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2-07-2018 8:04 pm
fuzmeister: Past Lives of Game Dev
It's hard to believe that later this spring it will be 20 years since I first used the name S&F Software to brand a game project. While I can't remember exactly the first game I used it for, I'm sure it was super horrible as I was learning as I went along.

Interesting story about why I styled it as S+F Software for so many years - back in the Visual Basic days, using an ampersand before any character in a VB component field caused the character directly after to be underlined rather than actually showing the ampersand. I'm sure there was some escape string or something to actually show this character, but I had no idea what any of that stuff even was back then.

Lately I've been going through some old S&F Software game files and lamenting the lack of being able to actually play through any of these classics. In an effort for historical preservation, I recently wrote an extraction tool for several of the old file formats - FRX (Visual Basic's form binary file), SFP (uncompressed pack of binary files - graphics and sound usually), and the 2004 Iceman DX levels.

For some odd reason, the way VB handled writing the Iceman DX level files was really funky - despite using integers to store everything, it seems like VB decided to allocate 128 bytes for every "record" that was persisted. I'm fairly certain this wasn't by my own design. Either way, I wrote an extractor to downsize the old level files and was able to extract over 3MB of the original level data to just 25.6k in the new "format." It's insane the levels were so large in the first place all things considered.

Most of the old projects I have code for, but some of the big ones like Trevor 2 are missing. Ideally, I've always wanted to rewrite/port the code to something that could be run on modern computers, but I'm not sure I can justify the time it takes to do so. I did this with Helibomber DX a few years ago and released the game via a HumbleStore widget - turned out alright and was a fun trip down memory lane, but, again, it takes some time to do these little projects.

I'm grateful for the friendships formed and knowledge gained during my formative years of game development and design. I sometimes wish I had handled things differently on both the technical and social sides of it, but I think S&F was ultimately a good experience for all involved albeit a chaotic mess at times.

Mood: Nostalgic
Music: Audioslave - Revelations


Tags (beta): game development

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7-18-2017 9:03 pm
fuzmeister: Semi-Annual Vent Post
Yeesh - This place has become a digital ghost town. I'm half-expecting tumbleweed animated GIFs to roll across the bottom of my screen.

Thanks a lot, Facebook, Twitter, and other assorted corporate-owned social media sites... I sometimes miss the old days of Vent.

Not often, but sometimes... Anyone else here still alive? A/S/L? * tap, tap tap * ...is this thing on...?

Mood: Nostalgic
Music: Nirvana - Big Cheese


Tags (beta): vent

Comments (1)

2-27-2017 10:16 pm
fuzmeister: Finally Updated The S&F Site
I've been sitting on this simpler, Bootstrap-based S&F Software site for a few months now... finally got around to uploading it: http://sfsoftware.sevensoupcans.com/

And yes, I know I need to debug the Helibomber SDX high score stuff, but who is seriously visiting our site anymore anyway?

I mean, really... who? Ah, well... it's a nice piece of history until I get the urge to spontaneously release something new. I'd truthfully like to at least port another 1 or 2 of the old games to Java as I did with Helibomber...

The incentive of doing this don't really outweigh the time and effort though I wouldn't mind playing some Rapid Fire again.

Mood: Historic
Music: Nirvana - Something in the Way


Tags (beta): s&f software, game development

Comments (0)

12-27-2016 4:03 pm
fuzmeister: Rogue One
Possible spoilers ahead, so read on with caution if you haven't seen this flick yet.

I am somewhat unsure why this film is getting so much praise while many people thought Episode 7 was a "garbage re-hash." Let me be clear, I didn't hate Rogue One. From a technical perspective, it's a well-made film... excellent special effects and very nice cinematography. I'd be willing to say it inspired a sense of awe that was missing from The Force Awakens in terms of world-building and scope.

However, I generally think this film was a mess in terms of pacing, character development, and narrative. Maybe it's partially my bias that I didn't even want to see this film from the beginning. I mean, if the story isn't super-interesting, do we really care how the plans for the Death Star were retrieved? I consider myself a big fan of Star Wars and even the now-defunct expanded universe, but I didn't have a great feeling about this film from the moment it was originally announced.

So, in terms of the film's characters, what's the deal here? So much lost potential with the protagonist and her father's relationship. I really felt like this could have been a very interesting aspect of the story, but it felt rushed and hollow like much of the movie.

To be fair, everyone felt superficial and shallow - why was the great Forest Whitaker so wasted? I know there were reports that a large portion of this film was reshot after the original cut, but is that what's to blame for the unsteady pace and superficial characters? I feel like this movie had so many moments of wasted potential.

And yes, I know what you may be thinking - "dude, Darth Vader was such a boss in that movie." Ok, sure. It was cool to see him again and hear James Earl Jones reprise the voice, but Vader was mostly there as fan service without playing any crucial role in the story.

I absolutely do love Star Wars and I'm trying not to be a jaded grandpa, but where The Force Awakens gave me hope Disney wouldn't just exploit this property without creating quality content, Rogue One makes me extremely nervous for any future anthology films. I guess if you view this as a one-off, we have to give credit for toying around with what works. To me though, this could be a slippery slope.

Mood: Eh
Music: 10cc - I'm Not in Love


Tags (beta): star wars, film

Comments (4)

10-20-2016 5:29 pm
fuzmeister: The Glorious Demise of the Wii Brand
Earlier today, Nintendo announced a new video game console to be released next year. While I have my own collection of thoughts specifically on that, one of the highlights of today was the realization that the poisonous Wii brand is finally dead and Nintendo can finally be released from the shackles of the past.

When the Wii came out ten years ago (!!!), it was a hot item for months and months. It encouraged non-gamers and casual bystanders to pick one up with its prospect of motion-gaming and a "new level of interactivity." Unfortunately, after the hype-dust settled, Nintendo's core audience was alienated by a system plagued by loads of shovelware and missing the ever-crucial support of third-party developers.

When the successor Wii U was eventually announced, Nintendo's attachment to the Wii brand and lack of aggressive marketing caused the console to stagger right out of the gate. Many who had played the Wii were confused about what the Wii U exactly was. While third-party support started out very promising, low sales eventually caused key players to pull their support of the console. I personally love the games I have for Wii U, but let's be real - the majority of classic titles made for the Wii U have been first-party Nintendo games. No doubt.

Now in late 2016, the Nintendo Switch has been revealed. I don't want to comment too much on the system or its potential at this point, but the first press release makes it a point to list FORTY-EIGHT third-party companies (most developers) that will support their new console. I want to remain optimistic they will be able to move past the last decade which started off so much more promising than it ended. Ditching the Wii branding was a great first step in potentially doing so.

Mood: Optimistic
Music: The Rolling Stones - It's All Over Now


Tags (beta): video games, nintendo

Comments (2)

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Past Lives of Game Dev by fuzmeister
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