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Death Rally: an analysis

Recently, I’ve become mildly addicted to the old-school top-down combat racing game Death Rally. Now, I’m not really prone to addiction, nor am I particularly good at racing games, so I found this quite interesting. What is it that makes Death Rally so compelling? What got me hooked, and kept... Continue reading

The manager

The manager is the third and final part of the game’s AI. He is responsible for the high-level strategic decisions. The core of the manager is very simple. He searches the surroundings for potential objectives, divides the benefit of each objective by the cost, then instructs the Navigator to head... Continue reading

The navigator

The Navigator is the part of the AI that is responsible for pathfinding. Actually, his algorithm is fairly straightforward. Given an objective by the Manager, the Navigator determines the shortest path through a series of waypoints that are defined in the level file, then hands each waypoint in turn to... Continue reading

Moving pictures

It’s difficult to do a screen-cast of an Android game. You have to root the device to even take a screenshot, and with the game taking up most of the CPU, a live video is out of the question. The emulator that ships with the SDK is too slow to... Continue reading


After deciding in which direction to take the game, the last few days have been a matter of implementing this. Due to various circumstances I haven’t been able to get as much done as I would’ve liked to, which is why this post is relatively short and fragmented. I started... Continue reading

Back to roots

Due to other activities, I haven’t gotten round to much coding in the last few days. However, a lot of thinking happened that is equally, if not more important. In spite of my previous discussion about the game’s objectives, I’ve decided to take the ‘shopping’ path after all. Since none... Continue reading

Improvements to blog comments

There was a permission problem that sometimes caused comments to be refused with a 500 Internal Server Error. This has now (hopefully) been resolved. I also added clickable links to the Atom feed for the blog, because some browsers (Chrome, and Firefox 4 beta, but strangely not Firefox 3) do... Continue reading

Intelligent design evolution

After seeing the last few posts, someone asked me why I’d gone from the original item-gathering concept to a more customary around-the-track racing game with more customary controls. This is a very good question, so in this post I’ll address some of the design decisions I made along the way.... Continue reading

Website has been launched!

Well then, since last Monday, the Frozen Fractal website is unofficially up. And since today, it’s official, because now there’s a blog post announcing it! You may wonder why there is already so much content here. Since I started Frozen Fractal, I’ve been keeping progress in a series of blog... Continue reading

Driver code

There are a handful of racing games that let you race purely against your own best time, but the majority of them let you race against others. It adds an element of competition that you don’t get when racing alone. The solitary racer is someone who spends hours trying to... Continue reading

More controls

Last time, I wrote: My brother probably expected the cart to make a turn if it was pushed on one side. Instead, it would spin around its axis, but keep moving in more or less the same direction! […] I will need to consider carefully whether this is going to... Continue reading


No updates last weekend, because I’ve been busy with the Rails Rumble: an annual contest to build a Ruby on Rails web application in 48 hours. Three friends and I built ChordWise, an online ear training and score reading practice application for musicians. Although there are some bugs to be... Continue reading


Although I’d previously determined that the controls of the cart worked nicely on a touch screen, they were nowhere near perfect yet. This is one of these aspects that can make or break a game, so it’s important to address it as early as possible. I developed two classes of... Continue reading

Texture compiler

After the model compiler comes the texture compiler. Decompressing a PNG file on Android is possible, but the loading code is simpler if the texture is already available in a format that we can feed directly to OpenGL. So I devised the GLT (GL Texture) format, and wrote a program... Continue reading

Model compiler

Having a level editor is a good start, but it’s not all. We need some kind of workflow to create models and textures and eventually get these to show up in the game. I started with the models. Since I know my way around Blender and it’s free, I decided... Continue reading

Level editor

Does a carpenter create his own hammers? Does a painter make his own brushes? Usually not, but a game developer often needs to build his own tools to get a particular job done. One of the most important tools to have is a level editor – you really don’t want... Continue reading

Change of direction

I’ve decided to change course. Drastically. The fluid engine works nicely, and although it’s fun to play with, it’s not exactly a game just yet. I had this idea, which I alluded to in my previous post, of making it into a creative construction game. You’d be a beaver, and... Continue reading

A little experiment

My mind is always full of ideas that I’ll never have time for. But occasionally, one of them does get executed. This is one of those times. The basic premise is: racing with shopping carts. It’s the controls that make it different. Like a real shopping cart, you push/pull with... Continue reading

Some facts about beavers

Beavers live on wood, bark and aquatic plants. I would have guessed that they ate fish, but they don’t. Beavers can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes. Beavers build dams to raise the water level, creating a still pond to provide them with shelter. They build a lodge... Continue reading

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