Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Humble Bundle: Rochard

After reading that Rochard was developed with Unity3D, I knew I had to try it out. Trying it out on linux was utter fail, giving me some GL something error. A quick google told me little. Sighing, and wishing modern games weren't a gig in size, I switched to my OSX box, downloaded, and it ran without a hitch.

I was presently surprised by Rochard. The graphics were on the more toony side with a well developed colour palette. Controls were very tight, and many aspects of the game design was very appealing.

For example, there is no concept of lives, and if you die through a particular scene, power ups collected stay collected. Every scene is basically a puzzle to solve, be it fighting through enemies or mostly, figuring a way to manipulate gravity, be it with the hand held gravity beam or engaging the space stations global low gravity mode, or reversing gravity, yada yada to get to the next screen.

The difficulty ramps up quite nicely, with hints (that can be turned off - I think they need to be more obvious in certain areas though) showing you the way forward. I only encountered one area, so far, where it took me like a dozen tried to get through, where enemies came up on elevators at both sides with robots floating down from above. Ergh. The rest of it you could take the time to figure out the puzzles to get through.

There is a significant amount of voice acting, which sounded very professionally produced and polished, and the enemy AI in the game reacts to not only line of sight, but also to noises. The vocal quips made in response to your actions really give the sense of life. Several things about the AI could be made better, e.g. grenades landing on the enemy has zero reaction. To be fair, half of me doesn't want the enemy to run, as the ragdoll effects engaged when the grenades blow up are hilarious. The other half says the realism could be improved. A solution I think would be a timed release; e.g. instead of the grenade button just firing off a grenade and it will blow up after some time, hold down the button so that the grenade still activates in-hand, so that you can toss it over and the AI tried to run, but can't as the grenade blows up at their feet. Sorry AIs.

There is a short blurb on the rochard website detailing the journey dedicated to make this game come to life. Highly inspiring. It's a great game devs, I look forward to completing it.

EDIT: Completed the game. Just under 5 hours. Two things that stand out I'd like to have changed. The last "boss" fight always has the monologue going on if you die and restart. That really needs to be skipable.  Also, when on a ladder - this is a personal thing of course - is then when pressing jump on a ladder to do megaman style drops, instead of jumping upward on a ladder. Not only do I think jumping upwards on a ladder is kinda tough, but falling from a ladder makes more sense in terms of speed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Humble Bundle 6... boo :(

Have some spare change this month, and decided to get the 6th Humble Bundle. None of the games really stood out for me, but I could do with a new shooter, and thought Space Pirates and Zombies would be a good one. Sadly, it is uber slow on linux - I bet it's run through wine and not native - and it doesn't even run on my mac. Torchlight I also had hopes for it but no, it ran like mud on my linux box. Didn't even bother to download it for osx. Not keen on the platformers either, so :(

Seriously, I think I should just bite the bullet and buy a new game for my DS. Like, no worries about hardware or drivers, just bloody insert the cartridge, play. I'm getting old, you know?

On the flip side, the bundle game with a whole lot of OSTs, so there is a *lot* of music to listen to. Hopefully it'll be good. In the 4th bundle, Cave Story's soundtrack is fantastic, especially when you factor in that it the entire game was done entirely by one guy. Jamestown's OST is similarly friggin' awesome. So here's hoping the OSTs in the 6th bundle are good :)

Frankly, as much as I would like to game, I am at the stage where I can't be arsed to dig into my os to get stuff to work. Like SPAZ on linux, I had to chmod the download, install it, find out that it won't run full screen (LCD gives me spasms about incorrect sync?!), had to go to a terminal, kill the game, find out that the windowing system is now on the fritz, reboot, edit the frakin' game config file, finally get it to run, only to have it speed by like molasses.

No thanks.

I'd rather spend time writing pointless blog posts and learning counterpoint, ya know?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Autumn hither here come

Getting colder day by day, used to be able to hang out during lunch time in a tee but it's way to cold for that. Change in weather doesn't help, i just got over a bit of a stomach upset earlier this week, and caught a cold yesterday >.>

Boo, hope I can recover by the weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kindle and Ebooks

Recently, I took to checking out the free ebooks on Amazon, and there is a vast treasure trove of free ebooks available for download at no cost. For example, a very enjoyable sci fi novel is The Phoenix Conspiracy. The characters and plot are very well developed and I was absolutely sucked into reading it straight through, then purchasing its sequel. And very anxiously awaiting the 3rd book.

