All posts by Tomáš Andrle

Building a PC

After many years of using Macs exclusively, I decided to build a PC.

I wanted to get a Windows machine for development purposes, play a few games and have some fun with the build.

The goal was to get a computer that would last a few years while keeping the budget reasonable. I started with a (hopefuly) future-proof motherboard and a solid CPU. Got a used GPU and reused a few older parts. Here’s what I ended up with:

CPU Ryzen 5 3600
MOTHERBOARD ASUS PRIME B550M-A
RAM 32GB DDR4 3200
GPU Sapphire RX 570 Nitro+ OC 8GB
STORAGE Kingston M.2 SSD 1TB
COOLING ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports DUO + 3× ARCTIC P12 PWM 120mm
PSU SilentiumPC Vero M2 Bronze 600W
CHASSIS SilentiumPC Signum SG1 TG
OS Windows 10 Professional

SilentiumPC Signum SG1 TG

There were no problems with the hardware, everything worked the first time. Phew!

The machine wasn’t very loud but I could hear the CPU fan constantly spinning up and down, reacting to small temperature changes. Very annoying. I adjusted the fan curves directly in BIOS. The fans now stay at the lowest possible speed until the temperature gets a bit higher. Turns out it never does! Even under sustained load the CPU only reaches about 45℃.

After installing Windows I used Chocolatey to install most 3rd party software and Steam to get some games.

Next step is adding another drive and installing Ubuntu on it. I’m not very much into Linux but Devastro 2 is already using SDL so I figured I might as well give it a try.

A Hackintosh is also an option but it’s low priority because I’m going to keep using my iMac for work anyway. It is a bit slower but also dead silent, and the 5K screen is hard to beat.

D2 log 035 – Moving assets

This week I took a dive into the Assets folder and organized it.

Up until now it had a flat structure and it was fine. But as I kept adding more new assets it became hard to keep track of everything.

First I grouped the obvious things, more or less at random. After a while I was able to see the bigger picture: how many of which assets there were and their relations. Based on that I designed a new folder structure and sorted the rest.

fx / particles / 
fx / explosions / 
fx / water / bubbles / 
ui / 9patch / 
ui / cursors / 
ui / hud / 
tiles / set1 /
tiles / set2 /

Many filenames didn’t make any sense so I decided on a new naming scheme which should be simple enough to maintain and easy to understand later.

It was a good opportunity to get rid of all the leftovers from Superforce which were used to quickly bootstrap the new project but weren’t referenced anymore.

Now I’m quite confident that I can manage all the new assets quickly and stay on top of things.

Further reading: HN, Gamasutra

D2 log 034 – Focus

I’ve been thinking about what to focus on to finish the game. I’m going to skip many of the assets I had originally planned and do just the essentials. There are other areas of the game that need my attention.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this project already. There have been big pauses and ups and downs. That’s fine. I learned a lot. But there are other projects I’d like to do next, so I need to make this one… finite.

Some hay bales from last week.

MagicaVoxel

I started playing around with MagicaVoxel a while ago. I’m not going to use it for Devastro 2 but I can imagine some city simulation game using graphics made this way: tiny & cute with great lighting. It constrains things in a way I would be happy to work with.

D2 log 033 – Rocks

There are so many ways to make rocks!

My moodboard is filled with beautiful artworks and techniques. To make my own rocks I started by refreshing my sculpting and texture painting skills in Blender. Time really flies when I’m playing with this stuff. It’s a lof fun.

However I needed to make a full range of shapes and formations in reasonable time. So I started over with procedural shapes, tweaked them using simple displacement-based edits and focused on making everything fit into the game nicely. Quite happy with the result.

D2 log 032 – Flora

Corn

Wheat

Trees

The trees took a long time to get right. I used the Modular Tree Addon for the trunks. I tried using hair particle effects to grow leaves like I did for the corn & wheat but it didn’t look right. So I took a small patch of leaves and stamped it all over the basic shape by using the shrinkwrap modifier. Laborious, yes, but also precise and 100% under my control.

Sketch icon in 3D

As part of my Blender practice session, I tried to re-create the icon of Sketch.

Here’s the original:

I found two different shapes that could match this image in an orthographic view.

One:

Two:

And a third shape with a flat top if we use a perspective camera and level it vertically with the mid section of the object:

To match the lighting I used a big front light and two emissive surfaces at the bottom and top. I skipped the highlighted edges to save time.

Final render:

And a little spinning GIF as a bonus:

 

 

D2 log 031 – Task management

I need some sort of system to help me finish this game. It is now actually easier to list the things to do, instead of things that are done.

Jira? No, thanks. Catnap Games is not a large company. It’s just me. Hopefully I will get some help with the audio but that’s it. An Excel table is just fine.

