agile computer games programming

Estimating timescales and effort for software and games projects

Is it a completely hopeless task, caused by a fundamental lack of understanding in how to ask the question appropriately?

computer games facebook games design

The rest of the world is not like us…

Andrew Chen has a great post on how people use Facebook and why MySpace pages are so ugly

I particularly liked the straightforward comparison between the opposing viewpoints on design, i.e.:

Facebook / Google / “modern” web companies:

  • Simple, Functional, Easy

Myspace / GeoCities / “poorly designed” web presences:

  • Lots of options – perceived as complicated
  • Entertaining – perceived as lacking a point
  • Layers of complexity – perceived as difficult

So. Scrapbooking. A $2.5 Billion industry, huh? Serious food for thought for game designers trying to think up ways to take advantage of Web 2.0, but struggling to break out of the boring “chat”, “friends lists”, and “character pages” ideas…

bitching fixing your desktop

Fixing the blurry fonts in Outlook 2007

(do you have fuzzy text in Outlook 2007? hard to read fonts? System settings for fonts broken in Office 2007? Help is at hand…).

You have to do a couple of things to fix the one bug, and I had to find all the different parts of the solution in different places, so I put them all together into one post here.

computer games conferences games industry

Games industry conferences versus blogging

I’m not happy with the direction games industry conferences are going in; I specialize in online games, and I’ve worked at the forefront of monetizing online entertainment, I’ve actually *made money* out of Web 2.0 – so I have real expertise in making use of the internet – and I really think we (as an industry) are missing a trick with our conferences. There’s an opportunity to do something really valuable and re-invigorate the conferences.

The previous entry outlined what conferences profess to offer their speakers, and what it costs the speakers to attend. Now I’m going to talk about the real, untapped, value of conferences to the speakers, and what we as speakers should be demanding, and how in the end it benefits all of us, including the organizers just trying to turn a healthy profit.

computer games conferences games industry

Problems of speaking at games industry conferences

I go to GDC every year, and also to 2-3 other conferences, but apart from GDC I vary which exact ones from year to year. These days, I’m a speaker at nearly every conference I go to, and I’ve never yet been paid for speaking, so it’s fair to say I have a pretty big time investment in each of them. I don’t make the choice to go to a conference lightly (especially given how long I’m out of the office for a typical conference, and how exhausted I am by the learning, the networking, the partying, and the international travel).

But I’m getting increasingly dissatisfied with the conferences themselves, especially as a speaker. And it seems to be getting worse, not better – and that’s particularly worrying. The conferences are still great, but the problems are significant.

First up, the costs of speaking, and the ever shrinking advertised benefits…

entity systems games design massively multiplayer programming system architecture

Entity Systems are the future of MMOG development – Part 2

Part 2 – What is an Entity System?

(Part 1 is here)

Sadly, there’s some disagreement about what exactly an Entity System (ES) is. For some people, it’s the same as a Component System (CS) and even Component-Oriented Programming (COP). For others, it means something substantially different. To keep things clear, I’m only going to talk about Entity Systems, which IMHO are a particular subset of COP. Personally, I think Component System is probably a more accurate name given the term COP, but then COP is improperly named and is so confusing that I find if you call these things Component Systems they miss the point entirely. The best would be Aspect Systems, but then AOP has already taken ownership of the Aspect word.

An entity system is simply a part of your program that uses a particular way of breaking up the logic and variables of your program into source code.

For the most part, it does this using the Component Oriented Programming paradigm instead of the OOP paradigm – but there’s subtleties that we’ll go into later.

computer games games design programming

More SFE Screenshots…

Another couple of days since the first one-day effort, and SFE single player is now working, albeit with a seriously crap AI:

Eggs dropping


Bored of boring shopping sites

In case you hadn’t seen it. Now, if this were done in HTML instead of flash, and the site still worked…

computer games games design networking

Screenshot of Super Foul Egg remake

Years ago, I found the spritesheets + source code from the author of SFE, who was offering them up if anyone wanted to improve it, make it 4 player multiplayer again (like on RISC OS) etc (or something like that).

Last Sunday afternoon I was very bored, and found just the spritesheets lying around on an old disk, so I wrote the gamecode from scratch. Didn’t quite finish it that day, but I think one more boring Sunday and I’ll have over-the-internet multiplayer and highscores server working, which would rock.

Kevglass asked for a screenshot, so…