7dRL is nearly upon us!

7dRL headerPrepare for awe and amazement next week, the annual 7 Day Roguelike Challenge is about to begin!

Once again people from all over the world will be slaving away heartily for 168 hours to produce a game of magnificent proportions. Or just trying to get something where an @ moves around the screen a bit without crashing.

My favorite thing about the 7dRL Challenge is exactly that, it’s a challenge, not a competition. Many people will try many things and success is a measure of personal achievement rather than external judging. While there is some judging, it’s meant to be a summary to help people find finished games they might be interested in rather than as a hard ranking of contestants.

This year the dates chosen are March 8-16th. I strongly recommend that you join in the fun and attempt to make a roguelike! This is the sort of event where risk of complete failure is pretty low and no matter what you’re bound to learn a lot in the attempt.

For more information on it, check out the official page: http://www.roguebasin.com/index.php?title=7DRL_Challenge_2014

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Java Programming Practice with a Winter Roguelike

Practice your Java!

I created this lab with the intent that someone with a basic knowledge of Java could practice various things from control statements to threading in any order they wanted.

a screenshot of the starting point for the final lab GUI

This is the minimally functional starting display for this lab

This project starts with a minimally functional game that runs out of the box. Users are then provided with several uncoupled instructions to add functionality to the game. Although you don’t need to, I highly recommend adding an input game loop to the game to allow for more than one move :)

The difficult portion of this lab is setting up the IDE to use an external library (SquidLib, provided in the download). For help with this, hit the link for NetBeans and Eclipse.

The lab zip file available here contains all of the needed source and library files, as well as a .pdf of the instructions.

Now get going on your ultimate winter themed roguelike!

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Why you should work with vector graphics even if you start with a non-vector file

Here’s a small demonstration of working with vector graphics as an intermediary step.

I started with a png of a Lorc icon from http://game-icons.net/ of a honeycomb style shield. There is an svg version available as well but I’ve found that due to some slight hackiness (which is normal) in the way the svg is made the following process turns out much better.

The original png version downloaded at maximum resolution.

The original png version downloaded at maximum resolution.


I then loaded this image into CorelDRAW X6 and used the Outline Trace – Detailed Logo option to get just the white part out. For most of the Lorc icons this is the best way to go so that the corners are properly captured. Also he has a (mostly observed) rule on himself when creating that the content is white on black.

I exported this white only vector as png file. You might not be able to actually see it since it’s white with a transparent background…

Click on it to see the attachment page if you can’t see it now.

The next step was importing the png file into Corel PaintShop Pro X5. Once in, I simply applied two different gradients to give me a basic colored icon.

The shield created by converting to a vector as an intermediate step.

The shield created by converting to a vector as an intermediate step.


For comparison, here is the same thing without the intermediate vectorizing step. Oh, and it took some fiddling with selecting and such to get it at all.

This is the version without going through a vector step.

This is the version without going through a vector step.


Notice that the version without the vector step has some awkward aliased edges and unblended interior segments. These are fixable but require more work and this version already took more time than the vectorized version.

Oh, and if you click on the images you’ll find that the vectorized version is super large and super crisp.

The moral of the story is that doing a simple vectorizing step on even a relatively large ping logo will vastly improve the final product as well as make it quite easy to work with!

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Interview with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants

How do you start an interview with a personal idol? By telling them they’re wrong!

Thrill as Keith and I correct John Flansburgh on where They Might Be Giants has toured. And on how Bozeman, MT smells!

Other topics covered include Tetris, dreams, They Might Be Giants on Rock Band, old technology, new technology, They Might Be Giants’ place in music history, John’s politics, The Firesign Theatre, what happens on The Bus, and sticking to the music. ‘Tis a grand and sweeping conversation!

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