By Jeff Fulton
Steve and I were asked to speak at DevCon5 again this last week. We did two sessions on the HTML5 Canvas. At the same time, we are working on a second edition of our O'Reilly HTML5 Canvas Book. We were able to pull content from the betas we are working on for the new edition and use them for the sessions, so it was a win-win just to work on the presentations. It helped us focus on what new is going on with the Canvas and HTML5 gaming communities and pin-point areas we felt needed to be covered. What we prepared was actually one lone 3 hour session, made up of 200 slides and 700MB of demo files.
The first session was an introduction to the Canvas and a new Hello World App (that is going to be part of the second edition of our book). The 2nd session focused on game and app demos demonstrating what can be accomplished in the 2d context . We spend most of this session showing off new game demos for the 2nd edition of the book that all play on and iPad with full frame rates (these will also feature heavily in the new edition).
We flew up Wednesday (but did not have to present until Thursday morning) and were supposed to leave at 11:30. Of course as soon as we got to the gate, we found that but our first flight was cancelled. We were forced onto a later flight. There were no other incidents boarding, and the Southwest staff was excellent as always.
By Steve Fulton
By Jeff Fulton
Four HTML5 Canvas games with touch controls running from our web site as full screen apps on an iPad 2. Notice the smooth performance in Mobile Safari. These also run on the Kindle Fire web browser with similar performance.
Music: "Short Term Memory Lane" by JJ And The Real Jerks.
According to Pocket Gamer, Atari is overwhelmed with entries (87 in all) so they are delaying the announcement of the semi-finalists until May 1st. This gives me an extra week to formulate bizarre Atari dreams and worry myself sick before we hear the news. With 87 ideas floating around over there at the Atari HQ, we have a less than 20% chance (based on pure numbers) to make it to the next round. Plus, many of those entries probably included demos, while ours did not.
Still, I'm happy with the design of our entry, as it is something I would love to play myself, so I hope that is enough to get us through. If not, we'll probably share our idea here next week. Then you, our faithful readers, can judge its relative' merits on your own.
Tomorrow, Atari announces the semi-finalists in their Pong Developer Challenge. I had planned to create a demo for the contest, but instead, got sucked into writing a design document that took me the better part of a week, and the demo never materialized. I felt really good about it, until I started the submission process on Atari's site. When filling out the form, there was a box to check if you had a demo to submit. For some reason, unbeknownst to myself, I checked the box. I don't remember checking it, but for some reason, I did.
I was really pleased with our submission until Atari sent us an email asking to see our demo. "Frack!" I thought, we'll have to email them back and say there is no demo. It's always great to disappoint people running a contest with your very first interaction.
I hadn't really thought about this submission faux pas, until last night, when I had a vivid dream about the contest. I was in a room with all the entries from other developers. Each submission was housed in an ornate wood box with the name of the developer stamped into a golden metal plate on the front panel. The boxes were all beautiful, handcrafted, and stunningly attractive. I scanned the names on the boxes to find ours, but it was not there. Of course not, they contained demos! We did not submit one.
In my dream I looked done onto a table, and saw a cheap blue folder, the kind that I would have used for term paper in college. Written on the front on a an Avery label was: "Pong Returns, Producto Studios, Steve Fulton" . It was the only folder on the table. Obviously, we were the only ones to not submit a demo I surmised, then, this was the table of disappointments. There was a post-it note attached to the folder. I tried to read it, but as my eyes focused on the words, I began to fall through a tunnel, and then I woke up.
When I opened my eyes, I instantly knew where I had seen those ornate wooden boxes before. At the cemetery last year, when we were making plans for my dad's ashes, I insisted that they be delivered in a wooden box with a carving of a mountain forest on the front. Even though we planned to have my dad's ashes spread over the desert, I still wanted him to come home in something nice to stay in while we made plans. My fondest memories of him are from the time we spent outdoors, so it seemed appropriate. If we had not bought that box, he would have come home in cheap blue box, with his name written on an Avery label on the front. The folder on the table in my dream reminded me of one of those boxes: sad, nondescript, and disappointing.
We find out tomorrow if we move to the next level of the Pong Developer Challenge. If my dream is any indication, this will be the next to last diary entry for the Atari Pong Developer Challenge. However, there still might be hope. What was written on the post-it note I could not read in my dream? Was it some kind of encouragement or warning from my sub-conscience? Of course, it was all just a dream right? A mix long past memories and recent events fueled by fatigue and my late night snack of Wheat Thins and Fig Newtons. It doesn't mean anything.
Jeff and I are very excited to be speaking again at DevCon5 Santa Clara, next week. We will be speaking at two sessions the morning of Thursday the 26th. We have been busy for the past few days completely revamping our presentation from last December so we can focus on new developments in the world of the HTML5 Canvas, and specifically about the area of mobile web and mobile web games. We look forward to meeting you there!
