Sep 14 2008

How I play games

Published by under Games,Travel

backwards

I have noticed an interesting way that I play games these days.  Keep in mind, I have children and interests outside of the games industry.

On my home consoles (which include a PS3, XBox 360, and Wii), I tend to play games which are pick up and play, usually with no story.  This includes Boom Blox, The Last Guy, Eden, and Braid.  Basically, all games which I can play for 15-30 minutes and then turn off the console.  Also, I don’t have to worry about remembering some involved story to get back into the game.

On my portables, I am playing the long, involved story games.  I just finished Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and it looks like I’m going to get back to The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass soon.

The interesting thing to me is this is completely backwards to how people are “supposed” to play games.  My pickup games are on my home system with the big plasma TV, while the long session games are on my portable systems.  It reflects my life these days…I have very little time at home to play games, but when I travel, I’m trapped on an airplane for ten hours at a time.

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Aug 13 2008

Multithreaded Task System Arguments

Published by under Code,Games

I have implemented a task system for my brushing program. In many ways, it emulates a PS3 by creating 6 threads which sleep until told to do something. That “something” is a function which does a task and then exits. There are two issues with this that I am resolving at the moment.

  1. It is hard to debug the tasks when there are hundreds or thousands a frame
  2. I want to emulate the PS3 SPU local store, which means segmenting my memory space

To make each of these easier to deal with, all of the task entry functions take an argument. This argument is a pointer to a ClTaskArg class. Tasks are expected to derive from this class to get their arguments into, and potentially out of, the task function.

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Aug 12 2008

Scuba in Roatan

Published by under Outside,Travel


Last week I was in Roatan scuba diving.

Short form:

While the diving was not as good as Curacao, it was a great vacation and a break from the game industry. I had no cell nor email access all week.

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Aug 01 2008

Roatan

Published by under Outside,Travel

RoatanHeading off for vacation in Roatan. Scuba diving for 7 days without cell phone nor email.

Bliss.

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Jul 08 2008

Multiprocessor Programming

Published by under Code

I am only 20 pages into it, but The Art of Multiprocessor Programming has become my new reference book. It deals with all kinds of lock-free algorithms, queues, and synchronization methods.

Going forward, it is critical that programmers understand how to deal with multiprocessor systems. While this book focuses on shared memory systems, the concepts are still applicable to the PS3 (which does not have a shared memory system due to the SPUs).

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Jul 07 2008

Latency and bandwidth

Published by under Code

A common discussion in computer architecture is bandwidth versus latency. Each is important, but it is critical to understand the tradeoffs for each.

Imagine a garden hose. Connected to the hose is a hot and cold water faucet. As a user, you can turn on more hot or cold water. Then, at some time later in the future, the water coming out of the end of the hose is that new temperature.

  • Bandwidth is how wide the hose is.
  • Latency is how long the hose is.

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Jun 06 2008

PlayStation-edu

Published by under Code,Games

I just put up a post on the PlayStation blog about the PlayStation-edu program:

http://blog.us.playstation.com/2008/06/06/playstation-edu/

It is a program to get development hardware into the classrooms of universities and colleges.

I am giving a talk about it at the Game Education Summit next week in Dallas.

[update]

Made slashdot!

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Jun 05 2008

CG vs HLSL

Published by under Code

I just converted my app from Cg to HLSL. No real reason, except that I didn’t want to be locked into nVidia graphics cards.

In general, I find Cg more straightforward than HLSL. However, once I finished, it does not really make any difference to my app code because I have abstracted the shader layer away. Considering that I plan to stick with very straightforward shader files (and not even bother with .fx files), it probably does not matter in the end.

My next step is to create a job management system which runs on multiple threads…

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May 26 2008

Realtime Brushes

Published by under Code

The renderer which I have been working on is based around brushes. At the moment, they are very basic, but they produce some pretty images. As mentioned in previous posts, there is a cube with each side having a different image on it.

I finally hooked up a screenshot function to the app as well as a mode to capture at 30fps. All of those images create a movie. It is not perfect, because the D3D function GetBackBuffer() stalls like crazy. I am still trying to figure out how to capture at a decent framerate without having to use a video capture card.

For the movie, it shows the brushes moving around the images, turning the cube, and a few other effects. Right now, there are very few rules for the brushes, so I need to add some more to see what happens.

The movie.

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May 25 2008

PixelJunk Monsters Soundtrack

Published by under Games

The soundtrack to the game PixelJunk Monsters has been released on the PSN Store! There is a great interview of Otograph, the group behind the music over on the PlayStation blog. I managed to find time to play a number of levels in the game…I probably got 5-7 rainbows before other things demanded my time. I would love to go back and play it some more. The amazing thing about the soundtrack is that it does not have any DRM. I can move it off my PS3 to my main PC (where I can stream it to my Roku Soundbridge) and to my iPod Nano for when I go running and traveling.

It is really nice that you can play PixelJunk Monsters via RemotePlay. I can sit on my couch and play the game on my PSP with headphones on, instead of taking over my main TV. The game works just fine and the music is even more addictive with headphones on.

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