8bitrocket Diatribe July 27, 2008

New Royalty Free Music Loop Section!
Our brand new royalty free music loop section has just launched. I took the “BETA” off tonight and added another 100 or so new pieces of music. Over the last 10 years Steve and I have produced close to 300 custom songs for various projects. Some made it live, but many did not. What we have done is create 11khz 8bit mono versions that are easily downloadable and digested on the web. They all sound very close to the 44khz 16-bit stereo versions and are perfect to use in any Flash game project. Since they are already compressed, you should play with the custom sound export settings for each inside of Flash to ensure they will export and sound the way you like. One advantage of adding small sound files to your .FLA is much smaller .fla files than with 44khz wav source files . They are provided free of charge as long as we receive credit and a link back to our site. This is part of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The original 44khz 16-bit stereo versions are also available for a modest license fee if you cannot link back to our site or need a high quality version. Please email us if you have any questions. We are flexible and deals for multiple 44khz loops, etc can be struck if needed.

Micro Retro Mash-Up
I have spend about 2 and 1/2 hours so far on my 24 hour game challenge. The first game is going to be a modified version of Air-Sea Battle. I am going to create 8-10 24hour games and add them all to one casual game called 8bitrocket Micro Retro Mash-Up. The new music section took up all of my work time this weekend, so I didn’t make any progress on the game yet. I should be well into game object design in Fireworks by the time I write about it next.

Blitting Questions
I get a lot of email about our blitting tutorials. One of the most asked questions is whether it really is worth it to spend lot of game programming time to do a blit for your objects. I like all questions, and will even answer that one again any time via email, but here is my standard answer again. NO! If you have to ask the question, then it might not be right for you. If you only have a few game objects on your screen and need to make a game quickly, then there is no real reason to do a blit. BUT, if you get in the habit of using blitting for all of your arcade/action games, you will reap the benefits when it doesn’t make sense. Many people write to tell me that they timed it and using blitting was not faster that using standard display list operations. That is probably correct, especially if you read this. I did a lot of speed tests by profiling different types of rendering and blitting actually uses up MORE MEMORY and more PROCESSOR than using standard rendering. The point is that once you get passed a few 100 objects on the screen (very easy with particles), you will find that blitting will allow you to push more and more to the screen faster and faster. So, if you start using blitting for your simple games, you will be ready when you choose or are asked to create a game that demands more than the standard rendering engine can provide.

Classic Game Fonts
The Pickford brothers have been creating great games for many many years. During that time they have created some very nice bitmap fonts. Guess what? They want you to be able to use them too. Check then out and then give the rest of their site a thorough browse. The list of games they have made is simply amazing. I’m sure you have played at least one if not more.

Jquery, Javascript, CSS and DHTML
I’m not joking when I say that I have been developing on the web before there really was a web. Before I crossed over from day job developer to manager, I created a huge number of web applications – all before 2002!!! That means I have been mainly programming games for about 6 years rather than a mix of applications and games. In the 6 years since I last created a commercial .net application, much has changed and some things have stayed the same. Many of my old HTML and CSS tricks are no longer needed and some great new zarjaz exists (CSS Sprites anyone?). To create the new Music section for the site, I decided that I wanted to use JSON for data and then consume it with Jquery. I wanted to build the pages in standards compliant Javascript, XHTML and DHTML. JQuery is very intriguing, but after checking it out, I got the impression that I would need to serve up the JSON from a server side script (or use XML). Since I was starting on Friday night and needed it done by today, speed was of the essence. I didn’t want to make use of .net because I wanted the code would be portable. I changed from using JSON to using an array of objects to hold my data. After catching my breath today and doing further research, what I did was basically JSON without knowing it. Since the MOCHI game feed can be consumed by JSON, I plan to do do a tutorial next time on using JQuery to consume the Mochi Feed and display the games on a portal site.

Anyway, so the new music section does make use of standards compliant Javascript, DHTML, and CSS as much as I could muster. There 2 column layout uses the float right CSS attribute among other things. The sounds are played and looped with DHTML, but the looping adds an extra space at the and of the loop, so in essence it doesn’t loop the music properly. If anyone knows of a better way to use client-side script to loop and play .wav files then please send it along. I can’t use Flash because it doesn’t load in .wav files at run-time.

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