Dead Letter Society

Nope. The title doesn’t make any sense today, and it probably never will. I’m pretty sure that nothing I’m about to write will get us there in the round-a-bout way that I frequently use either. It seemed like a good idea at the time (which was about 35 second ago). The less said about it, the better. Let’s move on.
Music is all installed in Thief now. Well, not all installed, but everything I have is in. The music plays when you start, when you play a level and stuff. It gets quiet when you pause (which is pretty cute really). It also pauses and restarts when you die, with the adorable little, “Ah, I bet that hurt dinit?” doom music in the middle. Finally, the little dolls also trigger a similar, yet happy jingle to play to let you know that you’ve done something right. Now that it’s finally working, I’m rather quite happy with it.
What I want to rip like a TPS Report is the other thing. I’ll call it that for now because I have both Fear and Loathing for it. Like I mentioned before, the basic class structure of the thing that will one day be Paper Zeppelin is all finished. It works, and the parts of the design that should interact, do. At this point, it’s quite easy to add things to that structure. I could use my time and make what would seem to be “good” progress by filling out the rest of that structure and then making the load engine work. I used quotation marks around “good” because I mean “stupid.” The loading engine will be the thing that conjures up the different class things. They require it, and they’ll rely on it for the game to work as anything that resembles fun.
So, I could go through and add the rest of the little dudes and add 4 player support and all of that, but unless I can get the game to read my levels, it amounts to about zero. So, I felt an experiment was in order.
I set up a quick new program (having learned from The Thief’s Tale that doing experiments in the main code is a bad idea if you can avoid it). It this program, I created a text file with some numbers in it. I then researched (which is plagiarizing from lots of people instead of just one) the function that will read a text file and can assign bits to variables. Then I told the screen to change colors based on what that number was. The theory says that if it’s working right, it should sparkle in many colors like Josephs coat. Ah, wait, I hate bible references. I mean to say, “Like Saruman of Many Colours’ Robe.” That’s better.
Either way, it didn’t work. The color changing thing works cause I tested it all by itself. The biggest problem that I’m struggling with is that it could not find the text file that I had added to the rest of the program files. It would simply say, “I don’t know what you are talking about, because you are stupid.” So I went to an example and set up my program exactly the same way and got the same answer, which is stupid because to my eye, the are exactly the fuggin same. Yet the other one works without issue.
Finally, I got a new error, which is a kind of progress really. It said that there wasn’t anything that could interpret the text file. I’m not sure what the hells this means though. But if I’m ever going to get this working I’d better get started figuring it out.

– I had mentioned in a previous lamentation a somewhat lofty goal of producing a game in a matter of a month or so. The intent there was that if i could do such a thing and do it consistently, then I could conceivably do just that for a living, and make games full time. There’s a odd mix of unease and glorious freedom there. However, since I don’t have the requisite 10 hours a day to invest yet, a goal for this project was to see how many hours it would take for me to put Paper Zeppelin together.
Obviously, it’s taking a long time. Although I kind of expected it, and I’m no longer sure that it’d ever be a good model anyway.
The first reason is the biggest – I didn’t know anything about C# when I started working. I’ve made some staggering progress since I’ve started, but I not yet ready to call myself a programmer yet. I know that I’d be far quicker if I knew more about the ins and occasional outs of the language on a higher level. I’m even considering taking a formal class on the subject now.
The second, makes more sense the longer I do this. Classes, by their nature, are portable. This will make all of the later projects go much faster because I will already have the basic block to work with. For example, in the next project, the EP, out of 4 games 3 of them are shooters of some kind. Collision detection, bullets, enemy AI structures, all of that can start with what’s already in Paper Zeppelin. I’ll be able to get a working thing that I can iterate on very fast. I’m talking in a manner of days if not hours. I’ll give you an example. Once I got the basic enemy in PZ working, I was able to copy most of it wholesale, make some small modifications and get bullets working. That was in the game in about 10 minutes, and I could do it faster now. Making them work correctly is a different matter entirely, but the theory holds.
So basically PZ is taking longer than I would think most of these projects would take, but I’m still convinced this is both do-able and positive.

– Finally, for those of you chomping at the bit (Readers? HA!) to get your hands on some Design Document, it’s still in the works. The biggest issue it that I could sit and write with my limited hours, or I could code. Right now, the coding seems like a better use of my time when I’m home. So the design document (and the development diary) get written when I have time at a machine that isn’t in my Fortress of Solitude. I’ll add it soon-ish. I’ll probably also use that opportunity to spruce up the blog a little, and add some more pages. Less stuff running down the side that way.

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