SECTOR SHOCK

Well, for the last several weeks, there has been a FreeBASIC game programming competition in the forums at FB.net (view thread). I pleaded with my wife and was allowed to work on and submit an entry. I've sacrificed plenty of sleep to work on the project after she's gone to bed and ended up with what I feel is a solid, enjoyable arcade game with enough bonuses and gameplay strategies to provide some replay value. The title is SECTOR SHOCK, and it is your next favorite pasttime.

The restrictions of the competition were you had to use the original graphics and sound files from Space Invaders. I checked out what I had to work with and dove into brainstorming fast... during lulls in the day, over lunch break with Lyle, and while putting Christina to bed. The week before I had been playing with a game programming library called HGE that makes a lot of things easier... graphics, sound, frames, etc... it's just nice. Many thanks go to Dalex for porting HGE to FreeBASIC.

My final product is a top down space shooter that takes advantage of the arrow keys for movement, WASD for firing, and shift/ctrl for special features. The game features 6 types of enemies and their generators (portals), 3 types of weapons, 2 special maneuvers, and 2 special bonus types spread across 25 waves of combat. Each wave gets progressively harder, while your ship gets more lethal. There are a few different level types, and even some health and support resources that must be managed during gameplay. There are some fun particle effects to provide atmosphere, courtesy of the excellent HGE library without which my entry would not be near as good. I assure you the game is very beatable, as I've played through every level myself. Estimated play time is somewhere around 45 minutes to an hour.

I'm hoping to nab first price, which is 100 GBP, but even third prize is a nice bit of spending cash (Christmas presents, anyone?) when the U.S. dollar is so low. }:) I've gotta find more of these European competitions! I've listed my game in the competition thread with a few more details and credits, but I'll also put the screenshots and links up here. To view the other games entered, head to the competition page at FreeBasic Tracker (a FreeBASIC community site I'm developing... or have been for the last 1.5 years... ;)).

Eye candy:

Main menu goodness.


Probing an enemy to charge the ion cannon.


Wave introduction screen.


The final stage! Crazy!

So... what are you waiting for?

Download SECTOR SHOCK today, and post your high scores and best shot rates up here!

*If you have trouble starting this up, it may be your video card doesn't support the 320x240 full screen mode I'm using. You can adjust settings.ini to specify other screen modes, a windowed version, and any number of debug features. You can also use it to warp levels. Wink

Last Ubercart Alpha Version Reached

After a fine wrestling match in the office with CVS, tags, and project releases on d.o, I finally got the initial Alpha 8 release of Ubercart out the door. The last few alpha versions have seen marathons of development and feature additions, and this "minor" release is no different. Thanks in large part to Shawn and Lyle on the Ubercart team, we now have core functionality for file downloads and expirable role promotions (depending on a customer's purchases) and a good base of Workflow-ng integration providing administrators with a UI to create custom order workflows.

The two most requested features from folks I met at Drupalcon were related to the selling of digital goods and user account roles, and Shawn was able to use work that had already been contributed by third party developers (aymerick, CpILL, torgosPizza, and others) as a starting point for some really great module additions to the Ubercore. No time for a complete feature list here, and really no space either. Both modules are packed with excellent functionality, and we're already seeing a very positive response.

Warner Brothers Records has launched their first artist site using Ubercart selling Avenged Sevenfold fan club memberships with the new roles module and Workflow-ng support. Furthermore, the soon to be released redesign of Mike Nelson's RiffTrax will use Ubercart to sell downloads of the trax through a sharp looking custom catalog. The feedback and contributions from both these companies has been very helpful as we've implemented the new features.

So... all that combines together to make this one of the most exciting Ubercart releases to date. What's even better is this will be our last alpha version. We usually hit the minor versions pretty quick with install and update function fixes, but there will be no moving to Alpha 9. From here, we'll head to beta and beyond. Once we hit the 1.0 milestone, we'll set to work frantically updating Ubercart for Drupal 6 and finally get to a point where we can start using this for our own company's sites!

For those interested in demoing some of these new features, you can check out the recently revamped Ubercart Livetest. The site is running the latest code and demos a lot of the key features of Ubercart. (This product, for example, demos the file download system integrated with the product attribute system to sell music either as a CD or mp3 download.) Granted, I'm particularly proud of what goes on "under the hood" in the administrative menus and forms, but I'm also happy with the way the front end is working out. As elv pointed out indirectly through a post at g.d.o/usability, the user experience is very important, and we're working to make the customer user experience better with each new release.

So... feel free to check it out and post any bugs or suggestions in the appropriate forum, and while you're there, you may as well start dreaming of all the ways you can use Ubercart in your future projects. Wink

(Click here to view the news post at Ubercart.org. If this sounds like cool software to you, please vote for Ubercart at Intel's Cool Software site. We're not doing so bad in the rankings. 8))

Astronauts and Emergency Repair Missions...

Really, this news story covers the stuff my sci-fi dreams have been made of for years. I'm a total space fanatic, and the thought that somewhere high above us an astronaut is conducting an emergency repair mission on the International Space Station just blows my mind. These are the latest pioneers and adventurers, and I wish I had the opportunity to do some of the same work!

Check it out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7075784.stm

(Planning on setting up the first web development company and Bible study on the moon!)

EDIT: Found a cool image of the repair in action on Time's website.

Orange Jello is Mighty Nice

My wife made me some orange Jello with chopped up bananas and oranges in it. I posted before about how much I love pudding cups, and I still do. Let it also be known that I love Jello. A few interesting facts about eating Jello for your bedtime snack...

  • You might knock a cup of water over when you get Jello out of the refrigerator and try to set it on the kitchen table in the dark.
  • You might only find forks in the silverware drawer.
  • It's hard to eat Jello, especially the small pieces at the end, with a fork.
  • It's even harder to finish off a cup of Jello with a fork quietly so as to not wake your loving wife who made you the treat.
  • Jello should be eaten in a bowl, because a cup (once again) just isn't big enough!

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