I recently started a video gaming podcast called Three Guys One Joystick with a couple of my best friends. We’re mostly talking about older games, but we’ll talk about newer ones (and maybe even mobile games) from time to time too. Check it out!
Archive for the ‘Games’ Category
Oren Chapo just ported Pipes J2ME to MediaPortal:
Thanks for this addictive game. I’ve been playing it on my Nokia phone for over a year now.
Since I love the game so much, I’ve ported it as a MediaPortal plugin (C#). I’ve used your base classes and added my own touch (multiple levels, scoring system, timed game, sound effects).
You’re of course credited as the source for my plugin, and my plugin source is available to the public.
Additional information is available at:
I have opened the source to the J2ME version of Pipes. If you’re interested in contributing to the project, it’s hosted on Github:
Anyone is welcome to submit source code, documentation, translations, etc. directly to Github. I’m putting the source under the GPL license.
I’ll be happy to answer questions about the source and the code architecture, but I probably won’t be able to help much regarding how to use Git or Github. Most of my experience has been with Subversion, CVS, and Perforce, so Git is still new to me 🙂
Note: The iPhone version of Pipes will remain a separate closed-source project under my personal ownership.
A number of people have pointed out that my J2ME version of Pipes doesn’t work properly on some newer phones (especially those with touch screens, such as the Blackberry Storm). It is also lacking in features compared to my iPhone version.
The fact is I simply don’t have the time or resources to maintain the J2ME version. I don’t have a J2ME phone anymore, and since I don’t make any money from the J2ME verison, I can’t justify buying development equipment.
So my question is this: If I were to release the source, would anyone be willing to help out by adding new features?
I was looking through the user reviews of Pipes Lite on the App Store, and one review caught my attention:
At first, I didn’t think much of it. Then I decided to try out Loops of Zen and see if it was true. I may be biased (OK, let’s be honest, I’m obviously biased), but I believe Pipes is far superior to Loops of Zen.
Let’s break down this review point by point:
- “Ahnt” claims that Pipes is a Loops of Zen ripoff
- “Ahnt” claims that Pipes is a very bad game
Point 1 is simply a lie. I originally released the J2ME version of Pipes in April 2006 on GetJar.com. Loops was developed over two years later in September 2008. I won’t claim that Pipes was my own original idea, but it certainly isn’t a Loops ripoff. If I could travel through time, I’d find much better things to do than copy games from the future and give them away or sell them for next to nothing.
Point 1: Destroyed
Point 2, “Pipes is a very bad game,” is obviously more subjective. I think it’s safe to say, though, that Pipes is at least as good as Loops of Zen. Let’s compare features:
||Loops of Zen
Again, this point is subjective, but I’m gonna go ahead and say:
Point 2: Put In Its Place
All of this is interesting enough… or maybe not, depending on your point of view 🙂 But here’s where it gets even better. I wonder who this “Ahnt” is anyway? Wait a minute…
According to the App Store, Loops of Zen was developed by Dr. Arend Hintze. Wait another minute…
Dr. Arend Hintze
Certainly that’s just a coincidence. Right? Right? Let’s take a look at some of Ahnt’s other reviews. All of these reviews come from the App Store in iTunes. To see them, look up his review of Pipes Lite, then click on the “by Ahnt” link.
Orion’s Belt Lite: 1 star – no comments
WritePad: 1 star – no comments
DizzyBeeFree: 1 star – no comments
Rolando Lite: 1 star – no comments
Fastlane Street Racing Lite: 1 star – no comments
iShoot Lite: 1 star – no comments
Wow, this guy just doesn’t like anything! Not even iShoot or Fastlane, which I believe have each reached #1 on the App Store in the past (if not for the entire store, then at least #1 within their respective game genres). I guess I should feel priviliged to even get 2 stars! Oh, but what did he rate Loops of Zen, you ask?
Loops of Zen Lite (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars – “…obviously the game-designer listned! [sic] Thank you!”
Well, naturally. But I wonder…
titriplos (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars – “This is so much better than most other connect3 games. You have so many options…”
tbamfh (by Dr. Arend Hintze, and no I’m not making these titles up): 5 stars – “What a surprise! I love it….”
Maybe not quite as conclusive as a fingerprint or a DNA sample, but it’s pretty clear to me that the doctor is going around writing bad reviews for all the apps he considers threatening to his own. Not only that, he’s writing positive reviews for his own games as if he were just another customer in the App Store.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s look at one more of Ahnt’s reviews:
platelets (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars – “I released a version where I deactivated some collisions, gimme a few days and it will be fixed.”
WOW – most developers would just post that in the app info, but this guy decides to give himself a 5-star review while he’s at it. Oh, and to completely expose his own little self-review scheme.
I’m flattered that he considers Pipes enough of a threat to go out of his way and actually write up a review. Um, thanks? I’m just glad I’m not one of his students!
Pipes 1.4 has been approved by Apple, and should be available in the App Store in the next few hours.
I just submitted Pipes 1.4 to Apple. If all goes well, it should be on the App Store shortly!
What’s New in Pipes 1.4:
- Added two new board sizes: Super Insane (48×60) and Mega Insane (56×70)
- Added piece locking feature
- Added tutorial on how to play and basic strategies
- Rewrote graphics engine for much smoother zooming/scrolling on larger board sizes
Technical junk for my fellow iPhone nerds
The most interesting and difficult part of this update for me was the graphics engine rewrite. Basically I switched from using standard 2-dimensional rendering (based on CoreGraphics) to OpenGL-based rendering. I suspect that CoreGraphics doesn’t provide much hardware acceleration, while OpenGL obviously does.
I don’t have a benchmark of the old rendering engine handy, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 FPS during a zoom operation on the Insane board size. Using OpenGL, I’m able to get 50-60 FPS on Insane (according to the OpenGL ES tool in Instruments). That’s why I was able to add 2 larger board sizes in this release; my old rendering engine simply couldn’t have handled them adequately.
I’m using a sprite sheet to render all the pipe shapes using a single OpenGL texture. This optimization completely eliminates texture state switching, which helps to keep things running nice and fast. Also, I’m building up all the vertex/texture data and then rendering each frame with a single call to glDrawArrays. I’m sure there are other things that could be done to optimize things even further (probably switching to glDrawElements for starters), but I’m still fairly new to OpenGL, and still learning. If I find a way to speed things up more, I’ll add at least one even more devious and demented board size to the game.
- Added online leaderboard – compare your best times to other players around the world
- Added offline “personal best times” – try to beat your best times
- Redesigned user interface to be consistent with in-game graphical style