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July-September 2000 (oldest-to-newest)
Went to Vegas for the holiday. It was fun as heck and
not quite as hot as previous times. We saw the
Cirque du Soliel
It was unlike any other Cirque show I've seen. Very cool.
It's very hard to find time to start coding again. Since
I'm going to do this on a NUON dev system I almost need to
be at work. I do have a system at home, but since my
computer is in the bedroom I really can't program once the
finacee goes to bed. Ah it'll be nice to buy a house and
have a dedicated PC area.
We're heading to Tahoe this weekend to have some fun
before the stress-filled day of our wedding. Only 3 weeks
I've done some more thinking/writing about the new game
engine. If I can pull this off it will be extremely neat.
More details after I have a chance to try it out.
Due to FTP problems I wasn't able to upload the
previous update last week.
We're back from an exciting weekend at Tahoe. We took
some wedding photos up there which made for some beautiful
scenery. I can't wait to get the proofs in a couple
I finally broke down and bought a GeForce 2 card to
replace my venerable Matrox. I haven't had a chance to
push it very much
(Sim Theme Park died horribly
when I tried running it with the new card), but the demos
that come with the card are impressive indeed.
The 4+ hour drive up and back made for some good time
to think about the new game brewing in my mind. I've made
more progress on the game engine - I've even written some
code on paper to jumpstart things. Also, I'm happy to say
that I have an idea for the game which will use this
engine. I'm really looking forward to getting started on
it as I think it will be awesome! Still not 3D, but I
think it's really hard for a single person to do justice
with a 3D engine. Besides, a platform like NUON is better
suited to new rendering techniques since everything is
done in software. And let me tell you that the engine I
have in mind will be truly unique!
This is an exciting time for me. First off, the first
NUON-enhanced DVD player has been released - the
They're a bit difficult to find since Samsung hasn't
maufactured too many yet, but I have heard that a couple
people were able to pick one up. I hope this is the start
of many successes for VM Labs. The Toshiba unit will be
hitting stores later this year (with a much wider release
I might add) and there are lots of exciting things planned
for next year. Wish I could spill the beans!
I picked up a copy of Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Mix for the
Dreamcast. It's an import so I had to get a mod for my DC to be
able to play it. I also picked up a couple of dancing pads so we
are good to go. The fiancee and I enjoy this game in the arcade,
but it's always very crowded. This way we can play at home. It
makes for some good exercise too as there are modes in the DC
version that let you play forever.
While I'm talking about NUON I should say that I got my
hands dirty on the new game. I've written some actual
code and it seems to be going well. Of course things will
change and cause me to rewrite everything, but you gotta
jump in sometime right? Right now it's mostly
proof-of-concept code - I wanted to be sure I could
accomplish what I was planning. The answer is a definite
"yes" and I can't wait to start coding the game itself.
Oh yeah, I'm getting married in 8 days :)
The wedding went off well. I said all the right words
which was the important part. Here are a couple photos if you're interested.
On the programming front, I'm still coding the core
routines. I want to get it to an acceptable speed before
moving on. I *think* it's fast enough to do what I want.
I won't know for sure until I start coding the game
It would be nice if I could speak freely about the NUON
architecture, but unfortunately we have IP to protect.
Still, I'll try to be as specific as possible when I
The wife and I (it'll take a while to get used to
saying that) are in house-buying mode right now. The
housing market out here in the valley is just plain nuts.
Still, we found a townhouse we like and will make a bid on
it this week. I hope we get it!
I now have my dev system at home set up properly so I
can do my coding there from now on. It was getting to be
a pain staying late at work just to be able to work on the
Work on the core routines continues. I made a major
breakthrough last night as I improved one section by 20x
(as measured by clock cycles). Granted I wasn't doing it
very efficiently originally - I just got it to work. Now,
however, it has ceased to be a bottleneck which means I
can concentrate on other things.
In the new game, I'm shooting for 320x240 at 30fps. I
decided against going full out 640x480 at 60fps since the
savings are worthwhile. By allowing more time, and not
having to draw at a high resolution, I can cram more stuff
into each frame.
I am done optimizing the routine I've been working on.
I'll revisit it later as necessary, but as of now I've made
it about 80% faster than the original implementation.
Woo! We got the aforementioned townhouse! You really
don't want to know how much we had to bid on it, but to us
it's worth every penny. It's simply perfect for the stage
in life the wife and I are in now. We don't get to move
in until November/December so it'll be a bit of a wait.
Actually that's fine by us since it helps spread out the
stress of moving. Guess I should get around to throwing
away all those things I've been meaning to.
Now that house hunting is over and done with I can focus
more weekend energies on the game. There's always
something that crops up, though. We have to order wedding
pictures on Saturday and go to a barbeque Sunday (I can
feel your pity for me I know). Still, I'm hopeful I can
get in a solid block of a few hours time to work on
We've been playing quite a bit of Dance Dance
Revolution lately. We have to be careful since we live on
the second floor of a two-story apartment building.
