VNC VR – a volatile solution or a virtually amazing revolution?

Let’s get this straight: If it’s unconventional, weird, untested and surely not enterprise ready in the near future then I am interested in it! A while ago I used an Android tablet as my main work platform and even though it worked, the negatives outwitted the positive. I know it’s doable, I’ve done it and I can see myself doing it again in certain circumstances. But since I truly am on the path towards becoming a internet enabled masochist I decided to go one step further and take my brain and eyes for a more unconventional spin: Attempt to do some remote work using Virtual Reality!

cardboard_hereNow I know how this sounds but bear with me! At heart, the concept of virtual workspaces sounds like a great solution to allot of on-the-go work, office space and expensive 30” inch monitors that people like me love to stack! Let’s be honest, even a huge laptop cannot be a true replacement for that sweet multiple display-based work station you grind away at work/home! We love our multiple monitors and there’s no shame in it. And this is were I think VR truly has the chance to shine! Where ever you go, where ever you sit, as long as you have a VR Head Mounted Display and a device that can connect to the internet you can, technically speaking, have 20 monitors surround you and work in any environments with no visual distractions! The downside? There’s no way to test this theory for now, at least no with more than 1 monitor but hey, I’ll work with what I have.

vr_cameraThe tools of the trade?

  • Android Smartphone
  • A google cardboard case
  • A ubuntu server (I’m using a @digitalocean droplet for this one)
  • A VR-enabled VNC app

or

  • Any VNC app with Native SideBySide for Android.
  • A Logitech K480 bluetooth keyboard
  • A Microsoft Designer Mouse

The smarthphone I’m using is Nexus 4 with Android 5.0.1 and an Asus Zenfon Go with 5.1.1. The N4 is the main display since it’s the only one of the two phones with a 1080 resolution. I could go about with Zenfon and it’s 1 extra inch but the fact that it lacks a gyroscope leaves the experience lacking. My home router (a TP-Link WR740N) seems to hate VNC so much that it crashes every time I setup a connection to a server on the same network so I had to go for a remote solution to test things out. As such I relied on good-ol’-same-ol’ digital ocean for this experiment. Now for the actual remote app, we can use two different approaches: Continue reading

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Street Fighter 5 will be available on Linux & SteamOS

Just a quick Heads Up: Street Fighter V will launch on SteamOS & Linux this spring! Our little neck of the woods is starting to see more and more support with each season and this title is of note not only because it’s an extremely well known (and loved franchise) but because it’s one of the few Combat/Fighting game available for our platform. Windows and Consoles have their share of Fighting games (Mortal Kombat, Injustice) while Linux has seen very few games in that genre since, well, forever!

Minimum System requirements for Windows list NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 so for all you Brix Pro Owners, this fits right into your ball park assuming that Intel will be supported. There is a huge trend of only offering support for NVIDIA right now)! Check out Gaming On Linux‘s article for more details and reactions from it’s community!


 

Source: The Boss’s article on Gaming on Linux!

SteamOS 2.55 Beta and Bound by Flame

steamos-article-bannerValve released an update for SteamOS available from the brewmaster-beta repository! Happy to confirm that the BETA update fixed most, if not all, of the issue I had with the previous 2.49 release. No more screen lockups,freezes and client crashes on the Brix Pro with Iris 5200 and, as a small bonus, the game list from the STORE finally only totally shows SteamOS games by default! In order to celebrate the update I went ahead and bought Bound by Flame, a cute looking RPG with decent requirements and full controller support. Ogh my did I get myself in a world of pain trying to play through it!

10I initially heard about Bound by Flame from Total Biscuit’s coverage of the game from way back in May 2014 and later on from Liam’s article on the game up on GamingOnLinux! I suggest checking out the article for a more in-depth look on the game. As far as the game goes, it’s a good port in terms of features, graphics, usability and control. Works well bundled with Steam Big Picture’s Mode and, as opposed to Liam’s initial experience the 360’s gamepad works right off the bat! Only downside? Performance is terrible on my Brix Pro. How terrible? Let’s say that I cannot hit 30 FPS even with all the settings set to low ( ALL OF THEM)! The game’s requirement are extremely low (Nvidia GT 8800, a card older than my drinking problems) and yet I cannot seem to hit even the bare minimum FPS for enjoyment. Since I already did a fresh install (+update to beta 2.55) I decided I can stomach another ~120 minutes of downtime so I grabbed my Win8.1 disk and installed it on the Brix! 45-50 minutes of painful restarts later (Windows install? Restart! Intel Graphics? Reboott! Audio drivers? Downtime! Wifi card? You bet!) and ~10 minutes more to download the game and I’m sitting here hitting 60 FPS without many problems on medium settings and Antia Aliasing enabled on 1080! What the loving *fluff-ball* Intel? I went ahead and enabled Debian Jessy’s experimental repository and updated xserver-xorg-video-intel to the latest version available and no changes were noticed. As of now the Driver Version that comes wth SteamOS is 3.0 Mesa 10.6.3 and I haven’t tried (nor have any knowledge on how) to upgrade to the latest Mesa Version 11.0.6. Might be a while before that hits my setup.

