over. For us, a lot of the fluff is still very new to us. The original Unreal and Tribes and Quake 3 still seem new, so the new stuff like Lord of the Rings Online and Crysis are more jaw-dropping amazing. But for kids, it's mostly boring old school crap; they're a lot more picky and they find the MMORPGs called "Real Life" and "MySpace" just about as fascinating.

I spend more than ten hours a week playing games. But I'm not sure if that's hard core. I still can't say what game I'm playing on any given day; I play games either for curiosity of new things (like Call of Duty 4) or for nostolgia (like Team Fortress 2). On the other hand, I did finish Mass Effect not long ago in a pretty short amount of time, what a treat!

Scratched Up Halo 3 LE Discs: It's All True!

by Jon Davis 5. October 2007 00:14

I pre-ordered Halo 3 Limited Edition several months ago from Amazon.com. Not long ago (a week and a half ago?) it was Halo 3 Night, someone instant messaged me asking me if I was going to stay up all night for it. "Nope, I pre-ordered." "Aww, that sucks.."

Anyway, a day or two later I monitored the Amazon.com reviews and noticed that what I had ordered was getting consistently very bad ratings. As it turned out, half of the reviewers were commenting that the discs were falling off the plastic spindle inside the case and getting scratched up, in some cases unusable.

Yesterday I finally got my Halo 3. It took so rediculously long to get shipped, I was hoping that Amazon rejected their inventory and got replacements, but that was unrealistic as the game did ship, and it arrived. And sure enough, I jiggled the box and heard discs sliding around in there. I opened it up and looked, and it was scratched to hell.

I'm glad that Microsoft did at least provide us with an online form that we can print out to send the discs in for replacement. Both of the discs went out today. But I don't like to have to wait for the game to show up after the game already showed up, late.

But it's not like I could have played it. My TV died and I'm waiting for that to be repaired... along with my bathroom shower plumbing which is leaking water all over the condo downstairs... *sigh*

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Crash 'N Burn (moved to XNA Creators Club)

by Jon Davis 23. September 2007 12:43

I moved my blog post regarding my embarrassing lack of preparations for my Intro to Microsoft XNA session over yonder .. http://forums.xna.com/forums/p/4913/25687.aspx#25687 

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A Perusal of Game Engines and APIs

by Jon Davis 15. September 2007 15:58

Today at Desert Code Camp I presented a session called A Perusal of Game Engines and APIs.  This was totally just for fun (I'm not a game developer! .. but I tinker ..)

Fun as it was supposed to be, I took some vacation time to make it happen, and I got through it (and did a moderately decent job I suppose, for getting only two hours of sleep due to cramming), but not without some hair-pulling and the near-shedding of tears.

I covered mostly open-source stuff but also the obvious stuff (including commercial bits) one can find right off the Internet. Here is my PowerPoint 2007 presentation:

http://www.jondavis.net/misc/A_Perusal_of_Game_Engines_and_APIs.pptx

One minor error I made is that I forgot about XInput (which in XNA deprecates DirectInput). I also was not certain about XACT as to whether it complements DirectSound or obsoletes it outright, but I did give a nod to XACT's asset management tool.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I need to get some sleep and prepare for tomorrow's session, An Introduction to Microsoft XNA. (More cramming...  *sigh* )

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Game Programming Wiki

by Jon Davis 1. September 2007 04:32

Very cool link for anyone wanting to get into game programming: http://gpwiki.org/

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Game Math: Back To Basics

by Jon Davis 14. July 2007 21:13


The two additional books I ordered arrived earlier this week:
 

The first of the two is everything I anticipated it to be. It's chock full of reference material and sample code for virtually every typical game physics scenario one could think of. And it's totally written for coders, yet can be read by a non-coder who might know the syntax; the sample code is C++ but could just as well be elegant Java or C#. I'm very excited to have this book.

The second book just jumps right in and vomits math formulae all over the place in a game-world applicable fashion. It's a good book, too.

