Thursday, August 31, 2006

XNA , Working Hard and Jesus

On one hand I am very pleased with XNA because it removes all the plumming that I stumbled on when I last tried to learn Managed DirectX. However the documentation is weak and I am frustrated at how little I am grasping. This is normal whenever I try to learn something new so proably isn't such a negative comment.

I still have some in-roads to understanding the structure, but I would do better with more C# exsperiance. I can read the code, but formulating my own is a little tricky because I have only just learned C#.

Nobody ever mastered anything in a day so it's just something I have to stick at. And that got me thinking nobody talks about wither Jesus was a good carpentor or no. He seemed to spend most of his life walking around the holy-land and there isn't any mention of his carpentory in the bible or any pices still in exsistance. So he couldn't have been that good. Maybe if he had applied himself a little more he could have produced some great works like Chippendale.

Flight Simulator X Beta

I just got my beta key for Flight Simulator X and the download is 8.2GB!!!
On my download stream of 250KB/s that's nine and a half hours!!!

Additional: Didn't get around to playing any of the beta because the install was just too big.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

XNA Studio Beta1

I just finished having a play with SpaceWar, the XNA redux version of 1962 original. Seems poinient to use the worlds first direct input video game as the starter kit game (starter kit means that the code has more comments than usual).

Anyway if you are curious to know what XNA looks like, below is a screenshot.

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Yes it's just C# Express with a project loaded. If you want to give it a go Here is a link to the beta, but you are also going to need to install C# Express and the DirectX Software Development Kit before you are able to play around with it properly.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

.Net Debug Mode Performance Hit

Been running some memory intensive code (not a lot of memory, but a lot of calls to memory) in Visual Studio and from running my application in Debug Mode to compiling the application to a Release Build there is a 60% jump in performance.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Random Fact

Chickens are easier to pluck just after death, when their bodies are still warm.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Evaluating Battlefield 2142

Although I can't say anything about Battlefield 2142 because of the Confidentiality Agreement. I can tell you that I was playing it all day. And that during that period I got very angry, shook my fist a lot, threw my arms up in the air repeatedly and stormed out of the room several times.

I can also say after reading the Beta Forums, that Battlefield 2142 is simply a modded versions of Battlefield 2.

Another Reason To Stay Up

I WAS going to go bed, but I just checked my email and got my Battlefield 2142 Beta Key!

Been reading the Licence Agreement (hay it's a 1.2GB download) and the Confidentiality Agreement stops me from posting screenshots:
(ii) you will not use the Beta-Test Materials for any purpose other than for Evaluation

(iv) you will carry out the Evaluation personally and will not provide access to the Beta-Test Materials to any other person
So although subsection two alone doesn't say anything about not publicly evaluating the beta by posting details here, subsection four stops me from doing that. And there is another part that says I can only review the beta material for the purposes of evaluating the product as part of the beta program which means I can't say anything about it here either. Darn those lawyers, they think of everything.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gamers Too Lazy To Play Wii

Peter Molyneux Says the biggest hurdle the Wii has to face is the fact gamers like to be lazy.

I agree with him 100% purely because my laziness is the only reason why I don't play any Rockstar Table Tennis. See if I didn't have to physically put the disk in the drive I would be playing that instead of so much Geometry Wars.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Texas Hold 'em

If you have an 360 Live account you can now download Texas Hold 'em free for another 24 hours. If you don't download it tomorrow then you will need to pay 800MsPoints to get it. I have played it an no way it it worth 800 points, but as a free game it is ok.

Microsoft Blocks Sony

Back in the late 70's and early 80's when Atari started the home console revolution Nolan Bushnell founder of the company made sure that he has exclusive contracts with all five of the companies on the planet that could make the chips needed for production of a home console. This blocked competition for years, but when the company was sold to Warner Communications the new company didn't see any point in spending $50,000 to $100,000 a year in keeping those contracts so this brought rise to competition.

Anyway Microsoft is doing a similar thing. They Just Announced that they have exclusive next generation rights to both FIFA 07 and Pro Evolution Soccer 6. So although both these games are coming out for current gen consoles as well, they will not be making an appearance on the PS3.

This is going to make a huge dent in PS3 sales in the UK and other Football loving nations.

Internet Trouble

My ISP Wanadoo got bought by Orange and things where good for a time, but then they tried moving me over to some new servers and that stopped me from being able to access a load of websites including:

Which I use daily so I was fairly annoyed, but I thought I would give them a few hours to get it sorted. However after a week it has become a right pain so I went looking for a solution on I knew at this time that it was a DNS issue, but wanted to see what other people where doing to fix it.

