Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sunday And The Android

Someone Once Said..

..that a change is as good as a rest, and I believe the actual wording of the original quote went further and proposed that a 'change of work' was better than a rest. Having tried actual rest, I found it utterly boring, so I decided to do something a little bit different as my form of 'advanced rest'.

Hello Mr Android

As some of you know before FPSC Reloaded, my chief concern and overriding project was AGK (App Game Kit) which allows anyone to code in a simple to use BASIC (or C++) language and then deploy to a wide variety of platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Blackberry and of course Android.  It was handed over at the start of the year to Paul, the real architect of the engine and current custodian of all things AGK flavored.

Since completing the initial run of Driving Test Success products at the start of the year, I have been pleased to see the proliferation of Android devices and the sophistication of what they can now do. The main reason I prefer Android over iOS is that Google kindly allow us to ship our AGK Player without undue restriction whereas Apple rules prevent the same app distributed through iTunes.  The AGK Player allows any developer to 'instantly' broadcast their app to the device and run natively at full speed, without the need for complicated debug setups or submitting the app to the various stores first.

I have also been lucky to obtain a few Android devices that sport the new x86 based architecture, and I have spent the day trying out various AGK apps to see how they performed.  I also had the opportunity to try out the new WiDi technology, which allows you to project the contents of your mobile or tablet screen direct to your TV.

Lee Makes a Video

I had always intended to make a video around Android and WiDi as it's a great way to demonstrate what the technology can do. As most of you know, I don't have the time these days to indulge in coding for the fun of discovery, but I had a few ideas and wanted to put them out there.  Hopefully someone in the AGK developer community will pick up the battens and run with them.

The video is over ten minutes long so I would make a cup of tea before pressing play.  I must confess to a little self-publicizing, but I am quite proud of the DTS app range currently riding high in the Android and iOS charts, and wanted to blow my trumpet.

AGK Factoids

Did you know that many tools that promise 'easy app creation for Android' are often built upon a succession of high level layers that degrade overall performance?  Many use Java/Dalvik or HTML5 style abstractions to fuel their particular engines, and your app creations sit on top of that.  By the time you get down to the metal, your app is so bloated you're lucky to get even 50% of the performance you could have had.

AGK is designed differently, with it's engine coded entirely in NDK (C++) and compiling down to pure machine code. Any AGK app created in C++ compiles right down to the native architecture of the device, so if you have an Intel x86 architecture running some impressive clock speeds, an AGK app would run as close to the metal as it's possible to get, providing a VERY fast app experience. If you use BASIC, the resulting byte code is processed through an insanely tight and uncluttered switch case, losing only a marginal drop in performance, and only then for extremely large programs.

It is for these reasons that AGK is an ideal language and developer platform for fast apps and games, and why it should be your first choice if speed is your top priority.  Not just the speed of the engine, but the speed of app development, helped along by its battery of easy to use commands, extensive app examples and helpful community.

A Successful Kickstarter

In case you missed the news, we also massively succeeded with our AGK kickstarter campaign earlier this year and as I type, the features are being coded thick and fast, and early prototypes are looking very cool!

You will notice from the kickstarter list that we also included full OUYA support, which is one of the first full Android consoles to hit the market. We anticipated demand for this, and had the device in our hands hot off the manufacturing line.  Watch the AGK forum and news feeds for the release of full OUYA store and controller support in a future AGK update!

Signing Off

As much as I have enjoyed today's advanced rest, it's now time for some real rest in the form of many Z's. Before I go, I wanted to thank the AGK developer for the title Neon Bunniez, now available on Google Play and getting some great feedback. It's simple, addictive and well rounded, and a perfect demonstration of fast and smooth game play.  Nicely done!  Here is the link:

Normal Reloaded blog news resumes on Monday as per usual, with a strong focus on the strange 'stretchy character' issue and the improvement in performance through shader reduction and geometry batching.


  1. terrain smoothing. paint/deform %. these are standard in any terrain editor - except Reloaded.
    Yes I will keep saying this until they are IN

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. ..and I´ll continue nag on the lack of a decent 3D view when making terrain :)
      You can´t judge the hight in 2D.

  2. I have to agree we should have terrain smoothing in reloaded, whether it be at some stage down the track or any time between.

  3. Can we have slider controls for the strength of the sun, angle and so on. Level Ambiance does not affect the sunlight strength. I want to be able to turn the sun strength down/up or off so that there is no sun if need be.

    No way to do that I don't think as the scripts have no effect either on that.


    1. Agree. Actually it was something I thought of just the other day. The sunlight and shadows are something you really should be able to adjust. As today they are as intense at night as in bright day :)
      I´m sure it will come.. as Lee and TGC says, for the moment it´s all about PPP :)

  4. I agree with all comments above. And I´m sure these options will pop up sooner or later in Reloaded.

    The lastest official screenshot of a landscape looked very good. More sharp edges makes it much more realistic looking. But it was a random computer generated landscape.. hope we get the tools for creating something similar in near future.

  5. ". . . and shadows are something you really should be able to adjust"

    The strength of shadows can be adjusted by pressing the F6 key and then using the < and > keys to turn it up or down. Also holding shift while pressing < or > increases the speed it changes at.

    This may help.

    1. Thanks, but it´s not working. F6 works, but not to adjust it.
      I think there might be a collision problem using < and > when not on a english keybord (I have a swedish one).
      Reloaded should use other keys, like - and + or something. Please?