Friday I was composing some object shaders and integrated them into the project. At some point we realized that under-water objects where reflected as they were above the water although I was using clipping panes. I thought I screwed up something but an idea made me check everything without the shaders and I found the trouble maker: the default shader of virtools is setting ClipPlaneEnable to zero! 


After the initial shock, I thought: interesting, can it entirely be setup and used inside the HLSL technique definitions? Soon I dropped that idea, because I would have to do technique-switching and that requires manual bookkeeping as Virtools offers no help with that. So how could I get back my correct reflections?

I thought about an old workaround I did somewhen in end 2006 or early 2007 but for this scenario it wouldn't work. This time I really would need some kind of "texkill" instruction that I did not found back then. And you know what? The HLSL counterpart is


Probably you all already know about that, but for me it's my new best "HLSL  friend"! :)

All fine now 8)

(Btw. in regards to the default shader, it might be a better idea to omit that state overwrite. Don't know how this is helpful in the way it is right now. )

One week ago I was, like often, on the market with my girl friend. At the center there is some green space that you can't see easily from the outer ring where the business happens. At a moment I heard faintly some nice sounding guitar music. It seemed pretty nice so I decided to investigate … and there was this guy sitting on an amp below a tree with his acoustic guitar … with only a handful of spectators. He played some funky stuff that I liked – also the sound was very good.

Then he started to sing and I was surprised – it was pretty good! It's not unusual that musicians play at the "Boxhagender Platz", that's how this place is named. Sometimes the music is good, sometimes not. This time I liked it that much that I bought the CD after having heard only few songs. Later, we listened to the CD at home and even went to his concert the same night. 😉

His music is a nice mix of blues, jazz, soul, funk and certainly plenty of other influences. If you go to Rob's MySpace Site I recommend to listen first to"It's Jazz Baby", and then to "Number Through …". Other great songs of him are on the CD.

It's great to discover good music and musicians this way!! :)
It is said, that people don't buy CDs anymore … well when I see musicians play music that I like, I buy their CDs!! (And all of them have been DRM-Free so far!)

Maybe you already saw the plenty of ads everywhere about GarageGame's new gaming portal called InstantAction. I think it's very well done. Most of the site is HTML – only some areas do require flash and of course the games are using an extra plugin. Installation of that plugin in firefox was very smooth – very nice with pictures for each step. The website design is trendy and makes it already stand apart, but also the fact that you can quickly play multiplayer 3d games in your browser – after registration and installation of the plug-in.

On the negative side I found, that after downloading a new game, the process does often hang. Leaving and rejoining the game fixes it. I also had to give internet-connection rights to each game separately. In addition to that, in the lobby you don't see ping times thus lag or disconnection might occur often in some matches. If you want to try it yourself, I'll suggest "Marble Blast" or "Think Thanks". The others are less interesting. A Tribes-Like title is announced called: Fallen Empire Legions.

Lobby area of Marble Blast Marble Blast Online Think Tanks

The announced title Fallen Empire Legions

As we are talking of GarageGames, there is maybe something else interesting especially in regards to the topic of one of my recent postings. They have a 2D-Game Authoring environment called TorqueX Builder. It's layered upon their for their new XNA based engine called TorqueX. They now announced that they added 3D support on the engine level – the editor will be 3D enabled in the future. TorqueX allows deployment on Windows and Xbox360.

TorqueX Builder for 2D XNA games 3D with TorqueX

My girlfriend discovered a real party gem: Soul Explosion

That's dancing to nice groovy, funky soul music … Think of James Brown and you'll know the style. You can listen to some samples on their site if you go to the Top 5 section and click on the typo beside each disc image.

We've been there last night and it was great! Great music = *can't stop, must dance*. Unfortunately, later the volume went too much up and reached a level where you need to protect your ears.

We will certainly try to go to the next ones, too. In meanwhile I need to train some moves like this.


Maybe you know Matthew. He was a very active Virtools user for many years and also published some casual games using it. Roughly a year ago he started to use Unity (for diverse reasons) and ported 'I hate clowns'. Now he released a new game using Unity, called Splume. It's a color-match game with a springy physics aspect.

Splume by Flashbang Studios

While  having a short look at it, I see some usability problems – it's a bit off-topic as it's partly due the Unity webplayer

  • I can't see a quick way to mute audio
  • it tracks mouse clicks outside the window or even when I am in another browser TAB
  • I can't pause the game or even better the Unity player. Thus it takes resources while I am at other web pages
  • where do I adjust fullscreen resolution and AA?

Finally I am finding some time to write about something that I enjoyed ~2 weeks ago. FUNK'N'STEIN – The Band! That's some cool dudes from Israel doing some nice funky music !!

A friend of us dragged us to their concert, here in Berlin. None of us knew them before but after merely 30 seconds I got a big smile on my face and my body started to move. And it didn't end until the end of the show! We really had a great time. Here are some photos. Sorry for the crappy quality, my phone is still more a phone than a photo camera 😉 

Funk N Stein in Berlin    Funk N Stein in Berlin    Funk N Stein in Berlin

Once somebody told me that he thinks that funky music is superficial as most of Funk is about dancing, cheering and having a good time together. I don't think that's superficial as this kind of 'feeling' and 'attitude' is something that the world needs more. In addition to this, as I said, Funk'N'Stein is from Israel and thus the bad situation in that region plays a role in some of their song texts, too.

Anyways, if you like it funky then go and checkout the site of FUNK'N'STEIN which has music and videos.