Developer diary

Alien Blitz: 1.3.2 update

Update

Alien Blitz has been updated on iOs & Android :

Small graphical changes, balance update & maps updates.

The PC/Windows installer (Linux/Mac version will remain as zip) is now ready and is being tested, it will be released on IGS (full alpha version) & Steam greenlight (demo alpha version) during august.

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Alien Blitz: android, ios, pc

Sorry for the lack of updates lately, with my job I have less time to work on my games, so everything goes more slowly, but I’m still working 🙂

Android

I was working on the Android version last weeks, making it up-to-date with PC version, and correcting a few bugs.

  • New life bar
  • Bigger sprites
  • New loading screen
  • A few smaller updates

This version has been tested and should be published soon on Google Play & IGS

capture_2015-07-06_20-43-31_0917_Alien_Blitz_

 

iOs

I’m currently building the iOs version, but I had to reinstall my iOs environment, so it might take a little more time than usual. I also have to work on the screenshots that are not working very well on the App store.

 

PC

I will publish the PC version as a beta on IGS when I update the Android version there, and also publish the demo version on Steam.

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Alien Blitz: PC/Mac alpha has been added to the download page

Just a quick news: I’ve added Alien Blitz (for Windows/Linux/Mac) to the private  download page on microbasic.net.

You can access this page if I gave you a key or if you have bought Snorms on Desura (use the connect button here: http://www.desura.com/games/snorms/connect).

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I have just uploaded it there so that I can give it to a bit more people easily (for testing purposes), it will come later on IGS (along with Snorms) and the free demo version will be publicly available also later (it will be available on the Steam greenlight page).

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Desura: get your key before it’s too late !

Desura had quite some troubles lately, after being bought and sold a few times it is now in bankruptcy.

The site is still up and downloads are available, but I have no idea for how long, so I made a process for people who bought Snorms there and don’t want to everything.
Sadly I can’t get the list of users who bought the game, so I can’t contact them nor can I check if they have really bought the game later on if the Desura website goes down.

So, here’s the process to get a key on this/my website :

  • Log in on Desura website
  • Go to http://www.desura.com/games/snorms/connect
  • Click the “Connect Game” button
  • It will redirect you to a URL like : http://www.microbasic.net/AlienBlitz/apk.php?key=XXX
  • Bookmark the resulting page (or just write the URL somewhere, or send it to you by mail,…)

On this page you can  already :

  • Download Alien Blitz for Android
  • Download Snorms for PC (Windows/Linux/Mac)

And soon you will also get Alien Blitz for PC there, and Steam key if Alien Blitz comes to Steam.

So use the connect button quickly and keep the page URL !

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Alien Blitz: level 1, alpha progress

Level 1

The first level has been slightly updated

capture_2015-05-17_15-22-48_0212_Alien_Blitz_Level_editor_

The progression is made easier for new players:

  • First room just teaches about buttons, not buttons & monsters at the same time, and player is forced to go there
  • Second room teaches about monsters, only one way out too
  • Then a small open space with multiple directions, but animation player saw by pushing the button should make them understand where to go now
  • Then the room with the button to the end has a new exit that goes to the southern outside area, and this exit is located near the money box, so player should have seen it (otherwise it’s not important, it’s just some goodies)

Second level is pretty straight forward, so no changes needed, and by third level player should know how to play 🙂

 

Alpha progress

I’ve corrected a few glitches, but other than that the game seems to work fine on Windows/Linux, it needs more testing on OS X still (but my mac mini is too slow, I tried doing some hackintosh virtual machines but had no success (no guest additions and slow on Virtualbox, crashes on VMWare)).

I have very random problems with the Level editor on Linux, no idea why, the level editor just exits, no exception, no core dump, nothing. So I suspect it’s another OpenGL crash that will be very hard to pinpoint.
I’ve updated LibGdx to latest version, and removed all threads (except the main one), maybe it will help. Anyway Level editor is not top priority, if it doesn’t work on some config it’s no big deal at the moment.

