75-Ball Bingo Game

Categories: Flash Bingo Games

Progress has been rather slow (I have no idea what I have been busy with), but I finally have a semi-working version of the 75-ball bingo game. It always takes longer to get the first game running, because it serves as the groundwork from which all succeeding games will be based and share core codes with. Once this is done, it should be significantly faster to wrap up new games, especially similar ones (i.e. 90-ball bingo, and Spin Bingo).

I am still making a lot of changes in both the game server and Flash codes, but so far the following areas are already working fine: bingo game patterns, bingo board and history, number calling, bingo cards etc It’s actually very playable already, so I’m already in the process of finalizing the details, plus all the options I am planning to add to the games.

Today, I worked on some horizontal text scrolling codes (used in the bingo pattern and the message bar). I’ve always wanted to do something like this (with some specific features), but I’ve been too lazy in getting it right, so I’ve been coming-up with other simpler variations before. But now, it’s working perfectly as I wanted it, so I am very pleased with the results. 🙂

Initially, I was also actually planning to just make a dummy Flash game “skin” or graphic theme. I just wanted to get the required elements working, then have a graphic artist make new, more appropriate game graphics. Surprisingly, the theme I am doing now turned out to be very adequate already. Graphics are very simple and clean, but sometimes it’s really just what’s needed. I am still going to ask a graphic artist to make new graphics for all the games, but I will keep the one I have now and offer it as an option (perhaps as an incentive to higher-level players).

Hopefully, I’ll be able to wrap up the first 3 bingo games within a month (I really really hope so!), and then I’ll have to work on the site itself and I can already look forward to the site launch, which I hope will be sometime this year.

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Java Generics

Categories: Bingo Game Server

While working on my new bingo game servers, I thought I should fully take advantage of this new feature called generics. It really does simplify things, codes can be written in less lines, making it more readable too… well at least when using existing Java classes (mostly collections).

Unfortunately, making your own classes generics-compliant is something else. For simple classes, I doubt anyone will encounter issues. However, as soon as you have multiple classes subclassing other classes/interfaces here and there, creating objects which make use of generics itself, things start to get mind-boggling. Ok, that may have been exaggerated a bit, but really… I thought generics would simplify things, not make things more complicated.

I’ve done some reading, thinking I may have been doing it wrong or I could have been overdoing the use of generics already, but I found out other programmers actually feel the same way. I think the quote below sums up everything, and this is coming from someone who actually writes books to teach Java fundamentals:

“So we have a feature whose complexities are high, whose learning curve is steep, and whose benefit is limited.”

Read the source article entitled Generics Considered Harmful.

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Putting Together Web Site Components

Categories: Random Thoughts

These days, developing a web site can be very overwhelming, especially if you want to include a lot of features. However, you can usually just look around and use freely available resources, instead of reinventing the wheel, so to speak.

I have always wanted to have some sort of a News page, where I can inform players about the recent developments on the site. In my previous attempts (over at BC for example, the first bingo gaming site I developed), this started out as a simple one-page approach. I just kept on updating this single page, and from feedbacks, I was surprised that some players were actually even reading it. However, it soon became apparent that this one-page approach was not enough. After a few months, there’s just a lot of stuff written, that the page really needed to be broken down into smaller pieces (e.g. monthly postings).

So when I developed HB, I decided to use WordPress, a free, full-featured blogging software. Postings are better organized, and it’s also a lot more functional.

Then came the need to integrate some banner ads. When I was still working on TTG (my first attempt at making my own gaming site), I actually started out making my own banner codes. As expected, things got complicated, and my basic banner codes just couldn’t cut it anymore. So my friend (who is now the one working on the TTG site) was tasked to adapt and use phpAds. This open source software pretty much takes care of anything related to banners, and it’s the same one I used on HB when it already has enough traffic.

This really speeds up development time. Instead of wasting time developing my own blogging and banner codes, I can instead concentrate on what I do best, which is gaming. Sometimes it’s an overkill, I probably use just a very small percentage of WordPress’ features for instance, but it gets the job done, and more efficiently than if I had written these codes myself.

However, that’s also the downside. Because these 3rd-party software have a lot of features and are popular, it also opens up more issues like security loopholes and such things. I still remember the time when I had a major server security issue with HB, I almost ended up hiring a network administrator to help me fix it and prevent it from happening again.

Basically, because of my choice of OS and control panel, plus a security loophole in an outdated version of WordPress, some automated scripts were able to hack into the system and use the server’s bandwidth and resources to (I presume) share illegal files and also be an accessory to finding other servers with similar vulnerabilities. Good thing I was able to detect and eventually put in place the necessary fixes, or my host could have kicked me out of their network (plus bandwidth overage is VERY expensive).

Anyway, for this new bingo site, one of the major things I wanted to immediately introduce is social networking. This is also where the avatar concept will be put into good use. Now, I have the option to code things from scratch, but I recently read an article about open-source social networking projects, something you can use for your own sites. I did some quick research, and there has been some interesting stuff. I just don’t know if I can find something that will be easily usable for the features I am planning.

You see, when I was developing HB, I also came across and even considered using 3rd-party game servers. There are actually some general-purpose Java servers available, but in the end, I opted to still develop my own because:

  • I have been working on this area for a few years now, so I now have a solid background of all the issues and complexities involved in it
  • Similar to say WordPress, these efforts try to do so many things, making them more complex in nature. Because I will only code the stuff I really need, the game server doesn’t become bloated (less memory footprint, faster speed etc)
  • Sometimes, it’s just easier to code things myself and develop something from scratch, rather than relying on an existing framework. This also makes it easier to introduce features that may not have been possible yet if I had to rely on a 3rd-party solution

And the list goes on. Well, let’s just say that because the server is gaming related, it really makes sense to develop my own, because it’s the core of a gaming site.

Going back to social networking, at the very basic level, all I need are friends linking and integration of player avatars as well as some game-related stuff like game statistics. But I know along the way, this has to evolved. Players are gonna look for a way to send messages to each other, share photos, create testimonials, blogs etc In short, things that are already being done by all other social networking sites out there.

So should I write my own and keep things simple? Or try to incorporate all the features that people already come to expect from a social networking site? Hard decision. Most likely, I’ll keep things simple (because this is supposed to be a gaming site primarily), but if I find something usable and easy to integrate, I just might try that other option instead.

We’ll see in the coming days…


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