Sneak peek: New game in development for iPhone / iPod Touch

So I thought I would do a post where I can post updates as I make progress on this new game I am developing. The platform is of course the iPhone / iPod touch. That is all versions from the first iPhones up to the new iPhone 4. I may even do an iPad version later. I have really been putting some effort into learning more about OpenGL and more specifically the cocos2d engine. By starting this game I have learnt tons about particle effects, sprites and game logic. I am even having to dust out the cobwebs in my brain when it comes to mathematics! The shooting and accelerometer movement algorithms in this game took some effort to get right! Note that all graphics and code are original and done myself (i.e. all game content is self-made!) My graphic design abilities have definitely helped with regard to the making of my ship, enemy, back drop and other game graphics. I’ll post further updates as I go along. The name is going to stay secret till its released though 🙂

This is a top-down, accelerometer controlled space shooter, with fluid 60fps animation and great effects. Anyway, here are a few screenshots of what I have so far. Note that any text you see is not final and just there for testing purposes for now. The enemy ship and player graphics are also going to be refined before I submit this.

Note the Battlestar reference in my last screenshot 😀 Anyway, if you have any ideas or questions, feel free to post them below.

An update on what I have been busy with lately…

Thought I would do a quick blog post on what I have been busy with lately.

1. My first iPhone / iPod Touch game (released on Cydia for Jailbroken devices)

So this is something I have been busy with over the last few months – coding bits and pieces here and there whenever I get a bit of spare time on my hands. Its nothing special – just a simple Maze game. You use your device’s accelerometer to navigate your character through 5 maze levels. If you touch the walls you lose health. The longer you take to complete the maze, the more score you lose too. So the point is to get through in the quickest possible time without touching walls. I learnt the basics of how to work with the accelerometer, game loops, twitter integration, a little bit of PHP and mySQL for the Highscore system and a fair amount of general objectiveC code. There are a couple of bugs in the game at the moment (like the way you get a little stuck on walls – issue with my game loop) that I don’t really have time to sort out at the moment. But hopefully I’ll get more time in the near future to figure out my mistakes and fix these. You can check the game out in more detail here or you can download it for Jailbroken Apple devices on Cydia. Search for “Speed Maze”.

2. Moving

Well we’re moving house in the next month or so. We have found a place a little closer in to London that is going to offer far more room, an awesome garden, park across the road, and to top it all off, its in a nice quiet cal-de-sac. As such, I have been taking the opportunity to eBay some surpluss hardware and gadgets I have had lying around for a while. This includes various PCs and bits of hardware I have had lying around, plus around 20U worth of Dell PowerEdge servers! (See image above).

3. Other

My home VMware lab – I have also been building various ESX and vCenter labs here at home to play with in a non-production environment. This is great as it allows me to test all kinds of crazy things I really don’t want to try out at work! I have chopped and changed the hardware, but finally have two different labs going. One is a nested set up of virtualized ESX 4.0 hosts, running under a main ESX 4.0 host if you see what I mean.  The other is running on a PowerEdge 6850 server at the moment – 4 x Xeon 3.16GHz CPUs and 4GB RAM. The issue I have here is that there is no Intel VT (hardware virtualization) support on these processors. So although ESX 4.0 runs OK, I can only run 32-bit VMs for now. Exchange 2010 and other 64-bit VMs will have to stay on my main gaming PC for now then. I also found this great WordPress plugin by lynxbat on Twitter. Once set up, it displays statistics from your VMware ESX host or vCenter Server. You can take a look at my current lab stats on the right in the sidebar. Get the plugin over here: WP-vSphereStats. Apart from that, we have also been planning one or two soon to be taken, well deserved holidays. We’ll be off to France soon, after which we’ll be taking a nice long holiday in South Africa. Excited to see friends and family again soon!

Accessing network equipment via console cable from your ESX / linux server

Ever wondered how you can access your Cisco router, switch, or other network device over console cable from your ESX host / other linux machine? Obviously you’ll need a COM port on the physical hardware to start… Here’s a guide I wrote for SysAdmin-Talk. Have a read if you are interested in finding out how to achieve this. They have some other great articles and how-to’s posted up there. I have already found some extremely useful Exchange how-tos and guides and am looking forward to writing more for SysAdmin Talk!

SysAdmin Talk – Don’t Tear your Hair Out over Access to Cisco Devices

PST file importing hell – A better way to import PST files into Exchange

A short while ago I wrote an article for the SysAdmin section on Simple-Talk.com. The article covers a bad experience I had importing PST files into Exchange mailboxes specifically to get them archived by some specialist archiving software. A short while afterwards I was introduced to Red Gate’s PST Importer (via an early access program). After trying out the PST importer I was happy to report that the headaches involved with doing PST imports had basically been solved by this excellent bit of Software.

