I'm going to GDC!

Euclidean Crisis took one of the 10 finalist spots at the IGF (Independent Games Festival) student game competition. There were 102 entries and we pwned at least 92 of them. Woot!

Another interesting stat is that out of the 10 finalists, the average amount of time spent on development was 7-8 months. Euclidean Crisis and Invalid Tangram were the only games completed in 3 months or less.

Stanford is the only major university represented in the finalists. Most entries come from the usual suspects: DigiPen and SMU.

We get a $500 travel stipend to San Jose. Since we only live 40 minutes away from there, probably we will get two or three limos and race them. I’m so excited, I’ve always wanted to go to the GDC.

Faster and faster

Holographic Storage

Longmont (CO) – Having shipped an apparently small number of holographic storage systems in late 2006 and in the first days of 2007, Inphase today said that it has signed Germany-based DSM as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of its Tapestry drives.

They’ve achieved a data density of 512 Gb/in^2, roughly double that of perpendicular hard drives. Their first product uses 300 GB disks (looks like a DVD), proof of concept has been demonstrated up to 1.2 TB.

Flash Memory 32 GB Solid State Disk

Seoul (Korea) – Samsung said that it has begun sampling of 50 nm NAND flash memory chips that are required to build the long announced 32 GB 2.5″ solid state disk (SSD). The flash drive is expected to replace traditional hard drives in higher end notebooks and offer significant advantages in data transfer rates as well as power consumption.

They are claiming 57 MB/s read, 32 MB/s write.

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Do you remember when a million was a large number? Last time I can remember thinking that was in 1991.

Convolution Colonel

After wrestling with it for the past week, I’ve finally got a mostly functional random dungeon generator for my roguelike game Witherwyn. I hit several serious set backs (such as my algorithm predictably terminating only at infinity). The upside, is that the new algorithm produces topologically more interesting mazes than its rather naive predecessor.

Most roguelike map generators are diggers. This means that they work by initially filling up the entire map with walls and then they cut out rooms and corridors. Working this way guarantees that every cell in the dungeon is reachable from any other cell (a very desirable trait in any level for any game). My previous attempt at a random dungeon generator was made in 2001 and was intended to run on a TI-89 (which it did). I was using it in Witherwyn for a while. It worked by hollowing out a large room in the middle of the map, then it entered into a loop:

1. Find a wall that was exposed only on one face
2. Decide to try to put a room or corridor here
3. See if this feature will fit
4. If so, add it, other go to step 1.

After several hundred iterations, you would get a nice-looking map. However, all the maps it produced had a starfish topology – i.e. all paths between distant cells in the map went through the center.

For version two, I am using the much more complicated scheme outlined here. Basically the steps are:

1. Generate a dense perfect maze (no cycles, all points reachable) using Hunt and Kill (or Prim’s, or similar algorithm)
2. Sparsify the maze by iteratively filling in dead ends
3. Remove x% of the dead ends in the maze by intentionally adding cycles
4. Place rooms in smart places

I am still working on the room-placing step. It involves a double convolution – when I try to add a room to the map – I try to place it in all possible positions and then score those positions based on whether they would cause the room to intersect another room, or an existing corridor. The whole thing is a gigantic mess of nested for loops (6 of them, I think). It would never run on the 12 Mhz TI-89. Having gotten the damn thing to work, I’m declaring myself the Convolution Colonel.

Now all I have to figure out is the best way to add doors…

Witherwyn Google Count: 94