Archived News


Audiere 1.9.1 Released



2002.10.12

Audiere 1.9.1 is out! See the web page for details.


Audiere 1.9.0 Released



2002.09.07

Audiere 1.9.0 is out! See the web page for details.


Dvorak



2002.07.06

I have switched to Dvorak as my primary key layout. I got a new keyboard from
DvortyBoards (it helped that my old
keyboard was getting REALLY gross…). The new board is basically the same as
any other split keyboard out there, except for the “Dvorak Lock” button up in
the upper left corner. I hit the button and it switches into Dvorak mode. Hit
it again, and it switches into Qwerty. This means I can take my keyboard to
work, and without any special configuration, type in Dvorak there too. Really
convenient. :)

The surprising thing about Dvorak is, even that first frustrating night of
learning, I could tell it was a better layout. My hands didn’t move off home
row nearly as much, and common words and letter combinations nicely roll off
of the keyboard. It took about two weeks to learn and two more weeks to learn
to touch type again. I’m still not up to my Qwerty speed (120 wpm) though.
Depending on my mood, I currently range from 20 to 60 wpm.

Another thing I noticed is that Dvorak isn’t as rare as you’d think. It turns
out a friend at work has been using it for six years, and several more are
interested in learning. Many programmers at Netscape used it as well
(specifically, on Kinesis
keyboards).

To dispell a myth: Dvorak probably won’t make you noticeably faster. It will,
however, make it much easier to type. I used to have a lot of pain in my
wrists from typing all night. After switching to Dvorak, the pain is all but
gone. That itself made the switch worth it.

If you are interested in learning (and helping to overthrow the Qwerty
juggernaut!), here are some links to get you started.

And, to be fair, here is some healthy
skepticism
regarding Dvorak
.


Sphere 0.97 Released, Contest Begins



2002.06.18

Sphere 0.97 has finally been released! There are several substantive
changes in this new version. See sphere.sf.net for the changelog and
comments, and the official Sphere page for
downloads.

If you are interested in competing in the latest Sphere contest, see the
contest page.


A Guide to Sphere



2002.06.11

Zennith wrote a great article for sphere.sf.net called A
Guide to Sphere
. It is a pretty comprehensive introduction to
terminology and the Sphere development system.


Audiere 1.0.4 Released



2002.06.10

Audiere 1.0.4 is out and sports a new web page. See audiere.sf.net for details.


Corona 0.2.0 Released



2002.06.05

Corona 0.2.0 is out. A new web page came with it. :) Go check
out corona.sf.net.

Here is what changed since 0.1.0.

  • added GLUT example
  • added support for the entire BMP spec
  • added comprehensive test suite
  • four build systems: VC++ 6, VC++ 7, SCons, autoconf/automake
  • builds on IRIX
  • doxygen documentation
  • added image creation and cloning functionality
  • fixed possible crash in PNG exporter
  • added support for reading TGA and GIF images
  • fixed several PCX loading bugs
  • added support for palettized images


Great Coding Music!



2002.04.01

Ben Scott introduced me to the hard trance section on mp3.com… it’s
wonderful coding music. Go to http://genres.mp3.com/music/electronic/trance/hard_trance/
and click on “Hi-Fi Play”. If you want to download all of the songs from
within some UNIX variant (Cygwin works), save the .m3u file to your hard
drive and type ‘cat hard_trance.m3u | xargs wget’. Prepare to use LOTS of
bandwidth and hard drive space, though. :)


Ack! DLL Interface Code – part 2



2002.03.29

The other night somebody sent me some wonderful feedback to my
Binary-Compatible Interfaces in C++ article… Unfortunately, due to some
very bizarre VNC issues, I ended up deleting that e-mail (along with
several others). I remember the gist of the e-mail, but I’d like to give
credit when I update the article. If you’re the one who sent it to me or
you know who did, please drop me a line!


DLL Interface Code



2002.03.27

Ben Scott wrote some really nifty source code that simplifies use of the
concepts in my Binary-Compatible Interfaces in
C++
article. Download the source code here.


Corona 0.1.0 Released



2002.02.22

Corona 0.1.0 is out! Corona is a portable image
loading library with a very simple API. This release is sort of a beta
release in that I want to get feedback on the API and design of the
library before it freezes. Download it and try it out!


sphere.sf.net is ready!



2002.02.18

Brandon switched to using PostNuke
for sphere.sf.net. He has the new
version up. :D

I also uploaded a new article about creating
Library APIs in C++.


Bug in Sphere Fixed: 0.96b is out



2002.01.14 09:30

That was awful… After nine hours of debugging, a major
reorganization of Audiere’s source code, and five distinct people
helping me test, I fixed the blocker in Sphere. Download version 0.96b on
the Sphere page.

I’m going to write details about the experience on my LiveJournal later.


Major bug in Sphere 0.96a



2002.01.14 01:00

Sphere 0.96a has a serious bug (related to Audiere) on Windows 95, 98, and ME. If you’re running
either of those operating systems, don’t download it. I hope to
have a new version out shortly.


Sphere 0.96a Released



2002.01.13

Sphere 0.96a is out! Here’s what’s new:

  • Several minor documentation fixes
  • FadeToColor and FadeFromColor always show final state before returning
  • fixed map engine crash when spritesets have directions with varying lengths
  • script editor now uses scintilla (yay!!!)
  • added font.getStringHeight
  • setrsstrans and image2rss work again (Darklich)
  • several sphere_gl updates – should behave a little nicer (FireMoth)
  • OpenGL resolution changes no longer leave artifacts all over the screen
  • Win32 input performance improvements (theSpeedBump)
  • new system script: animation.js (fenix)
  • new system script: convert.js (WIP)


Mastercain.com down, Sphere Network returns



2002.01.12

MasterCain has had some server
troubles, and (very unfortunately) is shutting down all hosted sites until
he can find a suitable server. A lot of Sphere-related web pages were
hosted on mastercain.com, and I wish him luck in finding a replacement
server.

However, some good news is that the Sphere Network is back!


Vacation!



2001.12.20

I’m leaving for three weeks of vacation (sleeping and eating and video
games, yay!) tomorrow night. I do believe I’ll leave pyrallis up, at
least for most of the break.


Gaming World adds Sphere section



2001.12.13

Gaming World has begun coverage
of the Sphere RPG Engine! Check it out!


Audiere 1.0.3 Released



2001.12.07

Audiere 1.0.3 is out! From the changelog:

  • removed panning support (to be replaced by 3D spatialization)
  • removed internal nbase library
  • uses Air’s new mikmod
  • added GNU autoconf/automake support
  • updated to MAD 0.14.1b
  • made MP3 support optional in UNIX build
  • if MP3 support is disabled, Audiere is licensed under the LGPL
  • AdrCreateContext takes an attributes object (BROKE SOURCE AND
    BINARY COMPATIBILITY WITH 1.02)
  • created C++ interface to Audiere (see bottom of audiere.h)
  • Linux/OSS support! Yay!
  • numerous internal architecture changes


Programming Link



2001.11.15

A friend pointed out this link:

How to Design Programs:
An Introduction to Programming and Computing


Mailing List Links



2001.11.08 15:51

I added links to the relevant mailing lists on the following pages:
Naikai,
Audiere,
Sphere,
WinTarBall.


Sphere 0.95a Released



2001.11.08 03:00

Sphere 0.95a has been released. Straight from the
announcement mailing list:

  • fixed missing direction names in new spriteset files
  • cleaned up random bits of the map engine
  • fixed talking code (I think! thanks, WIP!)
  • hopefully fixed spriteset editor corruption bug (let me know if you still see it)
  • fixed SetPersonFrame
  • UNIX: –with-gamesdir and –enable-debug configure directives (jcore)
  • UNIX: compiles in Mandrake 8.1


WinTarBall 1.2 Released



2001.10.21

WinTarBall 1.2 is out! It sports a new user
interface, much faster compression and decompression, and safer
integration with Windows.


Sphere Mailing Lists



2001.10.17

I just finished setting up four Sphere mailing lists (announcements, CVS
commits, developers, and users) at the SourceForge project page.
If you’re interested, please sign up. Also, read this
post
in the Sphere forums.

If you look at this
post
, you’ll see that I’ve started hosting Sphere games on the
Sphere SourceForge page.


WinTarBall Issues



2001.10.16

I think I’m going to try my hand at the topcoder competitions.

I’ve been spending the last few days catching up on homework and working
on WinTarBall. I was planning on advocating .tar.gz and .tar.bz2 once I
released WTB 1.2, but I’ve discovered a few nasty things about .tar (and
.zip for that matter). First of all, POSIX tar only allows filenames of
100 characters or less. To facilitate longer filenames, GNU tar uses a
nonstandard extension, which breaks POSIX tar. Secondly, tar stores
filenames in ASCII, so you cannot archive files whose names contain
characters not in the ASCII character set. Zip files also suffer from
this problem.

An obvious solution to these deficiencies is to create another archive
file format, but do we really need yet another archive format? I’m still
undecided about the best course of action, but as the computing industry
moves towards internationalization, we will need a way to archive files
with non-ASCII names.


New Page Design



2001.10.00

It’s finally here. Many, many late nights of tweaking CSS, hacking PHP,
writing the crap that I do… but it’s done. I hope you like it. ^_^


Programming Resource



2001.09.30

Thanks kepler! This page rocks.


Status Update



2001.09.22

Well, WIP asked me what I’ve been working on, so time to enumerate them. ^_^

First of all, I’ve got more interfaces defined for Naikai. Unfortunately, Naikai depends on a lot of other alpha or beta technology, so I’ve been working on SCons and XPCOM. I recently fixed bug 100843.

This page will soon get a facelift. Look here to see its current status.


Print to PDF in Windows



2001.09.22

I just wrote an article about how to “Print to PDF” in Windows. :) Read it here.


Minnie 1.01 Released



2001.09.07

Straight from the changelog:

– fixed annoying bug which would prevent windows from taking focus via clicks (and would break drag and drop and keyboard scrolling in IE o_O)


Dark Phantasy



2001.08.25

Check out Khadgar’s Dark Phantasy site at dark-phantasy.com.


