Bye bye, blog.com

Posted: 3rd October 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

Hi everybody,
after having endured an endless number of “Gateway time out” and similar error messages I conclude that blog.com is not the site to have your content on.

You can find my new site here:
http://androidicus.webs.com/

What? More Bike Apps to Come?

Posted: 22nd September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

Just because I mentioned it: I’m currently playing around with two more bike apps:

Ghost Rider

this seems to take forever as it’s way more difficult than I thought. The idea is simple. Have you ever played a racing game? These typically feature a “timed race” mode where you race the same track a couple of time against the clock. To make this more interesting, you get to see a “Ghost Driver” which drives your currently fastest lap.

This is what I want to implement for real bike riding: The first time you ride a certain trip, Ghost Rider regularly records your GPS position. If you ride the same route later, you load this trip, and Ghost Rider will continuously tell you how far ahead / behind your fastest “lap” you are. Also it will automatically determine good spots for a couple of intermediates you want to beat.

When will it be finished?

Actually it i nearly finished. Things I’m struggling with is to show an animated picture of a biker that is far behind / ahead (this is SO AWFUL right now, maybe I completely drop that idea), and doing testing (eliminating a single bug obviously takes two days, so this takes time).

EnvBike

A bike app for the environmentally inclined: In this app you can select the car you would be using if you wouldn’t use a bike (from over 5000 cars) or just enter a fuel consumption or CO2 emission you know, and then you can bike and EnvBike will continuously show you how much CO2 emission you’ve saved on this trip and overall (incl. cheesy graphical view).

When will it be finished?

The first version might actually be out very soon. I was first trying to go not for GPS, but for Network-based tracking of what distance you’ve covered, but then I noticed that no matter what I tried the error was way too huge to get much reasonable out of it. My 8 km trip from work to home summed up to over 40 km in the app, because the phone thought I made sudden movements of several kilometers… So now I’m going for GPS and maybe implement something that distinguishes good from bad data for the network…

My First Bike App: Bike Shock

Posted: 22nd September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

Today I’ve released version 1.1 of my first bike app. This is the first of a couple of bike apps I’m currently playing around with.

What is Bike Shock?

The idea of Bike Shock (and the other apps I’ll release sooner or later) is to add some computerized fun to your (daily?) training / biking to work / biking to school / …

While running, Bike shock will track each and every shock that your phone’s acceleration sensors notice, and keep ruthless statistics about them for you.

Here’s a screenshot that hopefully explains it:

Screenshot of Bike Shock

It shows the following statistics for your current trip:

  • What is the biggest shock that hit you so far on this trip? (my personal record: 5.3 g!)
  • What is the total number of shocks that you had to endure?
  • What is the sum of all shocks (in g)?
  • What was the longest time without a shock that you managed to pull off (everything over 20 secs is tough, at least on German tarmac)

Additionally it shows

  • How long are you currently driving smoothly (without a shock)?
  • What was the hardest shock in the last minute or so?

If something special happens, like a very bick shock, then a red, translucent pop-up will inform you about it (like in the screenshot).

Additionally, this “special thing” might qualify for one of 20 achievements you have to win. There are 4 kinds of achievements and 5 levels of achievement for each kind. For example, you get a level 3 “biggest” achievement for a shock of at least 3 g, or a level 4 “sum” achievement if you manage to endure 5,000 shocks. Use the menu “view progress” to look at your achievements so far. In this dialog, just tap on each of the stars to find out what you have to do in order to get this achievement.

And finally, you can save your current “state of shocks” and load it later to compare. This way you can e.g. try every day to stay below your last “total shocks”.

Behind the Scenes

There’s one thing you might be wondering: What does the app consider as a shock. That’s actually a difficult question, because you can have two totally different answers: either: everything above 1 g of shock, or: every shock that is twice as hard as the average shock.

To give a similar experience to everybody, regardless if (s)he is riding on full-suspension bike on tarmac where most shocks are toned down, or on a no-suspension bike on rough terrain where 3 g is normal, I’m going for the second approach. The app continuously monitors all shocks, and considers “real” shocks only those that are twice as hard as the average shock.

ColMix 1.2 almost finished

Posted: 13th September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

It works! :-)

Here’s a screenshot of the new Chain stones.

The introduction level for the Chain. The stones won't be lined up so nicely in other levels, I promise

The chain consists of a number of stones with numbers on them. The stone with the lowest number has a normal color, the other ones are deep gray. To finish a level you need to visit all stones of a chain in the order of the number. The dark grey stones act like traps: If you visit one of them (whose turn it isn’t yet), then you lose the level (game mode) or the whole game (tournament mode).

To make ColMix lite more attractive, the chain is part of ColMix lite. However, currently only 4 of the 11 new levels that contain the chain are part of ColMix lite; the others also contain stones like the Swapper or hidden stones that are not part of ColMix lite.