Stomping around at midnight would not make us popular with
the downstairs neighbors. I can't wait until we move into
the townhouse and can stomp the night away! We're
improving somewhat at the game. If you're familiar with
the game you know that each song has a difficulty which is
depicted by a number of feet. I think 9 feet is the
highest. We can do the 3-footers pretty easily, and I'm
even able to do some 4-footers. While it's simple to do
well on a 3-footer without having played it before, as you
get into the 4's and higher it really helps to memorize
I updated the note to first-time
visitors if you want to take a look.
Did some bug squashing this weekend. Killed two major
ones. There's still one more bug I need to investigate
and then I'll do a few more optimizations.
I recently realized that I'm only taking advantage of
half the power I planned to. That, my friends, made me
*very* happy. I thought the engine was performing
extremely well as is; I'm just giddy with the prospect of
getting twice as much performance out of it.
As you can tell by the frequent updates, I've been
working quite a bit on the new game. It feels good to be
back in the programming mode once more. It'll be nice once
we move into the new townhouse and have a dedicated computer
Anyway, I found and eliminated the last known bug
yesterday. I also modified the program to take advantage of
the power I wasn't using. It didn't quite double the
performance, but the gains were still appreciable. I still
have several more optimizations to try before I can feel
comfortable leaving it alone.
Hear that? It's the sound of another bug losing its
life under my foot. Yep, found and squashed a new one
yesterday. I also made an optimization that should
have sped things up, although I haven't really measured it
yet to see if it did.
It's getting pretty annoying not being able to talk more
freely about the game. I should just go ahead and say what
it is. I was hoping to wait until I had something more
substantial to show since my current test code isn't that
A while back, Bush's had a commercial for their baked beans that
hit my funny bone just so. It was a combination of the
absurtity of the phrase, the fact that it is uttered by a dog (with a
deep gravely voice), and Jay's subsequent "Uh oh" that left me
rolling. Some time later my sister, who does market research, came
across this little synopsis of the commercial in question and sent it
my way. Ah nostalgia. (IMG=380k)
We're currently having a minor (read: *major*) problem
with closing escrow for our townhouse. Hopefully we'll
have it all sorted out in a week or two, but for now
things are pretty stressful.
I haven't done anything on the game in a while. Maybe
I'll have time this weekend - I'm not sure.
One thing that has kept me occupied for a while is
This computer game is based on the Mayfair board game of
the same name. It follows the same basic rules as Empire
Builder series of games (which Mayfair also publishes).
The premise in all the games is to draw rail lines
connecting cities and deliver goods from one city to
another. What cities you choose and what goods you
deliver are determined by cards dealt out to you. In
general, the greater the distance between the city that
produces the goods and the one that wants it, the bigger
What's so cool about the computer version is that it
is so amazingly faithful to the board game. Plus you can
play online against others. I haven't done this yet, but
once I get comfortable with kicking the computer's ass I
will give it a shot. And the fact that the game is in a
fantasy setting doesn't hurt either.
In my quest to avoid letting a week go by without
updating, here I am to tell you that I haven't done any
programming lately. What I did do was go see Space
Cowboys, The Cell, and Highlander: End
Space Cowboys was fun, but predictable. It was
very formulaic, if that's even a word. I had high hopes
for The Cell and ended up really disliking it. It
seems they wanted to make it gross just for the sake of
being gross. Plus Jennifer Lopez can't act - or at least
doesn't do so in this movie. I have other issues with it,
but suffice to say that I wouldn't recommend it. On the
other hand I enjoyed Highlander. Maybe it was
because I had low expectations for that one and ended up
having a good time. I'm not sure I'd pay $8.50 again to
see it, but it's worth a rental.
The issue with the townhouse seems to have been
resolved. Bottom line is that we might have to pony up
more dough for a larger downpayment. Not exactly optimal,
but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I am *so* looking
forward to having that over and done with. Maybe then we
can settle back into a normal routine again. After 2 1/2
years of planning a wedding I'm not sure I remember what
We close on the townhouse on October 6th which is when
we can actually say that it's ours. Saying so
before then would probably bring on the wrath of Murphy or
the Great Jinxator.
I've taken a step back from coding at the moment. I
need to work out exactly what features I want in the game
engine before things get going too far along. Without
getting into specifics, I want to add support for
anti-aliasing and procedural textures.
I printed out the current renderer and stared at it for
a while, going through it with a fine-toothed comb. I
thought I had squeezed out most of the performance I
could. Amazingly I came across a few significant
optimizations. I may implement them just to view their
impact, but as stated above I need to rework the engine
eventually so I don't want to do too much work that'll be
Last night I spent a good couple hours playing
Unholy War for Playstation. I've had
this game for months and never got around to playing
it for any length of time. I've been tempted to sell it
back for just that reason, but decided to give it a shot.
It's not a bad game. Not great, but entertaining. I'll
probably still sell it back though.
I implemented most of the optimizations mentioned last
time. I'm proud of one in particular because it nearly
doubled the performance of one section of code. I'm
constantly amazed at how much power you can eke out of this
chip with a little work. In total, the improvements
resulted in a 10% performance increase (as measured in
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