Friday, 20 August 2010

XAGE on Ubuntu

My relationship with Linux has traditionally been rather negative, starting some ten years ago at university. The key combination of Shift+Insert would make the desktop of whatever particular distribution I was using crash, and thus a decade of mild distrust began.

This evening, armed with a new 8GB usb stick and an installation of Lucid Lynx (Ubuntu 10.04), I've learned things have improved dramatically in that time. The OS is nippy and slick, Chrome flies and even MonoDevelop runs reasonably well. In a few short hours I've been able to get XAGE running natively from the shared codebase:

Don't apt-get too excited

This is, unfortunately, the most exciting screenshot I can currently muster up. My custom binary loader seems to be broken, and I imagine the problems with audio and video encountered previously will return, but otherwise I'm happy with the progress made. If I can get it all working then it can only be good news for Mac OS, Android and iPhone (assuming those pesky licensing hurdles can be overcome).

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Back to work

So the World Cup was a bit of a noisy disappointment, but Read Dead Redemption saved the summer hiatus by having, in inimitable Rockstar style, quite possibly the best achievement ever.

I'd been aware of MonoXna for a few years, and had always known it as a dead project, so it was with some surprise that I saw that it had been quietly resurrected with some recent code submissions. I spent a good amount of time with it and had mixed results.

The good news is that I was able to get XAGE up and running after a few days. Similar to how Silversprite works, MonoXNA allows XNA games to be run without any dependency on the original Microsoft framework, allowing you to target new platforms (most notably Mac & Linux, and bodes well for future projects like MonoDroid).

The bad news is that neither audio or Texture2Ds seem to be fully supported. I'm sure it's possible to workaround some of these issues and I'll return to MonoXna again in the future when I have more time. Silverlight continues to be the secondary focal point for development. This is because playing the games through a web browser is still compelling and novel enough to devote time and effort to, and also because it's easy for me to develop & test. I don't currently own a spare machine for a decent linux distribution (and lack the space for a dual-boot, or even a large enough usb stick for ubuntu), and also I'm too perpetually poor to afford a Mac. Also, MonoDevelop curiously runs like dirt on my netbook.

Work has now finally been resumed on XAGE proper; my evening was spent adding support for running animations backward. This was to enable the little tramp in Ben Chandler's '!' to animate correctly:

xage !

I'm using this game as a test case to help me figure out a workable design for arrays, which will help when I go back to TGP. Incidentally, Zombie Cow's game for Channel4, Privates, has been released and bucks the trend of most edutainment titles by actually being rather spiffy.