Adventures in Coding: Knowing When It’s Time To Stop Tweaking

That is probably a slightly misleading headline. It’s never really time to stop tweaking in my world! If I didn’t have deadlines imposed by jam deadlines and the like, I would probably just keep making tweaks forever and never release anything as a result. This is also true for non-code-y writing, which is why I’ve always found it so difficult to bite the bullet and send out my novel pitches to agents. It always feels like things could be a tiny bit better with just one more pass.

However, even when no deadline is involved, I can still sort of tell when it’s time to stop, even if I’m slightly in denial about it. When I do yet another playtest and there’s just one or two tiny things, and I’m dithering on whether I should even change them, and I go back and forth on those tiny things for a few runthroughs without spotting anything else I want to change… at that point, I really do need to stop faffing and get the project out into the world.

This post is a result of prepping my post-comp update for The River of Blood this week. The EctoComp judging period comes to an end on Friday, and after that I’ll be free to update my game (you’re not allowed to do so for Petite Mort games while the competition is still on). Originally I was just going to fix the one bug somebody had pointed out, but then I started messing about with something else due to somebody else’s feedback, and then while testing that I found another bug, and it took me ages to pin it down… I’m done now, though, and I’m sitting on my hands with that for the rest of the week (unless anybody flags up anything else, which is unlikely at this late stage of the competition). I’m looking forward to posting that update.

It’s time to get back to playing other people’s games, which was the main aim of this week!

Morris on Borogove
In other game update news today, my most recent game, Morris, is now playable online on Borogove.

Game release day!

Late post tonight because I always make full use of the time allotted for game jams (although today that was a case of resisting making any last-minute panicky changes because the game was pretty much as ready as it could be last night!) My new game is out and you can play it here. It’s my first PunyInform/Inform 6 release (all my previous games have been made in Adventuron), and it was a very different system to get to grips with – I’ve still got a lot to learn! As such, my new game is fairly short and simple, but I’m very pleased with it.

After the release of two short games in quick succession, I am looking forward to getting back to working on my long-form stuff! I have games that have been works-in-progress for literally years and I would love to get them finished and released next year. I do love making a short game occasionally though, as it’s quite satisfying to get something made in a very short time period.

For the next week or so, though, I’m just going to be playing games made by other people!

Cover image
The Itch cover image for my game. One thing I’ve needed to get used to with Inform is the lack of graphics!

Adventures In Coding: Small Games Are Fun

I (of course) still have a lot of ridiculous sprawling text adventure works-in-progress going on, some of which will hopefully be out next year, but as the TechUp course is my main coding focus at the moment I am only allowing myself to work on small, short games that are in less danger of becoming giant ridiculous monstrosities. I really enjoyed making The River of Blood for EctoComp a few weeks ago – coding a game in less than four hours for the Petite Mort category was a new kind of challenge! – and I’ve now finished the initial draft of a short PunyInform game for another jam. It needs to be run past a few testers over the next few days, as I’m still very much a learner with PunyInform / Inform 6 and there will undoubtedly be lots of bugs, but I feel like I’ve at least got the bones of it ready.

I feel like I’m making good progress with TechUp too, and am excited about delving into this week’s module tomorrow.

Room description
Leaving the pub is not as straightforward as it might appear.

Of course, I’ll only feel like I’ve truly learnt Python when I can code a text adventure game with it!

Adventures in Coding: Suddenly Caught Up; and Painting the Walls

I was panicking a bit last week because I felt like I was really behind with the TechUp course (I was a week behind the advertised schedule). I knew from the online course forum that most people were in the same boat, but it still felt like it was taking forever. However, once I’d finished the huge beginners’ Python module, the next few course modules turned out to be much quicker and easier and I’ve been able to get through them in the space of a few days. It means I’ve got some time to have another look at the Python projects I had to rush through in order not to fall further behind with that module.

In hobby coding this week, I’ve now got the skeleton of my short PunyInform game and am gradually ‘painting the walls’, i.e. adding colour to the game by coding examine responses etc. I’m hoping to have a first draft by the end of the week.

Some exciting retro computer news to talk about in the next few days too…

An old favourite, and something to investigate again soon.

