Archive for category gaming

surface pro and sdl 2.0

I’ve been working on a game in my spare time, which has led me to look for easy ways to create pixel art. So far my running favorite is grafx2, which is one of the few that runs almost perfectly with pen and touch (many pixel editors don’t like the newfangled bits of Windows 8).

However, grafx2 has a few oddities, which has kept pushing me on my search. Eventually I came across the SDL site after a loooong time not looking at it, and discovered that v2.0 has finally been released. It’s a modern update, and I figured I might have a go at writing a very simple pixel art editor in all the spare time I don’t have.

Anyway, since I want to edit the art on my Surface Pro, I downloaded the latest version of MinGW and set about building a testbed using SDL 2.0. First few things went well, but then it crashed when I attempted to create an accelerated SDL_Renderer.

The culprit seems to be the Intel Graphics driver that’s on the Surface Pro by default. After installing the new version from this link, I’m able to create the accelerated renderer and the program does not crash.

If you’re wondering if your own crashes are related, and they occur around program startup or just after the first real window has been opened, look in the crash log for mentions of ig7icd32.dll — that’s part of the Intel driver.

Interestingly, this update has also made Analogue: A Hate Story work on my Surface Pro again! And I’ve heard that this fixes the crash on startup experienced by some players of FTL.

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fully functional?

Seems like everything is finally working!

The move over to Dreamhost was not without its bumps with regards to WordPress. I made the mistake of thinking that the “backup” tool was what I needed; turned out it spit out an unusable SQL database dump. Export was what I wanted but by the time I’d figured that out my site URL was already pointing at its new home. It took me a good chunk of yesterday and all morning today to find a workaround, which involved editing the old SQL database by hand, but now all my old WordPress posts have transferred and everything is working again.

My friend Mike has been a Dreamhost customer for years; possibly for as long as I’ve known him. He’s never had any complaints, and as particular as he can be about technology (not as particular as myself, mind) I thought that him being a satisfied customer was the highest compliment a company can be paid. As is always true when he gets me to try something new, either directly or indirectly, I am not disappointed. There were so many things I wanted to do with my old Yahoo hosting where I was told either it wasn’t possible or it wasn’t something they were interested in supporting; all those limitations are now gone with Dreamhost. Plus, hey, I get a shell account with Emacs again!

This site’s going to be changing. I’ve spent most of this year figuring out what I want to do and how I want to accomplish those goals; I hope that the coming months see me with more time to do just that. I’m going to start by talking more about gaming in general. In particular, I want to start writing game reviews again. I think the last time I did so was three or four blogs / hosting services back. Reviewing games is good for understanding how games work, or moreover, how and why they fail. I might start with Mirror’s Edge soon as I can find the time to finish it.

finishing games

Lately it’s hard for me to finish video games, books, or TV shows that aren’t directly related to my job. I’ve owned Prince of Persia PS3 for months now, but until last week I’d been stuck halfway through the game. I checked my saves and the previous save time was in early March.

It’s not because I didn’t enjoy the game — far from it. I’d say this is the first 3D POP that pays true homage to the original two 2D games while still being something new, fun, and beautiful. Yesterday I realized I had enough time to sit down and plow through the last little bit — about two and a half hours of gameplay — and I did. Straight through until the last boss fight, the game is incredible. If it had ended after the last boss fight, as the Prince is walking down that corridor carrying something I won’t spoil while credits scroll to his left, then I would probably have placed the game somewhere high in my all-time best games pantheon.

But that’s not where it ends. Instead, the developers decided that the ending you’d just witnessed wasn’t right, and allow you to undo it. It makes absolutely no sense. The whole game the Prince is an incorrigible vagabond with a sharp tongue, but he does manage to learn and grow as a character over the course of the game’s events. Later on, he even starts looking to Eleka before checking to see if he himself is injured. The hint of romance that’s there in the beginning of the game, when the two protagonists meet for the first time, is well-played and develops believably through to the end. And yet, all of that falls to the sword-stroke of whomever wrote that little epilogue in order to give Ubisoft an easy out for sequel creation.

I mean, I can’t imagine they did what they did for any other reason than, “If you end it how it ends there, we can’t make an exciting sequel!” I know they’re planning on a trilogy of games. But that doesn’t excuse taking 15 or so hours of good writing and very good voice acting and ruining them through one set of bad choices that don’t make sense when looking at the characters.

It just doesn’t make sense that a team that got everything else right in this game could make such a horrific mistake after they’d already won. I may not get the second and third games, I’m so annoyed.

At least my iPhone and DSi aren’t as disappointing. The kinds of games I can fit in are the kinds I can boot up and play through a level or two of on the train. Lately Rolando has become a minor obsession, and I’m looking forward to Rolando 2 when it hits end of June. On the DSi I took the plunge and did a download of Mighty Flip Champs. It’s a really neat game that utilizes the two screens to make an interesting puzzler that’s fun, quick, easy to pick up, and full of great art and fun sprites. Had I know it was a WayForward game before I’d bought it I’d have been less hesitant. These are, after all, the guys who made Shantae, one of the best platformers on any platform and probably my favorite GBC game ever. I wonder when the DS version will hit? They did a tonne of work on the GBA version and it never saw the light of day.

So yeah… Developers, if you’re trying to tell a good story, also try not to jump a shark in the last five minutes. Me, I’ll be exchanging both Street Figher IV and Prince of Persia when I have a chance.