Lock-down in Seattle
Speaking with a friend the other day and I was talking about how being confided to my house doesn't really feel like much of a life or work change. I suppose that's a sad reflection on my life. I just don't go out much. I'm a life-long introvert, so I don't crave the company of groups or a wild social life. I have a few very close friends and we continue to talk.
There is a bi-weekly game prototype group I would meet-up with and I do miss that.
A few weeks ago I decided to completely rebuild the Thimbleweed Park engine, and I guess the timing was very auspicious given that it's been great at keeping me distracted and from reading the news non-stop.
It all started from having this idea about how to do a better point-and-click interface. As long-time readers will know, I'm not a big fan of the "poke" interface where you just "use" every object until something works. I've always felt there was a better way and I had an epiphany the other day which lead to rewriting the TWP engine.
I started to hack my new UI in but my OCD quickly took over and I just had to start over.
There is a lot of good code in the TWP engine and the goal was to sort that out and only take the good. I started with a new project and then slowly moved pieces of the old engine over rewriting it as I went.
At this point the engine is 100% working and it feels a lot better. It can't run TWP dues to a complete removal of the UI code from the engine.
About a year ago I removed squirrel from my code base and wrote a new custom scripting language called Dinky. It's 90% squirrel compatible but has a cleaner interface into the backend and the compiler generates much better code due to an optimizer pass.
Due to Dinky, I felt a lot more comfortable moving 100% of the UI code into script and out of the c++ engine. This follows the pattern of SCUMM where all the the UI was written in 6502 in Maniac Mansion and slowly moved to SCUMM code as the projects went by. By the time of MI2, most of the UI was done in script.
Most of the TWP engine is now back up and running and my new experiments with UI are 100% in script and so far I'm quite please with it.
One of the changes I made to the engine was severing it from pixel art. It can still do pixel art, but it's better at doing higher res formats and I implemented Spine as an option for character animations.
One of the problems with Spine is it's a lot harder to do "programmer art". I've been looking for some humanoid Spine animations in 4 or 8 directions. If anyone knows where to find something like this, please let me know.
I hope everyone out there is doing OK and this doesn't turn in to a full-scale Stephen King novel. I'm not sure how long I will last if the only thing I have to barter for food with is designing adventure games.
But so far, I'm healthy and safe, I hope you all are as well.
And... it's kind of impressive you were able to rewrite the entire engine from scratch in about 2 weeks.
Last, but not least, while I'm glad you're brainstorming a new engine... I was secretly hoping you had an entire story already laid out, ready-to-go and you were about to announce a new adventure game shortly. (We never know with you) This makes me think we're quite a while away from that!
Wishing you the best, be safe!
Big Red Button
Nonetheless this blog post strongly reminds me of the TWP development blog, which I enjoyed to follow by the way. As a layman, I do not understand everything above, but I'll never lose my interest in such blog entries by you.
In these days, it's good to be able to work at home. I'm currently hoping for being it as well soon.
@ everyone: Keep well and fit.
Zak Phoenix McKracken
Here in Italy the situation is very serious. I'm fine, so it's my family, but I'm surrounded by positive cases.
I've lost 3 acquaintances last week, in 3 days.
I tell you just because the virus is spreading inn America inn these days, please DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE RISK.
To stay safe, you must shelter in home.
Pay games. Do fitness are home. Read. Watch movies. But avoid human contacts.
Glad to hear that Ron is safe and sound.
We can't wait to see TWP with the new engine, when ready!
Zak Phoenix McKracken
But I've been doing classes entirely online for 15mo now, so my routine of "stuff for classes, video game breaks, Taco Bell at 12:30am" hasn't changed.
Stay safe everyone.
really interesting news. Have you still in mind to make the engine open source one day? I remember something about this from the TWP dev blog times.
Can't wait to see one new game from you! Big hug!
I can't imagine you'd want to release an update to TWP with the new engine (though who of us wouldn't love that!). Is it for a new game, or purely a side project for fun with no current known purpose?