Monthly Archives: February 2009

Pay attention to trigonometry

February 27, 2009 | Filed under: programming

Do you want to program computer games?

Do you understand trigonometry?

If not, you need to. I (rather famously) do 2D rather than 3D games. But that doesn’t mean I don’t use maths. I use a lot of maths, every day. The one area I use all the time, is trigonometry. A sine wave is a beuatiful thing. A curve that simple (in maths terms) is just incredibly elegant and finds its way into everything. It’s amazing how often you need to express something in a game in terms of a nice smooth curve. Knowing the (very simple) maths behind a sine wave, and similar functions is just vital if you want to code games.

Geometry and trig is taught really badly at school. Do you know the ‘real world’ examples used to illustrate the usefulness of this stuff at my school? I remember it to this day, “imagine you work in a factory where you need to calculate the volume of a can of baked beans”. How about this: “imagine you have the most tedious job in human history”.

Now imagine how games coders use it.

“Imagine you are making a smooth oscillation of a spaceship laser beam as it sweeps across space attempting to lock onto an enemy fighter”

“Imagine a spaceship has exploded and you need a smooth way to fade in and out the brightness of a shockwave which occurs as the ship blasts into pieces.”

If you are still at school, pay attention during maths. Trig used to be pretty useless (although I even used it as a boatbuilder) for most jobs. For the really cool jobs involving things exploding, it can be bloody useful.

Don’t underestimate how well you need to know this stuff. I got an A in my maths O level a year early, I got an A in stats a year later. I was top of the whole year in maths. I got 100% on my maths O level mock. And in programming terms, I SUCK at maths. I used to ask other coders for help with maths stuff. Being the absolute best at maths might not get you the girls when you are sixteen, but it really matters big time later on. Study the maths.

Fun website facts

February 25, 2009 | Filed under: business

I love google analytics. You get stats for EVERYTHING.

  • Visitors to my site using firefox spend 7.95% less (estimated from buy page views) than visitors using internet explorer.
  • last week I got more visits from china than I did from France
  • Canadians like Democracy more than any other game. Brazilians prefer Kudos
  • I actually get more visits from firefox browsers than IE
  • Only 2% of the visits are from dialup users
  • The top 5 countries supplying visitors are US,UK,Canada,Germany and Poland

I’ve been redoing the deployment screen for the game today. I’m a bit unsure of how this bit should work. basically the flow of the game is this:

  1. Select Scenario
  2. Select ships to form a fleet for this battle (with limits)
  3. Deploy ships in formations and issue basic orders
  4. Run battle

The deployment screen is basically where you say “The Enterprise should get no closer than 5,000 meters to the enemy cruisers and blast away, while fighter wing 3 protects it, meanwhile bomber squad 2 will charge in and attack the enemy frigates”

So you need to do lots of fiddling. The current interface is shown below (click to enlarge)

The fleet is on the right, you drag them onto the map to position them within your deployment zone (light rectangle). eventually, approx enemy deployments will be shown on the map too. The sliders on the left is where you adjust the rules of engagement for each ship. This is all very fiddly because do I allow you to set multiple waypoints? And do I make the maps bigger so positions are more tactical? if I do, the ship icons will get horribly small on minimum res (1024×768). Do I abandon support for 1024×768? or allow this screen to zoom or scroll?

hmmmmmmmmmm

Cats and windows and German

February 21, 2009 | Filed under: Uncategorized

Jack (my youngest cat) was in fine form today. I opened a bedroom window and he was looking out of it, then decided to leap out and grab the top of the open window with both paws. I don’t think he had planned ahead as he now dangled by both front paws from an open window with no easy escape route. Almost immediately he lost it and fell.

Thankfully he fell maybe 5 feet onto the conservatory roof. and he seemed fine, albeit slightly baffled. I’m sure it’s all in a days work for him. He should concentrate his energy on defending the kitchen from the black and white cat that comes in at night to eat his food (caught him twice). That cat can sniff food through TWO catflaps in an airlock-style setup, so he must be hungry.

Today I’ve tried the worringly slow-loading Empire:Total War demo, and started work on making those fiddly German language characters show up for a potential German-language copy of Democracy 2.