Tag Archive | Uncle Mikes Recursive Prolog Party

Three Thing Game October 2012 – TOAST – Debreifing

This weekend was host to the Three Thing Game final 24 hour sprint, and boy was it good fun! What more could a computer scientist want that 24 hour access to a computer lab, free dominos pizza and a shed load of soft drinks? ūüėõ

What Did You Mean "Uncle Mike's Recursive Prolog Party?" look like after 26 hours with no sleep

What Did You Mean “Uncle Mike’s Recursive Prolog Party?” look like after 26 hours with no sleep

Using the words “Toast”, “Fighting” and “Party” my team “Uncle Mike’s Recursive Prolog Party” developed a game called “TOAST: Total Obliteration¬†and Space Travel”, a space shooter in which you play as the Toastorians, an ancient race of toast people who want to take back their home planet of Toaster from the evil breakfast food empire — comprised of Eggmen, Baconites, Porrigians and Cerealians.

Flying the only ship the Toast¬†Confederacy¬†has left you have to take out swarms of enemies patrolling the skies of outer space whilst trying to search for — and then destroy — their strongholds. The Baconite people¬†vigorously¬†defend planet bacon using a defensive formation of dozens of space craft, and once you’ve finished destroying their home planet you have 3 other food planets to conquer who are defended to the death by their space air forces.

Development started almost as soon as we had got our words. The team came back to my house where we thought of all the possible ways we could use our words. Below you can see my¬†initial¬†concept “drawings” of a space shooter in which your main aim is to destroy planets — the game we now know as TOAST.

TOAST Concept Drawing on my Whiteboard

TOAST Concept Drawing on my Whiteboard

For the first 2 days of development TOAST was a Windows Phone game which used the¬†accelerometer¬†to¬†control the direction and speed of the toast crafts movement, but we found that these controls just didn’t feel as good as those of the XBOX 360 controller, and besides, we hadn’t developed for a controller before and we were eager to. So, just a few days into development we changed scope slightly and made the game a Windows Desktop game with Controller and Keyboard inputs — because we were using the XNA API to develop the game this was a really easy swap to make and took very little development time away from the functional areas of the game.

TOAST as a Windows Phone Game

TOAST as a Windows Phone Game

Over the week we developed an almost finished game, so by the time the 24 hour sprint rolled around we were in a much better position than we had been in previous years. You could control the spaceship using the left analogue stick and control the direction of lazer fire using the right analogue stick. You could also zoom in and out to aid with navigation using the left and right triggers.

24 hours and several take-away’s later we had finished the game and¬†judging¬†began. After a judge had looked over our work we were told we got into the final 8. In a competition of over 40 teams I think that’s pretty good going!

Each team in the final had to present their game to the entire panel of judges, which included people from Microsoft and Monogame. In the image at the top of this post and the following image you can see me presenting, whilst nick played the game being displayed on the projecter.

Game Demonstration

Game Demonstration

When the final judges decisions came back unfortunately we didn’t come in the top 3, so unfortunately we didn’t win any Windows Phones, XBOX Kinects or Lego. In fact, in the end we were never told exactly where we finished — so we could have been anything from 4th to 8th — I like to think fourth ūüėČ

 

I want to say a huge well done to the three winning teams — particularly our “friendly” rivals Sheerware Games who came in first place with a fantastic r-type clone called Hypermorth, which you can read about here.¬†I also want to say a massive thank you to Shane Gravestock for producing the music for our game, which you can¬†listen to here. And last by certainly by no means least I want to say a huge thank-you to Rob Miles and the Department of Computer Science at The University of Hull for hosting yet another amazing Three Thing Game.

You will be able to download Toast from this website as soon as its ready for release, so keep checking back. ūüôā

Danny

Three Words for TTG October 2012

A lovely blurry photo of Rob Miles Auctioning off words for TTG October 2012

Today was the word auction for Three Thing Game October 2012. ūüôā My Team, Did You Mean “Uncle Mike’s Recursive Prolog Party?”, bid for the word fighting and, because nobody else wanted it enough to bid for it, were assigned the word toast.

At this point we were understandably wondering what in the world could link these two words in a way that wasn’t totally weird, we decided to hold off on making any rash weird game play ideas before getting our third and final word. Unfortunately we ran out of time and so Rob put off auctioning out the final words until¬†Wednesday¬†lunch time. Because some teams — including ourselves — were¬†eager¬†to get started Rob said that if we didn’t want to wait to bit on items on Wednesday we could he said we could be assigned a random word by email if we would prefer.

