Phil Hassey - game dev blog
Phil Hassey as Snidely Whiplash
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Archive for January, 2013

Galcon 2: Only two days left to get rewards via PayPal

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Hey everyone! Galcon 2 got funded on Kickstarter! Yay! For the convenience of those without accounts, I’ve been taking extra orders via PayPal. However, since we’re about to start ordering the actual rewards in the next few days, I’m going to have to stop taking orders. So, you’ve got just 2 more days to order via PayPal if you want any of the cool rewards! Here’s how to do it.

If you aren’t from the United States, be sure to add International shipping to the base pledge price!

Then send that amount to (removed) via PayPal. Change the subject to “Galcon 2 Kickstarter: (name of tier)”, where the (name of tier) is “DIGITAL Captain” or whatever you picked.


P.S. Galcon 2 backers will be getting access to the beta very soon!!

Galcon 2: Classic mod demo with zooming and scrolling

Friday, January 25th, 2013

I spent a ton of time this week polishing the modding system for Galcon 2. I’m really looking forward to letting everyone dive in and try out the game and give modding a whirl very soon :) One of the most useful features I added was a console to the game, so that while you are building a mod, you can get error reports back from Lua, as well as manually type in Lua code from a prompt for quick tweaks. The modding system also auto-reloads mods, so if you are editing the file on the side, you can see your updates instantly. (This was really exciting when I was working on the bot AI, the AI was all doing the wrong thing, so I edited the file, saved it, and instantly the bots started doing the new behavior! It’s really fun!)

A big part of the game, and the mods, is the ability to have menus for users to pick options. Doing GUI code is a real pain so I decided to work to avoid all that by creating a very simple HTML parser that would work with my GUI system. This way modders can plunk in some simple HTML code and give the users options to pick ranks, numbers of planets, or whatever. This is also going to really help me with rapid development of the rest of the game. The HTML capability is very minimal, but covers the basics.

I spent about 15 minutes goofing off this week, seeing how the game play would look behind the menus. I think this *could* work really nicely in the future once I’ve got sweet rendered planets and effects and stuff. I’ve taken this out of the game for now, because I found it made reading the menus pretty difficult!

Here’s a brief demo of me playing with the Classic mod. You’ll notice that I’ve got scrolling and zooming built into the game right now. I’m not quite sure if I’m going to keep that as part of the game or not, but it will be in the first beta so you can try it out and tell me what you think. At the very least, having Galcon 2 work properly with all size galaxies is really going to help me with supporting different device sizes.


P.S. You can get many of these updates in “realtime” by following me on twitter.

Galcon 2: Lua bot wars

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Hey, it’s been a good week working on Galcon 2 :) I started out this week by adding ships into the whole swarmy mess!

Next up I got the swarms “doing” something a bit more productive, and added planet ship count numbers. I also did a ton of analytics on idea parameters for the code to make swarming most efficient. It seems pretty fast now.

Then I cleaned things up a bit, added the user interface for selecting planets and deploying ships and added in a really simple bot so I could play against it!

Lastly, a lot of people were asking for the ability to help out with the single player game by doing mods, I build a large part of the modding system. Below is a movie of me running a Lua based mod with two bots fighting over the galaxy :) The mod has set the game to run at 16x speed so the outcome happens sooner.

I decided on Lua because out of my three main options (C, python, Lua), C is basically impossible to sandbox and I want people to be able to download and try out mods without too much concern. python is my favorite language, but embedding it is non-trivial. Lua won out, because it simple to embed, and doing basic sandboxing on it is pretty straightforward. This is the first time I’ve coded anything in Lua, and I found it was pretty straight-forward.


Galcon 2: Now with 4000 planets!

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Ahoy there! Thanks again for supporting the Galcon 2 Kickstarter! I’ll be sending out progress updates as the development progresses, and here’s the first!

Day 1: First I got the basic “black screen” up and running. I’m using C++ and Xcode as the primary development tools of Galcon 2. I developed iPhone Galcon and Galcon Fusion with C++ as well as Dynamite Jack.

Day 2: I decided black screens were boring and I added a handful of planets.

Since there were overlapping planets, I worked on the collision code in Galcon to fix the overlaps automatically.

This was looking good, no planets were overlapping. So I decided to take it up a notch and try out 4000 planets!

This worked on the first try, but it took forever for the layout of the planets to stabilize. I spent the rest of the day improving the collision code so that it could handle this amount of collisions at high speed. By being able to support this many items, at any scale, I’m already designing Galcon 2 to work smoothly on any screen size, and possibly with games that are larger than a single screen.

Here’s video of the collision code in action, actual speed:

I plan on sending these updates out pretty frequently, but if you want even faster news on the development of Galcon 2, please follow me on twitter. My name there is philhassey. Also, there’s lots of fun Galcon 2 discussion in the forums too.


Return to Treasure Island (Brian Blessed) Drinking Game

Friday, January 11th, 2013

One of Nan and my favorite TV mini-series is Return to Treasure Island (starring Brian Blessed). If you don’t have it, you can buy it here. (Region 2 DVDs only.)

We watched it again this past week, and this time we made a drinking game to go along with. We used peanut M&Ms and went through about 2 pounds of ’em! Here are the rules in full, have fun! Download/Print PDF.

Return to Treasure Island (Brian Blessed) Drinking Game

If you’re teetotalers like us, or under age, use M&M’s instead. It has the same effect if you play for long enough.

Take a shot when …

  • Someone gets knocked unconscious
  • Someone mentions “slipping their cable”
  • Someone mentions “diamonds, rubies, and sapphires”
  • The map changes hands
  • The map is hidden
  • Long John fights someone with his crutch
  • Long John bribes, flatters, or threatens someone
  • Jim is captured
  • Jim tries to flirt
  • Jim appears shirtless
  • Ben Gun taps his nose or whoops
  • Van Der Brecken mentions “a plan”
  • Van Der Brecken kicks
  • Van Der Brecken expresses his dislike or distrust of Long John
  • Rev. Morgan mentions “the Lord”
  • Trelawney says “What?”
  • Keelhaul cackles

Galcon 2: Last chance to back it, and the GALCONATHON!!

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Howdy everyone! We’ve got less than 24 hours to go in the Galcon 2 Kickstarter! We’re getting close, but we really need your help to make it to the goal! If it’s at all possible, please pledge something!


For the last six hours of the Kickstarter, we’re going to be holding the one and only GALCONATHON! It’s going to be a live stream available on YouTube (check the Kickstarter page for the link.) But it’s also going to be something you can participate in! Here’s the rough schedule (in MST):

1pm: Phil and Nan chat about Galcon 2

2pm: The Galconathon Tournament begins (Galcon Fusion – sign up here!)

3pm: Phil and some guests play the 1995 version of Galactic Conquest

4pm: Phil and Tim entertain us with some fiddle + banjo tunes

5pm: The final round of the Galconathon Tournament

6pm: The final hour! We hangout in the chat and ring in Galcon 2!

It’s gonna be a ton of fun, anything could happen. Just stop in for a bit and hangout with everyone! It’ll be a blast! Let’s make Galcon 2 happen!!

-Phil, Nan, and the goats

Galcon 2: Not much time left, we need your support!

Saturday, January 5th, 2013


There’s not much time left in the campaign, and we need your support for Galcon 2 to happen! Check the Kickstarter page for the final countdown. If you’re still wondering what’s great about Galcon 2, here are two videos to convince you.

Here’s a video of me talking about what I’m excited about in Galcon 2.

Here’s a concept art video of the sweet Galaxy Map in Galcon 2.

I really want Galcon 2 to happen, and with your support it will! Please back this project and tell your friends!