Adventures In Coding: Late Night Code Thoughts

I am still making my way through the TechUp course and learning a little bit more about Python every day. It’s a gradual process and some days I feel like it’s going in one ear and out the other, but I know from experience that it will sink in with practice! We’re moving onto testing modules this week and there was a really interesting lecture on it this evening. I still think I prefer the development side of things, but it’s given me some things to think about.

I’m still buzzing from making my four-hours-to-code-it Petite Mort game for EctoComp. It was so much fun to be able to squeeze in a bite-size piece of Adventuron coding in the middle of everything else that’s going on at the moment! I’m getting some nice feedback and some useful reports of bugs to fix for my post-competition release. I’m now hoping to do the same with a small PunyInform game for the jam they’re holding this month – I’m getting a tiny bit done every day and counting it as my NaNoWriMo this year! It’s so important to be able to spend a bit of time with my creative projects even when I’m super busy with other things.

As is standard for the autumn, day job work has quietened down a bit recently – which is absolutely fine by me, as I wouldn’t be able to fit all my studying in if business was as manic as it was in the summer. I’m still getting a chunk every week, but it’s at a nice manageable level.

Next door's cat
Next door’s cat has been visiting us a lot recently. We think he just really likes our cosy sofa throw!

Semi-flying Friday post… and some bonus coding adventures!

I’ll double up earworm playlists next week (maybe by then I’ll have got all the Hallowe’en songs out of my head) but just a quick post today to enthuse about all my coding adventures! I’m still merrily rolling along with my TechUp course (absolutely loving learning Python) and today have managed to spend four hours making my Petite Mort entry for the EctoComp game competition! Now to get some last-minute testing done over the weekend… though there’s a lot of Hallowe’en watching to be done as well 🙂

This character is something to be avoided in my new game!

Adventures in Coding: Slightly More Serious Adventures

I did promise I was going to tell you all about the software development course I’m doing soon! I have a place on the TechUp Skills Bootcamp in Software Development, which starts next week. I’m going to be learning Python and finding out about opportunities for moving into a tech career, which is very exciting.

Until I started making text adventures with Adventuron just over two years ago, I didn’t even consider that coding was something I could do seriously. I’d made a few simple QBASIC games as a kid but hadn’t even thought about it in years. But I have absolutely loved learning to code and create games – I find Adventuron the most intuitive as that’s how I got started, but I’ve also been enjoying dabbling in PunyInform, as well as a bit of BBC BASIC due to my nostalgia for the BBC Micro.

Learning more standard and modern programming languages is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I’m so glad I’ve got this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.

Pixel vampire bat
A seasonal illustration from my Hallowe’en game two years ago… because I’ve got a couple more games I want to make soon as well. Naturally. Anyone got a magic ‘time stop’ button they can lend me?

Adventures in Coding: Retreating, Reflecting and Rallying

I feel like I’ve been talking about making my next game all summer, but unfortunately I’ve not been able to get much done on it!

Since ParserComp in June life has been a bit mental. I had a very busy summer with work, I’ve been marathon training for London (twelve days to go – eek!), events have started up again, and with all of that going on I’ve been making sure to prioritise ‘me time’ (i.e. videogaming) in the evenings and on weekends, so I’ve been struggling to find time for game creation. I really wanted to get one of my games finished for IFComp, but it hasn’t happened this year. However, October is looking nice and empty (after London that is!), so I’m hoping to be able to make a fun short scary game for this year’s EctoComp.

I possibly burnt myself out a bit early in the year. I was really proud of what I did with Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and I had a lot of fun making Waiting for the Day Train, and I got a lot of work done on Marie (which is going to be enormous!) in between those two projects, but all of that was pretty intense and so maybe I needed to do other things for a while. I’m keen to get going again now, but I am going to wait until after the marathon and just brew some ideas in the meantime. I am a massive Hallowe’en fan and had such a good time making Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor for the Adventuron Hallowe’en Jam a couple of years ago, so I’m already excited even though I don’t know what I’m making yet!

(I already have three ideas just from writing this post…)

Pixel vampire
The Fat Vampire may return! You never know…

Adventures In Coding: Getting Started

After several weeks of game planning, I finally had time to get started on the coding for Game Next this last weekend. Life is fairly busy but I’m going to keep plugging away and try and get a bit done every day.

Code for Adventuron game
The first of what will probably be hundreds of boolean variables.

It’s nice to be back in the Adventuron editor again.