Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm Your Zombie Wingman!

The Zombie Bite Calculator
Created by Oatmeal

It's good to know that when the zombie apocalypse happens that I'll have some staying power...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Game Update 4: A New Mapping Solution?

Mappy Fail
Mappy Fail?
I have spent many long hours staring at the code I've written for my Ultima Style cRPG. As I mentioned back in my last up date I'd run into a few snags. One was a crashing problem where I was trying to de-allocate memory for an object I created twice. That fix came pretty quickly once I looked at what I was doing.  The next problem has not been so easy to fix.

The problem I'm having (and I'll see if I can explain it) is I have a tile based map (using Mappy) and I have a little animated guy running around the map. Now, every time the little guy moves he moves an arbitrary amount of pixels. This represents his speed and needs to remain constant through out the game. Since the map is bigger than the window that contains it the map needs to scroll. The part of the map that is shown while scrolling is represented by a rectangle and it has a coordinate system that is an offset from the coordinates of the little guy.  The problem is when I'm on the upper and left side of the map the guy moves the correct amount of pixels and the offset moves the correct amount of pixels. But when the little guy hits a certain point going left or going down he begins to double the amount of pixels he moves each time but the offset moves the correct amount of pixels. Eventually the little guy outruns the offset and goes off screen. I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes to make the little guy suddenly double his movement amount but not the offset. Arrgh!

I hope anyone reading understands.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Resurrecting A Macintosh Quadra 605

Quadra 605
Quadra 605
A while back I inherited an old Macintosh Quadra 605 from my uncle. He was in the process of moving so he needed to get rid of it and another old Mac. More on the other Mac in another post. I was a little leery of taking it as it was sitting on the floor, upside down in his closet when his basement flooded some earlier time. Looking at the machine you could see a bit of water damage so I thought the thing was shot and almost passed on it. I'm glad I didn't.

The Macintosh Quadra 605 is a damn cool machine in my opinion. First off it has the stylish "pizza box" design that I liked back in the early 90s. It is a cool form factor and I really, really wish it had never gone away. Unfortunately the desktop paradigm went the way of the dodo and the massive tower became the norm. I really never got that. The CPU in the Quadra 605 is the Motorola 68LC040 and it's clocked at 25MHz. The 68LC040 is a "l"ow "c"ost version of the 68040. What makes it low cost is the fact that it doesn't have a Floating Point Unit (FPU). It comes with 4MB of RAM but is expandable up to 36MB officially. It is possible to expand it up to 132MB. Video memory was 512kB but was expandable up to 1MB. All in all it's a nice little computer.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Loved My Amiga 1000...Still Miss It

Amiga 1000
Amiga 1000
While I'm still trying to figure out what is wrong with my Ultima style game which is using Mappy to create and display the maps I thought I'd take a quick back in time. Well, computing time that is.

Back in the ancient days of micro-computers (the 80s) I broke down and bought my 3rd computer. The year was the beginning of 1987 and the computer was the Amiga 1000. I got my A1000 just before they discontinued them and released the Amigas 500 and 2000. I wasn't too worried about that though as I thought this computer was one of the coolest that I'd ever seen.

What had sold me on the Amiga computer was, aside from Commodore made them (as far as I was concerned they could do no evil back then), going into the game store at the mall. They always had computer hooked up showing demo modes to games. They had the DOS ones, some Macs a few 8-bit micro-computers and, of course, the A1000 and it seems like the had BattleHawks or some other LucasArts game. (They were known as LucasFilm Games back then.)

I blew a cool grand on the computer and, though my dad wasn't too happy about that as he'd rather I bought a car, I was estatic and couldn't wait to try it out. A few paydays later I was able to buy my first couple of games. Defender of the Crown and The Bard's Tale. Soon after that I did get the Amiga version of Silent Service and within the next year Bard's Tale II, Bard's Tale III, Loom, The Secret of Monkey Island and more.

I had friends who played games too but most of them were either still on the 8-bit micros the ones who upgraded usually went with a DOS machine and one or two had the black and white Macs. When I would invite them over to play they were amazed by two things. One, especially for the ones still using 8-bit machines, was the amazing array of colors in the games and the higher resolutions. Two, and this was among several of my DOS using friends, was the fact that I didn't have to make a specialized Autoexec.bat or config.sys file to load up the games. Usually it was double click and icon or boot directly from the game disk.