Columns:

  • Category
  • Subcategory
  • Item
  • Completion %

Rows:

  • About a hundred now
  • Edit as needed

The completion % is a rough estimate but 100% means truly done, I don’t need to touch it again. All items at 100% means the game is actually ready to ship (build & upload).

Mobile app testing checklist

Some things to check before releasing a mobile application. Slightly iOS specific.

Startup

  • Start in different orientations
  • Start app with no internet connection
  • Delete all user data. Is the first start behaving correctly?
  • Install and use previous version of app. User data migrated correctly?

OS

  • Dark mode support working? Switching on any screen?
  • OS-wide font size applied?
  • Locale/language changes applied correctly?
  • Accesibility labels for everything?

Network

  • Initial start without internet
  • Try using each page of the app without internet
  • Turn off internet, go back to previous page
  • Is network outage during video playback handled well?
  • Wake up after a long time (week-month). Detected & refreshed?
  • Is the app usable on a slow or unreliable network connection?

Layout & navigation

  • Rotate back and forth each page
  • Rotate and go back to previous page
  • Play fullscreen video, rotate during playback, close. Layout updated correctly?
  • Blurry text anywhere? Enable highlighting of misaligned layers in Simulator
  • During a call, does the double height status bar break any layouts?
  • Tap a button 2-3 times really quickly. Only one screen instance created?
  • Look for navigation loops. Detail -> push info -> push detail -> push info etc.

Buttons

  • All buttons/elements trigger on touch up and NOT touch down?
  • All disabled/highlighted/hover/pushed states displayed correctly?
  • Are buttons large enough to hit on small screen?

Lists & views

  • Do all lists scroll to top after changing the sorting order?
  • Do all views show an “empty results” text when no data is available?
  • Showing a loading indicator when loading data takes >1s?

Tracking

  • Is analytics tracking working? Correct tracking IDs?
  • Crash reports actually sent and saved? Symbolication working?

Prolonged usage

  • Keep app running, use whole day, overnight. Still performing well?
  • Open & close a screen (open detail, go back). Repeat ~15 times. If it leaks memory it can eventually lead to a crash.

Input fields

  • Is the keyboard mode correct for all input fields?
  • Email keyboard layout for email input, numeric for phone numbers etc.
  • Placeholder text in fields that need it?
  • Is there a clear “X” button in fields that need it?
  • In email input fields, is the email format verified?
  • If maximum length is specified for fields, is the limit really applied? Even when a longer text is pasted? From input fields to local storage, to server and back?
  • If no maximum was specified, does the app actually work with very long inputs, long words, special characters? Does it break any layout, internal DB, server backend API?
  • Is it easy to hide the onscreen keyboard when needed?
  • Does auto-completion work as it should? Does it limit the number of results after typing a single letter? Does input still work when auto-completion API is offline?

Search input

  • Make a search, open one of the results, go back. Is the search text still there?
  • Does search for empty string work correctly? Single letter? Spaces? Special @#?:/ unicode emoji characters? Extra long strings? Extra long words?

Interruptions

  • Put phone to sleep and on again
  • Switch to another app and back
  • Simulate memory warning, go back to previous page
  • Simulate incoming call. App resumes correctly when call ends?

Date & time

  • Date formatting correct for different locale settings? No broken layouts?
  • Does it handle daylight saving changes correctly? Really?
  • Does it handle timezone changes correctly? Start app, suspend, change timezone, resume app. Works?

Sharing

  • Does social sharing actually work? Posts appear on FB/Twitter site? Correct title, body, images, links?
  • Correct Facebook app ID?
  • Does sharing work with and without the official Facebook/Twitter app installed on the device? Automatic login through the app?
  • Does the app show correct feedback message after sending/cancelling/failing?
  • Is the sharing email correctly formatted? In GMail, Outlook and Mail? On a mobile device?

Storage & output

  • If the app has some web caching mechanism, does it correctly restrict itself from using too much storage?
  • Does the app behave correctly when the device storage is full? (Load music or videos to your device to fill it up OR place simulator folder in a APFS volume/disk image with limited size)
  • Does the app correctly handle having its cache folders deleted by iOS? (Run in simulator and delete using Finder)
  • Does the app limit its console output in Release mode? ie. no excess debug information printed – only errors.

Legal

  • Acknowledgements page up to date with all 3rd party code/asset licensing info?
  • Is it possible to turn off usage tracking? Is the user warned about usage tracking on first start?
  • If the app has a built-in browser, is it OK to receive a 17+ rating in the app store?

OS versions

  • Fully functional on all supported OS versions?
  • Is it possible to run and use the last supported version on older devices/systems? Legacy API?

Devices

  • Does the app support all screen sizes in both orientations?