What I've Been up To - Confession 64

2016.06.18 11:35:30

I thought it might be worthwhile to write about what I've been up to in recent times. Especially in terms of software projects it's been rather quiet from my side, and that's mostly because the things I've been working on require a lot of time and effort before I would dare to release them for public use. There's also been a lot of turmoil in my life again, which has disrupted my ability to really push ahead.

For quite a few weeks before and after the 35th Ludum Dare I was heavily focused on working on Shirakumo's latest project: a game engine called Trial. The main goals of this project were twofold: first to give a base to work on for the Ludum Dare game that was coming up, and second to provide a lure to get Janne (gingerale) to work with me on something.

Both of those have more or less come to failure, much to my dismay. Our Ludum Dare project was not finished to any degree as we had to spend way too much time getting the engine to support features we needed, and I had to figure out how to work a 2D animation software and all that during the jam. As a result, we merely got a walking figure on a field done within the time allotted to us.

Since then I've worked on rewriting parts of the engine to work better, most notably the asset system. And also since then, Janne has barely been able to scrape up the energy and time to continue working on anything. However, the project is not dead yet and we've been doing some semi-regular podcasts to keep our interest in it awake. As such not everything has been lost yet by far, and I really do hope that we can bring this project to fruition over time. It'll probably take a very, very long time, but nevertheless I'm excited. We have some interesting ideas floating around and I'm fairly confident that if we can sort out Janne's continuous fatigue, this could really go places.

If you do happen to listen to the above podcasts –my sincerest apologies for our horrid accents aside– I'd be very excited to hear some feedback on what we could talk about or on general ideas to think about. We're still very much in the brainstorming phase of everything, so it's mostly throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks around. The more, the better.

After ELS I got interested in working on Colleen3 again. One of the first things I did was rename and splice off the project into its own thing. It is now called Maiden. The rationale for the split is that it is now possible to keep both frameworks around at the same time. Since Maiden is a complete and in every way incompatible rewrite of Colleen2, this seemed like the proper way to go about things to me. Maiden is now very close to the same feature set that Collen2 had and I'm getting close to deploying it in production. Hopefully I can put it onto Quicklisp fairly soon too.

Then I also got started on one of the prerequisites for an article series I've wanted to write for a long time on an introduction to programming. This prerequisite was a trivially easy to install development environment for Common Lisp. I always found it ridiculous how introductory texts would tell people to do the whole Emacs, Slime, SBCL, Quicklisp shebang by themselves, or omitted that entirely. Since my article series is aimed at complete beginners, this is absolutely unacceptable to me. I need something that can be installed by extracting a ZIP or running an EXE at most. And so, Portacle was born. Getting this feat done was actually a huge headache and I spent many days of pain and suffering trying to get it all to work. I think the hard parts are done now, all that needs fleshing out is configuration and help text. If you're interested in this, please go ahead and test it. Let me know if anything breaks or if the help texts are unintuitive or unclear in some way.

On the university side, the semester ended two weeks ago. It is now once again crunch time for the exam session in August. However, unlike last year where I had eight exams, this time it's only three. I should be able to manage just fine. The lectures I have to study for are: Operating Systems & Networking, Data Modelling & Databases, and Formal Methods & Functional Programming. The first two of those I'm not very worried about, but the last one might become a bit of an issue, so I'll have to put extra time into that.

Last week my good friend Ryan came to visit me in Switzerland, so I had some “legitimate” holiday time. We mostly spent our time walking around Zürich, going to cafes, visiting shops, and enjoying the scenery. Fortunately the weather was acceptable for most of the week, but it could have been a bit better, especially on Tuesday when we went to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn. Sadly it was concealed behind a cloud all the time we were there. Still, we got some good experiences out of that as we enjoyed a short hike on one of the paths outside the village. I hope he had a good time here as well.

When it comes to my art, I took a lengthy break for a while as I couldn't get any ideas that interested me much and I was busy with other endeavours. I'm trying to continue again now, but the ideas are still not really coming to me as easily as they used to. I'm not sure what's up with that. If you've read some of my previous whining you might also not be surprised to hear that I still haven't figured out my style. I've been trying to push that aside, but it still just doesn't feel right yet and as always I have no idea where to go from here. This constant nagging feeling in the back of my consciousness is probably a good part of the reason why I haven't really felt enthusiastic about drawing at all as of late. Or maybe something else is going on– who knows. Brains are weird.

In my continuous struggle to learn Japanese, I've now moved on to studying the Genki vocabulary using Anki. During the semester this was very convenient as I could use the bus travelling to and from the university to revise the vocabulary. It is sometimes very painfully difficult for me to remember the Kanji, even after having seen them for probably hundreds of times over the course of time now. What I noticed is that it is practically impossible for me to remember the exact symbols used for a word, but rather that my brain remembers the circumstances in which it appeared and an approximate idea of what it looks like. This becomes especially unfortunate when I encounter new words in other chapters that look similar to another one from a previous chapter. Learning to see the difference without having them side-by-side is very difficult. Still, however slowly, I'm making some progress. Hopefully I can push through all the chapters eventually.

Finally, I've been doing a lot more streams recently, mostly on my playthrough of Persona 4. Streaming gives me an opportunity to interact with people while I'm playing, and it also provides a nice way to designate a part of my day to leisure activities, which I've been sorely missing before. I usually stream around 20:00-22:00 CEST. If you can stand my voice and want to do some relaxed stream tomfoolery, check on by sometime.

And that's all for now. I'd like to return to writing more entries again –both technical and prose ones. My recent lack of writing certainly isn't due to a lack of ideas, I still have plenty of those. Hopefully something will come of all that.

Written by shinmera