New Programs Added to Labs Page!

20 10 2010

Today, I uploaded some of my old programs to the Labs page:

A Bejeweled clone game, and a Mastermind clone game.

A screenshot of Jewels, the Bejeweled clone.

GFX Bejeweled Screenshot

A screenshot of GFX Mastermind game.

GFX Mastermind Screenshot

And my old “HIT” program, intuitively called Kinnectica MP3 Player, it’s basically a compact MP3 player that you can dock to your desktop and save some valuable screen space while you’re listening to your favorite tunes.

A screenshot of Kinnectica 2 MP3 Player

Kinnectica 2 MP3 Player Screenshot

I’m so excited to bring my old work back to life, and I hope you’ll like this new batch of programs from GFX Studios. They’re all freeware of course 😛


GFX Solitaire 0.5 Released!

19 10 2010

So, after the long exhausting rewrite, I released GFX Solitaire on the web today! And here’s a screenshot of this beauty:

A Screenshot of GFX Solitaire

GFX Solitaire Screenshot

You can download it from the dedicated GFX Solitaire web page on this blog.

The core changes are not visible to the user. The only visible changes are some UI tweaks, and enhanced handling of mouse events. And I’ve included the usual surprise at the end of the game, so you can enjoy your victory 😉

I hope you like it, and please remember to provide your feedback on this game. You can find my contact information in the About page.

Enjoy the new game, I know I did! 😛

The Rewrite of GFX Solitaire

14 10 2010

The rewrite project started when I began the work on a Hearts game that uses the Solitaire code. I began working on the design for the new game, and realized soon enough that I’m gonna have to write the new game from zero, because I couldn’t find any re-usable code from the previous game!

Let’s be honest, GFX Solitaire was written so fast, that I didn’t notice how messy the code was! I was just rushing it out, and trying to finish it before my exams. My goal was to write my first game in XNA as fast as I could. The result was a messy code, with almost no classes whatsoever! The whole game was written in a single class file, and it was written in a way that could only be used for Solitaire and no other card game. And, the obvious problem was that the code didn’t allow for much future improvements to the game, leading to huge difficulties when trying to update some parts of it.

So I had 2 options: Either start the new game from scratch with an OOP design, or re-write Solitaire with a new Object Oriented code, and reuse it to write the new game. The latter option was the best in my opinion, because I wanted to keep the Solitaire in my development queue, and be able to release new versions and update it when necessary, and more importantly, I wanted to keep the game in my professional portfolio as a fully developed game with a clear design, and reusable elements.

So, I started the re-writing of Solitaire about 10 days ago. My goal this time was to write the game in OOP style. I wanted the code to be organized and usable. And now it’s almost complete. I had some problems trying to get a clear view of the classes needed for this particular game with a focus on re-usability for future card games which obviously share the same elements (card, deck, hand, etc…). One more thing I was thinking of was clear separation of functions between the game elements (classes), and it was tough to decide how to do that, because OOP in games is actually a bit different from other kinds of software: in games there’s a game loop, which obviously needs to access each and every sprite drawn on the screen. Also, games are not event driven applications, so you’ll need to write and handle your own events, which could get a bit tricky as it turned when designing the mouse interface.

Anyway, I reached a decision to stop looking for a perfect design, and work instead towards writing a working OOP design which could be used for other card games. And I was able to get some really impressive results, considering that this is my first time tackling this challenge! I was impressed with the code, which actually led to improvements of the original Solitaire with additional animations, and more control over the cards on the table.

So, I’m happy to announce a new version of GFX Solitaire, based on the new code with some more features and tweaks. The new version is now in final beta, and will be released when I finish ironing things and squashing some bugs. This time I will release it to major freeware sites in order to get more spread and more feedback. I hope people will like what I did.

After releasing GFX Solitaire, I’m planning to start the work on GFX Hearts, as it brings some more design and coding challenges (with my first AI implementation ever), and it should be quickly out of the way now that I can use some elements from Solitaire. So, if you’re interested in the project stay tuned for the final release, and some more posts on game design challenges.

Guess What’s Coming Back!

5 10 2010
Microsoft Flight Title Screenshot

Welcome back! Microsoft Flight.

