Back in the Saddle


Maintaining momentum is hard sometimes. As our game has grown, countless shortcuts and “TODO” notes have accumulated into a mass of code which is as difficult to debug as it is to add features to. Anyone who follows what we put out (all 3 of you) may have noticed– we slipped below the radar this month.

Fear not! This game still has as much potential as it ever did, and it’s still exciting. I’ve gotten back into a daily habit of code cleanup and hopefully sometime soon I’ll have fixed our old bugs, finally improved the “NEEDS IMPROVEMENT” algorithms, and gotten us back to a point where adding things to the game is 75% new and fun, 25% maintenance and interfacing.

In the meantime, rest assured that (speaking at least for myself) I am committed as ever to getting a free Alpha version out soon. It’s not as far away as it seems, and I think it will do us good to finally put something out there.

Talk to you again soon, I hope.

-Grant 

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About A-Type

Sophomore at NC State University, majoring in Computer Science. Hobbyist game programmer.

4 responses to “Back in the Saddle”

  1. Ben Berman says :

    Good post. I really hope you guys keep focused on this, as it seems like a really, really cool project.

    Entertain me a bit, would you kindly? I’m (obviously) trying to get into the game-making industry as well, and I’m very curious as to what kinds of glitches you’re having. Are they glitches like the program crashing or glitches like collision detection?

    • A-Type says :

      Your response is appreciated.

      We’ve got quite a few bugs we’ve let roam free for a while now. Various problems. Generally, bugs which crash the game are dealt with quickly, but ones that simply cause undesired behavior or slowness are often overlooked.

      Current list of things I need to fix:

      – Every minute or so the game will slow to a crawl (<2fps), regardless of factors like number of items onscreen, ship speed or position, etc. For now we can only guess that this is Garbage Collection, and we're working to transition to a pool-based storage of blocks instead of list-based (that is, fixed static memory vs. dynamic declaration)

      – Some vertices on planets still don't stitch together. I'm narrowing the qualifications for that one down now. Planets are actually cubes which are 'inflated' to be spherical in shape, so they have different 'faces' and 'seams'. Blocks which line the NORTH/FRONT seam do not stitch side faces, as well as a few other seams. I'm close to fixing this one I think.

      – Occasionally you will accidentally place a block on the opposite side of your ship. Probably has to do with our nonsensical decision to use BoundingSpheres instead of BoundingBoxes to represent blocks (seriously, why did we do that?)

      – When adjusting a block's orientation while placing it, orienting it to the Front or Back does not result in the proper faces facing the right way. Could be related to the stitching problem, now that I think about it.

      – Energy level decals on blocks are not refreshed when energy state changes

      So, there's quite a variety of issues, littered throughout a continually growing codebase. The first one is definitely the most dire, but also the most confusing and difficult to trace to a root cause. Feature creep (the problem of coming up with too many features to implement in the short term) is also killing us, because we have so many cool ideas for what to do next that we don't want to fix up what we've got.

      • A-Type says :

        I should mention that our real bug list is quite a bit longer, but those are the important ones / the ones that won’t go away after code restructuring anyway.

  2. Thomas D says :

    Hey, really glad to see you guys are still working on it! I’ve seen quite a few promising projects fall by the wayside, so I had almost chalked another one up on that list.

    Anyway, that was really it. Just wanted to let you all know that I’m still following, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future.

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