Archive for category History

The Beginning of the Beginning

Early-Mid 2008

Enthusiastic innocence quickly gave way to confused curiosity as I realised that working with XNA wasn’t really anything like the amateur programming I had been doing before. It had similarities, sure, and it was still many saganhertz more user-friendly than working directly with DirectX, but it didn’t try to hide the skeletons underneath: instead, it encouraged me to dig them up and molest their remains as much and as often as I could.

Err… okay, that analogy got creepy fast. Moving on: what I was trying to say before my twisted subconscious got control of that sentence was that, rather than providing me with pre-built shaders, XNA provided me with one really basic shader and then encouraged me to learn HLSL (High Level Shader Language. Yeah, programmers aren’t paid to be inventive with names), so I could write my own. Rather than giving me an inbuilt animation system, XNA gave me a sample solution in which such a system was implemented, encouraging me to learn how and why it worked. And so on.

So even though it was more difficult and slower than working with my other engines and programs, XNA managed to hold my interest, and still does. And with that interest came the inevitable question “what am I going to make with it?”

It’d need to be something that I wouldn’t be afraid of screwing up: so anything with a complex story was right out. Something small enough it could be done by a team consisting of 1 mundane modeller, 1 poor programmer, 1 worse writer and 1 apathetic anal-retentive alliterative ass, and where I was all of those. Except the last one, ’cause I loathe alliteration with all my shrivelled black heart.

[awkward pause]

Say, didn’t I have an idea for an evolution simulator around here somewhere?

If “saganhertz” isn’t a real word it should be,

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Getting into 3D

Late 2007

So here’s me, late 2007. University wasn’t going well, and I was beginning to suspect I had chosen the wrong career path. On the other hand, my programming skills had been improving, and I had finally gone looking for a 3D game engine.

I found Blitz3D.

Blitz’s simple interface and use of the BASIC programming language lightened the learning curve going from 2D to 3D graphics, but it also removed from me some area’s of complexity, like collision managment, basic drawing concepts and terrain rendering. In hindsight, I really can’t tell if this was a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, it allowed me to build a few projects to near-completion very quickly: on the other, I only had a very shallow understanding of what it was I was actually doing. I remained enthused, but it slowly began to dawn on me that Blitz simply wasn’t powerful enough for my needs.

Losing interest in one project and looking for something else to occupy myself, I decided that I needed a different, more powerful engine. I found something even more powerful than that: the XNA framework.

According to a definition I found on the internet, which means it is absolutely infallible and anyone using any other definition is a blasphemer and a heretic, a game framework is a step above raw DirectX but a step below an actual game engine: it’s used to build the engine, which in turn is used to build the game. I had no idea at the time what this meant, but I saw normal mapping and bloom effects in an XNA project and, eyes shining with innocence, I happily ran after the graphical candy.

Sold his soul for Parallax Mapping,

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Waning Poetic: Back to reality….

Early 2006

Buuuuut at the time I was thinking the above (err… below?), my programming experiences were limited.

It was my first year out of school and I was still programming odd little games in Adobe Flash in between University studies. I hadn’t even started with three-dimensional games, and had only just awakened an interest in evolution (which at that stage was less “biology is interesting” and more “annoying religous nuts* on the internet is interesting”). So Species sat in the back of my mind for a while, slowly fermenting (Idea’s are like alcohol: the longer you leave them, the better they get. Also, have too many and you start acting flamboyantly immature), first as a possible flash project, later as a 3D game. It would be two whole years before I took any of those idea’s and began to action them.

So let’s skip ahead a bit…

Someone told him idea’s make you drunk. He’s been this way ever since.

*footnote: For the record, most religous people are not nuts, and many nuts are not religous. There is however, a strong correlation between evolution denialism (a subset of “being nuts”) and religousity, hense my use of the term “religous nuts”. If you do not deny basic science, no offense was intended or directed towards you or your beliefs. If you do deny basic science… well, okay, you’re a nutter, but that’s okay! We’d love to hear your nutty opinions anyway!

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