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Game Journal







The purpose of this page is to keep a record of my game development efforts to help myself understand how I've grown in this area and provide others with advice and inspiration to create their own games.

Current information is now available on my blog.


All of the developers on Ascension are meeting today. We're going to try and finish the menu system. We've got a camera and initial targeting system working. It's going to be a long all nighter to get this thing back into shape. Our graphics guys are chomping at the bit for us to get to a more stable work environment to work in. Our outside jobs are taking too much of our time at the moment, but should be better in a few weeks.  I'm enjoying working with Game Maker. It's easy to program in and pretty robust. I also am participating on the Dexterity Software forums. Great source for Indi Game Developers. I signed up for the Garage Games conference again this year. It's in October, and we should have a good showing and a demo by then.


Been a long time since I wrote in here. Things have changed alot around here. I'm leading up a group of great developers and 3D artists who are working on a mod for UT2003. It's kind of like Oni but multiplayer. We meet three times a week in my shop out back. Kind of a garage game type deal. Everyone is focuses and we enjoy working together, we also like playing UT2003.

I'm also working on a card game that is either going to be in Python or Game Maker. Both are great programs.


Nothing much going on right now. I got a new computer so I'm in the process of moving all my source, compiler and other software over. After that I'm going to get back to work on the Torque engine. My colleagues are hard at work creating animations and models for use in the game. The game (The Fallen) currently is working with allowing you character to move around in the environment. We can also create a server/client game. Also there are some cool backgrounds that were done by one of our artists and the main character animations are in place. I also finished a short tutorial on how to create the icon for launching your game in Windows. It was easy, but it wasn't something that was document very well anywhere. Now it is. :)

We are facing the problem of not having enough participation in the group. I'm also looking to bring on a few more programmers if they can get up to speed quickly with the Torque engine. I'll be pursuing this in January when everyone gets back from vacation. I wished we had more dedication from some of the other people in the group, however our two main leaders are very pumped about the game and keeping it alive.


A lot of things have happened since my last entry. I've joined a group called Ascension that is local to Seattle. We're working on a project called The Fallen. It's a third person shooter, like Oni. We're using the Tribes game engine(also known as Torque). You can read about it here. We're planning on attending the Garage Games conference in Eugene, OR this weekend. So far our game has some great graphics and animations. We've learned how to add key bindings to the engine, and we're looking into AI and other neat effects. It helps that I'm working with some very talented graphics artists. I just have to put the pieces together.

You see screen shots for our game at this location:

One of our lead graphics guys has a page at that showcases some of his work for this game:


Sorry about the delay on getting back. I've been to alot of stuff this week, so no time to write, or sleep. I saw the presentation on Maya 4.5, Intrisic Alchemy, Codewarrior, and Intel but wasn't very impressed with any of them. Good avenue to make some contacts but that's about it. Last night I saw the presentation for the Seattle Sputnik group in which we got to see how the AI was developed for Halo. They also showed off the online capabilities of Mech Assault for the XBox. Very cool game! I can't wait to play it.

I'm currently working on a demo player to experiment with some 3d stuff I've learned, then I can incorporate much of it in my game. I'm taking the time to document it well. I've also met some people locally that are working on a project with the Torque engine from Garage Games. Very cool engine and it only costs $100 to get a developer license. This engine was the one used in Tribes 2.


I've been working on the Truespace Exporter most of the day. It's starting to look good and should allow me to produce something that I can use for both my class project and my game. The Truespace API uses a scenegraph model very similar to what we've learned in class, therefore I just need to transverse the nodes and create the text file with all the vertices, lights and the camera.


I've been working on the Map tool for a few days now. I'm making cosmetic fixtures and making sure the open through save routines work correctly and make accurate XML code. I've included a screen shot of the map editor if anyone wants to see it: Screenshot1. I could spend alot of time making it look neater, but I'm more concerned with its functionality and customizability.

I need to begin work on the Truespace Exporter tonight, so I'll get back to this project soon.


