The Animal Farm Research

I just discovered The Animal Farm Research which is a coding blog containing a lot of information on procedural content generation (and coding in general).

Quote from Gamedev:
The screenshots are part of my research. The buildings models are generated 100% procedurally according to a shape grammar specified by Wonka and Mueller (with som extensions/modifications), which is similar to an L-System but acts on building components instead of performing string rewrites. The grammars are capable of a lot more, but unfortunately my artistic talents and architectural knowledge are somewhat limited.

There's a data mining component in the background which can refine the grammar according to user likes/dislikes, but it's hard to illustrate that here.

My next steps are to extend shape grammars to generate random dungeons, act as string rewrite systems (ala L-Systems), and generate certain classes of textures. I'm also working on generating an entire building in the geometry shader. Some of this is detailed on my research site, but I admittedly do not update that as much as I should.


Pretty Plz

"When people tell me "plz" just because it's shorter than "please", I feel perfectly justified to answer "No" because it's shorter than "Yes"."

(quoted from a wow message board)


Staying up late, working on my master's degree...

"Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author's phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea." - Guy Debord



Royally f***ed up!

It's finally proven that our princess is insane! According to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, she claims clairvoyant powers which she aims to share by teaming up with another nut case and starting an alternative school aimed at training students to contact angels. Check out the website and the original article.

quote - Aftenposten.no:
Märtha Louise, who competed in equestrian events for several years, said that she started "taking contact with angels" when she worked with horses. "I have later learned the value of this enormous gift, and want to share it with others," she said.


Blah, blah..

To stop global warming, Strahd von Zarovich advocates destroying the sun. Send your donations today.


Cell Phone Transformer

Dark Patton vs The Darkness

This is actually an old article, but I forgot to publish the link until now :P. Seems like Mike Patton is more than just a great musician, but also a promising voice over actor (at least for disturbing voices ;). Now if only the game's as cool as it looks.

Image taken from futuregamez.net


Dawn of War hacking again

I haven't had the time or effort to code much lately - the job's taking up most of my daytime and I'm usually too tired to code when I get home. But I've managed to dedicate a couple of hours the last couple of days to try and make some advancements on Soulreaper. Lately I've been thinking about the possibility of making the game 3d. I've not decided to go with this option though - I'm just checking out the possibilities. As a part of this, I've removed the dust from my old project of hacking the DoW texture, model and animation formats, and added texture preview capabilities to my model viewer.

Models and textures are taken from Dawn of War by Relic Entertainment


WoW Addict Constructs Massive 47 PC Setup

If you thought you need a guild then you're wrong! (The scary part is that he has a girlfriend and she's in on it)


Back to a garbage collected environment...

C# has ruined my tidiness. Somehow I expect the garbage collector to come and clean up my apartment as well. Lately I've been doin' mainly two things: working and playing computer games (WoW and some 360), so I haven't had much time/energy to clean up ;).

Oh, I actually haven't written it here - I got a Xbox360 for my birthday. My parents and friends got together and bought me one of the best presents ever! You should have see my face when I opened it up ;). Thanks once again!

Anyway.. back to the matters at hand. I've just started coding again, and while googling for some XNA information, I came across this short article about the .net garbage collector and XNA's ContentManager. Check it out!



While I was surfing around yesterday, I discovered the word "greebling" on a random page. Now, the page states:

quote: Classic-Space LEGO
Greeble, greeb or greebling is a word not recognized by most dictionaries. As written in the greeble design commentary on Lugnet, “‘Greeble’ (also ‘greeblie’ or ‘greeb’) is the popular term to describe groupings of mechanical-looking detail elements on MOCs”.

It didn't really make me that much wiser - until I discovered the illustrations which sure brought back some fond memories! For those of you who don't know what a MOC is, here's a short explanation from wikipedia: "My Own Creation, a fan-created Lego creation that was not a set originally marketed by the Lego Group".

Here are some examples of some greebling:

Check out the full page for more Lego madness.


