A Small Update

Wow, last week was an intense week, focusing on pretty much Tilt to Live exclusively. Took a nice break/road trip up to North Carolina to do a bit of snowboarding to cap off the week. Conditions weren’t that great, but it was close, cheap, and still fun versus going back out to Colorado. Back today somewhat recharged and ready to go. Haven’t had time to work in Blitzmax at all last week, I hope that’ll change after this week as well.

I’m planning on doing a redesign of my blog as well. I like the theme, but the really thin layout and bad font choice hurts readability. When the RSS feed is more pleasant to read there is something wrong. I may simply just widen the template, and pick a more readable font. Hopefully after that it’ll be more functional.

I haven’t done anything concrete yet, but I know for our next game we’re going to look into using Google App Engine for some of the functionality, as well as Push Notifications. ┬áKen Carpenter over at Mind Juice had a really nice write up about it. it’s pretty exciting to see how large scale technologies are becoming affordable for even 1 or 2 man shops. Trying to launch a game with a potentially huge influx of users and data use to be only in the realm of studios with large amounts of funding.

The news that Garage Games is back and is going to continue to sell their Torque line of game development tools is great to hear. I used TorqueX to develop Gunstyle on XNA and it was a blast. Torque2D seems really appealing to look into for development on the PC/Mac platform. iTorque2D looks neat, but I’ve heard performance had been an issue for it.

2D engines are a weird beast because their on the edge of that line where the trade off between rolling your own or just buying a package seems very even. I know from experience in TorqueX, the fidelity of control you get content-wise is amazing, but a lot of low level details tend to be out of your grasp without a large investment in modding the source itself. I recall having to write my own map editor, despite the awesome 2D editor in TorqueX, simply because I didn’t have access to the tools to create the physical geometry needed by our game. So creating a level ended up being a two step process of having a level designed and laid out with all art assets and trinkets in the Torque editor, but then loading that into a bare-bones homemade editor to add in the physical geometry for the levels. And this all arose out of a really basic limitation of the T2D editor not allowing the creation of concave polygons with their line editor tool. Surprisingly looking at Torque2D for Mac/PC this doesn’t seem to be the case.

It’s very true that these engines will get you 90% or even 99% of the way there, but then there’s this one crucial element that typically is what is unique about your game or game’s data that the engine simply has no way of accomodating. Looking back, I think it was a nice motivating factor that getting the game setup on just pure TorqueX and having it look great with minimal effort was awesome. The rest of the development cycle was spent bending the engine to our will.

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