Slashware Battlestations

SZDev01 – White Knight

The original battlestation of the ancient era; it was abandoned after more than 10 years of service, its initial white appearance already dimmed into a yellowish hue.

  • Year: 1993
  • Build: Custom PC Clone
  • Processor: Intel 486
  • RAM: 8MB
  • Storage: 80MB
  • Type: Desktop
  • Pilots: Slash
  • Status: Lost
  • OS: DOS 6.1

SZDev02

Acquired by Slash with his initial earnings as a junior software developer, it was a huge upgrade compared to the 10 years old White Knight. It was used to developed the first batch of roguelikes in Java.

  • Year: 2003
  • Build: Custom PC Clone
  • Type: Desktop
  • Pilots: Slash
  • Status: Decomissioned
  • OS: Windows XP

SWBS01

The station used to establish the first Slashware fortress. Some more roguelikes and also Pixal saw a lot of development on this machine, it was already near its end of life when the marble halls were inaugurated.

  • Year: 2006
  • Build: Custom PC Clone
  • Type: Desktop
  • Pilots: Slash
  • Status: Decomissioned
  • OS: Windows XP, Ubuntu

SWBS02 – Greyhound

The oldest battlestation which remains still operational, it was originally used by slash while acting as knight of the orange circle, leading a development team on NetSac.  It came bundled with a nasty virus called Windows Vista, but its software was then cleansed for good. This was the main battlestation for Kram during the times of the slashwareknights.

  • Year: 2008
  • Build: HP
  • Type: Laptop
  • Pilots: Slash, Kram
  • Status: In reserve.
  • OS: Windows Vista, Ubuntu

SWBS03 – Necktie

The first hardware acquired for the failed plans for the expansion of the slashware fortress. It was used almost exclusively to develop business software including Quadrigan and BPX. Although no longer part of the Slashware fleet, it’s still active and keeps being piloted by Straust to these days.

  • Year: 2012
  • Build: Custom PC Clone
  • Type: Desktop
  • Pilots: Straust
  • Status: Sold
  • OS: Windows 7

SWBS04 – Fishing Rod

Also acquired for the first Slashware Fortress. Unlike the Necktie, it was acquired mainly to pursue the second objective: game development. It fulfilled its mission covering the required evolutionary steps of failed advergaming, educational and freemium games, leaving lessons by the end of the Slashware Fortress era.

  • Year: 2012
  • Build: Custom PC Clone
  • Type: Desktop
  • Pilots: Axel, Slash
  • Status: Damaged, active
  • OS: Windows 7

SWBS05 – Shiny Falchion

Acquired mainly to pursue the development of iOS games. It’s slash’s current battlestation.

  • Year: 2013
  • Build: Macbook Pro
  • Pilots: Slash
  • Status: Damaged on battle
  • OS: None

Ananias hits 50.000 installs on Google Play

It’s been a long time, but Ananias finally managed to hit the 50.000 installs mark on Google Play, last time we checked in 2014 we had 20.000 installs, back then I thought it would take three months for the game to reach the next milestone. Following are some insight on it’s journey to the 50.000.

stats1

It took 2 months for the game to jump from 10.000 to 20.000 installs, yet it took 22 more months to hit the 50.000 mark… of course, installs rate slowed down a whole lot but still is about 40 per day. No investment on advertising campaigns yet. The iOS versions isn’t out yet either.

stats5

Getting the rating up after its initial fall has been a great challenge. Even with all the work going into the game I have only managed to increase 0.18 on the average rating these two years (from 3.45 to 3.63). With 2075 ratings, it will be very hard to get it over 4.0

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There’s hope still… there have been months of overwhelmingly positive feedback which I hope can be repeated once the final version of the game is officially released. One thing I managed to do is having more than 2x 5 starts ratings than 1 stars, though still not a big margin.

stats3

Countries-wise, we are in a very similar position than in our previous milestone. United States and Russia keep in front with Brazil rising into the ranks and South Korea and Canada keeping on the list for 50% of Ananias installs.

stats2

One interesting metrics are the current installs by device, 4750 vs 3703 , actually 1.000 less installs in 22 months… which I don’t think it’s that bad since it’s natural for people to lose interest on the game, I think I’ve managed to keep the drop rate low.

stats4

Google Play has a new metric which only includes “active devices”; it shows that there are currently 2303 active installations. How many of these are active users? it’s hard to know since I no longer have metrics for that in place.

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Lastly, we have the (paid) fellowship edition with 702 installs. We don’t have a means to compare since back then only the free edition was out.

In summary, here are the installs numbers so far on Google Play: 50.021 total, 3703 current, 2303 active, 702 paid

Goals? I still dream on having one million downloads some day.

