Thursday, November 03, 2005

Slow in posting

What I've been up to
Life's been a bit hectic in the development arena.

On the 21st of October I got a warning that I might be called on to do a PSP Demo (for Kiosks).  The following monday it was confirmed, with a pretty aggressive schedule. But, the hard part is now over, so life should get back to something resembling normal.

Some thoughts
Yesterday, I was talking to Colin, the coder that sits beside me.  We got talking about Dev Studio and some features we'd like to see.  Recently, I've been playing with using vim for text editing (Working on multiple PSP branches made me realize that Dev Studio might not be the best place to live).  Anyway, one thing that came up in the "What's missing in Dev Studio" discussion was the lack of control over colour schemes.  More specifically, the lack of ability to get a decent colour layout from a 'central theme repository" a la Deviant Art or some other desktop customization place.

This made me remember my old days of working with Borlands Turbo C++ and the fact that they used to have colour 'themes' for their code colorization.  And this also got me thinking about how difficult/easy it might be to add a feature like this to Dev Studio (2003 and 2005).  So, as part of my pet project list, I think that would be a worth while time sink.

Now if I could just find those old colour schemes from Turbo C++ ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Stuff not to do when creating an installer ...

So, my project is all but finished (unless Sony comes back and wants us to change things, which they probably will).

And I have a routine where I go about and clear up my Hard Drive of wasted space.  There's lots of it.  There's a cool little program (when it's not crashing) called spacemonger (google for it ... you know you wanna) that gives you a quad tree based layout of your Hard Drive based on file/directory size.  This is cool, and it pointed out several folders with a huge amount of wasted space.

Now, aside from the bloat sitting in the Internet Explorer temporary folders, I also noticed a fair bit of bulk residing in temporary 'installer' folders.  Things like Adobe Acrobat, MS Office (ya ya, I know, I know.  They're needed in case I want to install more office crap.  But I'm currently happy with my install).  So, like a good schmuck, I go ahead and delete them.

And all is well in the world.  Except that a large number of desktop icon and file association icons are now empty.  Because it can't find the icons.  Because they bound the icons to the *installation SOURCE folder* location, not the actual installation DESTINATION folder.

Dear 'legitimate' business software developers.  Please stop being retarded.

Thanks.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Well now. The project is just about done. Lots of long days (this week was a sleepover week, thank god for comfy couches) and many tough decisions.

But we're almost done. And now I sorta kinda feel a bit depressed about it.

Why?

I think a lot of it has to do with things that we wanted to get done and just didn't have the manpower to do. For this project, I have a fair bit of "Woulda shoulda coulda"-itis. I'm immensely proud of the project, considering where we started, but if I had it to do all over again, I certainly would have done a lot of things differently. But that's the joy of working in a new medium (PSP). Lots and lots of things learned. I'll do a post mortem very, very soon.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cool little utility du jour

One of the things that I always wanted to write was an app similar to this.  I may still go in and modify it, since you can get at the source code.  However, check this out:

http://www.codeproject.com/tools/ToDoList2.asp

So, it's exactly what it sounds like.  A to-do list.  Really easy to use, quite customizable, exports out to HTML, the whole shooting match.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Just for some clarification ...

I won't be using this blog to discuss any day to day happenings are my work.  This blog is meant more for personal meanderings *about* the game development process as I see it, as well as discussion of programming topics that are triggered by work.

So don't expect to see any juicy insider game gossip.  It's just a programmer's set of ramblings about the development process.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Project Task Meanderings

So, I'm sitting here, contemplating the next step that I will be taking for the next project.  I'm currently in that wonderful place that exists between the project going gold, having zero bugs and not quite being in pre-production for the next project.

Anywho,

For the last three projects that I've been on, I've been a generalist.  What does that mean? Essentially it means that when something breaks, I fix it.  If something needs to be created, I create it.  No real area of expertise, but a good, solid, all around understanding of all the things going on in the game.

