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Dec 30, 2023 • 3 min read

Making 7 Games as Christmas Presents (Clickbait Title)

 Making 7 Games as Christmas Presents (Clickbait Title)

I made 7 video games as Christmas presents. Okay, it’s not actually as great as it sounds, but I will stand by that title thanks to one simple trick, and I’m quite excited about game number 5. I do have some personal gains to declare here, but to get the tricks out of the way: this was possible for me because of GDevelop and (surprise, surprise) Chat GPT.

I started with GDevelop, which is a game engine that specializes in web based games, with mostly codeless programming. My first few games were graphic swaps of their car coin collecting, endless runner, and ragdoll biking templates; but I made an “original” as well. The very first interactive tutorial on GDevelop’s website was about mouse-dragging physics, so I expanded that into a scene with two characters (my nephew and his wife) with a stamina meter for each of them, and when one is full, fuel is generated for the other character which needs to be tossed across the screen while avoiding a couple of obstacles. It’s a game I swear.

Chat GPT helped me with the other games; a visual novel, a two player clicker-arm-wrestling match, and a virtual pet. Honestly it just helped, and I learned lots. Proof being that I had to make the games in css and html, because that’s all I could ask GPT to do that I could understand. Then it helped me learn JavaScript along the way. By the end of each game I was working around GPTs limitations to add new features.

I want to make specific posts for the games that took the most effort, but in any case GPT didn’t have a great understanding of its own instructions. It would often rearrange code or change it altogether and break the game. So it really kept me focused on learning function by function. But that didn’t help when it simply didn’t understand how the code was operating.

The biggest problem was trying to animate with CSS. With CSS you can move an object from one point to another, and you can even map out more points so long as its pre-scripted. GPT (v3.5) was convinced this could be done dynamically by just updating the destination points of the keyframes. And maybe there really is a simple way to accomplish this, but not by any method GPT was attempting. Once an animation runs in CSS, it’s done. Updating any destination or source coordinates just causes the object to teleport with no animation. What I had to do was animate the object to a new spot, update the source coordinates to the new location (which requires independent maths because the source coordinates are based on the size of the parent object (for example, the size of the window) while destination coordinates are based on the height and width of the animating object), then have JavaScript delete the animation script which will load the object at its newly adjusted source location, then calculate a new destination to restart a brand new animation script. GPT never understood this limitation and would always rewrite these extra steps out of the code.

So once I got a functioning understanding of the code, it became easiest to relegate GPT to syntax editing. “Where’s the error?”, or “Is this function written correctly”. Each game code got long enough where GPT would just explain the collective features of my code rather than answer any specific question I had about it.

I never would have been able to get anywhere without Chat GPT’s help, but I think I legitimately collaborated enough to have earned the credit.

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Oct 28, 2023 • 2 min read

Halloween Recommendation 2023

 Halloween Recommendation 2023

It’s hard to recommend a specific piece of media to commemorate this year’s Halloween season because there’s been so much great stuff. Dan’s Gaming’s Horror Month has essentially been perfected and is always wonderful to burn yourself out on. Even The Exploring Series has been doing nightly SCP readings. But I think what’s impacted me the most this year is last year’s Treehouse of Horror from the Simpsons.

I could probably write a whole post on my relationship with the Simpsons, but I can keep it brief by saying that I’ve always loved the Simpsons but for years I was a purist, never venturing past season 10, though 4 and 5 was the safety zone. A few years ago I started to catch up on my missed episodes. It was probably season 23 when I accepted the show as being properly “good” again. Now I’m just a year behind the latest release and took a slight pause so I could watch Treehouse of Horror XXXIII in its proper spooky season. There. Now I shouldn’t have to ever write that dedicated Simpsons post.

I caught the hype of the Deathnote tribute last year and don’t have anything to add to all that, but it was the West World tribute that really cemented the episode for me. A very on the nose way to say “yes, we know our fanbase”, but the breadth and depth of the references, and how fun the episode was, was proper convincing.

Not just Treehouse of Horror XXXIII but the next 2 episodes as well; From Beer to Paternity and Step Brother from the Same Planet. While no longer Halloween focused, these three episodes were a perfect little microcosm to embody the value of the latest generation of Simpsons story telling. Treehouse of Horror acknowledging the greatest moments of the series while transcending them. The paternity episode was on the nose with classic Simpsons sensitivity and character growth, and modern politics that weren’t heavy handed, and kept me giggling the whole way through. I guess the Step Brother episode was more of that, but it really made me nostalgic for Disney’s Goofy Movie in a way that I haven’t encountered from any media before, and that’s worth mentioning to me. When Nelson Met Lisa also really neatly fits in this batch of overall series tribute as a great “future Simpsons” episode, but Simpson stories of reoccurring broken romantic relationships always make me feel icky and I’m ready to stop gushing.

So my Halloween recommendation this year is for last year’s Simpsons.

