All 12 entries tagged Operation Meltdown

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May 25, 2007

My programming projects

I have several programming projects at the moment that I could work on:

Kraken prototype

There’s a game-making competition on the theme of Ocean Odyssey that VGDSoc is involved in. One of the ideas suggested was a game where you play as the Kraken, destroying passing ships.

I liked the idea, but wasn’t sure controlling a Kraken was feasible – tentacles are fairly deformable, and that’s always seemed quite complicated. So I made this prototype and decided that not only was it feasible, it was also damn cool.

Unfortunately, the competition needs to be done in XNA, which being a Microsoft thing, won’t run on Linux. Also, the competition culminates in a 48 hour session which is right in the middle of my exams…

Operation Meltdown

I want to polish off one of my games before the end of term, and since Operation Meltdown works (although isn’t yet very game-like) and Blobber was way too ambitious and is full of bugs, the decision was quite easy.

I finally got it to the stage where it contained the bare essentials of a game the other day. Then I packed it into a JAR file and it broke. Apparently you can’t read from a directory in a JAR file the same way you’d read a directory on the filesystem, so my code to load all the images in a directory broke. Okay, so I thought, I’ll do a check for that and get the directory listing another way. And I did, and it worked, so I tried uploading it.

And then it broke again when you ran it as an applet. The code was opening the JAR file containing itself and reading through the entries, but you can’t do that from an unsigned applet because you can’t read from the local filesystem. In the end, I just removed the applet version from the website; I’m not sure anybody would want to play it in applet form anyway.

Javascript for Mark

This one has the benefit of me getting paid if I do it. But it wouldn’t be as interesting as some of the alternatives, and it involves Javascript and maybe some Ajax too. I should probably do it just because I said I would ages ago and never did, though.

ezConvert for phpBB 3.0

With the release of RC1 of phpBB 3.0, I took a look at the conversion system. It assumes you have database access to the forums you’re converting from, so I’d probably have to bend it quite a bit to get it to convert from ezBoard.

The alternative is to keep it as a module in the Admin Control Panel, which is probably what I’ll do. But even though it wouldn’t require a total rewrite, I’d want to pretty it up before releasing it like that, so either way would be a fair amount of work. Probably not something I do before the exams, then.


The Web 2.0 start-ups must be mocked! And they must be mocked at the very latest by next April Fools Day.


Blobber is retired from development, probably until I start my third year project which will probably be a physics simulator. Because after failing to make Blobber work, trying something more complicated is the ideal plan…

March 25, 2007

Physics engines are complicated

I’m trying to actually read the Game Physics book rather than just skimming through it. That helps it make more sense, but there’s still far too many equations in it.

I’m finding that I have learnt a lot of the stuff it’s talking about. But not in Computer Science lectures, oh no. The only useful maths has been from the optional modules I took last year like Mathematical Programming 1 and Introduction to Quantitative Economics. Which is annoying, because IQE was rubbish and I’d hate to actually use any of it.

Working on Operation Meltdown, I was shocked to find code comparing strings with == rather than equals(). That broke horribly (as it ought to) when I changed things. The compiler really ought to give warnings for that type of thing.

I now have the code to iterate through all images in a directory in a jarfile, though, so I no longer need to manually load each image by name.

February 14, 2007


Why do we have the expression “brain like a sieve”? Sieves are highly useful kitchen utensils and make an excellent analogy for the brain – you should sift through large amounts of information, breaking it into smaller piece of information that can be processed separately. The only reason you could possibly have a problem with a sieve is if you were to somehow mistake it for a strangely flimsy wok. So the next time you catch yourself using that phrase, qualify it by appending “but not like a good sieve, like a bad wok-sieve hybrid that leaves your food in a gooey mess on the floor”.

There’s another 48 hour game making competition this weekend. Should be good, especially since I have some experience of making games this time. I’m hoping to get Operation Meltdown to a vaguely-complete state before then, so I can spend the next 3 months finishing whatever we start at the weekend. It should just be a case of ending the game if you destroy all the regulators.

I got asked some questions by some people with a big camera. But I went with my usual plan of just saying the first thing that sounds vaguely philosophical. The witty thoughts didn’t appear until afterwards. And since the new, witty thoughts are much better answers, I have to wonder if my non-witty answers mean these people now look down on me like scum. Not to worry though, it’s not as though they knew me. Oh, wait…

Apparently, I have demonstrated outstanding achievement in my degree course. I think that before congratulating me on that, they should give me some kind of short questionnaire. “Did you do any work for your outstanding achievement? Yes/No (pick one)”. And then I could say no, and then they could go bother someone else.