SDGI 8: Magic Systems Revisited

Image is from the game Final Fantasy - Crystal Chronicles
Copied from ign.com

I've always been interested in magic systems. We all know the quote by Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguisable from magic" - and I'm sure that magic wouldn't be the least magical if it existed - but that's beside the point. What I'm interested in is the implementation details and the design of magic systems in games as well as movies and litterature.

I just found a new post over at Gamedev which covers a magic system one of the newer members is developing. So if you're interested in magic systems then check it out!

Boring Games

I just read an interesting article over at Gamasutra.com about how games are still considered an exotic media, and how making it more mundane probably will increase its mass appeal and give them a more important role in our everyday life.


More Starcraft

The official gamplay video is here!! You must check this out!

You can now watch it directly from gametrailers.com!


Blizzard.. how could you?

You've taken away my life the past couple of weeks with WoW and now this? Starcraft II is finally announced and it's gonna rock my world. Damn... there goes all my ambitions for the upcoming year. Here are a couple of teasers. You can find trailers at starcraft2.com or at gametrailers.com.


User Friendliness, Where Art Thou?

First I'll have to apologize for the long absence. I've been too caught up in - guess what - World of Warcraft. It's every bit as addictive as I imagined and I've spent most of my spare time playing that game since I started playing it last week.

Now.. let's get back to the issue at hand. Lately I've been working a lot as an office assistant (or something like that) which involves using a lot of different office programs - some worse than others - but they're all bad!

One program I've started to use is called ESS (Employee Self Service) which is a web based program that all government owned firms in Norway have to use. The concept is that every employee has to register things like their own contact information and when they're absent from work in this system. The problem is that it's just plain counter intuitive - here's one example I'd like to share with you:

To the left you've got your main menu and to the right you've got the currently selected action. If you look at the picture you'll see I've selected inbox (marked with a red rectangle) - but what might be a bit surprising is that the inbox selection contains both the inbox, the outbox, your personal message archive and the trash can - so to get to the outbox you've got to select the inbox.. intuitive? I don't think so!


Lip-Reading Surveillance Cameras

It seems the UK has again managed to increase its lead in the "Biggest Police State in The West" competition (or was it world?). Lip-reading surveillance cameras? Orwell must be proud of you!


Spider Car

Wet Dreams

BioShock is one of the games I'm definitely looking forward to! We know that it's got a powerful rendering engine since it's based on Unreal Engine 3, but what makes it stand out is its custom water rendering. Irrational Games have just released another teaser and this time around it's all water rendering - check it out.

If you're interested in water rendering then check out these link:


I chose life!

I got home from work and was feeling restless. I needed something - but I didn't know what. Was it beer or cigarettes? Food or perhaps even drugs? No, the feeling was different. But What? It was the oh so familiar feeling of computer game cravings!

I have been too busy to play any computer games for a couple of weeks. I've been working a lot, and all my spare time has been spent either with my girl friend, my homies or at home working on something game related (coding, blogging, drawing).

I looked through all my games, but I couldn't find one that I wanted to play. Dark Crusade or perhaps Neverwinter Night 2? They would be great if I has someone to play with, but my internet connection is provided by the university and their firewall is a real Fort Knox.

But what about World of Warcraft? All my friends are playing it, and I know it works on the network! So it was decided, I would at least install it and poke around. After all, I am trying to develop games so I should at least check out the most popular of them all.

So I downloaded the download application (got to love that) and ran the exe. It seemed to work ok, so I read some different RSS feeds while waiting. But I was rather disappointed when I checked it after a short while - it baaarely progressed. I inspeced the different download options I had, and after a short while I realized this game wasn't meant to be downloaded by me - at least not using the official means.

I figured I'd try to find a torrent. There shouldn't be anything illegal with this (though you never know :P) since the game's already downloadable, and you pay for the game using credit card if you've downloaded the binaries. But I could of course not find any fast torrents either so there I was, stuck without the one game I wanted to play that evening.

