Weekly/Monthly Software News July 28th to August 17th 2014

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Not a ton of updates in the past couple of weeks, hence the reduced frequency. And it’s summer and high temperatures make me a little lazy. Note that we get a new Firefox version which is not half-bad, Flappy Bird finally on Pandora, a cool version of Quake with filter effects, and more. All in all, a lot of stuff worth checking out!

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Flappy Bird: What I Did For The Pandora Version

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Since nobody had released a Flappy Bird clone on the repo, I took some time a couple of days ago to look for some of them that may be working without much effort on the Pandora. Since Flappy Bird was a such popular and, honestly, not very hard game to program, there are a ton of clones out there for many programming languages. Python and Pygame are included by default in the Pandora firmware, so I was set to find something running with those on GitHub, and it did not take too long to identify the right candidate.

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The Pyra at GamesCom

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If you follow the small world of Videogames, you are probably aware that the biggest European event, aka the Gamescom, is going on in Cologne right now. The first day was reserved to businesses only, but the rest of the days are open to the public. There’s one more reason to go this year: to see the Pyra prototype at the Dragonbox Booth. And some of key community members. Here’s a quick report from the first couple of days.

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Squared: 2048 on Your Pandora

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In case you have been living under a rock, you probably know of the recently popular game 2048, which was itself based on the popular mobile game Threes. 2048 ended up being more popular than Threes, making Threes look like a ripoff of it, which is quite funny when you think about it. Anyway. Squared, by Gandi, is a clone of 2048 for the Pandora. It’s pretty good.

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How I Optimized F-1 Spirit for Mobile Processors

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A while ago I had found that the old MSX (and Gameboy) racing game F-1 Spirit had been recreated in open source (since 2004) for modern systems, using OpenGL. I thought I would try to do a port. It was easy. At least it was what I thought in the first place. After some quick conversion of GL calls to GLES (since the Open Pandora’s PowerVR chip only supports OpenGLES), it was up and running a couple of hours after I started. I was ready to test it. The intro screen went fine, and I was jumping in the game… Everything seemed to be for the best, except for a minor issue. It was way too slow in-game to even play it. I could only get a couple of frames per second, which is hardly ideal when you play a racing game. That’s when I decided to look at the code and see where it could be optimized.

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A Recent Presentation about the DragonBox Pyra

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Michael Mrozek, also known as Evil Dragon (ED on the board) is the CEO of DragonBox and the current project leader for the upcoming DragonBox Pyra, a new device expected to replace the Open Pandora. He was at the recent RMLL in Montpellier (5-11 July 2014), France and gave a talk about the Pandora and the Pyra. Since it covers many of the latest aspects of the design, it’s a recommended watch if you have not had the chance to follow up on all developments recently.

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