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Night of the Cephalopods

Interesting game idea: Game story telling in another way.
via ak's soup


Great computer game related Bol.com commercial: Youtube video.

3D on the web with Java and Irrlicht

Matthew Casperson started a tutorial series at Bright Hub on Irrlicht and Java: He is showing how to use Irrlicht and Java (using Jirr) to create 3D applications which can start directly from a website. He is looking to go more in depth than the basic set of tutorials supplied with Irrlicht to provide a resource for those looking something a little more advanced.
Worth a read.

Doom running in Flash VM

The original Doom 1 source code has been recompiled (and of course adapted a bit, I guess) using Alchemy, the compiler which compiles C and C++ into Actionscript: play it (requires Flash Player 10). There have been rewrites of the Doom engine in ActionScript before, but this is the real original source code running in ActionScript Bytecode, and you can really feel that it is. Great :)

Max Payne Movie Review

It sucked. Totally. Don't watch it.

Max Payne Movie: The Fear

Going to watch the Max Payne Movie in the next few hours, although everybody told me not to, and every review I found is very bad. I hope I can compensate this with enough beer before entering the cinema. But the fear remains.

Just confirm my email already!!1!

Sometimes it's quite amazing how many people are ignoring simple logic:

Since we are running Bienen und Blumen we are getting mails from a tiny fraction of our users
complaining that they didn't receive their email confirmation. That's basically a mail sent out by our server with a link the user has to click in order to confirm that the email adress he typed in is valid.

But as always, some people have email adresses with servers who do not seem to let our mails get trough (hello lycos) or filters who classify the mail wrongly as spam and other similar problems. Those people then sometimes contact us directly, asking us to manually validate their mail. Which is understandable, but totally useless.

Of course, I could manually confirm such a mail adress. But if the confirmation mail didn't get through to you, other, following mails won't either. So it's totally useless to confirm such a mail adress. Understandable?

Apparently not: Some people simply ignore me explaining this and insist on the manual confirmation of this mail adress. User: "Please, confirm my mail adress" - Me: "But I can't. If you didn't receive the confirmation mail, you won't receive others as well. Check your spam filter, contact your email provider or use another adress". Minutes later: "Please, confirm it!!!". *sigh*

Obviously Austria now belongs to Japan

We all know language guessing based on an IP lookup sucks and doesn't work. But why does youtube do this now as well? And why does it think I am in Japan?


How (not) to protect AS3 source code

As people now seem to become quite aware that other people will steal their flash games by simply reverse engineering the source code out of the compiled .SWF files, one idea which pops up in a lot of blogs and forums is this: "Why don't you simply encrypt the SWF file?" Great idea. Except that it doesn't help or work. Here is why:

The usual idea is to take the working game .SWF file, encrypt it and embedd it into another wrapper-SWF file which plays the real SWF loaded and decrypted from an embedded binary resource. Great, so nobody is able to see the decompiled source, right? Wrong.
Remember: If your wrapper SWF file can decrypt the real game, then anybody else can do this as well. It only takes the evil guy at worst as much time finding the key and decrypting the real content as it takes you to encrypt it. Even less time if he uses one of the dedicated tools for this. You've only made it a litte bit more difficult to get the code for him, you didn't prevent it at all.

In order to prevent people stealing your code by reading the symbols in your code, the only way to do this is to remove the symbols. If there are no symbols anywhere, you cannot retrieve them. So simply remove the symbols from your code before publishing your SWF. And that's what code obfuscators are for. If the information isn't there anymore, it cannot be stolen. Simple as that :)

IrrEdit Shadow Map PlugIn

Looks like I'm not calling irrEdit, the editor for Irrlicht 'extensible' for nothing. You can write extension scripts using Squirrel with it and extend any part of the underlying 3D graphics engine and scene graph using a mighty plugin C++ API. And as just announced on the forum, Blindside just released a shadow map plugin for irredit:

Quite impressive. Dynamic realtime shadows inside this editor which doesn't support something like this natively. :) There is also a youtube video showing the plugin in action.

Good Time for a Winter Dejection

In Germany, the BKA law has just been passed, enabling secret (!) online searches of your PC. In Austria, now all people linked to illegal drug use will be recorded into a database accessible by most authorities. Even people only accused of such activities, even if falsely accused! The european union refuses to release secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement documents. Basically, they are negotiating agreements which affect all of our lifes and refuse to tell us what they are doing there. In the UK the security agencies demand laws for media censorship. And Shell now has received a 25 year monopoly on all southern Iraq's natural gas. WTF. So all this is called democracy, right?

Summary: The world is evil. Fucked up, stupid and evil. I nearly had pushed this to the back of my mind, but now it's there, back again.

A new piece of monster hardware

Since a few days, there is now a new black monster sitting right next to my monitor: Although it's just an external sound card, its still bigger than my mac mini for example. Instead of the usual 2 ports (microphone, sound output) I am used to, this thing has about 20. Twenty ports! Additionally, there are numerous switches and adjusters coming out of it, so it really looks quite complicated:

Unfortunately, I have no idea what to do with this thing, I only bought it to add a new feature causing irrKlang to work on Mac OS X with hardware like this thing. But at least it looks quite impressive. ;)

Tetris in Little Big Planet

Someone created a Tetris clone in Little Big Planet: youtube video.

Black/White Shooter

Wow, if this isn't a great game idea: The Unfinished Swan. Watch the videos on the website.

Irrlicht Wiki Now 100% ad-free

I just removed the ads from the Irrlicht Wiki. The ads on there were intended to bring back in a part of the server costs for the wiki, but from now on I'm simply paying this on my own, who cares. I think it's worth having a cleaner interface then getting a few bucks out of it. :)
Of course, now that the performance of the sourceforge.net servers seem to have improved since the move, we could host the wiki on there as well, but this would also mean that all the google and external links now pointing to the wiki would be invalidated, so lets simply stay as it is.

Things you don't expect - Invincibility

My small RPG Darkness Springs is now running for several months, but last week, something unexpected happened: A user claimed that he wasn't able to die. That he was invincible. Interesting.

Curiously, I took a look at this, and the user was right. When I let a group of monsters attack his character, nothing happened. He simply didn't die. He also wasn't able to use health potions, but he didn't need them anyway. :)
Strange. After some examination, I found the problem: The user had managed to get his character to have 128 points of health. For Darkness Springs, this is quite a lot, actually nobody ever trained his character until this value before. Everything was fine, but when the user closed the game and started it again later, this value turned into -127, and the described symptoms manifested.

Of course, this was a bad server side programming error (typical value overflow, and it's my fault), but hey, 128 points of health? Who could have expected this :)