Sphere 0.93 *alpha*



2001.08.25

The alpha version of Sphere 0.93 is out. (it probably still has bugs) Test it! Break it! Send me e-mail!

Things that have changed:

  • redesigned spriteset interface (I’d say quite a bit easier)
  • use names for directions rather than numbers
  • SetLayerVisible
  • font.drawText does range-checking on characters
  • GetPersonSpriteset
  • zones (not editable in the editor yet)
  • improved surface rotation
  • drawing text to surfaces
  • gradient rectangles and all that jazz in surfaces
  • transformBlit surfaces
  • BindMouseButton
  • GetMapWidth, GetMapHeight, GetTileWidth, GetTileHeight
  • determine height of wordwrapped strings (font.getStringHeight(string, width))
  • sprite scaling in map engine
  • copy/paste in map editor
  • a console
  • various crashers
  • probably some other things ;)


FireMoth’s Widgetry



2001.08.25

Whoa… FireMoth made an awesome demo of a GUI in Sphere… Download here. Screenshots:
[1]
[2]


Sphere Status Update



2001.08.24

It’s been a while…

Expect 0.93 soon. And 1.0 right on its tail, hopefully.

I almost had an OpenAL output driver for Audiere working, but it’s behaving very oddly…

jcore’s UNIX port of Sphere is coming along nicely. He has almost everything working, and he’s even made a few screenshots
[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5].
Notice that eventually it displayed actual graphics! :)


Audiere on SourceForge



2001.08.05

I have created a project on SourceForge for Audiere. Check it out here. I’m going to transfer the source code from my local CVS server to the SourceForge CVS servers once I get the code organized a bit better.


Audiere 1.02 released!



2001.08.05

Here’s what’s new (in ascending chronological order):

  • increased default buffer size to one second
  • reset output driver along with input driver to reduce latency
  • made contexts refcounted (no longer need to destroy streams before contexts)
  • fixed DirectSound 3 driver so it works on NT4
  • Java bindings
  • completely rewrote DS8 and DS3 output drivers to be more efficient, have fewer audible artifacts, and reduce latency (to effectively zero)
  • fixed crasher on failed mod loads

You can get it on the download page.


C++ Goodness



2001.07.20

I found a huge list of C++ links. Since a lot of people ask me where to find
information on C++, I figured I’d post the URL here.

http://users.utu.fi/sisasa/oasis/oasis-cc++.html


Audiere 1.01 Released



2001.07.16

Audiere 1.01 has just been released.

New stuff (taken from the changelog):

  • updated version string (oops!)
  • fixed volume ramping to be linear instead of logarithmic
  • fixed crash on loading certain MODs
  • added Python bindings
  • increased priority of decoder thread to decrease skipping
  • added anonymous CVS document
  • fixed crash in Mozilla binding
  • mozilla: Audiere contexts are no longer XPCOM services


wxPlayer (1.0?)



2001.07.13

If you have NT4, please help me by testing wxPlayer and e-mailing me whether it works or not. Thanks!


Audiere/Acoustique 1.0 is out ^_^



2001.07.13

I have just released version 1.0 of my new audio subsystem, Audiere. God it feels good to finally release software (writing documentation to get it in a releasable state isn’t so pleasurable, however…). :)

If you’re making a game or some application and you want to play MP3s, OGGs, or WAVs in it, feel free to give it a shot.


SpacedOutDragon’s MOD Guide…



2001.07.13

…is here! If you
don’t know much about MOD files, give it a read.


Mozilla + Audiere = Sweet love!



2001.07.02

I’m currently in the process of making an audio component for Mozilla so that
you will be able to play all sorts of music files from within Mozilla!

More news when I actually get it doing something. >:)

The reason I don’t update this page much anymore is that I have another
vent for non-technical
writings. Hopefully, if the information classification engine in my brain
is working properly, I’ll write about technical things here and personal news
on LJ.


Sphere’s New Audio System



2001.06.25

Okay, yet another audio test… After this one I’m going to start putting the audio system into Sphere. All we need now is Air’s MikMod and then I can start working on Sphere 1.0 tasks! I have 40 messages in my inbox I need to look at!

Download the audio test here.


Windowing System Joy!



2001.06.24

I have discovered the joy that is wxWindows… Look for wxPlayer soon, powered by Acoustique. ;)


Software Development



2001.06.20

Sorry for the lack of updates…

I’ve been working on Naikai’s design when I’m not in the office, and I’ve started to realize a few things. I wish I were more close-minded. Designing software without a lot of experience is really tough. Really, really tough. I do have a list of things that I’ve learned, however:

  • Software development is hard
  • Some people want segregated systems (libpng and libaudiofile aren’t part of the same framework, for example)
  • Others prefer integrated systems (the Java runtime) where base functionality is coalesced
  • Segregated systems are more flexible than integrated systems, but have more duplication of functionality

The specific problem I’m having is… I have this audio library, Acoustique (see the link to the left?). It has a single job: to decode audio streams into raw PCM data. I have another library that can spit raw PCM data into the sound card. By themselves, these libraries aren’t all that useful. Together (with a background thread, of course) you have a full audio system. Now, the problem here is… There is no suitably portable threading API for C or C++. I *could* build a base library similar to the NSPR that would handle threading in a portable manner. If I go that route, however, anybody that wants to use my high-level API is required to bring my base runtime along with it. I don’t like that very much, personally. :) I think I have a solution though… I *will* make a base runtime… But I will have one option for static linking and one for dynamic linking… Therefore, the high-level sound API will be available for external use, but I can still use the base functionality within my entire integrated system. So it’s all good. :)

Okay, done rambling now. I hope at least somebody understood that…


Darklich rocks!



2001.06.07

He’s pretty much adding all of the awesome stuff that Sphere needs for 1.0! I’m working on .wav support in Acoustique, and then I’ll (with Air‘s help) add support for .mod, .s3m, etc.

Useful things that DL has added in the last week or so:

  • updated engine for new spriteset format
  • SetLayerVisible
  • fix font.drawText crasher (when characters are out of range)
  • GetPersonSpriteset works

Sphere 1.0 is approaching… ^_^


Preliminary Naikai Design Documentation



2001.06.06

Okay, I put some basic Naikai design documentation
here. Please
read it and tell me if you think it sucks or if you think it’s awesome or if
you just have any questions in general.

In Sphere news, Darklich has been maintaining the engine, and releasing
intermediate builds. We’re getting closer and closer to 1.0.


LiveJournal



2001.06.03

The best webjournal page I’ve seen yet: LiveJournal

It’s fun to watch new technology evolve and then watch one person/group perfect it.
Jabber is to instant messenging as LiveJournal is to webjournals
(no, they’re *not* called blogs, dammit. blog sounds like some kind of orc word).


Myrk’s Page



2001.06.02

My friend Myrk just updated his web page so it’s standards-compliant and very attractive. Go look at it!


Acoustique supports MP3!



2001.05.30

The subject says it all. I think MP3 support is working flawlessly in Acoustique
now… Please test it here. I
want to make sure it works flawlessly on every machine. :)

Time to start the component model for Naikai. :)


Naikai



2001.05.26

Well, if you haven’t heard yet (apparently some people haven’t?), I’ve been working on a new game engine. As I finish components, I’ll backport them to Sphere and then release Sphere 1.0. I don’t plan to do any more Sphere maintenance after that.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it (you should always think before you act!). I also have a partially working audio subsystem, which will go into Sphere. I’m not sure what I’ll work on next. I think the component model.

That reminds me… I’m not going to use Java anymore. I’m going to make my own component model (maybe compatible with COM?). This means you’ll be able to use *any language* to interact with it. I’ll make a Java binding for it at first, so people can actually use it. You’ll be able to use C++ too, of course. As time goes on, more language bindings and components will be added. In effect, this means Naikai will always be at least somewhat usable, and will only grow in functionality and flexibility. It won’t be nearly as limiting as Sphere.

The goal is (we’ll see if I reach it) to do much better project management with Naikai than Sphere. I’ll set up a web page with design documentation and good descriptions of things. I’ll make a FAQ, provide links, etc.

I set up a forum for Naikai today, to get the ball moving a little. :)


Particles 101



2001.05.25

Netscape is going well. Acoustique is going well. Naikai design is going well.

And… <drum roll> malis’s Particles
101
is out!


Random Love?



2001.05.22

I’ve been feeling odd and mellow and contemplative as of late. Trying to be more open minded and such BS. (Is this justification or something? Who knows: it’s late :) Anyway…

Some time in… the summer of 1999? My cousin Karl is visiting my family, and
he showed me AOL Instant Messenger. I had only used ICQ beforehand, so I wasn’t
expecting much out of yet another instant messenging system.

I didn’t use AIM much over the next year. Occasionally I’d log on to talk with
a friend or two, but there didn’t seem to be much point.

This last summer (2000), I figured I’d give it another try. It’s amazing how many
random people will talk to you if you have a screen name that starts with A and you provide a profile. Approximately 95% of these people were female. The conversations would always start off with a decidedly smalltalk feel. “What do you like to do?” “What music do you like?” et cetera.

I named this interesting (but kinda cool) phenomenon ‘random chicks’ and even had a seperate group in my buddy list for them. As I’d get to know a particular random chick, they’d almost invariably fall in love with me. I found this intriguing, as I’ve never really experienced anything similar (no, Bailey doesn’t count). I met girl after girl who “couldn’t live without me”. However, the intrigue inevitably wore off, and I don’t talk to many anymore (except the cool and intelligent ones, of course).

Since I moved on to a much better instant messenging system, I don’t get any more random chicks. Well, until recently. Apparently, word is traveling through the grapevine that I’m this wonderful person (don’t believe it)! I’ve had a fair number of new random chicks… Of course, they’re looking for somebody to fall in love with. Is there really such a lack of somewhat nice guys out there that girls would fall in love with some completely random guy through such an exceedingly limited channel as AIM?

I don’t get it. Maybe I never will.

btw, everything2 is quite possibly the coolest thing the Internet has produced.

I think my news posts are growing exponentially. Maybe programming is boring now and I’ll I want to do is write. >:)

You never wanted me to go.
You didn’t dare to let me know.
That luck could turn back to my side.
I knew my wishes qualified,
so why won’t you let me show who I am.

