Thursday, 11 October 2012


Wow, I didn't realise that I hadn't blogged for a whole month. Things around our house have been crazy with our conservatory being fitted and tiled then bathroom replacement. Currently the kitchen is being ripped out and tiled, ready for new units. It's pretty hard to concentrate on development or anything else when your house is being destroyed and rebuilt around your home office.

I have managed some game development work, along with marketing of my other product KitBase.

The main focus of my gamedev activities has been performance options in Starfire. I had set out to fix the screen resolution the same as desktop but this leaves little video memory and results in poor performance on machines without gaming-oriented graphics cards. So... I've had to relent and add a choice of resolutions.

The other niggle has been Vertical Sync. Some video card drivers kindly ignore the request to switch this on, leading to horrible jerky/shimmering video (known as tearing). To remedy this there's now a Vertical Retrace option in the Video menu. The options are On (use OpenGL if video card allows), Off (yuck but helps performance) or Force (uses Direct-X to wait for the monitor sync for those OpenGL drivers that ignore the request.

I've also added some sliders for the nebula effect, starfield and particles. Again, this allows smoother play on slower machines. The nebula consists of 100 layers of sprites all moving at different speeds. Looks pretty but can tax some graphics cards.

All of this should be released in the next few weeks.

Another thing I have been pondering is my next game. Like most developers I have a ton of ideas and a limited amount of development time.

The game I would really love to make is a First Person Shooter. If I have any hope of achieving this, I'll need to buy in some models/media and use an engine. I will be investigating Unity for this purpose initially and creating some prototypes.

Now that our little boy (nearly 2) is taking an interest in bashing keyboards and twiddling thumbsticks I would like to make a few little games for him. My SFML based engine should be good for the PC versions but I would also like to add code to support iOS. Unity would be an option here also, but I would like to keep a C++ codebase going for total flexibility and so that every game product isn't tied to commercial third party software (SFML is OpenSource with an nonrestrictive license). If I can make these polished but casual they might also provide welcome further income.

Hopefully the next blog post will arrive in less than 30 days!