Midway Point of 2016

June 25, 2016

June is wrapping up, meaning that the year is almost half over, or half the year is yet to come. Looking back at my goals for this year I’m on target for some, haven’t started others and in danger of completely failing some. As written at the start of the year my goals for the year were:

  • Keep at $2000mo for student loan payments. (on track to surpass)
  • Read at least 6 books, cover to cover. (have read 3 books, started 2 larger text books)
  • Write a blog post at least once every two weeks, weekly preferred. (clearly failed at writing in this blog)
  • Go camping/hiking and practice bushcraft / survival skills at least 6 times. (at least 6 nights spent outside already)
  • Participate in at least 2 full racing seasons in iRacing. (one full season complete)
  • Complete 7 of 12 OneGameAMonth games. (failed to submit a single entry, but LD35 would count as 1)
  • Catch up TurtleBrains documentation, and create a sample game project. (still need to create sample and documentation)
  • Get three developers to try TurtleBrains and collect feedback. (still need to create sample and documentation)
  • Earn at least $1 from hobby/personal game development efforts. (made no real effort yet towards this)
  • Do art everyday for at least 30 consecutive days. (made no real effort yet towards this)

Being halfway through the year, a few of these are complete wipes. I haven’t had nearly as much time for hobby/personal development as I had last year. So TurtleBrains has suffered as have the 1GAM projects. I would like to get at least a single developer to try the framework but it really does need high level documentation first. It looks like this won’t be the year I make money from my personal development efforts either, although I won’t give up just yet. I nearly finished a second season in iRacing but life got busy and took time away for several weeks, I may just let that one lay where it is, or I may race in season 2016S4.

I haven’t done much art at all, and honestly I really should give that a solid attempt. I may change it a little bit though, to include graphics programming. This could be shaders, animation, shadows or other engine technologies that could help ZoomCarWorld3 come to life. This might be stretching the definition of “art” a little, but I think it works to my larger goal of creating a racing simulator. As such I am also modifying the 1GAM projects to be either a smaller sized game project (24 hours or so in size/scope), or a technical demo/simulation much like my Double-Wishbone Suspension Simulation that I am still working on simulating.

The  TurtleBrains goals may be a wash for the year as my primary focus is moving forward on my racing simulator with the first basic playable of ZoomCarWorld3 hopefully being semi-playable this year.

LudumDare 35: Elemental Shift

April 29, 2016

20160426194038_screenshotMaking a game in 48-hours is a great way to spend a weekend, it is a short window of time but generally enough get something small created and, sometimes, polished. For the past few Ludum Dare events I have been participating with a team, usually a musician and an artist, but for LD34 the team was of 5 people, 2 artists, a musician and a designer, with of course myself being project lead and programmer.

For LD35, however, things were a bit different and I went solo for the 48 hour event, requiring myself to create the art and music/sounds as well as the programming.

Theme announcement, Shape Shifting. A few crazy ideas flying about my head, but most were too large for me to tackle alone, would be difficult to explain to the player or just didn’t get me excited to work on. I started with a car racing “shifting” game that would have wound up being a find and click the right shape quickly. I spent about 90 minutes developing that idea and as it got, not quite playable, I went to sleep.

It was a troubling night, restless, couldn’t sleep. Kept thinking about how my find and click wouldn’t be “fun”. By the following morning I had rested a little and changed plans, combat. Perhaps from trying Dark Souls 3 at a friends a few nights before. I figured a simple sword swing and a shape that could change into others, like a Rock, Paper, Scissors game. No need for anything complicated, so I made a playable within a few hours.

It wasn’t fun.

By now I’ve committed myself, though, and had been live streaming the entire weekend. I kept searching for fun. It was hard to remember what shape beat what shape, as I was literally using squares, triangles and circles. I modified the control scheme a bit. And then a bit more. Still unhappy with it the first day was starting to wrap itself up so I went for a walk and phoned a friend from college, same friend in fact that showed me DS3. He grabbed the demo and played it and gave some valuable feedback. Immediately after implementing those changes the game felt much better.

Following morning I felt great, this was going to be a good game. So I jumped on making the art, and went with elements, fire, water, earth. Because the shapes were too hard to understand and these have been used before. It turned out much easier to attack the right things and avoid scary things. However my morale dropped. The game became too simple. Run away and attack, keep running away. It was too easy.

Again phone a friend, a fair bit of ideas tossed around and with a bit of work found that 6 of the hardest opposite force actually got a little tricky. With about 4 hours remaining of the 48, I finally got a difficulty ramp setup in the spawning behavior. The game gets progressively harder with a short tutorial stage at the beginning. Onto the title screen, oh, and tutorial/buttons anyone?

While making those graphics I lost track of time and looked at the clock with 5 minutes remaining, there was no code for a title screen! I scrambled that together and finished the build at 48hrs exactly. Was a bit disappointed to have ran out of time on the title screen, first thing a player see’s and it looks mediocre at best, when compared to the rest of my art/animations which, was my first time really testing animations.

What Could Be Better

  • The title screen was a giant let down due to me running out of time.
  • Control scheme took a lot of time to get right, worth it, but lots of time.
  • Morale was a bit of a roller coaster during the weekend.
  • Time management was lost at the end, causing a lacking title screen view and experience.

