Apr 01, 2020

April Fools' 2020

For sixteen years now, Grumpy Gamer has been 100% April Fools' joke free. I'm a little disappointed the gaming press hasn't caught onto this. You'd think it would be a good human interest story.

Oh well, maybe I should do a Twitch channel ranting about April Fools' day. I'm only on once a year.

If there is any good to come out of this horrible COVID-19 disaster, it's that most big outlets have canceled their April Fools' pranks.

Stay safe. Stay inside.

Mar 24, 2020

Guilty Pleasures

After 15 years of defeating one apocalypse after another, Sam and Dean are finally taken down by a real one. With only two episodes left in the 15 year run of the series, production has been shut down due to CORVID-19. Two episodes!

Supernatural has been one of my guilty pleasures for two episodes shy of 15 years. My guess is they will turn it in to a crappy comic book for the final two episodes. That would be a shame.

At a game design workshop 8 years ago, one of the question we all got asked was about guilty pleasures and I mentioned Supernatural expecting to get laughed out of the room, but to my surprise it was greeted with a huge round of "me too!".

If you've never seen Supernatural, you have 15 years of Netflix binge watching ahead during home confinement.

Mar 22, 2020

Lock-down in Seattle

Speaking with a friend the other day and I was talking about how being confided to my house doesn't really feel like much of a life or work change. I suppose that's a sad reflection on my life. I just don't go out much. I'm a life-long introvert, so I don't crave the company of groups or a wild social life. I have a few very close friends and we continue to talk.

There is a bi-weekly game prototype group I would meet-up with and I do miss that.

A few weeks ago I decided to completely rebuild the Thimbleweed Park engine, and I guess the timing was very auspicious given that it's been great at keeping me distracted and from reading the news non-stop.

It all started from having this idea about how to do a better point-and-click interface. As long-time readers will know, I'm not a big fan of the "poke" interface where you just "use" every object until something works. I've always felt there was a better way and I had an epiphany the other day which lead to rewriting the TWP engine.

I started to hack my new UI in but my OCD quickly took over and I just had to start over.

There is a lot of good code in the TWP engine and the goal was to sort that out and only take the good. I started with a new project and then slowly moved pieces of the old engine over rewriting it as I went.

At this point the engine is 100% working and it feels a lot better. It can't run TWP dues to a complete removal of the UI code from the engine.

About a year ago I removed squirrel from my code base and wrote a new custom scripting language called Dinky. It's 90% squirrel compatible but has a cleaner interface into the backend and the compiler generates much better code due to an optimizer pass.

Due to Dinky, I felt a lot more comfortable moving 100% of the UI code into script and out of the c++ engine. This follows the pattern of SCUMM where all the the UI was written in 6502 in Maniac Mansion and slowly moved to SCUMM code as the projects went by. By the time of MI2, most of the UI was done in script.

So anyway...

Most of the TWP engine is now back up and running and my new experiments with UI are 100% in script and so far I'm quite please with it.

One of the changes I made to the engine was severing it from pixel art. It can still do pixel art, but it's better at doing higher res formats and I implemented Spine as an option for character animations.

One of the problems with Spine is it's a lot harder to do "programmer art". I've been looking for some humanoid Spine animations in 4 or 8 directions. If anyone knows where to find something like this, please let me know.

I hope everyone out there is doing OK and this doesn't turn in to a full-scale Stephen King novel. I'm not sure how long I will last if the only thing I have to barter for food with is designing adventure games.

But so far, I'm healthy and safe, I hope you all are as well.

Feb 06, 2020

Camera Code

Camera code is really hard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Writing camera code that is technically correct is easy. Writing camera code that feels right is really hard. You will spend the entire duration of your project tweaking your camera code to make it feel right. You will never be happy with it.

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