Monday, August 27, 2012

Ludum Dare

I participated in my first Ludum Date (a 48 hour game making competition).

The game can be downloaded here:
(It has not been widely tested)

The theme was Evolution. I made Darwin: Second Strike, it's a very (very) simple platformer. I made all the graphics ... as you can probably tell :D I used vectors to represent the level geometry and the level itself it was just one big image.

I went for Zombie Darwin back from the grave to pelt unbelievers with his Origin of the Species opus.

I probably spent too much time on the title screen - there's a cool intro animation through :D

I think the key for success in the future is to have a bigger library of code that I can draw on and to have a more featured game engine so I don't waste time adding things like keyboard support :D

Friday, August 24, 2012

August: In review

August seemed to go by pretty fast! And I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get more stuff done!

I started playing with a bit more web-programming and I've got a virtual linux server from linode to experiment with.

When I lived in Japan I kept a simple blog which I update now and again. I enabled adsense ads and it makes a small amount of money each month. I'm sure many people have had this idea but I thought it would be great if I could have fun learning some web development and also create some sites that might also generate some income. After looking at some similar sites I created: using wordpress and some themes. It just a collection of products that are well made and should last a lifetime with affiliate links to amazon. I was also playing with one or two other sites but I haven't launched anything else yet. Finally, I also messed around with the Google Checkout API and found it very frustrating eventually getting nowhere :( I will probably try again in the future.

I entered the Ludum Dare challenge and actually created something. While the game wasn't great it was well worth doing I think. I used the old version of my rapid-prototyping engine for this.

The second version of my rapid-prototyping engine hasn't had much love this month. I added a little more code this weekend. It has better support for reloading assets.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One Click : The Rise Of Amazon

I finished off this book yesterday (the ebook version), it was quite short but I enjoyed it. Jeff Bezos seems like an interesting guy. He went to a Montessori primary school which I've always thought sounded like a ideal way to teach. Will Wright, creator of Sim City, also attended a Montessori school. (Here's a Wikipedia page on Montessori)

Jeff Bezos' type of lifestyle, at least as it's presented in the book, doesn't appeal to me. It seems too much living to work rather than working to live but I enjoyed the insight. I think to do something world changing like make a company like Amazon - by definition - you can't be 'normal'. Normal people don't start companies, generally, they get a job, a house, married, have kids, watch a lot of TV and retire. One of Jeff Bezos' eccentricities in the book was to apply business methods, not just to his business but to his life - for example a decision flow chart for deciding who date!

Another part that stood out had a quote about hiring, which reminded me of Valve; each person you hire should be better than previous hires and raise the bar. After a few years people who've been working there will think "I'm glad I don't have to apply now - I wouldn't be able to get it!"

I also discovered that he, too, is interested in space exploration which is cool (along with the likes of Richard Gariott, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and probably others). Being a billionaire he set up a company called Blue Origin with the ultimate goal of extra terrestrial colonies. Neal Stephenson author of the System of the World Trilogy, Cryptonomicon (I think a must read if you're from Computer Science background, or a programmer) and fun cyperpunk novel Snow Crash (which was released in 1992 and really did a pretty good job of predicting the next 20 years, and beyond, I think) also worked a Blue Origin for a time. It's not mentioned in the One Click but I thought it was an interesting little fact. Maybe this was partly the inspiration for his recent talk about writing sci-fiction to inspire big engineering project like space colonies. Worth a watch if you've got the time:

If you want to find out more about the Amazon book here, appropriately enough, is the amazon link.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

July in review

I've been playing around with a few side projects last month. I'm trying to rebuild a small game prototyping application I have in a cleaner, more efficient way. The goal is rapid prototyping, easy distribution and to not be intolerably slow. I've submitted the starting steps of this under Git
It started to get a little messing when I came to automatically reloading assets (not quite as messy as my current "complete" version though). Anyway half way through this I decided Lua intergration would go a lot smoother with nice a reflection system. I remember working on kjAPI (which unfortunately doesn't seem to be being updated publicly anymore.) there was a cool reflection system, Classes and their properties could be registered and without any additional code you could interact with the object in the game editor. Very cool.

I looked at kjAPI's reflection code at the time but I definitely didn't understand it and didn't take the time to break it apart, so I was a bit of loss how to start. I found some excellent articles by over here: which gave a nice overview. Then I spent some time getting back up to speed with templates and member function pointers and was able to get some proof of concepts up and running.
I intend to come back to that but in the meantime I've been trying to focus on programming that actually brings in some cash. So my current side project is more profit focused and at the moment involves some very basic natural language processing in Python. I don't think I'll be publishing this code publicly for the time being. One reason being; each time I come back to the code, I rewrite how it works from the ground up. I think this third iteration is here to stay for a while though. It's currently parsing text with a 35%(ish) accuracy and I want to bring that up to 80%. My aim is to complete this asap.