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Stock Market Game Released

Today I finally got Stock Market published.

You can find the support page here.  It has a the googl play badge.

While still a long way from being highly engaging, these games are getting more complex as they get more “sophisticated”.

However, I’m still not done with the “show some text and push buttons” genre.

I am, however, rather sick of the games where the outcome of the game is totally random.

I might as well be making a slot machine game (which is actually on the list, btw, but as a graphical game).

In stock market, I have so far not seen any reason not to do the following:

Buy one stock of each type.

Click “end turn” until the game is over.

It isn’t like there is some data upon which to base how well a stock can do.

Which means I may as well not bother making a choice at all.

Games are about choices.  Well, compelling games are about choices.  Sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

Next on the docket: Splore!  Of course, it may not come out next, but I want to work on it next.

I don’t really want to say too to describe Splore, or I’ll tend to have a lot of text written about a game that doesn’t exist.  The basic idea is a text based HamQuest.

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Russian Roulette Completed

So, I managed to get RR done today.

Rather than my “one activity=one game state” idea that I used for GMN and RSP, I went with a single activity for everything, and using setContentView to change the UI for the states.

Generally, it worked extremely well.

Except.

The one edit text I was using (the one where you type in the number) first wouldn’t cause the soft keyboard to come up.

Fixed that.

Then the soft keyboard wouldn’t hide unless the “back” key was pressed.

No good.

Eventually, figured it out, mostly by googling code until finding something suitable at stackexchange.

Had to hide it myself.

Not a big deal, but it was not something I had to deal with when it was one activity per page.

Maybe that was the better way?

Dunno.

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A Few Things, Mostly Android Related

First, I “finished” Rock, Scissors, Paper.  Here’s the support page.

A few post-mortem items about RSP:

  • Subclasses of Activity do not make good game states.
  • I’ve officially outgrown LinearLayout.
  • “There Has Got To Be A Better Way”™ to manage strings.

The next game is either Russian Roulette or Feed the Fish, dunno which.

After another quick game or two, I’m going to need to put a link or something on the about page to my “publisher page”.

Also, after a few days of being up there, GMN has had three whole installs.  One was me. Another was my wife.  A third was from somebody in the UK.  Thanks, guy in the UK. Eventually I’ll get to making something worth playing on this platform.

In my current projects, I’m taking a page from the publishers of my books: build a vast array of craptacular titles so that on your two or three good titles, you can mention that you have a large number of titles available.

However, I will be sticking with free until I actually make something worth paying for.

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Click the Yellow Rhombus in Silverlight

You can play it here.

First question: Why?

CTYR is about as good of a sandbox project as JetLag is.

Actually, it’s a little better because it requires mouse clicks and a slightly more refined UI, whereas JetLag only need text and blocks of color.

Also, since I made the video journal today about CTYR, it was on my mind, and I happened to have a few hours.

Its about 200 lines of code, many of them blank or containing only a { or a }.

In fact, if you really want, you can look at the source at http://code.google.com/p/pdg-hamquest-silverlight/source/browse/#svn/trunk/ClickTheYellowRhombus. (Yes, it is currently in the HamQuest repository until I find a better home).

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Core Mechanics of a Trading Game

Got a change to work on and update Island Interloper.  It is also up on google code, which is the new home of the repository (migrated it from assembla).

At this point, I have the core mechanic in place, which is trading.

Interloper, like most simulation games, is all about managing limited resources. You start out with a “raft” that you can pilot solo and allows you to haul 3 tons.  You also start out with 1000 gold(the currency of the realm – I will probably lower this amount to increase the initial stress on the player), 100 units of food (each unit of food will feed one person for a day. A unit of food weighs 4.7lbs – a value I looked up), and you are docked on an island.  You don’t know of any other islands.

At the moment, there are no other commodities besides gold and food.  Fortunately, food is cheap, and you can buy yourself enough to fill up your raft, which then allows you to travel pretty far away without starving.

The first major task is not only to find another island, but to find another island with enough of a price differential in food for you be able to make a profit buying at one and selling at the other.  Hopefully these islands will be close together, but I have occasionally found islands that are 100 days apart, which cuts a bit into the round trip food price.

