I know many of you are no doubt wondering what is happening with USA
Games, how progress is going both in my personal and professional life.
I intend to give a full progress report here on our projects, plans, and
As many of you know allot is going on in my personal life. For example,
my wife and I are attempting to relocate, but haven't yet found anything
that looks promising as far as our future housing. In addition, my wife
has taken on some day classes to improve her education, and that has
left me in charge of watching my two year old son for a larger amount of
the day. The end result both activities has reduced my time to join in
list discussions, and even less time to spend on USA Games ongoing
development projects. Never-the-less work is still going forward, but at
a much slower and reduced rate.
Before I get into the news about our titles I would like to share some
general news of what we at USA Games are doing to help speed up
development time. In fact, we feel this will probably become our primary
method or mode of development in the future.
A couple of months back a woman brought in a laptop for my dad to
repair. It was an Averatec 6200 notebook computer which was a 2004/2005
mottle. Pretty current all things considered. Apparently the woman's son
had dropped the laptop breaking the 15 inch wide-screen display, and not
to mention her family had totally trashed the Windows XP install. Well,
after finding out how much it would cost to fully repair the laptop she
decided to sell it to me for a fraction of what it was worth in working
order, and went out and purchased a new system. Fine by me since I am
able to repair the notebook myself saving myself huge savings in the
Over this past week I have reformated the notebooks drive, installed
Windows XP Pro, acquired the official drivers cd from Averatec for this
laptop, and purchased some used parts off of Ebay to repair the laptop
with. When done this laptop will become my portible development station
for working on USA Games projects. Not to mention all the extras this
system has. Here is a look at the laptop when it is fully restored to
My new laptop is an Averatec 6200 series notebook. It has a 2.4 Athelon
XP processor, 512 MB ram, 60 GB hard drive, four USB 2.0 ports, 56K
modem, both a wireless and standard network card, a dvd/cd burner, a
firewire port, a touchpad, AC97 audio, and of course a 15 inch
wide-screen display. One of the really cool things about this laptop is
that there are buttons on the front of the unit which allows you to play
dvd movies directly in the computer as a portable dvd movie player
without having to boot in to Windows XP. Simply press eject on the
drive, insert dvd, put it in, push play on the front of the unit and you
have a 15 inch wide-screen portible dvd player. Pretty slick.
In addition, to the hardware I am upgrading the software on the system
mainly to my own personal taistes. The unit came with Windows XP Home,
but I am putting on Windows XP Pro instead with service pack 2. I Am
also placing on there Visual Studeo .NET 2005, Window Eyes 5.5,
Microsoft Office, Goldwave 5, Quicken 2006, Nero 6, and will be
multibooting the system with Ubuntu Linux 6.10. All and all once I am
done reparing and restoring the system back in to working order this
laptop is going to be my primary development computer.
I have two other computers besides this new laptop, but my old laptop is
starting to show it's age. I have given that one to my wife to use for
her photos, games, and whatever and will use my new laptop for work and
play. My desktop system is pretty close to the specs of the new laptop,
but unfortunately it isn't very portible. I often used my desktop, since
it was the better computer, for working on USA Games stuff, but I am
away from home so much I never had the stuff with me when I was away.
Now, with a laptop equal, and actually better than my desktop PC I can
take all the USA Games projects, real work, games, and anything else
along wherever I go.
As most of you know a couple of weeks ago I mentioned beginning an open
source Asteroids project written in C#.NET to teach gamers the art of
game programming using a classic Atari game as an example. This project
is doing quite well. I have been working on a sample engine framework
for the game in which all of you can use in your future game titles. In
fact, I may use the new framework myself as I made sure to do strict
error checking, and I am taking pains to be careful and debug the
framework so that those of you newbies won't make to many mistakes based
on my own blunders and or errors. As result the new classes I wrote for
the Asteroids game are better than my own framework files which I wrote
a long long time ago without going back and making the changes I am
doing now for Asteroids. What you will get with Asteroids is a set of
classes that should be stable and a good starting point for writing new
You will first get the USA Games Audio Class. This class file contains
higher-end functions which will allow you to quickly open, close,
position, etc up to 99 DirectX DirectSound buffers. In addition the
Audio class allows you to load files in to speech buffers for speech
playback to self-voice your games.
Next you will get the USA Games Formula class. This class contains many
common math formulas you will need to write games. Most of the functions
thus far in this class are Algebra/Trig functions. This engine framework
file is used to calculate a 2d trig based game. You will have
calculations to calculate the distance between to objects, be able to
calculate next x/y coordinates, calculate percentages, randonly select
numbers, and other related type formulas and functions.
You will also recieve the World class. The World class is a class
containing a 2D array. In short a special structure which can be used to
hold the location of every object or item in the game and can easily be
accessed using the provided Encounter, Add, and Remove functions I put
in to the class. This class is especially handy for drawing mazes like
you might find in Montezuma's Revenge.
In games like Asteroids the world class is an easy way to detect if your
next x/y position will land you head long in to an Asteroid, blackhole,
Star, or similar hazard.
Over all, the framework being used in open source Asteroids can be used
over and over again in new projects. What stuff that can't be used over
again is a working example of what you might do to make your own next title.
In addition, to code Asteroids is going to be a better-than-average
clone of the classic arcade game. The sound effects and music are
expected to be as cool as I can make them, and I am adding some other
random elements like extra flying saucers, space worms, and other
enemies and dangers which were not present in the 1979 classic.
Star Trek Final Conflict
Many of you are wondering what news we have about STFC 1.0. Almost all
of you know about the issue losing the source for this title, and having
to update and repair it when I get the time. However, fortunately the
project is not a complete loss.
I am about ready to bundle the most stable copy I could find of the game
which is unlocked, make a new installer, rewrite the manual and release
it as free ware. I fully hope to have it ready before Christmas this
year. This will be a Christmas gift from USA Games to all of you.
Work has drastically slowed on Monty. However, one thing I am going to
be doing is releasing a miner patch in the next few weeks. This miner
patch will allow you to run Monty on .NET framework 2.0 as well as the
instillation no longer requiring framework 1.1. Also this miner patch
will be using the Original Monty character Panama Joe.
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