Deprecated…

I was feeling a little depressed last night, thought I’d wallow in the understanding that I was going to end up, moving on…

I’m working away, (again), at the moment. So I left my hotel and went for a walk, then into town to get something to eat. Found a nice homely Italian restaurant, and settled on some pasta, and beer, and wine, and desert, and Limoncello, and coffee…

I got back to the hotel and decided to Kickstart the ZX Spectrum Next. I figured that I might have a play around with it when it comes out. Started to think about finishing off the OpenSourceing of the codebase that I started previsouly. I then decided that I needed to give Timbles one last chance. I’d been unable to build LoM and DDR as 64 bit, but hadn’t tried Timbles. It failed! BUT, it failed differently. Hmmm… interesting.

Marmalade uses a project file called an MKB. The cross platform nature of it means that you create the actual project from the MKB file. So if I’m developing on Mac under XCode, I don’t hand the XCode project to someone developing on Windows, just the files and the MKB. From the MKB file they will be able to create a Visual Studio project.

This would be the only thing that would affect the build process of the different Apps. I took a look through the MKB file and found a couple of odd entries, entries that looked like they pertained to processor. These entries were in the iOS section. Now, I didn’t think there was anything in the project file for processor selection, that happens as part of the build process, AND I didn’t recognise the config options, I certainly hadn’t put them there. Now, I’ve had this before when an older version of Marmalade has added some options, or the options were necessary at some stage, but the system has evolved – yet the project has not been cleaned up.

I deleted the options and rebuilt… Success!

Quickly loaded the app onto my device… fail!

Not disheartended though, the failure was a memory issue. A quick check of my memory configs and I noticed that I don’t have enough memory allocated against the new devices ( as decided by screen resolution ). I’m testing on an iPhone7. Change, compile, deploy… fail!

It got further though… This time it is complaining that the TME databse is invalid. The MagicNo that I used to identify the database and to check endianness, is wrong. I figure that this is a 64 bit issue… I check my definitions of u32 ( being an unsigned 32 bit ) and the definition is unsigned long. Longs change to 64 bit, so I’m reading 8 bytes for the MagicNo and not 4 bytes, I should have used int. I check all the type definitions, check all the places that I’m using longs in the project. Change, compile, deploy… fail!

This time no error message, just crash straight out. So I add more logging and identify the image cache sorting routine. It’s using the c++ qsort function to sort a series of pointers to objects… in the code I noticed some funky casting going on, which happens to be using *(u32*) – that should be using longs. Change, compile, deploy… fail!

Hmmm… more tracing and I find another sort routine! So I change that and then search the code for any code that is doing a similar thing. Change, compile, deploy… success!

A quick play through and everything looks ok!

I upload to app store and the upload fails. It doesn’t like the binary. The reaon – it’s because the payload has the iTunesArtwork embedded in it, and Apple stopped doing that a while ago. Change, deploy, upload… success!

Download the app and everything is ok. So I push a version to external testing. This requires Apple to review and clear it. At 1:45 the app is cleared. I’m now ready to externally test. I really need to test against all the new devices that have been released by Apple over the last few years. Resolution will be the issue…

But… we’re on. This means that I can now push a new version of LoM and DDR out and buy myself a lot more time to transition to a new system.

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Becoming obsolete…

A few months ago I recieved an email from Marmalade detailing their intention to withdraw from the SDK market. Marmalade is the system I used to develop The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge in order to facilitate the cross platform nature of it. Using Marmalade gave me the ability to target iOS, OSX, Android, Windows, Windows Phone, Kindle, and Blackberry.

A month or so later, Marmalade confirmed that the SDK had been sold to another company, and that further support may become available from them.

That process has now taken place. I still have a month of my Marmalade licence left, and they have not turned off the Licence server to I can still build and continue to work. However no future support will come from them. The new company are offering a 12 month bridging licence at $100 more than my previous licence fees, but this also comes with no support. I’m also not convinced that they intend to be around for the long term. The main reason they appeared to by the Marmalade system was for internal development.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Google. Doomdark’s Revenge was now in breach of one of their policies and needed to be resubmitted or removed from the store. A quick recompile and the problem was solved.

Lats week I received an email from Apple. The Lords of Midnight was due to be removed from the store in 30 days. This is due to them culling old apps that were not being updated and/or were not 64 bit. In theory, a recompile would solved the problem, and as I had slowly added some new functionality, this should gain me a stayt of execution for possibly another 5 years.

The problem is, I can no longer build the App for iOS. I just cannot get the system to consitently build the app in 64bit mode.

So, unless I can resolve this issue within the next couple of weeks, it will mean that The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge will be dropping out of the stores – as no doubt, Google will soon require 64bit support. And as much as I would like to, it makes no sense for me to use time to port the games to another system in order to get them released. I also couldn’t do it in the timeframe that would stop the app leaving the store.