So, current status is that I need to continue testing, and if everything goes well there should be an alpha version soon (demo on Greenlight, full version as a gift with Snorms)

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Alien Blitz: loading screen, color/scale, builds

Loading screen

New level loading screen, the old one was still using some graphics I did at the beginning of Snorms development

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There’s no more indication of what is being loaded (the 4 old steps), and no percentage (which was not accurate because of the 4 different loading steps), just a loading bar that is somewhat accurate.

There’s also a nicer fade out effect at the end of loading screen.

 

Color / scale

Color of the mecha has been slightly changed, a bit less saturated, and the blue part is a bit more visible.

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And everything has been slightly scaled up (10% for most items, except for player that is scale 20%)

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Builds

I am finally using an official JRE for MacOs, and OpenJDK for Windows/Linux, it seems to work fine that way. I had some troubles initializing a CubeMap framebuffer on Mac, but it’s corrected now (I will have to update my tutorial accordingly).

I’m continuing tests on PC, so far I just have some unknown errors with the level editor.

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Alien Blitz: mobile update & PC alpha

There was quite a lack of updates lately, I have a new job and didn’t want to spend too much time on personal projects for the first days/weeks.

But now it should be okay, I should have enough free time to work on games. My first priority is to complete Alien Blitz (making an Alpha version for PC and work on PR stuff)

 

Mobile update

Since the random bug I discovered on PC doesn’t affect mobile (and is now corrected) I’ve continued working on the last update for Android, it’s okay now and has been pushed on all available platforms:

I will do a few more tests on recent iPhone devices soon, but as far as I know everything should be good (I just have to update the store page that doesn’t display enough screenshots).

 

PC alpha

I’ve continued thinking about the PC version, and came up to the conclusion that I will soon release an alpha version, I call it alpha as it will be missing some functions and might contain bugs, other than that it should be fairly complete (except if I get interesting suggestions).

Another difference with final release is that there is a welcome screen every time you start the game with links to suggestion box & greenlight page.

I will also release a demo version, limited to episode 1 and without save feature.

capture_2015-05-10_12-27-50_0533_Alien_Blitz_

I’ve also changed a few things :

  • There are now 3 fonts used within the game
    • Fairfax (the old one, pixel looking, used in the title bar in above screenshot and some buttons)
    • Ubuntu mono (used on buttons and most controls)
    • Ubuntu (used on long texts, labels)
  • Moving the mouse will also move viewpoint, so on PC viewpoint is centered with mouse position (if using mouse) + mecha look at direction

Most of the build process (building, obfuscating, packaging) is ready, but now need testing:

  • Windows 32bits (exe)
  • Linux 32bits (sh)
  • Linux 64bits (sh)
  • MacOS 64 bits (command)

There is no installer, it’s just a zip to extract. I have some troubles with MacOS as OpenJDK seems to require X11 and will ask user to install it (once installed it’s ok), not sure if that is supported/accepted with Steam so I might have to do something else for Mac, as for now it should be sufficient (you can alter the .command file and point to a local jre installation instead)

This version will be published on IGS along with Snorms (as a “gift”, meaning you can still have the old isometric version or this one) and maybe also on Desura if I can make it work there (also along with Snorms). The demo version will be available directly from this website.

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Alien Blitz: back to normal operation

I’ve finally corrected my problem… to sum it up : changing mouse cursor too often in a small timestamp will cause glClear to crash with an Intel card with vsync disabled on Linux…

This whole sentence makes absolutely no sense to me but it explains why I didn’t have problems with nVidia card and why I didn’t have problems with the mobile version (which obviously doesn’t implement changing mouse cursor).

So I can now finish my tests of the Android version, update it, and I will probably create a beta PC version that I will add to Snorms version on IGS (maybe on Desura later on, if I fell like it), and also a demo version that I can freely distribute (episode 1 or just a few levels, or limited to 1 or 2 hours, don’t know yet).

