Labor Day Weak End

Blargh.  Blargh, I say.  You know, it's one thing when you catch a nasty 24-hour flu that leaves you sick as a dog and bedridden.  It's quite another when you catch something much milder, which leaves you able enough to get on with your day, but feeling thoroughly miserable no matter what you do.  It comes and goes.  This is the parasite the powers-that-be bequeathed to me this labor day weekend, and I hope to recover soon.

Honestly, I find it just a bit suspicious how many things seem to go wrong when I'm attempting to do game development.  No sooner do I retreat to the studio than family emergencies and other interruptions begin to manifest.  Dad's complaining of heart problems.  Dad caught a Flu and I caught a lesser version of it.  The sister's pulling her hair out with finals and moving, and it sounded like I might have to travel 150 miles away to help her with the kids.  My elderly parents ended up taking the perilous trip instead - and tell me to mow the lawn while they're gone.  The kitten escapes and gets stuck under some debris in the garage.  I'm drafted to take the aunt to see her sister.  Mom's humoring the aunt by taking her on trips.  Even if these things do not directly interrupt me, worrying about them is an interruption in and of itself.

Not all of my interruptions have been negative.  Boredom itself is an enemy of productivity, and I was accepted into two awesome betas I had been looking forward to for a long time.  I revisited Dwarf Fortress.  There's also some pretty great games coming out - Guild Wars 2 release is happening now, a major gaming event if ever there was one.

That's worthy of a paragraph in itself, as Guild Wars 2 is proving to be complicated.  A friend of mine started to play the game because he read my blog entry about it (although being bothered by his old guild mates and an incredible metacritic score may have been a factor as well).  Only trouble is, me and him really don't do well when we try to play the same persistent state world game, because he seems to have completely different motivations when playing.  He likes playing with his friends and achieving in game, I just like to do my own thing and explore in games (even if I have to start several characters to explore their unique facets).  I end up feeling guilty I'm ruining his experience by playing games the way I want to play them, and that ruins the game for me.


Negative and positive interruptions aside, my computer's acting like booting up is hard for it to do anymore.  Push the power button, the computer turns on... then turns off... then turns on again and beeps three times... then turns off... then turns on for awhile and acts like it's booting up but the monitor has no signal.  Manually power cycle, boots up just fine.  Bad, bad sign: I'm doing daily backups now.  My motherboard is half a decade old, I suppose it's not all that surprising it'd be well past its warranty, but I'm going to be busted down to a laptop if it comes to pass that the damn thing can no longer boot up at all.

All this shit happening now, in a three week period of time, is uncanny.  Perhaps the powers-that-be simply don't want me to make my games?  But they really need not throw any interruptions my way, because frankly the the tumultuous state of my work itself remains a perpetual tumor in my vein of life.

My development IDE of choice is BYOND.  Why?  Because it hands you a 2D tile-based multi-player online game environment right out of the box.  It's already 80% of the way towards the game I want to make before I write the first line of "Dream Maker" code, and I would be a fool to throw that away.  But it certainly has its idiosyncrasies - as all platforms do, perhaps - and coming at them after not messing with the kit for months, if not a year, has brought about such catastrophes so as to doubt my own ability to see through a project.

This latest stint began when I thought I would save myself a lot of trouble by trying to stick to using the default BYOND verbs in order to handle player actions.  "Work with the IDE, not around it" was my motto, as many of my past projects came to a standstill wholly because the overhead of my workarounds proved too much work for too little payoff - having to go through three different objects to perform a single action is for the birds.  Unfortunately, this keep-it-simple approach was complicated by the fact that the verb system was developed around the idea that the player is controlling a single mob, their personae in game, when I wanted the player to have control of several mobs.

One of the methods I tried was to use a mob.group method that utilized the special "usr.group" method of verb control, allowing me to access verbs from far away.   Without a single error message, I boggled over why it was that several of the things I tried adding to the group never made it there.  Turns out mob.group is restricted to other mobs only, so that idea went down in flames.

The original and most promising method involved having the player's client to reconnect to each individual mob I wanted them to control.  The advantage of this method is it worked fully with BYOND's understanding that the player was controlling a single mob at a time, and consequently all the appropriate verbs were available.  Walk your mob up to a tile containing something they can use, and you could put a verb on that thing that is only available to mobs standing on that tile.

The problem?  Well, part of my game design necessitates the mob use the item on the tile they're standing while the camera is looking at something completely different, far away.  Inexplicably, and without any particular warning, I discovered that the moment I moved the camera away from the mob, the mob's verbs from the item they were standing in the same tile with became completely unavailable.  So apparently I can't do anything fancy with eye_perspective while still having access to all the verbs I wanted to have access to.

Fuck it, I guess I'm going to have to start over from square one, for the third time in such a short period of time, and nigh completely circumvent the verb system after all.  I know I've the coding experience in BYOND to do it that hard way, but I kinda hoped I'd have found an easier, more elegant way to go about it.  The major milestone I hope to hit is a bare bones, playable game of the ambitious design I have in mind, and I should have been there two weeks ago.


The only reason I'm believing I'm making any progress at all now is because of two things.  First, because I am trying to endeavor to not get involved in any flights of fancy and just stick to creating the core game... many of my projects basically had really cool features but were not complete games and I ran out of impetus because I coded those features.  Second, FTL is releasing soon, and it's actually pretty similar to the kind of game I've been trying to develop.  (I'm actually making something quite different, but I find this model quite inspiring nonetheless.)

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