Apart from that I’m still adding levels; so far the level count of ColMix is 83, I expect to come to something like 90 levels of ColMix and 30 of ColMix lite for version 1.3.

Also, I expect testing and level adding to be finished by the end of this week. Then you can play it.

ColMix 1.2 making good progress

Posted: 10th September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

Rewrote the class that defines all stones in the game from a single class to a little class hierarchy. This way I can far more easily integrate forthcoming new special stones.

Next: the chain – normal stones are numbered. You need to visit them by number. If you visit e.g. 3 before 2, 3 will act like a trap.

First steps towards ColMix 1.2

Posted: 8th September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

What’s changing?

The circles that are just decoration are now placed behind the rays of light. This makes it clearer, hopefully, that they are just decoration.

The rays are now nicely translucent. They still don’t look like real squares of light, but all my experiments with animating them (e.g. by white lines flying through them which supposed to look Matrix style but looked crappy) didn’t turn out well.

More levels are coming (3 new ones are done), but I notice that with the current special stones, there’s not much place for new ideas.

This is for Torley

Posted: 2nd September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

… who doesn’t let me send him a “thanks” e-mail with attachment… Poor me.

So here’s the entry with the attachment that hopefully shows how well his textures look in my game :-)

2 of the 10 textures I'm using

2 of the 10 textures I'm using. Click for full size.

Thanks!

ColMix 1.1 Released!

Posted: 2nd September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

Now this went faster than I thought. Right now I’m building the applications for ColMix and ColMix lite, and soon I’ll be uploading them to the Android market.

New Features:

  • Vastly improved graphics (see last post): the squares look 3Dish now (but are still single color – that’s the point of the game), everything else: the circles, and all special stones now are textured and look really nice compared to before.
  • Much improved performance – everything is much smoother now, also in big levels where before the framerate went down a bit. Seems that painting single-colored circles is the worst thing you can do in Android.
  • More levels: ColMix lite features 28 levels, the full Colmix 68 levels. And believe me, some of the new ones are some of the toughest ever.

Thanks to Torley (torley.com) for making his cool textures available freely!

ColMix 1.1 due soon

Posted: 2nd September 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized

Hi,

after a few (awful) hours of Photoshopping, I’ve finally turned all the nice (weeellll…) single colored objects of ColMix into nicely textured ones. Of course this increases the game’s size quite a bit…

Also I’ve fixed a bug that would cause ColMix to look weird on bigger devices (because I was not scaling the background image properly).

And I added about 5 levels to the lite version and about 5 more to the full version, some of them really mean.

Want to take a look?

A first screenshot of how ColMix 1.1 will probably look

A first screenshot (not final)

Right now I’m updating the documentation screen and doing final testing. The new version should be out early next week.

What is ColMix?

Posted: 29th August 2010 by karlheinz.agsteiner in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

What is ColMix?

Overview

ColMix is an innovative game in which you need to tilt your phone so that two virtual rays of light cross at the right spot at the right time.

Imagine two rays of light, for example a blue one and a red one. If these rays of light cross, their colors will mix, resulting in purple light. Now imagine that each of those rays of light slowly and predictably changes its color. Maybe the blue one will change from black to blue, the red one from green to red. As time passes, their mixed color will change between various colors again.

Now imagine a plane of square stones where each stone is colored in a certain color. Place one of the rays of light across this plane horizontally, the other one vertically. Like this:

A screenshot showing ColMix in action The screen to the right shows ColMix in action. It shows a number of stones of different shapes; let’s ignore them for now and focus on the rays of light. The first one is oriented vertically and can be found behind the fourth column of stones. It currently has a dark orange color. The other one has a dark grey color and is below the bottom row of stones.

Also you can see two color gradients: one showing a color range from green to dark orange, the other from white to dark gray. These gradients don’t play an active role in the game; they just visualize how the colors of the two rays of light change over time.

Now if you tilt your phone, the two rays will move across the screen. Tilt it left, and the vertical ray will move left. Tilt it upward, and the horizontal ray will move upward. As they do they will, of course, continue to change their color as shown by the color gradients.

The goal of ColMix is to visit each of the square-shaped colored stones by getting the rays of light to cross under them at exactly (well, more or less) the time when their mix color is the same color as the color of that stone. If you manage to do this, the stone will shrink and turn light grey. Usually you need to visit each stone at the right time; the level start screen will tell you if you need less. For visiting a stone you are awarded with a score between 100 points (really fast) and 1 point (really slow). To achieve a high score you need to take a look at the stone colors and at the color gradients and plan your path.

Also you can see a couple of round stones. They are just decoration, serving no other purpose than to be circle-shaped and look nice. Also their color is of no importance.