So what's the moral of all this?
I chose life - but only 'cause I had no other options!


SDGI 7: el33t

I’ve always been intrigued by the thought of a hacker (or cracker – whatever you prefer to call them) game. Uplink seemed to do this quite nicely, though I haven’t actually played it more than just playing around with the demo.

Now imagine that you use the hacker theme for a puzzle/turn based strategy game (TBS). I’m thinking about breaking into systems and planting malicious code represented visually by models and levels – more like Tron than Uplink.

You are a hacker who gets missions from different shady employers. The missions could be to bring down a system by planting virii in it, install a program to tap information or perhaps seize control over a system.

The game is divided into different levels of gameplay/strategy inspired by games like UFO, X-COM and Syndicate. The world map is where you’ll receive your missions. Here you can view your base (your apartment/computers), make new code snippets (the classic research element), upgrade your system or perhaps even buy extra computers.

To complete a mission you’ll need a couple of tools – malicious code and hacking tools. These are tools which you’ll have to spend time on upgrading, much like researching in the UFO-games. Some factors might make it easier to research faster – new hardware or software, or perhaps coffee!

From here you’ll have to either hack into and/or plant a virus in another computer – depending on the mission. Consider this part as troop deployment, the snippets of malicious code are your troops and you’ll have to get them into the computer you’re taking over. Once they’re in, you can start moving them around real-time.

This is a risky process and you might get caught while trying to do this. Perhaps your target computer is running a routine virus check or perhaps even one started by the system admin because there was something fishy about the systems behavior. The scan is represented by an area sweep which is tricky to dodge – but if the code is encrypted (an upgrade) it’s easier to pass the scan.

The game mode will switch to turn-based the moment the scan or an enemy detects your malicious code. This is a bit like how battles are handled in Fallout. You’ve got action points and the order in which you act depends on your initiative (only that it’s called thread priority in this game).

The enemies are anti virus programs and decoy files spread throughout the level. Fighting them could be done as a “normal” battle – either close combat or ranged – or it could be more of a chess-type game where each models movement characteristics play an important role. This should be combined with other code characteristics like for instance encryption (for stealth) or multithreading (for increased action points).

Real beauty


A Couple of Reasons NOT to Use Facebook

There are lots of reasons not to use Facebook, and their privacy policy is one of them! Before you read the following quotes, check out this flash animation (I'm sure it will put you in the right mood):
Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?

quote: Wired - Lessons From the Facebook Riots
"Unfortunately, Facebook can change the rules whenever it wants. Its Privacy Policy is 2,800 words long, and ends with a notice that it can change at any time. How many members ever read that policy, let alone read it regularly and check for changes?

Not that a Privacy Policy is the same as a contract. Legally, Facebook owns all data that members upload to the site. It can sell the data to advertisers, marketers and data brokers. (Note: There is no evidence that Facebook does any of this.) It can allow the police to search its databases upon request. It can add new features that change who can access what personal data, and how."

quote: Wikipedia - Facebook
"According to the policy, "We may use information about you that we collect from other sources, including but not limited to newspapers and Internet sources such as blogs, instant messaging services and other users of Facebook, to supplement your profile."
Facebook has assured worried users the next privacy policy will not include the clause about information collection and has denied any data mining is being done "for the CIA or any other group."[23] However, the possibility of data mining by private individuals unaffiliated with Facebook remains open, as evidenced by the fact that two MIT students were able to download, using an automated script, over 70,000 Facebook profiles from four schools (MIT, NYU, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard) as part of a research project on Facebook privacy published on December 14th, 2005.

Another clause that some users are critical of reserves the right to sell users' data to private companies, stating "We may share your information with third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a relationship." This concern has also been addressed by spokesman Chris Hughes who said "Simply put, we have never provided our users' information to third party companies, nor do we intend to."[25] It is unclear if Facebook plans to remove that clause as well."