Unfortunately VGA games started becoming more common so the color and resolution advantage started falling behind. With the advent of Soundblaster cards the music part started falling behind too. And then finally Commodore went bankrupt and the once awesome Amiga was destined to be left in the past. This is unfortunate because the place where Amiga really could have shined was the multimedia driven 90s when it was Windows and Mac and, pretty much, nothing else.

So, for a while there I had the coolest computer ever and all my friends loved to come and check it out and play games. Too bad computers got boring after that.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Game Update 3: Tiny Little Dude - UPDATED

Ultima Style RPG
Never mind the programmer's art!
So, finally after wracking my head around seemingly simple problems, surviving Halloween and surviving the Elections I'm back with an update. Of course it's a good news, bad news update. But, with projects like these, it seems to be the norm.

The Good News
The good news is that I have my sprite class pretty much working. If you look at the picture above you'll see a little white knight among the tiled background. What the picture doesn't show you is that the little fellow is animated. There are four frames of animation and it seems to work pretty well.  In a way it's starting to feel like an Ultima style game.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Game Update 2: Heaven And Earth

Mappy Tile Map
What a world!

Another update on the programming my game. I've achieved my milestone of implementing a map using the Mappy map maker and the associated files. As a result I've had to change my development environment because I was having problems linking the mappy files to my project. Apparently with the gcc compiler on windows I needed to compile it to an "object file" and link it to my project as such. The problem is mapping the %PATH% variables properly so I had access to the Allegro header files. On Windows it's a pain in the ass. Seems like it's much easier to do from Linux.

So, from the image you can see my little program has a map (with my hasty, thus crappy artwork) that can be scrolled using the keyboard arrow keys. I feel good getting to this point however, I've been this far along in other programming projects and lost interest. So, the next hurdle will be to implement a sprite that is controllable by the mouse and that can react to collision tiles on the map (as well as eventual collision sprites that represent mobs.  Eventually.  We'll see if I can cross that line.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Game Update 1: The Blue Screen Of Life!

Allegro Game Programming
It's not much but it's a start!

I figure that since I made a huge proclamation of making my own CRPG I should start updating on how it's going.  I mean really, come on, right?

So. Since I made my epic blog post I've worked on the game for a couple days now. Some of that time has been story related stuff and some of that time was getting Code::Blocks, Allegro 5 and Windows all to play nice. I finally got Code::Blocks, Allegro 5 and Windows all to play nice. Wasn't that hard. This is a good thing since when I start making the Linux version I'll most likely use Code::Blocks to develop the game.

Of course, the reward for my hard work is a window filled with blue.  That's okay though because it shows me that everything is working well together.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Things & Game Programming UPDATED

Since the passing of my grandfather back in June I made it a goal to lose some weight. It took me about six weeks to drop ~20 pounds and I'm still at it. I feel good about this and it really hasn't been that difficult.  So, in honor of achieving a goal of losing weight and since it's been so empowering I've decided to set some other goals and see if I can achieve them. The first of these is a programming goal.

I must confess. I'm an okay C/C++ (yes I know they are two different things) programmer. Not a super good one but an okay one. I can usually figure out how to achieve most task and if I get stumped a little Google-fu has gone a long way in helping me. So, my next goal is going to be programming a Computer Role Playing Game (CRPG) for Windows and Mac since I own the two. I do have a Linux computer but it is in sad need of repair at this moment. As soon as I get it fixed I'll port it to Linux too. I've done some tech demos of 2D maps that I was pretty proud of so I think I can handle the job.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Make It So...Please?

Apparently even celebrities like Patrick Stewart and William Shatner cannot get good service from likes of Time Warner Cable.

I'm often dubious of the large cable conglomerates in the United States. They often jack up prices with no additions of service and we lag behind the rest of the world in terms of acceptable broadband speeds.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Almost Banned Jurassic Park Blooper Video

A number of years ago I put up this video of a blooper in Jurassic Park on YouTube and it's become very popular. I think people love to find Easter eggs and bloopers in their favorite movies. It makes watching them over again fun.


This video almost didn't make it. Early in 2012 I got a DMCA take down notice from Universal regarding this clip. If you do watch the video you'll notice that the amount of footage I use is less than 3 seconds and there is no audio from the movie. Also the fact that it's of lower resolution, doesn't give away a key plot point and I'm providing commentary over the video is a clear indicator of Fair Use.

