I’m Back

13 09 2010

I went a while recently without writing anything here, and Lord knows it isn’t because nothing interesting has happened, quite the opposite, up until now (which is painfully ironic for reasons I will explain later) I’ve been so busy I just haven’t felt up to it before bed.  The horrible irony here is that, it is currently 2AM Monday morning, I have had a grand total of 4 hours of sleep, since 7AM last Friday.  I’ve spent the last couple days at Southern Poly for a 48-hour game challenge, in which we had 48 hours to make a game based on the concept of “Joint Reliance”.  The team I joined made a platformer in which you could toggle between two characters with different abilities, each reliant on the other to solve the puzzles.  

Anyways, when you’re given so short a time to work on something like that, every possible minute is spent working.  All but two people on my team went home the first night, and all but three the second, I was in both groups that stayed.  I didn’t sleep at all the first night, although I slept from 3-6AM Sunday morning, and about an hour during the drive back to the dorms.  I didn’t get to do as much actual programming as I would have liked, due to my lack of experience with XNA, although I’m substantially more comfortable with it now than I was when I got there.  That said, I did help with basically all of the math, both for the platformer physics and the mastermind mini-game.  We developed the mastermind mini-game first, but we only had it set up to use text output, simple debugging text to make sure it worked, so I later re-wrote a portion of it to give it some semblance of a GUI.  Only code I really wrote, but whatever works 😛

I picked up quite a lot, both in how to do things (mostly design stuff, to be honest) and how not to do things (like, this is how not to lay out a platformer engine within 48 hours… in fact, don’t try to write even a simple physics/collision engine from scratch in 48 hours 😛 ).  I’m going to, I think, spend a fair amount of time tomorrow starting to rewrite much of it, in an attempt to make it cleaner, and because if I can pull off a platform engine of any kind in XNA I have a potential XBLA game I might be able to put on the XBL marketplace….  Anyways, in the list of things I learned how to do (or how to do better): Agile development methodology, one way to lay out a state-machine based game (I like my way better though 😛 ), a lot of stuff in/about C# and XNA and and work while tired 😛  In the list of things I learned how not to do: Write a collision/physics engine, store level data, sleep (well, rather, learned how to not sleep 😛 ), and I learned a lot about how sloppy code can get when you’re so limited on time 😛  If such things were decided by the quality of the code I’ve written, I would be burning for eternity for some of the ugly hacks and work-arounds made over the course of the weekend 😛

I also learned about an awesome (and incredibly geeky/nerdy) card game called “Munchkin”, and made a lot of progress in FFVI in my spare time 😛  I learned that there really is no good place to be in a building full of guys after a large taco-bell meal 😛  I also learned a lot about sleep-deprivation (yes, in an attempt to stay awake, I decided to read articles on sleep-deprivation 😛 ).  I actually, to a very small extent, experienced a lot of the side effects from minor sleep deprivation, things like micro-sleeps (where your body shuts down AKA sleeps for about 10-30 seconds before waking back up), some shaking and actually a noticeable temperature change when really tired, go figure 😛  Anyways, in my reading I also found something about a condition that I’ve decided is probably the worst possible way to die, and basically what it is, is you slowly lose the ability to sleep, causing you to lose more and more sleep, which actually drives the person insane, before eventually just killing them from exhaustion….  Off that depressing note, once I worked through the initial exhaustion, not counting the micro-sleeps I was basically perfectly fine the rest of the time, even the second night, it wasn’t bad, I slept more because the rest of the team was and I couldn’t do anything until they got up than because I felt tired.  I actually don’t feel tired now, although I don’t really feel awake either, it’s sorta like I simply can’t tell, something that will probably be remedied in the morning 😛




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