All entries for November 2006

November 29, 2006

Yet more improvements

Follow-up to My impressive game that's no fun to play from Draknek's Deprecated Devlog

We came first in the game making competition! By one point, but still. The results don’t seem to be anywhere online yet, though.

New version.


Regulators die properly.

More levels.

Stairs now move you to the right place on the corresponding set of stairs.

Added a pause feature (press P).

People drop items like ammunition, health or keycards.

Made it work as either an applet or a java application.

Made it capable of reading level files from inside a jar file.

Added spinning thing around pickups.


Scientists and mechanics seem totally unfazed by a terrorist running around killing people.

Guards don’t seem to notice large explosions or bullets flying past them.

Guards can easily get trapped on a corner/behind some furniture.

Ammunition is worthless, because there’s no ammo counter.

Need to add the death screen back in – at the moment it just pauses the game, so you can unpause with P (for one frame).

Not enough explosions.

Sound doesn’t work in non-applet context.

It’s now possible (just about) to blow up all the regulators, and it still does nothing.

There are some issues with drawing things on top of other things.


Why does NaNoWriMo have to happen in November? Too many things happen in November. October would be a far better month. I have coursework to do for Friday, so I really shouldn’t do what I did last year (start writing something a couple of hours before midnight). Unless I get that coursework done during the day, but how likely is that to happen?

November 27, 2006

More improvements

Follow-up to My impressive game that's no fun to play from Draknek's Deprecated Devlog

New version.

Shooting something/someone at point blank range no longer damages you.

Regulators (the things you have to destroy to blow up the power station) have been added.

Probably rewrote lots of code.

Made people wander around aimlessly.

Made guards semi-intelligent (if they see you with a gun, they keep shooting after you put it away; if you go around a corner, they follow you).

Made mechanics go to fix any nearby regulators that are damaged.

Made explosions more painful.

Made the machine gun less painful.

Unfixed bugs:

If a dead regulator is fixed, it becomes unkillable (technically, it hasn’t been fixed, it just looks like it has).

Scientists and mechanics seem totally unfazed by a terrorist running around killing people.

Guards don’t seem to notice large explosions or bullets flying past them.

Guards can easily get trapped on a corner/behind some furniture.

Not enough explosions.

Not enough levels.

Still no way to win.

November 23, 2006


Follow-up to My impressive game that's no fun to play from Draknek's Deprecated Devlog

New version.

Bullets no longer fire straight ahead; they have a small amount of randomness in the starting direction (required rewriting lots of code).

Your current health is now displayed onscreen. It’s not always easy to read, but it’s better than printing to the command line.

Guards no longer magically know where you are and what you’re doing – they now only attack you if they can see you and you’re holding a weapon.

I introduced several bugs and fixed them (including one where all doors were at right angles to the gaps they should have been filling).

I got rid of the 15 second opening screen until such a time as I can make it work in a non-hacky way.

Stairs no longer crash the game. The bug was a stupid typo – if I’d seen it, this could have been working in the submitted version. It did take me about an hour to find said stupid typo, though.

I rewrote the code so that it finds the size of an image automatically, instead of having to store it in an annoying variable.

I gave it a working title.

Unfixed bugs:

If you shoot a person or a wall at point blank range, you take damage.

There’s no way to win.

November 21, 2006

My impressive game that's no fun to play

Follow-up to 48 hour game making competition from Draknek's Deprecated Devlog

Summary: I made this game.

So I teamed up with Sam, who does Computer Science and knows lots about making games. Expecially compared to me – I have made one game of extremely low complexity, and I can’t even get it to play properly from a webpage.

You can find a large number of games made by him on his website, but some may not work without installing VB libraries. The Tank Attack one should work, though, and is impressive.

The theme of the competition was chosen to be “nuclear”. We decided to make a 2D shooter where you control a terrorist trying to blow up a power station with a variety of exciting weaponry. The aim of the game would be to blow up all the cooling tanks, and then get out of there before the whole building exploded. After a certain point, large amounts of police would turn up, and they’d be better armed than regular guards, making your job much more difficult if you spent too long.

We had decided to work in Java because I run Linux and anything else would be difficult for me. Sam has never done any graphical stuff with Java at all, so I started with the programming while he made images. The LotH game, while graphically unimpressive, provided a good starting point, and it didn’t take long to start drawing images to the screen.

The game required that the images be able to rotate, however, which was substantially more work. It took large amounts of experimentation with the rotate() method before I worked out that this is what you want to do:

1) Get the canvas image you’ll be drawing onto
2) Find the position you want to draw the image at.
3) Rotate the whole canvas around that point.
4) Draw image.
5) Rotate canvas back.