I suspect that's how the authors use this platform for sales, the first book in the series is let go in the wild free, and if the reader enjoys it, will definitely want to continue, hence the need to purchase the rest of the series.

The kindle platform is one I really enjoy. I think I have lost interest in gadgets years ago (hello, pda). But this is one gadget that I don't regret purchasing. First, the e-ink is just damned good for reading with compared to real paper. The battery life is insanely good as well. I like the fact that kindle ebooks are downloaded in an instant, and I don't have physical books cluttering up my room. Wolf knows how many books that don't have digital versions are stacked up 10s high on my shelves.

One additional feature that's really nice is sample content; a short preview of the ebook to check out before purchasing.

Technical books OTOH are what I generally do not want on the kindle as I want it on my lap or across my desk as I work on 'em. Stuff like math and programming texts, ewww, no digital stuff. I do tend to mark up such texts with a pencil as well, so paper is the way to go for these.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Midi Controller: Phase 3

Just wanted to put down my thoughts on the hardware and stuff on the midi controller. It is my hope and long term goal to put up this project as open source so others with better knowledge of hardware and software can improve upon it.

So this is what I've got after thinking about this project on and off. I'm actually thinking about AI at the moment but oh, look, cheese!


First, is input. Previously I used the Arduino's ADC to read in the values directly without any anti-aliasing filter. Well, phase 3 will add that, as well as using the designed-for-microprocessor MPX5010GSX.

Signal Acquisition Hardware:
MPX5010GSX Pressure Sensor
MAX7410 Low Pass Filter IC. (alt: MAX295CPA)
Teensy 2.0

Other inputs:
3x Switches or Potentiometers

The pressure sensor hopefully will work as before, without the necessary amplification components. For the anti aliasing filter before the ADC, the MAX7410 looks like a good candidate.

At the moment, I'm planning on sending perhaps 25, 30 midi CC packets per second tops, so, we need at least 60Hz to fulfill the nyquist limit. Add in perhaps double, or 4 times oversampling, it will be still under a few hundred Hz.

The MAX741X series comes in either Bessel or Butterworth type filters. I'm going with the butterworth bessel for its linear phase.

The max7410 seems provide a variable bandwidth from 1Hz all the way to 15Khz, and only seems to required a capacitor to tune its cutoff frequency. That, or I can use one of the DIY filter algorithms to figure out some capacitors, resistors and inductors to chain together.

The Teensy is described before, it was chosen because of its (theoretically) ease of programmability into a HID controller, so we can just plug it in, and modern OSes will recognize it as a midi device, without using a real midi input device as before.

Finally, I think a few external controls will be good. First, variable breath pressure input. The previous version was fixed to a given level, so you would need to blow a certain amount to reach the full midi value. I think not everyone has the same breath force as I do (I probably have very little, given I tend to keel over when playing the flute), so a potentiometer to vary it between low and high pressure would help here.

Next, linearity.  Just putting the values through a power function, and yet another potentiometer to adjust between linear to various non-linear ways (duh).

Finally, perhaps a 3rd input to control how much digital filtering is going on. We could set it to low, to use minimal filtering (large bias), or have the output curves be smoother (low bias for input data). Who knows. There have been some thoughts at the back of my head to only output midi data when there is a significant delta between subsequent samples, else it does nothing. Mrrr.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Been doodling in processing and reading up "Getting Started with Processing". I'm about a 3rd of the way through the book, and it is an easy read for those who know programming. It's Java. Half of me is going woo, great, haven't used java in years, will be fun. The other half is going.... java... again?! Why isn't this in C or C++ >.>


Started on a small project this time, and had some major tearing issues, supposedly caused by the lack of vsync. Evidently it has to do with the rendering modes. I'm guessing it's my driver on the linux box, but it does not like the OpenGL drivers, getting odd stalls and stuff. Switching over to P2D or P3D seems to run the examples very smoothly.Which is good, because I really don't want to boot up the music machine just for this.

Ergh, so ill.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Disney's Brave

As with every Disney film, it's a happy ending, but I can't say I felt that good after the show. There's something in the story that reminds me of my choices in life but that's for another post...

Loved the short film, La Luna, I thought that was brilliant. Brave is quite appealing visually, and I throughly enjoyed the contrast between the mother bear and the 3 bear cubs, one more realistic, versus the very stylized japanese look, almost like tanuki.

My main gripe would be the massive lack of wolves, but we can't have everything. At least the bad guy is a bear this time, and the mom plays the good bear, so all is well.