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  Click here to go to the first staff post in this thread.   Thread: Technical Blog #0

  1.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #1
    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    Technical Blog #0

    The past week has been an exciting time! We hired our first programmer, which is an important milestone. Victor Ude started on Monday, and is sitting beside me as I write this, hard at work.

    Victor is currently working on our FMOD integration. FMOD is a 3rd party sound and music engine for games. It provides a great deal of power for scripting and manipulating sounds in game. FMOD comes with a fantastic tool for sound engineers. FMOD will be used by Kpow and Austin Wintory to implement the sound and music in the game moving forward.



    Victor is sorting the intricacies of writing an Adobe Air Native Extension (ANE) for allowing a C/C++ library like FMOD to interoperate with as3 libraries. As with any cross-language bindings, ANE, a relatively new technology, has little quirks and annoyances that I am very happy Victor is dealing with.

    I’ve been working on a variety of tasks. For the past few days I’ve been getting GUI screen roughs mocked up in the game. Arnie has been painting the art assets for it, and I am getting the basic functionality hooked up. We have roughly 12 full screen GUIs to do, and I am going through them one by one and getting them working. This is all to pave the way for our GUI Designer, who will start working with us remotely from San Francisco on Monday.

    GUI integration has been an enjoyable challenge. The GUIs are painted by Arnie in Photoshop, then the functionality is setup and programmed in Flash, and I have been working on some as3 frameworks to be reused across all the GUI screens to make everything consistent and easy to integrate into the game. I hope to have this GUI architecture fairly firm by the time the GUI Designer starts. Having this system architected in advance will help prevent us from going down ratholes that require substantial reworking/refactoring in the future.

    Upgrading our website and forum hosting took some time last week. When we first rolled out our forums, we were using a shared hosting provider that had been up to that point just fine for our website and wordpress blog. However, as all of you know, the deluge of forum users crushed our shared hosting pretty quickly. VBulletin’s database resource usage far exceeded the available resources on the shared hosting. Almost all of our issues were as simple as hitting the database connection limit. Fortunately, our hosting provider allowed us to migrate our website and database into Virtual Private Servers, which allow us to scale up and use as much resources as we need. I now have some nice little slider bars where I can allocate more memory whenever I like.

    We have a couple of remote volunteers who are helping to set up our Continuous Integration/Build Server. We are going to be running a Jenkins/Hudson service in the Amazon Web Services EC2 cloud. Since our game is cross-platform, we need to run one MacOS server and one Windows server, so we can produce the executable packages for each platform. That work is going slowly because both of the volunteers have day jobs, but it should be up and running prior to starting Alpha.

    I have been taking the first steps to setting up our Game Server and Game DB. I am, again, using AWS EC2 to run an Ubuntu linux server, on which I will run our Game Server. The Game Server itself is a Java application using the Glassfish Jersey implementation of the Java API for RESTful web services. I am building out our DB using Amazon SimpleDB, which is a very nice key-value non-relational database. As you might tell from its name, it is pretty simple to use. Despite being non-relational and non-schema, it does support SQL query syntax.

    We have a second programmer starting on Monday. His name is Jeff Uriarte, and he will be working on some tools for us. First up is the tool for creating the parallax scenes that are used in combat, travel, and city environments. We have a lot of these to make, and the tools will help streamline the process. For some reason the other guys don’t like the idea of building them by hand as 20 page JSON files

    Next: Technical Blog #1
    Last edited by John; 07-05-2012 at 05:09 PM.

  2. #2
    If you can pledge to making one or two of these updates a month I can pledge to trying to understand more than 40 percent of the next one.

    Thanks for the updates- as ever it's nice to see such hands on interactions with the fans!

    edit: the above is in no way a suggestion to dumb down the updates- the warning for those of us without any programming backgrounds at all is clear in the title!
    Last edited by JokerAR; 05-11-2012 at 05:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Moderator stelly's Avatar
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    Nice post John

    Are you sitting higher because you are the leader of the clan and you can look down on your minions??

    Stelly

  4. #4
    Aha! Great to see FMOD progress!
    Also hello Victor! Sounds like we may be communicating frequently in the future.
    Exciting update! Geeky, but exciting

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    Backer LoliSauce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stelly View Post
    Nice post John

    Are you sitting higher because you are the leader of the clan and you can look down on your minions??

    Stelly
    Speaking of minions...

    Anyway, this is hype. I'm excited to hear how things progress.

  6. #6
    Wow, that's an incredibly detailed update, wish i could fully understand it. Like why are there 12 different versions of GUI for a game, is that a resolution thing ?
    Overall, nice to see plans setting in motion. Stoic is definitely growing.