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How to disable vsync on Intel card / Linux

Just a small post to explain how to disable vsync on an Intel integrated graphic card on Linux to run a java application from eclipse (or any other application for that matter).

You might have some problem for example if you run a LibGdx game and setting the vSyncEnabled configuration option does not work at all (don’t forget to also update foregroundFPS).

To run a program and disabling vsync it’s quite easy, just set the vblank_mode environment variable to 0, for example :

$ glxgears 
Running synchronized to the vertical refresh.  The framerate should be
approximately the same as the monitor refresh rate.
304 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.797 FPS

$ vblank_mode=0 glxgears
ATTENTION: default value of option vblank_mode overridden by environment.
ATTENTION: default value of option vblank_mode overridden by environment.
27598 frames in 5.0 seconds = 5519.494 FPS

$ export vblank_mode=0
$ glxgears 
ATTENTION: default value of option vblank_mode overridden by environment.
ATTENTION: default value of option vblank_mode overridden by environment.
27929 frames in 5.0 seconds = 5585.793 FPS

 

To do the same thing to test an application under eclipse you can just change its run configuration :

capture_2015-04-10_13-24-02_0246_Run_Configurations_

Just set it to 1 when you are done (or delete the variable)

 

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Some news: Alien Blitz, Crazy Minecart, Shadow Mapping

Alien Blitz

There is a very random bug that causes the game to crash sometimes on PC, I can’t find why it happens, so until I find the cause I won’t release the next Android version (as it is random it might maybe also happen on Android).

This is a very strange bug, the game just suddenly stops, no exception, no dump, nothing, I’ve tried a few things:

  • I made sure System.exit is not called by adding it to a SecurityManager (override the checkExit function)
  • I made sure all exceptions are logged
  • I made sure OutOfMemory exceptions are trapped  somehow (-XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError)
  • All possible missing exceptions are catched using Thread.setDefaultUncaughtExceptionHandler

Only thing I have figured so far:

  • It’s not an audio issue (only error message is related to audio, but this message also appear when exiting the game normally, I just removed audio to be sure and bug happened anyway)
  • It’s not linked to a LibGdx version, bug appear on 1.4.1 & 1.5.2 also (and game was working fine when I was using these versions)
  • It doesn’t seem to appear on mobile version running on PC (but as it’s random I can’t be sure, I was just maybe lucky during these tests)

It is either linked to a change on my Linux system or something in the code (but there was nothing big added recently).
Next tests will focus on Windows (to see if it’s a problem on the Linux version) & on the nVidia card (to see if it’s related to the Intel one). I suspect something bad happening with OpenGL (would explain the lack of traces as it’s not pure java code).
Problem is each test takes around 1 hour as bug is random. I basically launch the game, make some automatic stuffs (auto fire, wake all monsters,…) and wait 1 minute, check if game exited prematurely, if not launch the test again. The bug seems to appear every 10 games on average, usually it will appear in the first minute or so after start, if it does not the game will apparently be running fine afterward (I’ve let it work for 2 hours fine)

 

On another note I updated the way life bars are displayed above player & monsters, they look a lot nicer now. And I have also added an option to show numerical values for life / armor & ammos.

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Crazy Minecart

Some progress have been made on Crazy Minecart, I have some performance issues even without shadow mapping (40fps, it’s not a big deal but I don’t like that). So I removed some trees and simplified a few things, but I’ll have to pinpoint the issue.

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I also need to change colors, problem is colors after exporting are not the ones I defined in Blender, it makes it a bit hard to do something nice.

 

Shadow Mapping

I’ve stopped working on part 5 (Multiple Render Targets) of shadow mapping tutorial for now, I’m just waiting for some commits to be included in LibGdx to support Cubemap, it will allow me to clean up the code and maybe add the MRT frame buffer more easily.

I saw this pull request recently, as I was about to make my own for the same purpose, good thing I checked up first 🙂

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