On holidays

Well I’m writing this from the Queensland coast. Up in the north of sunny Australia for you Americans. Seeing as you are the vast majority of readers I thought I’d get that cleared up. Where phone reception (and therefore Internet reception) is far from good. But I’m sitting around doing nothing right now so I thought I’d put a few of my recent thoughts into a blog post. I’m typing on an iPad so bear with me (I want a keyboard case like my dad has so bad…)

Making games

So just before I left for the coast I got into a little bit of game programming. Using the Gamemaker software package for html5. I’ll pause for the snorts and laughter from experienced programmers about how lame it is to use this software as opposed to doing real programming. What many people don’t know is that game maker has a built in scripting language that allows you to add lots of functionality once you have built the basics of your game. Its like the famous unity package but for 2d stuff. So it can be just as powerful as making games with c++ or java. It’s real advantage is it means you can develop simple games in a few hours (most of that time for me is spent making pixel art). With a little bit of creative thinking anyone can pump out a decent game that would take a programmer weeks. I really don’t understand why more people use it. Especially now you can export to html5 as well as the good old fashioned .exe. I think there’s some iOS and android stuff coming soon as well.

I made a game called cave escape in an afternoon (don’t shoot me if there’s one already out there, I haven’t bothered to look). It consists of starting deep down in a cave with things like ladders and mad wall-running skills (the bit that required custom scripting). Your goal is to reach daylight and freedom. It’s fairly simple but it’s fun to play especially with some tricky wall running (I’ve got to add backflips soon). The game was made in an afternoon so it lacks lots of levels and some more variety. And the main character looks a bit ridiculous. He’s like a miner crossed with a bear. He was meant to be a backpacking adventurer. I need to work on my pixel art skills.

Epic programming challenge

Once again, don’t kill me if this has already been thought of.

So I was thinking of what would be really hard (but not impossible to do) in php or other web programming like JavaScript. Or any programming language for that matter. I knew about those little old text based adventure games and thought about making a challenge around those. But that’s too easy. They basically consist of a bunch of if loops and switches. Very easy to make, just time consuming to make it long and interesting enough. So then I remembered how my dad had told me how back in the day his scientific programs used text to output graphs and other data. I saw this in some arduino tutorial where the same thing was with the serial monitor.

So outputting cool graphics with just text (no fonts or colors either just to be hardcore) would be a decent challenge. At least for me. I don’t know about the skill level of some of the ninjas out there. I was thinking of using arrays to display stuff. Or long strings. With some kind of code to convert x and y coordinates to text output. Using each character as a pixel. Sorta. Well now this is beginning to sound not so hard anymore. In fact I think it’s a bit too easy. So how about the challenge of making a game or program using only text for input and output in the program. But people have to pay $10 to buy it for it to be a success. No fonts, colours, sizes or any other cheats you people think up. Just text in and text out. Epic programming and creativity challenge. And no, I repeat no, wingdings. That’s just plain weird.

iPad app iCircuit

Seeing as I don’t have a single capacitor or resistor with me right now I’ve been messing around with virtual electronics in the iPad app called iCircuit. It’s pretty epic and it is awesome for mucking around with analog electronics. People want arduinos to be included in it. That would ruin it in my opinion. In a similar style to the low character count coding competitions I’ve been trying to make some super low part count circuits. I’m particularly proud of some 555 circuits. I will definetely try to replicate some of them for real when I get back to Canberra in about a week. It will be interesting to see how accurate the simulation of the app is compared to real life. Get the app if you’re into arduinos and all that stuff but want to learn about the magic dust stuff known as analog. There’s no better way to learn than messing around with virtual unlimited components.

Well that’s all for now. I promise to write something else if I think of other remotely interesting stuff. I’ve been keeping a travel diary but its super lame so I might just keep that to myself unless it gets better. And my email is getting killed by spam at the moment so if you’ve sent an email to me be patient, very, very patient. Now to search for phone reception to upload this thing.


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