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Entries from August 2018
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LD48 #42: Running out of Space (18 Aug at 10:19)
After a several-year hiatus, I found another well-timed free weekend to do Ludum Dare, the 48-hour video game making competition! Here's the game I made, for the theme "Running out of Space":

SPACE GAME
SPACE GAME


Hereafter, some mild spoilers. It's a point-and-click adventure game, but the "twist" is that the interface is all in gibberish space language. If you find it too confusing or tedious, you can call up the universal translator with your browser's javascript console (e.g. ctrl-shift-i in Chrome).

Progressive hints (ROT13; you could decode these with e.g. rot13.com, which is an entirely different kind of space language):

Gur jbeqf ng gur obggbz bs gur fperra ner ireof. Gur cnegyl pbafgehpgrq npgvba nccrnef va gur gbc-yrsg.
Ab, lbh pna’g qebc guvatf! Lbh arrq gb trg gb gur hccre qrpx.
Gur genafyngvba bs gur svefg ireo vf TENO (abg r.t. GNXR). Lbh qba’g unir gb or evtug arkg gb gur guvat lbh teno, ohg vg unf gb or ovbybtvpnyyl cynhfvoyr.
Lbh pna’g qebc guvatf, ohg bar bs gur ireof nyybjf lbh gb chg n cnegvphyne xvaq bs vgrz va n cnegvphyne xvaq bs irffry. TENO (svefg ireo) gur fcnprzna guebhtu gur tengr. TENO gur fperjqevire. BIVCBFVG (guveq ireo) na rtt vagb gur obql. HFR (ynfg ireo) gur fperjqevire ba gur tengr.
Gurer’f fbzrguvat gb TENO va gur perj’f orqf.


Hereafter, plenty of spoilers: I've always loved the graphical adventure genre, and I've wanted to make one for some time. (I even spent rather a long time trying to build an adventure game editor/engine in Flash about 13 years ago, last mentioned in post #784 I think. As an example of the reason that this post took nearly a week to go up after finishing the LD entry described above, I wanted to post a final link to this game, but it had some serious breaking issues since one of the reasons I abandoned it was that I ran into some super-weird Flash bugs/quirks. So this morning I dug out that old thing and tried to repair it as much as I could; you can try the final abandoned demo if you want.) I spent a lot of the weekend on some game engine basics, to the point that I repeated the failure mode of "I'll draw spaceship graphics so deliberately crappy that I'll HAVE to come back and improve them before shipping," and then, "Oops, I'm out of time!" but also "I want every pixel in this animation that will be on screen for 100ms to be just right!" There's still so much more efficiency to be found in contests like this.

My intention was that people who know the genre could figure it out purely from conventions (but there are some twists on that), although many people opted to translate the language, which I also deliberately left as a possibility, with some clues. Several people reported having fun with that, so maybe I shouldn't have assumed it would just be annoying—in retrospect, I think I was mostly just averse to it because the idea that an alien would speak English but just with a different alphabet is annoyingly absurd to me, and I didn't want to commit that narrative sin. But there's only so much you can fit in the weekend. Speaking of which, there were several ideas I had to cut from the game on the last day (of course). For example, one of the two airlock people was supposed to be an entirely separate character with an associated puzzle; there was supposed to be a functioning door to the bridge; the airlock puzzle was supposed to make a little more sense than it does (explaining the fact that both doors start locked) and you were supposed to need to talk to that character to scare him into locking himself in the airlock, etc. There was of course supposed to be atmospheric music for the main game, and I know about all of the path-planning bugs and areas where your player can show through objects, ugh. But I ran so low on time that I only got the game even remotely winnable in like the last 30 minutes of the contest. So I initially felt kinda bad about it at submission time, but enough people have enjoyed it that I feel mostly cured of that now. I may fix some of the worst issues (path planning; misspelling "oviposit") so as usual I've archived the 48-hour compo version at the /compo URL, but the main link in this post will point at the best version.

