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Mono for game developers

Miguel de Icaza wrote down some of his findings he made at the GDC. More and more game developers are using Mono as scripting environment for their games. Quite interesting.



Ich bin dann vermutlich auch bald weg

The following text is written in german. I'm sorry, I simply needed a small valve again :)
Click below to read on. I don't think the google translation of this entry is very understandable.

[Achtung! Braindump gemischt mit Politischen Meinungen vorraus.]

Derzeit sind die Medien voll davon, Deutschland hat vor wenigen Tagen über seinen Geheimdienst scheinbar illegal entwendete Bankdaten aus Liechtenstein gekauft und nutzt diese jetzt um mutmaßliche Steuerhinterzieher zur Kasse zu bitten. Die ganze Aktion ist wieder mal ein schönes Beispiel welches einige aktuelle Probleme bei uns aufzeigt. Weiterlesen...



Flex 3 vs. Silverlight and Java

Today Adobe released Flex 3 and AIR. AIR can be compared to the .NET runtime environment by Microsoft, and Flex to Mircosofts Silverlight: You can create Flash applets using Flex and run them on your desktop with some additional functionality like file saving and similar using AIR. Being originally a C++ programmer, I've also gathered some development experiences using Flash and Flex, (actually I've even worked on a now released commercial game based on Flash last year), and I think Flex is a very good software development platform especially for browser applets, if confronted with .NET and Java. In short, from the perspective of a game developer, there are only some very few points which are important. I've brought them face to face in the following table:

TechnologyPlatformsGFX RenderingAvailability
Flex/AIRWin/Mac/LinuxExcellent very good
.NET/Silverlight Win, ~MacOK poor
JavaWin/Mac/LinuxSlowdecreasing
Note: this table may not be 100% correct and represents my personal experiences. See below for explanations.

All three technologies have very good and fast compilers, nicely designed languages with strong and static typing, comprehensive and very powerful libraries and relatively fast execution speed. There are a lot of other things to compare, but basically, the ones shown in the table above are the categories which I would consider, and based on them, Flex is the winner in my opinion.
Flex compiles to .swf files which are browser embedded Flash applets, and thanks to YouTube and similar, nearly everybody has a Flash plugin installed today. But what about Silverlight and Java? I have not yet come across a website using Silverlight. And the times when Java applets were popular are clearly over for whatever reason. Silverlight wants to be cross platform too like Java and Flash, but it's still Microsoft, nearly completely ignoring every non-Microsoft OS. There is a Linux port of Silverlight, named Moonlight, but not done by Microsoft, and it is not finished yet.
And thinking about graphics rendering, I've made the experience that you can do quite nice things using .NET, but Flashs optimized 2D vector rasterizer is not easy to beat, in my opinion. Java today also has some neat 2D rendering capabilities and they are also working on hardware accelerated output (last time I checked this had to be manually enabled on the client side, so nobody actually used this feature), but in my opinion it still feels a bit slow.
Now, with AIR, Flash has the same advantage as Java and .NET: You can create desktop applications with it as well. So I think if you should ever want to write some game, Flex is now a good place to start.



Phun

Phun is a 2D physics sandbox. I've seen other physics playgrounds before, but Phun includes some really nice ideas. This youtube video of phun shows some of them. It's already fun watching that video. Great work! (btw: no, it's not an Irrlicht program).



Krabbit System Wars

Krabbit System wars is a cross system multilayer RPG Fighter. It takes place in vertical arena, opposed to the traditional horizontal ones. There will also be open grounds, with Terrain, and levels with depth. KSW focuses on a new style beat em up combat system:

It is done using Irrlicht and irrEdit and developed by KrabbitSoft Studios, known for example for KrabbitWorld and for Dean, our Irrlicht Team Member ;). If you are at the GDC this week, you also might find this game there somewhere. :)



How I should have prevented game performance problems during development

I recently presented a very early and totally untested version of the client of Darkness Springs,
the game I am currently working on
to some people and noticed that it ran very slowly. Which confused me at first, because I never had discovered slow framerates myself at all.
After shortly thinking a bit more about this, I became aware of the fact that until now, I had used only my high end PC as development machine for it, which is capable of running even Crysis at playable rates with very high settings. Darkness Springs will be a very CPU intensive game (unfortunately necessarily, explanation will follow soon) and because my brand new 64bit CPUs are quite fast I had never noticed that the game is already that CPU intensive. But now that I know, it should be no problem, I think I can still optimize the bottlenecks away pretty easily.
It is always a good idea to develop games (or more general: software) on the type of hardware you expect your average customer to use. In this way you will at least discover performance and other similar nasty problems very early. That's also the reason why I wrote the first few versions of Irrlicht on a Notebook with 266 Mhz and no real 3D hardware. Which again is also the reason why Irrlicht had a software rasterizer since its beginning. :)



FarCry movie

What's the first thing which pops into your mind when you think about the first person shooter FarCry? The picture of a tropical island? Right.
The movie 'FarCry' is already in post production (trailer here) and will be released this year. And it will be set in a simple forest. No island. Nothing tropical. Thanks, Uwe.



Shadow Dimension

Lantis is currently working on 'Shadow Dimension', an online role playing game in a science fiction setting. It uses irrlicht as 3D engine of course and a working alpha version of the game is already available.


Looks very nice IMO, hope to see more soon. :)



First details about the game I am working on

I already wrote that I am working on a new game currently, but did not reveal anything about it yet. Fortunately, we just reached milestone 1 and everything looks fine already. So here is the first detail:
The game will be named 'Darkness Springs' and there is already a temporary website of the game available, but it is quite empty still. But within the next month, this will change hopefully. :)
I cannot provide a lot of more facts about the game now, but I'm looking forward to write more soon and there are some few informations on the website to be read. :)



Discrimination? What's that?

Just coming back from the view of a real estate which was offered for rent in Vienna. And the dialog with the estate agent was quite 'interesting'. Because when we asked what kind of other people were renting in the same house, the agent misinterpreted this and started to smile as if he would know what we really wanted to know and said:

"People we never accept are the following: Black people, muslims, people from Turkey and all arabic countries. And never black people, did I mention black people? So you don't need to get worried."

We were really speechless, and didn't know what to say. We knew that a lot of homeowners in Vienna are like this, but they would never and that openly admit this.



Mr. Gebhardt I presume?

Issue 20 of the Game Development Magazine Dev.Mag is available now and has been named 'The I edition': For Irrlicht, IGF and Innovation. There are some articles inside about Irrlicht related topics, such as an Irrlicht tutorial, an article about H-Craft Championship, and an interview with me, which is titled 'Mr. Gebhardt I presume?' :) and was done by Sven “FuzzYspoON” Bergstrom.
It also includes some reviews of interesting games and other tutorials (such as one for Blender, maybe I should read that too.. *g*), so this 10 MB download should be not only interesting for everybody using Irrlicht. Download here.



Note to myself: Another reason why I don't like Java

I noticed this some years ago, but somehow my mind has suppressed this realization. Until I found myself in a discussion with a java programmer some weeks ago which was like this:

Me: Yes, but why don't you simply use an unsigned int? Twice as much numbers for the same price! :)
Him: Unsigned what?
Me: Unsigned int. No sign. Unsigned.
Him: ?

Yep, and there it was again. Java does not have unsigned types. What a superior language. Who needs unsigned types, right? :)