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June 28, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Been playing waaay too much Skyrim…


Skyrim is one of those games that probably every self-professed geek has played, and loves playing.  Open-world, 500+ hours of gameplay, huge expansion packs, and the ability to choose which path you walk down (good or evil) are great elements for these types of games.  I absolutely love games like this!

I didn’t use to always like RPGs, however.  In fact, I used to be quite against them, due to the fact that I knew if I started playing one, I wouldn’t be able to put it down.  It would be too addicting, too much fun, and I was afraid I’d never sleep again if I played one.

That all changed when a friend gifted me with a copy of Oblivion for PC last year, and ever since then, I’ve been huge on the entire Elder Scrolls series, and can’t wait until Elder Scrolls Online comes out next Spring.

At this point, you may be wondering why I’m talking about this, and wondering if I have a point to this story.  And yes, dear reader, there is a point!

A few years ago (about the summer of 2009), I came up with what I felt was a pretty good idea for an RPG game.  Yes, I had never played one, and still was reluctant to play any at the time, but I still had a pretty good idea for one.  I kept it on the backburner for in the future, when I knew I had enough know-how to even begin developing it, and to give me enough time to do some “research” on RPGs.

But then a whole lot of events happened, all within 1.5 weeks of each other, that completely changed my life and made me forget all about it.  It wasn’t until last week that I remembered it, and in fact it’s the same idea I talked about in my post.  It just took me a little while to remember it was an idea I had already had, and why the ideas came so darned easily!

I have the setting chosen, the characters named, the name of the land the player is in, the main storyline figured out, AND I even know how I want to design the levels already!

It will be a game in a cartoon fashion, similar to “The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker”, and with a lot of humorous moments intertwined with some compelling plot points.
The main premise is typical of all RPG games.  There’s a land, it’s threatened, and the protagonist is the prophesied hero, and you all know the drill.  But it will also have some historical links, and links to legends from the Dark Ages.  To give you a hint, the name of the land is “Arthore”, and I’m sure you can figure out what that might mean…

I will be developing it with Unity3D, and it will be published to at least Mac, Linux and Windows, but I’m not sure about mobile platforms just yet.  The OUYA (should it prove a popular platform in another 2+ years) will also be targeted.

I can’t wait to tell you more later!

June 21, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Work Progressing on Cuboidz (with new title)

Updated Tiles

Work on my Cuboidz project (which will no longer be called Cuboidz, but something else entirely) has been a little slow as of late, no thanks to my playing Skyrim.  That game has proved quite distracting for sure…

Recently, I’ve begun work on re-writing the little engine I already had created, mostly because I realized that I was perfectly emulating the type of actions you would expect in the original Super Mario Bros. game, which was proving problematic.

I got “stuck” on ideas for the last couple of weeks, and really didn’t have much of a story to go along with the game, until now, but I won’t share it.  However, I will tell you some of the new gameplay elements that exist in the game, thanks to the story!

  • There will be a Magic system.  The player will be able to cast spells that afflict damage on enemies, and many other things
  • The player will learn new spells after each boss fight, and will also learn them from random NPCs, and even be able to purchase a select few of them
  • Level-Up system. The player will have skills that when they progress, will level-up the player, allowing the player to become stronger and fight more severe enemies.

After all of that, it would seem that perhaps a Cube is not the best character for this game, and you would be correct!  There will be much more information revealed later on!

June 19, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Microsoft Reverses Policies on DRM and Internet Requirements

In a surprise move earlier today, Microsoft released a statement on the Xbox One detailing their plans to pull a 180-degree turn and reverse their controversial policies for the system.  After the backlash since the original unveiling event of the seemingly ill-fated system, not to mention their failures at E3 earlier this month, it would seem Don Mattrick has had a change of heart.  Quote:

“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.” – Don Mattrick, Xbox Wire

You can read the whole thing over here, but here’s a recap!

  • No Internet Connectivity required after first-time console setup (which is reasonable!)
  • No always-on DRM or any sort of DRM
  • You can buy, sell, trade, lend and play used games, without any restrictions, just like on Xbox 360.

