January 26, 2015

Global Game Jam 2015

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A year gone by and it is time again for Global Game Jam here in Kuala Lumpur. At thousands of locations around the world, people got together in small teams to create a game from scratch in 48 hours. In Malaysia 15 teams totaling around 70 people took part. This included me.

Together with four teammates, we created EAT! (the source and windows executable can be downloaded here). A game about deciding where to eat when everyone wants something different. It is quite simple. The 4 friends walk down the street and the player presses space to enter a restaurant as they pass. The happier the friends are with the food available, the more points and more time you have to play.

EAT

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January 16, 2015

Goals

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There is the theory of the Moebius, a twist in the fabric of space where time becomes a loop.

Wise words from Worf.

It seems like I have the same goals every year now. Might as well embrace it. Without shame I propose my goals for the coming year to be exactly the same as last year (again). At least it will be an easy cut’n’paste job.

Here are the goals:

  • Finish or nearly finish Concealed Intent to a saleable level. I want to complete the game to at least public beta where it just requires some fine-tuning and bug-fixing. The aim is to sell the finished game and at least break even.
  • Blog on my personal website at least 3 times a month, but less than 4 times a month. Post at Jarrah Technology at least once a month. Also try to be more active on other online media, eg Twitter, Facebook (which is huge in Malaysia), etc.
  • Exercise. No specific target, just try to improve my fitness levels and continue weightlifting (which I have started in the last year). Try to stay injury-free.

Last year, my results were mixed. Obviously Concealed Intent is not finished. However, if I can’t get it finished this year I might as well give up – it is so close. I successfully blogged at the required rate, I’m beginning to find this quite easy now. At 3 posts/month there is never a lack of things to write about. Last year I kept up the weightlifting and the weights keep increasing. Aerobic fitness is another matter – that needs some attention.


January 5, 2015

Quitting Eve Online

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I have stopped playing Eve Online. I started taking a look at this influential game several months ago and kept playing during spare moments. I leave having spent very little in real money (about £10 over 6 months), but having wasted far too much precious time. So have my thoughts on the game changed since the initial impression? Not much.

I played just enough EVE each month to cover the subscription fees with in-game money (buying PLEX for 30 days game time). Although my in-game income increased with experience, the time available to play only decreased (with work on Concealed Intent). It was becoming increasingly hard to reach the PLEX target. In the last month PLEX prices dropped and I took the extra saved to buy in-game items that increased my per-hour earnings. I messed up and bought the wrong ones. At this point came the question “why am I doing this?” Without a good answer I just stopped.

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December 20, 2014

MITx Introduction to Game Design

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This was first posted on the Jarrah Technology Blog, but I thought it also fit here.

At the moment there is an Introduction to Game-Design course given by the MIT Game Lab on the EdX website. It aims to teach the basic tools of game design (namely prototyping, iteration and testing) in a practical manner. I followed the coursework, finishing with pages of notes and heard some interesting stories. Unfortunately due to time constraints, considering the need to finish Concealed Intent, I didn’t participate in the the practical parts of the course. Still, I would definitely recommend that people relatively new to game design at least peruse the videos. The advice proffered includes many of the the lessons I learnt the hard way. Hopefully further mistakes can be avoided thanks to the course’s suggestions.

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December 14, 2014

ANU-ASTRO3x The Violent Universe

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The series of introductory astronomy courses from ANU at EdX continues with ANU-ASTRO3x The Violent Universe, covering high-energy events and the remnants of stellar explosions. The structure of the course is exactly the same as Part 1 on Great Unsolved Mysteries and Part 2 on Exoplanets. It is a 9-week course with about an hour per week of video lectures. There are also mini-tests and a homework assignment each week with a final exam. The exam is based on a “mystery” universe nullifying real-world knowledge and forcing the student to fall back on basic principles. The lectures are almost a conversational back-and-forth between the presenters Paul Francis and Brian Schmidt (with pictures and notes appearing projected behind them).

The course starts by looking at Sirius B. In the 1800’s it was determined that Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) was wobbling and must be orbiting another small body with a mass about the same of our Sun. This led to the discovery of white dwarf stars. These stars are about as heavy as the Sun, but only as large as the Earth. They also have a tendency to accrete disks of matter from any larger and less dense companions. This in turn can result in dwarf novae, where instability in the accretion disc causes a burst of energy; and, classical novae when hydrogen from the disc builds up on the white dwarf, eventually exploding. White dwarves can also cause the much large type Ia supernovae, where enough material accretes on the white dwarf to start carbon fusion and a runaway thermonuclear explosion. Other types of supernovae result from large stars (much larger than our Sun) reaching the end of their life and exploding after their core collapses. The remnant of such an event is a neutron star or maybe even a black hole.

The difficulty level of these courses only seems to decrease. It is now so easy I didn’t feel there was any value in spending the time to complete the assessments – just watching the videos seemed enough. The lectures still run through the basic maths at the algebraic level (no calculus), but the assignment is often a multiple choice question or much simpler maths question.

Entertaining and informative videos, not sure about the value of the assessment and resulting certification.