More game progress: Collision detection

November 4, 2007

Before we go on to the more tech-y stuff, a disclaimer: I like programming, but I’m an art major. My concentration is electronic media, and we do dabble in some programming in more arcane (but still easy to use) languages, and 3D modeling, but that’s as technical as my art classes get. But I took some Computer Science courses along the way, and it’s really helped me become more well-rounded in my skills. So while I’m formal source of good programming habits, I’m still learning.

Often I heard people saying that CS requires a lot of intense maths, and I thought it was just mostly logic-based. However, when I started working on the collision code for Monkey Ball Wannabe (working title 😉 ), that’s when the reliance on math in video game programming dawned on me. I tacked this problem blindly, and managed to find good tutorials and examples of code. Yet, I still have to understand a lot of the math involved even though I have some idea of what code does what.

Collision detection is a problem that must be handled in almost every action game, and in particular mine needs some realistic sphere-to-triangle collision. After getting advice from members at GameDev and psp-programming.com, I found this document to be the best source for my needs. Anyone that wants to make sure their video game dude does not run through walls and move predictably when they slink along a wall, here you go. The sample code is so well-commented and easy to understand that I got it (almost) perfectly working in my program under an hour.

The only problem was with the edge-sphere test. If that code gets left alone, the rolling ball will probably “fall through the cracks”. Not what I want from a type of game that requires focus and good control. Once I get this fixed, I can get back to working on the controls.

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Keeping the ball rolling with this game

November 3, 2007

Screenshot

For my first Monkey Ball clone update, here’s a screenshot of what’s coming up so far. Last week I’ve tested some textures and using my own state manager display to handle the switching between parts of the game. That would be put aside until much later. And for obvious reasons, I won’t actually be using the monkeys in the game.

Right now I have to work on the controls. Using the PSP’s single joystick makes sense for tilting the level in this game, and already took care of the “dead zone” in the middle. I’m still not set at the maximum angles in which it should tilt, though. The camera would have to be just far enough so that the floor won’t completely obscure the player’s view. Using the camera to point where I want it to was easier than I thought.

As a test for the bounce, I have the ball falling from a great height to the floor and having the camera rotate to follow it. That worked pretty well. The actual tilt doesn’t move the ball, though. For debugging purposes, the ball is moved with the D-pad around a fixed camera. This creates a movement area where the player can circumnavigate with Left or Right, the preferred control scheme for a fixed camera. In practice, the camera would be following the moving ball as the floor is tilted. But more on how that will work for another day. Next on the list, polygonal collision detection. Hope you like math…


First post of a development log.

October 30, 2007

For over a year I’ve been an active member of the PSP homebrew community and just now hoping to make a significant release sometime in the future. I’ve programmed some simple utility software but now it’s time to aim bigger. Development for 3D homebrew is slowly growing and I want to make my contribution with a game. So this is the first time I will publicly announce it will be a Super Monkey Ball-style game, in full 3D of course. My reasons for this choice are that it’s not too broad and ambitious like so many RPG projects out there, and it doesn’t demand a lot of creative assets (like storyline, characters, etc) meaning I won’t have much to distract me from working on the gameplay.

However, making a Monkey Ball clone is harder than once thought, mostly because of its deceptively simple gameplay. Simply put, the whole game revolves around physics. Good ol’ physics that need some time to work out the nasty math stuff. So right away I knew physics would be the first (and possibly biggest) technical hurdle I must encounter, and this is the area I’m currently working on. Burying myself under a lot of code and examples, this is definitely a new area for me to work with, but it will be a nice learning process. Currently I’m doing everything on the PC so I can progress faster, and the physics code itself should be easy to port to the PSP since there are virtually no dependencies.

This is something I want to be in for the long haul and I want this to be one of the best PSP homebrew out there (there will be a PC version too). So I’ll keep you posted on the progress, and many posts will vary from the purely technical to the broad and wide-reaching. Perhaps, through my steps in figuring things out, I hope that others might find this information useful as well.


Sonic for SSBB confirmed – Official German site

October 10, 2007

Sonic vs. Mario

Well, all speculations about Sonic being in Smash Bros. Brawl are put to rest- the blue blur will make his debut in Nintendo’s popular fighting series! As of this posting, the American English site has not listed this bit of news yet- it was found in the German version of the site. Maybe the maintainers of the site are working on it, or maybe this news is supposed to be only present for October 10, since the US is just starting on that day. Whatever the case may be, with Sonic and Snake as newcomers, a lot of big third-party characters are fair game now. LET US THROW OPEN THE FLOOR TO WILD ACCUSATIONS!!

Ahem. From the video, looks like Sonic is a bit too fast for his own good. Yeah, it’s Sonic the Hedgehog. But everything about him, not just his running, goes at a rapid pace. His punches, jumps, kicks- he might just give Sheik and Ganondorf a run for their money. Holy unbalanced fighting, Batman! But wait- maybe his attacks might be toned down damage-wise, as well as be less tolerant of taking damage from others. The video also hints at a Super Sonic starring along. Maybe as a hard-to-get unlockable character?


