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Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Sorry this one is going up late. The last few days have been pretty busy. Good busy, since I was hanging out with family, but busy. I still got a thing done here and there, though. I fixed all of the compile-time errors, so it builds properly now, and then fixed the errors in the prototype editor created when I changed how entities work, then fixed the errors in behaviors created when I changed how behaviors work. As of now, it seems to be functional to approximately the same level as before – so far. I’m sure I’ll uncover a few more bugs as I go, but all in all it’s been about as painless as I could reasonably expect.

So what next? Over the next week I’ll be going through the entity editor, making sure everything works properly, and making sure that it interacts properly with the levels themselves – that is, that it will be possible to save and load entity data using the new centralized standard, and easy to modify levels entity data as necessary while I run the game. I’m pretty tired at the moment so I haven’t thought through the full process, but I think once I get my hands on it it should go pretty fast.

After the entity editor is definitely completely functional precisely as I want it, I have a choice: I can either tackle the detail editor, which I had to leave off from a month or so ago to do this restructuring stuff, or I can get melee hit detection working. It should probably be the latter, honestly, since that’s the main thing keeping me from creating a complete prototype animation set – once I have enemies that can deal and receive damage, I can start testing out what kinds of hit animations, both programmatic and artistic, will serve my needs. In fact, this may even end up interacting with the detail editor, since it’s entirely possible I’ll want to create particle effects that use the same system. Well, we’ll see when I get there.

Regarding regular blog updates, the big essay I’ve been working on still isn’t done – it’s shaped up a lot, but I still need to create a few illustrations for it, find some nice images to spice it up, do more editing for clarity – and, hopefully, create a little prototype game demonstrating the ideas I’m talking about. I think I’ll try to get something short written this week though. I don’t feel comfortable leaving the blog essentially un-updated for this long.

 

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It sucks to do these updates when I don’t have a lot to say, but so it goes. I heard this week that the average productivity of a professional programmer is 10 lines of code a day, so I’m at least keeping pace with that. I’ve more or less fixed all of the compile-time bugs except for one or two that are basically dummy lines calling functions that don’t yet exist. Once those functions are written it should all run… kind of. I’m pretty sure there will be a bunch of bugs, and I’m pretty sure I need to revise the editor a bit to make it work with the new setup, but it’s slowly coming together.

This week has been, more than anything else, an exercise in being okay with it slowly coming together. I’ve been trying really hard to push this stuff to go faster, and consuming more and more caffeine, and getting more and more irritable, and this week… I just had to take a step back, and calm down, and remember that, after all, I’m in this for the long haul. Rushing won’t help, it will just make me sloppy and cranky.

There will be a time to push myself to the finish line, but that finish line is still very far away. So… I can just focus on what I need to do, and I can just calm the fuck down and do this bit by bit.

I’ve cut back on my caffeine intake and I’m feeling better, albeit sleepier. I also took a couple of days to catch up on my other work, spending one day focusing on writing and one day focusing on my current art commission to the exclusion of everything else. I feel a lot more on top of things now. And hopefully I can maintain that feeling, and I can keep getting good work done. It’s starting to feel better. However gradually it has to go, I will continue to make this happen.

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This is probably going to be a short one, because there’s really not a lot to say. I just spent a week revising all of my entity and behavior code to comply with the new standards I’ve set. The good news is that now it’s actually trivially easy to recreate entities of the same type, revise entities at the base level and have those changes reflected wherever the entity is used, etcetera. It’s also almost as easy to make them differ where I need them to by adding a few custom parameters and saved statuses. All in all I feel like I put in some good work, but it’s really boring work that’s no fun to talk about and makes it impossible to build the project in the middle of, so it feels like I’m not making progress even when I am.

Anyway, all that stuff is basically done now. I say ‘basically’ because I still haven’t tested it for run-time errors, of which there are certain to be a few, though I feel that I have been quite thorough so hopefully not many. After I get that last bit finished, I’ll have to go back in and revise the entity and behavior editors to match up to the new standards – which, fortunately, shouldn’t be as onerous nor require throwing away as much work as I was at one point scared it would. It’s mostly a matter of shuffling around a few control panels and revising it so that the full editor is only visible while working on prototypes.

