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Archive for 2008

Setting up my Mac (part 2)

Friday, December 19th, 2008

(Okay, I’m going to syndicate this to the python planets, because well .. it seems general enough of interest that maybe other python folks might be interested.  However, if this sort of stuff is unwanted, please tell me and I’ll reign in my planet posts to being on-topic.)


So, I think I’m going to go with eset nod32 anti-virus.  From my research there are about a dozen pretty good anti-virus solutions.  I had tried this one out about half a year ago, and I found that it didn’t drain system resources.  My main objective with anti-virus is to have *something* and have it stay out of my way.  This one has one several awards in the past few years, so I guess it must be decent.

Folder Sync

I mentioned in my last post that I really wanted to be able to sync my photos, music, and documents between several machines.  I would use subversion, except somehow it just doesn’t seem like “the right tool” for the task of managing 1000s of photos and mp3s.

What I did find is the Unison File Synchronizer, which appears to do exactly what I want.  If we have a photo gallery and we add pictures to it, those pictures will get automagically synced to a central server and then automagically synced back to other machines.  It wouldn’t be a useful solution for source control, but it looks like a nice solution for managing a photo / music / document collection.

I’ve only given it the five minute inspection, so I can’t say for sure if it will work yet.  Stay tuned for a later report on it.  (If anyone has used it and has tips they want to give me, I’d love ’em!)

Python on Mac

Most people suggested MacPorts.  I guess I’ll give that a whirl sometime.  I think I need to update Classic Galcon at some point anyways.  (Okay, I did mention something about python.  I failed at being 100% off-topic.)

Virtual Machines

I haven’t resolved all the issues yet.  Right now I’m a bit vague on how many Windows XP licenses I’m using.  I’ve got Bootcamp, VMWare, and Parallels all with XP Pro .. Does that count as 3 licenses?  Or one?  Hmmn.  I suppose I should figure that out.  I was able to get Parallels to work with Ubuntu by disabling shared folders, disabling the sync time feature, and enabling the adaptive hypervisor. (As per some post on the Parallels forums.)  Hopefully though, they can fix the bug that causes it to hang with those features on.

Life In General

I’m looking forward to the Christmas break 🙂  A lot of things have been going on between my two businesses and life-in-general.  So a couple days off will do me well.  I must admit, the diversion of messing with this laptop has been pretty fun.  I was able to power up the gimp the other day and color in our Christmas card.  Merry Christmas to ya:

OS/X and virtualization

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Hey .. so I got myself a MacBook Pro.  Here’s why:

– I found that at pycon, having linux on my laptop just didn’t work so hot.  Just too many driver issues to really make it be great for day to day use.

– I really would like to be able to do all my dev from one machine.  With a Mac “supposedly” I can work in Windows, Linux, and OS/X from the same machine.  Then, gee, I wouldn’t have to have my house cluttered up with so many computers.

I got the machine a few days ago.  Since then I’ve been playing around with my different options for realizing the “one machine” vision.  Here are some of my experiences so far:

Parallels Desktop

– I was able to install XP Pro easily.  Had a minor mouse related glitch when running Microsoft Office Live Meeting and sharing my desktop.  Tried playing Vampyre Story (a new adventure game by Bill Tiller!), this didn’t work.  Game crashed during the startup of the game.  So I guess the DirectX promises are a bit shallow.

– I was able to install Ubuntu 8.10 and 8.04.  However, in 8.10, the shared disk was useless.  In 8.04, the VM hangs after a while for no particular reason.  Most of these issues seem to be well covered in the Parallels forums.  So it seems that Parallels is useless for Linux stuff .. at least for Ubuntu, which is the distro I want to switch to for dev, since it’s most likely to be used by a Linux gamer.

– I tried interacting with their support and found that they appear to be using babblefish to translate my questions to their foreign staff who then type in an incoherent answer which is then translated back to English.  Somehow it didn’t seem worth the bother.

– If they fixed the Linux VM hang issue, it would be an excellent solution for all my VM needs.  

Crossover Games

– I tried to run Vampyre Story.  It didn’t even get through the installer before locking up and anytime I put a disk into the computer it tried to interact (weird default setting, I was able to switch that off).

– Not really useful to me.  I suppose it could be good if your game of choice is supported.

VMWare Fusion

– I was able to install XP Pro easily.  It auto-installed its Tools.  Sound seemed to work better in this than in Parallels.  Vampyre Story failed exactly the same way as in Parallels.  I suspect they have some common code for doing the DX9 emulation.  Too bad it doesn’t work for my game of choice.  Hopefully the 3D is good enough for my game dev, which isn’t so bleeding edge.