My thoughts where towards setting up a local DNS server, but someone pointed to OpenDNS a project that speeds up DNS access, blocks phishing sites and corrects misspelled URLs. They make profit from placing adverts on a page when you request a site address that doesn't exist.

This thing is SO much faster. MySpace (which is the site they say people will notice the most difference on) loads almost instantly. DNS lookup is loads faster. So even when Orange sort this problem out I will be sticking with OpenDNS.

Internet Explorer 7 Feature Compleate and Locked

The IETeam is Locking-down IE7 meaning that once it is locked nobody can touch it because it has gone through all the standards testing and has come through clean. There is always the change that somebody will find something, but this will happen after it is launched.

The launch will come as a Critical Update from Windows Update Service. If you don't want IE7 then you had better download IE7 Blocker soon because there is no telling when it could be released.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nickelodeon Video Game Coverage From 1981

YouTube has a Nickelodeon LiveWire episode from 1981.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The thing that surprises me is that Video Game coverage hasn't improved any in the years since this was made and that even then there was a force of concerned parents that where afraid of the effects of video games.

Free Energy Not an ARG

There is currently a lot of speculation around a company in Ireland called Steorn that says it has created a way of making free energy with the use of magnets, is really an Alternative Reality Game for Halo3, LOST or something else.

The Halo guys are going made because because Steorn's Registration Page has a picture of a honeycomb at the top and Team XBox posted about it.

I do not believe this is an ARG not because they have registered a Registered Job Page, not because they Registered The Company in 2000, not because this was News Back In May, not because they have a US Patent or EU Patent with a Diagram, but instead because they have a Forum.

Never before have I seen an ARG with a forum and for that reason I do not believe that this is an ARG.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Presentation Nightmares

Scott Guthrie a General Manager at Microsoft has just posted a link to some Presentation Nightmares and they are some good stories.

FBI's Computer System Case Study

I thought the NHS was in a bind with their computer systems, but the FBI's Problems detailed in This Case Study are far more serious.

In 1995 they had a mainframe system installed that had a green screen text only interface, it doesn't do photos or scanned reports. When this was installed it was out of date, but this is the same system that even now after 9/11 the FBI is trying to catch terrorists with. When 9/11 hit they had to FAX photos of the suspects because they couldn't send secure email.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Learning C#

Have started learning C# so that hopefully by the 30th I can do some stuff in XNA. I don't expect by then to be as good in C# as I am in VB and I have no idea what new paradigms I will need to learn to use XNA, but by the time the Beta comes out I should be able to explore it a little. Maybe even complete the tutorials that come in the documentation, if any.

For learning C# I have bought Inside C# which assumes the reader can already program some C, C++ or Java. I can't so have started off with some beginner videos over at and I completely forgot how good that site is. I started off by doing a console application and I then realised that I haven't ever done a .Net console application before because in VB you traditionally start by programming forms.

It's going to get some getting used to, but I think I might like C# a lot.

Star Wars III: A Lost Hope

I have seen a few Star Wars parodies and most of them are very bad and most of the the others are just bad, but A Lost Hope (checkout the mirrors for a good download) is great because they didn't try to redo an entire film, but just a parody trailer. So maybe there is a lesson there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shipping Vista Song

For some reason Programming and Playing Music seem to go hand in hand. Musicians seem to be able to apply themselves to programming easier than it takes everyone else. So it is no surprise to me when a song like Shipping Vista comes along once in a while as there are some very talented musicians behind a lot of the applications we all use every day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Microsoft Knows What It's Doing

There is a lot of talk at the moment about Nintendo changing the video games industry and opening up new demographics, but I just finished listening to the Gamefest Keynote where Microsoft made the XNA Express announcement and it is very clear that they really know what they are doing.

They know very well that by making game development more accessible they are going to be opening doors, start to fill the skills gap in the industry and give a lot of gamers exactly what they have wanted for years. Microsoft has yet to prove itself on wither it can deliver in bringing game development to the motivated and my main concern is with the documentation because that is where I have failed when I have repeatedly tried to get to grips with DirectX previously.

My favourite part of the presentation is where the Garage Games guy (Mark Frohnmayer) talked about their experience with porting Marble Blast Ultra to C# and their amazement that there wasn't much slowdown. I love this because this is a developer standing on stage saying to other developers that there is another way than Assembler and C++.

Code written in Assembler is faster than code written in C++, which is faster than code written in C# and other .Net languages, but considering that .Net code takes less time to create (always), it gives more time for work on bug fixing and performance tweaks. For this reason I think that within a year there will be some game or tech demo out that is written in C# running on XNA that looks just as good, if not better than the best looking AAA title on the 360 written in C++ and assembler.