So if you are running SteamOS on a Brix Pro might want to hold back on Bound By Flame until better drivers hit our neck of the woods. If you can stomach 20-ish FPS then by all means go ahead and grab it! I have 97 minutes spent on the game even under those poor conditions and I like it! Might grind my way through it step by step just to experience it a bit more.

9And yes, I installed SteamOS again after trying the game on Windows 8.1.. The OS is meant for my living room even though, so far, most games I can enjoy decently are indie games or older titles! Hopefully things will pick up and I’ll be here to report on the improvements! Till next time o7!

 

Running with SteamOS and Geeking-it out in the living room

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This article reflects my opinion on the system, it’s place in (my new) living room and quite a few geek moments sprinkled here and there. For a secondary opinion check out GoL’s coverage of the system here.

I’ve been running SteamOS for the past few months and suffered through the 2.49 update head-to-head with other integrated graphics users! First time I installed SteamOS was in October on my Brix Pro system expecting a console-like experience delivered to my living room. I had the system connected to a 23” AOC Touch Screen display, a sofa moved closer to the desk, the 360 gamepad in hand and a beer at my side! I fancy myself as a GNU/Linux user (been rocking Ubuntu – and a few other Debian flavours – since 2006) so I got by most of the problems SteamOS threw my way without giving ’em too much thought but from a newcomers perspective, at this point in time, SteamOS is far from the console-like experience it promises to deliver. For once not all SteamOS/Linux-ready games RUN out of the box: Mount & Blade Warband and Shadow of Mordor were a pain in the proverbial arse with their missing libraries and launchers that failed to execute.

SteamOS Livng RoomLet’s take a step back and start with the beginning! Installing SteamOS on a new box/custom built “Steam Machine” is easier than with most OS installs nowadays (except for Windows 10, never got to try/install W10). The Installer itself is based on the Debian installer and the process is extremely streamlined. The only possible hurdle might appear if you want to customize the partitions and install it alongside other OS’s. Shouldn’t be too hard but for someone new to this I would recommend going with the default settings if you only plan on using the machine in the living room.

SteamOS GamesAs far as games go I’ve yet to see a System/Console Launch with so many titles available on day one! More than half of my library is playable from the get-go. Sadly my Steam Gamepad still hasn’t arrived and I have no plan on using a keyboard and mouse to game from the couch so my selection of games is limited to a handful! I’ve been surprised to see how well BigPicture Mode scales on my 4K display since I’ve seen a lot of complaints on the the discussion forums. The Interface has one big flaw though: as of the current version 2.49 the shop displays ALL games available on STEAM, even those for Windows. Finding a game for your platform is a nightmare! I don’t get if this is an oversight on valve’s part since the current downloadable Linux Client displays games available for Linux while hiding those that are not. Navigating through the UI is done via keyboard/mouse and/or gamepad.

Team Fortress 2 - 60h gamepadThere are some problems though: my 360 wired gamepad sometimes stops responding causing the UI to freeze and the client to reboot while other times the mouse just does not want to click on the system icons (settings, messages, downloads) on the top of the screen. It’s weird and it’s frustrating but I can live with it. What I can’t live with however is the browser packed with the platform. Valve calls it the “FPS Browser” and I have to give it to them: It does make me want to take it out the back and shoot it. Luckily enough I have a Chromecast plugged into the back of my tv so I can enjoy Youtube/Videos without having to reply on the built-in solution. Still a dedicated youtube app would be appreciated, even if it’s the standard youtube.com/tv offering with controller support added. Maybe Valve will get to it someday though I won’t be holding my breath.