Unfortunately, one cannot milk such a price difference forever, because each time you buy a commodity at one location, the price goes up (fractionally, but over time noticeably), and whenever you sell, the price where you sell goes down.  Eventually the prices at ports A and B will narrow into non-profitability.  This means that eventually you will want to find a new island to trade at.  In the future, you’ll just want to find a different commodity to trade in, but once those are exhausted, it will be time to move on.

Eventually, you’ll want a bigger ship (not currently implemented). Bigger ships require hiring more crew (also not currently implemented), which brings up the overhead of moving things, which means you’ll need higher margin merchandise.  Eventually there will also be encounters will other NPC ships. It begins to sound an awful lot like the game Space Trader, which makes sense, because it was partially inspired by Space Trader.

So, at some point, I realize I’m going to need a final goal.

I’m also going to need a final delivery platform. While it currently exists as a JSHTML application, I think it may be better suited to a PHPMySQL thing that gets delivered on Facebook.  Then it could be made social and have a persistent world. I work with it in JSHTML because things are very easy to change.  Once aspects get more gelled, I think I can move it to PHP without having to mess with the tables all of the time.

If I go the route of PHP and Facebook, I’ll need to throttle how many turns people take. Likely that’ll have to take the form of Energy/Action/Mana points that allow one day of sailing.  This of course then means that there will need to be experience levels and such, because that’s how all of these games work on facebook.  Sporadic play.

Unfortunately, I’m also a sporadic developer.

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Island Interloper

Finally winding down with the end of spring/beginning of summer activities, and I got a chance today to work on something fun for a change. That something is a moderately ugly but at least semi-functional Island Interloper. While still in a rather rough state (and the “deleteme” folder is a guarantee of non-permanent placement), one can navigate the world, dock, trade (in food only right now, the margins are slim), and sail the ocean.

This particular incarnation of Island Interloper dates back to October of 2009 (at least, that’s what the Assembla SVN changelog tells me).  I remember at the time I was working on a C# command line version of Interloper, and decided that the unwieldiness of the console interface was just too much, and wouldn’t it just be so much easier with a GUI straight away, which will eventually always lead me to making something in JavaScript.

Speaking of SVN…. I was doing a search today for a Mac SVN client (with a nice GUI… something equivalent of Tortoise SVN for windows). While I found SmartSVN, as well as a number of others, I have not found one that is free. It looks like I may need to learn to use the command line in about 31 days, when the trial elapses. Applications like Island Interloper don’t justify the cost of paying for an SVN client that will only work on 1 of the 4 machines I develop with.  Plus it is a good thing to know the command line syntax for SVN, I just know it.

Speaking as well of JavaScript. After using NotePad++ as my IDE (really just a “DE” – no “Integrated” to speak of), the rough equivalent of which on the Mac is Text Wrangler(which is still a fine tool), I have decided to move to Aptana Studio, although at the moment, I’m using it more like NotePad++ and less like how it is intended.  Over time, I’ll gradually shift over to using more of the built-in functionality. Works the same on both PC and Mac, so I can switch-hit my development on both.  Plus I have WAMP on my windows boxes, and MAMP on my Mac, I’ve got equivalent environments.

Speaking of switch-hitting. In using the Mac, at first I was somewhat hobbled by a couple of things. the first was Windows key (I use a Windows keyboard on my Mac) was basically like the Ctrl in windows.  Switching back and forth caused a number of typing errors and task menus popping up and other bizarre things that generally made me less productive. Fortunately, the Mac gives me a way to change it to more closely match my Windows layout. The second major item was the Home/End situation. I could not get used to Ctrl + arrow to replicate the Windows functionality of Home and End. Fortunately, the Mac allows me to change those around as well. There is a global setting, and from time to time I have to switch the functionality within a particular program. I feel this is rather accommodating on the part of the Mac, really. I know that there are a number of Mac fundamentalists who sneer at those of us who remap these keys from the “one true way” that they should be, but hey… I work at a job where I develop for PC all week. Using a Mac earns me nothing at the moment.