The best (free!) puzzle game for PSP.

October 10, 2007

Hexaxis

Hexaxis XXI is a puzzle game that started life on the PC and has been ported successfully to the PSP. Developer Darksoft has just released a new update for the homebrew title (version 8), and it’s almost as good as the big screen version. Look familiar to some of you? Yes, it’s based off of Devil Dice and the more recent Bombastic, but with Hexaxis you can get it for the low, low price of free. However, it’s not a total copycat. Hexaxis has added a few twists- most noticeably, the playing field is tilted vertically and feels a bit like Tetris. While in Devil Dice you can move the dice in any direction, here the dice fall from the top, moving them left or right before they reach the end. The game’s presentation is very polished for a PSP homebrew title, including some pro-sounding music as well as a 3D interface. If you have a homebrew-ready PSP (this won’t work on official Sony firmware), this game is a great addition for any puzzle enthusiast.


$400 PS3 seems very likely

October 8, 2007

PS3 and hard drive

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 could be getting some hefty competition in terms of price and value. The rumor of a 40GB PS3 in North America is spreading even faster. This model is supposed to retail for around $400. GamesIndustry reports that it will likely come out in the month of November, ready for the holiday season. Aside from smaller hard drive, it will have 2 USB ports instead of 4. The Europe 40GB model came out of the need for a cheaper PS3. Right now, the Xbox 360 is enjoying a nice sales lead over the PS3 in N. America. Would this new cheaper alternative be enough to surpass the Xbox’s sales in the future?


PSP strategy on the go for October

September 28, 2007

The PSP is getting many games for a surprisingly hefty amount of big franchises like Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, SOCOM, and even Manhunt. But as a fan of deep customization, my money is literally on Disgaea-Afternoon of Darkness, and Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions. And for some old-school thrills, Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles. Guess it’s just my thing for games with 2D sprites in 3D lands.

Disgaea

Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles

FFT War of the Lions

After the disappointing cancellation of Makai Wars (which is apparently moving to PS3) and the overly convoluted Generation of Chaos, you would surely feel at home with Disgaea and FFT. I’ll admit, I never finished the original Disgaea because I usually play games on the TV in short bursts and not very often. You can say I’m more of a portable gaming junkie. Which is why Disgaea and FFT in portable form will suit me well.

Disgaea’s graphics appear unchanged, while War of the Lions will feature substantial graphical upgrades since it’s a port of a game from two console generations ago. Out of the two strategy games, the faster, twitchy gameplay of Disgaea appears to be the better fit for the portable, unless Square has added some gameplay enhancements for its own game.

In the meantime, I will first put an investment on Jeanne of Arc and see if it’s worth your time.


Developers of Shrek video game steal Nintendo’s music and get away with it…for now

September 23, 2007

Here’s something that’s not reported often, mainly since it appeared in the blog of an IGN staff member and not their main site. Still it’s a hidden gem of information that’s should be interesting for fans of Nintendo and in particular, its Zelda franchise. Mark Bozon from IGN was in a bit of a surprise when he listened to the music of Shrek’s Dragon Tale for the V-Tech Vsmile Pocket system. One of my cousins bought this for his son, so this bulky contraption is familiar to me. I don’t remember him having this game, and it’s an edutainment game that normally no serious gamer would’ve cared, but this game straight off takes TWO songs from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can view the video by clicking on the image below.

Shrek Dragon’s Tale

Now, this isn’t just a derivative or inspiration from the OoT music; the developers of the Shrek game flat out made a COMPLETE RIP of the music, and all they did was tack on some drum beats. I believe the first track is from inside Link’s house, and the second one is Kokiri Forest, but correct me if I’m wrong, guys. I don’t think Nintendo knows about it yet, but hey, they’re open to a lot of the email they get so it shouldn’t be hard to get them to take a look for themselves.


Hit F5 – refresh and take in the news.

September 20, 2007

Boy, I need to pay more attention to my blogging duties. I’d just want to let you know that my new website, Hit F5 (formerly GamingPal) has been up and running for two weeks now, in an experimental phase. It is a web portal, for news on video games collected from various news feeds. More feeds will be added every week, so you can have a fully customized repository for video game news.

Traffic is growing ever so slightly since its start but it’s already getting its share of loyal visitors. It experienced a huge traffic spike on the 17th of September, the second busiest day since the site launched. My guess is that it had to do with the anticipation of the Halo 3 launch. Many stories about that have made the front page.

Visit the website at and be sure to register to take advantage of its features and tell your friends about it!


New update on GamingPal

April 26, 2007

Hey, it’s been a while since I added anything new to this still very new blog, but here goes. GamingPal is nearing completion and could be ready within a week or two. It will launch with the basic features which include rating peoples’ posts and articles. Right now the form for adding articles needs the most attention. It works but not without some exploitable flaws.

It also has a new look, so expect the site to look a lot like this when it goes live:

GamingPal screenshot