Fortunately I was able to argue against the take down notice from Universal and get the video reinstated. I have to give Universal kudos for agreeing with the fact that the clip I use is Fair Use.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Amazing Results Or How I Dropped 12 Pounds In A Week

You Better Believe It
Usually I write about nerdy stuff on here like retro computers or low-budget films I like. This time I've decided to share a positive life changing event. Don't worry, I'll get back to my nerdy goodness by next post.

Hah! The title of this post sounds like one of those silly infomercials that promise "amazing results" using their product. However, I would like to forgo the normal nerd related stuff I usually write about and actually talk about some amazing results.  Of course, this story starts with a hint of sadness.

I posted  before about my grandfather passing away back in June 26th. It was a very hard thing for me to go through. I sat in the hospice and watched my grandfather, a man whom I both loved and respected very much, go through the painful last few hours of his life. It was heart breaking and surreal. A few days later would be the funeral and my grandmother wanted grandsons to be the pallbearers. Being the oldest grandchild I was on the list.

The funeral was Saturday, June 30th and, as normally happens, there was a lot of family there. Cousins I hadn't seen in a long time. I knew I was overweight but when it was pointed out to me it really hit home. Of course, it was in a fun and teasing way with no one trying to be mean. Also, one of my cousins who used to be overweight had lost a lot of weight and was hovering around the 186lb mark. He'd lost almost 50lbs in about four months or so. The friendly teasing about my weight and seeing how much weight he'd lost in such a short time made an impression on me. I asked my cousin about the weight loss and he told me about some expensive diet he and his girlfriend were on that really restricted the amount of carbohydrates you can eat and really emphasized the proteins.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Writing A Commodore 64 BASIC Program On A C64 Emulator: A Christmas Candle [UPDATED]

Going back to a retro computer system is interesting. Especially when you go back to develop software for it. That's exactly what I did. Using WinVice, a Commodore 64 Emulator that most people probably use to play those old C64 games that you can find on the Internet, and using BASIC, that old, somewhat easy to get into, interpreted and insanely slow programming language that was usually bundled with most 8-bit computers, I set about recreating a classic family Christmastime memory.

In the Beginning

Back in the early 1980s I created a flickering candle as a sort of demo/entertainment program to run during the Christmas Holiday. I wrote it in BASIC and I wrote it on my TRS-80 Color Computer. It took a couple days to figure out and write and I had to use a tape player as a storage device. Anybody who remembers those days remembers how time consuming and error prone that tended to be.  I was pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this and rightly so.

Now, I've decided to redo that program on the C64 emulator WinVice. Since I don't have that tape with the program on it anymore nor any sort of printout of the source code I'm having to reconstruct the program from memory and whatever skills I have as a retro computer programmer.

We'll see if I have the programming chops to pull this off.

Okay, so I finally finished this project and it feels good to do so. It didn't take me as long as I thought it would and I ran into fewer problems than I thought I would. I attribute that to having a plan (somewhat) and structuring my code (as much as possible in BASIC.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quick Update

Due to the death of my grandfather last week (June 26th) and the subsequent funeral I've not really posted much. I am sorry for that.

I have a few topics I'd like to start posting about in the near future. One is programming. I was going to do a small series on 8-bit, game related, BASIC programming, specifically for the Commodore 64, but I ran into some problems with the emulator (WinVice) and the fact that it messed up my line numbers when I tried to do a very basic program. I guess my current paradigm of programming is a little different than the spaghetti method I used to use in the 80s. I may still do that once I get my real C64 out of storage and setup somewhere.

Another project I am looking at is learning Python. I've dabbled with it a little bit so I was thinking of developing a series of easy to implement games starting with a simple text adventure. This was how I used to learn new flavors of BASIC back in the 1980s. I figured with a few text base games under my belt I could move onto PyGames and then, eventually, Panda3D.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ten Year Civ II Game? Incredible!

So. Hard. To. WIN!
A member of Reddit called Lycerius has been playing the same Civilization II game for the last ten years. What makes it more interesting is the fact that he is a stalemate with two other A.I. players and it's been total war for the last 1700 years in game time. There is starvation, pollution and war. Lots of nuclear war.
I've been playing the same game of Civ II for 10 years. Though long outdated, I grew fascinated with this particular game because by the time Civ III was released, I was already well into the distant future. I then thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be. Naturally I play other games and have a life, but I often return to this game when I'm not doing anything and carry on. The results are as follows. [via Reddit]
The this is an interesting concept and the comment sections to read are interesting too. Especially the parallels this game to George Orwell's 1984.

