Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Pong Year

It just happened that every time I'd like to check out a new technology I'm trying to use pong as an example. Some time ago, when I was learning DirectX and C# I've created pong in 3D. I don't have this project anymore, but the game had an isometric view and the pads and the ball was actually moving in two dimensions.

During this year however, I've created two more pong implementations. First one is based on the ncurses library. Actually, the idea was to create a generic framework for terminal-based games and use it to implement pong game as an example.

Here are the screenshots:

Another goal of this project was to create a network gameplay. I've started it, but for now it's abandoned. Although the multiplayer mode is not ready, the project still has features valuable for me: 
  • Simple image-to-ascii converter
  • Doxygen documentation
  • Check unit tests
  • API for creating simple menus
You can check out the full project here. See readme for build instructions.

Later this year, I've decided to learn Unity 3D. The goal was to create an Android game and push it into Google Play to see how the process looks like. Again, I failed with a network gameplay. I have a working implementation for WiFi based LAN, but I've decided to exclude it from the final release because of numerous bugs related to the re-connection handling. 
Although the multiplayer mode wasn't released, there were some advantages of the project. At the time I was creating it, Unity 3D didn't have support for LAN discovery. I did my own module which provided ability to advertise and search for the host. The module is based on the UDP packets broadcasting. It uses one quite ugly hack for Android: it checks for wlan0 or eth0 interfaces to determine if the connection is available. In most cases, having one of those interfaces up means the WiFi (or Ethernet) is enabled, but in theory it doesn't always have to be true. You can check out the module here. I don't develop LAN discovery module anymore, because latest Unity 3D has a native support for it. On the other hand, the local discovery is planned to be only in the premium version of Unity in the future.

In terms of a single player mode, I'm quite satisfied with the AI algorithm. The speed of the pad is randomized (in range that can be chosen by parameters) and after each strike it moves back to the middle of the room. I've also created (in one or two evenings) short soundtrack music using Reaper, MT Power Drum Kit, and 4Front Bass. All of those tools are really great.

The Unity itself seems to be a good engine. However, for small Android games it has quite significant size overhead. There are two native libraries provided: one for ARM and one for Intel architecture. If both are included in a final build, the size of an empty application will be almost 20MB. If you resign from Intel targets, you'll start with a  ~9MB application. AFAIK it can be tuned in a premium version.

Here is how the end result looks like:

You can try it yourself on Google Play.

The conclusion from those projects for me is: no more pongs! I'm really bored creating pong implementations, I need to come up with a different template theme :)

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