Going back and fixing stuff like this up sometimes feels like it’s avoiding the really important parts of the project, but a framework can only take you so far if you don’t go back and reinforce it every so often. Regardless, knowing that in another week or so this will be wrapped up and I’ll be able to get back to developing the new parts of the project that still require my attention is certainly pleasant, and it’s starting to feel like the number of programming tasks yet to do on the main engine of the game are at least finite if, perhaps, still too many to count..

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Well. The piece I wanted to put up next still isn’t done. It’s up over 3200 words now, but still has a few hundred more to go. If that were all it was I’d just bang them out and put it up, but there’s also several days worth of editing, polishing, sending it out to friends and family to give it a test read, and generally making sure that, if it’s going to be some big 4,000 word analytical essay, then it will at least be one worth reading.

Here’s the thing: I really, really want this to be good. I had originally intended to target essays of 1000-2000 words that I could bang out over the course of one week and make of workmanlike quality and moderate insight. I still would like to get there, at some point in the future. However, for the topic of my first longer-form essay I chose the thing that I’ve been wanting to talk about the longest – which happens to be one of the central theses I’ve been building to over the last couple of years writing for the blog. There was no way this one would ever be in any way quick or disposable, no way I would ever be able to settle for the merely serviceable. And, as it gets longer and the verbal mass of it grows, I get more and more intimidated by the work, less sure that it’s all hanging together, and more and more desperate to believe that, in the end, it will all cohere into something relevant and useful.

So another Monday goes by.

I would like to be able to promise that it will be done next Monday, but I’m not ready to do that. It may well be ready then, in which case no one will be happier than I am, but I’m not going to let this one go until I’m confident it’s as good as it can be. I didn’t realize, when I said I would transition to writing smaller faster more intimate things into longer, hardier, and more intricate things that there would be such an innate qualitative difference between the two styles. It’s such a different form of writing it may as well be called by two different activities. In the former, it’s the process of pulling something out of myself and putting it into words, and in the latter it’s the process of finding something external to myself, finding its shape, and building a shell of words around it to represent it. Not only does the latter demand more rigor, it also fails to offer the relief of the former, the relief of vomiting, a lanced boil, defecation, amputation, or defeat.

Which is half the reason I’m going into such detail here. The other half is because I’d feel like a jerk leaving this blog essentially un-updated for three consecutive weeks. I hope that hearing the reasons why might give you some of the entertainments that a regular weekly post would usually offer, and I’m certain that many of you other writers out there feel some wry, familial, sympathetic amusement with my struggle

The creative process at work – in all its glorious splendor.

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As I write this my eyes are itchy and irritated, inflamed slightly but pervasively by the intrusive reproduction of local flora. The irritation of my eyes makes me feel like I’m constantly on the verge of tears, no matter what my emotional state is at the time: Thus Spring primes me, by inverse Pavlovian response, to feel sad and depressed.

Filling my sinuses with flower cum doesn’t help either.

I bogged down a lot this week, and for a few days got essentially nothing done for the reasons outlined above. I finally broke through today, though, and am settling back into a rhythm. One more day should be enough to finish overhauling the entity class – oh, but perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. What time I was able to spend productively this week was spent in restructuring the entire entity/behavior system in order to be, as I described before, centralized. More specifically, I’m making it so every game entity is built off of an EntityPrototype, and shares parameters with all other entities using the same prototype. There will only be a few special differences between entities that make them not identical: Most obviously, each entity will have its own x/y coordinates, but as I progress further I’ll be adding some controls for special per-entity statuses (such as facing and initial state).

Once I’ve finished reformatting the Entity class, I’ll update the editor to match the new paradigm, which itself will probably be a few days work. At that point, most of the major components will be pretty well centralized… I may need to create some sort of loading/managing architecture for entity prototypes to make sure that they use consistent file path names, but I don’t expect any of that to be too demanding. I suspect that by around this time next week everything should be more or less ready for me to tackle developing the detail editor – assuming I’m not forgetting anything, which I almost certainly am.

Thanks for caring enough to read. It’s been a weird week, and I am, as ever, unsure of what my place in the world is or will become. All I can do is keep working, and hope that clarity will some day be achieved.

I’ve got 1900 words on this one and I’m about halfway done, so I guess this one’s going to have to wait for next week. On the plus side, it should be a doozy when it’s done… Hopefully these are ideas that someone besides me will actually find interesting! Sorry that I couldn’t have anything up today, but I think it’s important to be able to work on the longer and more complicated stuff as well.