Categories
Life

Danny on BBC Radio Humberside

Yesterday John, Nick and I were on the BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show to talk about the advent of the game development industry in Hull and Humberside. This was particularly relevant yesterday because there was a huge release party for Assassins Creed 3 at the Prospect Shopping Center in the City Center, including a guest apperence from one of the lead programmers on the hit game.

We were asked questions about the game itself, the game development and computer science industry and general and what it might do for the local area. 🙂 I think we were professional, sounded like we knew what we were on about and answered the questions well. I should hope so anyway as there was between 200,000 and 300,000 people listening!

The three of us were particularly pleased because at the end of the show one of the producers said that if we ever had any games that we had made we could go back and plug them on the show! Maybe you’ll be hearing about TOAST live on air in the near future 😉 For now you can listen to us by clicking here.

Thanks to everyone at BBC Radio Humberside for having us on and Rob Miles for setting up the opportunity for us.

Danny

Categories
Mobile Application Development Tech Reviews

Sweepy Cleaner is “New and Impressive”

I was pleasantly surprised when my fellow Hull Computer Scientist and good friend John Van Rij pointed out that my version of Sweepy Cleaner was listed as the 7th most “New and Impressive” application on AppFlow.

AppFlow describes a new and impressive app as one that was “released in the past few months and according to ratings so far is definitely worth trying”. That to me seems quite good 🙂

For those who don’t know AppFlow is an alternative way to find and view applications on your windows phone, in my opinion its 100x better than the built in marketplace and some of the statistics it provides are actually better than the Windows Phone Developer portal, create.msdn.com. But don’t get me started on that… It really needs some work. AppFlow is also one of the most beautifully designed Silverlight applications I’ve seen.

If you still haven’t downloaded and played Sweepy Cleaner it’s available here.

Thanks to all 320 people that have download the game so far!

Danny

Categories
Life Mobile Application Development Programming University

Lessons learnt from Three Thing Game

We made some Mike Brayshaw masks during the night and took a team photo showing off our three things.

Well, the competition is over now, congratulations to the winners. The Infamous Two Sirs came in first place with their PS Vita game, and my good friends John and Russels team came in second place with their Sheep Killing Windows Phone Game, Shear Carnage. That’s a huge success for some first years. 🙂

Our project didn’t go quite so well, but I still feel it was a great experiance due to having so much fun over the night as well as learning many lessons which have changed my ideas about coding and development in general, as well as teamwork.

The team we had was good, Rob is amazing at Graphic Design, and I think Sean, Nick and I are pretty good programmers, but none of us had ever worked in a development team before and its so much different to single-programmer programming, much more different than we had realised previous to this competition.

Collaborating on one code base is difficult, we essentially all had to have an identicle copy of every part of the code even though all of us were constantly making changes, emailing stuff to each other and using memory sticks simply doesn’t cut it.

Earlier in the week this hadn’t been an issue as we all had totally seperate jobs to work on; Myself on the menu, Nick on the invasion game, and Sean on some classes related to weapon management, rob of course didn’t touch any code. However, in the competition when we needed to get all of these modules to work together and then needed to tweak each we came undone, Nick or I would make a change to our section of the code and it would totally break any progress sean had made one the weapon management or visa versa.

This constant anhillation of each others progress understandably upset people, I feel especially sorry for sean who had his code broken at least 10 times by changes either Nick or myself had implemented.

The teams who did well used a system called “Subversion Visual SVN”, which the university provides for projects like this. The system basically allows you to back-up your code to one central repository and “commit” changes to a code base the whole team use. This means every memeber of the team always has the most up to date files. Earlier in the week I had looked at SVN, but I must admit I didn’t really realise its potential, especially having taken 20 odd minutes to initially set it up and using it on my own rather than in a team. Now I understand its use… Its a great idea! 😛

So, I’ve learnt to use Subversioning in team projects, and possibly my own in order to have constant back-ups. I also learnt how to modulate code, and why this is a good idea.

In sweepy cleaner at the moment I have code like:

protected override void Update()
{
           if(gameState == GameState.Menu)
           {
                 if(finger.Intersects(playButton))
                 {
                         DoSomething();
                 }
                 if(finger.Intersects(highscoreButton))
                 {
                         DoSomething();
                         DoSomethingElse(playButton)
                 }
                 //More ifs, elses, method calls
           }
           if(gameState == GameState.Game)
           {
               //More ifs, elses, method calls
               //More ifs, elses, method calls
               //More ifs, elses, method calls
           }
}

Over the course of the week I’ve found that having code like

protected override void Update()
{
           if(gameState == GameState.Menu)
           {
                   MenuClass.Update();
           }
           else
           {
                   if(gameState == GameState.Game)
                   {
                           GameClass.Update();
                   }
           }
}

Is better. Rather than having all my program logic within a huge method, I have classes for each state with their own Initialize, LoadContent, Update & Draw methods which get called when required.

One of the learning objectives of my Module 08120, Programming 2, is to learn how to effectively use classes. I’ve certainly got that one covered over the last week.

In conclusion I feel Three Thing Game was a success, its made me a better programmer and has made me realise how fundementally different programming in a team is to working alone. I think next time we will be much better prepared to produce a genuinly good game. Having said that, this weekends game, Granddad Invasion: Battle of the Gas Works, wasn’t as much of a failure as I think our team felt it was in the last few hours of the 24-hour development time. We did actually have a genuinly fun, humorous game with setting and highscore and a kick-ass menu and story behind it. We also had great fun making it over the course of the week previous and the 24 hours.

Thanks to everyone who took part and/or took part in the Live Blog for making it so much fun :). I think next year I will do a live video stream.

Danny

Categories
University

Hull Computer Science on the ‘Net

Writing has become a bit of a UoH Computer Scientist past time recently with many more people joining the ranks of bloggers.

We’re frequently reminded how important it is to be “building the brand”, a phrase which refers to making yourself an attractive employee to potential future employers, because at the end of the day the outcome of higher education should be a better job.

A blog is a good way to show people that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about your subject and allows for feedback in the way of comments, allowing you to improve your communications.

Setting up a blog is pretty simple and can be cheap or free depending on how advanced your needs are. You can use a free blog on wordpress.com, or you can install and set your own up for free on Freeside, the universities open source server rack, this gives you more customizability and options but will require you to buy your own domain name to make it easy to get to.

Due to the sudden influx of bloggers it could have become a bit difficult to keep track of all the updates. In an effort to solve this problem my friend John set up HullCompSciBlogs.com which aggregates all of the blogs of University of Hull Computer Science Students into one place, including updates from my friends Nick, James, Charlotte, Christophe and John Himself as well as my flatmate and good friend Rob. You can of course also see my posts 🙂

So, head on over to HCSB and read some cool stuff!

Danny.