Top 10 Ways to Know You're a PC Snob

quote: GameSpy - Top 10 Ways to Know You're a PC Snob
"The PC Gamer Snob, every gamer knows one, you may even be one yourself. They consider the PC to be the end-all be-all of gaming and will scoff at the idea of dirtying their hands on any sort of upstart console. Here's a handy guide to see if you or one of your friends fits into this especially snooty class of gamer."

(no comment)


Frisky Dingo

Check it out if you haven't already!


My Prrrrecious Retrolicious!

If you're like me and remember the adventure games of the good ol' days you'll be pleased to hear that Sierra are re-releasing Kings Quest, Larry, Police Quest and Space Quest for modern PCs (now where's Quest for Glory?)! I'm not sure how they plan to make them run on modern computers and operating systems, but it seems like they're using technology from DOSBox - so I'm excited to see if they just bundle DOSBox with the games in their original DOS versions or if they've got some sort of exe-wrapper to make it all a bit more neat.

Here's the original article from dagbladet.no (in Norwegian).


SDGI 6: Pirate Illithid

I found this nice looking pirate illithid here - According to the 4th Four Elements competition, adding pirates to your game is more or less one step towards making a killer video game (though it's not guaranteed ;)

quote: Four Elements IV Contest
"After years of research1, we determined that every successful game requires one of four elements: robots, pirates, ninjas, and zombies. So what better than a contest that combines them all! "

Illithids are not represented on the list but they're in my opinion one of the most kick ass dnd creatures - so a pirate illithid is a certain winner in my book!

SDGI 5: The voices made me do it!

I've been thinking about the usage of voice and voice distortion in computer games for a long time. Having in-game voice support (team speak etc.) is a great way to enable fast communication between players but it breaks some of the illusion of you being your avatar. A mighty dwarven fighter with a squeaky voice is always a turnoff (not that I get turned on by dwarves any way ;) - so why not use voice distortion technology? I know that there are a lot of technical difficulties to consider when designing such a system but I believe that it's viable.

quote: Gamasutra - Features "Internet Game Design" [08.01.97]
"I ought to address the technical viability of speech data over the modem phone lines. With proper compression, speech data is definitely viable at modem bandwidths. You can design with the expectation that each channel of streamed audio will require roughly 300 bytes per second. We'll address the bandwidth allocation issue in more depth in the next article, but I just want to assure you that speech, if properly compressed and scheduled alongside game data, is viable. Here's one other tidbit of information: compression of speech today typically uses about 15% to 25% of a Pentium 100 CPU, and decompression uses 10% to 15%"

Adding voice distortion will probably add a lot of overhead and it would probably bring older systems to their knees. Next gen consoles and newer PCs should handle it well. All the first generation of Xbox 360 titles are single threaded according to The Inquirer, and I don't expect that all of the cores on the PS3 are used by the first generation of games either. On the PC side of things, the quad cores are coming - so I expect more processing power available there as well. I bet you even could offload much of the number crunching to the GPU.


SDGI 4: Magic systems

Image taken from Shadowrun for the 360

I've written about this earlier (in this post) but I'll mention it again since it fits the SDGI idea well. If you check out this post you'll find a lot of different ideas concerning how to make a magic system fun/different!

SDGI 3: Geriatron

Why does a character always have to be young and energetic? I hereby propose the game Geriatron. You're playing a senior hacker in a futuristic cyberpunk rpg setting. You start the game just as your character gets his death sentence by the doctor - so the main task in the game is to get hold of all manners of biological and cybernetic enhancements to cheat death just a little longer.

Since you're playing a senior citizen, the character system should be different than in normal rpgs. You'll for instance have the stat "Memory" which will be of great importance if you want to do more than just wander around aimlessly (or perhaps even forget skills you've learned). Agility/dexterity will also be essencial - you've got a time limit so increasing your movement speed is a must.


SDGI 2: Ninja Zombies

Need I say more? It's been said before, but I'll stress it - ninja zombies are cool! If you've ever seen a game with a ninja zombie, then please let me know!

