Posted in journal, life, programming, Uncategorized, updates

Hey Everyone: I figured out my blogging problem


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Hello everyone, here we go again. I would be skeptical, very much so, if all 330 odd people following this blog were to tell me that not a one of them were believing that this blog is dying, that I am no longer interested in maintaining it, or that it would be best for me not to continue because I will continue to frequently infrequent this blog. Surprisingly, it’s actually quite the opposite for me. Let me explain why.

No matter how many times I’ve acknowledged it, I never stopped trying to force myself to live up to some form of deadline or another. And I’ll be honest here, when I posted that I’d get something done, my biggest fear was that if I didn’t do it by the next post, it would cause people to lose at least some faith in me and believe that, perhaps, I was one of those “all talk” people, something which I do not want to be known for. For some reason, this sycle has repeated itself many a time over the last year, and I’ll explain it below:
1. I get excited about something, and blog about it.
2. In my excitement, I bang out a sentence that starts with something along the lines of: “In the next post”… “I will likely”… “I will”… you get the picture.
3. Life ends up getting in the way. A problem occurs, school work or otherwise occurs, or I lose motivation temporarily to complete what I said I would.
4. I hold off on the blog post, because I don’t want to post with some excuse as to why I didn’t do what I said I would.

I don’t know if I’ve talked about this subject in a previous post, but the fact that I can’t even remember that now is just another factor that has driven it home for me. See, I started this blog so I could write about whatever I want, whenever I want, and not follow a specific pattern. If I wanted to write a poem, I could. Then the next day, I could post a 400 word technical rant that had to do with the math involved in creating full 3d games, then I could follow that with a post about what a wonderful week I’d had. To an extent, I was… somewhat keeping this unbound routine, but I was adding something I wasn’t before. No, it’s not as I previously suspected, me blogging too much about programming and the like. It’s the fact that I hold myself to deadlines, and then fear failure when I can’t get them done.

That said, I’ll be breaking the sycle by writing just one more of those sentences, though I’ll surely hold to this one, or this blog would die whether I wanted it to or not. I will, not be giving myself deadlines on things I can’t be sure will be completed.

All that out of the way, I am glad to say it’s been a productive couple of months. In summary, I’ve actually started rewriting S Quad Racing in Python, am taking two dewel credit classes in school, and… life is good. These days, I’m still overworking my brain by trying to figure out math formulas for complex things such as rotated rectangles, polygon and triangle shaped surfaces and how they would be represented in a game, and all that fun stuff. In addition, I’ve actually started going to the gym this school year, which is at least somewhat of an improvement from last year.

I know that was quite short, at least by my standards, but another disadvantage with such long blogging breaks is that it’s real hard to come up with something longer than that because you obviously can’t remember everything about the last three months. Still, I think we’re quite up to speed, and I don’t only mean that as a pun to me getting back into working on an all new S Quad Racing version.

Before I go though, I should let you know that if you Go here, you can learn more about what the re-write of S Quad Racing in Python is allowing me to do, and what I’ve done so far. I wrote that page just a little over a week ago, so I have made a little bit of progress, but not too much. Either way, see you guys soon, and I must say it’s a great joy to be back.

Thanks for reading,
Type you later,
Steve.

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Posted in busy, gaming and technology, happyness, journal, life, programming, projects, updates

