This is Bananattack.

Tag: school

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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A lengthy departure.

Posted by Overkill on May 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm under Uncategorized

Well, I had hoped to return here a lot sooner than I actually did. But plenty of sleep-depriving schoolwork and various family crises all played a part in hindering my desire to write again. As a result I felt very burnt out, tired, and uninspired.

But it wasn’t all awful, the past school year especially. I had fun being able to write a Pascal-like compiler for my Compilers class. I learned a bit more about 3D graphics, like heightmaps and fake shadows in my Graphics class. I managed to better leverage multi-threading and played with a bit of cluster programming in my Parallel Architectures class. I acquired some knowledge about neural networks, support vector machines, evolutionary algorithms, and logic inference engines in AI classes. All of these classes consumed a fair deal of time, but it was pretty interesting. 
 
 

In March, I finally replaced my dying computer with a much more powerful quad-core Intel i5 750 desktop. It felt really awesome to actually have a fast and functional computer. I no longer had to live in fear of my flaky power supply, and screwy video card. But I only got to use it when I was off campus (which wasn’t often, with several all-nighters and lengthy days to finish schoolwork), so it was a gradual battle to reinstall everything I used to have.

Once exams were almost done, things were starting to feel normal. I had free time, actually started to relax and play games again, and I actually got to sit down and use my computer. Eventually I got back to looking at my own projects, but it was slow going. There were plenty of interferences too, since I bought Wario Ware DIY and so I was playing around with that. I also had to pack all my stuff up. 
 
 

About two weeks ago, I moved home, and I’ve been job-hunting locally and hanging out with my friends, and very slowly unpacking. Yesterday, I finally got the motivation to look after my site again, and I revamped a few things, layout-wise. The colors were adjusted a bit, and borders made a bit thinner and tidier looking.

So how’s the job-hunt going? Badly. Everytime I try to look at employment stuff, it feels really unpleasant and makes me feel nervous, and I end up getting distracted. It’s silly, I know. Especially since I know I should be qualified for plenty of software engineering jobs out there. Really I don’t know why I’m doing this. I mean, it’s the only thing I really have to do now, at this point. School’s done, and that portion of my life is over with. Onto the several remaining boring decades to live through. Blah.

I’ve also not really gotten that far on any of my projects. Very similar to how I’ve been avoiding a job, I’ve been side-stepping really making any sort of progress on any of my work. It’s crappy. That said, I’m still working on things, but my lack of progress is very painful. 
 

It wasn’t widely announced, but I’ve been working for a bit on a project called Molasses Monsoon, which is a sidescroller envisioning of Molasses Meow. It features less seizure rooms, and more exploration and item collection. Armed with the Love Buster, you are saving the Neoniverse from the peril of the Evil Candy Fiends, and go on a quest to better the world around you. I’ve most recently been working on adding dialog to the game to actually give the exploration some purpose. But it’s going really slow, because this game has always meant to be a cheesy side-project. Here are some screenshots:

Unfortunately, my real projects keep changing and dying and hitting roadblocks. 
 

In order to let me develop Verge games under Windows 7 and Vista without Aero being disabled, I made a GDI renderer for Verge, which is now in the Verge 3 SVN (U/P: anonymous/anonymous). The secondary reason was because DirectDraw is a deprecated API, but I wouldn’t have cared if it didn’t affect desktop composition effects. I need people to test its performance on older machines (Windows XP boxes, older video cards, single core machines, those sort of specs would be nice) to make sure it’s as performant as DirectDraw. If you’re more knowledgeable of Windows API things than I am, please review my code (keeping in mind that it’s greatly derived from the DirectDraw), I’d like to make sure there aren’t any bugs or bottlenecks I’ve overlooked, since this will have a drastic effect on game performance in Verge. 
 

I’ve also worked a little bit on my engine Plum. It’s ready enough to make certain map-less games, but other kinds require more engine work. Recently I’ve been planning a bunch of shapes and collision detection things to add to the engine. The engine feels fairly clean for the most part and can be checked out on github
 

Occasionally, I’ve also been working with a friend, planning a large-scale RPG project we’ve code-named “Eternity”, which is rather fitting. It is going to be a realtime battle system with programmable AI, and combinable spells, among other craziness

Apologies for the rather disorganized post. It’s just been a really long time, so I sort of brain-dumped as much as I could into this.

Well, okay, so this is my return to the Gruedorf competition after about 9 months of failure. What have you been doing? You have no excuse, just like me. Get a job! Make games!

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McSchooldorf

Posted by Overkill on January 18, 2009 at 1:47 am under Uncategorized

School definitely crushes productivity, it’s true. But I figure it’s not all a waste. If school is consuming programming time, and some of it seems moderately interesting to me, why not post a Gruedorf about it anyways?

For my Game Development class project, I taught myself some basic 3ds Max stuff this past week so I could start to make some simple lowpoly 3D models. Here’s a start of the model I’ve been working on so far!

The modelling was done with 3ds max. After some frustration in getting polygons to unwrap into nonoverlapping UV regions, I exported the UV Texture Maps and doodled on Paint Shop Pro. It was rather fun. The palette on the guy’s face and hair is shamelessly stolen from my Resonance hero sprite.