Nintendo might be rolling the dice with changing the industry by developing quirky new hardware, but on Microsoft's part it is a firm concerted effort.

Monday, August 14, 2006

XNA and C#

I have been reading the XNA Express FAQ and it appears that XNA is a copy of the .Net Compact Framework which was originally made for use on PDA and other portable devices that run off of battery. The team has taken that version of the .Net Framework and added a few features to support stuff like 3D Acceleration and other stuff associated with games. As of right now the team only has a C# compiler for the XNA Framework so the coming express edition will only support C#, however they are considering supporting other languages and it is very likely that someone other than Microsoft could write a compiler to support other languages.

This means of course that within a week I will be steeped into learning C# as the only reason I got into computers to begin with was because of video games and I have repeatedly tried and failed to learn to program 3D games using DirectX.
Interestingly is that because XNA is built on the Compact Framework, supporting Mobile phones would be very easy if they started to use 3D chips in them.

If you are a developer and want to get into Beta 1, send me an email and I will tell you where you can signup. I would link here, but there is probably only going to be a limited number of slots for Beta 1 and that shouldn't be filled up with people who will just download the application and then never use it.

XNA Studio Express

On August the 30th Microsoft will be releasing Beta 1 of XNA Studio Express that is a feature cut version of XNA Studio Professional so that anybody can make games for their PC using more centralised tools.

When the product is released later this year users will be able to pay Microsoft $99 to join the "Creators Club" which will probably have documentation and a forum for people who are trying to make games using XNA studio, but will also allow members to run their code directly on the XBox360.

The press release is Here

The language or languages that Microsoft will be supporting or providing documentation for has not yet been said, but to put a slight lid on a lot of the excitement people have been having today about the prospect of making games at home, game development up until now has only been done well by teams of dedicated individuals for a reason and although this centralises all the tools and skills necessary to produce a game I don't think it is going to make the task any smaller.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

All Geometry Wars Achievements Are Belong To Me!

Just got the 'Earn x10 multiplier' and 'Earn 1,000,000 points without dying' achievements on Geometry Wars. Meaning I have finally earned all the achievements on Geometry Wars!!!
I almost beat my Highscore too, but I think that is high enough as it is now.

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O' yes and I was listening to a debate on the game censorship. While playing I again went into a lethargic state of mind because the debate isn't covering any new ground at all. Parents must control what games kids play. Games are no worse than other mediums. All any informed panel does in these debates is agree.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lego Head in Dead Rising

The Lego head that can be placed on Zombie's Heads in Dead Rising (See Screenshot). Is not a Lego head at all, but a Servbot head from Mega Man Legends.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Arcade Release Schedule

This week Pac Man is this Wednesday on XBLA. And here is what comes for the next four weeks after that:

Aug 16th - Texas Hold em Poker
Was going to be free, but the sponsor pulled out so now everybody is going to have to buy it.

Aug 23rd - Time Pilot
That old game where you are a plain and have to rescue pilots in different time periods.

Aug 30th - Scramble
I had this on my BBC and as much as I loved it I never completed the first level.

Sep 6th - Lumines Live!
The PSP game, but on the 360 with some downloadable stuff.

GameCube: A Video History That Never Was

This Page as a load of GameCube preview videos of cancelled projects. And looking at the first video it is VERY clear why everybody thought that the first Zelda game on the GameCube wasn't to be cell shaded. The video of Link fighting is clearly separate from the Smash Brothers video.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Samorost That Artsy Flash Puzzle Game

There is an artsy flash puzzle game that you might have played called Samorost where a small guy has to stop a floating thing from crashing into his home. This has spawned a few poor imitators like Haluz where you have to rescue a satellite dish from a bird, but now Samorost 2 is out.

It is much like the first only the guy's dog is stolen by some aliens. After completing the first level you will be asked to purchase the full version. I have and I can tell you that by that time, you have already played through the best of the game so it probably isn't worth the purchase, but as a whole Samorost 2 is everything the original was. The only good thing about buying the full game is that the audio is much better.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Read Rising Demo

There are lots of Zombies. All items in the game have two actions to them depending on wither you press or hold the X button. It's good, but it's out September 8th and Saints Row is out on the 1st. So I will already be playing that and I don't want to be in a situation where I am playing two games (that never goes well) so I won't be putting down a pre-order, but I will be buying Dead Rising when I don't have anything else to play.