I’m not doing this because of you.
And I, I’m not here because you want me to.
I know you’re feeling you can see me through.
Well, it’s all lost the moment I stop to think.

Now I’m leaving you in fear,
but I will come back every year to be the fifth wheel you don’t need.
I’ll be a reason for you to speed.
So why won’t you let me show who I am.

The moment I stop to think, same moment as I start to sink.
Sometimes I wish I were like you, so why won’t you try to see who I am.

Stop to Think, Millencolin


Woo!



2001.05.17

I finally beat FF1 last night. ^_^ It’s amazing how, after over a decade has passed, you can still remember most of the secrets in the game.


Living in Silicon Valley!



2001.05.14

Well, I finally completed the drive from Iowa to California, and I think I’ll
make a little summary of each state:

  • Nebraska: long, empty, fast, good radio stations :)
  • Wyoming: red, under construction
  • Utah: incredibly beautiful
  • Nevada: lots of curves and mountains
  • California: as beautiful and mild as ever :)

I’m currently staying in a very nice hotel. Everything is perfect except for
the lack of connectivity. However, within a week I’ll be moving to an apartment
where I can get some sweet Internet access lovin’. This is a Good Thing.

btw… Netscape/AOL/Time Warner is an awesome company to work for. Lots and
lots of benefits, a good atmosphere, and very smart people. I’ve only been
here for a single day, too!


Final Fantasy I



2001.05.08

Earlier today I decided I was going to whip out the old NES emulator and have
nostalgic fun. I’ve gotten hooked to FF1 again. :) I remember the first time
I played that game… Right when it came out (11 years ago -_-), my best friend, Chris,
rented it. I went over to his place to check it out. I’d never played a game
like it! It was so cool! You had these guys! And you killed monsters! And
got more powerful! Of course, he didn’t like it much, but who cares.
In hindsight, I realize that my enjoyment of RPGs began right then.

I only ever beat the game once. I borrowed it from somebody after Chris had to
return it. I don’t remember much at all, except that the first time I got to
the last boss, Chaos, he cast ‘Inferno’ and killed every single one of my party
members. FF1 had no save points, so I had to go through the entire last area
again… Anyway, I tried it again and did manage to win. Such a great feeling. :)

I have attempted to go through the game again at a few points in my life with
varying success. Each time I got bored around the point where you have to
build up a LOT so you can afford the equipment and spells in the elf village.
Most of the time I played the game with NES emulators (usually NESticle).
However, during my senior year of high school, I borrowed the cartridge from
a friend. I played and played and got very far. In fact, I was getting close
to Tiamat (the final fiend)! Walk, battle, *crash*. The screen
became a chaotic field filled with all colors of the rainbow.
*blink*… *reset*… “My save game is gone!!! NOOO!!!!!!” *swear*
*curse* *punch ground* *repeat* Of course, my friends were over and they were
all laughing hysterically at my misfortunate… I guess the lesson here is
you shouldn’t ever play long RPGs on game consoles that are about to
fall apart. C’est la vie, eh?

On the code front… I’ve had a serious lack of motivation recently. I almost
got a test player for Acoustique done and then the code just quit coming out.
Maybe I’ll get more motivation when I’m out in California.

Until then… old NES games! :D


Wild-Tiger’s demo RPG



2001.05.07

Wild-Tiger made a pretty cool little RPG demo. Download it here.


Ogg Vorbis and Millencolin



2001.05.06

I was doing some looking around at Ogg
Vorbis
stuff the other day for Acoustique,
and I ran across a few sample songs. “Hmmm, sure… I guess I’ll check them
out.” I noticed one of them was listed as belonging to the punk genre, and as
we all know, that’s the best kind of music that exists. ;) So anyway, I
download No Cigar by Millencolin, and
listen to it. It was pretty cool at first, and after a few listens, it turned
out to be freaking awesome. In fact, all of their music is like that. It’s
such beautiful melodic punk… So, ummm, check them out! Buy CDs, merchandise!
Get MP3s if you must!


DRosen’s demo is out!



2001.05.04

Download it! I haven’t seen it yet myself, as I’m on a modem, and the file is about 9 MB.


Ecclesia



2001.05.03

This is cool. I love the indie game scene. Sure, Quake III is fun and all, but it seems so much easier to identify with the creators of the lesser-known games.


A real update…



2001.05.02

Insomnia sucks. Especially the night before a final exam.

On that note, sorry I haven’t posted any news as of late. Been busy with the last week of school, finals
week, and finding housing in Silicon Valley for the summer at Netscape. Luckily, everything seems to be
winding down.

Silicon Valley is expensive. Extraordinarily expensive. This summer will be quite the learning
experience.

Work on Acoustique is progressing. I’ve done some modifications to the API so that it can support
memory-mapped file I/O (read: efficient). I plan to add support for MP3 first, since libmad’s API
appears to be easier than the others. Once that is complete, I will actually have a concrete library,
and I can begin its integration into Sphere.

Thanks to the advice of a friend, I have seen the true light of game engine design. Because I have seen
How Much Better It Can Be, it’s very hard to work on Sphere anymore. I’m going to do what I can for 1.0,
and then begin work on the next engine. The new system will even support the possibility of a Sphere
compatibility layer. This is a good thing, as I can justify spending more time on the ideal engine
design. I’ll throw out some thoughts on the engine now.

In order to explain some of the new engine’s design, let’s investigate some problems with the current
design. First of all, using JavaScript as a scripting language seemed like a good idea at the time.
However, its lack of structure proved to be crippling as the size of a project increases. I got to
thinking that having an object model like COM or CORBA or Java (not the language, the object model) or
.NET would be quite nice. Garbage collection would be a necessity. The interface should also be
low-level enough to support low-level networking operations, like sending an array of bytes on a socket.
Implementing this in JavaScript involved some major kludgery and serious pain.

The second major problem with the current system is how inflexible it is. Sphere is designed to create
RPGs, and it does that relatively well. However, it’s currently a pain to create sidescrollers or any
other type of 2D game. I started thinking about tilesets and maps one day, and I got an awesome idea.
Why define a map as an array of tiles, when there are much more flexible and easier to code ways! For
example, imagine this… You have a collection of images as part of your game: tiles/grass.png,
tiles/water.png, and tiles/tree.png. Those will do for now. Conceptually, a map is a collection of 2D
regions (usually rectangles). There would be a few basic types of regions: solid colors, images, maybe
things like graphical primitives (lines, triangles, etc.). However, the real beauty of this system would
be the ability to combine regions to make new objects. You could make a TiledRegion object and stick the
grass image in it to have an area of grass tiles. Then you could build a Tree region and put some images
in it however you like, and then place trees on top of the map. Need a pond? Just make a new type of
region that contains the water image, and place it on the map. This system would make map creation a
breeze, and it would work fine for any type of 2D game. It also allows for more efficient rendering
techniques, and more potential for hardware acceleration. Sphere’s design simply doesn’t stand up to its
hypothetical competition.

The third major problem with Sphere’s design is how much it really sucks to maintain the editor. It was
okay, for a while (I suppose I learned MFC from the whole deal, but that’s of questionable value). But
now, when it’s time to implement new functionality, oh how I would kill for automatic garbage
collection… Not having to worry about what objects own which, etc… It would also be nice to have a
portable editor so that the Linux crowd will stop complaining to me. :)

Sphere’s file formats are definitely less than ideal. I wish they were XML so I could modify them
easily. The concept of spritesets and tilesets don’t belong in the engine, either. They’re necessary
for good performance in the current system, though.

Basically, all of these issues piled up and forced me to consider a new 2D game engine design. I thought
and thought and thought, and a solution to every one of those problems fell into place. First of all,
the engine needs a new general scripting architecture. Java is perfect for this task. It provides
garbage collection, static typing, a nice object model, and portability. It’s also easily fast enough
for low-level operations, and it supports atomic data types like bytes and ints. I have decided that my
next engine will base its whole architecture around Java’s object model. The engine will provide
interfaces to native objects for rendering, sound, input, and anything the engine itself should take care
of. Everything else will be built in Java. “*whine* But I don’t want to script in Java!!!” Fine, use
one of the many superb scripting language implementations for Java (i.e. JavaScript, Python, or Scheme). The only problem with this system is that the user would have to have a modern version of the Java Runtime Environment (5 MB or so) installed. I’ll have to investigate the possibility of including the JRE with the engine installer.

I hope you could follow that. It’s 5:00 a.m. and my head isn’t working too well. :) Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean I’m going to drop Sphere. I *will* release 1.0. After that’s done, though, I want to spend my time working on an easier, more flexible engine with much greater potential than Sphere.


Lans’ Page



2001.05.02

I added Lans’ Page to the links section. Check it out!


malis’s Game: Caelstis Crepsculum



2001.04.22

malis has created a new web page for his game, Caelstis Crepsculum. Check it out. ^_^


Jabber!



2001.04.21

If you haven’t read about it on Slashdot,
Jabber is an open, extensible instant
messaging system. I’ve known about it for some time, as a
friend was writing a similar system, but
stopped because it would be a duplication of Jabber.

Anyhow, why should you give it a shot? First of all, the protocols are all
completely open, so anybody can make Jabber servers or clients. Second of all,
they have gateways for AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, and ICQ so that you can just use *one*
program to talk with *five* sets of users. Third, Jabber uses a distributed
system so if one server goes down, only the people that use that server are
affected. If the AIM server goes down, nobody can use AIM at all.

Of course, there are a few problems. The most noticeable problem is that the
current clients aren’t
the most stable programs I’ve used… Also, the servers don’t always behave
properly, so sometimes things won’t work. Overall though, it’s quite usable.

Hmmm. I suppose I should recommend some clients. I’m currently using
JabberIM, and sometimes I whip out
WinJab.

btw, I’m aegisknight@jabber.org. Hope to see you online sometime. :)


Mandrake Linux 8.0!