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Oct 22, 2023 • 2 min read

Awakened history via SOGI trending topics

With all the recent SOGI protests and counter protests, I’ve been doing recollecting of my own childhood sexual education. I’ve concluded that relying solely on family values while growing up left me feeling problematic and socially stunted, and broader sexual education at a younger age likely would have given me better personal awareness and growth. I don’t mind talking about the spicier aspects, but I probably shouldn’t in a public forum.

What I can say is that my earliest sexual experience (non explicit. Chill.) is being young enough to be seated in the top of a grocery cart, and not being able to keep my eyes off the beauty magazine covers around the grocery checkout. Then being mocked and feeling ashamed for it.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly negative about the way that single situation was addressed by my caretakers, (I want to point out this wasn’t my parents) it certainly wasn’t intentional to make me feel bad, but acknowledgement of my awareness of sex was few and far between; and always, at its most positive, awkward. I’ve never learned to control my internal desires, but I quickly learned to hide them.

I got thinking more about this due to the line in a Regrettes song: “I was kissing girls before I ever kissed a guy”, and I used to think “That seems pretty common for girls to find safety in same sex experiences before becoming interested in the opposite sex”. After more thought I’ve come to realize that I do in fact have the same experience.

Even before ever going to school I have had spicier same sex, same age, ignorant -but not non-consensual- sexual encounters. I’ve never really acknowledged it, even until recently, because all the sexual education I received was based around hetereo sex and complete abstinence. “Kissing is bad, mmkay, and don’t let anyone touch you in ways you don’t want to be touched”; completely made my brain skip the sexual experiences that didn’t involve kissing and were touches I liked. In my earliest memory it was definitely women in those magazines that grabbed my attention, but that’s what they all were selling.

I don’t know what kind of experiences I’d have if my introduction to sexual awareness wasn’t through misogynic capitalism, but I’m now of the firm belief that even if SOGI values existed when I was in school, while more beneficial they still wouldn’t have been progressive enough to meet my needs. If Anti-SOGI people really want to have a benefit on the sexual culture of our society then they should stop wasting effort on attacking our social band-aids and target our patriarchal commodification of women.

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Sep 16, 2023 • 1 min read

Zendure Superbase 500 Repair

 Zendure Superbase 500 Repair

I got the Zendure SuperBase 500 off Kickstarter a couple years ago. I used it regularly with my 12v stereo and would recharge with the provider Solar panels. Within 6 months the Superbase had lost 40% capacity. It could power my stereo for a week or two per charge, so it was well below its promised 500 cycles.

FYI, I used a Jackery Explorer 160 before and after the Superbase for the same job, same panel recharges, and it’s still trekking with no problems.

A few months later the Superbase is unusable, barely even pulling 10%. The indicator would show recharge to 100%, but it would just shut off around 90% and I’d plug it into the charger and it would start recharging from 0%.

I contacted Zendure, but the official response was that the batteries were not reasonably recoverable. This response was expected, but the situation bugged me. I was getting slightly different behaviors depending if I charged from USB C, or USB A. I also noticed that in any case, when the Superbase charged to 100% and shut off I could replug it back into the charger and sometimes it would shut off right away, other times it would charge for a few minutes more.

No matter how many times I tried to top it off there wasn’t a noticeable difference in battery life, but I wasn’t satisfied yet…

TLDR / should of lead with the conclusion: I plugged the Superbase into one of those power timers that lets you turn off the power every 30 minutes. I left it plugged in for 2 weeks and I’ve regained at least 80% of its capacity. This has been consistent for a couple recharges now.

I’m sure it does better on a single charge now, but I haven’t addressed the original defect where it will quickly lose capacity with regular charging. So I leave it on the timed charger for as long as possible. I use the solar panels for my Jackery products.

If you have a faulty power product, maybe trickle charging could be your savior too!

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Sep 1, 2023 • 1 min read

Numpad Keyboard

 Numpad Keyboard

I was waiting to become really good at using a one handed keyboard before making a video. Well, I haven’t worked on it in nearly a year so I figured now or never.

Portability was my main draw to the numpad keyboard, and the keyboard I have is already really portable, but there is still value in a one handed keyboard, and I hope the people who need it do find it.

Github Download

If you’re new to learning new keyboard layouts, prepare to work on something without really noticing improvements. Be casual; as in, don’t stress yourself out. Aim to use the new layout as your main layout, but if you have important work to do or are just plain frusterated don’t be scared to set it aside. Keep yourself in good spirits so you can pick it back up if you take a break.

I’d estimate spending a month with a visual reference open, month two will be filled with silly mistakes and rewriting bad habits you’ve developed. You’ll likely feel comfortable by three months, but also wondering “is this as good as it gets?” Give it a good 6 months to really peak, and by then it’ll be a muscle memory you can easily pick back up if you decide to stop.

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