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 😛

Cheers.





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.





Useful Firefox Add-ons

26 03 2009

Most of us, Internet users here in Syria, are struggling each day to get the most out of our 4 Kb/s connections.

There’s no doubt that Firefox surely did help us in terms of page-rendering speeds, and its efficient caching system. But unfortunately, we can’t ask for more with 4 Kbs.

However, for those of you who love to go the whole way for a better browsing experience, here are some very useful Firefox add-ons that I use on a daily basis, all of them are freeware:

1 – Flashblock

This add-on will disable all Flash objects on every page you visit, and replace them with “Play” buttons that you can click to activate only the objects you want to see. Very useful and saves lots of bandwidth.

More info and download here: http://flashblock.mozdev.org/

2 – Gmail Notifier

This one will sit next to the search bar, and will check periodically for new emails on your Gmail account(s). This also saves the bandwidth to go check your Gmail account every once and a while to check for new emails.

More info and download here: http://www.nexgenmedia.net/extensions/

3 – FoxyProxy

This will help streamline your browsing experience. Recommended for those who use more that one proxy server, or those who use Ultrasurf (or any other proxy breakers). You can define patterns to visit certain websites using one proxy address, and others using another. The add-on will then automatically switch your proxy settings accordingly.

More info and download here: http://foxyproxy.mozdev.org/

4 – Page Saver Basic

This one will help you take images of whole websites and save them on your hard drive. Very useful for saving the page as it is displayed in your browser in JPEG or PNG format, for a later review.

More info and download here: http://pearlcrescent.com/products/pagesaver/

Hope you find them useful as much as I did. Please drop a comment if you know any other useful add-ons, and tell us your opinion.





Ultrasurf

26 11 2008

Ultrasurf is a freeware proxy-bypass program, which will let you surf the net privately and freely.

It doesn’t need to be installed, as it’s only one small executable file that you can run directly from your HDD or your USB flash drive. I tried it, and it’s safe, with no spyware and adware attachments.

Download it here: http://www.ultrareach.com/

Run the program and set your proxy to: Address: localhost, Port: 9666, and you’re ready to go.

Have fun.





Defragmentation Made Easy

15 09 2008

For those of you who skip the HDD defragmentation process because it takes ages (especially with bigger HDDs). And that situation only got worse in Windows Vista’s defragmentation tool. I looked up a solution, and fortunately found a new piece of software that works to make your life easier and defragmentation faster. And best of all, it’s FREE.

The new software is called AusLogics Disk Defrag. Official web page: http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag

I tried it on my PC, and the results are amazing. It gets the job done in just about 4-5 minutes on a fragmented 30 GB partition. Which is WAAAAAY faster than Vista’s bundled tool.

I don’t know what’s the exact secret behind the speed increase. I know it doesn’t defrag free space (with the current version), but that’s the only difference I found between this program and Vista’s.

I trusted it because it’s rated 5 stars on Cnet.com, 2Cows, and MajorGeeks. It also has its own video review on Cnet, and it’s currently in the top 10 downloaded utilities from Download.com. And it’s a new application, and fully compatible with Vista.

Unlike many others, I believe defragmentation is useful, and COULD speed things up for you. Even if you don’t notice any performance difference, defragmentation prolongs your HDDs lifecycle, and helps prevent sudden HDD failures. So, spare a few minutes every week or two and help out those poor HDDs.