Ludum Dare 17: You Keep Flying
(25 Apr 2010 at 23:06)
Ludum Dare is a 48-hour solo game programming competition on the internet. This is my first time doing it; I participated with a bunch of friends all hanging out at my house and stayin' up late. The theme for this competition, announced at the start of the contest, was islands:
Here is my game that I made, called "Is Lands?" (submission) which is about landing a plane. You can play by just visiting that page, because it's Flash. (The game is very short.) I didn't plan well for this one, in that I spent too much time struggling with physics, its interaction with scrolling, and refusing to use existing libraries for it. (Despite all the work you can still see a bunch of silly stuff happening when you put your plane in a solid object.) I should not have spent so much time investing in a quick way of generating content without actually then investing significant time in content creation. There are only two levels and neither one even uses physics significantly. But, highlights: I think the atmosphere is pretty good, from the title screen to the parallax to the soundtrack to death chords which are tuned to the soundtrack. The off-screen arrow was a deft (though not new) solution to an annoyance where Flash wouldn't let me create movieclips large enough to actually surround the enormous playing field. Most of the things that I like about the game came about without any real work, which is usually the way it goes. Of course I've got no chance in the contest, but it was worth the weekend and I'd do it again for sure. (Unfortunately put myself a little out of shape for next week's Pittsburgh Marathon!)
Other people in my party: William made bouncecrab (submission), Lea made Pirate-Go-Round (submission), and David made Geology (submission). Those are all downloads and I can't guarantee anything. William and David were using my SDLML library and were having release problems as they tried to submit (though I tried to warn them hours in advance to start doing hourly submits). But I think they had fun and I think they'd be in for next time, too.
I'm kind of on a Flash game kick recently, since I made another game for SIGBOVIK. I haven't posted it here yet—it's much better than this one and I have been polishing up some corners before I post the final version on Tom 7 Radar. (But if you do some light digging it's not hard to find.)
Happy 10th Anniversary, Stalkertron 2000!
(31 Mar 2010 at 19:56)
Holy sh—it's been 10 years since the first post on Tom 7 Radar. Here's post #1. There are no comments because at that time there were no readers and no ability to leave comments. I was in college and had written the Tom 7 Radar software as one of the first applications of my functional web scripting language, which seemed advanced at the time, called "aphasia", as a way to post updates without having to cut and paste HTML each time. Now that there are a 1,000,000,jillion web-blogs on the internet that's not particularly special, but at the time I must have thought it was pretty keen since I would write about the tiniest stuff that I had done, like some minor-ass improvement to some software nobody cares about. Since then there have been a little over a thousand posts and almost 10,000 comments. The most popular is still Bathroom Mushroom, which is like a support group for people who experience surprising fungus in new household places. The category momentous collects important life occasions and favorites collects my personal favorite projects and writing, even if about incidental "today I ate eggs" stuff.
But generally, minutiae bores me. These days I pretty much only use it to report interesting news, usually to post my projects, which are mainly some combination of: Music, Running, Drawing, Programming. I'm happy to report that even with my modern high standards, I've had at least one post each month for the entire existence of the site, leading to the nice dense grid of months and years at the bottom of the page.
Enough of that! I'm trying to post pretty much exactly in the same minute as the first post, so not much more to say right now. But: Tomorrow, April Fools Day, is SIGBOVIK 2010 and I've got a neat new project (game) that I'll post here. So check back tomorrow!
Pac Tom website and Level 2
(21 Feb 2010 at 12:44)
I'd like to introduce you to the Pac Tom website, where I'll be organizing my project to run the length of every street in Pittsburgh. New look, look:
If you go there right now you'll see this very blog post, which contains a picture of the site, which is what you're already seeing, which etc. Maybe you got here from somewhere else and you're wondering why the site tells you that you should visit itself. That's cuz it shows all Pac Tom news, and this is Pac Tom news. But there's other better stuff there too, like a new description of the rules, downloadable KML files of my routes, and brand new maps. Here's the main one:
In post 1039 I congratulated myself on finishing Level 1, which is all the roads between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers (conspicuous sinuous voids in the map above). That was over a year ago, and since then I've made significant progress on Level 2, which is the rest of the city. Each of the colors in the map above is a different trip, though some trips get the same color because there aren't that many colors and they're assigned randomly. I finished off the remote colony of Lemingon-Lincoln-Belmar that's across the river to the far Northwest in one go. (It's pretty weird that this is part of the same neighborhood or even part of Pittsburgh; it's almost entirely a shopping plaza. Must be a tax thing.) The rest of the year has been spent on the neighborhoods to the south of the Mon.
This is way harder than Level 1 was. Obstacles: It's about 6 miles of running just to get from my house to new roads, which I also have to do on the way back, so a minimal trip is 12 miles; they're usually more like 20 so that I can get deep down there and then cover some streets. You can tell from the map that I've been favoring the roads that closest to the borders. I like to do this so that I can "finish off" the periphery and not have to worry about it again; on the way there and back I can pick up some new roads shotgun style. (I'm almost done with South Side flats only via taking different routes through it on my way to other places.) The furthest points imply about a 30-mile round trip (you can see them way off to the West). I haven't done those yet, but I have done some 30-mile trips, so I know it will be possible and painful. Obstacle #2: This area of the city is ridiculously hilly. Level 1 sure had some steep streets but the South Side and West End are worse. Just getting there means running up the Slopes or Mt. Washington, and then the hills roll on. Garmin Connect, which is what I hook my GPS into, pretty much always assumes that the physical activity I'm doing is "Stair Climbing" based on the elevation change. The steepest paved road in the world is there, in Beechview! I'm not complaining, though. I love it.
