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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #181 (See you @BronyCon!)

     Can't believe I've been working on this game for almost 200 weeks. Feels more like a thousand and eighty one honestly. Nervous and excited for my panel at BronyCon, got an 11 page long story summing up everything I learned about game development. Looking to hopefully keep things concise enough to fit in the hour long window.

Here's the rundown of what I have prepared.

Here's BGP on the BronyCon Schedule
Friday Night. Hoping for a big enough turnout to where
the people I don't know outnumber the ones I do.

And here's some of the panels coming right after mine.
That analysis one starting 15 mins after mine just a couple doors down is probably going
to be the most popular thing going on that night, given the popularity of the panelists.
So my goal is to make sure anyone choosing my panel over that one and the dance party downstairs doesn't regret it.

  • Found the World's Sexiest Particle Effects Pixelization Tool (Mac version coming soon, but updates are free so I purchased it now while on sale anyway)
  • Code for Wild Pony Encounters
  • New Formula to Determine Which Wild Pony Appears
  • Cleaned Up Challenger Info Code
  • Simplified Pathfinding Code for Universal Use
  • Fleshed Out Plans for Battle AI
  • Changed Function of Sweet Apple Item to Make Rare Ponies Appear Rather Than Heal HP & GP
  • Plans to Convert Various Particle Effects Assets to Pixel Form to Better Match BGP Art Style
  • BronyCon Panel PowerPoint & Script
  • Panel Presentation About What It Takes, What is BGP, My Old Works, My Transition to Indie, Current Dev Pipeline, Features, How They Work, and How I'll Do Them, Scope Goals, and Conclusion
     Lessons Learned:
  • I became much less nervous about my panel when I realized it's just going to be me yammering about game development and making BGP for an hour. I do that writing this blog every week. Heck, it was every DAY back in 2013. I should be a natural.
  • You know how when you level up a skill in an RPG and you reach this threshold where you're suddenly capable of so much more than before and makes the entire game feel different for you? That's how I'm feeling with programming right now.

       I made an interesting example of efficient coding the other day. Been thinking about my programming habits after watching a few videos criticizing the way Yandere Dev does his stuff. 

This is how I'd type stuff out as a rookie coder. A bunch of if/else because that's the easiest way to go.
But it's crazy tedious, especially with hundreds of combinations. And there's tons of room for spelling errors that lead to hard to find bugs because spelling errors are the one thing the bug reports can't highlight for you. This sucks.

But here's how I do things now. If it's redundant to type out, then a machine can do it for you.
2 lines of code. Heck, I could make it 1 if I put "return" in front of "string" but I think it looks nicer this way.

     I've gotten a lot better at crunching things down lately. When I find out some new thing needs to be coded I go through several different ways of getting the result I want in my head in a matter of seconds, then I write down the best couple ideas in my notes then pick whichever looks more efficient and easy to understand. 

     But if finding the formula to make it all work takes more than 3 times as long as just typing the thing out the inefficient way, I'll go with that as a time saving measure, then later mark that section of code in my personal notes as something to improve on during the final beta stages of development or on Dedicated Debug Days.

uYou know, I don't think I ever straight up shared the little mantras in my head I learned over time. When people talk about some stuff coming only through experience, this is probably what they mean. Here's my top tips for writing sexy lines of code. 

 Precious Programming Principles:
  • Comment EVERYTHING.
  • Spacing is your friend.
  • Long names are fine, shortening them will just confuse you later.
  • Colors Matter
  • Shouldn't have to write the same code twice.
  • If it's tedious, a machine can do it better.
  • Organize these scripts like your waifu folders.

     These have all led me to better code with less bugs that's easier to add features to and improve on. It's gotten to a point where every time I go to look up coding solutions online or download a plugin and check under the hood, it always looks so sloppy and confusing to me. Like, no wonder so many people think programming is too hard to get into. It's like reading a doctor's handwriting you have no idea what's going on but it's all important and the only people that seem to get it are wearing lab coats and glasses.

     I never got to sit down and chat with a real-deal programmer over a laptop and compare programming scripts. It's weird because I know some and I should really do that one of these days. Someone around my age or even older in senior positions working on games or websites or something.

     Like, I genuinely wonder how good I actually am at this on a professional scale. Remembering back to school I was always one of the best, but it really seemed to be because I was one of the only few programming class nerds actually trying (and apparently super good at Googling things I didn't know about). Most classmates seemed more into pro gaming streams or literally copy/pasting each other's work instead of figuring it out and a bunch of those guys still graduated. So I wonder how much of that "who cares as long as it's done" attitude carries over into the professional IT industry.

     If my game fails miserably, could I get a super high paying job as a coder for a year or two to save up and try again? Or would I be in over my head since I still feel like I'm doing all this by the seat of my pants? 

Just a thought tangent.

     As you're reading this I'm already in Baltimore, settled in and rehearsing the panel in hopes I don't forget what to say. Gonna try to keep things natural and flowing, throw some improvised humor in, and keep it light.

     So if you're going to be at the con, look out for me in the crowds, and be sure to catch my panel Friday night at 10:45 in the Hall of the Stars (the panel room in the main hallway next to activities and the restrooms).

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