 

 

Roguelike Celebration 2016 San Francisco

Last September 17 the first ever “Roguelike Celebration” was held in San Francisco, California. Over 200 roguelike-likers and developers from all around the world met on a day-long journey to celebrate roguelikes.

roguelikers
Most of the speakers and organizers (I *totally* didn’t paste a pic of myself in the back row)

There were 18 main talks plus some other fun roguelike-related events. They were all recorded and you can find them over the Roguelike Celebration YouTube channel.

My talk, “Get your game done: Experiences through the development of 13 roguelikes” was pretty well received. There were two parallel tracks for talks so I shared my time slot with the developers of Dwarf Fortress! even then I had a decent audience of people, some of which told me they found it useful. You can find the slides here

This event was a great opportunity to get more people to know about Ananias!

As usual, I missed the opportunity… forgot to bring any kind of informational material or merchandise, didn’t even print a page with the game website URL… At least Glenn Wichman, one of the creators of Rogue, mentioned my game as his favorite roguelike during the event’s main talk 🙂

An exciting part for me was finally having a chance to meet people from far regions of the world with whom I have shared this passion for so long…

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David Craddock interviews the three developers of the original unix rogue: Michael Toy, Glenn Wichman and Ken Arnold.
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Tarn and Zach Adams, developers of Dwarf Fortress
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Having lunch with the devs of Unix Rogue and ADOM
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My talk about getting roguelikes done
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Thomas “The creator” Biskup, ADOM developer. Someone I have wanted to meet in person for years

cogmind

Josh Ge, developer of Cogmind

rogue
Rogue for AtariST with its developer, Glenn Wichman!
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David Craddock, author of Dungeon Hacks and many other videogame books. 

Some other awesome people which unfortunately I didn’t get to interact much with, hopefully next time:

  • Nick Montfort – Author of Twisty Little Passages
  • Brian Walker – Developer of Brogue
  • Nicholas Feinberg – Developer of Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup
  • Zack Johnson – Creator of Kingdom of Loathing
  • Jason Grinblat – Designer of Caves of Qud
  • Kate Compton – Creator of Tracery and loads of generative art
  • Jim Shepard – Creator of Dungeonmans
  • Drew Streib – Operator of NAO
  • George Moromisato – Creator of Transcendence
  • Alexei Pepers – Presenting academic research on accessibility and Nethack
  • Erik Osheim & Robert Au – Members of the Angband dev team

Looking forward for the next Roguelike Celebration!

NeoArcherFire QuickBasic source code

Today I decided to try to include some of my oldest game projects into my page at http://slashie.net. A couple of them were ArcherFire and NeoArcherFire, the first games I created which included graphics.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.45.34 PM

Bundled with the original ArcherFire, I found a file which was supposed to be its source code. I tried checking it out: it was a .BAS file so I thought it’d be a plain text file with QBasic source code… I was wrong, it was a binary file.

Then I remembered back then the version of “QBasic” I used allowed saving the source code as binary files for faster loading times. I downloaded QBasic and tried to load the file (Using DOSBox, of course). It failed, unable to read the binary contents.

I googled a bit and refreshed my mind: back then I was using QuickBasic, not QBasic.

[from wikipedia]

A subset of QuickBASIC 4.5, named QBasic, was included with MS-DOS 5 and later versions, replacing the GW-BASIC included with previous versions of MS-DOS. Compared to QuickBASIC, QBasic is limited to an interpreter only, lacks a few functions, can only handle programs of a limited size, and lacks support for separate program modules. Since it lacks a compiler, it cannot be used to produce executable files, although its program source code can still be compiled by a QuickBASIC 4.5, PDS 7.x or VBDOS 1.0 compiler, if available.

I downloaded it and was able to check the source code, finding out that it was Neo ArcherFire, the enhanced version which used DirectQB, and my final game project using any BASIC variant!

af1

I made this game back on 2003, the source code is surprisingly organised 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.31.08 PM

I exported the binary “project” to ASCII, and uploaded it to github, if you are curious you can check it out here, but I’d recommend getting MSQuickBasic so you can navigate the SUBs easily 😀

This game was powered by DirectQB, a lib released in 1999 by Angelo Mottola which greatly extended what could be done by QuickBasic, you can find more info here.

Although this wasn’t really my first game, I think it’s very unlikely for me to find any older source code, it was lost in my old 486… may be some day I’ll find a rusty diskette with it? Some of the things I miss the most are:

  • The source code of the original ArcherFire (with graphics): The only surviving compiled version has you starting with 1 hit point left, so it’s pretty hard 😀
  • The romhack for translating Final Fantasy I to Spanish, which I recall was a lot of work and was (almost?) done
  • The non-graphics versions of ArcherFire, as well as some earlier console-mode games I made including a set of “athletics” games (I recall one being about 100 meters dash), another adventure game where you could move a happy face around, and a puzzle game similar to Dr. Mario.

