UPDATES

New short story "Lawrence's Incredible Idea"
MAY 17th 2024
PAGE
After a conversation with a friend about languishing projects, I started writing fiction again a couple months back -- no grand effort, just a few lines or paragraphs a day to get back into it and keep some kind of progress rolling. Apparently that approach worked at least some because today I finished a short story called "Lawrence's Incredible Idea" about bars, promotions and how to deal with parasites! Check it out here if you dig reading and got 10-ish minutes that need filling.


Black Box game
MAY 2nd 2024
ARCADE
Black Box is a simple but fun abstract logic game of determining the location of a set number of atoms based off how shot rays react. It's based off a deduction board game from the 1970s.

I first came across it in digital form on a cheap and shady collection CD-ROM called something like "1000 Games For Windows 3.1", a disc that was probably responsible for more than one virus my computer picked up around that time. I remember playing it a lot back then for quite a while, and recently something made me think of it. I wanted to play it again so I looked and looked online for it but couldn't find an adequate version of it, so I coded my own instead.

GameMaker's HTML5 export is either extremely draconian in its code syntax expectations or completely backwards in its function parsing, depending on whose complaints you're reading online. Whatever the specifics of it, the HTML5 export of Black Box just plain doesn't work at the moment, so if you want to play the game it's going to have to be via the Windows executable for now. I'm going to dig into Opera's proprietary GX.Games export option that GameMaker's been noticeably shameless in pushing at me and see if that's an acceptable web-based export for you all. (UPDATE 5/3: It looks like the GX.Games web export is accessible from at least a Chrome browser, so it's playable without downloading! Give it a spin here and contact me if anything's working weird.)

So there it is! The first playable game I've put out in 13 years that isn't a concept demo and that I don't feel the need to put the "kusoge" tag on. It's very basic, not particularly pretty to look at, and there's no instructions for anyone unfamiliar with the game (both things I plan to work on in a future version one day -- for now the rules are easily accessible on the game's Wikipedia page.) But it plays properly, is very customizable, and I like it. I think I'll make some more.


Local show interview
APRIL 29th 2024
TALK
Tonight I did a quick interview on local internet radio show W3Z Hotline's Local Show live at Moonshine in Metairie before they played "Games" from Lifelike Sounds! They also bought me a shot they owed me for apparently pronouncing my name wrong last time, so between that and hanging out trading beers with the guys in BackReal who were also interviewed that night, I was feeling no pain by the time they pulled me up there. A rebroadcast and on-demand link is eventually coming so check out their site in case you missed the live broadcast and hear me motormouth my way through the haze!


Back to GML
APRIL 11th 2024
ARCADE
Last July I released an extremely simple and niche checkbox utility, mostly as a programming exercise. A new version of it is up as of a few days ago, and you're welcome to check it out (save and load only works on the downloadable exe though). This entry isn't really about that at all.

A little over two years ago I decided to migrate from the GameMaker engine which I'd been coding in comfortably and successfully for nearly 15 years at that point. The software had shifted to a subscription service, a practice I'm vehemently against especially when it happens to something I had already put several hundred dollars into. I trawled around for another engine to learn before settling on Godot, a comparatively new upstart that had a lot of promise and more importantly, was open source and wouldn't try to charge me every month to keep using it.

I learned and experimented with Godot on tutorials of vastly varying quality, test projects, new ports of some of my ancient awful QBASIC atrocities, and some ultra-niche simple utilities like the above-mentioned To-Do List, using some of the updates on this site as a light journal of my experience. It's a fine engine, particularly for an open source one, and it's also not for me.

Here's my largest gripes:
As I called it back in February 2022 when I was starting with Godot, interacting with variables of colliding instances is infinitely simpler in GameMaker's approach than in Godot's, at least to the extent that I came to understand it since the official documentation often assumes prior knowledge and the vast majority of the tutorials and guides out there are confusing and sometimes even actively hostile when they're not completely wrong or similarly don't bother explaining their own basic functions.

Icons of executables aren't customizable from the default picture without massive efforts and third-party programs that only sometimes work; this has been a constant feature request for multiple years now apparently, outlandish.