Below is a video from Carl Ford who, along with Bonnie Kravis, are the masterminds behind DevCon5. Bonnie and Carl are two of the finest we have met while on this HTML5 journey, and we are honored that they have invited us back again for another round.
I just found out about this today: Lost Cast: HTML5 Game Development Podcast from the guys over at Lost Decade Games. They have been creating podcasts since last November, and so far they are really good! You should go check them out.
By Steve Fulton
In 1982, during the halcyon days of the original Atari, Bob Stein worked with pioneering computer scientist Alan Kaye in the Atari Advanced Research Labs. One of their projects was to imagine the future of encyclopedias. In a set of incredible images from 30 years ago, Stein just posted a few days ago, The Atari Advanced Research Labs proposed what the future might look like. In many ways, they were spot-on. My favorite is included above. It shows digitally tricked-out, a 3rd grade classroom that resembles my wife's current 4th classroom so much, it's astounding.
Here is something to think about this: What would have happened if Atari had not melted down in December 1982, but instead had continued through the 80's and 90's as a top R&D and electronics firm? Would they be like Sony or Microsoft today?
It's also very interesting to note that Alan Kaye commented on the post yesterday by saying this:
"People reading this should realize that there was nothing new to be thought up to make these scenarios (they were for Warner execs who were not sophisticated about computers despite having bought Atari).
The ideas were all drawn (pretty much without exception) from the visions and demonstrations of the ARPA-IPTO research community in the 1960s, ca 1968. Main sources were Licklider, Taylor, Doug Engelbart, Nicholas Negroponte, Ivan Sutherland, Seymour Papert, some of my ideas back then (such as the wireless tablet computer), and many others from our colleagues."
Of course, what Mr. Kaye misses is the fact that everything has Atari symbols on it, that's what makes it cool!
You can see and read the whole thing over here. It makes for fascinating reading and amazing viewing..
I worked all weekend on our submission for the Atari Pong Developer Challenge, and just submitted it a few minutes ago Even though there were complaints from some people about the terms and conditions for the contest, ultimately we decided it would be a fun and challenging project to tackle.
I'm not sure if we are allowed to describe our entry (as I believe there is a public vote for the finals), but I will say this: trying to come-up with game that takes Pong into the 21st century, while trying to stay within the the nostalgic and retro ideals of 8bitrocket.com was quite a challenge.
Did any of you attempt an entry? If not, why not? We'd like to hear from you.
In college at CSULB I took a poetry writing class with Raphael "Ray" Zepeda. He was (and is) part of the" Long Beach Poetry Scene" of the 80's and 90's. He specialized in (and still does, I believe) what he called "stand-up poetry": funny little "poems" with lots of dialogue and few adjectives that chronicled his life growing up in LA and beyond. He received some acclaim years ago for a poem he wrote named "Cowboys And Indians", that drips with atmosphere of LA in the 60's and 70's. I recall that he liked a poem I wrote for his class named "The Gunslinger" about my dad being upset when our family cat getting mauled by a neighborhood dog. Anyway, yesterday I saw that Zepeda released a book of his poetry in 2009 ago named Tao Driver, and I bought it on Amazon. My recollection of Mr. Zapeda inspired me to write this piece about a day I recall in Jr. High.
Nerd Coming Out Party
"Hey, that's cool! ColecoVision looks radical!" Alex sad.
I held the magazine with both hands, scanning every word on the pages
Greg and Alex looked over my shoulders
"What's the 5200?" Alex asked, pointing at the next page
"It's Atari's new system. It's supposed to kick the 2600's butt"
I turned the page.
I was sitting on the square planter near the quad
Christine and Laura were on the other side, ignoring us
Handball was being played all around me
I was reading about Tennis by Activision
Alex and Greg hunkered down around my sides, trying to read the pages
"Demon Attack looks bitchen!'" Alex Said
Kenny and Jeff joined us.
"I asked my dad for River Raid and Vanguard for Christmas" I said to everyone
"Cool!" Alex replied
"You guys wanna come over and type a game into my 400 today" Kenny asked everyone
"Sure!!" Jeff and I both replied at the same time
"My dad is getting us the new Intellivoice games from work this year" Greg said to everyone
No one said anything back
"My dad thinks the Apple II is enough for us" Alex said to everyone.
"The Apple II is awesome!" I told him
"Yeah, but you can't play Pitfall! on it" Alex replied
"But you can play Artworx Strip Poker !" Kenny said
"Not with my mom around" Alex said
I turned to the next page.
It had an advertisement for Zaxxon on it
"Zaxxon has the best graphics in the arcade" someone said
From the other side of the planter I heard girls talking
"What are they looking at?" Christine asked Laura
"Some video game magazine" Laura replied
"Oh Gawd, what dorks" Christine said back
I kept reading the magazine until the bell rang
Snack time was over