A couple of special stones typically hinders you in achieving your goal. Special stones are deep red with a black symbol in their center.

  • The Trap (in the middle of the screen to the right) is shaped like a “STOP” traffic sign. If you manage to cross your rays over a trap, the level (relax mode) or the whole game (tournament mode) is over. Avoid traps at all costs! You can slightly touch a trap, it only
  • The Lifter [Full Version Only] is shaped like a black square (inside the red square). If your rays cross over one, one square that you have visited already will (randomly) become “un-visited” again and you have to go back to visit it. Like a bee, the lifter only stings once, so it’s safe to pass over it the second time you visit it.
  • The Swapper [Full Version Only] is shaped like two triangles facing each other. When your rays cross over one, it will invert your controls. Tilting left will move right, tilting down will move up. Personally, I have experienced the Swapper to be the most evil of all the special stones.
  • Hidden Stones and The Uncoverer [Full Version Only] is not a bad thing, so the square is not red but blue; the black shape on the square is a rectangle. Hidden stones and uncoverers come in pairs: If a level features a number of hidden squares, it will also feature the same number of uncoverers. Hidden stone are normal squares that need to be visited. Unfortunately they are initially invisible. To uncover a hidden stone you have to… well… guess what… visit its Uncoverer first.
  • The Grand Malheur is a really bad thing; it lifts all stones in this level, essentially bringing you back to where you started. The Grand Malheur is shaped like 4 squares.
  • The Chain is a number of normal stones that you need to visit. The only difference is that each stone of a chain has a number written on it. You need to visit these stones in the right order. All stones whose turn it isn’t currently work like traps. Visit them and the level (in normal game mode) or game (in tournament mode) is over.

Here you see a bigger level with almost all special stones present, and text that shows what everything is about.

A screenshot with descriptive text

Strategy

ColMix doesn’t color its squares randomly; instead, it simulates a game when creating a level. This actually makes a big difference when playing the game: Level 15 will always look the same, and if you move your rays of light the same way they moved when the level was built, you’ll solve the level real fast and get a very high score.

Therefore it makes much sense to take a good look at the colors of the squares and at the color gradients and find the right paths through the levels.

Modes

ColMix features two modes: “New Game” in the menu will start a new “normal game“. If you lose a level of a normal game, you start at the beginning of that level. “New Tournament” in the menu will start a new tournament.If you lose a level in a tournament, you start back at level 1. The normal games are good for training individual levels. The real challenge lies in the tournament.

ColMix keeps a single high score per level and a highscore table for a whole game. You can achieve level high scores in both game modes, but only tournament games can make it into the highscore table.

Versions

There are two versions of ColMix available at the Android Market:

  • ColMix lite: only contains 20+ levels and: square stones, circle stones, the trap, the Grand Malheur.
  • ColMix full version: Contains everything that ColMix lite has plus
    • three additional special stones: the Lifter, The Swapper, Hidden Stones/Uncoverer
    • nearly 40 additional levels (60 levels total)
    • A spectacular (ok, not really, but I tried hard) finish screen for those who manage to beat the tournament mode.

Legal Matters

I don’t like disclaimers who nobody can understand. Therefore in plain English:

  • I have taken great care that this game doesn’t break your phone in any way. The only permission it needs is to prevent the screen from dimming (I tested without that and found you really need that). The game does write only a single, local file to keep its highscores. This file should never exceed 100 kB. I’ve tested the game thoroughly on my HTC Legend and as much as I could on the Emulator for other devices.
  • The game might still contain bugs that, directly or indirectly via bugs in Android’s software, might even cause your phone to not work properly anymore, temporarily or permanently. By playing ColMix or ColMix lite you accept that this may happen and that you won’t sue me if it does.
  • ColMix (the full version) costs a dollar. Please don’t spread the game. Come on, it’s a single buck… (I can’t prevent you from doing so unless I add licensing code to the game that talks to Google’s license servers. Which I won’t do to not waste your internet capacity.

Version History

  • ColMix 1.2: Due today, Sep 15, 2010.
    • New feature “Chain”: stones numbered 1…9 that you have to visit in that order. The chain is also available in the lite version.
    • Changed rendering layout so that the rays of light are painted in front of the “decoration” circles, but behind the rest.
    • The game monitors frame rate and tries to keep it at a constant level that’s not too fast (makes the game unplayable) and not too slow (makes the game stuttering).
    • Many more new levels, some utilizing the Chain, some others, bringing the level count to >90 for the full game and >30 for ColMix lite.
  • ColMix 1.1:
    • Revamped the graphics to go for a textured look. ColMix looks much better now.
    • Significant erformance improvement (as painting colored circles takes forever, but painting a scaled bitmap that happens to show a circle doesn’t.
  • ColMix 1.0:
    • First version with simple graphics.