One of my favorite things to do with the thousands of miles of GPS data that results from the project is various visualizations and computation. There are some more maps on the site and some more coming. I'll post about these soon.
Here's a newly recorded Sick Ridiculous & etc. song, Duckles Chuckles. We wrote it for Stephen and Laura's going away (eventually everybody gets married, gets Ph.D., and gets outta Pittsburgh) party; the cover picture above is from when we debuted it the first time in public (with dance routine) at Club Café on New Year's Eve Eve.
In order to fully understand this song, you need to know that Duckles Chuckles is fringe local slang for Washington, D.C., where Stephen and Laura moved, that Stephen's login ID was "smagill", and that "all up in my Chevy Chase" is like a quadruple entendre, with Chevy Chase being cockney rhyming slang (which you might consider "Duckles Chuckles" akin to) for "face", and also the name of various towns and neighborhoods and agglomerations thereof in the DC area, and thus an example of the confusing geographic status of common to the area, referenced in the first line. Nice one, doods.
Of course if we were writing this song today it would have to include Snowpocalypse, but rest assured that one of our newest unheard songs may or may not be about winter weather!
Most of the Northeast is drowning in flurricane right now. I am missing it, stuck in a Hotel (California)* because all of the flights to Pittsburgh were canceled. I'm sad about this because huge ass snowpocalypses are one of my favorite weather events; I just love when the sky is like STFU noobs! and everything shuts down and becomes intensely quiet and all regulations (e.g. traffic ones) are deactivated. Not that I'd rather be flying; several of my friends are or were trapped in motels by the airport, taxis on the highway, layovers, etc. I just want a coldtastrophe while I'm already in the city and in my apartment. Also, would prefer that my replacement flight was not during the Superbowl.
*This is one of my least favorite songs, no question. Other songs that might be my least favorite are:
"I Will Survive", mainly because of pervasive karaokacophonies, but also especially the Cake version, which is weird because I like or don't mind most real Cake music
"Jack & Diane", because of the combination of pure insipidness and unavoidability, though here I'm pretty sure there are no J.C. Mellencamp songs that don't make me want to shoot myself. I thought maybe the more mild idea to just set off firecrackers near my ears to make myself deaf, but then there's the possibility that the song would be stuck in my head for eternity with no way to replace it. Oddly, the annoying "life goes on" refrain appears to be cribbed from the unusually infuriating Beatles song "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da."
I basically have nothing to do so I went for a long run, as I am prone. Usually in the Bay area (meaning outside of realsville) what's immediately accessible to you is just strip malls, the incessant possibility of being run over, and suburbia. But there's some great stuff both on the Bay itself and in the mountains, if you can handle a 20-mileish round trip. Today I went to the Stevens Creek reservoir in Cupertino, where I had never been before. The reservoir itself is nothing to blog home about, but the trail system and surrounding terrain is pretty great, especially on a misty/drizzly day like today was. There's a quarry right next door so a periodic explosion to wonder about what it is until you see the signs indicating quarry. What made this a blogventure (which is the phrase that Mike and Cortney and I used to use when they lived in Pittsburgh I mean to describe an adventure whose purpose was to generate a story to write about on the blogs, which by the way I am still saying "blog" in every occasion in this post, including inside the word "blogventure" (doubly so), ironically) was when I came upon this crazy scrap metal collection in the woods. There's piles of weird stuff there, like old grills and mechanisms and Your Tax Dollars At Work signs that have been plinked full of bullet holes, piles of old lockers:
Such discoveries are kind of the point of exploratory running, so I'm used to it. But I see an ammunition box among the refuse and for some reason I check what's inside, and it's a hidden geocache! Geocaching is kind of like cross between World of Warcraft for hiking. People take weatherproof boxes and fill them up with one man's treasure, then hide them in weird places and post the coordinates (sometimes there's a puzzle or something involved) online. People usually find them because they went to the spot with the coordinates and started looking. Maybe it's not that strange that I'd find it by accident, since first of all I guess I am kind of a nerd so maybe I look in the same kinds of places, and second there are apparently 1,000,00000000000 geocaches in the Bay area because of all the other nerds. But it was not what I was expecting. Spoiler alert:
(If you're feeling like my World of Warcraft jab is maybe not called for, let me just point out that the thing in the upper-left is a licensed Harry Potter fan accessory.) I did think it was neat to find this cache, so maybe I should be leaving surprises around as part of my Pittsburgh running. I know lots of weird spots.
After running I played through a game called VVVVVV all in one sitting. It is excellent. Really its only problem is that it should be 2–3 times longer than it is. (For a similar game that does not have that problem and that you should have already played by now, enjoy Cave Story (P.S. now available on your Ti-83 graphing calculator??))