2001.04.20

Mandrake Linux 8.0 and I just installed it. It’s really nice… I think I’ll stick with Slackware in the future, but this is fun to play with. Everything installed nicely (and the installer/startup stuff is extremely beautiful). GNOME 1.4 gets my seal of approval, as does KDE 2.1.1. Linux’s whole desktop experience is getting so much better… Well, I’d better stop ranting and get to sleep.


New Links!



2001.04.19

Two new Sphere links:
Guss’s Page
God of Mischief’s Page


sph… IRC?



2001.04.18

This is a little weird, but… Fenix made an IRC client in Sphere. Yes, it’s
true. o_o Download it here
if you’re interested. Be warned, though. It’s not as nice as mIRC. :)


Oops!



2001.04.16

I sort of botched that last news update… Here is some more information:

– per-tile obstructions
– game.inf renamed to game.sgm
– filenames are now case sensitive. Loading the image ‘blah.png’ as “Blah.png” won’t work


Sphere 0.92 released!



2001.04.16

New stuff:

– a few minor design fixes
– a few more features (transformBlitMask, et al)
– lots of bugfixes

Get it from the download page.


Darklich’s Sphere Museum



2001.04.16

Very old versions of Sphere available here. :)


rpgking’s Dragon Warrior game!



2001.04.13

It’s not a Sphere game… But it’s still very fun, and any sort of independent
RPG release is worthy of a news post. :) Go here
and check it out. ^_^


:D



2001.04.08

Forums are back up! In the process, I learned some SQL!


Forums



2001.04.06

The forums are messed up. I’ll try to fix them sometime.


Final Fantasy IX



2001.03.29

I just beat it! It took so long to get out of that slump in disc 3, but
wow… I must say that disc 4 and the ending were incredible… Probably the
best ending in any Final Fantasy yet.

The most interesting part of the game was how many references it had to previous
Final Fantasies. Walking through the game saying “That’s from FF4! That’s
from FF6!” However, I was very surprised by how many elements were taken from
FF1. Garland, the four fiends of Chaos, the way the last area worked, Gulug
Volcano’s music, several of the monsters… So much fun. :)

I’m having trouble deciding whether it was better than FF8… I know for a fact
it was more of a Final Fantasy, but as a game, FF8 was so addictive.

FF9 had quite possibly the cheapest skill I’ve seen in a while. Auto-Regen. :)
Once I had one person learn it (and saw how quick and effective it was), I had
everybody else in my party learn and equip it. The rest of the game was very
easy. :) By the time everybody had finished using auto-potion, each person
had gained about 2000 hit points back from regen. It’s great. ^_^


Sphere 0.91 released



2001.03.27

Sphere 0.91 (mostly bugfixes) has been released. It fixes so many bugs
and inconsistencies related to the map engine that I recommend everybody
update ASAP.

Battlements will be written in C++, not Java. Ben Garvey and I sat down for
a couple hours the other night and wrote up a preliminary game design document.
It is looking to be quite the entertaining game, if everything goes as planned.
I think I’m going to develop it initially in Linux and port to Windows later.
That way I can automate the build tools (which Sphere drastically needs…) and
say that I have a little more than just familiarity with development under
Linux on my resume. :)

It’s 6:40 a.m. and the sun is up. Evil.


Journal



2001.03.26

I’m considering setting up a .plan file.

Maybe it’ll be entertaining to read in a few months. Maybe not.

School is destroying me. But Sphere 0.91 should be out before too long (fixes
too many bugs to count).


Competition Results are In!



2001.03.25

I finally got around to adding the judges’ scores. Rizen’s team gets first
place! The results and games are available
here.

Things we’ve learned:

  • A week isn’t enough time
  • Ripping shouldn’t be allowed (too confusing for the judges)
  • A week isn’t enough time
  • Maybe a more specific theme?
  • A week isn’t enough time!


Another Update



2001.03.22

Sorry I haven’t been updating the page or working on Sphere much recently.
Homework is bogging me down, but hopefully I’ll be able to do some work on
Acoustique this weekend.


Very cool scripting article…



2001.03.16

Do you think you’re an elite JS coder? You may like this. :)


The Sphere Network



2001.03.13

The Sphere Network had a site redesign. It looks superb, IMO. Check it out.


Message Board!



2001.03.12

Since the message board on rpgmaker.net is gone, I set one up here on
aegisknight.org. It’s kind of ugly, but it’ll do just fine. :)

link

btw, I’m on vacation, so I won’t be able to update the links on the Sphere page
for a week or so.


Sphere Tutorial



2001.03.12

I wrote an “Introduction to Sphere” tutorial today.
You can find it here.


FINALLY!!



2001.03.07

Sphere 0.90 is out! It’s been several months, but several lines of code and
major design changes later, the new release is out! I finally feel that Sphere
is getting to be a complete engine. You should be able to make entire games
with this release, but if you have any problems, come to #sphere or e-mail me.

Of course, some say the last 10% of any project takes 50% of the time… I hope
not. :)

p.s. reflective tiles are back in. :)

p.p.s. Remember that there’s a
competition
! Now’s the chance to prove that you can make the best
game!


Sphere 0.90



2001.03.05

Due to some small problems (maybe?) I’ve discovered with SpiderMonkey, the
Mozilla JavaScript engine, I probably won’t be able to get a release out today.
Some time this week though. :)

FireMoth is having a competition
if anybody is interested. I’m one of the judges, so you guys better make good
games. ;)


A new alpha!



2001.03.01

There’s a new alpha release out! We’re getting closer and closer to the next stable release. I think I’ll advertise the URL in this news post this time…

download


Anonymous CVS



2001.03.01

Sphere’s CVS server now has anonymous access.

If you want to download the latest source, set your CVSROOT to
:pserver:anonymous@pyrallis.aegisknight.org:d:/cvsroot

Password is ‘guest’ and ‘sphere’ is the module you want.


C# and .NET



2001.03.01

I just went to a presentation about Microsoft’s big upcoming technologies:
C#, .NET, and the Visual Studio .NET. All I have to say is… WOW.

Not that C# will ever replace C++ for me… It’s just that C# is SOOO much
better than VB that VB no longer has any reason to exist. It’s easier than
VB and is incredibly flexible. I watched the presenter write some code that
directly instantiated an object from a web server and then called some methods
on it. So impressive…

Note: Microsoft doesn’t seem to be that good at creating new technologies
(there are exceptions of course), but they sure know how to deploy them. When
Visual Studio .NET comes out, I’ll be one of the first to buy it.


Files hosted on pyrallis.aegisknight.org



2001.02.28

I just got a letter from Iowa State University saying I was going over the 200
MB per day limit. Then they gave me a URL where I could check my daily
bandwidth usage. And yes, I was going WAY over the limit. 2 GB last
Saturday… X_X Therefore, I removed all of the hosted files (music, anime,
etc.)


New Links!



2001.02.27

Two new Sphere-related links:

Aidenware

The Ripperz


Reinstall Win2k again!



2001.02.27

Okay… Hopefully this will be the last time I have to reinstall Windows…
This’ll teach me to stop installing DirectX 8! It screws up my mouse in Quake
III so that sometimes I’ll just spin randomly or just walk forward, firing my
gun uncontrollably.

I guess I’ll talk about Sphere while everything is uninstalling. I think I have
most of the features for the next official release done… Right now I’m
finishing up support for obstructions. Sphere will be basically “done” after
this.

However, there are some other relatively big changes I want to make before 1.0.
One of them is completely reworking the audio code. I’ll build an audio library
that supports MP3 via libMAD, ogg via libogg (or libvorbis or whatever), and
MOD/XM/IT/S3M through libmikmod. I may also discover that the way person
entities is done is too slow, in which case I’ll rewrite that code.

I think I could get away with making a 1.0 release right now, but when 1.0 comes
out, I’m going to guarantee that all games are backwards compatible. Therefore,
I don’t want to get stuck with a bad design for the rest of Sphere’s life.

When 1.0 is finally released, I’ll split my spare time up 50/50 between Sphere
and Battlements. That way I can work on a new project and still work on all of
the little enhancements to Sphere that are possible (and planned).

The VS .net uninstaller wants me to reboot now…


Sphere Linecount



2001.02.25

I just did a linecount of all of Sphere’s source code… It’s 62,368 lines. :)

I’ve released a private alpha of the next official release for testing. If you want to download and play with it, send me an e-mail.


Sphere’s Design



2001.02.21

Read this document. I tried to describe what I don’t like about Sphere and how I propose to fix it. It also contains some information about the next release.


Minnie is released!



2001.02.17

I just finished a dinky (10k download…) little program called Minnie! Go to the page. :)


winner!



2001.02.14


Contest Voting Time!



2001.02.11

Okay, it’s time to vote for the intro images for the next release of Sphere. Go here, look at all of the entries, and vote!


hahaha



2001.02.07

Check the stats out.


New e-mail address



2001.02.06


Another Progress Report



2001.02.03

I’ve been working on the new map engine, and parallax/autoscrolling work perfectly. :) I haven’t seen parallax in Sphere since 0.07 or so, and it’s very nice to have these features coming back in. I also drastically optimized the code for tile animations in the map engine. I sure noticed a speed improvement, at least. :)

Next comes some basic script <-> map engine functionality.


The Editor



2001.01.23

Let me explain a little history behind Sphere’s editor. Originally, the “editor” was about six small executables, each for their own individual tasks. There was rmp.exe for editing maps, rss.exe for editing sprites, rfont.exe for editing fonts, etc. I don’t remember why I decided this, but I wanted a single program to do all of Sphere’s editing. I also decided that learning MFC wouldn’t be such a bad thing (heh heh heh… It all sounds so funny now). The code started to appear…

Here is what I’ve learned. MFC sucks. It does save a bit of time for small Windows programs, but for anything large, debugging can be quite a chore. It also doesn’t make much sense (in the logical, object-oriented way of things). I mean, destructors not actually destroying the object? (Unless it’s a derivative of CFrameWnd, “of course”!) Constructors not creating them! wtf? Also, I thought the demand for Sphere’s editor on platforms other than Windows was negligible. This turned out to be false.

*steps down from soapbox*

The end result of this is that I want to get rid of MFC. I’ll make my own set of GUI abstraction classes (thus making the editor portable to Gtk or Qt or BeOS whatever) and hopefully make Sphere’s editor more stable, faster, and efficient (memory-wise, that is). This is going to take some time, however, so the next release of Sphere will have the editor in its current form.

