Category: Weekly Updates
I've been spending the last two months or so since MARDEK 3's release (has it only been that long? Feels like longer), uh, not really working on any games at all...
I've been working on refining and improving my skills, as well as being various kinds of moody for various different reasons. o_O
I started by redoing this site for various 'necessary' reasons, and managed to speed it up significantly by writing more elegant, efficient code than it had before.
Satisfied with this positive change, I've wanted to get to some other things I've been meaning to do for a while...
I've never had a very disciplined approach to most of the stuff I do; most of my skills improve sloppily, rather than strictly or formally. I never learn to draw anatomy properly, I never learn about programming conventions, or how to compose using the rules of harmony; that sort of thing. I never went through the right steps in the right order.
But recently I've been trying to change that.
I started trying to improve my drawing skills but never really got anywhere, so I won't focus on that for a while.
Improving my knowledge of music theory caused me to start working on the Piano Collections. I've got four of those pieces finished and ready for release and sale, but it seems that I'm struggling with the next one in the list (Enki's Theme), sort of like a 'composer's block'; I'm used to this from doing the soundtracks for my games. I'll start some pieces and finish them in a few hours in my first attempt, with everything going smoothly, but others I'll try to start many, many times without coming up with something that I like... Putting it off and doing something else for a few days helps. I'm hoping to get back to these Piano Collections soon, though, since I want to finish at least the first set so I can sell them and show them off properly!
You'd think that since they're merely arrangements of existing melodies, it'd be easy to adapt them... But since they're really old and have, uh, questionable harmonic structures due to my own lack of musical theory knowledge, it's not as easy as it could be... I'm trying to 'tidy up' and embellish the pieces in the piano versions, rather than just doing 'copy and paste' arrangements.
Wanting to improve my Flash programming skills, I got started on ActionScript 3; a fresh start. I'm also trying to finally used OOP (Object Oriented Programming), which any good programmer would have been using all along but I haven't been! MARDEK doesn't use a single class!
I knew *of* OOP for years but shied away from it for various reasons...
Now that I've started using it, it's, well, very different to how I used to code before, with my other games. Not necessarily on the level of syntax or anything, but more like... conceptually.
Before, for example, each creature - let's say NPCs in this case - might have had their own personal code which they ran in isolation, reporting upwards in the hierarchy (such as to their environment or the game itself) if they had something to say, and having to grab things from up on high too.
Now, however, it's the environment that has the code, and the NPCs are merely 'mindless extensions' of it; it cycles through them and positions them, rather than them moving about by themselves. Instead of them having to communicate back and forth with it, their 'minds' are merely part of its 'mind'.
It might seem like not much (or more like very confusing), but the difference is significant. Whereas before, pausing in my games was a huge pain since all the different objects that moved needed a special bit of code that basically said 'do nothing if paused', now all I'd need to do is tell the environment to stop its cycle, and all the objects would freeze.
Despite that poor explanation and my lack of familiarity with AS3 or OOP, I've done some short practice game things and so far my code feels much more elegant than it used to.
Since I like this new way of coding so much, I've used it to influence my decision of what game to start working on next.
For the last few weeks, I've been unsure whether to do that Raider game thing (the one which would contain all 5 'episodes' in one) in its original AS2 and just finish it before working on any AS3 stuff, or whether I should scrap the AS2 version and work on Chimaera (as my first proper AS3 project), then do an AS3 version of Raider later.
I've decided to go with the latter. So that means I'll be working on Chimaera (I'll try to get it done before the trip, but no promises), then after that I'll probably work on Raider... Or maybe I'll do BE-a-St before that.
The main reason I want to do Raider in AS3 is for the sake of *reusability*. If I complete it in AS2, it might be marginally quicker due to what's already been done, but I'd not be able to use the code for anything else. I would however be able to use its code for future platformers if it were done in AS3... And the game would run much smoother anyway. And it'd give me experience using the language and stuff.
I think I may attempt BE-a-St before it since that'd be a shorter game, and a platformer (probably), then I could adapt its engine for use with Raider, which would have more elaborate movement stuff and more content.
I also intend to work on MARDEK 4 after the trip, but the engine of that is sloppily coded in AS2... I know that I basically swore that I'd not redo MARDEK's engine again due to what happened last time (it taking 3 years, that is), but now I'm wondering whether I should redo it anyway at some point, in AS3.
If I do, it'd likely be for chapter 5, though, since some event or another will split the series in two, with the first four chapters being the 'first half' and the other four chapters being the 'second half' of the story.
I'll work on MARDEK 4 alongside another project, I think (either BE-a-St or Raider).
I think I need to update the list of games on the Games page... Hmm, did people know about that, I wonder? At the bottom of the Games page is a list of games in the order I intend to work on them, which I'll try to keep up to date.
So yes, this is the news for this week! I don't think I have anything else to add...
EDIT: A few people on this site have been asking for clicks on their 'MyMiniCity' link things... It seems to be similar to that 'MyBrute' thing from a while ago, and it's by the same designers too.
It's rather mindless and there's no skill to it, it seems - only redirecting people using links (an interesting and strangely effective money-making technique, seems like to me... especially considering how 'easy' it probably was to make) - but nevertheless, I'm sort of curious about what kind of growth any city started by me might gain from supportive clicks from the people who read these news posts.
So, if you want to help me with this experiment, please click one of these links here:
I think maybe you can click one every day? I'm not sure how it all works though.
(Seems different links give the city different kinds of things, like one which gives population, one gives 'industry'...)