Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stressing The Right Moves

cool box art

Today I was wondering about how complex computers are, from the ground up. And how, just to make a simple chess game, there are procedures upon procedures.  To get the display down, and then all the rules, all the if/then/else statements.  

Then I thought of a funny idea:  a computer chess game that does not have any of the rules programmed into it.  Really, it's just a simulator of a chess board.  So, the players have to be the ones to remove pieces when they are taken, or to call check, or to make sure the other is moving the pieces appropriately.  There's something I really like about this.  I guess it plays on my expectations of what a computer-game of chess would be, what the computer will handle and what I have to do myself.  It's a world simulator, with a chess board in it.  

This train of thought sprung, fully formed while pondering my frustrations working with game making software.  In this case, it's Flixel that's giving me trouble.  This is the program that Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka of Anodyne used, and I left that game saying to myself:  I wanna make a zelda clone too!  I still do.  But boy, I couldn't even get started with Flixel.  It's like my adult onset ADHD kicks in, and I can't seem to follow the instructions.  Or, look for new, better, updated instructions.  Every game design software I use is just too complex.

This is also frustrating because I'm not a complete stranger to the world of programming.  In High School, some fifty years ago.. wait, no.  fifteen years ago, I took a computer programming class.  I loved it!  We used a program called Pascal, which was text-based, and later, Delphi, which had a graphical component.  Pascal was great, most of the terminology was intuitive, and Delphi was just Pascal with graphics!  

So, the first thing I did, of course, was to produce an RPG.  Well, a battle game anyway.  It was fun.  There was a party of four, (whom I named after the members of the band Pearl Jam) and they battled miscellaneous enemies.  Bats, goblins, kobolds and the like.  I think the menu options were 'fight' or 'special' and each character had a different special move.  Double strike, attack all -- stuff like that.  And they could gain experience and raise levels.  pretty entertaining.  I really liked programming.

In college, we had to use C++, and we didn't even have computers in our lecture hall.  We had to do it all at home.  I hated C++, found it to be not intuitive at all.  Perhaps I was spoiled by Pascal.  I also was out of the house for the first time and prone to... distraction.  Anyway, I switched to an English major at the end of that year, and the rest is, as they say, history. 

So, is it folly to think I could get back into programming?  I can't tell.  But I do miss it.  Most especially, I miss creating systems, and interlacing them.  I never pursued graphics, but I was really happy to make the numbers move around in fun ways.  To give input and receive an output.  And to come up with an idea, and work out how to execute it.  It's a really cool frame of mind, programming.

Oh well. Whether or not I make a return to programming, you can be sure that I will write about it.  

hasta pasta,


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