For me, worse than this is the affect it has on ill fated education game Timbles. This is something that I have slowly been working in for longer than I can remember. My own ineptness has stopped be getting the final push to get the game released. I’ve found myself tinkering with it to help with things like the UI and game flow, but have never fully let it go… well, without 64 bit support, it won’t see the light of day.

Again, it just makes no sense for me to spend time porting it to another system…

And with that, I feel that I am once more, stepping away from game development. I’m not sure my heart is in it. I’m not sure my heart has been in it for a long time now, and I just don’t have it within myself to do what is required to bring these three titles back from the bring.

Obsolete…

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Some time away…

I’ve not posted for nearly a year, seem to find it hard to have anything to say that isn’t contained within 140 chars or a general Facebook status update, and I feel that’s a shame. I’ve just returned from a week away travelling around Cornwall with my family, and I feel a little more energised, so I am going to attempt to do a little more… a little more writing, a little more coding, and a little more blogging.

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Humphrey’s Corner – Snails and Choo Choo Trains

Sometime around 1998/1999 I wandered into an off the beaten track card shop. I think Victoria and I were visiting somewhere, Stratford rings a bell, but I can’t be sure. The one thing that I do know, is that while I was in there I happen chanced upon some cards by an artist named Sally Hunter. The cards were Humphrey’s Corner.

Humph_IllustraotorHumphrey is a soft gentle little elephant. He lives in the house at the top of the hill with Mummy, Daddy, Sister Lottie and Baby Jack. When Humphrey was first born Daddy bought him a rabbit. His name is Mop. Humphrey takes Mop everywhere. He only has one ear now because Humphrey always sucked it when he was a baby.

I fell in love with those illustrations. I bought every Humphrey card in the shop. From that point on I made it my mission to search out new cards. They were far from common, and it was always a moment of joy if I found a new one anywhere. For a while I carried a print out of all the cards I had, so that I could cross reference them. I think they were under the Woodmansterne company at the time. I’ve never really been a collector, before or since.

Victoria thought I was mad. I still have a box piled high with unopened cards.

One day I sent a letter to Sally Hunter. Not sure why, just felt like I need to tell her how much I loved the pictures. Never done that before, never done it since. But for some reason it felt like the right thing to do.

Then, one day, I received a phone call. Sally Hunter actually phoned me to say thanks for the letter! I must admit to being a little starstruck and taken a back, so as I recall, I don’t think that I gave the best conversation! But I remember being amazed that she would take the time to make an actual phone call.

When Rebekah was born, it seemed only natural that we linked her to Humphrey, used his pictures, gave her a Humphrey and a Lottie. My mother even sent Rebekah a Humphrey birthday card for the first five years. With fatherhood now pressing down, I found myself being inspired by the pictures, and started writing poems to go with pictures. I wrote quite a few, and produced a small book with them in.

The cards became more successful and you could even pick the cards up in John Lewis. Then they disappeared for a while. When they reappeared under another company, I think the cards started to get reprinted. Mothercare started selling a lot of branded merchandise, and it seemed Humphrey was everywhere. And, I slowly lost contact with them, as you so often do.

I miss Humphrey, and Lottie, and Baby Jack, and Mop!

humphrey

Snails and Choo Choo Trains
At the bottom of the garden,
Where only I go to play,
There is a little railway track,
That I visit every day,
It has a little choo choo train,
That travels very fast,
It carries lots and lots of passengers,
To the bottom of the path,
It is used by all the garden snails,

To help them get about,
And when it pass by the station,
The chimney gives a shout,

WOOOOO…!
WOOOOO…!
Chush ta Kur…
Chush ta Kur…

The smoke fluffs up like cotton wool,
Filling up all the air,
Then the conductor asks to see the tickets,
To make sure everyone has paid their fare,
And when the journey is nearly over,
The choo choo slowly stops,
And the snails all go on their way,
And so do me and Mop.

Click here for more info and to have a chance to get an remarkable whiteboard paint set.

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Wood Fired Oven

When we moved home in 2012, it became a perfect opportunity to install a wood fired oven in the new garden. I had wanted one for a while and even visited River Cottage to learn how to make one from scratch using clay. When it finally came time to build it however, I decided to buy the Valoriana Kit from ‘Wood Fired Ovens – by Jamie Oliver’ and then build the housing to suit my requirements. I chose a Classic 100 as I felt the internal dimensions would give me plenty of cooking space without requiring too large a base that would be overpowering in the garden.

This has to be one of my favourite things, and possibly the best investment in the garden and house. We use it regularly through the summer cooking pizzas, baking bread, and roasting meats. We have cooked a multitude of dishes in it, and have slow cooked meats overnight. The 1000m oven is easily large enough to cook a full sunday meal, or a english breakfast for 6 adults. We no longer use a BBQ just choosing to cook over burning wood embers in the oven. We have also used it during the winter, and have to date, cooked three Christmas meals in it, including Turkey, Goose, and a full Salmon.

Wood-Oven-Building

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