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Saturday Report: Slowly getting back to work

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Trapper Zoid

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The twelve days of Christmas are over, so it's time to retire the holiday themed fish avatar.

I've finally got the main suite of software that I use installed on my new computer, so I should be reasonably ready to start using it again for Monday. There's still probably heaps of stuff I'll install when I need it, and for some reason I can't get SuSE Linux to install (I generally use WinXP, but it's nice to occasionally use Linux for some things), but it will do for now. At least "Pierre and the Fish" seems to run fine. I've also installed some of the applications I downloaded over the holdiays when I had access to a proper internet connection; now I can try out that free copy of Microsoft Visual C++ Express.

The only real problem I have left is to do with that case fan. I decided since I had a spare fan anyway I might as well install it, but I couldn't get the screws on the back of the case undone with my screwdriver. I think I might have damaged one of the screws by trying too hard with a slightly too large cross-head. Since I'll need access to the inside of the case anyway at some stage in the life of the machine, I guess I'll have to take it back to the shop and ask them to undo them with their powered screwdriver.

Since I had to install a lot of the software from a collection of magazine DVDs I've collected (being without the internet is annoying), I also tried out a few FPS demos (Battlefield 2 and F.E.A.R) to put the machine through its paces. One thing that struck me about both these games is that their control systems are ludicrously complicated. I couldn't play Battlefield 2 because it wouldn't let me remap the WASD keys for movement to the numeric keypad for some reason (the game stated they were mapped to something, but it didn't seem to be anything I could change). F.E.A.R also seemed to have a bazillion keys you needed to memorise to play the game (and annoyingly the tutorial only mentions the defaults whenever you need to do something). Maybe I've been moving towards console games a bit strongly over the last couple of years, but the learning curve on these games seems a bit excessive. I guess I'm just not a hardcore FPS player anymore (although judging from how dull the first 30 minutes of F.E.A.R was, I'm not sure I'll miss them). However, now my computer is working I can try out those demos of indie games I also downloaded over the break, as well as Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters (so many people think this is a classic I've been patiently waiting to try this out).



Since I've been worrying about setting up my new computer, I've fallen a bit behind on what I had planned to do before Monday. I was wanted to settle in after returning home, then plan the year ahead, but I haven't got very far on both the planning or the settling in bits yet. All I presently have is the gut feelings that I've been thinking about for ages, and posted in the last few journal entries.

I'm fairly certain that the major risk to my goal to make quality games is a lack of self discipline, or more specifically my tendency not to plan ahead how to achieve my goals, then sticking to that plan. I tend to drift off on my own tangents, and waste time on working down blind alleys that I could have avoided if I'd kept my head on the big picture. There's also the tendency to slack off until a deadline looms that I really need to shake off. So I guess my first immediate goal for this year is to figure out a routine that will enable me to work steadily on all my projects, the balance between research, game making, and maintaining some semblance of a normal life outside of that. Then all I have to do is stick to that.

Hopefully I'll also soon figure out exactly what game I should be working on over the next few months as well, as I'm drifting a bit aimless at the moment. I've got heaps of ideas for great games that I could do later on, but I need something a little bit simpler right now while I'm still getting everything sorted out. I'm sure I'll settle on something before "planning week" is over; I'll make it a deadline that I'll have a game concept decided on before the end of next week. It's a bit boring just going on about planning and my computer problems in this journal!
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