Scourge, and my urge to verge toward Demiurge

Let's pretend I haven't neglected the blog for a year. There's important stuff to talk about.

In September 2010, I was on a late-night train from Manhattan back to my parents’ home in Westchester, when I decided to open SheepShaver and play an old game to pass the time. The game was called Byte Me!, released by Freeverse Software twelve years ago. Relying on the classic Mac OS and burdened by a once impressive OpenGL-rendered game board, Byte Me! is nearly impossible to play nowadays, let alone enjoy– but the game’s unique mechanics make it an all-time favorite of mine.

Byte Me! was itself a remake of the game Fungus by Ryan Koopmans. That was a school project back in ’92, but by then the basic game principles were already in place:

  1. Two to four players are given “heads” that are placed in a circle on a square board.
  2. Players take turns growing their bodies out from their heads by attaching shapes to themselves.
  3. Players who touch can bite one another; biting a player can divide their body, and the portions disconnected from their head wither and die.
  4. If attaching a shape to yourself causes your body to envelop a region of an opponent’s body, you seize that region.
  5. You win by growing your body to be the largest, or, ideally, by destroying your opponents’ bodies.

That’s the Fungus game variety in a nutshell. There can be variations, but the core is the same; you grow as big as you can, gobbling up your opponents and conquering the board. This is how Fungus and its various clones have been played for the past twenty years. [ More ]

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Nov 2011

Book review: haXe 2 Beginner’s Guide

So there’s this haXe book that came out in July, and I was supposed to review it.

For those of you who don’t know, haXe is an ECMAScript-based programming language with awesome features. Its compiler is fast; it targets Flash, JavaScript, PHP, nekoVM (a speedy virtual machine like Flash or Java that is extensible) and native platforms. You can even write functions in it that change the way your haXe code is compiled.

Understandably, people who are new to haXe spend a lot of time using it the way they’d use the languages they’re used to. The haXe 2 Beginner’s Guide covers all the usual things people are familiar with, but then it guides the reader steadily through the trickier concepts. Good thing too, because that’s where the fun is.

[ More ]

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Oct 2011

Oh right, I have a blog.

Hey there. I guess it’s been a while!

Since July of last year, I picked up Flex, haXe, a bit of JavaScript, and a new project called Scourge.

And an apartment in Brooklyn. And a short-lived relationship.

And a new job in a new town. I’ve been a bit busy. There’s been no time to post things so that the two or three people who visit this site with any regularity can have something to return to. However, I do intend to post more frequently again. Here goes!

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Handling clipboard events in AIR


If you read that last post, you know about Tyro. Since I designed Tyro to be able to handle clipboard events, I expected it to respond to my cut, copy and paste keystrokes when I put it in an AIR application. It didn’t work. Can you think of why?

If you guessed it had something to do with menus, you’re correct. You seem pretty clever; maybe you want to follow along and try this project at home? Clipboard commands are usually provided through the Edit menu of an application, such as a web browser. Most people have learned through experience to rely upon the common keyboard shortcuts that software developers commonly bind to the clipboard commands, but know this: if your browser’s developer didn’t think to include that overlooked Edit menu, all your absent-minded key tapping would do nothing. [ More ]

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Overthinking Text

Part 1 of my 65,536 part series on overthinking things

Remember 2008? What a great year. Especially in November, when we made history. I remember watching the ceremony on video feed with friends. People were cheering and crying.

No, wait. I mean 2007, not 2008. You know, when Adobe showed us a sneak peek of Flash Player 10, and Peter Elst’s posted video coverage gave his blog a bazillion hits as Flashmongers everywhere watched Emmy Huang spin a MovieClip in 3D. “Whoop dee doo”, you might say with hindsight-equipped eyes. It’s 2010 and all those new tricks are now old hat, right?

Not exactly. While the novelty of 2.5D and IK handles may have faded away, one of Flash Player 10’s new features– the advanced text engine– has lagged behind the rest. That’s because the text engine is very low-level, and wasn’t exposed to designers in the Flash Professional authoring environment. Until CS5 was released this past April, only developers had access to the FTE. That’s kind of ridiculous, and Adobe knew that. And so began the efforts (by many different people) to bring TextField-like usability and new text functionality to the Flash platform. [ More ]

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