What Went Well

  • Iterating through things allowed the fun to appear.
  • Animations and attack feedback about collision area.
  • A successful difficulty curve after hours of iterating and thought.

Being a Wild Ranger

March 26, 2016

Taking a short breaks from game development and programming is quite important, and I find nature to be the best place for a bit of reflection. Recently I took two outdoor newbies into the wild for a bit of an adventure. It was a trip that had been planned for months, and during planning one of these guys was dead set on taking a weapon, like a mace or bat or sword. It was a bit funny at first until I came to believe he legitimately took the adventure like one you would play in a table top role-playing game, like Pathfinder. It took a lot of coaxing and convincing, but no weapons were brought, instead we had Read the rest of this entry »

Working on Artificial Intelligence in Racing Simulations again!

January 16, 2016

I have started working on the Artificial Intelligence in Racing Simulations project again, still using Live For Speed as the base physics simulation because it is fairly accurate and reasonably accessible. Here is a short recording of the artificial driver, Jared, driving at Fern Bay Club in the XRG. A fantasy car similar to a low powered rear-wheel drive sports car.

The second version/iteration of driving logic was written last year, March 2015, but my PC at the time was getting outdated and overloaded as it tried running everything it needed, plus AIRS logic could use some optimizations. I lost motivation after writing “Driving Logic version 2” (DLv2 for short), since it didn’t behave as well as I had hoped.

The driver got faster than DLv1, and learned Read the rest of this entry »

Goodbye to 2015

December 31, 2015

Looking Back

I have managed to lose the list of goals I set out for during 2015, my old racing team forum has now disappeared and all the information was lost. A bit unfortunate since my yearly goals have been kept there since 2009. I know that my financial goal for my student loans was not only met but exceeded! I failed at my writing and reading goals, although I did read a handful of books and wrote a lot of documentation for Read the rest of this entry »

Ascending Roots

December 16, 2015

20151214201402_screenshotLudumDare is game jam or competition of sorts, though there are no rewards and winning isn’t about placing first. Thousands come together during a single weekend to create nearly 3000 games! I was joined by four other fine developers during the 34th LudumDare event and we together spent 72 hours creating a Read the rest of this entry »

ZoomCarWorld3 Renderer Updates

September 22, 2015


Ever since I ‘upgraded’ TurtleBrains to use the OpenGL 3.2 Core context, ZoomCarWorld3 has not been rendering. For awhile it would actually throw errors and crash, until all the legacy OpenGL causing those errors was disabled. Last weekend the mission was to Read the rest of this entry »

Building Monitor Stand

September 9, 2015

20150905_srs_01_beforeI’ve been racing with 22″ monitors (pictured above) for nearly 8 years now, The ol’ Acers held up fairly well, though power boards were replaced on two of them and recently one developed a dead line of green pixels. I had not realized, until very recently, that the virtual world had been Read the rest of this entry »


September 4, 2015

In 2009 I hiked the Appalachian Trail, 2178 miles from Georgia to Maine.  During that time I got wet and I got cold.  Day after day, especially in the spring.  Starting March 29th, I woke to a frosty tent and a thermometer reading of 17° F.  What the HELL, I’m in Georgia!  Even with rain nearly every day, and temperatures in the 20s to 40s many days, I never got hypothermic.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  My girlfriend and I went to Seattle, and planned a weekend trip around Mother Mountain Loop.   We started very early in the morning with a visit to the ranger station to check in and get the wilderness pass, on the way to the station we got to see this amazing bridge that was high above the river below.

P1100027 P1100041

Then we drove another 45 minutes along a dirt forest service road, thanks rental car, to get to Mowich Lake which would be the start and end point for our journey.  The first day would be the longest day at 9 miles since the campsite at 7 miles in was reserved.  The temperature was in the Read the rest of this entry »

Choosing A License

September 4, 2015

One of the most difficult decisions that keeps sliding back on the TurtleBrains todo list is picking a license.  It has been said that I’m being unrealistic, so perhaps I want too much, for wanting to get nominal proceeds back from my efforts.  I’ve been on http://choosealicense.com/ quite a bit and the two that stand out are MIT and GPLv3 for slightly different reasons.

MIT seems to be less restrictive to those that want to use TurtleBrains, they are not forced to disclose their code, and perhaps more programmers would give TurtleBrains a try.  But it also falls down in that programmers could ignore any closed/purchasable license that may allow me to retrieve any financial benefit, even minimally.

GPLv3 seems restrictive and possibly scares many from using TurtleBrains to begin with, and if nobody uses it why would anyone want to purchase the closed license?

Ultimately I’d like to see $25-50 for a project that plans to have an install base greater than 1000 users, and/or projects that are selling while using TurtleBrains.  I want this to be a minimal amount of money more like saying “thanks for giving my project a boost” and aimed at projects that have or are planning to make monies.

Which is why GPLv3 with a purchasable closed license has been on my mind, until someone was mentioning few would considering using TurtleBrains at that point.

Any opinions? Advice? Help!? It is appreciated.