Once everything is set up, it's not a hard genre to expand with content, and I like writing and animating in this style. Some day when I have a solid week to spare, I'd like to make a complete game in this style.
Categories:  video games  ludum dare (8 comments — almost 3 weeks ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from July 2018
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I ran every day for a year (31 Jul at 18:20)
This month I finished my year of "running" every single day. I wasn't keeping very good records at the very beginning, but I picked a day (19 Jul 2017) after which I was sure of my streak, and then ran all the way until and including that day plus one (20 Jul 2018) to make sure it was definitely a full year. Then the next day I specifically didn't run, in order to make sure I wouldn't trap myself into continuing the streak longer. You gotta be careful.

I mentioned these before, but since I'm declaring victory, I will repeat the rules/caveats:
Most days I went outside and put the feet to the pavement. But, especially during bad weather, I often did treadmill runs or the elliptical machine. I'm pretty sure all of the outdoor runs were at least a mile, but the median trip was likely 5k. I routinely pushed myself when I was running. My mantra was "do something hard."
In January and February my herniated disc started acting up really bad. I did physical therapy for 6 weeks and considered surgery. I tried running when I could, but I had to switch to the exercise bike on many days. I didn't skip any days.
I ran on every calendar date in the local (to me) timezone. The episode had to start before midnight. Due to several trips I think there may have been no single time zone where I ran on every date. I didn't cross any time zone boundaries while running so we don't have to consider any of those corner cases, but I did run in three countries in a single trip. :)


Some observations:
It was hardest to keep this up when traveling. I love going for a few long runs when I'm not home, since it's a great way to explore and helps with jet lag. But doing it every day is logistically hard, mostly because it produces so much disgusting sweaty laundry.
The very hardest times to run were when I was injured (neck), or for the few days after a marathon, or when I was in California during their wildfires last year (Air Quality Index "hazardous").
On the other hand: Not that I think running every day is the idealschedule or even good for you, but, I didn't really see any obvious physical issues from doing it every day with no breaks.
I lost 10 pounds right away (first month), but then plateaued there for the rest of the year. I wasn't really being careful about what I ate, so I was probably just compensating for the extra activity with more food and beer.
It works well for me to have some kind of rule ("run every day"), more so than trying to just "run a lot." There were lots of days where I knew I would have just played video games or gone straight out after work if not for my project. (I found this to be true when I became strictly pescetarian: Giving meat up completely was actually easier than simply trying hard to reduce my meat consumption.)
On the other hand, I don't think I could sustain it indefinitely. I'm currently thinking of ways I might have more sustainable rules.


ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
"Ran" every day for a year


I was not disciplined about always recording metadata about the activities. I usually wore my GPS watch when I went outside, but not always when I was on the treadmill (what's the point?) so I unfortunately don't have any good "grand total" numbers. Just the running activities where I had my watch totaled 1250 miles. I did take first place on all of the segments (on Garmin; Strava is a lot more competitive) that I ran regularly, like the famously steep Negley Hill.

I actually finished up while visiting Hawaii for a wedding and vacation. One of the very last trips I did was on the North shore of Oahu, where I ran to some of the places where the show LOST was filmed. After that, I think I lightly broke my toe trying to learn how to do a headstand, and then messed up my hip hiking (?) (or something?). I've been doing a little bit of running since, but it is nice to be able to take a break while I'm injured so that I don't make it worse.


Not much else has happened, especially due to travel. I enjoyed Blocks That Matter and Yoku's Island Express, which I played this month. As usual I've got a few projects in the works; I'm almost ready to do another Learnfun/Playfun video as soon as a I finish two pieces that I know how to do, but that will take some concentration.
(7 comments — a month ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from June 2018
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Running update (30 Jun at 23:05)
Well, I really didn't do much this month—that last project was pretty hectic and ended with a bunch of travel, and then I also had some work travel, and so I've mostly just been recovering this month. Finished up some video games, started some new games, the usual.