Kudos to Microsoft for listening to their customers!

I still think I’m going to get the PS4 first, but eventually an Xbox One will make it into my house!

June 19, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Leadwerks for Linux: A Crowdfunded Endeavor

Leadwerks Editor

How cool would it be if Linux users could easily create a game with AAA-style graphics on their favorite OS?  Without having to use another operating system to develop the game, and then export it to Linux?

Well now, Leadwerks is attempting to create a version of their popular and very capable engine to Linux!  It’s on Kickstarter, and promises to deliver a powerful gamet engine for a great operating system, and to encourage game development and distribution on the platform!

With the recent advent of Valve making Steam available on Linux, and now a game engine being directly ported over to Linux (provided the goal is reached, which I’m sure it will be!), it would seem that Linux is truly gaining much more popularity, and will continue to do so if people push games on it enough.  Honestly, I would be a full-time Linux user is software like GameMaker and Unity3D would be ported over as well.  Perhaps that will begin to happen, after Leadwerks has been ported?  One might think so, but I’m glad a humble company like Leadwerks are being the first to take that major step!

Anybody use Leadwerks?  I have downloaded the demo and find it a lot simpler to use than Unity3D, and it will be awesome when it’s on Linux.  I can’t wait to use it!

June 13, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Why I’ll be purchasing the PS4

xbox one killer

Best console ever?

With the wonderful news of not requiring an internet connection at all, that was really the deciding factor for my future purchase of the Sony PlayStation 4.  Along with the pricetag of $399 and the ability to buy/sell used games (although there still is the option for publishers to restrict some things about that), it really was a no-brainer as to which console will win this generation, and what company will get my money.   Money that I am perfectly happy to separate with, which normally isn’t the case with games consoles.

If you log onto to Twitter or do a simply Google search, you’ll see a ton of people saying the same thing.  I certainly don’t remember anything like this happening during the last generation.  It was pretty much 50/50 on which console ruled, and which console drooled.  People loved both the 360 and PS3.

This time, it’s a hugely different tale, and Microsoft are being big, giant dictators on what gamers can and cannot do with their new Xbox One, and their games.  Sony, on the other hand, are being considerate and listening to gamers’ wants, needs, and showed everyone at E3 that they can pretty much now officially claim victory of the decades-long Console Wars.  Nintendo almost isn’t even a contender at this point, sadly.  Unless they can come up with something fast to turn around the failure of the Wii-U, they may end up having to “pull a Sega”, and discontinue the practice of making console.

Anyway, that’s not entirely the point of this post.  I want to explain the enticing features of the PS4, and why I think it’s probably the best console ever to have hit the market.  Here’s just a few reasons why I think Sony is my new favorite game people!

1 – PlayStation Plus
It’s a lot like Xbox Live, but in my opinion infinitely better.  Sure, you now have to pay a fee for the online services, but Xbox gamers have had to do that since the launch of Live.  In other words, I really don’t care.  I gladly will pay the price for awesome features, such as…

Beautiful Design!

Sure, the look may change, but that is some seriously good interface design for PlayStation Plus.  Everything is displayed right there, in a great, easy-to-navigate layout, and combines basic social things with gaming.

2 – Definitive Indie Support
Microsoft basically gave the middle finger and said  said “suck it” to indie developers several months (maybe a year?) ago, when they discontinued the XNA Framework, which was an easy-to-use, C#-based game development framework, and replaced it with C++/DirectX libraries and said that indie developers should use those instead.  Do you KNOW how hard it is to develop games in raw C++ and DirectX code?!  Ridiculously difficult, not to mention that beginning programmers will NOT want to use it.  And now, while they say they will support indie development on the Xbox One, they’ve yet to officially declare an easy way to do it, and I’ll bet they have some insane development policies.  Sony, on the other hand, have been very open about supporting indie development on the PS4, and while it will cost a lot to make games for it, it will certainly be worth it for any developer!

3 – The Eye is a Separate, Unnecessary Accessory
It’s great that the Eye is a separate accessory, not needed at all for the PS4 to function.  Sony wins for that!

