Richard Jones' Log

Wed, 26 Apr 2006
PyWeek website still MIA

Nelly's Rooftop Garden has been updated since the challenge. There's still no ETA on the website coming back though - I simply don't have any control over it :(

category: Python | permanent link
Thu, 20 Apr 2006 status

Got some hosting issues there. Am working on moving to a new host. Hopefully all will be well again in a couple of days.

category: Python | permanent link
Sun, 16 Apr 2006
PyWeek #2 winners announced

Yesterday the judging results were in and we have the winners for PyWeek #2:

Nelly's Rooftop Garden by Rushed
An amazing entry by a solo developer. His development diary on the pyweek site has some interesting insights into the evolution from "have made suitably beatiful steam, but no ideas for a game" through to "detailed subplot and deep metaphorical insight into the nature of humanity (must read between lines and have awful lot of imagination)."
Trip on the Funny Boat by Team Pekuja
A fine effort by team Pekuja. Again, the development diary has some details of how the game progressed through the week.

Congratulations to everyone who entered!

I've re-opened uploads for entrants to put up bugfixed or improved games (and there's already been one upload, which is great to see).

Next pyweek in late September!

category: Python | permanent link
Tue, 11 Apr 2006
Interview about PyWeek

Pekuja was interviewed about PyWeek, and there's some interesting stuff in there:

This is a bit weird, but I was interviewed by a podcast show called LaGER - GNU/Linux and Games/Entertainment Radio. I happened to suggest to them that they should talk a bit about PyWeek on the show, so they decided to invite me to talk about it since I happened to be around on their IRC channel when they started recording. ;-) We talk a bit about PyWeek and I tell them about my entry, etc. You can check the podcast's website, or you can just download the latest episode here: OGG version or MP3 version.

Just have to get over the "p-y-week" pronunciation :)

Another new thing in Python 2.5

This one isn't in the What's New yet, so I thought I'd mention it here. Python 2.5's distutils has a new "upload" command that was added during the 2005 PyCon sprints by Martin v. L�wis. It's way cool, and may be chained with any other distutils packaging command, so:

python2.5 sdist upload --sign
python2.5 bdist_wininst upload

These commands will generate a GPG-signed source distribution and windows distribution and upload them to the Cheese Shop.

I'm probably way too late, and don't really have time to look into this, but for PyWeek I wrote an HTTP uploader script that gives progress feedback. It doesn't play nicely with proxies, but otherwise seems to work well. Perhaps some enthusiastic soul might get something like this into 2.5 before it's released...

category: Python | permanent link
Wed, 05 Apr 2006

A little over a week ago, I started playing Oblivion. I've been consistently impressed since, and I've put in about 30 hours of play. I can see many, many hours of gameplay still to come. The developers have really opened up the whole idea of free play and roleplaying in computer games. Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is arguably one of the first games to introduce the idea of free play - that is, the idea that you can ignore what the game would like you to do and go off and do something else. My only real criticism of GTA was that it only let you play a criminal - you couldn't choose to be a cop, or even someone on the middle ground between the two. Most of your freedoms in the game tended towards criminal activity (with the notable exceptions of the stunts, fire fighting and ambulance missions - though even in the latter you had to steal the vehicles.)

Oblivion, on the other hand, doesn't pre-cast any ethical values onto the player. Once you enter the world, it's entirely up to you whether you play a Fine Upstanding Citizen, or a Sewer Dwelling Creature Of The Night. Or someone kinda in the middle. I intend to try for all three with separate characters (my current character falls into the middle - mostly just very pragmatic.) Indeed, you can even try to redeem yourself if you start down one path and the character then tends towards another.

It's a game with freedom to just wander around and explore or follow your destiny and save the world. Or both. I believe one of the criticisms in the prequel (Morrowind) was that the freedom was over-emphasised. Right from the start of Oblivion there's a little arrow on the map that you can choose to follow if you wish to go down the "save the world" storyline. Or you can ignore it. You can choose to just click on the map to "fast travel" to the next quest location, if you choose. Or you can walk/run/ride a horse there through the gorgeous landscape.

And it's so very, very pretty. There seems to be room for optimisation - I just updated to some newer beta drivers for my NVidia graphics card and got a significant performance boost.

The other amazing feat they've accomplished with Oblivion is the modding. Many of the modding tools are similar or the same as they were in Morrowind. Right from the start players were turning out little tweaks (or large modifications) to the gameplay in Oblivion. Personally, I now have mods installed that remove annoying messages in the interface, expand the size of the map viewer, make animals like rats a little less rabid, make plants you harvest be removed from the play world, make far-off landscape look a little prettier, turn off the message popups in the initial tutorial... nothing that substantively changes the game as yet, though you can get mods that change the way character levelling happens, or adds in whole new buildings with new items and NPCs inside, or even modifies the very first room you're in so it has a whole new door that lets you skip the opening tutorial dungeon entirely.

category: Games | permanent link
Sun, 02 Apr 2006
PyWeek #2 finished!

The second PyWeek game programming challenge finished this morning. I'm stoked with the results from this challenge - 33 games were submitted in the end for judging (up 7 on last year) and the overall quality and variety in the games is quite astonishing.

We're in judging mode for the next two weeks — all entrants who put in a final entry get to rate their peers in fun, innovation and production. I've made commenting compulsory this time so entrants can get a little more feedback than last time, so we'll see how that goes.

Before anyone asks, the next challenge will be in 6 months. I'll update the website when I put in some additional code some time in the next week (I want to put in a nice summary page of all the entries).

I had quite a lot of fun creating my little entry (which ended up being quite a simple implementation of a much larger idea). I spent maybe 2 to 4 hours each day on it, for a total of about 20-25 hours. The feedback I've had from everyone in the IRC channel and in the entry diaries is that it's generally been quite fun and people are really keen to do it again. Also, quite a lot of people have talked about a) that they've learnt a lot from the experience (some entrants were total Python newbies) and b) that they're going to continue working on their game or library. So it's been quite a successful exercise, I think.

The rest of my time last week was spent playing Oblivion, which is the subject of another post.

category: Python | permanent link