New Computer Gaming Initiative / Latest Updates
16/03/2001: I've done the very low-level coding of the 3D routines needed for subgame I. The subgame itself is less than impressive (the asteroids look manky and you can fly straight through them) but it has potential and I'm working on it. Oops! I almost forgot to say what subgame I actually is - it's essentially a 3D version of distribution 2a.
13/03/2001: Chris Johnson has made some minor modifcations to the main game so I am uploading a new version. At last I have an idea for what subgame I is going to be, but you'll probably see more on that in the coming few weeks.
31/01/2001: I've copied some of the infrastructure from subgame N into subgame C, so it at least potentially has levels.
22/01/2001: The developer's version is now entirely in stereo and the screen is no longer blank while the game is loading. Even the Tetris-style game is in stereo...
13/01/2001: Chris Johnson had the bright idea of putting subgame-N-style balls into the main game as enemies. So he programmed it himself. So I'm putting up a new developers' version.
10/01/2001: I have made the spark turrets a bit better, as evidenced by the new (rather experimental) level 100.
09/01/2001: You get into technical mode by hitting Ctrl-T on the title-screen, by the way. The new developer's version incorporates a few things, some half-complete, in the main game, plus a few new levels, plus a re-ordering of the levels in subgame N to make the learning-curve a bit better. Look out for something spicy in Pacman as well.
01/01/2001: I have added in some pipe-like structures which disintegrate when things near them (such as fragile blocks) are destroyed. There are also more types of fragile wall, of varying hardness. Most of these things are not yet demonstrated in the levels given, but if you activate techinical mode you can find them using the level designer.
22/12/2000: I have made the balls counter on subgame N much more stylish. That's about it, apart from the odd bug-fix.
20/12/2000: Yes, finally another update! Together with Chris Johnson, I have added a new weapon: "flame mines" to the shop. I have also fiddled the prices of the spreadfire-like weapons so that they are no longer too easy to buy and I've written some developer's notes to accompany the source code (they are in the same file to download). Finally, I have put back the old distribution 2a credits, slightly updated, by popular demand.
03/12/2000: I have added a troubleshooting page because some people have complained about not being able to download successfully from the website in its new location. I ought to be able to do some more serious updates to the game itself over my Chrsitmas vacation.
10/11/2000: A few more improvements to the subgame G graphics... it's still all generated within the program, but I've used better equations to make it look less tacky.
10/11/2000: The graphics have been improved somewhat in subgame G, mainly so that Chris Johnson will won't start making comments about the ZX Spectrum... I've also made the balls bounce off each other, which could be interesting for multiplayer games.
09/11/2000: There is now a split-screen mode for multi-players in subgame G.
06/11/2000: I have now made a start on coding subgame G. It looks like it has the potential to be a very good game - perhaps even as good as subgame N.
23/10/2000: I have now cunningly made PacMan not interfere with the block puzzle so that blocks can still be pushed around from within the PacMan grid. I've also fixed a load of annoying bugs, so for instance the macropixels (or "annoying squares", as they are better known) can no longer move through walls. There is also a self-destruct command: simply hold down the weapon-select key for about 5 seconds and your ship will explode, resetting the block puzzle in the process.
11/10/2000: Fixed a stupid bug in the developer's version which prevented levels from being completed in certain situations.
08/10/2000: Quite a few major improvements have been made to PacMan: the grid now grows gradually to fill the screen, and there are also ghosts.
25/09/2000: Another one of Chris Johnson's inventions, a new type of enemy, has been coded in as type 'BC' in the level editor. It really is very good.
15/09/2000: Chris Johnson has added in a new type of enemy and some cool bleeping sounds for the Tetris-style subgame C.
03/09/2000: I have added in some levels (8 to 11) designed by Micheal Spencer, and also the destroy-able walls he requested to feature in one of them.
31/08/2000: The NCGi window now minimises properly and I've also corrected one or two other minor bugs.
24/08/2000: Have sorted out a few bugs in subgame C and have also made things disintegrate between the green arrows (again).
