Malmö: Computer game development and marriage stories

Me and the SO went to Malmö this weekend. Lovely.

Met my GM Tomas in Malmö, and he told me about his new project: to become a game developer. “I used to want to become a game programmer, now I am becoming one.” So, I decided to get deeper into the question, first by looking at the net, getting an overview. His preferred API is now the free project Allegro:

Allegro is a game programming library for C/C++ developers distributed freely, supporting the following platforms: DOS, Unix (Linux, FreeBSD, Irix, Solaris, Darwin), Windows, QNX, BeOS and MacOS X. It provides many functions for graphics, sounds, player input (keyboard, mouse and joystick) and timers. It also provides fixed and floating point mathematical functions, 3d functions, file management functions, compressed datafile and a GUI.

OK, on the Win32 platform, it works as a top layer for DirectX, but on the other platforms it is a top layer for a string of other APIs. Neat: cross-platform in one fell swoop.

Googling Allegro turned up a few hits. The premier support site is Allegro.cc, a full-featured game-dev portal.

Tomas has been wary of the overhead of OOP, but he nows contends that making games takes OOP, and good data structures.

His IDE is Dev++ from Bloodshed Software. Tutorial on how to install it.

Warning: the tutorial above includes info on an older variant than the current, so an edit to Step #9 is: find the **Project Options** dialog (link to a screenshot) and the tab **Parameters**. There you have the option to link an object file to your project. Took me a while to find it. (Btw, to add this screenshot, I used the built-in Upload function of WordPress; very handy.)

**Update**: I got some email today from Tomas, and he explained about the beautiful **Package Manager**, in which you just select a few packages, hit the download and install button, and leech the packages from the net. Could not be easier. Developing has lost some sysadmin chores during the last few years. I do not miss a thing. Now, I’ll just reinstall the thing, and hope for the best. Sigh.

After the short meeting with Tomas, me and the SO went up to our friends Cissi and Stupor, recently married. They told wild stories about the outback of Småland, second-hand store finds, while inebriating us with Polish import goods. In Småland Cissi hosts a festival each year.

Web design critique: again

I got an email from the unemployment office asking me to fill out a survey about their website.

This I did. The usual boring questions about usability, just for me to rate 1-5 which was good or bad. Did you notice the errors there? Uneven numbers give you the possibility to rate at the mid-most number… I did a double-take when I saw it. But, then again, the survey is created with a user tool probably by people in the office in question.

Anyway: the last question was “Do you have any other comments on the website?” and included a textarea in which to spew forth my critique. And did I? Nine paragraphs of UI bugs, all of which I found by just logging on to the site.

Basically, the site reeks. So 90s. Frames, no handling of the plural form, scripting to do what CSS does best, and so forth. I could live with it being old, and “works in both Netscape 4.73 and IE5.0”, but there were outright errors on many pages.

All would be well in IT-land if this was a site done “back then”, but some parts of the website are created using ASP.NET, so it can’t be that old. I hope they didn’t pay too much tax money for it. *Gripe, gripe.*

I also remarked on the lack of standards when it comes to code commenting. Comment in English, people. Makes code accessible to the next person who is going down in the trenches.

Call of Cthulhu Rules Booklet: free download

Now, I could tell you how cool it was in Rome.

Or, how much work I’m doing right now.

But, I have no time for that, now is the time to report about Chaosium publishing a free rules booklet as a PDF download.

Their idea is to convert the masses into buying products from the Call of Cthulhu line. All is well. Then I downloaded a PDF and found it lacking… todayness. It was like being given a scan of a MERP module.

Is that worthy of such a company? Woe the current day! Lo, the day when Pagan Publishing were at their peak. Heard a sad rumour that only the director is still with the company. I recently lent all my Pagan books to Sune, a true aficionado who fills two meters of shelfspace with just GURPS books. A regular bibliophile, just with role-playing game books. He was stricken with enthusiasm at the sight of the books.

**The former snide remarks about employees at Pagan have now been removed. I regret that text was ever typed.**

OpenCourseWare

MIT delivers free knowledge in the form of their OpenCourseWare portal.

a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners around the world. OCW supports MIT’s mission to advance knowledge and education, and serve the world in the 21st century. It is true to MIT’s values of excellence, innovation, and leadership.

MIT OCW:

  • Is a publication of MIT course materials
  • Does not require any registration
  • Is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting activity
  • Does not provide access to MIT faculty

EFF pushing BBC into CC’ing their content

Electronic Frontier Foundation Supports BBC’s “Creative Archive” – a press release telling us about the push from EFF to influence the UK government to Creative Commons the whole back-catalogue of the BBC. Imagine that. Cut’n paste. Mix’n match. Re-use. Remix. (Oh, that all sounded very mid-90s. I’ll stop now.)

The prospect seems rather bright, though. I’d sure like to dawdle with some iMovie app, making movies and media shows. Would be perfect for adding introductory sequences to RPG sessions. (Of course, The Finns are doing this already.)

Have you used an intro sequence for your RPG game? Tell, tell, tell.

My man Fred

I was horsing around and found this:

Fredrik Axelzon to the left

The poor man on the left is Fred, we can call him that. He is not an addict, he has no criminal record, and he is mentally stable. Someone made a really, really bad photo here.

Blog software: bBlog and Snurf

A PHP implementation called [bBlog](http://www.bblog.com/about.php) is [Smary](http://smarty.php.net/)-centric. Neat.

Look also at [Snurf](http://bdash.bluewire.net.nz/2004/08/02/snurf-a-python-based-blogging-system/), which is a Python-based blogging system. Snurf’s designer calls attention to [a W3 document](http://www.w3.org/TR/chips/) about problems any blog designer, or CMS designer could run into.

He also [points out in a blog entry](http://bdash.bluewire.net.nz/2004/07/28/new-website-backend/) the problems he had with bBlog, what made him hack his own.

Also, from today’s heap of news: [the gbaunix](http://www.kernelthread.com/publications/gbaunix/). Cool, very cool.