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Saturday 11 January 2014

Documentation and tutorials for the Bear Engine

The Bear Engine is the cross platform open source C++ game engine on which we have built Plee the Bear, Andy's Super Great Park and Tunnel. It is available on GitHub under the terms of the version 3 of the GPL.

Since a few weeks I started to work on simple examples and tutorials in order to help anyone wanting to build a game easily with this engine. The lack of documentation was the main critic against the engine since the early years of the project, so I hope it will make things better.

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Sunday 20 October 2013

ASGP's Android Port Part IV: building the APK

Here we go for the fourth and last step in the Android port of Andy's Super Great Park. After having compiled the required libraries in Part I, having updated to the SDL2 in Part II and having switched from OpenGL direct mode to GLES in Part III; it is time to build the Android package and to execute the game on the phone.

In order to build the package, we will have to create a Java application to which will be attached the C++ part of the game. I will begin with a brief description of how Java and C++ code can be written to work together, then I will describe the creation of the Java project for our specific game using the resources provided by the SDL2. The third section will detail the build of the main shared object file, containing all the C++ part of the game, with the specifics of accessing the game's media stored in the Android application package. Finally the build of the Android package will be detailed in the last section, both for a developer version and a release version.

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Tuesday 8 October 2013

ASGP's Android Port Part III: from OpenGL Direct Mode to GLES

Following the critically acclaimed Part I and the not-as-good-as-the-first-part-but-still-good-enough Part II, here comes the back-to-the-origins third act of the Android port of our C++ game Andy's Super great Park!

Today's topic is the migration from OpenGL direct mode to GLES. This is the last blocking element in the compilation of the engine and the game. Consequently, this is a very exciting step. As you will see, the changes are quite straightforward, as soon as we know where to go.

After a short reminder of the original OpenGL direct mode API, I will define the target GL API and the acceptable compromises in the engine's functionalities. Then I will describe the conversion of the existing rendering code using GLES and provide a workaround for the disabled functionalities of the engine.

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Sunday 15 September 2013

ASGP's Android Port Part II: from SDL 1.2 to SDL 2

Here is the second step in the port of Andy's Super Great Park to Android. As a reminder, ASGP is a C++ game I decided to port to Android with the help of the NDK and the freshly released SDL 2. I have described in Part I, how I managed to find, patch, build and compile the dependencies of the game. Now it's time to replace the calls to the old SDL API with calls to the new one.

In this part, I will describe the changes I had to do in the game engine in order to get rid of the old SDL API and to replace it with the new one. The note is organized as a progressive description of the modifications, linked to the commits in GitHub. As you will see, updating the code is quite straightforward and no deep changes are required on it outside the calls to the SDL.

At the end of these modifications, the game still won't run on my phone, actually it won't even compile as I'll still have to replace OpenGL direct mode with GLES equivalent and to integrate with some Android behavior (handling touch events, accessing game's resources…). But this will be the subject of another note. So let's go for the migration!

Note: if you are also migrating from SDL 1.2 to SDL 2, I suggest that you read the migration guide on SDL's wiki.

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Thursday 12 September 2013

Second evening at café le Briord for Plee the Bear

A quick note to tell you how went the second Plee the Bear evening organized at Café le Briord! Once again, it was nice to see people coming for the game in response to the various announcements. We have also received some contributions for the fundraising for Plee the Bear!

We organize a new tournament on Wednesday 18th of September, starting at 9 P.M. See you next week!

Saturday 7 September 2013

Porting a C++ game to Android, the case of Andy's Super Great Park

A few months ago, when people asked if I would port Andy's Super Great Park (ASGP) to Android, I answered that I was reticent, especially due to the fact that the preferred language of the platform is Java (which is not the language of ASGP) but also because the NDK was advertised as "Not the best tool for Android, try not to use it!".

To give a quick overview of the game, ASGP is made of 120K lines of C++ code and relies on several external libraries such as Boost, Claw, SDL, OpenGL, FreeType and Gettext. Also, OpenGL is used in direct mode, which is not available in the GLES version. Clearly, I did not want to spent time trying to bring everything to Android. Also, I did not have any Android device.

Then, during August 2013, I decided to jump into the present (by the time your read this, it should be known as "the past") by buying an Android phone, when suddenly the SDL 2.0 was released with official Android support. Hey! Why not spend a day or two trying to run the game on the phone before deciding to do a complete port or not?

