A few days ago I saw that Unreal Tournament 3 was added to Steam, and that they also offered some new downloadable content. I decided to give it a spin, and activated my copy of UT3 in Steam. I had to download the whole 8gb game to play it, but on a 20mbps line that’s wasn’t a problem. When I came back from work today I decided to give it a spin. To my amazement it crashed on startup, only giving me “UT3.exe has stopped working”. I figured it was the ATI drivers, so I went over and grabbed the latest and greatest Catalyst package. Upon starting the installation that failed as well. I tried in safe mode, tried uninstalling (which failed) and googled my eyes out. After a while I found this post from SuperWasp which explains how to run the ATI driver installer from command line. Basically, go to C:ATISupportXX-driver-versionDriverBin64 and run the command “atisetup.exe -Install -Output screen“. I did it from the Driver folder, where the Setup.exe is located by calling “setup.exe -Install -Output screen” which also worked fine. The process took a few minutes, but once I rebooted the driver was updated.

PS: Windows was stuck in “Windows is now rebooting” until I unplugged my iPhone :)

Now, this shows how to update the driver, but it does not explain the problem with both Unreal Tournament 3 and the driver setup software failing. I’ve looked around a bit, and based on what I’ve read it seems like the .NET Framework 2.0 files might have been damaged in some way. I tried running the “sfc /scannow” command (some info on that tool here) to let Windows search for corrupt or damaged system files, but no luck. Since .NET Framework 2.0 is an integrated part of Windows Vista I’m basically unable to uninstall it as well. If anyone has any suggestions on how to fix this I’d be really glad to hear from you.

Lars Olav Torvik has just posted a neat weather widget for Vista, using the norwegian weather service yr.no. Give it a spin!

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[tags]Windows Vista, Widget[/tags]

As I mentioned in this previous post I’ve started to play around with C# and XNA Game Studio, and it’s very entertaining. I started out using The Platformer Starter Kit , which is a basic platformer game that you can customize and base your game on. I followed the tutorials mentioned in the previous link, and everything just works pretty smooth. Very satisfying to see immediate results reflected in a working game. After finishing them I decided to add a new feature by myself, a falling apple which would kill the player (I’ve been playing I Wanna Be The Guy lately). Hence, this post: XNA Platformer Starter Kit – Falling Apples. Now, this is a very basic feature. I just based my Apple on a copy of the Gem class, and did some minor modifications to allow them to fall down once the player walks under them, and if the player is hit he’ll die. A picture to show the final result:

Falling Apples

Falling Apples

Please bear in mind that this post is just a note of the changes I did to make this work, and should not be considered a full tutorial. I might end up doing more proper posts on XNA as I progress in my work with it.

So, here it goes!

First, create a new C# class. Just copy all the contents from the Gem class, and rename Gem to Apple (and gems to apples). Also, add the following line to the Apple constructor so that we can see the difference between apples and gems: Color = Color.Red;

Now, remove the following lines, since we do not need them:

private SoundEffect collectedSound;
 
public readonly int PointValue;

And add these:

private const float GravityAcceleration = 6500.0f;
private const float MaxFallSpeed = 600.0f;
private bool isFalling;
 
public Vector2 Velocity
{
    get { return velocity; }
    set { velocity = value; }
}
Vector2 velocity;

Now, since we want to be able to trigger the apples to fall when the player passes under them, we’ll need to create a bounding rectangle, which is taller than the actual apple. This will be the rectangle the player will collide with once he passes under the apple, and hence the apple will start falling.

public Rectangle TriggerRectangle
{
    get
    {
        int left = (int)basePosition.X;
        int width = 32;
        int top = (int)basePosition.Y;
        int height = 200;
        return new Rectangle(left, top, width, height);
    }
}