21/08/2000: I have redesigned most of the subgame C game engine so that the action does not stop just because a block has landed. The blocks also vapourise nicely into flying pixels when matched. Also look out for the prodding weapon in the main game.
02/08/2000: Pacman now has a mouth that opens and closes. (A featureless green circle just didn't cut it).
01/08/2000: A couple of bug-fixes: you can now enter the shop instead of bouncing off it, and bizarrely-named temporary files are not generated by the program.
29/07/2000: Shedloads of bug-fixes and interface improvements (mostly done in South Korea), and a bizarre Pac-man experiment in level 1. Also, thanks to Thomas Barnet-Lamb pointing something out about the C language, the game is significantly faster now than it used to be (constant variables, function calls, mumble mumble).
09/07/2000: Fixed another bug in the level editor, and in the rest of the game. Put in a new explosion effect and a few other little things.
01/07/2000: Fixed a minor bug in the level editor. Nothing too exciting.
30/06/2000: The main game is now much more stable and crashes less frequently now that I've eliminated a couple of bugs that caused intermittant crashes when there is a lot on the screen at once.
29/06/2000: Several new weapons are available in the shop, including a "Star Wars" style light-sabre; a pulse for destroying all the self-replicating mines on the screen and upgradable coloured lasers.
26/06/2000: There are now also turrets on the walls that fire bullets at you in the main game, and some more new levels. I've also made the spiky things that explode into rockets sometimes produce more than one type of rocket. Improvements in the collision handling mean that these rockets no longer burrow through the walls!
20/06/2000: I added in movable blocks that have to all be matched up before the level can be completed. You move these by running your ship into them. I also managed to add in magnets that pull your ship over in one direction. All of these features are demonstrated in the five new levels - I have scrapped the old ones.
19/06/2000: Some internal reorganisations of the way that the game stores levels resulted in the Developer's Version .zip file shrinking from 80k to 73k, so I uploaded the newer version.
18/06/2000: The shop now functions properly as a square that any ship can enter, although right now you have to persevere to actually get out of the shop again. The money display now only appears above your ship when you collect some, and I also sorted out one or two other minor bugs.
15/06/2000: I have now added an additional two types of shield to the shop as upgrades on the normal type.
11/06/2000: You can now actually buy SHIELDS from the shop, but they're very expensive (at least 0.31 in total) because you have to get a generator, a capacitor and some shield energy to get them working. There is also an auto-recharge unit that will recharge your shields at a low rate during the game, but it isn't cheap.
10/06/2000: The solid green "flying saucers" are now much more deadly and take several hits to kill.
09/06/2000: Several changes made in the newest version: two bug-fixes in Particles; one bug-fix in subgame C; and some modifications meaning that you don't ever get "swamped" by bonuses, coins, or flashing letters in the main game. The coins now come in three flavours (bronze=0.01; silver=0.02; gold=0.05), and are a lot smaller than they used to be.
05/06/2000: OK, subgame C now has a point-scoring system, but no levels. I've added in a "shop" to the main game; for now, you access it by pressing 'L' and only player 1 can buy anything, but this should change soon. The main reason for the massive delay in bringing a new version out is that I've been taking part in an intensive maths competition (see "About Me" page) and have also hit a slight crisis in the evolutionary development of the code (see my e-mail to a few NCGi fans on this subject).
16/04/2000: I have now begun working on the engine for subgame C. At the moment it is a little wierd to play and you don't get any points, but it's still interesting, so I thought I'd put it up as a new DV.
14/04/2000: I've gone back to the main game to add in two more types of enemy. They're actually from the 80's classic game "Defender", but of course I have written my own code for them so there is no copyright stuff to worry about. Also, there are now about 19 proper levels of the main game, and I highly recommend trying 17 and 19, which let you really get to grips with the new baddies.
13/04/2000: Cool new feature in developer's version: if you collect runs of same-colour particles or straights of consecutive rainbow-coloured particles in subgame N, you will get a bonus at the end of the level if you have passed it.
12/04/2000: I've uploaded a new developer's version, with some minor tweaks to the scoring system. More importantly, the screenshots page now actually has some pictures on it!
05/04/2000: There is now a bonus screen when you leave subgame N.