Additional: Dead Rising is out in the US the 8th this month and in the UK the 8th next month. For some reason.

Geometry Wars High Score

Just beat my Geo Wars high score again and just like Last Time I was again listening to a Programmer Podcast this time on reflection. My highscore now stands at 2,158,680 points.

The odd thing about me listening to code related podcasts and doing well at Geo Wars must be mindset. Another odd thing with this is that on both occasions these where podcasts that where talking about code related stuff that is still way over my head. I still listen to them in the hope that I can pickup something and understand more about an area that I am not familiar with. This normally fails, but it puts me in a very lethargic mindset.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Always Work Safe

There is this guy who has just had is office change to an open plan so his boss can keep an eye on what everybody is doing on their computers. So he made this site called which makes all websites look like a word document.

The site is being hammered badly right now so it might be a little slow to load, but it is worth the wait.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Minor Vindication on Game Difficulty

Back in the early 90's I always believed that games where too hard and now with the released of Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting (that's the first version of SF that allowed special moves to be preformed in mid-air) on XBox Live Arcade the SF Forum on if full of people complaining how difficult the game is. I played the trial version earlier, it is exactly as I remember it and I still barely get past the first opponent on easy.

Sometimes when playing games from that period I feel like it is only me that had a problem with them, but people complaining about SF being too difficult makes me feel a whole lot better.

It's funny how a lot of people complain how easy newer games are. Making a game very difficult was ok in the 80's where a game world consisted of just one level, but not now with large free roaming environments. The necessity of limiting a player's exploration no-longer exists so games can be made more fun by lowering the difficulty and allowing the player to explore the virtual environment that has been created for the game. Through this they can discover a lot of small nuances about the game and follow deep storylines.

This however makes old-school gamers feel somewhat frustrated because they aren't used to playing games where they aren't dieing every nine seconds. Well boo hoo to them, viva la revolution. No-longer do I have to play the same level day in and day out just to get my moneys worth from a title. I can actually sit down and follow the plot from start to finish and games actually HAVE plots now!
Ok difficulty balancing is a fine art, certainly the end boss in a game should be hard and the start of the game should be easy, but those days where everybody had three lives to complete a game with is dead, gone and good riddance.

Saints Row 360 Demo

Just been playing the Saints Row Demo from Marketplace and after posting this I am going to put in a pre-order down because it is one very nice game. Saints Row is a blatant GTA rip-off, but I don't care because it is so much better. The combat is done really well and without a gun lock-on mode anywhere in sight.

The last GTA game I properly played was GTA3 which I had for the PC. The one thing I hated about it more than anything was the stupid floaty boat cars which would always rock from side to side on the road because the car suspension was simulated so badly. It was like all the cars floated on a cushion of air. The cars in Saints Row however drive very well indeed and feel great. The game has a GPS mapping system so you can always get to your destination quickly and in the full game you will be able to customise and properly pimp-up cars. Even get them rescued if your baby blows up.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sound Card on a Cable

If you have a guitar and haven't got the money for expensive music equipment then imagine a cable where at one end you have a 1/4” sound jack and a USB head at the other. This cable would do analogue to digital conversion inside the cable and come with drivers so it would be an independent sound device connected directly to your musical instrument of choice. Well that's what a LightSnake is.

I seen this yesterday and it sounds very cool. An even cheaper option however is to plug your guitar or musical instrument of choice directly into a sound card. All you need is a 1/4” to 3.5mm Converter Adaptor.

To Delay or Not To Delay Windows Vista

Robert McLaws over at has an interesting post titled Vista Needs More Time: The Entry I Didn't Want To Write. Which talks about how Vista needs to be delayed just a few more weeks to make it right for launch.

This is an interesting problem in most kinds of development because the product is already delayed, but there is call for a further delay. The problem with a decision to delay it further is that some projects never get launched because there is always something that could be done better with a bit more development time. One of the first things anybody should realise is that the most important feature of any commercial project, is that it must ship. So the choice to delay by even just a few weeks will be a difficult one to make. As in Vista's case there are probably other companies that are going to suffer further because further delays. It is not uncommon for some to go under because of such things.

Microsoft has a reputation of releasing new versions of it's OS unfinished. This always plagues early adopters and the reputation of the OS throughout it's life. I am not sure wither first impressions are the most lasting impressions, but certainly a good out-of-the-box experience helps all products. So in my view Vista is already late so they might as well make it worth waiting for. It's like being late to an important interview. You can either be five minuets late and be unprepared, or be twenty minuets late and have all your shit together. You are already noted as being late so wither that is ten minuets or half an hour might not make that much of a difference.