Lines EX – rebuilding with XNA 3

My dissertation project saw me making an XNA game (Lines) and website to go with it (edngames.com) which used web services to make essentially a cut down Xbox Live on the PC with rich presence support, automatic high score uploading etc. I feel it was very successful (and the markers agreed) but I didn’t get the time to spend on the game portion that I wanted to, instead concentrating mainly on the distribution scenarios and the user experience. With the Xbox Live Community Arcade coming up and the new CTP of XNA 3 released, I thought it would be the right time to rewrite the game using everything I’ve learnt over the last year since I began the project ready for the Community Arcade launch “this fall”.

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Instead of using SpriteBatch, I’ve decided to place 2D flat quads in 3D space. While still getting free rotation, transparency etc, I now get resolution independence and extra effects such as being able to skew sprites.

I already have the main game code so am working on the menu system. By having sprites in a 3D space, changing the camera location means aspect ratio independence too by zooming out or changing the field of view – below shows the main menu in 16:9 and 4:3 (the zooming will work with all aspect ratios meaning no stretching).

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My favourite benefit however is the Smash Bros. style 3D effect you can achieve by moving the camera with the right stick. Completely pointless but very cool and can help you debug the locations of your sprites in the game world.

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And yes, I am aware of the hidden word in the title and it is purely accidental 🙂

Mail.app and iPhone encode Japanese as Korean

The latest of ridiculous bugs I have found after my switchover to Mac is that Korean takes precedence over Japanese when “Automatic” is selected as the encoding on Mail.app. It literally sees Japanese text as Korean and encodes emails as ISO-2022-KR (Korean) if both Japanese and Korean are selected under Languages.

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Try it yourself: make sure both Korean and Japanese are in the Languages list (so they show both show up in Mail.app’s Message > Text Encoding) and send an email containing Japanese text when encoding is set to “Automatic”. View the full message source and see that it encodes the message as ISO-2022-KR, not ShiftJIS or UTF-8 which it should. You have to completely remove Korean from the list if you want to use Automatic encoding, or manually select the encoding yourself every time. I cannot find a setting to force an encoding (er, UTF-8) on every email you send.

This is not a problem if the recipient is a PC/Mac user since the mail client will sort it out – but sending mails to a Japanese phone, which obviously has no idea what to do with Korean text encoding (and can’t suss out that its actually Japanese text) means that the lucky recipient gets 文字化け、mojibake, jumbled garbage.

Its even worse on the iPhone

If you ever decide to turn Korean keyboards on in the Language settings, or switch to Korean, iPhone appears to add Korean to the Languages list when choosing its own encoding. However, you cannot change the encoding manually on iPhone, or ever remove Korean from the list, even if you then disable Korean input.
The net result? You can never send Japanese mails to Japanese mobile phones ever again on your iPhone, until you do a full system restore. Which I am now doing. If you reply to a mail that was sent to you in ShiftJIS, the iPhone is at least clever enough to reply in the same encoding type but you are SOL if you want to compose a new one.
Rubbish. Windows Mobile has an option to “always send mail as UTF-8”. I wonder how many iPhone users in Japan have fallen foul of this?

iPhone O2 – how to fix the image compression

O2 in the UK butcher images while using GPRS/3G/EDGE – seriously effecting the iPhone. Images are recompressed to horrendous levels – look at the App Store here:

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As you can see, the Facebook and Super Monkey Ball banners have been recompressed. This effects webpages aswell – meaning downloading new wallpapers or browsing Flickr is a waste of time. However, if you change the username for the O2 access point under Settings > General > Network > Cellular Data Network to “bypass” from the default “vertigo” like so:

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The compression is now turned off! Now the “whole internet in your pocket” is actually the whole internet in your pocket.

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