Damn this infernal contraption

life... who needs it

02/06/2008 - 14:58

Oh well what i hoped wouldn't happen has happened.. i've just run out of time to do anything for ages...! Damn work..! if we didn't have to earn money to survive i would have created so much more cool stuff in my life... *sigh*

At the moment i am overrun with work requests and have had to leave the network multiplayer code hanging (and the gravity option). :( sorry about that.. i will pick it back up as soon as i can. In the mean time however, the plus side is this extra work is giving me time to learn ActionScript 3 which i have to say i am really blown away by.. especially linking it together with the power of Adobe Air 1.0!! When i get back into it i'll even be able to make an installer to allow people to play from their desktop :)

Anyways accept my a-po-logies and blame the men in suits ;)

Oh and it seems that i've just broken something by not doing anything.. *sigh* now i can't seem to get the game to read the prefs cookie. *mutter mutter* ... ah no i know what it is... i fell for that damn thing again, please no one else forget to include the www. part of the domain name - otherwise the prefs don't work. I need to fix that.

Another boring update

i will have something interesting soon

21/03/2008 - 01:06

So.. i have finally got some of my other work out the way, so much so i hope to be able to spend the whole of next week working on GravityJAM :D.. now if that doesn't kick things along towards a HTTP Network version i don't know what will..!!

Anyways i shall keep you all posted.. oh and whilst i'm at it i'll throw in that Gravity setting that Spontificus requested :)

It's only a shame that my girlfriend is visiting for the weekend, otherwise i'd have a week and a weekend to work on it..! lol.. urm actually she'll probably read that so better be nice otherwise she'll attack me.. ;) (of course i didn't mean that really.. *runs for cover*)


and an apology

23/02/2008 - 12:10

Right well i have been working on bits and pieces but it's all been mainly backend towards setting up a http communication server for the game - but that has been between some proper work that has taken up the last two weeks... damn bills ;)

After having quite a bit of trouble getting hold of a server that will allow me to have some ports open and to run a servlet - i have now managed to find one through a good friend of mine - so all is on it's way.

I also have to applogise to anyone who has e-mailed me and had no response. there could be two reasons for this. For one (thanks to Richard Franks) it has come to my attention that i've type-o'd my e-mail address... nice work on my part there.. doh! For two - as in Richard's case.. i have had no free time to attribute to my e-mails and in fact the last week has been rather close for a deadline i just managed to meet... i plan to have a lull tomorrow where i hope to get back to everyone... but i thought a quick appology here would be a good idea first.

I now have to rush off to a Birthday party over 2 hours away (back in sunny Guildford - not that anywhere in Britan can be classes as sunny) so i'm just hoping the trains are more organized than me. :)

Wall Turrets!

Friend or Foe?

04/02/2008 - 19:12

NEW - have also just added two turrets to the demo level - 05/02/2008 11:43

Well they are still quite basic but i had just added the ability for two base turrets on the Azlantec map. You can change a few settings at the moment (mainly their choice of targets), later on i hope to have all the weapons and players fully tailorable. A red turret will attack any player but a turret your own color, obviously, wont shoot you unless you accidentally fly near one of it's homing missiles.. :)

At the moment they are fixed in location, damage, power and weaponry but they soon will have a whole host of variables that can alter. For instance they will be destructable and repairable and tactorbeamable - you will also be able to equip them from weapons loaded on your ship.

Old-School Levels

back when every byte was accounted for...

04/02/2008 - 00:40 AD

Just thought i'd post a note here to say thanks to Jan Kronquist & Jens Andersson (those cool guys behind GF2) for their kind compliments, direct link and for letting me go ahead with implementing some old school level styles (for those who knew GF2 environments like desert, boring and alien world) - i also hope to implement some of the original sfx as well; but first i'll need to get an emulator working :)

Cheers Guys!