4 – Better Specs, Better Developer Support
According to several articles, game developers already prefer the PS4 for development.  Slightly more powerful RAM can make all the difference for performance, and it certainly showed in Sony’s amazing, 12-minute long and hilarious The Dark Sorcerer demo shown below.

5 – Games, Games and Games!
The most important part of any console are the games, of course!  Sony showed us a TON of great exclusive titles coming to the PS4.  Microsoft showed us all of almost nothing, and what they did finally show at the end of the presentation was…crap!  Sony, on the other hand, showed us so much greatness that I had to resist throwing money at my monitor, and had to remind myself that I couldn’t possibly afford all of them at the moment.  It will be very difficult to choose which ones to get at launch!

All in all, that is why the PS4 has won me over.  Microsuck has lost me forever.  They’ve abandoned gamers, and don’t give a crap about it.  They’d rather have their way, or no one’s way.  Xbox One never stood a chance this generation.  Microsoft, I hope you learn your lesson!

June 10, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Good Golly, iOS 7 Looks Amazing

This is already probably “old news” by now, but my excuse is that I was at work while WWDC footage was being streamed!

I just watched Apple’s keynote on iOS 7, and I’m not sure I’ve ever appreciated Jony Ive’s design skills more than I do now.  Finally, Apple shows that they can make something look different!

It is the all-rumored “flat design”, which is to say that there’s no longer any of the chincy looking leather backgrounds, or glossy icons that look like they belong in Windows Vista.  And while I hate flat design (at least by Windows 8 standards), I can’t help but crave this new version of iOS once I get my iPhone later this year!

The screenshots do far more than what I can say.  Look below for some of the most beautiful interface designs ever!

Absolutely gorgeous.  I really want an iPhone now!

June 9, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Finally got my Ouya!

I  finally received my OUYA in the mail the other day, and have had some great fun with it already!

For a $100 console, you get an Android-based setup that allows you to download games that either have demos or are free-to-play.  While there aren’t a whole lot of games for it yet, there are many that are coming to the OUYA, and that have potential.

Really, though, the reason I got it was to develop for it.  Anybody with a free edition of Unity can create a game, export it to Android, and then stick it on a USB fash drive and pop it into the OUYA and run it.  I’m currently thinking about porting my Cuboidz game over to Unity, translating the game into 3D, and hopefully  have a decent game for it!

Speaking of Cuboidz, I haven’t been working on it lately, because I’ve hit a wall with GameMaker.  Parts of the game I want to implement just don’t work in 2D, and must be in 3D in order to work properly.  GameMaker, while capable of 3D graphics, is not the best tool to use for the job.  Unity3D is much better, especially since the Android license now comes free with it!

So I’m going to begin work on translating the graphics into 3D, and hopefully the game will be just as awesome as I originally intended it to be!

June 7, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Microsoft gets specific on Xbox One. It’s terrible.

Well, this was announced yesterday and today, and this is horrible for anybody in love with the Xbox system.

According to Microsoft, the Xbox One requires a sign-in every 24 hours to check for updates and to validate the console.  If it can’t sign-in, you can’t play, even if it’s just a single-player game.

And then itt gets worse.  If you’re borrowing the console from a friend, you  must sign-in once every HOUR.  And not everyone on the planet has a good connection, or the ability to pay their internet bill every month (probably because of shoving $900 towards the pre-order).

On the used games, all they’ve said is that it’s up to each publisher to determine if their games can be resold, and we all know that means EA is pretty happy, since they can now officially control their sales of games.  Thanks, Microsoft, you guys are the best console makers ever!

I dunno about you, but I don’t know anyone who will be buying this console. Everyone I know  have all  just committed to buying the PS4, and I’m going to be one of them, too.  Sony won’t have any of the stupid DRM or used games crap, and their console definitely isn’t going to be always-online, or even require a sign-in in any amount of time.

Congratulations on selling a ton of PS4’s Microsoft!