Hi, It’s me…


Hey guys,
Steve here.
So… where to start? I’ve been absent from blogging for over 2 months, and though it’s not the first time I went away for an extended period of time, it’s certainly the longest. But now that your genius friend who writes long technical posts that few people understand fully, while still managing to make most of you laugh at least once, is officially done learning a new programming language and going to camps that work him out all day every day, it’s safe to say that the blogging games can resume.
Because the last time I blogged was so long ago, I’m not even going to try to detail those last couple months. That’s alright in a way, since it was basically just school, with the only interesting and new experience being city travel. And though that was really fun, even to the point that I would gladly go back, it’s not much to go on a several paragraph rant about because it was mainly about learning how to use the public transportation system and going a few places I wanted to visit.
To those wondering why I went so-o-o-o long without so much as a post, I’m glad to say that it wasn’t just pure laziness and/or distractions keeping me away from the old Word Press this time. I spent the last month of school learning a programming language called Python. That doesn’t seem special at first, since I’d been learning languages all semester in my web class, however, this one was a bit different for me. For the past several months, Danny has been using Python to create his audio games, and occasionally telling me various advantages it had over Pure Basic. Plus, as long and hard as I tried to continue using Pure Basic for my projects, eventually I decided I had to move on not only due to performance errors in my programs, but because I gradually grew dissatisfied with both the syntax and code organization structure to the point that when I finally switched to Python, it produced the same affect as stepping out into fresh Autumn air after being trapped in a jam packed conference room with faulty air conditioning for about 4 hours.
Because Python’s way of doing things is quite different from Pure Basic, I didn’t get to game making level with it until the week after my first camp, thus haven’t done much as far as rewriting S Quad Racing. However, though I’ll refrain from going into too much detail about this as I have no intentions relating to completely frying the brains of people who probably just wanted to see what has been going on with me, I’ll admit that my first real practice with Python involved me taking full advantage of it’s Tangent, Cosine, Sine, and Arc Tangent functions so that I could write functions for 2 and 3d movement, turning, and audio positioning.
All that said, I’ll take a break from technology talk to finally, describe the camps I keep mentioning. After being off of school for just a week, one which I spent part of visiting my grandparents, I traveled to the Texas School for the Blind to finish off my high school PE credit. For those who have kept up with me for the last year, this was the same one I went to last summer. But for those who don’t know, it was a 3 week program where we got introduced to various sports, as well as their blind adaptations if they had any. In addition, there was a bit of exercising, as well as a couple of field trips.
After a week of relaxation following that camp, I had yet another one. Again, this was another fitness camp, though I’d say it was more intense than the PE class at TSB. Throughout the week, my main conflict was trying to decide if I was being tortured, or having fun. We were going all day, doing things like running, biking, goal ball, beep base ball which is a blind adaptation of base ball, swimming, fitness classes, and rock climbing. There wasn’t a day of camp that I didn’t wake up in the morning with at least a moderate level of soreness, though I’d still say that was quite literally the most enjoyable summer camp I’ve attended.
So, here we are now. I’m done with camps for the rest of the summer. I’m not quite sure what my plans are, though my family could possibly be going to Maine at the end of this month for vacation. In the mean time, this week I decided to do something just for fun, something that I’ve never done before. I gave myself a 1 week game challenge, where I would try to compose a game within just a week. The idea of the game is something I would enjoy playing, however it’s not too complex for me to create in a short amount of time. Plus, this should familiarize me with creating games in Python, so I can begin rewriting my main projects in it.
Well, that wraps up today’s post. On Saturday, I’ll be back, and hopefully by then I’ll be done with my 1 week game challenge, and will have some demo audio. Because it’s just a 1 week project, the sounds and music for it will not be of the highest quality. Provided I can get this done, I’ll also post the steps I took to make it, as well as maybe the game itself. Not sure about the latter though.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.
PS. I will, be back soon. The more I do this whole not blogging for 10s of days thing, I discover that it’s harder and harder to get back into it. Not necessarily because of lack of motivation, but because I have no idea where to start. I’ve been trying to formulate this blog post alone for 2 and a half weeks, so that alone should tell you something.

Posted in average, busy, gaming and technology, happyness, information, journal, life, programming, projects, updates

Return to Normalcy


Hey guys,
Steve here.

I really need to stop doing this. Over the last 50 days or however long it has been, this blog acquired 10 new followers. I’m guessing they followed me in hopes that they’d see future posts from me, which I have not done a good job of producing.

I remember a time when I’d blog every 4 to 10 days, because I didn’t try to stick to a certain topic. Recently, though, I’ve found myself unintentionally gearing towards one subject, game development. While I enjoy game development, quite fervently might I add, it was not my intention for this blog to become solely based on that. This does not
mean the end of my technical rants and detailed game idea postings; those will still occur, but it’s time
this blog return to the way it was before, when I didn’t attempt to bind myself to one particular
subject.

Because it’s been so long since my last post, I have a lot to say, but I’ll try to separate it into
multiple posts so I’m not talking about five different things in one. But as a general, perhaps five word
summary, the last month and 1/whatever was good… well… great.

My seventeenth birthday has already passed. Unfortunately, due to my attempt at binding myself
to one blogging subject, I didn’t post anything then; and when I don’t post something on such a grand
holiday, you know something’s not right. That said, it was one of the greatest birthdays I’ve had. I
didn’t have a party, but I will say this. The people I spent it with made it better for me than any party
idea I could’ve come up with myself, and to be honest I didn’t want one.