After that, things got simpler again. I basically spent all my time coding, and Sam spent all his time doing pixel art and working on level design.

There was a power cut during Saturday evening which sent the entire room into complete darkness except for the light generated by laptop screens. I should really have gone home and gotten a few hours sleep, but instead I slowly built up a headache from laptop screen glare and generally wasn’t able to do anything for an hour (when the power was restored). A couple of hours later, the headache got to the point where I wasn’t capable of doing anything anyway, so I went home and slept for about 6 hours.

Then there was nothing but the last 12 hours of frantic coding. I desperately tried to add all the features necessary to make it vaguely game-like, most of which took longer than they should have. In the last hour, I tried to support multiple levels, but when we got to the 15 minute mark and it was still giving weird errors, Sam suggested I give up and add a start screen and some kind of death code instead. It was a massively ugly hack, but I got it working.

I spent some of today working out why applets don’t like me when I put them on the web, and found a couple of reasons. I resisted the urge to rewrite the code to make it work there, and instead found workarounds so that the code could be the actual 48 hour version.

I have lots of ideas of improvements I can make, so it will be updated. Probably at the expense of the two courseworks I have due in not long from now.

I also made the LotH game work, but it’s very flickery, so I need to make at least a small change to that.

Summary: I made this game.

Please tell me if it doesn’t work.

November 17, 2006

48 hour game making competition

I’m going to seriously regret this come Monday morning…

November 08, 2006

A poor ending to a great performance

Follow-up to A kill a day keeps the Inquisition away from Draknek's Deprecated Devlog

Day 4 (continued):

I know that one of my targets is in the Tocil bible study group, due to information from James. I can also find on the CU website some information about when and where that group meets. So I get there 10 minutes before the specified time, and wait in the cold. After about 20 minutes, I decided the information on the website is probably out of date.

Meanwhile, if my understanding of things is correct, another assassin has found the correct place, and infiltrated the meeting. Or possibly a party after the meeting. She chats to the target for the evening, and only when they are leaving does she get her pet stegosaurus out to kill him. Even when he sees it, he doesn’t realise he’s moments away from death. It’s a brilliant story, so I don’t regret not finding him earlier.

Day 5:

I have two targets. One is a girl living in Leamington without any decent pictures available. One is a guy I know from the short game, who will recognise me. Neither are promising, but then when I mention my dilemma to James Williams, he says that it’s just possible that the first target is currently going out with his flatmate. I am happy, and ask him to try getting some photos of her to me.

With James Silver, I hatch a plan to get my other target, in case that falls through. We get into his accomodation, and leave James’ bag in the corridor. James will knock on the target’s door and ask him if it’s his bag. I will shoot him as this happens. Unfortunately, he’s not in his room. There’s someone in the kitchen that might be him, but I don’t want his flatmates to be able to describe me if it’s not, so I decide not to do anything.

I don’t get the email of target 2’s pictures in time to wait outside her last lecture, and I don’t see her at the bus stop. The likelihood is that she’s already halfway home, so I decide to wait until Monday to make an attempt on her. Unfortunately, this leaves me in danger of not continuing my kill per day, and that just isn’t acceptable. I throw caution to the wind and make another attempt on the guy who knows what I look like.

It turns out that bursting into his room firing works a lot better than any elaborate deception would have, and I get my kill for the day. I also find out that my other target made an attempt on him earlier, and he gunned her down, making the sneakily acquired photos totally useless.

Day 6:

The competency deadline of five days has been reached, and five of the remaining eight players are wanted. On the way to the short game, I stop by on two of them living on the same corridor, but neither of them are in. Only seven people turn up to the short game, so it’s not too eventful. The guy with the super-soaker wins both games where ranged weapons were allowed. We try a melee weapon only game, in which I’m allowed to use my spider hanging from a strand of web (piece of string) attached. Unfortunately, it falls off at a vital moment, leaving me undefended. At some point, I lose my dagger.

Afterwards, a bunch of us go back to the two wanted people living on campus, but the person who answers the door doesn’t let us in. Maybe we should have gone with a different tactic to “Hi, we’re here to assassinate some people.” I’m left without a kill, so decide to take the weekend off, and make it a kill every weekday.

Day 7:

I fail to find my dagger, but I do find some foam darts from someone’s gun lying around where we were playing. I pick them up so I can return them at a later date.

Day 8:

At the end of a lecture, I feel someone hit me over the head with a newspaper. Since lecture rooms are a no-kill zone, this was a significant error on my would-be-assassin’s part. We leave the room and then the building, eyeing each other suspiciously. At one point, I lost track of her, and became extremely worried for a few seconds that she was going to suddenly appear behind me. Then I realised that she’d just cut through the library. Hiding around the corner from there, I waited in ambush for her, and a couple of minutes later she followed. She saw my gun and started running, but I shot her before she could get away.

