Exercising the logic muscles

There is a path here

I’ve been playing more with level generation in SPADE. I dug up a link to Darius Kazemi’s excellent explanation of how the levels are made in Spelunky and have got the path generation replicated in some rough and tumble pico-8 code.

This took me longer than I would have liked. To be fair on myself I did most of the implementation at my daughter’s dance classes over the weekend, without internet, without a debugger, and with the distractions of a dance studio. Still, my logic muscles are somewhat atrophied.

Last night I finally googled ‘pico-8 debugger’ and found out about the printh() function and how to view the output in DebugView. Thirty minutes of reading my game’s output tonight and things are looking much better.

Debug output showing where I’ve gone wrong

doc_robs’s pico-8 tutorials

As I write this I’m still off sick and have been mostly sticking to the couch. Setting up emacs pretty much took all my energy so I’ve spent a bunch of time watching pico-8 tutorials from bloke going by the handle doc_robs.

doc_robs narrates in a quiet, soothing British accent–a welcome change to the super animated “Hey guys!” videos that tend to get on my tits after thirty seconds and would be sheer torture right now.

The actual content is pretty good, too. doc_robs approaches common video game tasks with simple examples that are very easy to follow. He dives into documentation, and supplements codes with simple hand-drawn diagrams. If you’re new to coding, this would be one great way to try it out.

doc_robs’s itch profile only has one fairly easy game. I haven’t done much looking but I hope there’s other stuff by him out there.

Played: RIME

RIME was the first video game my daughter learned to play (the second was Singstar, now Minecraft is a big thing). It’s a simple, 3D platform-ish/puzzle solver following the classic trope of a bit washed up on a mysterious coast.

We genuinely played the game together. My daughter had the controller most of the time (the scary bird thing was tricky) and we had great fun figuring out how to make a giant robot, how to swim to different far away areas, and how to navigate in the dark.

Polygon reports the PC version is free and the console versions are pretty cheap. If you’re looking for a family friendly game, RIME is a good choice.


What Remains of Edit Finch

Last week I started WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH knowing only that it’s a beloved and award winning game in the “walking simulator” style. I think that was the best way to go into it. If you liked GONE HOME, or if you like stories that are sad, surprising, and profoundly beautiful, then WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH is for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I can’t really say I’ve played much of ELITE DANGEROUS. I’ve got the PS4 version and I’ve given it several tries. It is too hard for me. The combat is too hard even in the tutorial. Flying is too complicated. Docking, annoying in the original version, is too much like work for me. I understand the latest update makes that aspect a little better but it’s too late.

As a fan of the original game, it’s very disappointing that the new game, which looks fucking awesome, just isn’t for me.

robotfindskitten for Pico-8

In 2014 I was faffing around with PutHTML along with a few people I’d met on IRC. After a couple throwaway experiments I decided to make a version of robotfindskitten, the Zen simulation originally written by the internet’s Leonard Richardson. It was very bad JavaScript code but it worked.

In 2018 I discovered Pico-8 and decided to replicate the experiment. 30-odd days ago I uploaded a working version of robotfindskitten to itch.io. It is very bad Lua code but it works. As of writing, dozens of people have tried it. Dozens!

You can play the game online at itch.io or download versions that will run on Windows, Linux, and macOS. And, you can get a “cart” that will run in the Pico-8 virtual console.

I really enjoyed writing the game. I wrote the code, created the sounds, and named almost all of the non-kitten items. Like I said, it wasn’t good Lua code but it was very satisfying to build it from nothing and get it onto something like itch. I’ve started the next game which I think will be similar to the surfing and BMX mini-games from the 80’s California Games.