Author Archive

Caster’s Fixed Function Tips and Tricks

Here is a link to the presentation I gave a while back.  Slides are at the beginning and slides with notes are at the end.


Fun With Fixed Function!

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The Incredible Baron! Awesome Reverse Tower Defense Game


One of my very talented designer / programmer friends is working on a reverse tower defense game.

I visited him in Utah a couple of years ago and reviewed the game for him and game him feedback. Back then it was already a very fun and satisfying play experience.

Clever and fun characters, witty dialog, and polished art helped enhance an already great game.

I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reverse tower defense.

If you’re interested, they’ve posted a Kickstarter here:


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Why Scaleform is a Bad Idea


Studio XYZ is making a game.  They have experience making games and decide that they spend way too much programmer time on the user interface.  They decide to give a solution like Scaleform a try and are amazed with the nice looking visuals that they can get running with minimal programmer involvement.  They sign off on it and begin development.

Halfway through development the programmers (there are more than one working on UI now) start complaining about Scaleform and the artists are miffed they can’t do certain things that they thought they would be able to do.

Just before shipping the project, almost all the programmers on the team are smashing keyboards, cursing, and taking required “time away from the desk” when dealing with Scaleform.

So what happened?  Why all the frustration and anger?

The problem is that the development team was hoping to take what was normally an entire programmers full time job of doing boring UI work and move more of that work over to the artists.  The artists would be happier being able to have more behavioral control over the UI and the programmers would be happier because they don’t need to put an entire programmer on UI.

The reality is that Scaleform introduces so much complexity to the game engine that it ends up requiring work from several engineers just to stay on top of it.  It takes the “simple boring work” that the engineers were trying to get rid of and replaces it with a “hard to debug, memory hogging, performance sucking, obscure crashes in messy complicated code (providing you even have the source)” system.

The simple answer is:  Scaleform adds too much complexity.

In trying to make life easier, they made it more complex and costly.


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The game I have been working on for the last 18 months has finally been announced:




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Caster Update

I was at Steam Dev Days this week and it was great!  I’m really excited about the things that are happening with the SteamOS and what it means for us at Hidden Path with Windborne and Defense Grid 2 and also what it means for Caster.

Over the past few months I have been doubling down my efforts on a significant update to Caster.  I even have a few artists on board to help update the visuals.

Here is a list of some of the things that have happened since the last update (in no particular order):

  • Command console support. Toggle settings, enable features, mostly for those developing on Caster.  Just run with -dev to enable.
  • Multi level tall building / structures (sky scrapers) structures support with crumble / topple animation.  This is for creating cities and being able to destroy sections of towers at a time.
  • Debris when hitting buildings.
  • Box collision: Yes, prior to now Caster only used cylinder and sphere collision.
  • Shader support: Caster was 100% fixed function using OpenGL 1.1.
  • Multiple materials per mesh.
  • Custom SMD file based model format to replace the OBJ and HL model formats.  This is to make exporting and importing art from high end modeling software much easier.
  • New terrain textures.
  • Some new tree models and textures.
  • Mostly done android port.
  • Experiments with networking for potential multiplayer.
  • Removed dependency on SDL_image.
  • First person view mode.
  • Oculus Rift support.
  • Reorganized the code and project structure.  Caster now supports 7 distinct target platforms: Win32, Linux, Mac, iOS, Palm, Android (Casteroid), and Dreamcast… Mainly because Spencer Nielsen could not resist “Dreamcaster” as the name of the port.
  • Improved game pad mapping.
  • Add dash animation.  Rather than just running really fast, the character hovers above the ground.
  • Water stream effect.  More like acid spew effect for the enemies.
  • Improved -dev mode.
  • Multiple game support.  There is a “” file that is used by default, however, you can specify your own “.game” file to play a different style of game.
  • 2D side scrolling game mode.
  • Fixed camera game mode for a twin stick like shooter.
  • Animated models can now be scaled to any size.
  • Build date on screen when using -dev mode.

I’m very excited about where Caster is heading, especially with the new opportunities with the Steam Workshop that will make it easier to drop in maps mods that others have done.

If you’re interested in helping out, drop me a line!

Here’s looking to a great future for Caster!

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24 hour comic

Here are the results of my 24 hour comic this year:

And here are those of a friend and coworker Marisa Erven:


This year I went straight up Bic ballpoint pen.  I tried to reduce the amount of roughing out and go straight for the final lines.  It resulted in some pretty shoddy work, but it was REALLY fast.  I think I spent about 9 hours on this comic.  I got the idea for it while brain storming with my daughter the morning of.  I really didn’t want to do a fantasy setting, but the message was compelling enough for me to push through it.

Hope you enjoy it!

Caster Speed Run

This speed run is pretty amazing.  Bingchang finished the entire Middon region in 8 minutes and 32 seconds.


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Age of Empires 2 HD!

Age of Empires II, now in high definition!

We created Age of Empires II HD here at Hidden Path!

Available on Steam:


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Pet Rescue!

To motivate how easy it can be to make games, I made a quick game in Small Basic based on my daughter’s game idea about rescuing pets.  Enjoy!

Art mostly lifted from Ignition Entertainment’s Zoo Keeper game for Nintendo DS.

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OUYA Dev Kit Has Arrived!

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