Happy new year!

January 6, 2011 by

I decided to to do something about my homepage again and switched from LifeType to WordPress. The old site was having issues and has also been spammed regularly.

Most work went into transfering most of the content and comments from the blog. I also added and updated a couple of images and I finally added my gallery again. Luckily WordPress is able to reroute the URLs so I am confident this switch will not break too many of the old links.

I am still filling it and I am planning on adding new stuff to it. Let’s see how long that new years resolution will last 😉

Taking Form

February 21, 2010 by

Ring Colours - v03Redesigned front-end from my Colours game

The new art design is coming along well and I am now working towards showing the player what has to be done as well as what he is able to do.

It’s becoming clear that I have several color matching directions (rows, columns and matching the central ring) and while these make the game interesting they are not merging together fluidly. The game mechanics are still somewhat complicated for anyone to just pick up and start playing.

I’ll have to address this before I can let anyone play this, but as soon as I have I will put up a playable demo of this.

Just before the change

January 18, 2010 by

Ring Colours - v02Updated version of the new colours gameThis is another screenshot from my colours game. I changed a couple of gameplay mechanics and noticed that not all additions improve the playability. I’ll have to change the graphical presentation of the game to improve the gameplay.

I therefore posted this screenshot just before changing everything (again).

The game will still look similair to it’s current form but I want to overhaul the 3D side of it so that I can also do something with the surroundings.

I’ll keep you posted… hopefully soon

New games underway

October 22, 2009 by

New variation of my Colours gameA simple Snakes game prototype

After finishing a game project for Capture in the beginning of the year I found that the game engine Unity3D, that we had decided on using, was also quite good realising game projects that I had been wanting to do at home.

I have purchased Unity3D some time ago and here are the first screenshots of two games that I have been fiddeling with.

Ring Colours - v01The first one is an evolution of my Colours game, that I had already done an early prototype of in Microsofts XNA, only to find out that making an installable version for distribution is quite a chore. Being a 3D game engine I did a couple of tests to find out how to use this new dimension for Colours and this is now the first variation where I have the feeling that it actually takes advantage of being in 3D. It does change the game slightly, but I already had several extensions for the original game idea. I therefore don’t think that it will be a less enjoyable game than the 1992 version.

Sector Defense - v01The second game is a Snakes variation which I started mainly to test a couple of game mechanics in Unity3D. Being a simple type of game I can very easily test aspects of Unity3D before using them in bigger games and it will also result in a little online browser game that should provide a little fun time on my sites (sometime in the future).

I already have several other ideas for games but, as always, work commitments and private stuff keep development moving at a slow pace.

The long wait

April 30, 2009 by

While awaiting a final release date for Squares upcoming Final Fantasy XIII I had a look around previous Final Fantasy releases and made a list.

Now I know it’s a bit unfair to leave out Final Fantasy XI and add the delay to Final Fantasy XII but for me MMORPG variant wasn’t really a Final Fantasy and since it came out pretty soon after Final Fantasy X it’s development had probably started long before FFX was finished.

At the same time FFX-2 was only half a new Final Fantasy because it built on an existing FF world. Probably a tribute to having two Final Fantasy’s in the pipeline at the same time. This would also explain the long wait from FFX.

Game System JP Release EU Release Gap to last game Gap EU to JAP release
Final Fantasy VII PSX 31.01.1997 17.11.1997 10 months
Final Fantasy VIII PSX 11.02.1999 27.10.1999 23 months 8 months
Final Fantasy IX PSX 07.07.2000 16.02.2001 17 months 7 months
Final Fantasy X PS2 19.07.2001 29.05.2002 12 months 10 months
Final Fantasy X-2 PS2 13.03.2003 20.02.2004 32 months 11 months
Final Fantasy XII PS2 16.03.2006 23.02.2007 36 months 11 months
Final Fantasy XIII PS3 Q4, 2009 Q2, 2010 42 months 6 months

What becomes clear is that, as the visuals get increasingly elaborate so does the development time increase. At the same time it isn’t a linear growth. What remains is that the european release often trails the initial release by nearly a whole year – time will tell if Sqare Enix manages to keep the european FFXIII inside the 2nd quarter of 2010 or if all the projected dates for FFXIII are completely wrong because Squenix may want to delay the world release to get the Xbox360 version ready at the same time as the PS3 version.

Partially new

March 4, 2009 by

Sooo, the front page is new. Something broke my website and since I was to lazy to find the problem I redid the front page with a nice slideshow which will do until I rebuild the rest of the site. The blog survived unscathed and I used the occasion to update it’s software, hoping that nothing broke on the way.

I also relaunched the Amiga Graphics Archive with my own gallery system because ZenPhoto got a bit too cumbersome for my taste.

Rock Band Star

November 6, 2008 by

I must admit that even I was not immune against the onslaught of music games. And that’s when I let myself get talked into Guitar Hero III and Rockband right after that, with me enjoying the latter rather more music wise.

