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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

My name is Eric and I'm a packrat

Yesterday I tidied up the corner of the basement where I store all my computer (and other tech) junk. I have no idea how I ended up with a dozen (or more) IEC power cords. I should keep enough of the best looking ones for the working PCs and monitors I currently have and toss the rest. Or figure out how to make them into a modern art exhibit and sell 'em to some gallery.   I also have a whack of serial cables which I'm trying to justify keeping. I don't think I have an external modem hidin

EricBall

EricBall

 

My free time is doomed!

This weekend my wife spotted Civilization Revolution for the PS3 at Walmart. She (and I) loved playing Civ (1,2&3) so she was immediately interested. I thought I remembered seeing a downloadable demo, but I couldn't find it. Silly me it's "Sid Meier's Civilization" so it's under S. Anyway, I downloaded it and starting playing Monday morning.   They are cruel. This ain't no demo, it's the first third of the game in all it's glory. More than enough to make me remember why I spent so ma

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

 

Mucking around with iOS SpriteKit

I have this idea for a game, which I'm trying to program for iOS (using Swift). As this is a considerable step beyond my typical C & ASM skill set, it's been slow going. Swift itself is a post C object oriented / procedural language so isn't that difficult to understand, and I can certainly appreciate _not_ having to learn Objective C. No, the problem is the frameworks. Swift on it's own can do very little. It needs libraries like UIKit and SpriteKit. So unlike C where you can do a lo

EricBall

EricBall

 

Mucking around with fragment / pixel shaders

In my game there's a ball which rolls around the playfield. While SpriteKit is very cool with baked in physics and lighting, it's a 2D engine. So although it will rotate the 2D texture of the ball around the Z axis, that doesn't really convey the look of the ball rolling forward. My original idea was to go with a flat shaded sphere and let the normal map lighting give the ball a more 3D look. Unfortunately the result was less than satisfying. But then I had an idea. What if the ball was

EricBall

EricBall

 

movie studio stupidity

For those of you who aren't techo-geeks let me give you a quick summary:The big electronics manufacturers have created the successors(!) to DVDs : HD DVD (arriving March 23rd) and Blu-Ray (arriving May 23rd). Both are CD-sized optical discs like DVDs and are capable of HDTV resolution. But, because the two camps couldn't work out their differences we're stuck at the moment with two incompatible formats. Which one is VHS and which one is Beta remains to be seen.Unfortunately, most studios have de

Guest

Guest

 

more Disk ][ musings

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I've been taking a deep look at the Apple ][ Disk ][ controller. IMHO it's an elegant blend of hardware, software & firmware.   The crux of the controller is the P6 (8bitx8bit) PROM which describes the state machine along with an 8 bit shift register and a 4 bit state register.   The CPU selects one of four modes via two PROM address bits (called Q7 Q6): 00 read a byte 01 sense write protect 10 write byte 11 load byte for write   The other 2 ad

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

 

more 2b2t Minecraft

I ended up playing a lot of Minecraft on 2b2t over the long weekend. Once you get away from the chaos of the spawn area (and turn off the chat) the server becomes remarkably peaceful. Maybe I'm just travelling a different direction than most, but I've seen very few large builds; although there is still occasional evidence I'm not the first player to pass this way. Although while wandering though the wilderness may be far better than fending off other players, I decided I wanted to settle do

EricBall

EricBall

 

mischief managed

Last entry I complained that I'd run out of space. Well, I've now managed to free up a whack-o-space, which has (at least for the moment) cured my space issues. I'm now trying to work out what the heck my enemy AI code is doing (along with some code tweaking). I'm hoping I can get a new release out in the next couple of days.   For those curious, I found the space in my kernal (of all places). Since I knew I needed a goodly amount of space (i.e. not just a few bytes), I first looked at the

EricBall

EricBall

 

Minecraft studio Mojang has been bought by Microsoft for $2.5B

Additionally, creator Markus "Notch" Persson, partner Jakob Porser and CEO Carl Manneh will also be leaving Mojang. Even before the sale Markus has tried to move away from Minecraft, but felt that selling out was they only way to continue to be himself.   I do wonder how MS plans on recovering it's 2.5 billion dollar investment. (Especially since MS believes it will happen before June 2015!)    

