Wednesday 25 March 2009

Misc. Gumf

Last update before release:
  • Added Copy/Import/Export mechanism - no more hacking through xml to copy items from room to room, or game to game.
  • Added integrated bug reporting, feedback and optional exception logging (all via Web Services) - hopefully this will only improve the quantity of feedback.
  • Added Font preview in FontManager - required quite a bit of work to import the XNA model into the Editor, but it works fine.
  • Tidied up field positions.
Finally I've implemented Asset Protection. What's this? Well, the Editor now has a Publish button which lets you select an empty folder to publish a completed game to. This isn't just a simple copy however - all of the game content is encrypted using a randomly generated key. This enables you to distribute your XAGE game without worrying about others cannibalising your textures, music and game code. Nothing's hackproof of course, but it does provide a certain degree of security.

Implementing this has taken quite a bit of work, and comes with one small sacrifice: Mp3 support. The reason for this is that I had originally been using the Windows Media Player library for PC audio playing but this component would only play the audio from a file rather than a stream, which is required for the encryption. The only way I could get around this was to save the the decrypted audio to a temporary file in order to play it, which of course defeats the whole purpose of the encryption.

Eventually I decided to rip the Media Player component out altogether and have now replaced it with's audio, which supports loading audio via streams and therefore encryption. XAGE now supports the .ogg format for PC songs and, whilst it no longer directly supports mp3, it's easy enough to convert audio formats manually, plus there is the added bonus of future support for Midi and Mod files. Swings and roundabouts.

XBLCG Sales:

Whilst no concrete sales figures have been released, it appears that there's a reasonable amount of money to be made from the Xbox Live Community Games channel. At GDC Microsoft have announced that 'Several Community Games top sellers will be taking home more income from four months of sales than the average U.S. citizen earns in a full year'. Granted that's for the more popular games, but its not bad going - about $50k in 4 months?

The Blackwell Legacy:

For someone who would normally be described as a gamer, I don't get to play a lot of games. Almost all my free time is spent working on XAGE. In the last six months I've rattled through a couple of hours of Left 4 Dead and Mirror's Edge, and that's about it.

Last night, after reading Uhfgood's review. I finally got around to trying The Blackwell Legacy demo. It's a nice looking game, polished and well put together. From what I saw there's nothing in it that XAGE wouldn't be able to recreate - there'd need to be a few UI additions and implementing speech is an interesting challenge, but ultimately there's nothing that I'm yet aware of that would stop a title of Blackwell's quality being released on xbox live using XAGE.

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