Xerra's Blog

Drunken coder ramblings

RAM update and moving forward —

Sorry for lack of updates the last few weeks. I was much busier than anticipated both trying to get the game finished, and the additional weekends that I’ve spent away doing stuff like weddings and stag do’s. I’m also just back from a weeks holiday in Spain so I’ve been a while away from the computer recently.

Unfortunately I never got RAM finished in time for the competition this time so I had to pull it out of the event. It was a shame as I’d invested some money into some artwork for it as well as a considerable amount of time in programming hours. I can’t use the project for a future competition as the rules are very clear in that any game I create has to fit the competition theme and something completely written from scratch, so the game is to one-side to finish outside of time dedicated to the next competition if I enter. Which I can’t see me turning down as it’s a good experience writing my own entry and voting on others.

There’s likely to be a couple of weeks or so now before the next one is announced and starts up so I’ll maybe have time to get it done there or use the time to move over some of the new stuff I’ve done in RAM into my framework to maybe save me some time working on the next game. I kept a lot of notes on stuff that I worked on for the game in the project and coded to make it easy to lift the functions more or less intact so it wasn’t a waste of effort, even if I don’t get to showcase it like I did for Envahi.

I didn’t do much on the framework while I was doing the game so it will be handy to get back to fixing some problem areas in that I noticed when I imported the current build to start on RAM. I’ve kept track of the version of the framework each time I’ve used it for something else and Invaders used version 2, RAM used 4 and I used it last night to put together the background project for a remake of my game Infection that I’ll pick up at some point and that’s number 5. All the time I’m working on small games and modifying the framework is improving my coding no end so it’s good to be productive, even if I haven’t quite got the latest game over the line.

So where have I ended up with RAM to date?

Currently the game is at revision 16. The game cards all work fine and are shuffled and dealt correctly. There is some kind of small bug which is moving cards incorrectly to the computer hand at present along with no visual display of the cards in the stash if players draw on the stats and have to play again to win the whole pile. These 2 bugs and problems with the game round counter were left as I went on to finish the front end menus and complete the story before running out of time.

The menu’s and most of the front end stuff is now finished and I had almost finished laying out the story pages into graphics to layout in the game as well as a credits screen to put in similar to how Envahi’s worked. The code is all there to have it working fortunately.

Most of the work that needed to be done was having the play section work based on whatever game mode we were playing and to have the round sequence bug fixed so we could finally actually finish a game.

Looking at my to-do list in the project I still need a coin system for purchasing computer parts – possibly another menu system for this, or just have some buy buttons under the image of each part on a new screen. I need to still replace a few of the computer images that I did a piss-poor editing job with.

Also there needs to be some kind of basic help screen to explain each game mode and the profile save/load stuff code was in but untested until I could finalise what info I needed to actually save in it.

After that it’s mostly presentation stuff such as game completion screen for winning story mode and maybe a different AI system for the baddy of the game, Morpheus.

When it’s written down it’s quite a bit more than I actually think so, in some ways, maybe it’s better that I hadn’t tried to cram it all into 8 weeks of work after all. Realistically the 8 chapter background story to the story mode of the game that you unlock a chapter from each round could have taken all that time on its own – if I’d let it.

When I get back to it I’ll be finishing the core game stuff rather than digressing onto the front end bits as I’m not on a deadline now so can at least give it the time it needs to be done properly.

So I’ve learnt a lesson here about being realistic about what I can actually do when I’m working to a deadline. I’ve kept an hourly log of my work on RAM for all that I’ve done so far and it already far exceeds what I took for Envahi. And this game had only 8 weeks to be completed whereas that game had 10. Next time I intend to put a week into just the game idea and design before I start anything so I’m a lot better prepared and pretty certain I have the time to complete whatever I come up with.

On the plus side of this competition business, Aaron, my partner in coding games, entered this time and did get his game over the line. And, to make it even better, his game, Triss, came in second place. A very worthy achievement. You can download the game from the links on this page or just go to:

Triss by Morpheus


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