The run-every-day quest is still active and coming up on the one-year mark, at which point I expect to declare victory and retire from that (hopefully keeping a healthier 5- or 6-day a week habit). But I'll save that retrospective for when it's actually done.

I did do a couple trips for my Pac Tom project, which I'm back in the mindset of actually trying to complete. During a absurdly torrential storm I finally finished off Perry North, one of the more difficult neighborhoods (it's distant, like 6 miles just to get there, hilly, and has lots of streets). A couple more North Side neighborhoods remain, and then I should be able to finish off the South Side remnants in a single trip or so, depending on how much I want to savor it.

Of course I can't run every street in the world, but one side quest is running across borders (state, country, or like the width of islands) and this last week I completed a new achievement here. While in Basel, Switzerland, I did a single run that crossed through Germany, France and Switzerland (and indeed all the pairwise borders). It's quite easy if you're in Basel, actually, but I was still excited about it. Since I've also done Switzerland and Italy this connects a rather large chunk of Europe. There aren't many places where you could do more than 3 countries, but possibly I could make Switzerland – Liechtenstein – Austria – Germany (about a marathon distance). There's also this spot but it seems to involve some swimming!
(2 comments — almost 2 months ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from May 2018
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Reverse emulating the NES! (31 May at 18:30)
Oops, I screwed up by forgetting that May doesn't have 32 days. Especially silly since I finished the content of this post days ago, and all I had to do was post it! Backdated 24 hours [cheating].

I finished the project I've been talking about for a few posts, and uploaded two videos:

Reverse emulating the NES to give it SUPER POWERS!
Reverse emulating the NES to give it SUPER POWERS!


Making of
Making of "Reverse emulating the NES..."


The first video is the project itself, a weird self-explanatory joke, and the second one is a longer explanation of some of the technical stuff and the process that I went through to create it. Of course, up to you, but I think both have something to offer for the audience that reads Tom 7 Radar. :)

I went to Seattle to present basically the first talk to two different audiences (first at Deconstruct and then at UW's PoCSci, which is like their version of SIGBOVIK.) I was delighted to have the privilege to do both of these without so much as telling anybody involved the title of my talk, let alone anything about its context or e.g. weird equipment, which allowed me to do a more sneak-attack "reveal." This was very fun. Here's me on the big stage. The screen is 40' diagonal, so these pixels are about 1.88 square inches each!

Tom 7 at Deconstruct
Tom 7 at Deconstruct


It was a fun project but pretty hectic. Now I am aggressively relaxing by cleaning my basement and playing some video games (Steamworld Dig 2; great so far!). I have some ideas for the next thing, but also a bunch of travel coming up, so I'm taking it easy.
Categories:  video games  hacks (7 comments — almost 2 months ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from April 2018
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Measure twice, order twice (30 Apr at 23:01)
Well, not a lot to report this month; I've been hard at work on this new project which I'll show off at the end of the month (Deconstruct and PoCSci, and probably a youtube video). It's turning out to be harder than I naively thought (isn't it always? and even taking that into account?) but at this point several things are working and I'm satisfied that it is at least possible, so I'm not giving up! Tonight I have to order some more printed circuit boards because the ones I got, although awesome, are very slightly wrong due to my own sloppy measurements. It's an amazing world we live in where you can get high quality custom PCBs from China in a week, but there are not many weeks left for me to wait for boards and realize I screwed up, so it's time to get this one right!

In post 1154 I mentioned that I had finished "most of the reasonable stuff" in Celeste, and now I've actually finished all of the reasonable stuff and some more possibly unreasonable stuff (all regular berries, b-sides, c-sides). That game continued to hold up for me through the c-sides, although it gets pretty grueling. I feel pretty good at it but then I watch the speedrunners and it's obvious I'm still in amateurville. But, I've had enough. Any new games to recommend?

Have kept up the running every day, now at like 8+ straight months. It's much easier now that the weather is getting nice and (especially) my neck is more or less okay. Not expecting to continue the every-day-no-excuses rule after the one year mark, though!
(12 comments — a week ago)   [ comment ]
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