Six Tanuki and Transparency

Last year I started playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons in Japanese as part of my daily practice routine. It was my first experience with the series so all the characters were new to me, though I did know ahead of time that, just like in Pokemon, Ace Attorney, and other many titles with a long history of western localization, all the characters would have completely different names between regions.

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The nested factory pattern

When writing code, I try to structure my project in such a way that it’s impossible to misuse. I often run into cases where I need some class to be responsible for instantiating and managing its own resources, such as a message hub (which needs to maintain a list of subscribers) or a tweening engine (which would need to update and dispose of tween control objects according to a timer). In these cases, I like to ensure that these objects can never be created outside the class which manages them.

A simple solution, of course, is to use internal constructors, but I personally prefer to avoid using the internal access modifier whenever possible, as I find it does a poor job of signalling the intent of the code, and in many cases is just a band-aid fix for a poorly planned access scheme. Furthermore, in cases where the class in question will only be consumed within the same project, internal is essentially no different than public.

My solution to this problem is as follows:

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Haxe still has problems

Following up from my post about using Haxe/OpenFL to save some of my old Flash games, I do feel like I have to talk about some frustrating points that came up during the progress.

I will preface this by saying that the problems Haxe has now are different than the problems it had when I was using it previously. Throughout this process, I only came across a bare few instances where switching targets led to suddenly broken code. The OpenFL runtime never totally crashed on me like it used to do. I didn’t have to fiddle with DCE flags to prevent my code from being erroneously stripped from the build. It’s obvious that Haxe has improved a lot over the past few years, and that’s great. I do plan on continuing to use it to port my other game projects, and I would recommend it to anyone else for the same purpose. I do believe in criticizing the things we love though, so let’s get into it.

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A week of Haxe

It’s been a long time since I used Haxe — my last commit to the Iridescence repository was over six years ago, and I haven’t been back to it ever since. When Flash finally reached its end-of-life and my old Flash games suddenly became unplayable, I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to get back to it, see what had changed, and do a bit of digital preservation work while I was at it.

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Iridescence Walkthrough by To Ta

I somehow missed this when it first came in, but the itch.io page for Iridescence received a comment that linked to this walkthrough video. During development, I put a lot of effort into the visual design of each component so as to not require any text on the screen, which apparently paid off seeing as the title of this and other videos on the same channel are in Japanese.

While I never expected Iridescence to be a great critical or commercial success, it’s always nice when somebody stumbles across it and seems to enjoy it.

Now that my blog supports Japanese characters I can finally start posting the reading reports I’ve been accumulating. Over the next few days, a large number of posts will be back-dated across the last year and a half.

These reports were originally intended for 日本語と英語, a Discord community for people learning Japanese or English.

The long drought

It’s been about four years since I’ve posted regularly on this blog, and the reason is as simple as it is uninteresting: I really didn’t have that much to say. My former job, which dealt with anti-money-laundering and financial compliance, had me under heavy NDA to the point where I couldn’t discuss any details about the technology we were working with, let alone the day-to-day. We were in a continual state of slipping behind; always pushing back against management in an attempt to stop incurring technical debt, and always being rebuffed. It was a vicious cycle that I fed into by being willing to work extreme hours at the cost of my own mental and physical health — which only served to embolden upper management as they saw that we were capable of “working miracles”.

During this time of working long hours and fighting to keep RSI at bay, my motivation to work on personal projects was at an all-time low. I released the odd update for Glide but besides that, I did very little coding at home. Not only was I unable to write about my professional work, but my passion projects were so neglected that there was nothing to write about in the first place.

Something had to fill the gap left by my hobby programming, and by happy coincidence I had begun studying Japanese around the same time that I started my job. I made lots of missteps the first two years (more on that in a later post), but at around the two-year mark I had a breakthrough and started reading extensively, which turned out to be incredibly effective. I’ve been part of a reading club for over a year now (and have submitted a reading report every single week), but when I tried to crosspost my reports here, I found that my ancient WordPress install was still using a latin database charset and everything I typed would show up as ????????. Unwilling to risk losing my existing posts, I left it alone.

Last night I bit the bullet, nuked my entire website and reinstalled WordPress fresh. Fortunately my posts imported without issue (though some media references are still broken).

Since leaving my job I’ve had a lot of free time to work on personal projects; watch this space more details on that front. And with a shiny new database that supports non-latin characters, I should have a lot more freedom to write about what’s been going on with my life lately.

これからも、よろしくお願いします

Glide update: Tween overwriting

I’ve just added support for property overwriting to Glide, my Tweening engine for C#. This functionality exists in Actuate (a great Haxe library from which I’ve taken a lot of inspiration) and I’ve wanted it in Glide for a while now because it’s just so darn handy.

Imagine you start a tween off on its way:

// move image to (100, 200) over five seconds
Tweener.Tween(image, new { X = 100, Y = 200 }, 5);

…but then something changes, and now you want your image to travel instead to (X = 500) instead, and it should only take two seconds:

Tweener.Tween(image, new {X = 500}, 2);

At first this will work fine, but when the second tween finishes, suddenly the first one takes precedence again and your image will keep moving towards (X = 100). You could cancel the first tween, but that would also cancel the movement towards (Y = 200).

Now, creating a new Tween on an object that’s already being tweened will cancel the movement of any properties that are currently being tracked. In the example above, the new X tween would overwrite the old one, the original Y tween would keep on working, and there’s no need to manually cancel anything.

The old behavior is still available; just pass false to the overwrite parameter. I’m pretty sure that won’t be necessary in the majority of cases, but it does exist if you want it.

Iridescence development visualized

Three name changes, three frameworks, and 33,697 lines of code and data — this video represents 11 months of nearly solo development at the rate of two days per second.

Each dot is a file, and each cluster represents a folder. Green lines represent new files being created, yellow for modifications, and red for deletions. Source code settles out at the bottom left, with level files top right. Audio is up on top near the levels, with an equal number of .oggs and .mp3s to support multiple platforms.

Towards the end it’s obvious that a lot of work is being done on level design, with scattered changes to source code as I fixed last-minute bugs, and a lot of new image files being added as I rounded up screenshots and promotional art.

Created with Gource. Music is “Hongdae” by Lukhash.

Get the game:

What are we up to?

It’s been a while since I last posted on here, so I wanted to give a short update on what’s been going on since we released Baseborn.

Chris and I are both participating in OneGameAMonth, and have each released a few games this year already; Scattered Song, Humphrey’s Tiny Adventure: Remastered, and Must’ve been Rats, a game jam project with our friend Paul Ouellette. I also participated in December’s Experimental Gameplay challenge, and my entry was reviewed by Indie Impressions. and IndieStatik. Having one of my games reviewed was quite a milestone for me, and I’m quite pleased with the reception it recieved.

We’re deep in preproduction for our next game, and I’m hard at work on our new engine, which is coming along really well so far. I’ve found that working on small side projects every now and then is a great way to keep motivated on a larger one, so my monthly game jams have actually increased my productivity while working on the engine. We’ll be officially announcing our next game as soon as we have something to show off.