Until the switch is made, you can always run Sphere’s editor in wine. ;)


JavaScript Documentation



2001.01.23

Jason McIntosh pointed out that some good JavaScript documentation is available on Netscape’s developer page. Also, the ECMAScript standards can be found on Mozilla’s page.


Sphere (duh!)



2001.01.21

First off, Darklich is currently working on adding MPEG 1 and MPEG 2 support to Sphere. That’s just plain awesome. :)

Secondly, there’s a new Sphere link! Check out Lord_Kain‘s page.

Finally, I’ve been working on refining Sphere’s map editor. Each layer has nifty little icons for visibility, and you can drag the layers up and down in the list. Next, it’s time to get back to working on the map engine so a release will eventually happen… ;)


Sphere Alpha



2001.01.19

If you have a copy of the 0.88 alpha version of Sphere, do not make any maps that have obstructions. The obstruction format will be incompatible with the next release. At the moment, I’m reading about BSP trees and Sphere will soon have a new obstruction system based on line segments rather than rectangles and triangles.


Audio in Sphere



2001.01.18

I plan on updating the audio code in Sphere so that all file format decoding is done by the engine and not audio plugins. This would make the audio code more portable across platforms, but, if I can’t find a good (and small) software MIDI decoder, I will remove MIDI support from the engine. However, it is very easy to convert MIDI to OGG or MP3 (see TiMidity++) or XM (see GMID2MOD). If you have any questions or comments, please either e-mail me or talk to me on IRC.


Windows 2000



2001.01.16

Well, to make a long story short, my computer died a couple days ago. I tried to reinstall NT4 and it simply didn’t want to. So then I went out and bought Windows 2000, which installed just fine. Except the fact that my network card wasn’t supported in it. (Bad 3Com, bad!) This morning I went out and bought a new network card, which works in Win2k, but may not work in Linux (I haven’t experimented enough yet). All in all, it’s been a tedius time. Hopefully I’ll be productive again soon. :)

However! Windows 2000 is pretty neat. I can use my gamepads in Windows, yay! DirectX 8 too!

Back to installing things…


Networking in Sphere



2001.01.13

I wasn’t planning on posting anything for a while, but this is just too cool to pass up. Sphere has support for network socket objects now. :) In other words, you can make multiplayer games. It’s really low-level and somewhat tedious to use, but I believe that some of you guys will be able to put it to good use. ;)


Stuff



2001.01.09

Sphere is coming along well. Just thought I’d say that. :)

Also, Mozilla 0.7 is out! I’m using it to write this message write now. It’s pretty stable except for a rare (but annoying) link bug.


darcnes



2001.01.05

A couple days ago I added support for joysticks in darcnes for Linux. Next I plan to work on adding fullscreen and a ~/.darcnes directory where config files and save files will be saved.


TransformBlit



2001.01.05

I just added a new function to Sphere’s video driver interface that allows for image zooming, rotation, shearing (and any other transform). It’s hardware-accelerated in the OpenGL driver, of course. Just thought I’d post the news. :)


AKproxy



2001.01.02

Well, it looks like I won’t be able to finish AKProxy. There is just so much stuff to implement in the Windows Sockets 2 SPI (service provider interface) and I have less than a week left. However, I do plan on releasing the bits and pieces I have done.

California is a very cool place. That was the best vacation I’ve had in some time. But lo, vacations cannot last forever. Time to get back to coding.


Vacation and all that jazz



2000.12.25

First off, Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you guys had a good one.

Secondly, if you’ve been sending me e-mail, I apologize that I haven’t been able to respond. My computer doesn’t have Internet access (although AKproxy is coming along). However, I’m going to California for a week where I’ll have no Internet access at all. So, uhhh, see you people on New Year’s. :)


Okay… Status Report!



2000.12.15

Darklich and I have been doing some mad crazy Sphere coding as of late. Fixing bug, setting up the MikMod audio driver, etc… I’ve also done some more designing on the new map engine. Sphere will soon have a vector-based obstruction system (you draw polygons on the map where the character cannot walk). It’s gonna be quite neat. :) However, I’m at home right now, so pyrallis.aegisknight.org isn’t connected to the Internet. Therefore, I’m restarting my AKProxy project so I can give my computer access. (Plus, it’ll look great on a resume ;) Well, that’s about it for now.


Web page stuff



2000.12.12

As you can tell, we had some troubles with this web page… But now it’s
mostly good. :) I’ll update later when I have more time.


Fenix’s new stuff



2000.12.06

Fenix’s page was updated today with three downloads! Go check out Asteroids, Thesus and the Minotaur, and the Battlesystem Maker GUI!


Theme Contest



2000.12.06

The next Sphere release is drawing closer and closer, so start sending your intro screens, sounds, fonts, window styles, whatever in! E-mail them to me.


Sphere Usage



2000.12.02

Well, I’m very pleased to see that the amount of people using Sphere (or at least giving it a shot) is increasing fairly rapidly. For a while I thought the indy RPG scene (2D at that) was going away. :) It gives me a lot of motivation to continue coding and adding new features to Sphere. Although its popularity is going up, it still isn’t at 1.0 yet, so don’t expect it to work at all. (This is sort of why I chose to release it in .tar.bz2 format. An installer would just be too easy ;).

Anyway, thanks for the support!

Oh yeah, I’ve been thinking about adding support for a new type of map that would just be based off of layered images and not tilesets. It seems that since many people want to predraw/prerender their maps, this would make their lives easier. If you have an opinion about this, please drop me a line. Thanks.


Status Report



2000.12.01

Darklich is on holiday! His CD drives broke so his computer had to go into the shop. Anyway, we may not see his changes in the next release. :(

Otherwise, the engine/script rewrite is coming along very well. I think I’ve got everything done except the map engine. (engine.exe is half the size it used to be!) Right now I’m writing test cases for all the functions to make sure they work properly. Petition zeromus to get MP3 support in MikMod so we can use it!


Monitor!



2000.11.27

My new CPD-G500 came! w00t!


Bad Religion!



2000.11.22

Whoa, cool! I just discovered the Bad Religion newsgroup on usenet. If you’re interested in the best punk to ever happen, check it out. :)


Domain Name



2000.11.21

I recently purchased a domain name at register.com. aegisknight.org will eventually become my official web page. :) It may not work all the way right now, since I just got it set up.


Contest?



2000.11.17

I’ve been throwing around the idea of having a new Sphere contest for some time… so here it is! Before the release of Sphere 0.88 (or whatever the next version is named), create an intro image, intro sound, window style, font, pointer image (all in the same theme). Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time. Also, group entries are fine. We’ll vote in EsperNet #sphere a couple days before the release. E-mail me if you have any questions.


GPL!



2000.11.15

Sphere will be under the GPL after the next release.


New Sphere Design



2000.11.14

It was a grueling day in #sphere as Hatchet and I discovered the ideal design
for the Sphere script system. :) Even though it was painful, we have created
a much simpler way of doing everything.

The Sphere packaging system is finally coming along too… Originally we had
Darklich’s spk code, but you couldn’t run a game directly out of a package file.
Then I wrote a .tar.gz package system, but reading from the package was too
slow. Then I wrote a .zip package system, but with the library I was using, you
could only read one file at at time. So finally, I wrote something very similar
to .zip. It’s very simple too. All in all, with the next release you’ll be
able to double-click on a downloaded Sphere package and run it directly
(assuming you have Sphere installed).


New Link



2000.11.13

The links page now has a link to Eugene Siow’s
(the guy who made the help file for Sphere) web page. Go there!


Seiken Densetsu 3!



2000.11.11

Finally! My roommate and I have beaten this excellent game! After over a
year of struggling with the last boss… ;) That was the longest boss
fight I think we’ve ever fought. Something like 45 minutes. If you
haven’t given the sequel to Secret of Mana a shot, definitely do so. Long
live snes9x and ROM translation groups!


New Sphere Links



2000.11.10

Flik convinced me to add a slew of new Sphere links, so here they are.


Sphere Help File!



2000.11.10

Eugene Siow has created a help file for Sphere! It is available on the download page.


Election Day



2000.11.08

Yay! Bush won. ;) That was close and very fun to watch! The electoral college system sucks though…

Update: Uh oh, Gore might still win. o_O


PowerArchiver



2000.10.31

The download page now has a link to PowerArchiver, which you can use to extract .tar.bz2 and .tar.gz archives.


Nibbles 2.0



2000.10.29

Praetor just released Nibbles 2.0 for Sphere. Go download it here.

This is some interesting news… Fenix made a script
that does some pseudo-3D in Sphere. Check it out!


Final Fantasy V



2000.10.28

FF5 is one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. Today, I finally got around to beating it. :)

The Great Sphere Redesign is coming along well. I have a list of functions and objects that should be provided by the engine written up. You can access it here. All that’s left to be designed is the interface to the map engine.

The main problem I’ve had with Sphere so far is that it never had a clear behavior defined in my head. I wasn’t sure how certain things should work, and now that I’m doing this, hopefully coding will go much more smoothly.


Sphere and more Linux stuff



2000.10.26

I’ve been spending the last couple of days away from Sphere. I was getting so caught up in the code that the design suffered. Now, I believe I have an ideal design for it floating around in my head. It will make things easy to maintain, while providing a solid infrastructure for games.

I got Starcraft and mIRC working in WINE. It’s pretty slick. ;) After some finagling with the NVidia OpenGL drivers for Linux, I also got Quake III working. Linux is looking better and better…


KDE 2.0…



2000.10.25

Wow… I just got KDE 2.0 installed and wow… It just blows my mind. The quality and beauty of free software never ceases to amaze me! In fact, I’m considering never upgrading to Windows 2000. I’ll just run Linux all the time.

I need to hurry up on the Linux port of Sphere so I don’t have to boot into NT anymore. :)


Sphere 0.87!



2000.10.19

Sphere 0.87 was just released! It supports a host of new things, including graphical primitives, a swatch in every editor, and bug fixes (of course).