Leonardo: The Inventor

Back on 1996, “multimedia” computers appeared in my city. It was the SoundBlaster craze, and it was not easy to have one at home (specially if your family was not particularly rich). An aunt of mine used to take me to the local library, were they had set up a room with these amazing machines.

Comfama_San_Ignacio_El_Palpitar

They had a bunch of software, mostly interactive children stories, but one of them was of special importance to me… it made me realise these machines could be used to transport people into virtual worlds for them to explore.

It was a multimedia package about Leonardo DaVinci. I remember it had a lot of neat content (and probably made me become even more interested on engineering), but what I remembered the most was two games that came bundled with it.

One of them, the one that dug into my soul, was about exploring a fortress, solving some puzzles in order to escape. This one defined many things on my game development life: computers could simulate a lone adventurer, exploring closed quarters on his own. I am a single player games kind of guy, I like the intimacy between the game world and the player.

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Exploring Leonardo’s Fortress

The other one was about flying around the world with mechanical wings, dodging stuff in your way. The music was forever burned in my head… I could remember it perfectly, even after so many years of not playing the game. This game was hard, I could never win it when I was younger.

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God wants to strike me down 😦

So, last month, over one of these nights where I cannot sleep, I decided to look for it. It was not easy… I didn’t remember the name! I just remembered it was about Leonardo DaVinci, and that it was a multimedia thing…

After lots of websurfing, I found some videos on youtube: they were the encyclopaedic part about some of Leonardo’s discoveries.. I never found videos with gameplay from the games, but I was sure this was it!

Some more digging around, and I was able to find it on Amazon. Instaorder.

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Since I was unable to find any interesting information about it on Internet, I decided to do a video including the unboxing as well some gameplay of it. I hope you enjoy it!!!

It was not easy to get it running… It’s a 16bits Windows program, which means it cannot run on 64bit OS (like my noisy windows 7 box). After trying my luck with Wine (unsuccessfully), I went for a full Windows XP VM using VirtualBox. It took some tweaking but I was finally able to get it going!

At long last, after 20 years, I was able to beat the Icarus game! It took a lot of learning, but in the end I managed to do it…  It’s not in the video, since it took me about 1 hour (or more?) of trying, but after dodging cannonballs, planes, more Eiffel towers and even tornados, I found a dragon (!) which I swiftly dodged to get to the finish line 🙂

Now I’m curious… this is version 2.0. May be I should also get version 1, and play around with it… I wonder if it also includes the games…

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Here are some more pics for the curious

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WinXP going crazy!
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Gallery of Leonardo’s inventions
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The main menu, there’s a LOT of great quality content!
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Walking around the fortress
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Finally! I did it after 20 years!! THERE WAS A DRAGON THERE :O
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One of the Fortress rooms
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Walking from the central tower to the middle ring

 

Behind the scenes… the suboptimal process I followed to record this video. I am fully aware iMovie is not meant for this, but that’s the tool I have at hand 🙂

Intro and unboxing (on my macbook)

  • Record myself for the intro using Quicktime Player, using a handsfree earbuds microphone to reduce noise.
  • Put a checkered tablecloth over my glass desk.
  • Put the macbook in an awkward position so that the built-in camera looks almost down.
  • Record myself opening the box.

On the Windows box (running Win7 64bits + Virtualbox with a WinXP 32bits VM)

  • Record videoclips from VirtualBox (stored in webm format)
  • Record audio from Audacity (using Windows WASAPI loopback thing)

Back on my macbook

  • Convert videoclips from webm to m4v using VLC
  • Sync each videoclip with its audio using iMovie
    • It was as fun as it sounds…. the format conversion messed the framerates and I had to split the audio tracks and try to match as best as possible
  • Exporting each videoclip (now with audio)
  • Create the full vid joining all exported videoclips

I could have saved myself a LOT of time if I had set up VirtualBox on my Macbook… I was just lazy to get an external CD drive or fetch the ISOs from some place and take my time to set it up. Then I could have recorded directly with Quicktime Player + Sound Flower, probably to a much better quality. :/

Rebase

Check the state of the branch you work in,
can't you see it's a crying shame... (Forgive them)
C.I. build fails before it begins
you just broke integration tests... (Forgive them)
Servers flare and patience wears thin,
fingers pointing to you on git blame!
Rebase, rebase, rebase, rebase.
Cause we're two steps away from a real disaster,
that bad commit just destroyed master.
Pushing with force seemed to be much faster,
now you're hunted down as prey (Forgive them)
..two steps away from a real disaster,
we can no longer deploy from master.
Pushing with force seemed to be much faster,
now you're hunted down as prey (Forgive them)
Trying to push the features they create,
they ignore all conflicting changes (Forgive them)
Men discarding another men's work,
they don't care you will find their name (Forgive them)
Your behavior can only cause hate,
now the whole team has gone insane!
Rebase, rebase, rebase, rebase.