If you are a Civ 2 player, have a copy of the game and have some free time you might want to download a copy of the game save file and give it a run.

I'll be watching this thread pretty closely. I love when people do stuff like this.

Monday, June 4, 2012

That's Not How You Do It or Data Driven BASIC Adventure Games!

I'm way better than Windows!
I was reading an online book that was originally published in the early 80s on writing DnD style text adventure games in BASIC.  As a matter of fact it's a book I used to own but somehow and somewhere between the 80s and now it disappeared.

I have several things that have done that and I often wonder where they've gone. Probably that sacred place where all my socks go during the dry cycle when doing laundry.

As I was reading I came across this page where the author shows how to implement room descriptions for your nasty little dungeon.  Go ahead and take a look. I'll stick around until you get back.

Back? Good! Did you notice what was "wrong"? Not really? Okay, let me point something out.

1030 REM ************
1040 REM ROOM 1

Here's the problem. He should have used data statements and an array to store the data. Instead he hard coded everything into the program.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

New Dark Star Wars Game...Wow, this Might be...Interesting!

"Who ate beans?"
So I saw on Gamasutra that LucasArts is looking to release a dark game in the Star Wars.  This looks interesting and I hope they are able to pull this off.  From the article:
Players will take control of a bounty hunter exploring the Coruscant underworld, as he attempts to uncover a criminal conspiracy. The game promises third-person gritty combat, as opposed to supernatural Force powers. [via Gamasutra]
 This bodes good things to me as I am getting sick of robed Jedies or Sith wandering around with their laser swords deflecting blaster bolts and levitating stuff.  What is also nice is the fact that the game is going to take place on Coruscant which is one of three favorite locations of mine in the Star Wars universe.  The other two being Tatoonie and Naboo.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Diablo 3 Woes - [updated]

Ah, so this is what the game looks like!
So, as a part of the Annual Pass for World of Warcraft, I got Diablo 3.  Knowing it was going to be a mess when it launched and being keenly aware of it's "always online" Digital Rights Management (DRM) I decided to wait a few days for things to steady down before I downloaded, installed and played the game.

I must say, hell has definitely come and it's not the demonic horde of the game. It's the fact that I cannot stay connected to the servers in a SINGLE PLAYER GAME! I think to date I've been able to kill four monsters and in that time I've been disconnected two times.  The first time locking up my computer.

I don't know what Blizzard is hoping to do but apparently it has a lot to do with their Real Money Auction House. I guess they are hoping it will be a recurring source of income for them.  I'm to assume that if it's successful then it'll probably rear it's ugly head over on World of Warcraft. Also, I'm pretty certain that a lot of it has to do with them trying to prevent piracy and, maybe, cheaters.

Here's the thing. Here is why I hate DRM and this is a perfect example of it. You see, it'll be a matter of time before this game is "cracked" if it isn't already. So, those who pirate the game will have a better product than those of us who obtained the game "legally". The ability to actually play the game, when ever I want, would actually be a feature I'd really like.  You know, pay money for.

Monday, April 30, 2012

I've Returned...Again!

By Daniel Biehl

Well, back to Blogger.

I do have a domain name but some stupid Russian hacker got into my .htaccess site and is redirecting all my traffic to another domain.  I think it's Russian as the domain redirect to a site with a .ru domain.  Stupid hackers.

Of course, I've gone through great lengths to try and clean it up to no avail. I've stripped my site down to a basic, static HTML file and the redirect is still there.  Yes, I've removed all .htaccess files and I'm still being redirected.  Unfortunately I hosted my site with GoDaddy.  Should never have done that.  Apparently they have a history of this sort of thing happening and it happens at a lower level (server wise) than can be accessed by their customers.

So, I'll use Blogger for a while until I can figure out how I can try to fix things.  One thing is for sure. I'll never use GoDaddy again.  Nor will I recommend them to anybody. Sigh.

Just out of curiosity, and it seems a strange question to pose on a hosted/free blogger site, what hosting providers do you use?