Aside from that, there hasn’t been much going on worth mentioning. This Friday, though, I am
traveling out of state for a goal ball tournament for the first time, something I’m both excited and
nervous about. I am not traveling with a specific team; I’m not sure whether or not I’ve been assigned
one. But here in Texas, our goal ball practices are small, so we don’t have a fully developed team of
men. I guess this one is going to be quite an adventure though.

In other news, I’ve been alternating in between my 3 projects. I actually did pull out Matt the Terrorist’s source code again, making some significant changes which I’ll discuss in a later post. I’ve also been working on Breakout, and at the moment I’m attempting to integrate a bonus level which requires the user to control multiple balls at once. I’ll let you all know how that turns out in the next post as well. But for now, I’m wrapping it up. I’ll be back after
the tournament.

Thanks for reading,
Type you later,
Steve.

Posted in gaming and technology, journal, life, programming, projects, Uncategorized

So you thought I was gone…


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Let me compare myself to the Texas weather for a moment. Readers of my blog who don’t actually live here may not understand this, but there’s a pretty good chance you will.

Okay so it’s an El Nino winter here. That tends to mean higher precipitation amounts and cooler than normal temperatures. That’s what we were all expecting anyway. Some took it to mean lots of snow and arctic weather, others thought it would be cool and rainy. But due to the absense of cloud cover, it has been, hot for lack of a better word. And for a reason that I’m not quite sure of, it has hardly precipitated, in any form.

I might be somewhat of a weather geek/enthusiast, but that’s not why I shared that weird bit of Texan climatology. But I’ve noticed something as well. I’ve kept saying, [in my once-a-month blog postings], that I would get back to it, I’d be blogging “next week” or “more routinely”. I haven’t been doing this for too many years but even I know that for whatever reason, I tend to post more at the beginning of the year. On the contrary, I’m posting every 40 days give or take, and sticking to only one subject when I do. Sounds a bit like the dry and hot “El Nino” winter has come to reign over this blog, doesn’t it?

Moving on from that, 2016 has been a success so far, for me at least. Due to complications I may or may not have posted about here, I had to drop my BIM2 class. In its place, I switched to a Web Technology class, where you basically learn to program on the web, at least that’s what I can gather from my experience so far. Despite it being a full year class, (you have to be in there all school year to get credit for taking it), I was somehow able to switch into it for the second semester, and my guess is that I’ll have to finish the class in the first semester of next year.

Despite this not technically being an ideal change, I feel I’ve bennefitted much more from it than the class from which I was pulled. In just 5 weeks of being in that class, I’ve learned HTML, (though I already knew about 75% of it it seems), CSS, though that nearly bored me to tears due to its visually orientedness, PHP, and now I’m working on Java Script, which I find to be the most interesting of them all, due to it’s rather simplistic nature and from what I’ve heard it can do quite a bit.

Aside from school, I’m doing alright. On the coding side, because it’s been so long since my last post, I cannot remember everything, but I did work on S Quad Racing, releasing a semi-major update to my testers on Monday. One amusing bit, however, was the set of bugs that appeared in my crashing code. Firstly, due to a glitch with collision detection, once I crashed into my opponent, the sound played like 50 times. Secondly, when I fixed that and went to go another lap, I apparently spawned at the same spot as an opponent some how, so crashed and burned before driving even commenced.

And to make things even funnier, when crashing finally did work, instead of coming to a stop at the end of the race, for some reason the opponent kept going. I guess I rendered his breaks useless when I smashed into him? No seriously that’s actually never supposed to happen.

I still haven’t fixed the 3rd bug I mentioned, and here’s why. It’s been quite a long time since I played the breakout game I created, and Danny suggested I play it again on Monday night. I did so. And I regretted doing so. The ball movement was all kinds of messed up, so I realized after 3 months of playing other breakout games. So since last Monday, I’ve basically been rewriting the whole entire game. Firstly, it now has missions, and creating new ones is not in the least bit difficult. Secondly, it has paddles and balls which have multiple properties, giving me the opportunity to implement variety when it comes to different balls and paddles sold in the shop. And thirdly, it has forms of currency. Tradepoints, which can be obtained by doing almost anything, and Useless Balls (UB), which can be obtained by completing special bonuses, or with 1000 tradepoints from the shop. And, finally, the ball movement system is fixed. All the above mentioned have already been implemented into the game, and we’re going on 7 days now.