At Gamescom 2010 last August, Microsoft announced the revival of the Flight Simulator series with a new product called “Microsoft Flight”!

This comes as wonderful surprise following the sad news of the ACES studio closure last January. Apparently Microsoft decided to bring the series back. But this time, it will be developed by Microsoft’s own Game Studios.

Here’s an excerpt from the official press announcement:

… Microsoft also announced the development of “Microsoft Flight,” a new entry inspired by the best-selling “Microsoft Flight Simulator” franchise. Published by Microsoft Game Studios …

“Today, we’re bringing powerful, inventive gaming experiences to the Windows-based PC,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. “Over the years, our PC heritage captured the hearts and minds of millions of players. Reinventing these iconic franchises with social, shared experiences at their core marks the beginning of our return to PC gaming in bold new ways.”

Twenty-eight years after the debut of “Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0,” Microsoft Game Studios also announced the internal development of “Microsoft Flight,” a new Windows exclusive. “Microsoft Flight” will bring a new perspective to the long-standing genre, welcoming everyone, including long-time fans, to experience the magic of flight.

No details are announced at this moment, as Microsoft seems to be starting a long-running marketing campaign for the new game. And will uncover details as time passes, but I’m guessing that it’s going to be a long-time before they start announcing features and specifics about them. The only official info available is the official website. There’s a couple of teaser videos and a FAQ page that doesn’t actually reveal much!

Anyway, here are my thoughts about the new product:

I am worried about 2 facts: The removal of the word “Simulator” from the title, and the “new perspective” issue in the press announcement. Most fans are worried that this product will bring an end to the simulation factor that we loved in the previous products (FS9 and FSX). I am sure MS will not do this, because the simulation is a core feature that they cannot abandon, especially after the long running development time spent on older products.

At the start of the development cycle of “Microsoft Flight” MS already has the code for a highly detailed flight simulation engine (flight model), and an accurate scenery database that covers the whole world, and most of its airports. In addition to many 3rd party addons and a HUGE fan base. So, my guess is that MS will only concentrate on the following features while leaving the simulation part intact:

– A revamped graphics engine, supporting all major rendering technologies. Which will probably result in a loss of backward compatibility.

– A more versatile Missions engine, with an integrated mission editor.

– Multiplayer enhancements.

– Some sort of an arcade mode, which actively reduces realism factors and makes the game much easier for beginners (i.e. H.A.W.X.).

Anyway, no matter how things go, I am so excited about this announcement, and can’t wait to get a hands-on experience!

GFX Solitaire Unleashed!

13 10 2009

Finally, it’s ready to go! My first game ever, the first fully working version of GFX Solitaire is now ready for a test drive.

The game has its own homepage now at this address:

Comments, questions, notes, and discussions are more than welcome. You can find my contact information in the “About” page. Please try the game and tell me what you think of it. Your feedback is important to me.

This game is my first step into game programming. And I am very excited to share it with you. I hope you like it. 🙂

GFX Solitaire Coming Soon…

8 09 2009

Finally, I’ve reached the last development stage of my first game ever, the GFX Solitaire! Not an original name but who cares anyway.. It IS a fully working clone of the famous Solitaire game (a.k.a Solitaire Klondike).

I’m using the all-so-useful Microsoft XNA Game Studio platform, which serves basically as an interface between VS.NET and the CLR. However, the game programming concepts of XNA and DirectX are basically the same.

The combination of XNA and VS.NET is very useful to beginners like me. As VS.NET provides a “managed” code environment and all the advantages of C#, while XNA provides the skeleton base needed for any kind of game, 3D or 2D, plus a comprehensive set of programming and math tools..

Putting all the technical details aside, I’m very excited to bring out this game to life, not only because it’s my first game ever, but because it gave me a solid understanding of the basic principles of game programming, which is a huge achievement considering the lack of any game programming courses in the region.

Comments or questions about this game are most welcome, and I’m more than ready to share code snippets, algorithms, and more technical details on demand.

The game should be ready and kicking in less than a week (if nothing goes wrong), so check back soon for updates. In the meantime feast your eyes on this delicious screenshot:

A screenshot of GFX-Solitaire

A screenshot of GFX-Solitaire