  7. #7
    Backer lamaz's Avatar
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    Yay a technical blog! And I'd imagine the GUI amount comes from a few different GUIs(battle, travel etc.), which will be made available for all of the different platforms. Tablets GUIs for example require some tweaking to make it work.

    On the subject of the GUI. What kind of are you going for? Are you going to lay it all for the player to see or are you going for more minimalistic solution of hiding some information behind some easily accessible sub-menus? For example will the abilities of characters in combat be in one menu that is always visible or will they pop-up when you select the character you want to use?

    I bet it's quite challenging working with all those different platforms with such a small team. It's sometimes really hard to just wrap your brains around of simply using Linux, Windows and MacOS at the same time, let alone combined with all the different programs and programming languages. Good luck!

  8.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #8
    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    1. I'm not sitting higher, I'm just 11 feet tall.

    2. Yes, the number of GUIs represents the different screens -- assembling your party, upgrading your characters, hiring new characters, etc...

    3. The GUI is intended to be as clean as possible but with very few sub-menus. How's that for having it both ways?

    4. Yes, the multiple platforms do present a bit of a challenge. You have to configure everything to properly build and run, multiple times and places, and try to keep from breaking one accidentally while you work on the other.

  9.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #9
    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    5. I would like to do a blog update weekly, but we'll see how the cadence rolls out as we go through production.

  10. #10
    Nice update. And, as a tech guy, I can (thankfully) understand 100% of it. I'd be curious to see how things go with the AWS/simple DB set up. Been debating how to set up the prototype I'm working on. I really want to use a per-cycle cloud system like AWS or Azure (I'm mostly a .Net guy but I'm flexible ). I'm actually hoping to do more of a burst model and spin up resources as needed via a manager process that just monitors different slices running on AWS and allocates new slices dynamically when something (CPU/memory/network) hits a threshold.

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    Backer Chaille's Avatar
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    Turboencabulators.

    I like the photo. The ceiling of the goat shack slopes down on John's end of the room, making him even more tall. There appears to be a fan attached to the wall by his head, blowing directly into his right ear. And Victor knows better than to look him in the eye.

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    Backer stoicmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    5. I would like to do a blog update weekly, but we'll see how the cadence rolls out as we go through production.
    Go John!!

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    Backer lamaz's Avatar
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    Oh wow once a week would be nice. Are you going to make all of the updates or will you take turns?

  14. #14
    Exciting to see examples of the realization of the KS money being used. Keep the info flowing.

  15. #15
    Backer Mudfly's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update, an please keep 'em coming!

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    Backer hatim's Avatar
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    Great post! Looking forward to reading every single one you write. Thank you so much for taking the time to do so.

    Which source control tool do you use? do you use it for both art/music assets and source code? How do you keep track of tasks/bugs across teams?

    It is great to see that a continuous integration environment is in the works. Are you doing any kind of scrum based development?

  17.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #17
    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    We are using mercurial, hosted on bitbucket. Personally I think git/github is the best available. However, I feel that mercurial hides its complexity a little better than git, so it may be better for non-programmers to use. In practice they are so similar it doesn't matter that much. github is a better site than bitbucket -- BUT... github has very limited repository sizes, even for paid accounts. So github is not really suitable for storing art assets. Which should answer your other question -- yes we are using source control (mercurial/bitbucket) to store art/music assets as well as source code. Different repositories, but all in the same system.

    In terms of bug tracking, we haven't gotten to that yet. Anything that needs to get fixed we just mention to each other, or create a task as described below. Once we get going with more testers and moving parts, we'll probably use something hosted like JIRA, or even use bitbucket's built in issue tracking.

    We aren't really doing scrum per se, but I would certainly classify what we are doing as agile. I have a whiteboard with sticky notes in 2 columns: Backlog and In Progress. We arrange them in descending order of priority, and shuffle them around as often as necessary. I also have a spreadsheet with all the tasks broken down with work estimates so we can take a wild guess when we might be finished.

    JW

    Quote Originally Posted by hatim View Post
    Great post! Looking forward to reading every single one you write. Thank you so much for taking the time to do so.

    Which source control tool do you use? do you use it for both art/music assets and source code? How do you keep track of tasks/bugs across teams?

    It is great to see that a continuous integration environment is in the works. Are you doing any kind of scrum based development?

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    Moderator stelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    1. I'm not sitting higher, I'm just 11 feet tall.


    pffft... Midget

    Stelly

  19. #19
    Junior Member Victor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_Kpow View Post
    hello Victor!
    Hello! ^_^

  20. #20
    Backer Eberict's Avatar
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    I don't understand this, but I will try very hard to, and I love that you posted it! Going to run it through a friend of mine who understand the programming aspects better. Your high-thane seat is impressive, but doesn't it feel strange being so close to the ceiling?

    And hello Victor! I like your Makai Kingdom avatar. You need a better title than "Junior Member" though!

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