Growing up on DarkBASIC Professional (DBP) has supplied me with a great start into the world of programming as it is easy to learn; the syntax is simple and one can achieve astounding results in a matter of minutes. Due to DBP’s simplicity I have been reluctant to leave my comfort zone to explore other programming languages. I have occasionally ventured into the waters of C++ but didn’t get much further than basic control statements and upholding the tradition of printing “Hello World”.
Heading into my first year of a Computer Science course means that I will be tangoing with a range of languages, and so I decided to give myself a small head-start. A friend highly recommended Python (which conveniently happens to be a language studied in my course) and emailed me a link to the ActiveState version. After eagerly downloading the 2.7 build, I got my first taste of an interpreted language. As I am used to the compile and run approach, Python introduced me to a whole new aspect of programming as the code is translated line by line.
Now that I’ve left my comfort zone I am keen to try out new languages and development tools, even if it's just for the ride. Remember, a great developer is one who able to transport his skills from one language to another.
A special thanks to Chris Van Wijmeersch for the newsletter cover and various images throughout the newsletter.
'Til another eight phases of the moon,
Tizen is one of the newest operating systems to surf the latest wave of devices. Although it is a young operating system, it holds an uncommon potential. Since Tizen is open source and based on HTML5, many devices such as your standard phones and tablets have the capability of running the OS. However, the list of Tizen compatible devices doesn’t stop there. Tizen can also run on Smart TVs and in-vehicle infotainment systems. The Tizen project resides in the capable hands of The Linux Foundation who will release the full version of the SDKs for Windows, Mac and Linux soon. Ambitious developers who have Linux installed can test pilot the early alpha version of the SDK here. Start brushing up on your HTML5 skills and you could soon begin development on an app for your car!
This newest addition to the DarkBASIC Pro plugin collection allows developers to setup their 3D objects in such a way that if they are not visible on the screen, even if they are just hidden behind another object, they are not drawn. This ability can greatly reduce the amount of polygons drawn to the screen, increasing the performance of any 3D rendering. 3D games just became a lot more feasible for netbooks. Dark Occlusion features over 50 commands and also performs heavy calculations in a separate thread, boosting performance even more. If you have a great 3D game on the way but you just can’t keep frame rate up there, then this could be the solution to your problems. Every polygon counts.
AGK Player Service
The Game Creators have released their iOS player service. This service allows developers who own an iOS device to test their apps without the need to compile the AGK Player themselves. The service costs a low $25 but requires you to have an existing Apple Developers account in order to aquire the AGK Player for deployment to your iOS devices. Enjoy running your App Game Kit apps on your iPhone, iPods and iPads.
Tile Studio is a cute little 2D graphics and map editor and, as the name suggests, the program is oriented towards making tiles. Sporting a friendly interface, Tile Studio is a fantastic tool for creating not only tiles, but simple, cartoony sprites. Even those who struggle to draw sprites (like myself) can find themselves with satisfactory, retro-looking game assets. Here is a small example of a platform I whipped up in less than 5 minutes, using both the tile and map editor.
It’s no Mona Lisa but it's certainly suitable for retro-styled games. You can download Tile Studio here.
Useful Community Functions Project
Over the past month, the UCF project has doubled in the number of functions but we still want more! If you have any useful functions or innovative ideas then we’d like to hear them. The goal of the UCF project is to create a library of open source functions, free for the community to use. Currently, the functions are only for the App Game Kit BASIC language. The project is managed by Daniel Foreman, who will organize the source code as well as create help files on each accepted function. He will also host a small lottery every quarter, which will give each developer who has contributed a function a chance at winning a small amount of cash. Learn more here.
Video Game Industry trends for 2012 - by Chris Van Wijmeersch
There are some strong trends that are transforming the video game industry in 2012.
Although most Android and iOS games are smaller experiences than, for instance, 'Uncharted' on the PSP; games on the iOS and Android environments are erupting in activity. The amount of development support, the large number of users, and increased revenue coming into 2012 are all examples of this. Tablets and smart phones offer countless opportunities for smaller and indie developers to earn recognition and sell their game to potentially millions without the need of a corporate budget or high levels of marketing. Greater support can be forecasted as mobile platform manufacturers embrace new technological advances.
Handhelds will become more powerful and more popular in 2012 with the release of Sony's true successor to the original PSP. However, are gamers really interested in that much power in a handheld, or will history repeat itself with Nintendo's 3DS, at a much lower price, keeping Sony's latest offerings on the sidelines like it did with the DS?