For details, just download it and run the demo games. ;)


Bad Religion



2000.10.15

Just got back from a
Bad Religion
concert at the Riviera in
Chicago. It was amazing and if possible, everybody should go see BR at least once.


New Hard Drive



2000.10.11

45 gig hard drive from IBM came today… It’s very cool and absolutely silent. However, I learned something valuable installing it. Make sure you have a partition scheme decided on BEFORE you start copying files! I had 5 GB of stuff copied over when NT told me it couldn’t create more partitions. I’m in the process of copying them all back to the old drive and recreating all of the partitions. Anyway, long live IBM disk space. :)


The Cure



2000.10.08

Last night I bought my first album by The Cure, Wish. It is REALLY awesome. If you haven’t listened to The Cure yet, give them a try.


Possible Sphere game!



2000.10.05

Check out Nilton Castillo (FutureBoy)’s page! He might be making his RPG for Sphere.


WinTarBall



2000.10.03

It seems like the old WinTarBall installer sometimes didn’t work, so I made a new one with Inno Setup and uploaded that. If you guys have any troubles, please e-mail me.


New Pictures



2000.10.02

I just recently got some pictures (mostly old ones…) scanned and uploaded. Go to the About page and then click on the main picture there. The new directories are ‘grad’, ‘id’, and ‘new_prom’.

Sphere is coming along well. I’m adding support for some basic graphics primitives, which might make some simple 3D graphics possible. We’ll see.


Screenshots



2000.10.02

Cool… In the next version of Sphere you can take screenshots at any time by hitting F12. It’s neat. :)


New QuickKey!



2000.09.28

QuickKey 1.03 is out. It fixes some minor behavior problems and allows you to bind documents instead of just programs to hotkeys.


Even more news today!



2000.09.20

Check out Flik’s page
again! He has an excellent page showing screenshots of Sphere in action.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on Sphere recently as it seems the community is growing. The Sphere editor is getting more and more useful each day. Battlements is starting to lag, but that’s okay.


Overlord’s Site



2000.09.20

I can’t believe I haven’t added this link before! Go to Overlord’s Page!


Fenix’s Sphere Page



2000.09.16

Check out Fenix‘s page!
He made Pong in Sphere, and that’s Just Cool. :)

He also has a pretty slick
tutorial.


Flik’s page!



2000.09.14

He has a cool new color scheme going! Check it out
here!


ugh…



2000.09.12

Yesterday was less than ideal. Since the weather here has been extremely hot, and since my tower was crammed between the desk and the bed, I had my first experience with overheating. The computer would just randomly shut off. All of it. The weirdest thing I’ve seen in a while.

Anyway, that gave me the inspiration to move the desk, giving the tower more airflow. Then I find out that NT4’s TCP/IP suddenly broke. Ya know what that means?? Reinstalling NT4 and staying up until 4:30 a.m.! Ugh…

Hey, at least it fixes the stupid NT CVS problem, so now the Sphere CVS tree (and any other CVS tree I need) can be hosted on pyrallis.dhs.org.


Battlements



2000.09.09

Since I have discovered that creating a game with decent audio and 3D graphics in Java will be nearly impossible, I decided to stop wasting time and write Battlements in C++.

I originally chose Java so that Battlements would run on MacOS, Linux, and Win32. Since most of the APIs I would be using (if they exist!) aren’t ported to MacOS, there really isn’t a reason to use Java.


New Sphere!



2000.09.08

Sphere 0.86 is out! It has several bugfixes, and supports JPEG!

Go to the download page!


Bugfix Release



2000.09.08

There were some fairly major bugs in 0.86, so I just released 0.861.


JPEG!



2000.09.07

I just added JPEG support to Sphere! That brings the number of supported image formats up to four: PNG, JPEG, PCX, and BMP.


Netscape



2000.09.05

Oh yeah! I forgot to say I might be working at Netscape next summer.
Working on Mozilla would be
extremely cool.


Sphere Codebase and Miscellany



2000.09.05

I’ve done some drastic changes to the Sphere codebase in the past couple
of days. I fixed some JS bugs, added a level of indirection between the
Sphere objects and the file system (useful for various packaging systems),
upgraded to latest FMOD API, and removed Sphere’s dependancy on the ‘common
sources’. As you might be able to tell, sleep has been a little lacking. :)

It seems as if
Fantasy Realms
is moving from the VERGE engine to Sphere. In my opinion, this is a Good
Thing, for both Sphere and FR. Due to Niko’s suggestion, I’m adding JPEG
support to Sphere for the next release. :)

I began some preliminary coding for Battlements. Java is pretty cool, even
if it makes you feel like you quartered the speed of your CPU. If only
JBuilder would stop sucking up all of my RAM…

My friend and I sat around doing some early design work on a game I will
soon be porting from pencil and paper to PC. We don’t even have a title
yet, so I probably shouldn’t talk about it anymore. :)

One last thing… I’ve also had a girl in my life for the past couple of
weeks. Talk about a major blow to your coding libido. ^_^


New Layout!!



2000.08.30

Finally! The page is updated! Updated a LOT. :) Please send
me your comments.

Anyway, I put out a new alpha release (0.85) of Sphere a couple days ago. Go
here to get it.

I’m at school again, so
pyrallis.dhs.org is back up. If you’re
elite enough (or you know me personally), you may find some content there. :)

I think that’s all I have for now! I wrote a CGI script that I can use to add
news items from anywhere with HTTP access, so there will be many more updates
to come.

*back to the code*


Updates already!



2000.08.30

I already added a link to AsdatiaSoft on the links page, and fixed a typo
on the about page. Thanks, JRN!


New Sphere alpha release!



2000.06.30

I know, it’s been a while… Sorry about that. Work was starting to take over my life, but now
I’m working on Sphere hardcore again. In fact, I completely got rid of SphereScript, and added
support for JavaScript, thanks to Netscape. JavaScript
represents a whole new level of power in Sphere scripting. When I finish implementing
all of the Sphere functions and objects, almost anything will be possible.

We also have a
CVS
repository set up at OpenAvenue.
It allows all of the Sphere coders to work on one set of files at the same time. This is a very
good thing. :) If you feel you need CVS access, get ahold of me and maybe we can work something
out.

Enough talk! Go
here
to download the latest alpha version. Find bugs for me. :)

p.s. Darklich just showed me the wonders of the Sphere page he just made.
Check it out!


Message Board



2000.05.14

Well, it looks like nerv-un.net will be up for a while longer. To add to the good news, I
just made a development release of Sphere that supports doodads. They’re *cool*.

And go check out the new message board!


WIP!



2000.05.02

I was just told about WIP’s very cool web page. Go look at
it!


Sphere Battle System



2000.05.01

I just put out a new development release of Sphere last night. It comes with my own
crappy BS. :) However, I’m working on another battle system for a very big game, and
I would like to ask for some help. If anyone out there could work on some graphical
effect animations for it, please drop me a line at
aegis@nerv-un.net
. We could also use help with tilesets and spritesets and various
other forms of digital art. Anyway, if you’re interested, please tell me.

BTW, if you want to see the battle system, come to EsperNet #sphere and go download it.
^_^


VC++ profiling



2000.04.30

Sphere is still making very good progress. I’ve spent the last couple of days fixing bugs
and optimizing the SphereScript compiler. I made it 75% faster than it was. :)

I feel very stupid for saying VC++’s profiler sucks, because once I learned how to use it,
it became the best part of VC++. And that’s saying a lot. It’s so easy to use and so
utterly beautiful. And to think I considered shelling out $450 for Intel’s VTune…

I’ve been playing with the stuff at SourceForge.net
to see if it will be useful for Sphere. So far it hasn’t been, but hopefully I can change
that through the suggestions I’m making. Go to the Sphere
project page if you’re interested in looking
what is set up already.

That’s all I can think of at the moment… Maybe the fact that it’s 6:15 a.m. is hindering
the old thought processes. :)


NT4



2000.03.24

I have been running my computer and Windows NT4 for the past 37 days and two hours.
That has to be some sort of record. ^_^ However, it is finally time to reboot.
I cannot drag files on my desktop and I cannot find a way to fix this problem without
rebooting. (Plus, I can’t wait to get back into Linux!) I’m sorry Windows, it’s time
to put you to sleep for a little bit.

Today I purchased WordPerfect Office 2000. It’s
very, very good.

You can access my computer at the following URL:
pyrallis


SSA and yet another Sphere update



2000.03.23

I’m a member of the group Asdatia, and we’re making a game called Sie-Spinner’s Adventure.
Check out the page here. JRN is a man with a
vision and a mad determination. Things will happen.

I played with variabled-sized tiles today. They’re cool. ^_^ I also wrote a utility to
import RPG Toolkit tilesets (.tst files).

I also tried to get Phorum running on nerv-un.net, but it doesn’t want to work. I will
communicate with dragorn and see if he can help me out.

That is all.


Sphere, FF6, SGF2, Spring Break



2000.03.18

First things first. Even though I have no updated the page recently, I’m
still working on Sphere. The channel on IRC is more of an outlet for
progress reports than this page. I’m not sure what you guys know, but
here are some things that are happening with Sphere.

  • Darklich made a simple text-based battle system
  • Wolf Phantom recreated the FF1 menu system
  • delmoi made some really cool tiles
  • The engine/editor have changed a WHOLE lot.
  • SphereScript is nearly done
  • Entities, spriteset editor, and map editor are currently being worked on
  • Sphere uses FMod for sound now. That means nearly perfect .xm, .it, .mod, .s3m, .midi, and .mp3 playback!
  • Some other things, I forget

I’m on break now. This whole week has been fun. Which reminds me, I want
every single one of you to go out and buy SaGa Frontier 2 now. It is a
wonderful game. Even if you did not like the first one. [topic switch]
FF6 is wonderful. I could have beaten it in twenty hours, but I’ve been
building up my party. Every character knows every spell, and Terra and
Celes are level 99. This is the best time through the game yet for
me. Hopefully I’ll be able to steal another Atma and Ragnarok from the
goddesses. I’m just rambling now, but hey! It’s an update!

