27 February 2007

Final Fantasy XII Weekend

I took some holidays over the weekend to play Final Fantasy XII, which I've been waiting to come out over here ever since it came out in the USA. It's been a lot of fun and I've enjoyed it so far. It is crazy how much it feels like a MMO without the MO though. Massive world to explorer and maybe a little too much "I need good drops" feel to it. I like the combat system, as automated as it might be, saves me from a lot of dull manual management.

I'm sure anyone who is interested has read about Sony removing hardware backwards compatibility in the PS3 for the European model. I was thinking about getting a PS3 in the slightly more distant future. White Knight looks great and there is always Final Fantasy XIII (though both these games are future developments anyway). I'm not adverse to getting a BluRay player either though I'm happy to wait until that war is won. My PS2 is getting old though and I worried it wouldn't play FFXII (which it seems to play fine) and it is having problems with God of War. I figured the PS3 might not be a bad (if expensive) upgrade path. I mean I like the virtual memory cards on it and the geek in me would love to see Linux running on it (though I can do that with a PC, and I expect with more stability too) but Backward Compatibility does matter to me. I do still sometimes play my old PlayStation and XBox games (I know they are a generation apart). Though there are probably only a few of my PS2 games I'd take up again those are the ones I'd need to read run without a glitch for me to consider a PS3. Of course the list hasn't been released yet (and it can be expanded) but The backwards compatibility is not going to be as good as in the US and Japanese models is hardly reassuring especially given the fact we are paying more than $200 more than the USA are. Less functionality at a greater price? You are on to a winner there Sony.

21 February 2007

Hey! This Editor Includes A Game...

I bought RoboBlitz for the editor. I finally got around to playing the game (I played the demo but never really got into it) and it turns out that I've been really enjoying it. It's a bit strange that I consider the game an added bonus but I do. Over the weekend I completed a few levels; it has a cute charm that fits the game well. It also blends puzzles with shooting well and I think it deserves more attention that it's budget price suggests.

Anyway on editors that have games note I also picked up NWN2 with intent on using it to design a module. I've have a bit of experience of the original NWN tool set. I guess I fell for newer is better so I bought this one for its toolset. I'm looking forward to trying the game though though I'm not sure how well my puny graphics card will do with it.

18 February 2007

FlickrTop 1.0

I like a nice selection of rotating desktop wallpapers and I also love the wealth of pictures available at Flickr. I set out to write a quick application to fetch pictures from Flickr favourites. I started in Ruby but then that's because I wanted to pick it up. I grew bored of it and moved back to the familiar territory of Java even though it is total overkill. Before I start wittering to much this is a command line program and requires you to put values in a properties file. As it is I'm starting with just the code, so you need to compile it yourself. If you feel happy with properties files but not running javac then get in touch and I can include a compiled version.

Anyway there is a few things this program does and quite a few it doesn't. It just fetches from the Flickr REST API and then tries to download the large version of the image. First if the large image isn't available Flickr just hands out a placeholder. Some wallpaper changers ignore this, others don't you might need to delete these. Second it doesn't bother to get more than the first 250 favourites, this is because I haven't bothered to check how many pages there should be. This is pretty trivial to fix and I will do soon. Next if an image already exists in the specified folder with that name it doesn't overwrite that. First this protects images that maybe just have the same crazy naming format as Flickr images but it also saves bandwidth. I don't consider this a bug and I ain't going to fix it. If you want to get fresh copies you can delete all the old ones or move them to another folder.

Along with the bugs mentioned above I'd like to add a few more features. The ability to get only particular sizes of images (say those that match your desktop size). The ability to filter by given tag(s) so you can get just particular favourites. Finally the ability to get things from your own folder rather than your favourites (this is easy to do).

So if you are still reading now you probably just want to know what you need. Well you need to fill in the Properties file. So flickr.api.key is the API Key you have or can get. flickr.user.id is the user id of the user you want to point to, mine is 89764331@N00 the easiest way of finding out is viewing your avatar image. The URL has the number listed. Finally directory.location contains the directory the output should go to. It should match the format used by your OS.

If you are using OSX it has a wallpaper changer built in. So do many flavours of Gnome and KDE but your mileage may vary. If you are using Windows XP you can get a changer from Microsoft.