EricBall

EricBall

 

Minecraft PS3

Apparently the big game for early teens in Minecraft - at least according to my 13 year old son. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to partake in the game himself as we still haven't replaced the home computer (when will the Mac mini be upgraded to Haswell Apple, when?), nor can it be installed (even the "classic" version) on his Chromebook. But now the Xbox360 port has been ported to the PS3 - so I downloaded it as an early Christmas present.   We originally tried to play the demo (which se

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

 

Love / Hate

I have a love / hate relationship with some games. I love playing them, but I hate how much time I spend on them. Time which I could be spending working on other projects or, in some cases, sleeping.   This summer I played HalfLife into the wee hours of the morning the night before I needed to leave for the airport at 4 AM.   This past Friday I played Civ3 past midnight even though I started the day at 4:30 AM and had a 9 AM meeting the next day. Last night it was only through a great f

EricBall

EricBall

 

Lord of the Rings - BD

WB has pushed back the release of Lord of the Rings on Blu-Ray to next year. And although I'd love to have LotR on bluray, I don't care - cause this is the theatrical release, not the extended version. Annoyingly, WB hasn't mentioned anything about the extended version yet. But I can wait, I have patience.

EricBall

EricBall

 

Looking for game ideas

Many moons ago I bought Civilization Revolution for the PS3 and have been playing it quite a bit ever since. But always single player, i.e. versus the AI. I've gotten fairly good, where I win the majority of the time against the highest difficulty level. But I've avoided the online multiplayer for a couple of reasons - can't save (so have to dedicate time), and there are quite a few very good players out there.   Well, this weekend I played my first online game and got spanked. Yes, at the

EricBall

EricBall

 

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

 

Linksys WRT54G v4 firmware confusion

A while back the wall wart for my Netgear wifi router died. I borrowed the one for my external drive as a temporary replacement, but I wanted a more permanent solution. This weekend was the community garage sale and I scored a Linksys WRT54G v4 for $5. This is the router which started the open firmware revolution, but I'm not sure I want to join the revolution.   The problem is I'm more into stability and easy to use than features beyond what the stock firmware provides. Well, there are tw

EricBall

EricBall

 

Leprechaun, player movement progress

A good example of top down design and bottom up programming. The spreadsheet method made designing the player movement truth table much easier than trying to figure out the if cases from scratch. From that I could then do a pseudo code version of the if statement logic (see 20050823.txt). Since it was in a spreadsheet I could do different sorts to see whether there was any benefit to doing the tests in different orders (e.g. check the button down cases before checking the different grid cases

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun, player movement musings

So, I've reviewed the source code and re-aquainted myself with it. Since the kernel and the sort routines are working, my next focus is on player movement. From a code perspective this will turn into a bunch of IF statements, but first I need to come up with the truth table to ensure no conditions get missed. I'm doing this in a spreadsheet. Each row is one set of conditions. I take a generic condition (e.g. Grid = open) and break it into two conditions (Grid = open & Grid_Down = {Gold,

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun, dusting off the files

I think I've found the most recent source code. I need to do some re-assemblies and diffs to make sure I know which is what. Then comes the big challenge, making head & tails out of the code.

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun WIP

Reset now works. This now resets the level (except for the level timer) back to the initial state.   TODOs 1. Make level timer difficulty (speed) dependent. i.e. At higher difficulties the timer will count down more slowly. 2. Handle out of time & end of level (all gold picked up) states 3. Start on the end-of-level scoring screen. 4. Start on level loader   I'll update the editor as soon as I get home and find my password.

EricBall

EricBall

 

Leprechaun versus Lode Runner

I was thinking yesterday about the various differences between Leprechaun and Lode Runner and came up with the following list (subject to change):- no end of level ladder- no hidden pits / traps- enemies pick up, but don't drop, gold- multiple enemies can fall into the same hole- can't run over enemies in the hole (player falls in the hole & dies)- enemies can't climb out of holes (they "die" and reappear at the top)- enemies can fall & run through holes, same as player (until the hole s

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun update

Okay, I've finally managed to get everything (back) into something which I can assemble into a 8448 byte bin. I haven't attached it because I haven't flushed out, what will probably end up being obvious, bugs. One of the problems with the code is I've started & stopped so many times I've forgotten dependencies and made some errors. It's also been a long while since I've had something which I could run and debug.One bonus is it appears I should be able to fit the game code into 4K, althoug

Guest

Guest

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