– I was able to install Ubuntu 8.04 on it.  The handing of Fullscreen vs. Windowed mode isn’t nearly as smooth as in Parallels.  One real drawback is that if I have both Windows and Linux in Fullscreen mode, Fusion attempts to put them both on the same “Space”, so I can really only have one in Fullscreen mode at a time.  That is non-awesome.

– If it weren’t for the Fullscreen issues, this was looking like an excellent solution.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see if Parallels or VMWare fixes issues quicker.  It does seem that VMWare has a better commitment to Linux support, which is hopeful.

Boot Camp

– OS/X comes with “Boot Camp” which allows for Dual booting of your machine into OS/X or Windows.  It works great if you don’t mess up.  It took me three tries to get Windows XP Pro installed properly.  (HInt: read the Apple troubleshooting guide BEFORE you try to run Boot Camp, not afterwards.)

– I was able to play Vampyre Story with no problem.  The game looks great!

– I haven’t tested much else, but since it’s just booting into Windows, I’m guessing it will work fine.  When running Vampyre Story the fan is on most of the time.  I guess all those pretty graphics really tax something or other.

Misc Thoughts

Both Parallels and Fusion support shared disk, which I’m hoping works.  It won’t be until I really dive into some dev that I’ll be able to comment on that.  Nice stuff, anyways.  

I do hope this all works out, as I really want to trim down the amount of machinery I have in my office.  I think my favorite experience so far was getting Parallels doing fullscreen for both Linux and Windows.  With OS/X Spaces, I was able to switch between OS/X, Windows, and Linux with the press of a key. 


I’m basically taking off a few weeks from game dev to mess around with this machine.  Some of the things coming up are:

– Figuring out how to deal with python under OS/X.  If anyone cares to give me tips in advance, I’d sure appreciate it.  I’m aware there are at LEAST 3 major ways of doing this.  1. Use the included python 2. Use the python from 3. Use darwin 4. Use macports .. Or something like that.  I’m not sure which will be best for my situation.

– Trying out the iPhoto, iMusic, Garageband, and iMovie software.  Linux has always lacked on the “use to use junk” front .. and Windows isn’t much any better.  So hopefully these tools will be nice.

– Figuring out a decent backup scenario.  I’m aware of timemachine, which I’m sure is great .. But I’m interested in having shared folders across several machines .. and doing backup to a 3rd machine.  We’ll see what I can come up with for that.  I’m quite comfortable with rsync, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes up.  Any suggestions would also be appreciated here.


Friday, December 5th, 2008

Well, I spent the last week putting ducks in rows. Mostly dealing with the business end of Galcon stuff. It has been a pretty long week, but I can’t complain since having lots of people interested in my games is always a good thing!

On more dev-side note, I purchased a previous-gen MacBook Pro yesterday. I hope it arrives soon. I’m getting this because I would really like to consolidate my development onto a single machine. Using Parallels desktop, I’m really hoping to be able to do my Linux, Mac, and Windows dev all from the comfort of that one laptop. I’m starting a new game project this coming week, so I’ll give it a real try for a month and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out as well as I hope, well, at least I’ve got a new laptop 🙂

On a “if you are a game dev you better show up” note, Ludum Dare #13 is this weekend. You get 48 hours to make a great game! I’m quite looking forward to this one 🙂


Stuff-n-maintenance-n-stuff stuff stuff ..

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

So this past week or so was pretty wild. I was doing all “behind the scenes” stuff mainly. Sometimes these sorts of things are kind of weird to do, because the main goal is to do them in such a way that nobody really notices that I did them (so the point of this blog post is to point out the invisible so I can FEEL like I accomplished something in the last two weeks) … Anyway, they (supposedly) had to get done so that everything can keep moving along without collapsing.