Yes, I know. I’ve gone on ramblings about games before and none have been released thus far. I also know that I have 2 other games in the works. But you’d be surprised how many game projects you can take on when you have no deadlines. Firstly you don’t have to stress about time, and secondly you can stay motivated to work on all three of them because you aren’t working for anyone. (S Quad Racing’s rewrite was a special case, that was mainly due to the entire code base being mangled).

That wraps up tonight’s post. I can’t tell you what to look forward to on next week’s post because I simply don’t know.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.

Posted in average, busy, gaming and technology, happyness, information, journal, life, programming, projects, updates

Rewrites and an Audio Demo


Hey guys,
Steve here.

There I go again, with the whole not blogging for over a month thing. The problem is, I have been wanting to blog for at least the last week and a half… but then again it might be better that I waited this long to because some important things have happened recently that I would prefer to have gone in this post.

As I’m sure you could tell by the steady decline of enthusiasm I displayed towards S Quad Racing, and the increasing lack of work being done on it, I was definitely becoming unhappy with it. Since I’d started working on it so early, I didn’t know much about the language I started coding it in, causing me to do numerous things the wrong way, something I wouldn’t find out until the game really started taking off. By November, when I was trying to really ramp up the features, I realized that my code was pretty much just patched together, close-ended, buggy, and virtually unusable.

So, the last week of Christmas break, I finally decided to rewrite the entire game. There were still parts I copied from the old version, such as ambiance, playlist, checkpoint, and obstacle support, but everything else was completely scrapped.

After just a week of coding, I had a fully functional game. And when I gave it to my testing team, the bugs they found were only minor, easy to fix ones that usually resulted from forgotten or wrongly written lines of code. I’ve spent the last week fixing those, leaving only some minor bugs I just found out today. But thankfully, those that are occurring now are not the irreparable ones found in the old version, as I am more able to fix them now that I have a workable code base.

In other news, S Quad Racing is not the only project receiving a rewrite. Matt the Terrorist’s engine is receiving a rewrite as well, going from a 2d side scrolling game to 3d. The code base for this was not mangled like the old S Quad Racing, however it didn’t really have much in the way of flexibility, I.E. Implementing 3d support into it would have been next to impossible due to the y coordinate being used for up and down movement among other things.

Plus, since this game is not completely user friendly due to the keyboard layout, –we have keys for movement for forward, backward, left, right, up, and down, there are two keys (one for the left arm and one for the right), plus whatever keys will need to be added in future, I thought to add a keyboard configuration option. The way the keys will work in this new version are w a s and d for directional movement, r and f for up and down, (climbing ladders and controlling your jet pack), left and right shift being held down for the respective arms, enter to throw items, i to deposit them into inventory, and space to place. However, due to the complaints that will likely come about due to this rather odd key configuration, I’m working on a way for all aforementioned keys to be customized.

Aside from that, I’m really interested to see how three dimensional building will turn out in an audio only game. I don’t suspect it will be different from other audio games in terms of navigation, but we’ll just have to see, since the player will actually be constructing 3d structures without being able to feel or have them described to them.

That concludes tonight’s post, mostly anyway. Since I promised audio demos, I’ll provide this one for S Quad Racing since the Matt the Terrorist engine test is not in much of a playable state at the moment. Enjoy.

Play

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.

Posted in average, busy, gaming and technology, happyness, journal, life, programming, projects, updates

