Did not complete Ludum Dare 28
I even liked the theme this time: You Only Get One. I came up with an idea pretty quickly: a platformer in which you are given the choice of several power-ups, but you only get to have one. Once you made your choice, you have to get through the level using that ability.
Alas, I did not get very far and did not complete the game. I started out trying to build a platforming engine from scratch, ran into bugs, and a few hours later concluded that without declaring a pre-existing base code for a working, tested platform engine, I just wasn’t going to have any hope of completing a game in 48 hrs.
I really needed to do this in order to free me up to do things like come up with the various power up items, and devise level designs that would be solvable with each of them, just in some different, uniquely challenging way. That’s a rather tall order, really — level design in platformers takes a lot of talent and testing.
Once I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to finish that project idea, I could have scrapped it and started something else, but I opted not to — mainly because I was very frustrated by that point by a couple of technical problems.
This culminates a year of mostly failed projects for me: I was sick the weekend of Global Game Jam 2013 and didn’t partake, then the wheels fell off my computer just in time for our local Cleveland Game Developers Summer Jam event, when a dying hard drive put me out of commission for the weekend as I struggled (mightily, and successfully) to move my OS to a SSD. I blew off LD26 because I hated the theme “Minimalism”, and then skipped LD27 entirely because I hated the theme “10 Seconds”.
Of course on the plus side, I helped put out a book on GameMaker, and am currently working on another, but in terms of releasing finished products, this has been a bust year. Nothing to do about it but pick myself up and get back into it, though.
Site has been down a lot lately, hasn’t it?
Since I went and registered this domain name in 2010, I’ve been hosting on a server that a friend of mine generously provided me some space on for free. At first I had no idea what I was going to do with my domain, at all — I just wanted a web server of my own to play with in my spare time, and learn from. I dabbled briefly with trying to build a native HTML website before realizing how not-fun that really is, and switched to using WordPress, and have been blogging with it ever since.
This year, the server started having issues with downtime. I’ve been in contact with the server administrator, who at various points has explained that the outages have been caused by all sorts of things: database server disk storage full, upgrades, DDoS attacks, aging hardware, you name it. It seems the problems have gotten worse over time rather than better, and so a few weeks ago I began shopping around for a new hosting service. I’ve got one now, and am in the process of migrating the site over to the new server. I’m hopeful that I’ll be through doing that sometime this week, and then I can cut over the DNS registration to point to the new server, and all will be well again. This weekend there was another bad outage, and the site was down for about 24 hours. Dealing with that had me distracted, anxious, and frustrated, and not at all in the right frame of mind to be focused on my LD48 project.
Despite the ease of setting up WordPress initially, I’ve found it fairly difficult to migrate the site over to the new host, mainly due to differences between the hosts, but also due to my relative lack of experience in doing this sort of thing. So I’d like to say I’m learning a lot from this, but really at the moment I’m just learning that it sucks to do something when you don’t really know how, and the documentation and tools that you have available to you are not all pertinent to what you want to do, and it’s up to you to figure it out. I’m muddling through, and perhaps by the time I’m done I’ll understand how stuff works a lot more than I did before I started, but I haven’t seen that payoff just yet. I haven’t yet resorted to the tech support at the new host, but I plan to this week when I can get to it. Getting the current host to be up at the same time when I have a large block of time to throw at migrating seems to be an issue, and I don’t want to waste my time talking to tech support when the old host is down and something that I may need to pull off of there isn’t accessible.
So that sucks.
YoYoGames Support rocks
On top of that, I also had a bit of frustration with GameMaker Studio this weekend while I was still trying to work on my LD48 project.
Somehow or other, the auto-suggest feature in the GML code editor went glitch on me, drawing a super-tall suggestions box that drew off the top of the screen, and wouldn’t allow me to scroll up to see any of the suggestions.
Tl;dr: it turns out that the autosuggest box is resizable by dragging the edge with the mouse, making this quite easy to fix. However, I did not know that at the time, as there’s no UI widget that hints at this functionality, and I expected that it was like a regular “Tool Tip” widget in Windows, which are not normally resizable. I tried exiting/relaunching, and even removing/reinstalling GM:S to no avail, before resorting to tweeting my SOS. I also submitted a bug report with YYG.
Within an hour or so of my SOS tweet, xot of GMLscripts.com had offered me some suggestions which fixed my problem. I really appreciated him taking the time to do it. I don’t know who xot is in real life — if he’s connected in any way to YYG, a former employee, or just a long time GameMaker developer, but I’ve gotten a lot of use out of gmlscripts.com over the last couple years, and so I donated $25 to him for providing such a valuable resource to the community, and since then he’s been quite friendly and generous with his time — he also contributed quite a bit to the draw_text_rtf() script that I posted about earlier this year. So, three cheers for xot, wherever you are — you’re a great guy.
This morning, I woke up to find an email from YYG Support in my inbox:
Reading through the twitter feed you linked it looks like you managed to solve the issue.
Is this correct?
YoYo Games Customer Support Technician
Since the bug report tool doesn’t let you upload files, I had pasted the url of the twit pic, and Peter had apparently followed up, reading the conversation, and, seeing that I’d apparently sorted things out on my own, checked in with me to make sure I was doing OK. Awesome!
I wrote back to him:
I don’t know what caused it to happen in the first place, though, so you still may want to investigate that end of it, in order to prevent a recurrence of the issue. It seems to me that while it makes sense for the height of the auto-complete suggestion box to size itself dynamically, it ought to have some “sanity checks” to make sure it’s not sizing itself larger than the display resolution, and more specifically to size itself to no larger than needed to display the suggestions.
To which, he replied:
I’ll let our coding team know about this issue so they can add some checks to prevent this sort of thing happening again.
I’m extremely pleased with this exchange.
A year or so ago, back when YYG’s Mantis bugtracker was still open to anyone to submit bugs, it often took a long time for anyone to respond to a bug report, and often that response was unsatisfying — you felt like you’d annoyed someone with a concern or question that they felt was stupid, or that you were guilty of misusing the bug reporting system to ask for help merely using the tool rather than reporting a genuine bug, bug reports would often be closed prematurely, before allowing you to engage their developers who were working on it to communicate about the issue, and if the issue did merit a fix, it could be months before someone got around to it, because there’s a zillion bugs and they have to be properly prioritized, planned, and implemented.
By contrast, this experience left me feeling that they cared about my problem, not just the bug report, that they were interested in taking care of it the right way, and that it was their pleasure to do so. Submitting issues is also simplified compared to what it used to be in the Mantis system, which is also appreciated.
I really, really can’t say enough good things about how it feels to be using GameMaker these days.