New methods of interaction in games will win the spotlight this year as Kinect is coming to PC's, and others like Apple with Siri are taking voice controls to a new level. The gaming industry is bearing towards new ways of communication with games and media. As several companies will be offering solutions for player-device interaction, we can expect more surprises on the horizon.
We can only guess what treats await us in the year that is 2012.
Freefallin' by Sean Regan
Think diving out of a plane with a parachute is easy? Think again. In this addictive game, you play as a parachuting soldier while collecting power-ups and avoiding missiles. Get it from the Android Market now!
Operation Annunaki: The Curse of Enki
by Jordi Ramon
A professer kidnapped. A brutal army. A dangerous mission. You already know your objective, rescue the professor from the Black Scorpion Army. Operation Annunaki features stunning, 3D compatible graphics and fast gameplay. If you're in need of an adventure, this is the game for you. Available on the Intel AppUp Store.
Moral of the month
As a self-taught, hobbyist developer, my world of development is limited to small projects, such as games, and consequently, so are most of my ideas and development tools. Of course, I have had the occasional dream of a spectacular application but it never gets past the stage of jotting down a few concepts onto a piece of paper.
Recently, I got the chance to talk to a professional developer who, because of his work on open source projects, has been offered contract work from Google. As a contractor, he explained how he had the pleasure of working on a diverse range of projects and using different tools across multiple platforms. In the space of a few hours he changed my perspective of software development. I used to instantly judge an idea as a whole to determine whether or not I could develop the application using my current skills, without any thought to learning something new; an easy habit to fall into. I now take the time to dissect an idea, then study each piece to determine the overall feasibility. Breaking a project up into smaller sections and then looking at each section independently, creates a clearer vision of the project and indicates where the bumps in the road may appear.
There are still many projects out there I wish I could develop but lack the skills, however, looking at a project with optimism and a willingness to learn has widened the scope for projects and the tools used to build them.
Developer Question - App Validation
App validation is one of the final steps in publishing an app and is also one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. Developers must adhere to many ethical and technical rules, some of which can be costly such as the need for code signing certificates. However, from a consumer's perspective, app validation increases the chances of high quality and reliable apps. So the question is, where they exist, are app validation rules too strict and/or expensive? Share your thoughts here.
Last month’s developer question
Ultrabooks carry a lot of potential as they are thin and light, and packed with power but will they be the success we all hope for? Will they be just another piece of hardware with its own set of complications that we will need to over come?
“We would need a whole bunch of fundamental changes in AGK and DBPro to make use of any 64Bit advantages and the only thing that makes a 64Bit system faster is if it uses more RAM than an equivalent 32Bit system, otherwise it can actually be slower.”
“I don't see many netbooks in use, but I see plenty of iPads and other pad devices and even more notebooks. This is just an anecdotal observation, but I probably know 10 people that have pads, hundreds of notebooks and only one that has a netbook and that belongs to the teenage daughter of a neighbor.
The netbooks and ultrabooks seem to want to fill a niche between the pads and real notebooks but it seems to me that people who want either a pad or a notebook don't see the netbooks as a viable alternative to either. ”
“Looks to me like they're the industry's belated response to the MacBook Air but given that the competition has failed to seriously undercut the Air, I wonder how successful it will be... After all, I can buy a decent Android tablet for < £150 but I'd have to pay out a minimum of £400 for an iPad so there is a good reason for me to get a droid. On the other hand, if the Asus ultrabook starts at around $900 then I'm only $99 short of getting an Air anyway...”
Jokes - by Chris Van Wijmeersch
There was an elderly man visiting a doctor for his check-up. As he was leaving he asked the doctor if he could recommend a specialist for his wife. "What's wrong with her?" asked the doctor. The old man explained that her hearing was getting so bad that it was almost embarrassing. The doctor said he knew of several specialists that could help but he wanted the old man to do a little test when he got home to help the doctor determine the severity of her hearing loss. The doctor said "When you get home, make sure your wife's back is turned to you and ask her a question. If she doesn't respond walk closer and ask her again. Keep doing this until she answers and let me know the results".
That night when the old man opened the door of his home he could see his wife in the kitchen preparing dinner. She was at the counter with her back to the door. "What's for dinner?" the old man asked. His wife did not respond so he walks to the doorway of the kitchen and asked the question again. Still, he was greeted with silence. This time he walks up just behind her and asks once again "What's for dinner?" His wife spins around a bit agitated and says "For the third time, Fried Chicken!!"