So, I started to look at the NDK, I read SDL's Migration guide and Phil Hassey's blog (Phil, I love your banners by the way), and I started to work. Let me tell you how it went…

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Friday 6 September 2013

Retrospective of the first Plee the Bear party at Café Le Briord

In the evening of the 4th of September 2013, we have organized a Plee the Bear themed party at Café Le Briord, Nantes, France. What a good evening!

I came to the café with my laptop and two pads, plugged the latter and the beamer in the former, and launched the game. Wow! That's my game on the giant screen!

There was quite a lot of customers at the café. Some of them came for the game, in response to the various announcements published on the web and in the press, traveling from cities like Pornic (60 km. from Nantes) or Paris (385 km. from Nantes).

Then there was the customers who came to have a drink and who joyfully discovered the game, taking the pads and playing with their friends in the mini-games or the cooperative mode, or simply testing the main quest in solo.

Here are some pictures of people having fun with my game:

Customers discovering the mini-games

Another customer playing the main quest.

More people playing the mini-games

We will be back at Le Briord wednesday, 11th of September 2013, from 9 P.M. to 11 P.M. for a championship based on the mini-games. Join us!

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Good news: we are back on Plee the Bear

After almost one year of hibernation, we decided to come back working on Plee the Bear. As you may know, we had to stop because we did not have enough spare time to spend on this project anymore. The project was too huge and we could not see its completion in a foreseeable future, so we went on a smaller game that we could finish in time: Andy's Super Great Park. As time went by, we thought we should refocus on Plee the Bear and free software, but it is clear that we must work on it in a different way.

We have written every aspect of the game in a single document and estimated the amount of time required for each one. The result is that the game can be done in approximately one year with our current team. I am pretty confident about this estimation, since we have already proven that we can estimate our time accurately with our other developments. So, how will we buy our food and pay our loans during the production?

In order to come back on the game without difficulties and not to stop again in a few weeks or months, we decided to launch a fundraising campaign to support the development. Our goal is to receive enough money to stop subsistence work and invest in gaming and free software.

The platform we have chosen is OpenFunding, which is a young crowdfunding website dedicated to free software. The target of the first call is 1112.79 € (approximately $1455) that will be spent to refresh the game toward more recent quality standards and prepare it for the upcoming work. Then we will propose new content for the game, each time with a new fundraising campaign. Please note that the content of the game is predefined and should receive only little modifications as we progress. Thus the donors will for sure obtain a complete game in a foreseeable future. Moreover, the game will be available under the terms of the GNU GPL 2 licence for the code and CC-by-sa 3 for the resources.

If you are hesitant, please note an important functionality of OpenFunding, which is that you will be able to audit the final product to confirm your donation or to take your money back if the work is not well done. Thus, your investment is relatively risk free.

All that being said, it is time to invite you: give some money, it is free!

Saturday 19 January 2013

Improving a sprite-based rendering procedure

So you are developing a 2D game and, suddenly, you discover that the rendering procedure is slow. What would you do? Would you put less elements in your levels or would you render them more efficiently? Since you are here, I suppose that you would pick the latter. So, here we go, I am going to tell you how to render less things while having more.

The first part of this post describes how much work is done during the rendering of a scene. Then I will compare it with the results of an easy to implement improved procedure. And finally I will give you the pointers to an even better procedure. This final procedure has been used in Andy's Super Great Park and in the —work in progress— Plee the Bear.

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Wednesday 12 December 2012

Andy's Super Great Park

Here we go, we have finally made our first complete game: Andy's Super Great Park. It took a lot of effort and we are quite proud of the result. Now that the game is available, we are working to put it on variousportals, like Steam (vote for us!), Indiecity and Indievania, and we are preparing the Ubuntu version.

Check the game's page to watch a video, to see some screenshot and to play the demo,


Tuesday 27 March 2012

Stuffomatic

Stuffomatic is a French company composed of talented friends from Nantes, France. We joined together to develop entertaining games, starting with Plee the Bear, a great platform game. Check this page to learn more about our team!

Plee the Bear is a platform game in which the player controls an angry bear, gone after his greedy son after he was kidnapped. In this great travel taking him all over the world, the daddy will have to show agility and strength to find and save the cub. The player's journey is livened up with different game modes implementing varied gameplay and punctuated with interactions on the social networks.