Richard Jones' Log

Sun, 18 Sep 2005
PyWeek 1 is all over

The first PyWeek Game Programming Challenge is now finished, and the results are in.

I consider it a success, and I'll be running it again. I'll be making some small changes to the challenge format (mostly to do with the theme selection) and I'll definitely be providing more information to competitors next time about how to compete (how to plan, etc).

Phew. And there's some cool games in there too :)

It was interesting to see that the individual entries tended to be more innovative than the team entries.

category: Python | permanent link
Fri, 16 Sep 2005
HTPC update

It's been a while since the last HTPC update. After that post, I'd actually given up and turned the thing into my new desktop machine. The uber video card I own didn't fit in the case so well, but I did get it going ;)

Anyway, we now have a new TV which sports VGA and DVI inputs. Aha! No more relying on the TV-Out (which as far as I know still isn't fixed in the Unichrome drivers). I duly re-purpose the machine as HTPC again, and reinstall all the bits I need. Unfortunately, the IRQ cascade problem I ran into last time has just gotten worse, and the on-board VGA is uselessly slow. A crappy second-hand video card (with DVI output) later, and I'm now plugged into the TV.

Now, the TV docs say it's got a resolution of 1360x768 pixels, but there's no info on refresh rates. I know it does basic VESA modes, as a 1024x768x60 mode works. I spent about an hour trying to figure the modeline for a 1360x768 display, only to be told each time by the TV that the display was out of range. In desperation, I decided to go back to modes that I knew worked and then work up to 1360 from there, so I enabled a standard 1280x768 mode. Worked fine on the TV ... except the TV reports it as 1360x768. No amount of modeline tweaking can get a stable 1360-wide display, so I'm just sticking with 1280-wide and a slight display stretching.

From there, I've just been slowly configuring up MythTV. Got sound working (including pass-through of AC3 decoding on the optical audio link), DVDs play, and do wide-screen just fine (if the DVD is encoded correctly, hurm), our music collection is on there and playing. I can tune TV manually with xine, but haven't managed to configure MythTV to show TV yet. So almost there...

Mon, 12 Sep 2005
What I've been reading

Just finished The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks. Great sci-fi novel. Not set in the Culture universe like a lot of his others (this is the second of his sci-fi that's not). It's great to see that he can switch universes like this, and use a whole new set of rules to define the universe and the story that is set inside it. Mind-bendingly huge scope. Interesting characters. Good twists. A little tough to get through the first chapter or two (as is unfortunately the case with some of his books) but very rewarding.

Also read the second volume of Alias (graphic novel, nothing to do with the TV series). Another good read, very dark story and I felt the need to switch back to a more super-hero-ey story afterwards, so I then read Ara´┐Ża, which was a fun teen-oriented comic about a high-school girl who is recruited to be a super-hero. Some really funny moments, lots of pretty pictures, much biffo.

Aside: it's interesting how things change. I'm going to be attending a Q&A screening of Serenity tomorrow night, and one question I want to ask Joss Whedon is about how he's coping with all these fragile female characters now kicking arse. The whole point of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was that he was sick of the fragile female being the victim, and he wanted to turn the genre on its head by having her being the hero. Now, down the track, and everyone's doing it. Don't get me wrong, I think it's brilliant to see some balance in the hero stakes, but where do you go from here?

Currently reading a collection of short stories, got a couple of novels lined up and also slowly making my way through "How To Raise Girls" :)

category: News | permanent link
Sun, 04 Sep 2005
PyWeek Python Game Programming Challenge a wonderful success
POWER CORE, my team's entry

When I planned PyWeek I figured I'd have maybe 30 or so entrants. I ended up with 26 finalists (down from around 100 entrants). Wow.

Judging has started, but really the important part is over. We just get to play all the games now :)

I'm definitely going to do this again (in about 6 or 12 months). Some aspects of the challenge will change, but the core (1 week, from scratch, teams allowed, in python) is going to remain.

Congratulations to everyone who competed!

Sat, 03 Sep 2005
Python Game Programming Challenge nearing completion

Well, there's about 12 hours left of the challenge, and my team is pretty much done (I'm stuffed, it's too late for the artists to do anything and Toby's out for the evening). That's OK, because our final submission has been posted.

If you want to run it, you'll need to install python 2.4+, pygame 1.7.1+ and pyopengl (windows users get the "py24" pyopengl download). We've got issues with the game not working on some systems, and we'll be looking into that next week.

category: Python | permanent link