The tiniest games and apps export at a minimum of ~35mb which, while not the dealbreaker it would have been in the days of dial-up, still feels bizarre not to include the option to leave out unused modules -- why do I need the 3D engine included in my completely 2D build?

The exported executables sometimes open and sometimes don't seemingly at whim, at times depositing multi-gigabyte log files into my roaming appdata directory on the occasions when they don't open.

HTML5 exports from the latest version 4 are broken and now require additional htaccess settings or third-party javascript files to be appended, something version 3 never required.

Accidentally opening a project made in a previous version of Godot in a newer version destructively auto-converts assets and makes them unloadable in the previous version.

There's others, but I've barfed enough negativity into the void for now.

Anyway, I'm back to using GameMaker, as its publisher very recently retired their subscription service in favor of a very affordable one-time purchase (unless you want to port to consoles, which I currently do not). That's almost certainly a reaction to competing engine Unity's absolute greed in September that they're still unsuccessfully trying to walk back from -- look that up if you aren't aware, their stupidity is fascinating.

It took me all of fifteen minutes on an Asteroids clone tutorial to get back into GameMaker's approach to coding, and it felt like an old habit. It's far easier to work on projects and approach my concepts than I've experienced the last two years fighting uphill against Godot, though that's more down to my long history and familiarity with GameMaker than any indictment on Godot's node and scene based approach which does have its own unique elegance.

If I had put another couple of years or so into Godot, I likely would have gotten versed and comfortable using it. At the end of the day though, I'd really rather spend that time making more games, concepts and apps in a language I'm already at least intermediate at and that has consistently competent documentation, so that's exactly what I'm going to be doing now.

New Banjo album Number 3 released!
DECEMBER 30th 2023
MUSIC
And in far less auspicious news a month later, me and Scott's ridiculous project Banjo has once again released an album in accordance with our every-eight-years policy.

Scott came over for a couple of hours and I just hit record and let him barf out riffs until he had to leave, most of it ended up being empty tracks because we kept running our mouths and catching up. A few weeks later I took what he'd done and pieced the riffs into songs, then added bass and drums. The lyrics and vocals were done today and yesterday and now it's a release tethered to my name for the rest of time or until this website's server dies.

You can listen to it and get it for some reason here! As always, more to come (just not from Banjo for a while, like 96 months or so.)

New album Lifelike Sounds released!
NOVEMBER 30th 2023
MUSIC
As I mentioned back in April I finished building a soundproof space earlier this year, and for the first time in my entire life I could write and record as loud as I wanted whenever any inspiration hit me rather than having to find stolen moments to work around neighbors / roommates / noise ordinances.

This album "Lifelike Sounds" is the first result of that and it's now released -- if you like 80s-tinged alt rock songs about coming to terms with old demons while you're courting new ones, you'll have a good time. Listen to it and get it here.

Thank you! More to come.

Site update
NOVEMBER 3rd 2023
WEBSITE
Oh look it's everyone's favorite type of post here, a website code update! Really though, you should be happier about it because it makes browsing this site much simpler.

Before, you'd click on a category toggle and it would populate a grid with the related items. Then you'd click on one of those items to open a pop-up with information about and links to that item. You could populate multiple categories together and it was animated and all very technically impressive to look at. It was also an overwhelming and confusing blob of vague info when you had more than one category open, and sometimes even if you only had one open. There simply wasn't enough room in the grid boxes to clearly communicate what you were looking at. Even if you knew exactly what you were looking for, good luck sifting through the truncated descriptions when they're chessboarded among and all around each other.

In the new setup I've done away with the grid entirely. Now you open a category and there's a list of all the related items with far more room to describe what's being represented. You find what you want, click on it and you're taken to that item's information and links. It's also far friendlier to a Control-F if you've got something in mind you're looking for, it uses way less Javascript overhead, and it's immeasurably easier for me to update and edit, so hooray for everyone. Over the next few weeks during spare time I'll clean up the underlying code, improve the presentation (font sizes, etc) and fine-tune the categories for the new approach.

SEE EARLIER UPDATES