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Tag: rpg

Alive and Lethargic

Posted by Overkill on December 19, 2010 at 10:55 pm under Uncategorized

It’s getting closer to Christmas, and it as approaches, I can’t help but reflect a bit on the past year. I’ve had very mixed feelings on the whole thing. I won’t drag you too far into my life, but I’ll give you a bit of closure. I think it’s the right thing to do, given my large absense.


I was 21, and had just finished my second-last semester of school at the University of Guelph. It was good to be back after the stress of juggling several Computer Science courses, and finally having free time to work on projects.

Christmas was fun time with family, and I was happy to be off school. I was hacking away at Molasses Monsoon, drawing a picture for Pixelation’s Secret Santa event, and attempting to make a quirky sim-game for a winter contest with Syn. It was going pretty well, but this wasn’t going to last much longer.

First off, my uncle passed away shortly before Christmas. I felt kind of bad because most of my memories of that uncle were from childhood, and our family didn’t visit nearly as much when I grew up. We went to the funeral a few days after Christmas, and were back home around New Year’s Eve.

On the day of New Year’s Eve, my friends called me up and wanted to hang out. My dad was working on a puzzle in the afternoon, we talked for a bit, and then I was on my way. But that was probably the last fond memory from that break, and the last time I saw my dad feeling well. I came back after celebrating with my friends, and pretty much went straight to bed.

The next day, New Year’s Day, my dad was sick. I figured he had some bad Chinese food, or it was from the celebrations the night before, but it turned out to be much worse. It turned out that he had a stomach flu, but since he had a thyroid condition and Addison’s Disease, this was essentially a death sentence. He never bothered to explain his conditions so I knew very little about what they were doing to him, and he never asked to go to the hospital when he feeling was sick. By the time we took him to the hospital, it was already too late. My father died the morning of January 2nd.

Soon after, I caught the stomach flu, and so did my sister, my aunt and my sister’s boyfriend. Since I caught the symptoms the day of my father’s death, I thought I was going to die at the time. And I was really sick the rest of the week. I managed to pull through.

…I won’t go into further detail than that. It was a horrible time. I only felt that it was okay to disclose this, because it’s getting close to that time of year again, and I know that this Christmas definitely won’t be the same as those in the past.


Anyway, I went back to school, pretty much right after I recovered from my flu, and finished my last semester. I took Compilers, where we wrote a Pascal-ish (Pish) toy compiler that emits MIPS assembly, a 3D Graphics course with a bunch of OpenGL stuff, an course on AI stuff, and the obligatory Topics in Computing 4th year course where you do independent research (I made a cheesy painterly renderer). It kept me busy, and I managed to have fun throughout most of it.

Since then, I’ve turned 22, and graduated from the University of Guelph with my Bachelor Degree in Computer Science. I’ve felt no real motivation to do anything amazing with my life. School was like the last big obligation I had to complete, and my father wasn’t even around to see it. I have no real direction anymore, and I feel like I have as little idea about what I want to do with my life as when I was still in high school.

My projects have been stagnant for the most part, although I had a few surges of creativity. I worked on Verge for a short while after I got off school, around May, which you can see about in the post before this.

The next big burst of creativity was learning some 6502 assembly and how old Nintendo hardware worked. I attempted to create an NES game, and although I didn’t make it too far, I managed to make a small tech demo ROM, that looks like this:

It’s a fairly basic techdemo, which has a textbox and a player sprite, and it uses MMC3 scanline interrupts to do funky cloud tile scrolling. It doesn’t have any audio, because sound engines appear to be a tad more work than PPU manipulation. I wanted to eventually make a roleplaying game of sorts for the NES, but that might be a while, if ever, that I get anywhere with that.

Then I realized how tedious it was to type in assembly commands using official 6502 mnemonics. I went about making a 6502 assembler, which I decided to call “nel” (Nintendo Entertainment Language, or something, I don’t know). It was written in lex and yacc, and you can view its source here. For its purposes, it worked, but I felt like I could do a bit better. Lex and yacc were both a bit ancient and frustrating, and the error reporting in yacc was annoying. There were also annoying memory management problems with C++, which I coded the AST in, and it was going to be pain to fix all that. In fact, right now, the memory just leaked until the compilation was done and OS cleaned up. I

I eventually decided to make my own recursive-descent parser in D. D is pretty nice, if you don’t need any external libraries, and only really need file IO and some data structures, which was the case when writing a compiler. It’s also garbage collected, which was good. I got a little bored doing the rewrite though, maybe one day I’ll pick it up. I’m onto the AST-handling junk, which I can more or less port from my C++ codebase, but I’ve been a bit lazy.


In addition to a few creative swings, I spent a lot of time looking for a job with no results. I eventually (mid-October) found something through a school friend. I started in November, and although it’s probably a temporary thing, for now it seems okay. It’s a six-month contract for a company called MRX, which has the CHL and CFL as two of its primary web-design clients. So far it’s fun, and there are a few people in my developer team that also went to the University of Guelph.

Lately I haven’t felt an abundance of free time, and usually find myself tired and unmotivated when I get home from work. I watch some TV, or hang out with my flat-mate for a bit, then sleep and repeat. My hobbies like playing games, writing, drawing pixel art, and coding have all been heavily neglected.

I’m writing this now in attempt to stop this idle activity and do something with my time again. Especially since McGrue and Kildorf are back in the race and making progress, and the recent advent of the new vrpg homepage should be inspiring to me.

I’ve done only minor things lately, mainly decisions for Verge in the long-term, but which haven’t been executed yet. Decided to rip VC out of Verge, and to redo the Lua API, to remove FMOD in favor of audiere, and to do some major internal cleanup. API ideas so far for a future Verge version (Verge 3.3) are in my Dropbox public folder, so these files may change as I edit them. Here are some files with the rough ideas about the new API:

Take a look over that, and if you have any feature requests, let me know.

Anyway, this is about all I can write about for now. Hopefully, I will make another post soon, by the next week. I will have to see though.

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