We need to implement some kind of basic physics to calculate how fast the apple should be falling. This is done by adding a new method called ApplyPhysics, which checks if the apple is falling, and if it is, it updates the velocity and position based on some simple calculations:

private void ApplyPhysics(GameTime gameTime)
{
    float elapsed = (float)gameTime.ElapsedGameTime.TotalSeconds;
    if (isFalling)
    {
        velocity.Y = MathHelper.Clamp(velocity.Y + GravityAcceleration * elapsed, -MaxFallSpeed, MaxFallSpeed);
        Position += velocity * elapsed;
    }
}

To make sure it actually falls when triggered we need to update public void Update(GameTime gameTime) and add a call to the ApplyPhysics method we just created. The call can be added right after bounce, at the end of the method:

    bounce = (float)Math.Sin(t) * BounceHeight * texture.Height;
    ApplyPhysics(gameTime);
}

The last thing we need to do in the Apple class is to add a method for actually starting the fall:

public void OnRockFalling()
{
    isFalling = true;
}

Next up are some changes to the Level class. Find the line which creates the Gem array:

private List<Gem> gems = new List<Gem>();

And add a new array for the Apples:

private List<Apple> apples = new List<Apple>();

Next up is the loading of the Apples. In the LoadTile method, add a new case statement as follows:

    case 'R':
        return LoadAppleTile(x, y);

This will load R’s in the level code as apples. We now need to create the LoadAppleTile method:

private Tile LoadApppleTile(int x, int y)
{
    Point position = GetBounds(x, y).Center;
    apples.Add(new Apple(this, new Vector2(position.X, position.Y)));
    return new Tile(null, TileCollision.Passable);
}

Almost there! We need to create a few news method for getting the apples to work. The first is called UpdateApples, which checks the collisions with the player:

private void UpdateApples(GameTime gameTime)
{
    for (int i = 0; i < apples.Count; ++i)
    {
        Apple apple = apples[i];
        apple.Update(gameTime);
        if (apple.BoundingCircle.Intersects(Player.BoundingRectangle))
        {
            OnPlayerKilled(null);
        }
        else if (apple.TriggerRectangle.Intersects(Player.BoundingRectangle))
        {
            OnAppleFalling(apple);
        }
    }
}

Next up is the OnAppleFalling method, which in turn calls OnAppleFalling in the Apple class.

private void OnAppleFalling(Apple apple)
{
    apple.OnAppleFalling();
}

Now we just need to insert calls for these methods in the correct places. First up is the UpdateApples method. This is called from the Update method. Just find the following line:

    UpdateGems(gameTime);

and insert the UpdateApples call under it:

    UpdateApples(gameTime);

The last change is to the Draw method. You’ll see there is two lines used to draw the gems, and that’s what we need to do for our apples. Insert the two following lines after the code for the gems:

foreach (Apple apple in apples)
    apple.Draw(gameTime, spriteBatch);

Now, to give this a spin, open the 0.txt level file and place some R’s here and there. When you start up the game you should see some red gems which falls down when you pass under them.

PS: A more clever approach here would be to create a base class for these classes, which would hold all the shared logic and methods, but the goal for this tutorial is to show how to implement the new feature as easily as possible.

[tags]C#,XNA,Game Development[/tags]

One of the applications I’ve been working on generates PDF files which the customer can download. I’m using the FPDF and FPDI libraries to import PDFs and create copies with generated contents. This has been really easy to code, and it’s been working flawlessly in both Firefox and Safari. When we started testing under Internet Explorer thing started breaking. The problem was that IE would not let the user download the file. The only feedback we got was error messages like “The file is currently unavailable or cannot be found. Please try again later.” and “The file could not be stored in cache”. After spending some time debugging I found out that IE has problems with file downloads over HTTPS. Google pointed me to this post. The guy in that post spent six hours figuring it out, and he probably saved me six hours as well. The magic required to satisfy Internet Explorers needs:

1
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header('Cache-Control: maxage=3600');
header('Pragma: public');

Spread the message so others can spare some time!