June 6, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Falling in love with Linux Mint

So for the last several days, I have been playing around with various Linux distributions for my own geeky curiosity.  I’ve been a fairly avid user of Ubuntu since 9.10 Karmic Koala (released in 2009), and loved it for the longest time despite the horrid “Unity” interface they introduced a few years ago.  With each release came an easier setup process, and with the introduction of the Ubuntu Software Center came the easiest way to install software on Linux.  Similar to the Control Panel in design, it allowed users to discover software and install it from one central application.  A very brilliant move!

However, it began to feel as though Ubuntu were becoming more and more bloated with each release.  Then came the day that the .iso files were no longer less than ~700MiB, meaning that they could no longer be burned to regular CDs.  Eventually, the annoyances that the new Unity interface had made me lose patience with Ubuntu, and I lost interest in using it.  I tried Kubuntu, but KDE is so incredibly resource-heavy that I gave up.  I was no longer interested in Ubuntu, and 11.10 was the last version I had installed on my system.

A couple of years passed with which I had no Linux distribution installed, but I had heard of several I was interested in trying.  I did try Xubuntu (another version of Ubuntu utilizing the Xfce Desktop Environment), but didn’t like it very well.  It felt “wrong” somehow, but I’m not sure what I mean by that.  I had also heard of Linux Mint, but was reluctant to try it until just earlier this week.

And all I can say is “WOW!”.  I have never, ever had a Linux distribution be as easy to setup as Mint, or be as fluid and fast.  Sure, there are a couple of things that could be better, but for first-time running after installation, the process couldn’t have gone better!  It installed directly over my old Xubuntu installation without problems, and even updated GRUB with no troubles whatsoever.  Installation took a little less than ~20 minutes, and because I was doing it from the Live DVD, I was able to play around with settings and learn how to operate the system.

The interface is gorgeous.  Similar to the sleekness of Apple products but still retaining individuality, the overall design is wonderfully coherent and intuitive.  You can also download themes directly from the Control Center, making it even easier to customize the look and feel of the system.  However, with how beautiful the default themes are, you may not want to!

It is so much easier than Ubuntu, although I do wish it came with the Ubuntu Software Center.  It comes with its own Software Manager which is similar, but not quite as advanced or as well produced.  I have read it’s possible to install the USC inside of Mint, but I have yet to try it.

Here is a screenshot of my current desktop.  I have Docky installed, which is a great little app I used all the time back in “Old Ubuntu”, and missed so much.

Linux Mint Desktop

I also installed MonoDevelop, which allows C#.NET code to run on any platform, which makes me incredibly happy because I HATE Java with a burning passion!  The fact that I can have C# code running almost natively on any platform is so cool!

MonoDevelop on Linux Mint!


I love Linux Mint so much that it has become my default boot option.  Windows will be used for my game development with Unity3D and GameMaker, but as for everything else, Linux Mint can do it all pretty well!  And with emulators such as WINE constantly being updated and able to run more Windows programs, you really can’t go wrong with Linux, though it definitely isn’t for everyone!

On the subject of MonoDevelop, there’s a wonderful project called MonoGame that allows developers to make cross-platform XNA-style games, meaning that my $80 spent on XNA 4.0 books won’t go to waste!

I can say with great conviction that I absolutely love Linux Mint, and recommend it to anyone looking to tinker with Linux.  It’s so easy!

May 27, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Huge graphic overhaul, more mechanics implemented!

I have made a lot of additional progress  today on Cuboidz, enough so that I believe I can start developing the actual game here pretty soon!

First, I made some good progress with the graphics.  After some internal debate, I decided the best way to handle all background objects would be to include them all in the main tileset for each level (pretty much like the pros often do), and any animated graphics (background or foreground) would be handled as objects in the GameMaker engine.

Here’s a screenshot of the updates visuals!

Checkerboard FTW!

Checkerboard FTW!

As you can see, I also made item blocks! While not yet refined, or even barely working, I did manage to get them to produce basic objects, and in the video below you’ll see a test with a Super Jump Powerup, which probably won’t be in the actual game, since all I was really doing was testing the blocks, and super-jumping isn’t a necessary thing for the game.

I go back to work this week (I had four days off, originally for a vacation, but which now have become sick days), so work on this project may slow a down a little, but I am so motivated to keep at this!  I expect to have a working level 1 done before summer!