flipCode - Tech File - Alex Champandard [an error occurred while processing this directive]
 Alex Champandard Click the name for some bio info E-Mail: alex@base-sixteen.com

 12/03/1999, Start Of Term: Lots Of Good Intensions :)

Just a quick update to keep you in the know. As you may have guessed, I back at University in York now. I have to say I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that 2 of my course modules are both interesting and challenging. The first, Theory Of Computing partly involves trying not to chuckle when our lecturer describes the reduction of a language L to another language L' in polynomial time as being "cool", and trying not to be pushed into solving the P = NP problem in our spare time. For those of you that have never heard of this, it's about being able to prove that some problems simply cannot be solved in polynomial time complexity. If you find the answer, as our lecturer often points out, you'll get a Nobel prize... The second interesting module is Chips To Systems. We have to build a simple working system given a Z80 processor, 16k of EPROM and a lot of wire. The good part is I get to program in assembler, but on the other hand stripping wires for 16 bit address lines can get quite tedious. Anyway, this just means I have slightly less time on my hands this year, but I suppose it's just a question of getting organised.

Appart from that, my first few weeks at Uni have flown by at tremendous speed. Didn't manage to get as much work done as expected. I started coding GeoMorph in GTK, as planed. It was an extremely pleasant experience. But I quickly realised that rebooting into windows to retouch my landscape bitmaps under Paint Shop Pro was too time consuming. And since I finaly found some sample MDI code, I've started designing the interface, although it probably won't be put to test much until I get a good engine capable of putting these landscapes to use.

I was also thinking about entering this month's programming contest on Chain Reaction. My original idea was to have a long series of dominoes pushing each other over. So I started researching about physics systems for rigid bodies. The actual physics are reasonably simple, although it would take a while to implement and debug. The other important aspect of such a physics engine is the clipping, which would consume the most time. The type of simplified physics engine I planned to implement would not be able to handle my dominoes very well at all. Firstly they would jigger about when they should be still, due to the assumptions in the clipping. As they fall in contact with another dominoe they would jerk, due do the imprecision of the integration. And finally they would bounce on contact with the floor, unless friction is modelled properly. A fair amount of hacking could solve all this, but not in such short amount of time. Reading up about all these physics got me really interested, so I will no doubt try to implement all this. Even if it doesn't work out, it should be good experience.

Needless to say I've also been doing some hard fragging in Q3A and Q2. But for a change, I managed to get something constructive out of it. I downloaded the Keygrip2 demo editor, and played around with a few demos I'd recorded. It's amazing what this thing can do! I learnt most of the commands I needed and fully edited one single frag in about 4 hours. Suppose that's a lot, but it was fun.

You can download the demo here. Copy it to your baseq2\demos directory, and type "map dm1test.dm2" in the console. I have to point out it's an extremely bad frag. Very bad shooting, reasonable dodging but good camera work. I eventually just about get the frag with a shotgun. Good clinical frags are not very interesting to edit. So I chose that one.

While we're on the games topic, I downloaded an Amstrad CPC emulator. One of the first computers I ever played on. I found all the ROMS I needed right here. About 12 years later and I can actually finish Sir Lancelot now ;) Arkanoid is still a pain to complete though. It's amazing how adictive those games are. Not quite sure what it is about them...

The other good thing is that you appreciate Q3A's graphics much more afterwards. Anyway, if you had an old CPC a while ago, my advice is not to download the emulator unless you have time to spare... you'll get addicted! Well, that's it for now. I suppose I should start putting all my research ideas into concrete demos. Anyway, keep a look out for them.

• 01/05/2002 - A.I., Websites and Voxels
• 03/05/2001 - State Of The Art Character Animation
• 01/24/2001 - Alternate Programming Languages
• 01/11/2001 - The Sound Of Silence
• 09/20/2000 - Engine prototypes, yet more landscape LOD and hard body physics
• 07/13/2000 - Good Practice (TM)
• 06/13/2000 - Revision Week Indeed
• 04/11/2000 - Escape From Inactivity ;)
• 01/05/2000 - Generic Shaders
• 12/03/1999 - Start Of Term: Lots Of Good Intensions :)
• 10/06/1999 - Dynamic LOD, Landscape Generation and much more...
• 09/22/1999 - Water Contest Entry: Rendering Raytraced Refraction with 3D Hardware
• 09/16/1999 - More About Bezier Patches And Fractals
• 08/11/1999 - The Right Landscape Engine For You!
• 07/12/1999 - Leftovers From The Contest: Fixing TP7's Runtime Error 200 bug
• 07/01/1999 - Introduction

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