My intent is to hopefully make a face paced hack-and-slash + platformer with cube men everywhere. This might change later, when I feel more creative.
 
 
 
In my Computer Security class, I wrote program in Python that would use a dictionary attack to figure out a password that starts with “R”. It used Python’s telnetlib module, because the login was performed remotely over Telnet, and it used the threading module to perform multiple connections. The target server we were attacking certainly wasn’t very secure… Once the protocol was working, it was burning through about 100 words in the dictionary every minute, until it eventually made it up to “retribution”, the winning password phrase.
 
 
 
In my Image Processing class, the assignment was to write a program that rotates an image and uses bilinear interpolation to smooth the pixels.

This was especially easy since I had code left from Brockoly that did image rotation, and it used the Corona library in C++ to load images. I simply scaled back the code so there was less junk, and made it so images could be saved as PNGs.

Corona once again saved the day there, since it has a PNG writer builtin. Very handy. Also very easy, which makes me wonder why we don’t have png saving in Verge yet, since it’s quite simple — only about five lines! Ahem.

So when I was finished, I had a commandline program that could take any input image, rotation (in radians or degrees), scale, and the name of a PNG output file, and do all the processing work. Sexy.
 
 
 
In other news, LuaVerge works again more or less, thanks to Zeromus.

It’s quite different in how the internals are accessed. On the other hand, the internal variable and function things are successfully shared between Lua and VC code. In other words any feature (that’s not a language feature of VC) is available in Lua too.

The only thing that’s missing is boilerplate magic Lua code so the internal variables’ get/set methods are wrapped up in tables in a nice way. This can hopefully be added soon too, if I’m not too busy.

When that’s caught up, on to shmuptroidvania work and cube man game.
 
 
 
See you next week, folks!

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Magically Mandatory Mutterings to the Mundane Media

Posted by Overkill on January 12, 2008 at 11:07 pm under Uncategorized

Okay, so this week I didn’t really get much done. I got some progress on the art, but I absolutely refuse to release it until I’m solidly satisfied with the pixel work so far included with this project. School is posing an obstacle, as expected. Ugh, stupid education buggers. It’s like they’re trying to make me learn something here!

So this week’s update is pictureless and buildless. Supersorry. Forgive me, etc. I have other stuff on my mind, sadly. I have been thinking about my first area’s setting though and I think as long as I take it steadily, I can make a gorgeous and slightly atmospheric environment for this game. We’ll see though.

Love you and see you next time,

Overkill.

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Eyecandy is Made from Molasses

Posted by Overkill on January 5, 2008 at 11:10 pm under Uncategorized

Sloooow week.

I’ve been doing very, very tiny changes to the engine. I made an exporter for Mungo, and made it so the game will popup messages when you newly encounter abilities. Also, drew slightly nicer artwork. Updated the hero a bit to have a slightly nicer head, and a scarf, and some color enhancements. It actually mirrors well too, finally. Been drawing some other sprites too, but I’ll leave displaying them until I’m satisfied with how they look.

The grass was also given a tiny makeover for more enjoyable aesthetics. The grainy high contrast dirt was hard on my eyes, so I replaced it with transitioning the grass into darkness. Oh, and I added fancy-pants 60 degree angle hills for more landscape variation!

Here’s the updated tileset as it appears so far!

I’m thinking the water will need a redo, because it doesn’t look very pleasant at the moment and I’m not sure how to animate it without looking totally cheap (right now it just goes back and forth).

Oh, and I want to start on this underground mine cart level I had in mind sooner or later, cause that’ll be cool. That requires completely new landscape, with lots of dirt and wooden frames and railroad tracks! It’ll also need rideable carts and, I’ll need to make moveable beacons that can be loaded into the carts. Maybe drippy ceilings with puddles on the ground or even enemies! Cause that’s right, I have an awesome level idea in mind!

Here’s a game screenshot and stuff:

No build this week, since I’m running out of time and there isn’t really enough for it to be worth bragging about. I move back to school tomorrow morning so I can’t do the usual “get up early Sunday morning and slap together another more awesome Gruedorf” routine. Yeah, so I need your encouragement, folks! I don’t want to drop my progress just cause I’ll have a social life and school work to do again. Well, gotta run. Enjoy.

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Another Crappy Week

Posted by Overkill on November 18, 2007 at 2:08 pm under Uncategorized

This week I was busy again, but I still made an update. Arguably the worst update that will ever be made during this contest! I uhm, imported some more of my art into the build. And temporarily using Darien’s spaceman-hero sprite to give me an idea of how well it stands out on the game background. I’m still debating between redrawing my sprite all over again, using my flat simplistic sprite as a base, or using Darien’s edit as a base. Anyway, here, look, it’s pretty much the same, but with slightly prettier artwork in the unfinished map!


Get it here!

Yeah, so exciting, right? Okay, see you next week. If this week doesn’t murder me with school work, I will certainly invest more time into coherent updates. Maybe exam time in two weeks might give me the break I need. Who knows?

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