Entries in Dev Life (22)

Thursday
Oct272011

Only an App developer...

Some days my life seems.... a little unreal.

How else can you explain the picture to the left?  The hottest new iPhone and one of the hottest new Android phones bought by the same person within an hour of each other.

And why?  Not because I'm going to use them.  Oh no.  So we can debug some stuff on them.

Weirdest conversation with the guy at the Apple Store too:

Me:  Hi, I'd like to buy an iPhone 4S!

Genius:  OK, what carrier do you want?  Sprint?  Verizon?  AT&T?

Me:  I don't care.  Whichever you have in stock.

Genius:  Er, OK.  Well what size do you want?  16GB?  32GB?

Me:  Whichever is cheapest.

Genius:  Ah, OK.  And, uh...what color do you want?

Me:  I don't care.  Whatever you have in stock.

Genius:  Really?  Most people ... whatever, OK --

Me:  No wait, white.  [After realizing all our other iPhones are black, so white will help us tell them apart more easily.  Who's the Genius now??]

Genius:  Ok, white.  Well you're in luck, we have just a couple in stock.  These things have been selling out really fast.

Me:  That's awesome, thanks.  What's your return policy again?

The guy must have thought I was a freaking lunatic.  

Actually I'm being kind of a jerk about it -- Sorry, I'm sleepy.  It's actually a really sweet phone.  So's the S2.  The nerd in me would be drooling over getting a chance to play with both of these puppies.  If I weren't so busy.  And if my credit card weren't emitting low moans of ultimate pain and suffereing from inside my wallet.

SHH!  Bad credit card!

Friday
Sep232011

The long days of summer

Wow.  I just realized it's been months since we posted anything up here in the old Vector Unit blog.  Sorry for the extended downtime -- we've been craaaazzzy busy.

What have we been busy with?

Well there's Riptide GP for one.  We haven't really made any official announcements, but I don't think it's any surprise at this point that Riptide GP is on its way to iPhone, iPad, and non-Tegra Android phones and tablets.  We've been hard at work porting the game over and testing it to make sure the game is as fast and fun as possible on a whole range of new devices.  

We've also been working on a brand new game which we're really excited about.  I won't say too much about it, except that it involves water.  And moonshine.  And chickens.  Stay tuned for an announcement sometime in October.

OK well that's enough time in the blogosphere.  Gotta get back to work!  

Monday
Jun272011

The tech behind Riptide GP

You would think that converting a current-gen console game engine to a phone would be a daunting task.  I’m happy to report that this is not the case!  This year’s crop of smartphones with their multiple CPU cores and competent GPUs are definitely up to the task.

When we started developing Riptide GP for Tegra 2, we had certain expectations of the performance we could squeeze out of these devices.  The GPU (graphics) more or less met our expectations, so we were able to hit our graphics quality and rendering performance targets by optimizing the fragment shaders and doing more work per vertex.  However, we were completely blown away by the CPU (computation).  The dual-core ARM Coretex A9 is an amazing piece of silicon.  What’s running in Riptide GP is the same underlying water simulation that powered our previous game on the Xbox 360!

Besides our internal tech there are three key components that made Riptide GP possible:  The Android NDK, Bullet Physics, and FMOD Sound System.  The NDK allows us to write native C++ code which is then optimized for the ARM architecture.  Bullet Physics, which we use for collision detection and rigid body simulation, just worked out of the box.  FMOD Sound System released an Android version of their SDK just in time, which has been working flawlessly since the first release.

 

Tuesday
May312011

An embarrassment of riches

One of the great things about being a game developer, is people send you free hardware -- game consoles, dev kits, phones, tablets -- to work with, so you get to try out all the latest cool devices.

The most recent addition to our small but growing collection of Tegra2 stuff is 4 brand new, shiny LG G2X phones, courtesy of the good people at T-Mobile.  We're not actually holding on to these:  We're pre-installing copies of Riptide GP, and loaning them out to game review sites that don't have Tegra2 devices to play the game on.

Even though these are just passing through, I couldn't resist taking a picture of these four awesome phones, all charged up and running Riptide GP in parallel.  As I said, we've had the opportunity to try a lot of Tegra2 hardware, and although they each have their relative strengths, the G2X is one of our favorites.  It's a good size, it's nice and light, and like all Tegra2 phones it's awesome for games.

If only I could keep one for myself ... :-)

Friday
May272011

Phew

Ahh, Memorial Day weekend is here, the sun is FINALLY shining, and Riptide GP is out there in the Android Market doing it's thing.

We started work on RGP right at the start of January, and finished it in about four and a half months.  That's pretty quick for a game of this type -- by comparison, Hydro Thunder Hurricane took us about a year to finish, not counting the initial prototype.  

Riptide was definitely a push.  We put in some long hours and weekends.  But it seemed to go pretty fast.  We were totally excited about the idea the whole time we were working on it, and the long hours went by in a blur, because we were working hard to make the game better, trying to squeeze in as much polish as we could in the time we had.  It's a lot easier to work hard when you're pumped on what you're doing, instead of working hard just to barely scrape by.

When we started, the goal was to basically just create a super simple water racing game that would show off the graphical power of the Tegra 2 hardware.  But as we got more into it, we decided to add additional features:  the Championship mode, the reverse tracks, all the OpenFeint stuff.  

The whole stunt/boost mechanic got added on a whim in a couple of days right around GDC.  The game was pretty fun at that point but it needed something more, and we figured as long as we have the characters on those hydro jets, we might as well do something interesting with them.  As soon as we got them in there, with the swipe gestures, we knew it had to be a part of the game.

So now it's done and people seem to be enjoying it, and that feels really, really good.  Now we have a chance to take a breath and figure out what comes next.  I took a short vacation last week to NYC, and Ralf is going to sunny Mexico next week for some well deserved margarita therapy.

As for what comes next...... well, we have some ideas.  In fact one idea in particular that we're pretty excited about.  But that's for another post.