Year: 2010

  • Daily Promise: Design Sketches

    Current flavour of the month of some of the geek crowd, “Health Month”, is a social network of sorts on which users compete to achieve certain health-related goals. Each month, each member sets a number of goals for themselves to achieve. Its core mechanic is health points – you start with 10, lose one every time you fail to meet a goal, and players who perform well can heal you.

    I’m enjoying my use of the site with three goals this month, but I’d like to step it up and set lots. Unfortunately, having more than three goals costs money. (Not that I think the site’s owners don’t have a right to charge, but it can be a deterrent to users such as myself.) It also currently only allows two “custom” rules per month – beyond that, you have to stick with the pre-defined ones.

  • Sea Battle: Of Ships and Submarines

    The distinction between surface ships and submarines in Sea Battle has turned out to be a more thorny issue than I originally imagined.

    The original plan was to have two classes of vessel, based on their hull types – ship or submarine – and weapons that could hit ships, submarines, or both. A future update could also have included aircraft “hulls”. However, the more I think about the game balance issues, the less I’m convinced that this is a good decision with the tech tree and playing field size that Sea Battle currently has.

  • The Sticker Economy

    I find it remarkable how much my 3-year-old son – and presumably by extension most kids his age – go crazy for stickers. They don’t do anything, besides stick to a wall-chart. They don’t even necessarily have to lead to any better reward (10 stickers and we buy you a toy, etc.). It’s a completely false economy, and yet kids will modify their behaviour just to obtain stickers from their parents.

    I started to wonder what age we grow out of that, and start to realise that the reward is so near zero that we’re effectively being tricked by our parents into behaving well for no reward.

  • Sea Battle: Here Comes the Science Bit

    Another day down, and somehow Sea Battle is remarkably close to the finish line. (No idea what I’m talking about? See previous blog entries 1, 2 & 3.)

    First things first, my failings: CPU use and mouse sensitivity are still not fixed. I’m now having to re-render more of the window on each refresh than before, so if anything they might be slightly worse.

  • Sea Battle: That’s what Guns are for!

    Another day – or three, in this case – brings another ton of functionality for Sea Battle. (Previous posts: 1, 2)

    Today’s release reduces the target frame rate from 60 to 30 frames per second, in an attempt to alleviate the CPU hogging reported by aefaradien in the previous post’s comments section. As I said in the comments, it’s not an issue I see on every machine, so I’d be grateful if any testers could tell me what PC setup they have, and how much CPU power the game takes up.

  • Sea Battle, now with more Processing

    Nearly a month ago now, I blogged some sketches and ideas for a game I felt like writing. masterofwalri made a passing reference to Processing in his comment, and having heard people mention it in the past, I figured I should check it out.

    I’m very, very glad I did.

  • Windy Morning Mechanics: How Big a Sail do I Need to Fly Away?

    I recall walking to school in a hurricane in what must have been 1989 or 1990, grabbing onto a nearby fence to hold myself steady, wondering how strong the wind would have to be to pick me up off the ground. In the intervening 20 years I never did work it out. It’s a windy day today, so, to the Classical-mechanics-mobile!

    It seems intuitive to me that the answer to the exact question posed by my five-year-old self is “really bloody strong”, and that a better question might be “how much surface area would I need, positioned at the optimum angle and given a certain wind speed, to counteract my weight?”. Or alternatively, “I’m off down to the workshops, how big a sail do I need to make myself?”.

  • Waning Technological Desire

    What seems like a long time ago, I blogged about the unrelenting pace of technology and Internet-borne social interaction, and how much I loved it. But that was a February day with the promise of Spring in the near future. Now it is Autumn, and I am not altogether sure I feel the same way.

    I’ve thought long and hard about my options now that my phone contract is up for renewal, and the more I consider, the less sure I am – not just of what I want, but of my innate gadget-fetishism as a whole.

  • A Farewell to Marmablues

    May 1998, half a lifetime ago. It was my 13th birthday, and my parents – no doubt annoyed by four years of me messing with the family computer – bought me my own. It had a 333MHz processor, 32 glorious megabytes of RAM, and most exciting of all, a 56k dial-up modem.

    With Microsoft Word as my co-pilot and under the ever-watchful phone-bill-monitoring eyes of my parents, I discovered the delights of owning my own website. It had it all, oh yes. Giant background images, a different one for each page. Animated GIFs. Background MIDIs. Frames, <blink> and <marquee>. Web rings to click through, and Tripod’s banner ads inserted at the top of every page. It was called “The Mad Marmablue Web Portal”, and it was exactly as horrendous as you are imagining.