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Still alive

posted 23 Jun 2013, 13:40 by Jibb Smart
The last update on this website was in 2011, and the last KarBOOM update on IndieDB was not that much more recent. So, what's up with that?

Well, it's time I open up about some developments with KarBOOM that were supposed to be very small, and supposed to be surprise-worthy once complete, but at this rate it just looks to the outside world like I'm not doing anything.

Now, to be honest, for a while I actually have done almost nothing KarBOOM related as I was distracted with finishing my degree (which I did - a Bachelor of Science, Computer Science at York University, thanks very much!), as well as planning and executing a one-month short-term mission teaching life-skills in schools in Zambia with other students based in Toronto. But that doesn't account for all the time passed since the last update.

Prior to the release of the last update (in, uh... December 2011?), I spent a few weeks without access to my KarBOOM development computer and used that time to experiment with engine programming. In those few weeks I put together a shader-driven OpenGL-based renderer using SDL to compile and run on Windows, Mac and Linux, and I used assets and shaders from KarBOOM to test them. It looked great.

So while the last update on IndieDB was talking about custom-built physics and collision, I already had a decent cross-platform renderer working, and KarBOOM is in a relatively unique position in that it would gain almost nothing from fancy culling algorithms and the like, so it made sense to try and put the renderer and my physics and collision together to make KarBOOM run on Linux and Mac, as well as Windows.

In my free time and between other commitments (remember, I was studying full-time at the time) I continued to work on this version, hoping to have something playable out soon. And you know what? It was getting there, slowly but surely. But then came Unity 4 and support for Linux - a lack of support for Linux had been the reason I hadn't bothered with Unity3D yet, because the future of PC gaming is OS-agnostic, and while the engine I'd grown up on was Windows-only, adding Mac support alone is quite frankly not enough to pull me away from what I've already made the game on.

So I looked at all the work I'd done on my custom engine, acknowledged it as an incredible learning experience and very fruitful in that sense, but also reminded myself that I wanted to make games, not game engines, and this was taking a long time. So I decided to see how far I could get with the free version of Unity 4 in a week.

And the results were great. The scripting language is easy, the editor fairly useful (depending on your game's needs), and I've yet to settle on the appropriate balance of control vs simplicity when it comes to the shaders, but within a week I had a cross-platform, playable KarBOOM.

It still has quite a way to go to match the previous version. For aforementioned reasons, I've not had much time to commit to KarBOOM recently. I've finished university, and now I'm looking for a job. But I still want to finish KarBOOM. With support for Windows, Mac and Linux; a decent physics engine once you work around Unity's non-deterministic quirks and peculiarities; and a huge library of games already published with it, Unity 4 is the way to go. This is how KarBOOM is going to get done.
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