Just no Valve

Now for the ugly parts: If you are running on Integrated Graphics like me (Iris Pro 5200) then you might want to stick with the 1.0 release, dubbed Alchemist. Ever since the 2.49 update for Brewmaster SteamOS is unusable on anything that isn’t nVidia (though some report no problems on a few AMD cards). Problems range from the latest MESA drivers bundled with the update to the Linux kernel. In my case it’s both. The OS refuses to boot if ANY gamepad is plugged in. The Steam client fails on launch and enters an infinite loop of crashing, trying to restart and crashing again. Unplugging the gamepad leads you to a barely usable interface that locks up on you or causes the display to go black as if the system is afraid to disappoint you. Better shutdown rather than let you see that we didn’t fix the platform bug in the store.  I don’t know why this happens but it’s a common issue, at least on Intel GPUs. And it’s mind boggling especially as the first Steam Machine Valve touted is a Brix Pro running Iris Pro 5200. Pretty sure their not lacking in the QA department so I have no idea how this escaped them. At least all Steam Machines available for purchase right now are running nVidia (to my knowledge).

Fail interface SteamOS

Going even further some games do not start altogether. You have to get access to the desktop, open up a terminal and check out why the game fails to start. In some cases it’s due to a missing BINARY for the game, like in “7 days to die”‘s case. Other times it’s due to some missing libraries (or in Mount and Blade Warband’s case – because you have a newer version of the library installed and it can’t find the old one). Again for someone with enough terminal years under his belt this is easy to fix but still requires you to plug in a mouse and keyboard, add in unofficial repositories and scour the web in search of some packages things that DO NOT CONSTITUTE a console-like experience. So let me say this – SteamOS is not a finished product! It’s for early adopters and/or people like me who refuse to buy a console and want to run linux on anything ranging from their toasters up to their tablets.  But it will get better, hopefully. Valve has a huge chance to turn things around in the PC department. It already stirred up the Linux world and brought more games to the platform than ever before! It will take time however and if I were a betting man, I’d place my money on Valve getting it right in the end. Let’s just hope the final fixes and polishes won’t have to come in SteamOS version 3, we all know how Valve’s and 3’s go together.

room

However I like SteamOS. It’s a neat little living-room system that makes the geek in me jump for joy every chance it gets. How many of you guys can SSH into your console and play tetris in the terminal? On another done I’ve been mentioning on twitter that I’m wrapping up my living room. All I’m missing is a raspberry pi zero and a new monitor so I can setup my virtual fireplace. For now that task falls on my old 23” tablet. In the future I’m hoping on using it as a Skype Machine and hang it up on a wall somewhere. Ogh and I also bought some bean bags because why not? Have a great week everyone!

 

 

 

Road to alpha 2 and streaming

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Hi everyone, a quick update to keep everyone on track with development. Recently I started streaming my side of development on Mutant Gangland via twitch. The reason I’m doing this is simple:

  • Early access buyers get to see how things are going in-between releases
  • New people could follow development and decide whether they want to get in on the action

I’ve released a new website regarding my streams. In the future I hope to release articles and document the streams (as in, what happened during X stream, where I implemented what) hoping it might be useful to others.

As for development updates, here’s were we stand:

  • Commanders have been coded in the game. From now on, they will not act just as profiles with strengths and bonuses but as playable characters (and main characters during the campaign).
  • Mods are in. Now in order to mod/change the game the players can place their mod files inside a /Mods folder. For example you can create a media folder and place the image you want to use for the Tank, or change the way the AI works. Later on I plan on creating a launcher from where you can select what mod to use.
  • I moved my main development environment to Linux in order to better support linux users. Previously I was mainly developing the game on Windows but problems with the Linux version have risen. Since the game’s logic is in lua working on the main mechanics will not be affected. The Windows host works pretty well I decided that I can take some time to get the Linux version working nicely, and what better way to do this then actually working in that environment. I’ve also rolled a new SDL host (based on the one made available by the guys from Stirfire studios) so this should solve some other issues people have been having with the Glut host. For alpha 2, the SDL host could be an optional download and starting with alpha 3 it will replace the standard one.
  • Keyboard support for the game has been added. Some minor issues with navigating through the menus only with the keyboard, but I’m working on fixing this. As soon as that passes I’ll add support for gamepads in order for people to play the game connected to their tv.
  • Halfnelson (MOAI user and developer) released a wonderful tool that allows me to build a web (HTML5) host for the game. I plan on using it to during streams, so people can play the latest build, and maybe during FeedbackFriday on reddit.

