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Oh no, it's August (nearly!)

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Trapper Zoid

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Ouch, it's time for my weekly review. It's practically August already, only four months to the end of 4E5, and I'm way behind! Aarrgh.

Review of Week
Somewhat shamefully, I haven't manage to agree on an engine design by today yet again. It's clear that I underestimated the scope of this when budgeting time. It's also clear that I haven't been too focused on achieving that goal. I started out alright in the start of the week, but managed to lose focus and worked on other things with my free time over the weekend. In a way I don't particularly mind so much this week - at least I was getting things done, albeit with a fair amount of time wastage - but it's not going to lead to a finished product. At this rate, there's literally no chance I'll get this game finished by 4E5, even if I heavily cut it back from the dream game in my mind. But that's why I post these reviews every Monday - it gives me a chance to reflect on how I can make my processes more efficient. I'll aim next week to have moved my 4E5 chances from "literally no chance" to "you must be freakin' insane".

This week it's clear that I need to heavily focus on making my goals. The wastage this week sprung from me rapidly losing attention on what I was meant to be doing. I know I can't change my habits overnight; I'm naturally easily distracted, especially during winter; but I can slowly start to mend them. This week, I will attempt to improve things by always starting each work session by clearly thinking what my objective is, clearly writing that down in bold texta print on a piece of paper, then placing that somewhere I can easily see as a reminder. I'll also try to regularly cycle the thought in my head to regularly check whether what I'm doing is directly relevant to the objective. That way hopefully I'll spend more time working on the engine or focused on drawing what I need to, rather than aimlessly playing with the tools in Inkscape, learning the fine intricacies of C++ or researching 20th century Soviet life. Or spending too long posting on the forums here!



Moving on to the week ahead, I've got a lot on my gamedev plate. There's a fair chance I mightn't get all of these done, but if I spend my time wisely I think it's achievable.

Engine Development
Yes, I still have to work on this. I've got some good ideas sketched out for the basic structure of the engine, but I keep shooting down every attempt with some difficult examples. I suspect I'm trying too hard to come up with a perfect engine, and I should just go with whatever seems natural to me. I suspect though once I have this engine properly designed it won't take me long at all to get a simple demo up and running. I'm also planning on making the engine extremely modular so the more detailed components, such as A.I., do not have to be written until later. But I've really got to get this done by next week if I'm to meet my September deadline of having a working demo; that's when I have to decide whether this will be 4E5 worthy or not.

Inkscape Tutorial
This has captured a lot of my interest recently, which is partly why I haven't yet finished my engine design! Given the interest in Inkscape I've seen from a few of the journalists I originally planned to do a short walkthough of a character construction, but now I'd like to make it a little more extensive. In 2006 two of my skill development goals are to become comfortable with 2D art and to (re-)learn basic webpage construction, and this is a good opportunity to combine both. I know from experience that trying to teaching a subject really helps with your own learning, so I really want to put some effort into this. It also seems a heck of a lot of fun!

A downside is that deep down I'm still not that comfortable with my own drawing skills. I'm still very amateur with my art, so I don't know if I will be doing more damage than good for a beginner. That's why I the time on the weekend that I dedicated to the walkthough learning more about Inkscape and practising my own sketching. I suppose if I make it clear that I'm still a beginner myself then that's okay from a ethical perspective, but it does bother me a bit that I'm not a proper artist trying to do an art tutorial.

A more pressing problem at the moment is my lack of HTML skills. I'm fairly good with LaTeX, but I haven't had much practice with HTML, style sheets and basic webpage composition. So I spent the rest of my walkthough time learning the basics and twiddling around with CSS. I suspect it will take another couple of days before I'm comfortable enough to start working on the content, but in this case I think the time is well spent.

Expect the first tutorial page up sometime before Monday next week. Don't expect too much - as I've written I'm not really that great as an artist, especially compared to a lot of the people on these forums. But hopefully it will be entertaining and maybe help some of you with Inkscape or comic styled art.

Journal Revamp
Given I'll be spending time learning style sheets and HTML, I'll also see if I can make my journal look a bit snazzy. I've been meaning to do this for ages but never got around to doing it. I'll put up some of those checklist things at the top, throw in a few images, maybe redo the colour scheme; let's just see what I can do in the time available.

Quick question though: Any suggestions for the best way to go around playing with how my journal looks, or tips on how to do it? I prefer to work offline, so if I could save a copy of my journal and play around the style sheets and images that would be great.
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To play devil's advocate, there are problems with having a strict schedule and sticking to it. I made myself a schedule for my game right up to the deadline, and I'm coming into problems with it. The first thing is that if you plan without much leeway (like I did), then the slightest hitch can cause you to fall behind. You've also got to take into account that if you're coding on the same app for 6 months, you're going to get tired of it unless you have something to show for it. It's easy to get discouraged if it isn't shaping up the way you'd like.

That turned into bitching real fast!

Regarding custom journal styling, The way I did mine was to save a local copy of the page, then insert a custom stylesheet in the "header" that you can set in your control panel. Any entries you put in it will override the defaults.

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The problem with me is I tend to get sidetracked a lot. There's about eight things I could be doing at once, but I seem to end up doing the least important thing first, spending too long perfecting it, and not getting to the important stuff. For example, now I seem to be side-tracked with experimenting with style sheets; I'll have to move onto something else [grin]
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Original post by baldurk
Regarding custom journal styling, The way I did mine was to save a local copy of the page, then insert a custom stylesheet in the "header" that you can set in your control panel. Any entries you put in it will override the defaults.

That seems to be working fairly well. I've already got a basic style sheet working. Later in the week I'll fine tune the fiddly bits and see how it goes. I also have to figure out how to change the colour of the links; nothing seems to change them from the default blue.

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feel free to look at mine and see how I change things - I change most things, but I had a bit of trouble with the menu up top, so I left it as is.

Oh yeh, and make sure it works fine in light/dark themes or Ravuya will have your guts for garters.

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Original post by baldurk
Oh yeh, and make sure it works fine in light/dark themes or Ravuya will have your guts for garters.

By "works fine in light/dark themes" do you mean it has a light/dark equivalent, or just that it doesn't look like an unholy mess? I can do the latter but not the former.

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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Quote:
Original post by baldurk
Oh yeh, and make sure it works fine in light/dark themes or Ravuya will have your guts for garters.

By "works fine in light/dark themes" do you mean it has a light/dark equivalent, or just that it doesn't look like an unholy mess? I can do the latter but not the former.


The latter, I don't think the former is even possible.

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If I were you I wouldn't get too distracted by the presentation of this tutorial (CSS and all that fluff). Just write it, we want to read it not look at it in awe :) And then you can spend more time doing your game ;)

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Original post by Jotaf
If I were you I wouldn't get too distracted by the presentation of this tutorial (CSS and all that fluff). Just write it, we want to read it not look at it in awe :) And then you can spend more time doing your game ;)

However the skills I'm learning writing the tutorial are also important; I really want to be good at that kind of thing too. But it's true that I do need to keep focus on completing all these tasks and not just getting distracted by one. There's only so much free time to go around...

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