Saturday, 26 November 2011

Windows 8 Developer Preview

Can't wait to get your hands on Windows 8 so you can program apps for it? Well the wait is over, you can download the pre-beta for developers now!

We're downloading it right now and we'd recommend running it on a VM. We use Oracle Virtual Box for VMs as you can create 64-bit and 32-bit VMs as well as VMs for Unix, Windows and Apple OS's. If you use a VM, then you don't have to worry about losing your main PC if something goes wrong.

Here are the systems requirements:
The Windows 8 Developer Preview works great on the same hardware that powers Windows Vista and Windows 7:
1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch
To run Metro style Apps, you need a screen resolution of 1024 X 768 or greater

Thursday, 24 November 2011

XNA Reach and HiDef Profiles

So I found out why I couldn't run the latest XNA GS4 on my old hardware: XNA GS4 now comes with 2 choices of graphics profile to use when you create your games! Those profiles are:


The Reach profile is for when your developing for Windows Phone 7 and you don't have the kind of display that you'd get from a Windows PC or an XBox 360. So, you guessed it, the HiDef profile is for Windows and XBox 360 development so you can get the best out of the display hardware.

If you are developing on a machine that does not have an HD display card, then you must select the Reach profile for you games or you will not be able to debug them (this works on XNA GS4 for Windows XP, Vista and 7 as well as when you install XNA GS4 as part of the Windows Phone 7.1 SDK).

For more information on this topic, please see the links below:

Shaw Hargreaves Blog (which covers how to select the different profiles)
MSDN (an in-depth article on the 2 profiles)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Monday, 1 August 2011

iostream.h is now just iostream! Who knew ... well everybody apart from me! :)

I've been looking for my Visual Studio 6.0 C++ Professional CD to no avail so I downloaded VS C++ Express 2010 and ran into some problems compliling some games written under an old DX9/C++ engine I used in University. The biggest complaint was not finding so after some quick googling I discovered that this changed in 2005 and was replaced with plain old ... and don't forget to use:

using namespace std;

while you're on (though you've probably been using this all along). I then had to copy some DX libraries into my project folder (I'll work out external dependencies later) and it built successfully! Yay! This means I can use this old engine to develop the presentation for November as, since my laptop broke, I've got nothing that will run XNA Game Studio.

Onward ho! :)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

DirectX it is!

So the laptop and desktop I have available do not have HD graphics cards in them so I cannot run XNA. I can run Unity and Blender, but not XNA!! :(

So, back to DirectX and C++ it is then.

Happy coding!

Monday, 18 July 2011


So I managed to get an old computer up and running, then managed to stuff it up so I'm trying to recover it now. The amount of RAM in it isn't great, but it has a better graphics card than anything else I have available at the moment.

Anyway, while I was trying to salvage it I double-checked the sytem requirements for XNA 4.0 and the new 7.1 beta requires 3GB of RAM while the current 7.0 release requires 2GB RAM! This is more RAM than any of my old systems have, so I'm pretty gutted so I'll have to save my pennies for a RAM upgrade. :(

However, I did find that there is an XNA 4 ONLY download for Windows XP (so just XNA Game Studio, not the whole Windows Phone suite that XNA now comes bundled with) so I may give that a try once I've recovered my old system.

The laptop I'm using is running Windows 7 with only 1GB RAM so I can't use the above tools, however, I can use DirectX with Visual C++ Studio Express 2010 SP1 to do some development with. It's been a while since I programmed with DX (v8 was the last one I programmed for) so I'm going to go through my old C++/DX game programming books and lecture notes to refresh my memory, then go through the DX11 tutorials to update my knowledge. It'll take a but of time, but it'll be a lot of fun as I loved creating games with C++. I'm probably going to document what I learn for my own reference so I'll see if I can post them up here. I'm also planning on creating my own template for Visual Studio so I don't get too tired of typing the same code over and over (then probably doing a massive face palm for not setting up the appropriate reference files.....).

So, I do feel like there is some progress being made and some is much better than none! :)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Technology fail!

So development (or any plans thereof) came to a screetching halt as the graphics card in my laptop died, leaving me with nothing to develop on. Yes, I came foul of the NVidia issue that effected the 8600M series (plus some others) cards. If you haven't heard of this, NVidia developed a series of chips where the pins (that connect the chip to the motherboard) come loose over time due to heat. This causes the display to either go strange, or just to go blank. I found one temporary fix on YouTube where you could blast a hairdryer directly on to the chip (I'm guessing this excessive heat must cause some kind of re-soldering to occur) for 2 minutes, this did not work for me (though I did find a tonne of fluff blocking the air from getting circulated properly, which is probably the cause of the laptop over-heating I was getting).

Anyway, that's it for now (literally) so I'll post an update when I get a new laptop.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

AI Talk for the Calgary Chapter of the Game Developers Group

So I've been talking to the group's creater on and off about doing a session on AI and we've finally decided upon a date. I'm going to be doing the presentation in November. That's quite a way off but I have some personal things I need to finish off and want to give the presentation my full focus so that attendees get the most out of it. So far I'm looking at covering topics such as A* Pathfinding, Flocking and Emergent Behaviour. The time slot is 2 hours but I may make the presentation an hour and a half to leave times for questions, etc. I'll update this blog with progress.

Canadian Video Game Awards Winners!

So it looks like Mass Effect 2 picked up the majority of awards at the Canadian Video Game Awards this year! Congratulations to BioWare

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Microsoft Partner!

Just a quick note to say that we are now a Microsoft Partner! Yay!