Matt the Terrorist Game Engine: Introducing New and Interesting Game Mechanics


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Twelve days ago, I told you all that the first step of Matt the Terrorist, the adventure game, had been completed. It was just a game with the ability to walk, nothing more, really. But apparently, a lot can happen in twelve days, and the following list should clearly point out my reasoning for proclaiming the preceding statement.
Because I got pumped at having started on this game that had been nothing but ideas for months, and was curious as to whether or not coding some of these radical game mechanics I’d been dreaming up could actually be done, I pretty much got carried away. The following is a list of what I managed to achieve, in about 910 lines, and probably 6 or 7 hours of accumulated coding time.
-Platform like structures, building material, and walls, all of which have length and thickness properties.
-leveling. In the current game I’m building with the engine, Matt the Terrorist: Engine Test, levels don’t mean much, as this game has no real objective, it’s just a test of the game engine after all. Still, levels affect things, as you will see below.
-Items that can spawn or be spawned on the map. These could be building materials, stat upgrades, money, etc. The stat upgrades, such as money, increase as you level up.
-A shop. Only two items in there so far, but again there’s not really too much to work with in terms of objects. Prices of all the items increase as your level does.
-Some… uh… I wouldn’t really call them physics, but items can break if dropped too hard, players and items can fall, and walls can actually be kicked in, (that excludes the edges of the map).
-And finally, I’ve been working on a complex system for arms. These really aren’t the “realistic” idea of arms, but they work like this.
You hold down the left or right shift key, to control the respective arm. (Non realistic element coming)… the right arm can only extend to the right side of your character, the left arm only to the left. Both can move up and down (up as high as they can reach, down to the surface you are standing on).
In addition, the arms can be used to “feel” things, if that’s really what you want to call it. If you move your arm over to the edges of the map, you will be told, “border.” If you reach up to a surface, or are standing on one and move your arm down to it, the length and thickness of the surface segment will be announced. If you are standing on a platform, it’s name will be spoken as well.
In addition to the feeling aspect, the arms can do the basic things, such as dropping and throwing items, as well as exchanging them with your inventory.
It’s not a whole lot, but I’ve been slowly creating functions as I go, such as location and collision detectors, that have helped me a lot. I’d say that the hardest part so far is defining the physics for items, as it requires me to type a bunch of unproven code that I am only about 33% sure will work. I guess I’ll let you all know whether or not it does, once I have a chance to fully test it.
As for developing S Quad Racing, that has gone slower, because of course with my new burst of coding energy I’ve been focusing on Matt the Terrorist’s engine, and unfortunately I have a one track mind. Well, I guess one and a quarter, because I worked a little bit on it, — a few bugs I previously didn’t even know about due to me not racing multi lap races were fixed, and crashing was implemented.
I hope to have audio demos of both games I’m working on in my next post. Also, for those curious as to why there haven’t been updates on the S Quad Racing page, I forgot about them when I started my alpha testing folder, that’s why I haven’t posted many of them recently. This does not mean a lack of work on that project for the last couple of months, — the two audio demos I’ve posted since then should prove that.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.

Posted in average, busy, gaming and technology, happyness, journal, life, programming, projects, updates

A Long Awaited Update


Hey guys,
Steve here.

So, it’s been nearly two months since I last posted here? Seriously? There’s no way I can believe that. Time has flown by these last couple of months. And when I said it would be one or two weeks, instead of four, before I posted again, only the last part of that statement was true. Unless, of course, I meant one or two months, not weeks.

Over the last month and a half, I did some work on S Quad Racing, though not as much as, perhaps, I should have. Nonetheless, I completed a few things, such as adding proper menu sounds, improving the artificial intelligence’s, well… intelligence, Creating an achievements system complete with the possibility to earn experience points, and completely fixing all bugs that could be found in the game thus far, but that’s about it. I sat down and wrote an outline for Arcade Mode, and will try to compose a sort of to-do list, so I can at least try to structure my coding into priorities, something I have failed at doing in the past. This is not to say I’ll end up sticking to that, but it’s worth trying.

On a loosely related note, the very basics of Matt the Terrorist have been established, in the form of a primitive, and I mean extremely primitive, game where all you can do is walk around. There’s a platform that spawns, but you can’t even interact with that, yet. But I guess every game has it’s starting point. To my credit, even though you can only walk around, tiles have a property called thickness. And for platforms, depending on the thickness, a different footstep sound will play. For example, if the thickness is 10.0, it will play the sound of walking on stable wooden boards. However, by the time it gets to 2.0 or lower, you will hear yourself walking on very unstable wood. So even though the game seems primitive, I’m still a bit proud of myself for what I did manage to code in under an hour.

In other news, part of the reason I haven’t been coding and writing as much, is my recent spike in gaming. Recently, Danny and I have been playing a two player pong game, created by Dragon Apps. I must say, I kind of feel bad for Danny. Because out of all the matches we’ve played, and I’d say that’s about four or five, he hasn’t won a single one. We’ve played one “long” game, where the winner was the one to reach a score of 21, and the rest were “short” games, in which 11 was the winning score. The closest he came to winning was the long game, where he managed to achieve a score of 16 give or take, due to a streak of complete failures on my part. That’s okay. Because even after several months of frequently playing, he still owns me on Audio Quake most of the time, so I think we’re even.

That wraps up this post. I’m not necessarily done catching up, but I’ll save the rest for a later post. Do not worry, this is not, my last post of 2015. I’m not sure what happened that got me out of blogging in October, causing that lengthy silence (besides that poem), but it won’t happen. I’ll blog again next week, I mean it this time.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.