04/04/2000: Subgame N now no longer crashes after level N25, in fact, subgame N now has virtually infinitely many levels.
01/04/2000: Asteroids is working again, with a few little improvements - see level 6 for details.
30/03/2000: All of the first 25 levels of subgame N are now complete, but right now the main asteroids game isn't entirely functional, so only the first 6 levels are there.
17/03/2000: Added an information screen before first entering subgame N, which explains the rules and what you have to do.
14/03/2000: Added subgame levels N16-18, N20, N23 and N24.
11/03/2000: New look to the website, also a new DV with slightly different fonts in it.
10/03/2000: Some details cleared up meaning that the DV is now a playable (partially made) game and that that "intermediate version" is no longer necessary.
06/03/2000: All of the first 15 levels of subgame N are now complete (60%).
04/03/2000: I have now made subgame levels N1-6, N8, N10, N11, N13 and N15. Subgame N will eventually have 25 levels, so I'm 44% of the way there.
01/03/2000: Some minor improvements in the DV that many people won't notice, except perhaps for the instant plotting of the title-screen fractal after the computer generates it.
08/02/2000: Subgame N now has 3 proper levels, with the highly original names of N1, N2 and N3. I'm hoping for 25 in total and have already planned out the first 10.
08/02/2000: I got rid of all those annoying bugs!! New DV is uploaded. Never trust your C compiler with automatically allocating memory for arrays... it always manages to foul it up somehow!
04/02/2000: Many bug-fixes to the DV, many new bugs introduced. Definitely a work in progress.
01/02/2000: Added a new developer's version, although it is rather strange, with the beginnings of one of the sub-games in it, so I left the previous version on as the "intermediate version", which is still quite playable. The DV is still worth downloading, though, if only for curiousity value.
25/01/2000: A few bug-fixes, including the ESCAPE key to quit straight back to Windows. You can also set up Windows to open your .ncgi saved games with ncgi.exe, so you needn't actually run the program to play a saved game, wherever it is stored.
23/01/2000: Load/Save game feature is now incorporated, meaning that you can continue a game after a break. Note that this system does not allow you to go back in time until before you lost a life (unless the player deliberately duplicates the save file). There is also an autosave feature to guard against computer crashes.
17/01/2000: Made lots of bug fixes. Invincible ship is now easier to see and there have been a few other little changes that most people won't notice but make the game look/run just a little better.
16/01/2000: Made the title screen plot its picture a little faster by eliminating some stupid code. Also redid some of the website, so slightly different colours here and there. Put in a screenshots page, which is, however, empty right now but if you go there you will find a link that allows you to complain at the real culprit.
15/01/2000: Put a pretty fractal picture on the title screen, hence a new developer's version.
14/01/2000: Fixed a bug in the last DV that caused the high-scores to be wiped every time the game was run. Also added in a few other obscure bits and bobs.
12/01/2000: New developer's version. New sounds.
09/01/2000: Implemented multiplayer modes (in the developer's version) for up to 4 players at the same time. They all have to share the same keyboard and mouse right now, so it's not perfect, but 2-3 player games are workable and fun. More levels, too.
31/12/1999: Made a sight change to the developer's version: the title-screen now shows the correct compilation date and there is a sixth level. Colour-schemes now no longer depend on the level number, so you get a wider range of "looks" for the levels. Source-code for this version is now freely available from the main page.
30/12/1999: There is now another new developer's version that has five preset levels in it. This means that I have now designed these levels rather than letting the computer generate them. Some tactics are now needed to do some of these levels. For my convenience, I put a level-editor in this version, which you can get at by right-clicking a blank bit of the title-screen. It's not user-friendly or WYSIWYG but it is usable. Those who enjoy tinkering with things may find it fun to figure out how it works.
23/12/1999: Uploaded a new developer's version which should hopefully make use of DirectSound to supply a few sound-effects. I've computer-generated the sounds so this doesn't eat up too much disk space. I've found I can also generate a sound like a waterfall, but I'm wondering where I could use it. Any ideas anyone? [note from the future: I subsequently used it to generate the thrust noise for the ships' exhaust]