February 07, 2007

Programming stuffs

Worked some more on Operation Meltdown. Apparently, last time I did that, I was rewriting the input handling. I left it after removing the old code but before adding the new code, so you had a totally non-interactive view of people wandering around a power station. Fixed that, and also added the code to do something when you die. It won’t be very much work now to re-add the introduction text and the explosion drawing.

I also joined one of the VGDSoc projects. I added water, which currently looks like white squares spawning next to other white squares. Unfortunately, sometimes the water level on one square decides to increase and increase and increase, totally ignoring my clever code to spread to adjacent squares if they have a lower level of water. I never knew that fountains were a natural phenomenon…

Killed the Chief Inquisitor of the current Assassins’ Guild game yesterday, making me Corrupt and a valid target for all ten or so people playing. The turnout for Assassins’ Guild things has been exceptionally poor this term. I think we need to advertise on Facebook – I met one of James’s friends from home recently and he’s taking part in Loughborough’s first Assassins’ Guild game. Apparently it has about 70 people playing, and was mostly advertised through Facebook.

Went to Chocfest, the only juggling convention to combine chocolate cake and juggling. I won the highly prestigious last place prize in the Chocfest Chocolate Cake Competition with my cake that sort of looks like a mutated cookie but inside is fudgey but I was hoping it wouldn’t be. Got some good (and painful) club juggling done as well.

December 27, 2006


I have too many projects.

I started making a Tetris clone an Ancient Hobbit Puzzle game. (Sidenote: some people have too much time on their hands.)

I have plenty of work to do on Operation Meltdown.

The Beautifully Choreographed Battle Game isn’t complete.

I have various other LotH-themed games I want to make.

Perhaps more importantly than those games, I have two pieces of coursework due in at the start of next term.

Mark gave me some more Javascript stuff to do for St Pixels.

My Dad wants me to do some PHP stuff for him.

I have Babylon 5, Veronica Mars, Arrested Development and now Wonderfalls to watch.

I need to complete Twilight Princess before I go back to Warwick.


Grandparents were here for the past three days. We saw Treasure Island at the theatre earlier today, and yesterday we went to the ice rink, where some of us went ice-skating.

Ian has an iPod. He wanders around the house with it on all the time, ignoring people even more than before. We either need to get a remote control for it, or I’m going to get into the habit of hitting him over the head before saying anything to him.

Wandered around town last Friday for many hours with Pete and Mairead. Nowhere has any copies of Wii Play. We were unknowingly in the same Starbucks as one of Hennell’s sister’s friends for some time. We went bowling after finding a Hennell – I found that Wii Sports seems to help, but not enough to let me win. Then we went to Pizza Hut and then back into town where we met people from school. Pete and Hennell went to get a lift home and I went with them intending to get a bus, not thinking that it would make sense to tell Mairead. Hopefully she got back home alright, though.

Ian is fairly often getting up to watch the Cricket before I’ve gone to bed. It’s just wrong.

December 18, 2006

We have a Wii

What kind of crazy freak buys a Wii without Twilight Princess? Does he not realise I only have a few weeks to complete it in?

On the plus side, I got him to name the console Wiilma.

Did some work on my game. Never again will I start a game without the code to make it frame-rate independent. It’s stupid amounts of work to add that in later.

December 06, 2006

Yet more improvements again

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

New version.

It’s gotten to the point where my initial assumptions no longer apply, and I’m having to work around the original way I thought I was going to do things. Not good.

It took me far longer than I was expecting to get different shaped collision boxes working. Which is bad, because my plan was to implement that, and then start learning several weeks’ worth of material so I can do my coursework (due tomorrow).


Made sound work when running it as an application.

More stuff on level 3.

Better spinning graphic on pickups.

Some things have round collision boxes, others have square collision boxes.

As a consequence of this, you can now walk right up to doors.

Changed projectile movement so they can’t go through doors/corners.


The new collision code makes it easier to get stuck on things.

It’s sometimes possible to shoot through doors and I don’t know why – seems random.

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.

Not enough explosions.

Blowing up all the regulators does nothing

To do:

Some kind of respawn feature for when you die.

Add some end-of-game code.

Make people move about even when on a different level to the player.

Limit the player to only having a finite amount of ammunition.

Add some path-finding for the AI.

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.

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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