Standing in front of the TV with a plastic guitar trying to look like a rockstar is something that takes getting used to but it has it’s charm and by now I think I am quite decent at this game. It has this incredible feeling of achievement and it is really something different than sitting on the sofa frantically pressing buttons on the Xbox360 controller.

Rock Band - Riseon - Angel OutfitRock Band - Riseon - Devil Outfit

One fun thing with Rockband was that you can customize your character much more freely than in Guitar Hero III. I have created two outfits until now that I quite like and I thought I’d share them here.

The “Angel” outfit was first and the final configuration after many experiments with white clothes. The “Devil” is more openhearted (not all that easy if you look at the stuff available in the Rockband shop) and I think it works perfectly together with the facepaint and tattoos.

One thing that bugs me with the Xbox360 is that it is not really possible to make screenshots except by taking photos of the TV. I’d love a photo mode like in GranTurismo for the PS2 where you could pose and save your pictures to a USB stick. The Xbox360 ought to have a screenshot button that would do this for you anytime you needed to but I guess that would be difficult because of copyright restrictions.

Symphonic Shades

August 25, 2008 by

Symphonic Shades 23. August 2008 playing video game music from Chris Hülsbeck with the WDR Rundfunk Orchestra

Symphonic Shades concert hall“Symphonic Shades” was Chris Hülsbeck’s dream of bringing a whole concert with his videogame music to life with a proper symphonic orchestra into reality. The first concert was sold out within days of it’s announcement and I was one of the lucky ones to find out in time to get a couple of tickets (later a second concert was announced for the same evening, three hours later, which sold out just as fast)

I was very excited to be at this concert as this was my very first videogame concert. I had already listened to renditions of Final Fantasy from Nobue Uematsu, but never live, and I was used to these concerts and remixes sometimes sounding a bit strange.
I am a great fand of Chris’s Amiga music and I have also bought nearly all of his Soundtrack CDs, although I have to say that his Style worked better with the rough and gritty sounding Amiga soundchip. Even the remixes of his own songs seldomly reached quality of the originals.

Tickets to the Symphonic Shades concertThat said I can safely claim that “Symphonic Shades” was worth it. The songs that were played worked well with the orchestral arrangement (most of the songs were arranged by Jonne Valtonen aka “Purple Motion”) with only the odd deviation into the strange.
“Gem’X” had a man hitting coffee cups for percussion which sounded a bit strange and den symphonic rendition of “Shades” had a real synthesizer playing lead which sounded a bit out of place and ever so slightly out of tune.
The only real letdown was the Turrican II theme which was supposed to be some sort of journey through several classical ages which was either to high for me or just simply failed to recreate the atmosphere and ‘power’ that was behind the original. I also expected the Turrican 3 Piano Suite to be good but it was souly played by a finnish piano virtuoso called Jari Salmela who raced through the theme rather faster than his fingers could move and I rather missed the orchestral accompaniment which would have given the ending theme so much more emotion.
Apart from these small gripes the songs were very good. The X-Out theme was great, R-Type was fantastic (although a slightly jumpy beat struck me as weird), Tunnel B1 was brilliant despite being fronted by a 5 minute percussion solo.
“Karawane der Elefanten” was the only new song and as such failed (in my eyes) to convey any sort of Hülsbeckiism, but that may only be me wanting to hear something I can recognize.

The complete playlist:

  1. Grand Monster Slam – Opening Fanfare
  2. X-Out – Main Theme
  3. Jim Power – Main Theme
  4. Tower of Babel
  5. Turrican 3 – Piano Suite
  6. Gem’X – Main Theme
  7. Apidya II – Suite
  8. R-Type – Main Theme
  9. Licht am Ende des Tunnels – Suite
  10. The Great Giana Sisters – Suite
  11. Tunnel B1 – Suite
  12. Symphonic Shades
  13. Karawane der Elefanten
  14. Turrican II Renderings – Main Theme

There will be a Soundtrack CD of this concert in late 2008 which is supposed to feature all Songs from this evening. As it will feature recordings made during the week up to the concert itself it should probably sound more balanced than the live concert and maybe the timing issues will also be corrected (I’m no expert in symphonic music but there were parts where some parts of the orchestra semed to lag behind the rest but because I have seen this happen in professional soundtrack recordings I am not quite sure if this isn’t some kind of special rhythm thing).

Symphonic Shades poster hanging outside the Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz in CologneI will have an eye out for the CD and I hope there will be new opportunities for videogame concerts when (or if) the Games Convention comes to Cologne next year (but there have been signs of Leipzig putting up a fight so there may be two events next year very close to oneanother that’ll both be only half baked).

It was nice seeing Chris Hüslbeck personally attending this event and we even managed to get him onto the stage for the final applause as he prefers to stay in the background. But as a musician he has made a name for himself and an impressive legacy ranging over two decades in the videogame industry.

One last thing that struck me when seeing the audience at the concert was that they were all round about the same age, my age, all with their love and enthusiasm for Amiga and C64 music and one thing dawned to me: man, we’re getting old Laughing