On top of the the old school themes i hope to get time to create the following:

  • Squared Existence (not quite LegoWorld)
  • Twilight (fly in almost total darkness - themed on another of my games)
  • Glass World (just an excuse for glint and shine animations)
  • Negativity (Invert not only landscape but Gravity as well)
  • Pick n' Mix (i think i may have played Zool too much as a kid - ChupaChups!™;)

Further to the Major Bug

i hate rushing.. never enough time!

03/02/2008 - 15:03 PM <-- has anyone else noticed how pointless the AM/PM bit is?

Ok right, as usual just as i'm about to go off an do something else bugs present themselves and because i'm too perfectionist i can't leave it. Especially if it's major. So now i'm rushing and didn't get round to half the things i wanted like e-mails and stuff. C'est la vie. Anyway whilst implementing the loading bar for the map data i found out that Flash reports the _root path of a movie clip differently from before and whilst it's loading a MovieClip to when it's completely loaded (well loading an AVM1 in a AVM2 it does anyway) - this surprisingly hadn't causes me any problems so far... i don't know how.. but at least it's all sorted and you can now all see what the Movie is doing when it's just sitting there twiddling it's interpreted & bytecoded thumbs.

ps. oh something i will fix but does causes problems (so is worth mentioning) is that don't try and access the game via http://gravityjam.co.uk - you'll get alsorts of weird things happening due to domain security. You *have* to use www.gravityjam.co.uk.

Major Bug

just before i'm off to bed as usual!
03/02/2008 - 03:43 AM

Ok i just went to test the game in FireFox and it kept triggering an internal IOError when trying to load the AVM1 Flash Movie. After finding a way to fix that (by forcing the flash player not to use its cache) it then halted at every other point where it needed to load an external resource. My only guess is (now that i have forced every URL to be refreshed) that FireFox's cache of files (or at least the Flash Player running thru FF cache - i'm never sure which handles it ) had been corrupted so none of the files could be accessed or loaded.

Well at least that seems like a viable reason to me, seeing as i hadn't altered anything with the code between it working and not working - and no other browsers were effected. It now seems that my 'Preloading Elements' loader is failing but i'm just too damn tired to fix it so will have to have a look first thing tomorrow morning. *mutter mutter*

Urgh... Taxes!

yes .. it's that time of year again
01/02/2008 - 19:01 PM

Well after spending yesterday and today trying to submit my tax return online i have now given up for today and will try again tomorrow... The numbers of people using the service obviously have been so 'unprecidented' that they've been forced to knock the late fee on the head - so it must have been a large oversight!

Why couldn't they have just invested in the right kind of server solution to keep up with high volumes of traffic in the first place? I don't know *sigh* being absolutely backward (or at least 10 years out of date) seems to be indicative of any Government or Public Sector 'Online Solution'. It doesn't help that the HM Revenue & Customs site is as confounded as they come.. if that site had to survive in any real commercial context it would fall flat on it's over-bloated front-end.

For any one who knows about building commercial sites go here and follow the link to the 'Online Services Helpdesk' and gasp in awe at the streamlined-ness of the Help page.. although don't do so today as it will just hamper their struggling servers even more-so :)

Sorry, i know this is the news section about GravityJAM but just thought i'd let some steam off and explain why i haven't made any progress over the last two days. Anyways back to work :D

New bugs...

What? i haven't even finished the others
30/01/2008 - 14:28 PM

The Neutrino Effect - I did actually know that this existed but i thought that by keeping all my collisionable areas thicker than a certain number of pixels i would avoid the problem. That of course didn't work, as per usual (i should know by now) and so it is possible for particles and players to magically pass through certain parts of the landscape due to my collision detection only occuring at the points where my entities exist. Now you might think only checking at their own location makes sense... but just as many Philiosophers and Scientists have stated, if an entity is moving it doesn't have a fixed location... and so when an item is jumping a certain number of pixels each time it is possible to skip out collisions. So i will have to code some half way checking that annalyses the inbetween bits... i think i shall name it Tween Detection ;)

[ H2G2 : Walking Through Walls ]

Full unTilt - Something i have yet to code is the non-ability of being able to land with the very corner of your ship. I will add this as a setup option so those that find landing difficult wont get too annoyed - but my original plan was to have the ship rock and rotate if just one corner touched down so that if you aren't careful you can end up crashing at painful angles or falling or edges of cliffs. WIP.