  • Fixing up the themes on so that all the pages actually use the same header/footer and everything. I also restyled the whole site so that all the pages use the same style.css file. (Previously each part of had its own stylesheet. Weirdness.)
  • Moved to using a real mailing list (it took me forever to decide!) But in the end seemed to be the ticket. This is a pretty big step. Previously I was running some script which took a very long time to send out the newsletter and made me very nervous.
  • Updated my game server with init.d scripts so that should my server get rebooted, the game servers will automagically restart. Previously, well, if the server got rebooted, no games would come up.
  • I also migrated to point to .. So now all the “classic” Galcon customers get to see my new swell site. This is also good for search engine stuff, so has a nice position now.
  • While I was at it, I set up google mail for .. So now I can e-mail in style!
  • Upgraded the maze so that each user’s “save state” is a single database record. Previously I saved the full history of a user’s game, so a single user could have hundreds of records if they were wandering around. This table got to around 362,525 records and it was making those pages go pretty slow! With a single record per user, I’ve only got 1371 records in the table and things are nice and fast again. (BTW – Maze 2.0 is up, you can create your own separate adventure mazes now!)

On a more “in your face note” I did add in a games section to I’m sort of excited about this, because it makes it look like I’ve actually made more than one game 🙂 More importantly, it makes it really easy for me to put up a quick page for small games. I’m always making new mini-games for game-dev compos or whatever that don’t necessarily deserve their own “special custom website” but I still want people to be able to get at them. This will make that possible. It also makes it easy for me to link to some of my game-dev friend’s games.


Newsletter Update, Maze of MADNESS 2.0, and more!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Hey folks!  There’s an exciting update to the web-game I put together a couple weeks ago. “The Maze of MADNESS” is a “point-and-click text adventure game” .. Where you get to create the game! It must be seen to be believed.  You can even create your own new adventures! So far people have created over 400 rooms!  A few days ago I upgraded it to v2.0, meaning now you can start your OWN mazes!  There are already several new cool mazes being built.

While I’m at it, the holiday season is upon us!  So for the end of this week, I’m going to put Classic Desktop Galcon on Sale for 50% off regular price!  You can buy it at that price by using the promo code “TURKEY” when you checkout. (And remember — you save even more if you buy in BULK!)

Also, just to give you the heads up I’ve finally gotten myself onto a real mailing list service :) (The thing I was using before just wasn’t cutting it!) This is much more convenient, and I don’t have to sit around sweating hoping that all the e-mails are being sent properly anymore.  If you aren’t on the mailing list, now would be a prime time to join.  Just create a user account, select “Yes, send me e-mail updates” and confirm your account.  Or if you already have an account just click Edit Profile on the top right corner and then Newsletter Preferences.

Have fun!

The Maze of MADNESS!!

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Hey, so I just put up a new game on my website called “The Maze of MADNESS.”  Check it out.

The interesting thing about it is that I didn’t create any of the game.  I just created a web based interface for people to create this adventure game on.  I made it for a 48 hour contest this past weekend, and the other contest people have already created 45 rooms, 40 new items, and 152 actions.

It should be interesting to see how long the game lasts before it caves under the weight of itself.  I’m quite interested in trying out user-content games.  So if this even marginally works out, there is a good chance I’ll be doing more in the future.

On another tech note, I used AS3 for the pixel art editor in the game.  I decided on this instead of haxe, because it seemed there was a lot more random bits of information on the internet about AS3.  I managed to get it to work without using a .mxml file.  The tutorial I followed was this.  I also got lots of random snippets from the internet.


Mailing list software or services

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Right now I send out my newsletter via a hand-rolled PHP script.  I just sent out a letter this morning and it took 80 minutes to process.  Not only does it take forever, but I am a bit concerned I might not be doing it “right”.

All that said, I’m in the market for getting some decent mailing list software, or subscribing to a decent service.

So, “dear lazy web” .. Can anyone give me a rec?  What’s good in the software or service markets?

My one “requirement” is the ability to import a CSV file of e-mail addresses every month.  And if someone unsubscribes, I want it to be smart enough not to re-add them if I re-import them.


New App Icon !!!

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

AI and filling and hit detection …

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I’ve been working on the AI for my game .. I’ve implemented some floodfill and a few different types of hit detection to get the enemies to be smart. I think as of now, the AI is “smart enough”. I’ve got a few different bots for a few different game types as well.

Here’s a screenshot with some of my debug info in an overlay.

Next up, I’m going to try and get a prototype running on the iPod, so I can tweak the UI a bit so it is playable via the touch and accelerometer interfaces. Once I’m happy with that I’ll probably add in more game types. Finally I’ll wrap things up with a lot of sparkle.

Halloween ’08 – The A-Team!!

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Here it is!


  • Cuzco the Goat as Mr. T as B.A. Baracus in The A-Team Van
  • Nan as H.M. Murdock as “Captain Cab”
  • Phil as John “Hannibal” Smith as “The Aquamaniac”

See ya next Halloween!