Come on IRC if you want to participate in some conversations about the
*development* of the Sphere RPG engine. Get that? It’s NOT DONE. Don’t
expect a FINISHED PRODUCT, because I don’t have one. I’m doing my best,
but Sphere is not making any money. It’s just a hobby.

C++ smokes Java.

Oh yeah, look at my resume. It’s on the about page. Ignore the
formatting; StarOffice is silly like that. And I never announced that you
can look at various silly pictures by clicking on my picture. You
probably must know me personally to get anything out of them.

Old Pages


PictureShow update



2000.01.22

There was a bug in switching directories that I have fixed.


PictureShow



2000.01.17

I released a new program called PictureShow. You can view images with it. Just try it
out.


SphereScript + Links



2000.01.03

Happy Holidays, people. I’m back from vacation and the code is flowing, but not as fast
as I would like. :) Writing a compiler is a mess. That’s what I’m doing, BTW, rewriting
the SphereScript compiler so it supports arrays and has easily maintainable system
functions. I might even try to make the code smaller. SDE shrunk by 120k when I removed
the SS compiler. :\ That’s way too much.

At any rate, check out the new Sphere links and the pictures on the About page. :)

Oh yeah… Good news for VERGE 2! The source code has been placed under the GPL!

www.verge-rpg.com


Rant!



1999.12.16

Okay, Sphere. I have been coding like mad, but without too much focus.
That equals bad. :) I started playing Final Fantasy (the original one!) last night.
It was cool. I even had a dream about it. :) Anyway, I was thinking to myself “You know
Chad, Sphere couldn’t currently make FF1.” Now I have a mission. I will recreate FF1 in
Sphere (at least the first area). It will be included with the next release. If I know
that FF1 can be done in Sphere, I know that bigger cames can be too. That is the mission
for Christmas.


Periodic Updates



1999.11.19

I don’t know if you guys realize this, but I’m making periodic updates to SDE
on the download page. To see what date your version was compiled on click Help |
About within the program.

If you want to help work on SDE you need my latest Common Sources (available on the
download page) and Sphere Common Sources (send me an e-mail and I’ll give them to you).

Don’t worry, I’m going to make a big update when the new engine is released. I
didn’t think I was going to be able to do any programming over vacation but I realized
I could boot into Linux before I leave and use my computer remotely from home. I’ll
work on optimizing the LZ implementation I’m using to compress maps, tilesets, spritesets,
etc.


New Release Coming Up



1999.11.16

If you’ve been talking to me on IRC you probably know this already, but a new release
is coming up soon. I’ve been working pretty hardcore on getting the engine usable again
after The Great Editor Plague. The new release will have both Windows and Linux binaries
and will have a couple new video drivers in the Windows version. =) You can access my
Sphere To-Do file here. Actually,
you can only access it when I’m in NT. If I boot into Linux (which I’m going to do over
vacation so I can use my computer remotely) you’ll have to make do with accessing /shared.
Maybe I’ll copy the file over to Linux sometime (it will always be somewhat out of date).

I’m not going to be able to work on Sphere over Thanksgiving because I’m going home to
play video games and HeroQuest, and other fun things. Maybe I’ll be able to satisfy my
emulation desires. =)

Anyway, get yo’ ace in EsperNet #sphere!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I’ve updated SDE during the last couple days. If you have any
suggestions or bug reports, please e-mail me. I’ll add them to my todo.txt. =)


Status Update



1999.10.3

Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve done this. The new Sphere is coming along nicely.
We have a mechanism for using multiple resolutions worked out. (Apparently 320×240
isn’t good enough for you people, eh?). I’m also converting core parts of the engine to
C++ to prevent bugs and make the code easier to read and maintain.

SDE has a working (and fast!) map editor now. However, it only works on one layer and
the alpha channel doesn’t work yet. I’m making progress though!


New SDE up!



1999.10.22

A new SDE is up for all you people. It now has the map editor mostly done. Download it and tell me if it crashes.

The Linux port is mostly done but I got stuck on a problem so I’m going to work on it in Windows for a while.

Oh yeah, check out JonDawg’s Sphere Site.


New SDE



1999.09.18

I replaced all the .gif images on this page with .png images. I recommend
everybody in the world do that; they’re much smaller. :)

I just uploaded the latest SDE. Send me some complain mail with the stuff
you want implemented. ;)


Old Documentation



1999.09.17

Okay, everyone. The Sphere documentation is out of date. There are no rmap.exe,
rts.exe, etc. editors, as they are all being obsoleted by SDE.


College, new Sphere and SDE



1999.08.24

Yes, it’s been a while since the last update. I’ve moved to Iowa State University and
have been having too much fun on the T1 to get much useful done. ;) Actually, I have
been productive. Sphere and SDE are now public domain software released with source
code. If you feel that you could contribute to the engine, please do so. I’m too busy
now to work on it alone.

I uploaded the latest Sphere. It’s probably very broken, but it’s finally out there.
Play with it. Tell me what needs to be done (specifically, not in general!). Add
things to it. I considered releasing it under the GPL, but GNU is a little too Nazi-ish
for me. Either way, I’d like to see it running under Linux in a month. (I’ll start
porting this week.)

The newest version of SDE has also been updated. It plays sound and music files and has
completely replaced the original SphereScript compiler. I’ve been working on tileset
support, but that hasn’t gone very far, as I can’t think of a good design. If anyone
has any suggestions on how they would like to edit tiles in a window, please tell.
Actually, look at the current tileset support in SDE first.

Back to class…


SDE, FLIC, College



1999.08.07

News on SDE:

Parts of it work. I think I’ll upload an early version of it so you guys
can see what it’s going to look like. If you see any bugs or anything
(crashes, not missing features) please tell me. I’ve got some design
issues to work out, but other than that it’s going good. Except when I’m
playing Seiken Densetsu 3. Man, that game is fuuuunnnn…

FLIC:

I wrote a FLIC player for Win32, which proves I could write it again for
use in Sphere. That’s a good thing. I’ve had many requests for .avi
support. The problem is, .avi isn’t just one format. It requires installed
codecs to even show anything. FLIC is a good alternative. Animation Shop 2
(which you can get with the Paint Shop Pro 6 beta, available at www.jasc.com)
converts .avi files to FLIC files. It also does all sorts of nifty effects.

If you want to compile the FLIC player, download the updated common sources.

In two weeks I’m going to college. My last day at Vermeer for the summer is
next Monday. I’m going to spend the next day packing and Wednesday moving in.
Then I’ll have a week to “fit in” (yeah right, I’ll just program). College may
or may not take a lot of my time. I was hoping to have Sphere done before the
end of summer, but all you software developers know how that goes. I just
want to see at least one game created with Sphere.

Multitudes of people have asked for Sphere to be a Zelda/SoM style engine.
At first, I didn’t want to do that. Action-based engines are just too hard
to design and implement. However, I’m going to look into it. Drop me a line
and put in your vote.

I think that’s all for now…


New SDE Uploaded



1999.08.01

I’ve nearly finished the 32-bit color tileset editor in SDE. No more troubles adding
transparency or translucency to tiles, as it’s really easy with this. =)

Download it now!


Vacation, Birthday, “Fun” stuff



1999.07.01

I’m leaving for a two-week vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina today.
Therefore, I won’t program. No, I don’t have a laptop. However, I will
get [a] book[s] on OpenGL and/or MFC and read those.

Tomorrow is my birthday too… Send me money. ;)

About SDE, it’s going pretty well. MFC has a rather steep learning curve,
IMO, but it does save time. SDE has yet to have anything which could remotely
be called useful, but the framework is built. I’ll put up some screen shots
eventually.

See you guys in two weeks (more like two and a half)!


Sphere 0.08



1999.06.24

Hmmm, where to start. First off, I just got back from my Iowa State orientation. College
is approaching fast and I can see my coding time drop drastically. :(

Next, Sphere 0.08 won’t be out for a while. However, when it does come out, it will be
nearly complete. I’m dumping the whole multiple-program editing for a complete Sphere
IDE. It’ll be called SDE, the Sphere Development Environment, and it will contain almost
all of your Sphere development needs. Also, with the major engine redesign going on, the
maps are not backwards compatible with previous versions. Go ahead and send e-mail, but
please don’t ask these questions:

How do I make tiles transparent?

How does SphereScript work?

When will 0.08 be out?

Are there any Sphere tutorials?

All of these issues will be addressed in 0.08. In fact, I recommend that people hold off
on serious Sphere development until 0.08. Sorry, but I’m having trouble keeping up with
the growing userbase. Maybe you’ll run into people in DAlnet #sphere who can answer your
questions. I’ve also been considering making a web board, but we’ll see. If enough people
ask, I’ll probably write the CGI.

One last thing, thanks to all of you for the support I’ve received!


Sphere Resource Archive!



1999.06.03

Since I had a bunch of Sphere files sitting on my hard drive collecting dust, I
figured I’d upload them and let everyone use them.

BTW, I’m working full-time now. Sphere development has slowed, but since I got
some core redesign done before I started work, the new engine should be ready
soon. I can still do a lot of work on weekends, though.


Reflect 0.07 released



1999.05.28

A new Reflect is out. The latest version is necessary for development with Sphere 0.07.
The decompression algorithm is also documented so anyone can load compressed .i32 images.

Darklich is the man!


Huffman Compression



1999.05.27

I have released my public domain implementations of the Huffman compression algorithm.
I wrote them to add compression to the file formats in Sphere, but they are available
free-of-charge to anyone who would like to use them in his or her project.


Major Sphere Update



1999.05.25

Sphere 0.07 is released. It contains numerous bugfixes and performance
improvements. I also split this version into two files: end user and developer.
I’d like to say again that in order for the Sphere project
to continue, it needs users. If you would like to make a 2D RPG with
minimal effort, please consider this engine. Check out the new Sphere
web page to see it’s features.


Common Sources updated



1999.05.06

When I made my last update, I had forgotten that the common source directory
had been updated. I uploaded the latest version.


Sphere 0.06 released!



1999.05.03

Finally! The latest Sphere is released! It got to the point where I wasn’t getting
anything done, so I did some minor updates to put Sphere in a releasable state and
uploaded the new version. To the casual user, it seems like there isn’t much
different, except the neat intro to the Sphere Demonstration. However, many internal
things have been changed. Audio support is improved, the setup program is more
comprehensive, and SphereScript has been implemented. This release also includes
minor bug fixes and interface improvements.

