I'm spending most of my time spending time with my family here in Melbourne, given I only see them a few times every year. However during the early mornings I've been hunting down some background material for new engine ideas which I hope to get stuck into once I arrive back in Canberra.
As I skim through the ideas I've written in my notebook, it's clear that I'm not really that certain about how everything I have planned for my game engine will go together. There's too many things that are experimental; features that I suspect will work if I put some time into fine-tuning them, but they really need experimentation to make sure. I suspect the only way I'll figure out the best way to craft a solid game engine is to make a series of crappy ones first, slowly improving from what I learn. Thus I'm inclined to spend a few months in a "rapid prototyping" model in order to learn what works and what doesn't.
Since there are so many different modules that I'd like to work together, I think I need to work firstly on choosing a good interface between everything. This brings me back to what I was working on before I headed off to Europe; the message passing system. Given I haven't found a very good tutorial I've been reading up on various message passing systems here on GameDev, and there seems to be a whole variety of different approaches for the structure of the messages and the nature of how to pass them. It's all rather confusing as to which is best, and it only serves to remind me that I'm really just a rusty C programmer trying to cope in an increasingly C++ or C# world.
Finally, regarding 4E5, I'm increasingly finding it unlikely that I'll do that Mad Scientist game for the competition. I really like the idea and so I'll put in on my list of games to complete, but I don't think I can do the idea justice given my present skill and the time available. I figure I'll still have time to whip together a good arcade style game sometime in September, polish it off in October and make it shine in November.