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The Code Zone Bargain Basement Blog

On the book section

Posted by , 31 January 2011 - - - - - - · 469 views

I'll be the first to say that Gamedev's old book section was a steaming pile. Most of the books were out of print. Many significant titles were missing. The search only worked sometimes. It was just a problem, and much of that problem came from the fact that it was almost never updated. The only person who added new books was me, and the only books I ever added were books that were on my desk and needed reviews.

Well, the new system goes a great distance to fix that.

First off, adding books is no longer a big mess. I can basically add an ISBN and gamedev will fill in most of the rest of the book (including the picture). Reviewing and featuring a book on the front page is no longer an overcomplicated multi-step process. Also, the system can automatically de-list books that are too old or have gone out of print.

Mind you, the purge process isn't perfect. Mainly because the concept of a "print run" in book parlance is going away. There are so many one-off publishers now that books can basically stay in print forever, as the "inventory" just consists of a PDF file sitting on their server somewhere, and a book only comes into existence after you press the "buy this book" button. So there'll still be a process of manually purging out books that have worn out their usefulness (like the five books on Flash MX 2004 that are still listed) as well as a process of "immortalizing" books that are OOP but are still significant and/or useful. But the list will be much more useful than it has been in the past.

So my plan for the books is the following:

1. I will review one book per week. It'll be a shorter review than in the past and it'll be based on whatever books are sent to me.
2. That book will be listed, reviewed, and posted as the featured review on the site. The current one is already up now.
3. Any other programming books that I receive via press-release will be listed and categorized but not reviewed or featured.

We'll see how this works in the future, but even without new listings and/or purges, it looks much better. The five "latest books" are actually recent titles. The top-selling books list actually reflect reality. The categories need to be re-done, but that'll happen with time.

So again, Gamedev is getting better. Stuff you've blown off as stale crap is getting less so. It'll take some time to get a good mass of new books as well as purging stuff nobody cares about. But it'll improve.

So if you haven't been around in a while, http://www.gamedev.net/books

My new project

  Posted by , 24 January 2011 - - - - - - · 323 views

Okay, I hinted on it on <Insert Social Network Here> a couple of times. And I've been rolling the technical specifics around in my head for a couple of months. So I took about ten days full-time to implement the back-end. And now it's done.

It's my own webcomic, The Angriest Programmer In The World

First off, the thinking behind it.

I found recently, while working, that I was building some juicy one-liners in my head. Mostly geeky. Usually angry. And while Twitter is usually the venue for such brain-droppings, I found that they often didn't fit. I needed something more like the Laugh-In blackout gags, with a couple of characters interacting.

And I liked the minimalist style of Dinosaur Comics and the even more minimal Angriest Rice Cooker In The World (RIP), both of which are influenced by David Lynch's Angriest Dog In The World. I thought that Rice Cooker was a bit limited in that it was one character only, thus making it work better as a Twitter avatar than a standalone comic strip (ala Twitter feeds like Atheist Hulk*). Angriest Dog appears to have more than one character, but they're never shown so you can't really identify with them. So I decided to make a comic with 1.5 characters (one isn't entirely sentient) as well as a computer and a narrator with which the main character could interact. And I went with four frames because three frames is occasionally too short if you have two characters.

Basically the whole thing is based on single static frames like Angriest * In the World, only with a couple of persistent interacting characters like Dinosaur Comics and some deeply geeky jokes like in XKCD.

So yes, this ain't art. This is a derivative cynical ploy to grab some geek eyeballs.

And that's nothing new. I remember reading once that the guy who makes Garfield used to be in advertising and he chose a cartoon about a cat because there was already a top-tier and a second-tier newspaper comic dog (Snoopy and Marmaduke) and a second-tier newspaper comic cat (Heathcliff) so he went with a cat hoping to fill the top-tier comic cat void. I'm not trying to become a top-tier anything. I'm just making a character who will vent his id to the world while making pop culture references at a more deeply geeky level than stuff intended to appeal to normals like "Big Bang Theory".

In other words, if you don't get the jokes, then it ain't for you. Belvin probably won't throw in a joke about how much he hates Mondays every week so you won't be scared away by the joke about brace-indenting that you didn't get.

And someday I'll likely put something together that will let people send in their own corporate and/or programmer stupidity (ala Dilbert) so Belvin Klapoknik can have new things to yell about.

As for the future, this is a soft launch. I want a dozen or two comics on the site so people will have a reason to stay for more than ten seconds. I'll see if this keeps going and gets enough eyeballs to justify its existence. If so, then yay. If I run out of ideas (like the Lazy Programmer videos) or nobody cares (like Cryptotwit and Hangtwit), then it'll wither.

What I'd like from you right now isn't publicity. While I'd like for a zillion people to press the "share this comic on &LT;Insert Social Network Here&GT; buttons under the comic, and I'd like a zillion people to subscribe to the daily comic feed in Google Reader, I also know that there's not currently enough stuff there to compel people to stay. And I don't want you to share a comic unless you actually think it's funny. If you share a joke out of obligation, then your &LT;Insert Social Network Here&GT; friends probably will find it as unamusing as you did, and that won't help.

So instead I'd just like a little feedback. I've been playing with it in BrowserLab, and it looks reasonable in most browsers. There's still a little tinkering (HTML, like Java, is "write once, port everywhere"), but I'd like to hear what you like and hate.

And, yes, I know Comic Sans is evil. Problem is, damn near every comic font I've found either doesn't look good at a small size or has a very limited character set. I have a comic this week with umlauts, and I didn't want to draw them manually**.

*why my own Twitter feed is the second hit for "Atheist Hulk" is entirely beyond me. I just noticed it, and I suspect someone's stuffing the Google box there.

**and by that, I mean "I don't have a way to draw them manually that isn't horrendously complicated, as these comics, if you haven't figured out yet, are auto-generated from a custom XML-based comic rendering language and never see a paint program.https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/5927544581291786949-7590652973484458809?l=thecodezone.blogspot.com


New gamedev!

  Posted by , 09 January 2011 - - - - - - · 265 views

Hey, it's my first blog post on the new gamedev.net!

For the record, we were fully aware that gamedev was suffering from severe bitrot for years. While I'm sure you'll see more info from developers more closely associated with the project, the main difference is that we're now using a commercial third-party content management system rather than rolling everything ourselves. Gamedev's been around for a long time, existing well before the advent of high quality CMS, but after a lot of jostling back and forth, we finally decided that there were systems out there that would accommodate our needs and traffic requirements (which aren't insignificant).

And I'm also posting this to point out one fancy new feature that I've been asking for for years. We can now scrape blogs from other sites! Fact is, we have several users with popular blogs on their own servers or on third-party systems (blogger, wordpress, etc). But since you had to enter developer journal/diary/blog entries right on gamedev's servers, you couldn't list your blog on gamedev without manually duplicating your blog entries.

And, far as I know, the only person who's obsessive enough to do that was me :)

So if you have your blog out on another site (like thecodezone.blogspot.com), you can now keep your blog there and gamedev will mirror it.

Hopefully this will be a big step towards making gamedev better one-stop-shopping for developers documenting their process.https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/5927544581291786949-9052864485742326704?l=thecodezone.blogspot.com