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Miscellany

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Lotsa miscellaneous topics today. Bear with me here. . .

Fixed a few more bugs. Got a couple of good ones from beta testers, mostly related to stuff I forgot to install.

I think I'm gonna spend the next week or so giving Java3D a close look. Java is quite cool, and Sun seems to be doing their 3D implementation right. It's got a pile of robust classes, and it uses OpenGL or Direct3D as the back-end. I recently saw a TV show about that huge multi-screen virtual museum-aquarium. It was done up in Java3D, and it looked extremely cool, with fish swimming from monitor to monitor, monitors on the ceiling showing the undersides of the fish, etc.

Been checking out VisualAge for Java 2.0. There's an intro version (limited to 500 classes per project) for free in the web. It's a 64 meg download, so use one of those relentless download-agents. Been playing with it, and I discovered that I've gotta change my thinking about programming. I'm used to the old compiled-project-metaphor used by stuff like Visual C++. Most new interpreted environments seem to be built on more of a Smalltalk metaphor, where you just attach your code to a database of pre-written objects. Much like OO, I've gotta un-learn before I can learn.

Hey, if I can learn to think in objects, I can learn how to use a stinkin' development environment :)

Also been downloading and checking out the Golgotha source code. It's really neat stuff, but it made me sad to look through it. Crack Dot Com put a ton of work into their product (art, music, utilities), and it breaks my heart for them to have to give the whole thing away without a nickel in return. I presume they decided that it'd lose even more if they finished and released it, so it might've been ill-conceived from the start. Anyway, I wish 'em all well in their later pursuits.

On another note, my official "sizzle, but still no steak" award of the year is gonna have to go to the CGDA web site. They've completely redesigned the site for about the fourth time, but they still have absolutely nothing worth reading! Over the past year, the site has gotten progressively more stylish-looking, but it is still virtually devoid of content. I must say that they've now got the most dazzling display of "under construction" signs on the entire web. Glad to know they're putting that quarter-mil (that they got when they sold the CGDC) to good use. Did I mention that I didn't renew my membership? :)

I think the CGDA is suffering from the "doing the fun stuff first" syndrome that plagues first-time game-developers. I got a shining example of this last week from none other than my wife. She's taking a course in Visual Basic, and her next project is a simple slot-machine. She started out her project by digging through my clip-art collections for pictures of fruit for the bitmaps. I suggested that she write the program using placeholder bitmaps, putting in the real ones after she got everything working. The logic was "if you've got a program, but lousy bitmaps, you'll still get credit. If you've got nice bitmaps, but no program, you'll fail".

If there's ever a decalogue of game development, "Get the stuff working first. Make it pretty later." is gonna have to be in there.
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