By the way - Resident Evil 4: Japanese Trailer.


SDGI 1: XP sharing

How many times have I not played an RPG and just needed a couple of more points to level up. XP sharing to the rescue! I think it would be really cool to be able to treat XP as any other resource in a game - this mechanic should of course be balanced and made into something more action filled than just being able to donate a couple of points to another player. Perhaps it's vital for team tactics to boost one of the characters to a super high level to handle an enemy, or perhaps you actually have to use XP as a resource to buy stuff - so when you're buying new equipment you'll have to make sure it doesn't make you less power overall.

Perhaps you even could steal experience from enemies. You get a certain amount of XP from killing a certain enemy, but by stealing XP from it you can both make it weaker and gain more XP at the same time.


Semi-Daily Game Idea (SDGI)

I've just decided to start a section in this blog called SDGI where I write one game (related) idea (almost) every day. The purpose of this section will be to force me to think creatively about games every day - sort of like an exercise in creativity - and to write it down. I've got so many game related notes all over the place but I can't seem to find them when I need them ;). The ideas don't need to be good, unique or have any positive qualities at all - consider them to be the result of an ongoing brainstorming. They're not copyrighted, they're not my intellectual property (god I hate that word) in any way and I'm sure that ALL of the ideas are already thought of by someone somewhere in the world before me. And of course; feel free to use or abuse any of the ideas presented here as long as you don't claim them as your own later on and try to sue someone!



I've just played R.I.P 3, and it was a disappointment after playing Crimsonland. The game is unbalanced, I don't find the graphics as appealing and it generally lacks the omph. If you're going to test just one of the top-down shooters I've listed, I'd recommend Crimsonland!

R.I.P. 3: The Last Hero

A couple of days ago I found this game. It's a top-down shooter with 6 different characters to choose from, level-ups and even vehicles at your disposal. I haven't played it yet, but it seems like it might be another top-down shooter for the Soulreaper inspiration list.



I've just found a couple of more top-down shooters to add to the list (I'll add more posts later). Crimsonland is developed by 10tons, published by Reflexive and you can find a downloadable demo of the game here.

Now I wonder why they call this game crimsonland - could it be because it's the color which dominates the ground after playing the game for just a couple of seconds? If you like the game then you should try the two-player mode; it's excellent. A friend of mine and I played it with one 360 controller and a mouse/keyboard combo and both control schemes worked great.


War Angels

I just found a new game which uses a top-down view. It's called War Angels (as the title states) and it's still under development so I haven't tested it - but it seems cool!

Watch the teaser online here or download it here!

Xbox 360 Elite confirmed!

It's nice to see that the black Xbox 360 Elite is finally confirmed!

Call that humiliation?

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch.

Google april fools

Gmail Paper
Have you ever wanted all your mails printed on paper?

Google TiSP
"Google TiSP (BETA) is a fully functional, end-to-end system that provides in-home wireless access by connecting your commode-based TiSP wireless router to one of thousands of TiSP Access Nodes via fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines."


GDC 2007

Check out the notes from the tutorial day titled "Core Techniques and Algorithms in Shader Programming" at GDC 2007.


Evil Invasion

I've just found another top-down shooter! Evil Invasion is an rpg-meets-vertical-shooter (a bit like what we're aiming for with Soulreaper) created by VH Games. The gameplay is quite enjoyable even though it feels somewhat crude.



I just found out that the Optimus Keyboard is being showed at this years CeBit trade show. If you haven't heard about the Optimus yet, then check out the picture below and this link (also check out the Optimus project blog). It's a 114 keys keyboard where every key is an OLED color monitor with a resolution of 32x32 pixels. The system is 100% configurable either through their own API or through a configuration program.

Rediscovering this keyboard made me google the name a bit to find some more information. I didn't find much, but I found an interesting list of the "Top 10 most beautiful keyboards". My favorite was one of the honorable mentions: the "Steampunk Keyboard Mod".