Unfortunately, both books (but especially the latter) are over my head as I hardly even know how to read these math notations much less comprehend them. It's time to dig higher, closer to the surface. I ordered a few more math books, this time hopefully this additional investment will pave the way for me to more appreciate the books I already bought.
 

____________________________________________________________

Meanwhile, aside from math I snagged or pre-ordered a few more API-related books:
 

And, not gaming related, I ordered:
 

Yeah I buy a lot of books. I do this with every major technology cycle and/or career cycle.

Here Begins A Game Dev Log

by Jon Davis 13. July 2007 03:04

I decided I should start posting my notes on my side interests with game development. I have always wanted to be a games programmer, since I was just a kid, but I went straight into Web and Windows application development (general) and never saw my dreams fulfilled. Phooey, it's never too late, I'm delving in now, while I'm still single.

7/13/2007 2:30am(-ish) - TorqueX for Creators Club Members

Downloaded and installed TorqueX which is now free for paying XNA Creators Club members. Don't have time to play with it right now but will.

Started tracking game dev logs. The previous entries (below) are retrospective recollections.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

7/12/2007 6:15pm(-ish) - Playing With The Dream, Build, Play Submissions
Got home from work early, played these XNA submissions on my Xbox. My favorite game is the robot badminton game Blazing Birds, highly addictive and revealing that you don't need huge amounts of elements to make a great game, just solid physics, accuracy, a smooth user experience, and some polish. Download Video (here)

Vacuum Ball is a relatively ugly game (relative to above and below) but was still pretty fun and addictive and worth noting.

I thought the most interesting submission, if not quite the most enjoyable but it's certainly unique, well-polished, and technically advanced, was Magic Crystals.

I'm extremely concerned about the load times of these XNA games. I'm not sure who's at fault, the games designers or Microsoft's XNA platform, but it sometimes takes as long as five minutes just to get to the start screen and into the game for some of these games. One thing's for certain: it is incumbent upon the designers to have a loading progress bar. At one point after waiting five minutes or so I killed the Xbox, convinced it was frozen. I don't know if it was frozen or not.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

7/12/2007 5:15am (-ish) -
Found and been downloading tens of Dream, Build, Play game submissions and putting them on my Xbox. I don't know why these were so hard to find, it seems like there is only one URL on the entire Internet that I was lucky to find:

http://swampthingtom.blogspot.com/2007/07/dream-build-play-entries.html
__________________________________________________________________________________________

7/08/2007 3:05am (-ish) - Game Programming at Phoenix's Desert Code Camp 2007
I signed up to do a couple presentations at the local users group Desert Code Camp 2007. I'm hoping this will help me get my butt in gear and actually make some games for a change. I believe that the best way to learn something is to teach it because it forces you to do homework.

One session I'll present is a quick perusal of several gaming APIs for different platforms. The other focuses on Microsoft XNA. Surprisingly, more people signed up for the former rather than the latter, I guess they're curious and already bombarded with Microsoft XNA materials that are dished out by Microsoft.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

7/07/2007 2:55pm (-ish) - Getting Back Into Game Dev

For the past month or so I've been playing with my own little 2D gaming engine running in Windows Forms / GDI+. Right now I just have some balls that bounce around, bump into each other, bounce off barricades, cast 2D shadows, emit location-based stereo bump sounds using DirectSound, can slow down to world friction, and can fall down by world gravity. I also have custom mouse cursor support. I have another sandbox where I'm drawing polygons (right now two triangles) and colliding them with line intersection, but transference of velocity is broken as mass is not properly calculated.

image image

I am awful at math. Ordered a couple new books: Real-Time Collision Detection and Physics for Game Developers.

Played with something targeting the XNA engine called Farseer. Maybe I should shrug off this whole GDI+ experiment, or fork off and do something in parallel in XNA, since I bought the XNA Creators Club subscription and it's a waste to not use it.

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
 
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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