Azlantec theme complete!

sans waterfall however :S
30/01/2008 - 12:01 PM

Right just to let you know the Azlantec theme is complete (you should be able to select a demo level of it from the setup menu now) - true i haven't quite implemented my animation handler so the waterfall isn't quite operational but the level is flyable... let me know what you think. I went for a slightly more complicated layout this time, although i think this one is slightly weighted in favour for the left side player :)

Btw. it may take a little time to load as i just realised i haven't implemented a progress bar that displays the load time for the map data (i have for everything else although you would think as the map data is the largest i would have thought of that first) *rollseyes*. This example map is over 2Mb so if you have a slow line expect a bit of a wait.

The reason for the larger size is because i decided to make the greenery destructable :D

ps. I have also just implement my database connection code so i should so have the ability to allow people to sign-up with a username and start recording stats. I will also be able to take comments directly through the site rather than via e-mail.

New Level Theme

Azlantec!.. between Atlantis and Aztec.. ish
29/01/2008 - 13:12 PM

Ok as i knocked up the demo level in about an hour i thought rather than fix bugs (as the game is kind of playable atm and i only have a bit of time) i thought i'd work towards a new level theme... bascially the hard work is in item and adornment design, once that is out of the way i hope to be able to create a range of themed levels rather quickly. Anyway i've got as far as i have and thought i'd upload a snapshot of "so far" before i go back to my "real" work :)

Azlantec - As any of you game makers out there will be able to tell, i'm using full bitmap levels. Whilst this method has many up-sides (as aposed to other methods like grid and icon maping) it does have a few major down-sides.

Downsides :(

Large Files - the major and obvious downside is that the map files themselves are very large (just the demo level's foreground was over 1Mb). Whilst that may seem like a reason to discount using full bitmaps i justified my choice by reasoning that a) more the 60% of the people using the internet have broadband. b) Once the file has been downloaded and cached there is no more download time. c) Other methods, namely the grid & icon method lead to very repeatative level design unless you take a *lot* of time in creating them and creating new icons (grid squares) all the time.

No Optimisation - Using the grid method allows for analysis of what part of the level is currently being shown and to optimise by only worrying about that part of the map. As i have said i've tried building a 'Gravity Power' clone before (several times) and i did actually use the grid method last time - what i found however was that depending on how busy the current field of view (on screen) was the game would speed up and slow down. Basically i found that where ever i was gaining speed due to optimisation i would loose it again when i implemented code to keep the frame rate smooth.

Level Size Limit - Using Bitmaps does mean that i am limited to a certain size of map - not only would using a larger map take longer to create (and also be annoying to visualise in PhotoShop) - it would also complicate the scrolling code by quite a bit as AS2 can only handle BitmapData of a certain size (i haven't checked AS3 yet). I do feel that maybe the map size i have is a little on the small size - but i may fix this at a later date by either re-coding my scroll code or implemented jump gates that allow travel to other maps.

But now the up sides :)

Flexibility - The up-sides are all relatively simple but bascially using Bitmaps allows me to be more arty with my level design (more 'fun for me' basically) - it also means that i don't have to make the levels conform to any rigid mapping. Plus once i finish implementing the animation ability (levels will be able to load in animations to be placed through-out the map at any depth and will have options on looping and triggers) i'll be able to get carried away even more... For instance this new level i hope to contain a waterfall as it's main feature. I am just hoping that Flash can keep up and keep a playable frame rate.

Easy Level Creator - Now this bit depends on the kind of interest i get for the game but i specifically planned to use Bitmaps so that would allow for a very nice and easy level creator for anyone who has a level idea they want to try out. I've seen many level creators in the past that involve having to paint blocks and items on a grid but i always feel this method is very rigid and quite dull. The best level creator i think i have ever seen is the one on 'Worms World Party'. Now with many games you couldn't get away with literally painting the level but the 'Worms' game type is perfect for it.