There’s a corrupt inquisitor running around, and I decide to try to take him out. I get to one of his lectures after everyone’s gone in, and spend an hour talking to James Silver, James Wright and some other people, mostly about the Assassins’ Guild. I don’t see him leaving, either. After an hour in DCS, I finally find him leaving a second lecture. I stab him with my extensible dagger (aerial), but at the same time, he stabs me with a knife. I’m sure that due to my longer reach and with the element of suprise, I must have gotten him first, but I can’t convince him of this. He suggests just ignoring the incident, and after considering it for a bit, I agree.

Later on, I went for another wanted player. I wasn’t expecting to get very far, because his accomodation looked harder to get into than most. But I got lucky, and got to his door. The conversation went something like this:

“Who is it?”
“It’s Bill.” I mentally kick myself in the head for being so stupid. The pseudonym I’ve been using in the game is Agent Bill – everyone playing the game knows that name well.
“Bill.” Too late to change the name now; I might as well run with it.
“Agent Bill?”
“Is it Agent Bill?”
“It’s Bill, we met in the union the other day.”

He opens the door cautiously. I shoot him.

Day 9:

I make plans to kill the corrupt inquisitor again, but some inquisitors team up and get him first.

I phone up the player with no facebook and an address that doesn’t exist. I claim to be David (I do learn from my mistakes) from one of his Management seminars, but I doubt he believed the story. I was waiting outside a lecture he was likely to be in, but couldn’t keep him on the phone for long enough to find him like that.

I go to DCS, where I find that I’m now on the wanted list for withholding information. I practically skip home in happiness. I come up with a brilliant plan for killing an inquisitor (if I’m on the wanted list, then why not?). I pick up the foam darts from the short game and head off to return them to their owner. I know that he doesn’t check his emails very often, so he wouldn’t know that I’m wanted, and the darts gave me a valid excuse for being there. If possible, I wanted to ask him how the darts were loaded into the gun, get hold of it, and shoot him with that.

It was the perfect plan. Maybe even too perfect. One explanation of what happened next is that I was so distracted by the knowledge that I was about to pull off the perfect plan, that I didn’t have any time to actually think about what I was doing. If I had, I might not have pulled out a gun and shot him while he was still pointing his gun at me.

Once again, I was part of a double kill, but this time the other guy wasn’t suggesting we ignore it. Damn karma.

November 02, 2006

A kill a day keeps the Inquisition away

Day 1: I was lucky enough to be assigned a target who I recognised from the social a few weeks ago and had seen previously in one of my lectures.

Failing to see him before entering the lecture, I sat through it wondering whether he would turn up, but as I looked around at the end, I noticed him right at the back. I hurried out and waited outside the door for him to emerge, stabbing him as he left the room.

Another of my targets was doing English, and there was an English lecture in the exact same room right afterwards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a core module, so I couldn’t be sure he would turn up. I saw someone who might have been my target, but when he didn’t respond to his name, I decided not to take the risk.

There were four other deaths.

Day 2: I printed off some photos of my targets from Facebook, so I wouldn’t have that problem again. I found a core lecture and identified him immediately – stabbing him in the back while he was chatting to friends.

I also waited outside three Maths lectures for another target, but didn’t see him at any of them. I think Jen, Darren and James (all of whom do Maths) found my behaviour a bit worrying.

There were three other deaths.

Day 3: I turned up to another Maths lecture, to the amusement of Maths people. James said that he vaguely recognised my target and would try to help somehow if he saw him again, but that wasn’t necessary, as I saw him a couple of minutes after everyone else had gone in. He didn’t see the dagger until it was too late…

I wandered around the library looking for my other target, but her photos all looked different, so I couldn’t make a positive ID on anybody. Followed one girl to a seminar which I later confirmed was for the correct subject, but still didn’t feel confident enough to make a kill. This was good, because I later found out that my target had been assassinated the previous night, and that libraries are a no-kill area. Still not sure whether it was the right person, though.

Someone came to my house looking for me. I went through the list of people playing (which I’m not sure we were meant to have, but the emails are sent with everyone’s addresses viewable to everyone else, so it’s not like I had any special advantage), and cross-referenced that with Facebook and Louise’s description. Then I looked up his course and core modules.

There were two other deaths.

Day 4 (today): I waited outside my newly identified assassin’s lecture and stabbed him as he hurried outside. His intended destination was my lecture to make another attempt on my life, so he certainly wasn’t expecting me to be waiting there.

There will be other deaths.

New blog location

After a hiatus of several years, I’ve started blogging again at

My website

Looking for more information about Alan Hazelden? Follow me on Twitter or go to my website.

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