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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

look-ahead bug fixed

lep20061108.zip Okay, I've fixed the look-ahead bug which was causing the ladder issues vdub_bobby was noticing. I think you'll find the leprechauns to be a little smarter now. Leprechaun Level Editor updates as usual.   Oh, one note. The AI for swinging on ropes is the same as running with the one exception of falling when the player is directly below. (Note - it may be possible to run under a leprechaun and not trigger this behaviour.) So when the player is higher than the lepre

EricBall

EricBall

 

making an app

YouTuber Tom Scott has just released a 16 episode series on making an app.  (YouTube link behind the Spoiler.)   I haven't watched the series (although I will), but IMHO the first question you need to ask yourself is what it's going to cost on an ongoing basis and how you plan on paying for it.   For Slide Tilt Roll, the only ongoing costs were my Apple Developer ID* and a small website & domain name**, but something like Tom's failed messaging app is going to require s

EricBall

EricBall

 

Why CS:GO Danger Zone is better than PUBG

Valve decided to make CS:GO free to play and at the same time add a battle royale mode "Danger Zone". This is great for me as I was looking for a way to scratch my PUBG itch on my 27" iMac rather than playing PUBG on phones. But IMHO Danger Zone is better than PUBG because it is only 16 players on a correspondingly smaller map. This leads to quicker, more intense gameplay and shorter games. With PUBG, I typically spent the first third of the match (10-15 minutes) looting up, the second thi

EricBall

EricBall

 

Fortnite versus PUBG

I've been feeling minor PUBG withdrawal since my son took his Samsung tablet to college as I'm unwilling to spend the $$ to buy my own tablet for a "free to play" game. Last night i broke down and installed Fortnite on my 27" iMac. I've played about a dozen games so far and noted the following differences: The big one is the whole building mechanic. It's hard! I'm not sure I have the free time to be more than a noob. I'm certainly not expecting to win any time soon. Unlike PUBG, it look

EricBall

EricBall

 

Dream computer - OpEd

Via one of the guy's YouTube videos, I happened across http://www.the8bitguy.com/2576/what-is-my-dream-computer/ Now, not to rain on anyone's parade - but retro dream computers are just that, dreams. I've been playing with computers since the Apple ][+ days - so I've got plenty of nostalgia for retro computers. But guess what, when my parents gave me a TRS-80 Color Computer as a gift a few years ago, I wondered why they bothered. Sure, it's the computer I had in my teens and I've got a lo

EricBall

EricBall

 

Laser Vector Display

Earlier this month the family and I spent a week camping at (nee Six Flags) Darien Lake - riding roller coasters & other rides plus roasting marshmallows & drinking beer. Every night DL has a laser & fireworks show set to music. (Unfortunately the same one every night.) The laser show part of the show in particular was particularly impressive and would have made Pink Floyd (from 40 years ago) green with envy - complex animated scenes in full color. (Probably restricted more by th

EricBall

EricBall

 

my (100% free) iOS game is on the App Store!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slide-tilt-roll/id1366633420?mt=8 I took a day off so I could finally put on my "round-tuit" and get my iOS game into the App Store. 100% free to play. No in-app purchases. No subscriptions. No advertising. WiFi not required. 30 levels to complete (so far) Built-in level creator with the option to submit levels for inclusion in future updates. Requres iOS 9 or better, compatible with all devices

EricBall

EricBall

 

PUBG Mobile

So last night I played my first game of PUBG Mobile - and survived long enough to reach #34 and made 3 kills. (And I probably would have done better if the game hadn't glitched and not auto-reloaded my AR.) I'm old enough to have played Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM; but not Quake because I'd stepped off the upgrade treadmill. Multiplayer shooters also didn't interest me as I didn't have the time to sink into playing the games to get good enough not to be cannon fodder. So why am I playing PUBG M

EricBall

EricBall

 

N64 versus PS1

This past Christmas I bought an N64 for my son (and me) to enjoy my collection of games. (Although the problem turned out to be dirty cartridges rather than a dead N64.) He's been having a blast playing Super Mario 64 and the Mario Party games. This nostalgia rekindled my interest in what is under the hood of both it and the original PlayStation. It turns out there's a lot of similarities between the two, more than I would have expected. Both used a MIPS CPU (PSX: 32bit R3051 @ 33.8688 MH

EricBall

EricBall

 

DIY microconsole

Ingredients: Bought: Raspberry Pi Zero W, Pro: cheap at C$13.50 (+tax & shipping, case C$6), tiny (65mmx30mm), low power (powered via USB on TV), WiFi & Bluetooth (for controllers). Con: can only handle 8 bit & 16 bit gen consoles, miniature connectors require special cables (C$6) On-Hand: 4GB micro-SD card, HDMI cable (dollar store), micro USB cable (for power), PS3 controller For initial set up: PC (downloads etc), USB keyboard (to set WiFi passphrase), mini USB cable (for PS3 co

EricBall

EricBall

 

Tempest 2017 - value of an unfinished project

As my wife often reminds me, I have a habit of not finishing projects once I've started them. (Usually while pointing at one of them.) I have to say that I've gotten better at managing this habit (although not necessarily at finishing projects). I try not to start projects, or at least start spending money instead of just time, unless I have a relatively clear understanding of what it's going to take to finish the project (and why I'm bothering). But i still have quite a few projects hanging

EricBall

EricBall

 

Sega Forever suffers from poor emulation

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/06/sega-forever-emulation-performance-problems/ For some reason I've never gotten into Sega's consoles. Sure I've played Sonic, but that's about it. However, when I heard about Sega Forever, I thought I might give it a try - watch a few ads, play a few games. But now I probably won't bother. The question for me is why Sega would release anything less than perfect. I have to conclude the decision makers at Sega don't care about their games, only about m