Grab the zip from my Google Pages. Finally for you tinkering types it is released under a Creative Commons By Attribution Share-Alike license, if that is even applicable to code. If not I just say play fair and the rest of that stuff :D.


I've been working on RoboBlitz's design tool as a way of getting up to speed with Unreal 3's engine. I thought I'd try some simple Kismet scripting stuff and came up with a disco (using some dynamic lights and delay gates). I might post a little tutorial on the Wiki (which has been a bit of a mission to update anyway) though they've got some fine examples of the script in use there. Unfortunately I took a screen grab, it doesn't exactly show lots of lights interacting or anything very well being static and all. I just thought I'd post it to show what I'm up to.


16 February 2007

Play Formatting Script

I figured, since I don't really have any new scripts to post, I'd link to one I documented earlier. Ages back I wanted to read a play and, as the page I created says, I didn't really like the formatting of the play I found so, being an old play, I found an XML version someone did and created an XSL document plus a bit of CSS. There was maybe more I could do with it but I was happy with this as it stood. Anyway I don't see the point in entirely cross-posting this (I already feel a bit guilty about linking to my own site) so documentation can be found here.

I was a little disappointed that I couldn't find an XML standard for plays and scripts. I imagine it would be very useful to be able to highlight a given part's lines in a play. With enough metadata you could output for speech or other formats (such as the basis of a computer game script).

My next script post thankfully won't just be a link to a script I already posted :).

09 February 2007

Additive Vs Subtractive

I've been playing around with the RoboBlitz Editor. I've previously worked on (if it could really be called that) maps using the previous UnreadEd editor and using the Source engine. This caused a couple of hiccups when I started using this system as I expect I was working on a subtractive level like I would with the previous UnrealEd but it turns out it defaults to additive.

For those of you who have no idea about what I'm talking about but a desire to know think of subtractive as carving air out of solid rock rather than additive which is creating rock in air. Subtractive reduces the chances of hall of mirror effects and people "falling" through the walls as behind the air their is always solid mass. I don't see many disadvantages to subtractive modelling in terms of performance and stuff but I'd like to know if there are. I know that RoboBlitz itself used additive creation instead. It's interesting that Epic included both types into their engine. Maybe to try and bring in people used to additive building? I'd assume it is possible to include both types in the same game (though not the same map, obviously) and maybe there is benefits to swapping between them.

I liked Valve having designer notes in Half Life 2: Episode One it was interesting to see how they went about things or what they changed due to things being impractical. For me Valve remains one of the most polished designers I can think of. Their games draw you in so well.

Anyway next in my Unreal 3 engine playing is scripting. I'm going to try writing a bit of a tutorial while playing around with it. Hopefully I'll have something to talk about in the next three weeks or so.

In other, unrelated news, I hear that Settlers of Catan for XBox Live is coming out soon. I'll looking forward to it :D.

06 February 2007

Mah Jong Scorer 0.9

Well I said I was going to use this for some development stuff. I'm trying to dedicate every second Tuesday for those projects I want to work on. This Tuesday hasn't gone great but I thought I'd sort out uploading a program I worked on a bit back. It's a scoring system for the Mah Jong game. It just balances the numbers in the game and gives you a final score. Still using XForms I could do some nifty stuff like have dynamic player names. It is using Mozilla XForms though being XForms should work in other XForms browsers (I haven't tested it yet though). Saying that it doesn't quite work yet as binds using index don't work which are required for the repeat on each hand score calculations. The final score is still correct however so it sort of works as expected, when the bug is fixed in the XForms renderer I'll correctly implement the bind in the form.

I'm pretty happy with everything else as it stands at the moment. If anyone has any suggestions let me know. Unfortunately I was just using Google Pages to store it which don't correctly pass xhtml files (and it hands .html files as text/html so it Firefox doesn't parse it as an XHTML document) therefore I can't just link to an online version. You can download all the files (4) zipped here. Sorry I couldn't just put it online I'll see if I can find a better host for the files.

Also the image used is a modification of an image I found on Flickr it's under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license everything else is in the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license. Let me know if you have any feedback or are using it, nice to know and all that :D.