So I had the idea that if I created a pixel art palette, any art that I make in the future will be inter-compatible - so when I make bunch of robots for a dystopian future thriller game, they'll fit right in lurking in a cave re-purposed by a bunch of orcs.
Or something like that anyway - it's a nice way to fill an afternoon and I think I have something I like.
16 is the traditional number of colours so I went with that. There are still a couple of colours I'm not completely sure about, but I'll only really know for sure once I start making things with it.
OMG this book. The Martian
Working on my Pixelling. Had an idea for a sort of Urban Survival game. Making graphics is hard though!
I have been working on a site for my photos and other 'art' for ages now. I've finally added a link to
the site in the sidebar.
The site is hosted as a GitHub Pages site, I wanted something really simple but there were some challenges to overcome,
chief of which was being able to post a photo directly from my iPhone.
I plan to write a post about the python app I wrote in Pythonista that uses the GitHub API to post pictures.
Overall I'm happy with the simple design, although there are still some things I want to do:
- Albums should display photos with their titles, rather than just the same as the stream
- Load the stream as the page scrolls
- Fill in the About page.
I love taking photos with my iPhone, so always enjoy a peek behind the curtain of how others do it.
Adventures in WebGL
Back in October I mentioned that I was looking at learning WebGL. I finally managed to find some time to do it this month
and have made some pleasing progress.
My plan was to start off creating a simple 2D framework to replace jaws.js. I've been using this framework since I started
playing around making games and I really like its simplicity, but I was butting up against its performance. Since it had a load of
stuff in it I'm probably never going to use, rolling my own seemed like a good idea.
My first attempt was very disappointing from the performance point of view.
I asked for help. I was doing so very little with my demo that I couldn't understand why the performance was so poor.
I got some pointers and was able to make some changes. Basically, you can't do lots of
buffer\push\draw operations very fast in WebGL.
You have to break them down so that you're buffering a whole load of points into memory then drawing them all at once. I was able to get
much better performance by creating a
SpriteBucket. drawing ~500 sprites at a time appeared to give me the best balance,
giving me >10,000 sprites @ 60fps.
On the whole, I was unprepared for how delicate the balance was between getting reasonable drawing rate and not. I naively thought that
WebGL was a super powerhouse of graphics processing and I would only start to have problems when I started trying to do stupid things. I
suppose you could argue that plastering 5000+ sprites on the screen at once and redrawing everything constantly is stupid, but my
LD30 game had tilemaps and monsters that could have potentially approached this and it didn't run very well.
With a few obvious tweaks like not bothering to draw stuff off screen (duh!) and only updating vertices and texture coordinates if something
has actually changed I saw immediate improvements. The less obvious (to me at the time) stuff, like buffering batches of sprites for a
single draw call made the biggest difference.
The end product from my dalliances this month was Glixl. Glixl can create sprite and tile maps from 2D sprite sheets. It goes
pretty fast if you pay attention to what's being drawn, although there are still areas I can improve. My intention is to use this for
my games from now on, so I'll be developing it as I go, adding features that I need. Some things that I still need to work on:
- Mouse & Touch controls
- Tilemap path finding
- Animated tiles
and I need to improve the SpriteBucket object as it has a few things I feel are hacky. Overall though, it does exactly what I want it to do.
I've started making a simple game, Dojo Master. to test it too, which is working out quite nicely. So far I only had to add 1 feature to get it working.
Discovered in a text file titled: "Game Ideas":
Paramecium Chronicles- base building/survival horror. You choose an orifice to invade, set up shop and start replicating
Awesome idea I have absolutely no memory of coming up with.
Hmmm. In defence of the selfie stick
Ludum Dare 31
Sadly I wasn't able to participate in Ludum Dare 31.
I thought the theme was interesting. I know there were some complaints that it
was overly specific and made 3D games harder or impossible. It was actually one
of the themes that I voted for though because I thought it would be fun.
When I woke up and found out that was the winner, I immediately had the idea of
doing a classic platformer with multiple levels all visible on the screen at once.
I notice today as people start submitting that there are a few other people who had
the same idea and they do look awesome!
are two that I've seen so far. I love the idea!
I got as far on Saturday as making a little 8-pix character, Henry:
My plan was to set up as many 64x64 levels as I could all joined together, with
puzzles or bosses to defeat to unlock the door to the next space.
Alas, I was unable to do it. I might play around with the idea, but with so little time
to do much of anything these days, Henry's dreams of rescuing his dragon will likely remain
forever unrealised. Poor Henry.
Personally, I think Pearl stole Betty's Face, as opposed to Betty stealing Pearl's eyes...