EricBall

EricBall

 

this ain't my first rodeo

The lack of interest in creating levels for Slide Tilt Roll has put a serious black cloud over my plans to release it. Seeking some inspiration, I started watching the But after watching the first two I started to think - what was my first game? Yes, I created Skeleton / Skeleton+, but I'm talking about before that - 'way before that. I know I did a few games for the Color Computer back in the 80s - I distinctly remember a simple racing game. (Probably done in Basic - it used text mode

EricBall

EricBall

 

Swift 3 catch 22

Last night I told myself to stop playing Minecraft and get back to work on my iOS game. At least start to put together the level editor. Once I have something partially working I'm much more likely to spend time working on it. But XCode had other ideas as it had updated. So when I opened the project, it asked me (twice) whether I wanted to convert it to the current version of Swift. I said no, but then it said it wouldn't be able to compile it. That wasn't a good option either. So I made

EricBall

EricBall

 

3D TV is dead

https://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/17/01/19/2218238/3d-tv-is-dead I don't dispute that 3D TV never took off, what I find interesting is the TV manufacturers decided to drop a feature - no matter how unused. What's interesting is 3D is still popular enough to make 3D films. (Although my preference is for 2D editions I saw Rogue One in 3D because there wasn't a non-3D showing on a big screen.) Personally my 55" LG TV is passive 3D capable - so the glasses don't require batteries. I

EricBall

EricBall

 

Nintendo Switch musings

Poor Nintendo, their idea for a home video game console which can also be used as a portable video game console became a portable console with removable controllers which can be plugged into the TV. From my perspective, Nintendo has two overwhelming challenges when creating a new console: 1. Not understanding their historical successes. 2. Competition First, I don't think anyone at Nintendo understands the reason the Wii succeeded was because it was often purchased as a fitness accessory. P

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS programming - a non-programming roadblock

So my iOS game is coming along smartly. User created levels are now stored in an SQLite database on the device, which can then be selected from a list (complete with icon showing the level). It's actually getting to the point where I might want to make it available as an ad-hoc download. For testing, Apple provides three methods to get your code onto someone's device: 1. Connect the device to your development environment and deploy directly. This is what I've been doing so far. The good

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS programming - end of line confusion

One of the features of my iOS game is a level editor, so users can create their own levels. The plan is for users to create levels then submit them to me (via email). I will then take those levels and add them to the application bundle and update the app so everyone gets to play them. The hard part turned out to be easy and the easy part turned out to be hard. Creating the email itself was easy - only a few lines of code. I could even easily create attachments, including the PNG of the lev

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS programming - major milestone reached

My iOS game has reached a major milestone - I've linked the level creator to the play level so it's now possible to create a level and play it. In theory a lot of the remaining coding should be relatively standard and therefore easier. Hopefully I can get my son and a few other friends / coworkers to use it to start creating levels First I need to update it to Swift 2.3 so I can load it onto iOS 10 devices. (This is one part of the process I dislike, there's a lot of forced obsolescence in

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS programming - battling with UICollectionView

In my game I want a level builder. Users will be able to create their own levels and send them to me for inclusion in a future release. The UI is fairly simple - a level grid in the top of the screen and the level tiles in the bottom of the screen. Select a tile then where you want it in the grid. The tiles are in a scrolling view like a photo gallery. The iOS UIKit SDk even provides an out-of-the box solution - the UICollectionView (+UICollectionViewFlowLayout). It's suppose to be easy; n

EricBall

EricBall

 

death of the 3.5mm 15mm TRRS socket?

Reading https://www.buzzfeed.com/johnpaczkowski/inside-iphone-7-why-apple-killed-the-headphone-jackgave me an idea. What if you combined the Apple W1 wireless chip with something like a Chu Moy pocket amplifier. So you plug your $tupidly expen$ive headphones into the pocket amp which is wirelessly connected to your phone. On the actual removal of the headphone jack, I think Apple is ahead of the curve. Bluetooth based headphones are becoming more common and there are definite advantages to

EricBall

EricBall

 

more Apple ][ musings

My latest distraction is the Apple ][ disk. I'm sure some of you, like me, remember the golden age of copy protection & cracking which happened around the Apple ][. Much of that was because the A2 was largely software driven. (Another Woz brilliant lunancy cost-cutting effort like A2 graphics.)   Unfortunately, because the A2 was pre-Internet, there isn't a lot of surviving detailed documentation on the web. The one piece I'm missing is a detailed description of how the bits get writte

EricBall

EricBall

 

4K why?

The other day I was browsing a warehouse sale which had a few 4K TVs (but no 3D, which I found interesting), and it got me to thinking about them. Not because I want one, but strictly on a why? basis. The local cable company is hyping their 4K TV offering, starting with local baseball and hockey games. But when I'm watching my 55" HDTV, I'm not thinking "boy, I'd pay big bucks to have more picture detail". Maybe if my TV filled the entire wall so HDTV looked like 320x200 VGA on a 21" mon

EricBall

EricBall

 

flaws in Force Awakens (spoilers)

I saw SW VII last weekend so I could stop worrying about spoilers. While the Force Awakens is a great movie and a worthy and logical successor to Return of the Jedi, it is not without it's flaws. First is the Death Star Mark III, complete with last minute destruction (IV & VI) following an attack on the shield generator (VI), a short trench sequence (IV), and flying into the structure (VI). Even Han points this out when planning the attack; almost, but not quite, breaking the fourth wal

EricBall

EricBall

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