I've been working on my level editor. It is pretty rudimentary at this time. It's written in VB and basically imports and exports XML files. These files contain data about the level including Name, Description, X Tile Length, Y Tile Length, and specific tile matching numbers for each space on the map grid. This is a very simple design. If I want to add functionality it should be relatively easy.


Wednesday in our 3D games class, we learned more about lighting, materials and shaders. We've been assigned projects to work on, I'll be working on an exporter for Truespace 5.0; one of my favorite graphics packages.

I met with some of the people from my group last night to discuss getting into the industry. Our instructor says that Tools people are the hardest ones to find in for a game company. Since I have experience in this area, this may be a good avenue to help me get into the game industry.

I've added a spec for my program. It can be found here. I'll keep this updated for awhile as I develop the design and get feedback from others who review it.


Didn't get much work done last night. Had to go to a Mariners game. On the game front, I've gone ahead and drew up a project plan in MS Project. The plan is not what I would call highly detailed, however it covers the major points, and sets some realistic expectations on time involved in creating the shooter. In the professional database development business, these plans are very common, and I've found them very helpful for a few reasons:

1. They give you a better idea of how much effort is going to be involved in the project. This helps in either deterring you from doing something you don't want to do, or gives you a better prepared idea of what to expect.

2. If you start working with a team, it helps people understand where the "bottle necks" are and how their work is impacting each other. Also they can immediately identify areas that they can take over after finishing their own parts.

You can see an HTML copy of my project plan here. I'll try to keep this updated to mark my progress. If anyone has suggestions on things I'm missing in my plan, please let  me know. I'm going to start work on the spec today. I should have a rough draft up on this site by tomorrow. I'll put a link on this site, that points to the current version.


I'm going to start by outlining some of my experience and background. First I'm a full time database programmer. I've been doing this for about 7 years now. My skill set is in SQL, VB, and C++( In that order.) I'm currently enrolled in the University of Washington's Game Developer Certification program. I'm in the second of the four classes right now.

The first class was on Intro to game programming. It involved making a complete game that involved 3d, input, sound, physics, and AI. It was a very ambitious project but it worked out in the end.

The second class which I'm enrolled in now is focused on creating a 3D graphics engine. Some of the instruction in this class was covered in the first, however now we have time to understand more about how vertex buffers, shaders, index buffers, etc. all work and why you'd use them.

None of these classes have a recommended text book, since what they cover is discussed in many of the books that are out there. And all the coding is done with Visual C++ and DirectX 8.1.

If people are interested I might come up with a list of the recommended books that I've found and my peers have found useful.

If anyone is interested in getting into this industry, my advice is to study hard, create a game, and some demo's. I have one ideal that I think is vital to getting into the game industry: drive. If you can't drive yourself hard to get into game development and you don't enjoy doing it, then this is not going to work for you. I can't tell you how many of my friends have told me that "Yeah. I'd like to work on a game or demo" Then when it comes down to it, they can't spare the time.

The project:

Now a little about what I'm going to work on. The project I want to do is a vertical shooter like Raiden, Strikers, etc. The difference is that I'm employing 3D graphics throughout. And also I'm creating a unique playing technique that should add to the enjoyment.

My goal:

To learn. I'm not trying to make a better shooter. I'm just creating a game that I would enjoy and going to learn what I did wrong in the process.


I'll be using Visual C++ 7.0 for development. Visual Source Safe 6 for source control. MS Project for planning. Truespace 5 for 3d meshes. Paintshop for textures. I'm also going to have to make a mesh converter and a level/map editor.


There will be a simple spec to address all the design issues and help me prepare a realistic expectation of how long it will take to complete the project.

As I have stuff to discuss or screen shots, I'll update this journal with these items.

Games I'm Playing:

I  believe it's important to play games regularly to be a good game programmer. And beside, I like them and learn from them. The current game I'm playing is Roller Coaster Theme Park on the PS2. I've also purchased Fantavision( I like the particle effects they use). On the XBox, I'm playing Halo.

If anyone has any advice for me on this project or anything you disagree with, please let me know. I'd like to hear from you.


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Copyright 2002 Keith Sink
Last modified: December 06, 2004