So if you are interested in reading the article, please hop on over to Simple-Talk.com and have a read!

My first Simple-Talk.com article – The Great PST Migration

My workspace and hardware zen

Everyone has their own relax or zen area where they like to spend time getting away from reality and de-stressing. One of mine just happens to be the same place where I get a lot of work done – my main gaming platform and home office area! Since we moved into our new flat, I found that there wasn’t much space to set up my PC. Last weekend I whipped out the old jigsaw and sliced a couple of inches off the side of my PC desk in order to get it to fit into this corner.

I then decided to neaten up and organise everything a bit to enhance my working conditions when I do work from home. I made a “ghetto” iPhone dock out of the packaging the phone came in, using the plastic dish the phone is cradled in. I cut out a small area at the bottom for the iPhone connector to fit in, then routed the cabling into the box itself, which sits diagonally in the lid of the box, flipped upside down. The cable then comes out the back and plugs in to the power socket behind my desk. This keeps the cabling nice and neat and I just plonk the phone down into the dock when I get home for a charge. I don’t need a USB connection to the PC as I have SSH enabled via a jailbreak – I therefore use Wifi access and WinSCP or SCP from Putty to transfer files between PC and phone.

Behind this is my touch sensitive desk lamp, in front of the dock is my work IP phone which connects up to our VOIP server. Then we have my main PC which consists of the following: Asus P45 P5Q motherboard, E8400 3.0GHz Core2Duo CPU overclocked to 3.6GHz in Summer and 4.0GHz in Winter. 4GB OCZ DDR800 RAM running at DDR1000 speeds and an ATI HD 4870 graphics card which has a custom flashed bios which overvolts the GPU and applies a generous overclock. I used to have a nice quiet watercooling loop in the PC, but sold it recently and went back to air cooling. I plan on doing another Watercooling build soon and will hopefully post the process and worklog here when I do. The other peripherals consist of a Dell 24″ LCD (1920×1200), G15 Keyboard and Logitech MX518 mouse.

I use this PC for just about everything – all my PC gaming, Web browsing, a little bit of programming and Virtualisation (On top of Windows 7 Professional it is running VMWare Server 2.0) with a variety of guest VMs that I use for testing and practising various Windows and Linux server technologies.

Other hardware I have lying around is an old Dell Poweredge 2U server which I run VMWare ESX 3.5 and a Dell Optiplex machine running uBuntu 8.04, with VMWare Server 2.0 for linux and a guest VM operating system running on top of that which runs uBuntu Server 9.04 and this very website.

Anyway here are a few photos of my nice clean new workspace.

Update, life and VMWare

So lately I have been quite busy. Here are some of the major events that have happened over the last six months.

1. Got married. We did all the planning in just under one month. As you can imagine there was a ton of stress involved! You wouldn’t believe the amount of documentation/admin work that is created when you get married.

2. Started a new job. I now have  a more challenging and stimulating job where I am learning much more than what I was at the last company. Minus the cushy Audi A3 2.0 TDI though.

I seem to have settled in to my new company quite well. Its been six months since I started.  The staff are friendly, we often have social get togethers after work, and I got to take my first long holiday (two weeks) since moving to the UK. I have been learning a lot and also taking more and more interest in VMWare. Incidently, my first encounter with VMWare was the free “Server” version back in 2007. I first got to play with ESX near the end of last year and since starting my new job I now have far more exposure – I work on Virtual Center all day managing VMs and our various ESX hosts and the clusters they form. I have also built myself my own little ESX lab at home complete with it’s own NAS/iSCSI datastore. All I need now is a second ESX host to build myself a HA/DRS cluster.

The other part of the VMWare story that has been keeping me busy is studying. Although I would ideally like to be concentrating on doing my VCP (VMWare Certified Professional) for vSphere, I have recently completed a VTSP (VMWare Technical Sales Professional) accreditation for my company. See the shiny new logo below. Next on the agenda is to complete the vSphere VCP course though! My company has agreed to send me for the mandatory class room training course, so hopefully this will be under way soon.

3. Moved house. After sharing a stunning two bedroom house in Wimbledon with a best friend and his fiancé, we all decided to go our separate ways earlier this year after my wife and I got married. It was quite a mission packing up and moving to a new area and even more of a mission to settle in to the new area and get all the new utility bills in place. The plus side is that we now have our own place to ourselves. I just need to break free from the public transport system. I can’t stand not having a company car any more and absolutely hate travelling on the bus to work when it is too cold to cycle in to work!