Oh yeah… Darklich has released the latest Reflect. It comes with a user-friendly
installation program, for you non-techies.


Sphere Dev Release



1999.04.23

To prove that I haven’t been completely idle, I’ve uploaded a Sphere development
release for all you curious people out there. It contains the source code for the
Sphere development tools.

I got my CD-RW and two EtherNet cards the other day. The
speakers should be coming
soon. This new hardware is main reason I haven’t been coding. Also, I’m having
trouble getting networking to work properly on Windows NT4 Workstation. Well,
check out the dev release and see you next time.


SphereScript Update (again)



1999.04.18

Sorry about the lack of updates. I’m starting to sound like the VERGE 2 dev team. =)
At any rate, I’ve been having some trouble with SphereScript. Designing and implementing
a programming language is not a small task. Just a second ago, I finished implementing
user-defined types. Here’s an example:

struct character
{
  string name;
  int hp, mp;
  int strength;   ' put any other attributes here
}

character MainCharacter;

void startup()
{
  MainCharacter.name = "AegisKnight";
  MainCharacter.mp = (MainCharacter.hp = 12) - 4;
}

Now it’s time to implement arrays. Here’s an example of what I want it to look like:

struct party
{
  int gold;
  character[5] characters;
}

After I complete arrays, Sphere will be in a releasable state. However, I will probably
take a couple days to make a better demonstration game.


SphereScript Update



1999.03.31

SphereScript is almost done. All I need now is the rest of the assembler and the virtual
machine. This update is about PakMan and Reflect. Darklich is currently doing work with
them in LCC-Win32 so I figured I’d upload the latest VC++ ports before development splits
into different trees. See you kids next time.


Early SphereScript



1999.03.17

This update is just to let all you people know that I’m not dead and
that Sphere will still be continued, even with the imminent release of VERGE 2
(that is, if it really is imminent). I believe that, although it may take more
time, Sphere will be of a higher quality than other RPG development kits.
Right now, I’m working on SphereScript. Since writing a scripting language, a
compiler, and a virtual machine is not a trivial project, this is taking much
longer than I expected. At first, I considered making a QBasic or Pascal-like
language. That would make it easy for me, but the language wouldn’t be nearly
as flexible as some users may want. After a couple days of design-work, I opted
for a C-like language, with some advantages of C++ and Java. Thanks to Jack
Crenshaw and the guys in DALnet #programmers, SphereScript is actually now
progressing into an easy, but flexible, language. When the SphereScript compiler
and interpreter is done, Sphere engine development will go much faster, as scripting
is the last core component.

If you haven’t noticed, this web page has gone through some major revamping.
SSI is being used for the main menu instead of frames. Also, many of the site’s
pages have been converted into CGI scripts (written in C, of course!) that make
updating and modifying easier. I test the page primarily with the latest build
of NGLayout and Internet Explorer 4.0. The page doesn’t look right with
Netscape Communicator 4.5, but that’s not my fault. See the little icon in the
upper right corner of the document? ;-)

One last thing… Another reason Sphere has slowed down a little bit is that I
just got over addiction to that stupid Win32 card game, FreeCell. Whenever I
wasn’t doing anything fun on the computer, the mouse would magically trace up
the start menu and find FreeCell. Then, I would look at the clock and find that
two hours had passed. In a burst of self-control, I uninstalled the Windows NT
games from AegiServ. Whew… I’ve also been playing many RPGs recently. I beat
Wild Arms and must say that it is my favorite RPG of all time. It has great graphics
and music, and the plot reminds you of the good old days, back when RPGs were fun.
It also has a nice mix of puzzles and action. Granted, the battles are visually
unimpressive, but they grow on you. Let’s just hope Legend of Legaia is as good. I
also beat Dragon Warrior for the NES again, due to those nostalgic urges that
overwhelm us. I’m currently playing through Dragon Warrior II for the first time,
and have found so far that it is designed and balanced very well. Dragon Quest VII…
Mmmm…


Fifth Sphere Demo!



1999.02.20

Finally! Sphere 0.05 is out! I added all sorts of new things. Download it and check it
out! The next release will have an item system and maybe a preliminary battle system.
We’ll see. My new computer is built! It’s a PII 400 w/ 128 MB PC100 SDRAM, running
Windows NT 4 Workstation. I use it for all Sphere development. I also got Visual C++
6.0 Pro. It’s pretty nice, although I still like Borland C++ 5. Also, Vermeer gave
me a copy of C++Builder 3 to play with for a while. I’m not into rapid application
development much, but I may start using it on my next project.


Fourth Sphere Demo!



1999.01.16

This is a fairly big update. I uploaded the latest Sphere, which has animated tiles,
more video drivers, and some fairly early entity support. Also, the Sphere editors are
getting more and more robust. Since I really didn’t need to keep the Reflect source code
secret, I uploaded that, so people can look at it and modify it if they want. Finally, the
first semester is over. I’ll have much more free time to work on Sphere. One last thing,
I’m looking for a tilist to work on a game with us. The latest Sphere uses Spram’s tileset.
There, I’ve given him credit.


PakMan Update



1999.01.09

Once again, the latest Sphere isn’t out, but I uploaded the binaries and source for PakMan,
my packfile editor. If you want to add any features to it, I ask that you send the modified
program back to me.


Moved to Nerv-un.net



1999.01.05

I don’t have a new version of Sphere this time. I just wanted to say that I’m done
moving everything to Nerv-un.net.
The reason I took so long is that I had to learn some Linux commands and write a little
counter script. Once you get used to it, CGI is pie. Work on Sphere is going well. I
got a lot done over vacation with entities. I reorganized and rewrote the Sphere coordinate
system (having offset values increase as you went to the left and up didn’t make much
sense). I started work on a hardware-accelerated video driver, of which I hope to get
a major speed increase. That’s all for now. Now that semester finals and end-of-semester
projects will be taking a lot of my time, the next release may take a while.


Third Sphere Demo!



1998.12.31

Happy New Year’s Eve! I got the latest Sphere uploaded. I also have 30 megs of space
on a different server and a new e-mail address, so this page probably won’t be here for
much longer. Anyway, Sphere v.03 has full spriteset support. The editors are also
improved. Check out the font editor which can import, although crudely, Windows fonts.
=) Well, that’s all for now. You can expect the next release to include direct support
for town entities (exits, subareas, people, etc.).


Second Sphere Demo!



1998.12.20

Tonight, I have prepared the second Sphere demo. It has multilayer maps and preliminary
sprite support. It also includes more video drivers, so anyone should be able to run it.
Of course, the latest build of Reflect comes too. It has faster zooming. Just download
them and see for yourself. I’m also looking for people to work on a Sphere RPG with me.
Check the Sphere page for details.


First Sphere Demo!



1998.12.01

It has been a LOOOONG time since I’ve updated this page. Contrary to what you may have
thought, I have not disappeared. I’ve just been very busy. When given time and motivation,
beautiful things fly from programmers’ fingertips. Hmmm… Where to start… The first
item up is the first demo of Sphere has been released! Granted, the actual executable
isn’t much, but look at the editors! See the potential. It isn’t very likely that Sphere
will run on your machine (few video cards support 320x240x24), but you can still use the
editors. I plan to make a Glide video driver soon, so all of you with 3Dfx cards will be
able to see Sphere in a beautiful way. I also plan to write a 640x480x16 driver too, for
the rest of you. Sphere development should proceed much faster, now that I’ve gotten the
base code written. Next comes multilayered maps and sprites! Well, now that that’s over
with, on to the next topic. I have added some new features and bug fixes to Midnight
Player. Just read the readme. I also wrote a Win32 shell for the DOS port of Marat
Fayzullin’s Gameboy emulator, VGB. The last two items are related to Sphere. Since Sphere
uses true color with full translucency, I needed an RGBA image editor. Since the only one
I knew of was Photoshop, I decided to write a specialized program that would just modify
the alpha channel of an image. The result was Reflect. Finally, Sphere uses the MIDAS
sound engine. Since my primary compiler is Borland C++ 5 (which isn’t compatible with the
MIDAS libraries), I wrote a simple MIDAS 1.1 DLL loader for use with any Win32 C compiler.
Feel free to explore the new areas of this page.


Page Update



1998.05.02

I redid this page. It looks quite a bit more decorative than it used to. Anyway
I’ve been looking at a lot of new things, including Verge. It’s a great engine, but
the graphics are substandard and there is no Win32 version. I also abandoned Gale
because DX5 doesn’t like being accessed through another layer for some reason. Sphere
will still continue, though. It will be a console RPG engine similar to Final Fantasy IV
or Final Fantasy VI. The engine should be highly customizable with a C-like scripting
language and GUI development tools. I’m currently working on RTS
(RPG Tileset Manager)
and the map editor. I quit my job so I would have more time for school and programming
and the next upload will have a parallax map demo with translucency. Until then…


Midnight Player Update



1998.03.28

I’ve been pretty busy since my last update, but I’ve gotten a lot done. I found a couple
bugs in Midnight Player. Of course they are fixed and the new version is up. I’ve also
been working on Gale. Keyboard input, and some basic bitmap functions are done. Sphere
has a scrolling tile demo. I’m currently working on a map maker that should be
easily converted to any type of RPG.


New Update!



1998.03.19

Finally, I’ve updated again!! It’s been a while. Anyway, I quit playing Phoenix MUD. :(
It got crazy how people would level 10 times a day. I’ve been programming a lot recently.
As a matter of fact, check out Midnight Player. It took a while, but it definately was
worth it. I learned a LOT about Win32 and the registry. Check it out on my project page.
I’ve postponed Castles IV. I screwed up big time on its design. Oh well, I’ll make it with
my new game shell, Gale. I plan to make it easily portable to DOS and Linux (current version
is for Windows). Then I’ll work on an RPG with Myrk and maybe some other guys. Check it
out on the Seraph page. Virtual Apocalypse Studios kicked me out again. =) I got mad
that they all pirated software. Well, I gotta get back to programming…

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