We did and got ourselves Party, which ties in surprisingly well with our idea. Which of course I wont be telling you anything about until Saturday at the earliest. Remember to check back for a livesteam/liveblog of the final 24 hour sprint to the Three Thing Game finish ūüôā

Danny

Lessons learnt from Three Thing Game

Uncle Mikes Recursive Prolog Party Team Photo

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. ūüôā

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! ūüėõ

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

Three Thing Game – Things and Brainstorming

Three Thing Game - All The Teams Holding Up Their Things

All The Teams Holding Up Their Things – Nick, Rob, Sean and I are somewhere near the back.

¬†Today everyone got their 3 “Things” around which their game would be themed. It was an impressive turnout with 33 teams, consisting of 111 Computer Science Students and was a jolly event with a fun atmosphere, its clear to see everyone is excited about the competition!

Each team was given 530 Thing “Bank of Thingland” pounds in order to bid for items they wanted upon entering Lecture Theatre 1 of the Robert Blackburn building.

We were then told we would need to have one thing from each “thing section”; green, blue and pink. This roughly translated to an object, a place and an event. Each team would have one thing from each section by default, but then other teams could bid to take it off them, obviously some things were going to be more popular than others.

Each team name was read out in often, followed by what item they had by default. When our team name, “Uncle Mikes Recursive Prolog Party”, was read out there was a howl of laughter and applause. ūüėõ Fortunately it seems the other CS students found the in-joke funny rather than weird. I’m quite proud of coming up with that.

In the green section we we’re awarded with “Granddad”, which seemed to fit in well with our name, which is fortunate as no-one else bid for it and so it became ours.

In the blue section we recieved “Gas Works” which again no one else seemed to want, and with good reason, we’ve found that the gas works has limited us somewhat in what we could achieve with our two other things.

In the final section, pink, we out bid everyone else in the room by spending all 530 of our Thing pounds to buy a special thing, a blank thing. A blank thing is a¬†piece¬†of paper with nothing on it. Sounds rubbish doesn’t it? But its not, its probably the best thing you can have, because you can write any word you like on it (subject to a profanity check by Rob Miles). In the end, after a long discussion, the team agreed on writing the word “Invasion” on the pink paper.

So, we ended up with the words “Granddad”, “Gasworks” and “Invasion” and I think we’re pretty happy with that. Weird ideas to have together, weirder still to make a game out of, but its always the quirky ideas that win these sort of things and we’re pretty sure that we have a great idea after an hour of brainstorming in the pub this lunchtime.

I don’t want to give too much away but I think we’re going to do¬†alright¬†with this idea, I can say that it will be on Windows Phone, so look out for “GRANDDAD INVASION: Battle for the Gas Works” on the Marketplace in the days and weeks to come.

You can see more information from my team mate Nick Case at his website here.

Rob Miles has pictures of all the contestants and some analysis of the event here.

And of course plenty of my course mates have posted their own blogs which you can see on Hull Comp Sci Blogs.

Best of Luck to everyone with their development, I can’t wait ¬†to see you all at the Saturday – Sunday code-a-thon.

Danny

Three Thing Game Sign-Up

Today I signed up for Three Thing Game in a team with Rob, Nick and Sean under the name “Uncle Mikes Recursive Prolog Party”, a bit of a University of Hull computer science in-joke and a nod to one of our lecturers who simply loves to mention recursion and the programming language prolog as much as possible.

Three thing game is a week long game development competition for University of Hull Computer Science Students ending in a 24 hour stay-up-all-night development event, based around three themes given to teams at random.

Next Monday is the “thing auction”, an event at which we “buy” the “things” (essentially themes) around which are game will be based using “Thing Money”. From then on we will be devloping the game until the¬†preceding¬†Saturday¬†at which point we will all assemble in the Fenner Computer¬†Laboratory¬†for a 24-Hour continuous development session with Pizza!

It’ll be fun to get together with my fellow programmers on the¬†Saturday¬†through to¬†Sunday, work in a team, and hopefully make an awesome game. Theres also an oppertunity to win some prizes.

On the judging panel this year is¬†Stuart Lovegrove,¬†an executive from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, who works at their Liverpool Studios, it’ll be exciting to meet someone who has done so well in the game development industry.

Expect to see whatever we make over the Three Thing Week in the Windows Phone Marketplace soon!

If you want you can read more about the competition at Rob Miles’ blog.

Danny.