Now it's time to specialize.

The opportunity came up about a month ago, as planning for the next game started in earnest.  I was sitting around, talking with my leads about the next project.  I remember mentioning to the project manager that I had a yen to work on Game Cameras, in game Cinematic (Non-Interactive Sequences) and their ilk.  However the Tech lead was currently doing all that work.  And was swamped to the gills.  The project lead told me to, essentially, get in touch with the Tech Lead as soon as I humanly could and let him know this.  Because he was swamped with the work and really needed someone to look after those systems for the next title.

And that, as they say in your language, was how I managed to become the Camera systems programmer on the next project.

So, one of the things that I'm going to end up talking about a fair bit are some of the things I'll be exploring in that realm.  As well, I'll be doing a fair bit of research, book wise, on topics relating to in-game cinematics and 3rd person camera navigation.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Why remote computing doesn't work in the games industry ...

On Friday night, I'm busy working away.  I figure, "Hey, Maybe I won't have to come in this weekend".  Lots of things are getting done and my bug count is next to zero (seriously, by next to zero, I mean one ... which is the number next to zero ... but I digress).  So I settle in for a casual weekend.

Then on Saturday the phone call comes in.

See, we're doing the localization ourselves, but QA is in Dublin.  Apparently there's a problem with the build.  And, me being the social creature that I am, people have a way of getting a hold of me.  So I come in on Suday to get fixes in place. But wouldn't it be great if I could have done this from home?

Well, the problem is, there's no way for me to actually be able to do this from home.  Sure, I can access network resources from home.  Well, I can't, but that's a network issue that will just take some time to resolve.  That's a trivial problem to resolve.

See, the problem is, I'm working on a console project.  More specifically, a PSP project.  So in order for me to test the problem, I'm going to need access to an actual, honest to god Dev Kit in order to make the changes and see if they'll work.  Sure I can re-compile everything here at home, via remote access, but I then have to burn a DVD and physically place the DVD into the dev kit.

That's not going to happen from home.

So here I sit, on a Sunday, waiting for a build to finish. So I can put the DVD into the Dev Tray and see if the build works now.

And for the record, it doesn't.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Testing from email

Just a quick test to see what it takes to post from email.

__BEGIN __ So, I decided that I would put together a blog. Several reasons for this.
  • First off, in about 3 weeks (or so) I'm going to be moving on to a new game and I thought I'd try to document the development process as much as NDAs would allow me to do so.
  • I'd like to keep track of some things that I've developed and learned along the way. And share them with fellow developers. Again, NDAs willing.
  • Prep some ideas for a GDC presentation I'd like to give.
  • I finally got around to reading "Masters of Doom". Reading about Carmak's .plan files got me thinking that this might just be the creative outlet I need as part of my development process. Not comparing myself to Carmak, y'understand. I'm more like Romero :)
You won't see a lot of personal crap from me here in this blog, aside from some observataions about people in general, the development process and the like. I'm going to try to keep it a programming and development centric as is possible. But I like to talk. So who knows where I'll go with this. Some History I've been programming for what feels like forever now. I started out on a Tandy Color Computer way, way, WAAAY back in the day. Took a break from coding during my high school years to learn to play guitar. Then when I had to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, computers seemed to be the best option for me. That and I really wanted to write games. Or get into space. After one long trek through the development community took me a fair bit across the country. I'm originally from New Brunswick, Canada, but eventually settled in British Columbia. I did a brief (14 months) stint at Ubisoft Montreal, working on Splinter Cell Chaos Theory for PS2. The opportunity to move back to BC presented itself in a most timely fashion, so I came to Radical Entertainment to work on Crash - Tag Team Racing. The sub-team I got onto was the PSP sku. Been happy ever since. Oddly enough, my first day at Radical co-incided with that being the day that Vivendi Universal also bought them. So, in theory, I'm the first Radical/VUG employee. Go Me.