Archive for May, 2006

We love our web team

Friday, May 19th, 2006

I’d like to take the opportunity to send some love out to our new web coder, Mr Simon Collison, and also to our designer, the amazing Mr Jason “Arbernaut” Arber, who are both helping us out with our new website in preparation for launch.

We’re very excited by what we’ve seen from them so far, and when it’s all done I can tell you right now it will look stonking.

That’s right!

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Here’s a picture of Ian at Reading University:


He’s basically keeping it a Fool Free Zone. And also not taking excuses and beating you down.

The insanity to which I have been subjected in the last few days is luckily now over and I’m certainly looking forward to the weekend. On Sunday, my horrible Dell computer is being deconstructed and converted into some kind of nightmarish behemoth involving a big fat graphics card, a new motherboard (or “mobo” if you’re totally with it) and some other devices I know little about.

Hopefully this will result in me actually being able to play Oblivion, but in a devilish twist of fate, Ian and I will be working flat out next week to kick things off in preparation for code freeze, so I won’t get a chance. Woo.

A flying visit

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Everything’s going a little crazy at this end of town with trying to keep everything together.

I’m happy to announce, though, that our LAN test at Reading University is shaping up nicely. Thanks to some really cool and helpful people we’re going to get to have a huge game of Determinance on the 6th of June – this should be a great opportunity to see how DT stands up to play on a large scale and also to get some feedback from people on their impressions of the game.

We’ve just had our first confirmed participant, so there’s lots of space left! If you happen to be a Reading student then you can take part – drop me a line.

More on this to follow, as well as a picture of Ian gurning outside the School of Systems Engineering. Don’t say we don’t promise you the world.


Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Gabe has already started the dissent, but I’m going one step further and calling it right now: Spore will be a mid-70s game at the most. For some reason hard-core gamers are interested in what Will Wright is doing now, despite the fact that he’s never made a game for them and certainly isn’t about to start. The CS crowd will catch up in a month or two, but I’ll save you some time: Spore will be even less interesting than Black and White.

And don’t think EA are happy about it. They know full well that not only will Spore fail to excite gamers, it’ll fail to sell to non-gamers. The “from the designer of The Sims!” on the box might grab that pre-teen girl’s attention, but when she sees a green alien with four noses on the front she’ll just get confused and start crying. Where is her simplified human drama? Her adult-dolls that really go to the toilet? Her oddly-polygamic faux-sexual relationships? This girl doesn’t understand Will Wright’s intentions. Brandishing the ultimate dolls set she followed him blindly like the pied piper into the garden of his mind, only to find an obscene playground. Her ultimate desire was simply a failure to Wright, another stepping stone on the route to his ivory tower.

Will Wright’s now big enough that EA have to let him do what he wants. The result of this will be bored adults and crying children.

Let me shade Thief 1

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Shaders are brute-force, full screen effects that make games look better. You don’t have to do anything title-specific; if a game supports shaders you can easily plug a standard Bloom shader in and instantly improve how it looks. Anti-aliasing is a very good example, despite technically not being a shader.

Let me apply my own shaders to your game. In ten years, I’ll have a PC that can run your game using 1% of it’s power. But your game will look terrible, and the rest of my CPU time will be idle. Allow me to plug in the generic shaders of my future so I can experience the atmosphere and gameplay you spent two years creating; without being undermined by your out-of-date graphics.

If I found a hot girl with a mullet who’d been frozen in a glacier since the 70s, she’d let me cut her hair. Please extend me that same courtesy.

Pause eradication

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Paul and I did something very exciting at Reading University today, but I’ll let him tell you about that.  I’m here to tell you about how I just managed to get rid of the annoying little pauses that have been plaguing Determinance for some time.

Expecting that there was some obscure IK algorithm error causing a small (and incredibly irritating) pause at random intervals; I was poking around and suddenly realised the culprit: our dynamic wind sound effects weren’t being pre-loaded.

I think we all know that accessing the hard drive during gameplay is a bad thing, but fixing the problem was as straight forward as changing false to true.  Easy fixes for daunting problems are like finding a swing-top bottle of Grolsch behind the carrots in the fridge when you thought you were going to have to drink French brandy all night.

We have something which might be described as “momentum”

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Getting a lot of small tasks done is a pretty exciting phase of development, as it feels like you’re moving forwards as opposed to trying to fill a bottomless well with your own spit; a sensation which anyone stuck in the middle of this invigorating process could describe to you at length.

Small touches really make things work, but it’s so amazingly tempting to leave them out when you get within smelling distance of the finish.

But, stuff like the Boss in Land Dispute waving his arms around will really make it: it’s great to see unneccesary things in someone’s design and we hope people will appreciate some of these little additions.

I’m excited about what’s going to happen next, I think we’re starting the process of closing the deal on lots of areas of the game – getting ready to do proper previews would have seemed like a kind of ludicrous fantasy-state this time last year, but it’s now a reality.

Red Steel

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

We watch Wii information like hawks, aware that swordfighting is one of the killer ideas for the controller. We obviously want to port Determinance to the Wii at some stage and be the definitive sword game on that system too, and with that in mind news like this is always good: (from Joystiq’s first impressions of Red Steel)

Also, the sword fighting [in Wii launch title Red Steel] is pretty lacking, with only a variety of slashes available. The sword does not follow every move, and each slash requires a dramatic sweep of the remote — the simplicity gave the sword-fighting moments the impression of a minigame.

Determinance has plenty of stuff no one would ever try doing (like for instance… flying), but we’re still heartened to see us well ahead of the competition. Real freeform sword-fighting is hard, and we’ve done it right.


Cloth collision

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

When I woke up this morning I didn’t know I’d have fixed the cloth collision by the time I went to bed.  But I have, and that is cause for considerable celebration.

Our cloth is this absolutely brilliant feature which had a horrible problem where it would go through our player’s legs every fifteen or so seconds.  Cloth code has to be incredibly fast, otherwise it just bogs down the frame rate.  When it became clear that it would be impossible to improve the collision such that the problem would be fixed, I got the simulation to realise when it goes wrong and then fix itself before the player notices.  Very cool.

We also got the new screenshots up yesterday which is another huge thing off our to-do list.  And then Paul and I got the Boss in Land Dispute to shout random taunts and make really cool gestures.  You don’t know what the Boss or Land Dispute are yet, but consider yourself teased.  Hint: they’re part of the now-finished single player Determinance arcade mode.

A further off-shoot of the cloth-completion is that we can now make the long awaited video.  There is going to be some serious Determinance information-dropping as soon as the E3 typhoon has passed.


Shut up

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

Ian claims that I “haven’t written anything on the blog for ages”. Well, maybe that’s because I’ve been, I don’t know, working.