I spent last week in the New Forest with my family. Apparently this year is a very good year for mushrooms. As we were walking around the forest, I saw lots of different types and some of them made some nice photos. I did have a go at identifying them but it's quite tricky and the only one I am reasonably sure about is the second to last one which looks like a Vermillion Waxcap.
Click for full size.
Build an FPV drone!
Great Album: The Golden Age - Woodkid
OMG this is AMAZING: FPV Racing
Valve pulls game after developer makes death threats - Actions have consequences people.
I'm at the very early stages of learning and working with web-gl. Now that Apple has added support for it in Mobile Safari it's something that I can get excited about.
I've made it much easier for myself to post and edit blog stuff. This can be a kind of living blog post where I can collect links to the stuff I find.
Update 2015-01-27: I made one! glixl is a 2D tile/sprite library for WebGL.
3 word film review
A Million Ways to Die in the West: "Silly but funny".
Full blog post
Although very short, this is a blog post by virtue of the fact that it has a title!
Posted using my new burble based editor.
A blurb is like a tweet but I can keep them here.
I made a discovery this weekend. It has taken me almost a year to make the realisation but it
was striking when I noticed:
I've never been a particularly prolific blogger, but 2014 is easily one of my worst years yet.
It's no co-incidence either that the last post of 2013 was about me moving my blog to GitHub.
In moving it to GitHub I created a barrier to making posts.
Previously, I've always built my own blogging engines and they have always come with web-based
front-ends for managing and posting articles. I could quickly navigate to my blog, log into the
control panel and post an article.
The workflow for posting an article from GitHub is really not that difficult but it adds a few
small extra steps that act as barriers to me actually bothering to do it and it's a real shame.
I have a solution. It's still in progress but the primary functionality is already in
place - Burble is a microblog hosted on GitHub as a GitHub Pages site that includes
repository, completely bypassing the need to fire up an editor, sync or clone the repository,
generating the file with the right name, writing it, committing it back etc etc.
I have some bigger plans for Burble itself, but once I have got the editor working fully (currently
it only allows the posting of new 'blurbs', no editing or deleting), I will be able to use it to
manage my main gh-pages hosted site (this one!). I'm quite excited about both projects, which will
hopefully inspire me to write about them a little more.
Ludum Dare 30
This weekend I took part in Ludum Dare, the build-a-game-in-48-hours competition.
The theme this time was Connected Worlds. I had an idea fairly early on - Scientist (Rodney) accidently opens a portal to another world, gets stuck and has to try to find his way home. Definitely not original, but it was a start.
- JawsJS - Really nice, simple 2D game framework
- Howler.js - Clever HTML5 audio library
I was particularly pleased to be able to use some of the pathfinding features in Jaws that I contributed a while back too!
Overall I was pleased with my finished product. It wasn't quite as ambitious as I had planned for but I finished it and it makes some kind of sense.
Things I was pleased with
Enemy AI - It's laughable to call it AI really, the Bat Fiends look around, if they see Rodney they move to intercept. But it really worked. It looks really cool when you walk into a new void area and a whole flock of Bat Fiends come chasing out of some side corridor after you. It's the little things.
Art - I am no artist, but I've been developing my pixel art skills over the last year or so and I was actually pretty pleased with the result:
The bat fiends were pretty simple, but cool looking:
Things not so pleased with
Sound - Howler turned out to be brilliant, really easy to use and just worked. My ability to create sound effects however needs much development. Music I completely failed with, no idea where to start. Definitely an area to work on for next time.
Animation - I definitely need to work on my walk cycles!
Fun - I'm not completely convinced that the game is actually much fun. It was quite cool when 3 or 4 portals in, I found myself tunneling through the walls to get around instead of walking through open areas because there were so many bat fiends, but I'm not sure it had much lasting appeal.
I had a lot of fun working on this. Technically, I'm quite pleased with it, but conceptually, it could be better - I think I need to spend the next few months playing as many computer games as possible to get a better idea of what makes them fun.
Things to work on:
- Musical composition skills
- ISOMETRIC :)
WSGI and the 403 Forbidden error
I recently set up a new server so I could deploy an app I've been working on.
Because I'm lazy, I simply copied and pasted all the various settings files from an existing app that was running perfectly happily and restarted Apache.
Annoyingly, all I got was
403 Forbidden: You don't have permission to access / on this server and it took me about an hour and a half to work out what was wrong. I eventually found this StackOverflow answer that explained that the newer versions of Apache have slightly different security settings.
I added the line
Require all granted to my VirtualHost apache config file, restarted and everything worked perfectly. My new config looks like this now:
WSGIDaemonProcess flaskTest user=flask group=www-data threads=5 home=/<redacted>/flaskTest
WSGIScriptAlias / /<redacted>/flaskTest/flaskTest.wsgi
Allow from all
Require all granted