... and so is 'Gravity JAM' :) on purpose.. so if i do get some interest (and time) i'll build a level painter that will allow a choice of theme and the ability to literally brush out the kind of level you want and then adorn the scene with cool anims and items.

Bugs!? Never..!

that have been brought to my attention
24/01/2008 - 21:43 PM

Landed & Explosion bug - Due to my coding of when a ship is landed, it is possible to cause an explosion to go off at the right location that will send you ship off at a direction with seemingly no air, gravity or ground resistance... oops.

Freezing for Opera 9+ Users - there seems to be something strange happening with the weapons and collision detection, even though Flash is supposed to be Platform Independant i doesn't seem to be Browser Independant... knowing Opera however (the only browser i've ever known to evaluate true as false.. ok sure that was in version 1.? something) i'm sure this is a problem on their part. Anyhow, i will look in to changing certain methods and calculations to see if i can stop the game Freezing.

Mad framerate in IE - Yes as usual Internet Explorer has it's own way of doing something... all the other browsers seem to fix the frame rate around 24fps (at least on my set up) but IE swings wildly almost to the point of causing navigation problems. True it does manage to run the Flash much smoother than any of the others but the sudden jolts out of no where are annoying. I shall have to research more and find out if there is anything i can do.

So far your best bet (for Windows anyways) is to play the game in FireFox or (dare i say it) Safari (i can't believe i said it). Annoyingly despite all my dislike of Apple as a company, Safari does run the game more smoothly than FireFox. The downside however is that Safari doesn't allow the trapping of keys like SHIFT, CTRL via JavaScript in the normal way, so my key config on the setup page doesn't work 100%.

Random Exploding Bullets - There is a bug with the Particle detection that allows bullets to explode before they've hit anything (in fact they are colliding with the player that is trying to launch them) - this i hope to have sorted very soon.

Un-Exploding Bullets - There is a another bug due to the players reset() function.. if the player has launched a particle (or bullet) that lasts longer in the air than the time it takes for the player to die and then reset - the bullet will end up hanging in the air.

Game Testers

some official testers so far...
24/01/2008 - 17:31 PM

Just to say thanks to a few guys who are going to help out testing the game.
Many thanks to:

  • Ben Kennish
  • Alex Hammerton Fraiser
  • Richard ? ( ah i don't know his surname.. hang on i'll ask someone :S )
  • Mark Glanville
  • Jonathon Wardman
  • Dana Kasprzyk
  • C�cile Odero


where we're going we don't need news...
22/01/2008 - 17:11 PM

Well all i have to say is 'please go and check out what i've got done so far'. I am hoping to launch a comments / blog section soon, so i can get feedback from you guys. As i know it will need ironing out for quite some time and gamers are the best people to test games surprisingly :)

The setup page is functional (save for the item selection) but the flash movie doesn't yet listen to the preference options yet so is a little pointless ;) I'll be implementing this as soon as possible with ExternalInterface.

The weapons i have created so far only took about an hour and aren't really that great... i promise there will be more and better implemented ones soon :D

This page will extend as i launch new maps, weapons, creatures, behaviours and actions but for the time being please play the game and let me know what you think...

GravityJAM is © phil glanville 2008


For those who are still alive

I've never been a great one for following rules, not that i like to cause problems - far from it - it's more that they don't tend to make a lot of sense to me in my own little world. So please if I have infringed any rights or trampled someone elses picnic then let me know as it was never my intention...


some ideas in the pipeline
  • One Player Maps
  • Computer Players (Easy,OK,Hard)
  • Map Creator (a Worms-esque painter)
  • Background Animations (more level detail)
  • Different Landscape Materials (like the original)
  • Indigenous Creatures (i have a guy working on these as i speak)
  • HTTP network option (play vs friends on other computers)
  • Spectate (once the HTTP is underway why not?)
  • Warp Gates (extend one map in to many)
  • Weapons Packs (i'm sure i can think of more weapons)
  • Battle Stats
  • 2+ players (if AS3 is as good as it seems)