Thomas has been present both at GDC and at Rezzed this month showcasing Mutant Gangland and Penarium (a wonderful little platformer made with the guys from Self Made Miracle). You can read his thoughts on how GDC went over on his blog. For now, this is were we stand. I’m announcing every stream on twitter but you can also follow me on twitch and get notifications on what time it goes live.

Mutant Gangland – v0.2.0 Devlog + level editor and gameplay footage

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October is now officially half way through. Doing my best to stay on schedule and get the game ready for the October Challenge. If I can make the deadline, then perfect, else I’ll keep working on it till it’s ready. One thing I’m trying to avoid is releasing it unfinished and unpolished. In the previous post I’ve talked a bit about how the AI works. I’ll have a new blog post soon with some updates and information on the next version dubbed Irene. For now, I will focus on the game editor and the goals I hope to accomplish with this game.

First of all, I would like to mention that I’m going indie. Actually I went indie 4 months ago, but Mutant Gangland represents the first game I will release that is developed for myself, by myself. I have no experience with releasing a game on any platform so I’m getting ready for one hell of a ride. I’m writing this blog posts for two reasons:

  1. To relieve some stress and tension that has accumulated during development.
  2. To ease you guys into the game and hopefully get some feedback before I release it into the wild.

Continue reading

[Blazejam]: Tools and Software

The first step one must take in order to win a battle is to prepare, to prepare mentally, physically and tie his shoe laces. You can’t just win a battle if your pants keep falling or if your horse was kept unfed for a few weeks! Thus, in order to spare to some time and avoid running into certain problems during Blazejam, I decided to prepare myself by selecting the tools I will use this weekend! After pondering for a while, it all came down to this:

LOVE2D
LOVE is a framework for making 2D games in the Lua programming language. It’s free, powerful, with a good amount of documentation and a great community. It’s also cross platform and can be deployed as a .love package (.zip->.love) or as a binary for Windows and Linux. There are also a few community projects that focus on deploying love binaries for the Android, Pandora and even a JS interpreter which allow the game to be played inside a browser (JS + HTML5)!
Project homepage: Love2D.org

Lua Development Tools by @koneki
I’ve been using LUA for my game-dev projects for a few years now. I remember first starting with LuaForNDS, then embedding it in my own games and applications. On Windows I used Notepad++ for my little scripts but not long ago, I moved all my machines to Linux (Ubuntu to be precisely). I’ve tried several text editors (EMACS, GEDIT and even Sublime Text) but I felt that they lacked the feel of an actual ide. This is were @Koneki stepped in with it’s eclipse based IDE for Lua developers. Besides the usual Syntax Highlighting, LDT offers a wide variety of features like “error marking”, “code folding”, “code templates”, “code formatter” and last but not least, a Debugger! It’s fast (feels lightweight) and the key bindings are made in HEAVEN! If love at first sight would apply to software and tools then that would be my first impression towards LDT!
Project homepage: eclipse.org/Koneki

GIMP
There’s just one thing I miss about working in a Windows Environment: Paint.NET! I’ve spent the last 3 years working with it daily, doing schematics, drawing ugly concepts, making placeholder textures or just fooling around in it! It’s ease of use solved allot of headache’s for me. I’ve tried looking for open source/paid alternatives but nothing came close to the real deal. I’ve tried using PINTA, a drawing application which tries to replicate the functionality of Paint.NET but I couldn’t get used to it. So I decided to try out GIMP! The work-flow is quite different from what I’m used to, but luckily for me, there are hundreds and hundreds of articles and tutorials out there to help a beginner get used to GIMP.
Project homepage: gimp.org

Ubuntu 12.04 and a virtualized Windows 7
I’m a big fan of the Ubuntu movement! I first came in contact with it in 2006, with version 6.04 (if I’m not mistaken) and since then, I always had at least one machine running it! It matured allot since then and I now use it as my primary Operating System. The entire game I’m making for Blazejam will be developed on Ubuntu. Windows 7 will run under VirtualBox in order to build a Windows executable for the game.
Project homepage: ubuntu.com
Virtual Box: virtualbox.org

SFXr
SFXr first caught my eye while reading a few posts about Ludumdare. A huge part of the LD jamming community was using it for their games and they were all pleased with the results. It’s a simple tool, made by DrPetter specially for Ludum Dare which generates random sound effects which can then be tweaked through an old school interface. It’s simple, reliable and FUN!
Project homepage: drpetter.se