Family Weekend

This weekend was college “Family Weekend” so we made the trip up North to visit our daughter. She has only been at school for about a month, so it was good to see her again. The next stretch lasts until Thanksgiving when she’ll be taking the Greyhound bus down to Manchester and back again. Although the school is only about 2.5 hours away, it’s a fairly tedious drive. Pleasant in the fall, I’m sure, with all of the changing leaves, but…I have those in my yard, so…

The weather this weekend was fantastic, but odd for September. We got a tour of all of her classrooms, ate at the dining hall, and walked to Burlington’s downtown and lakefront and back.

It was kind of weird hanging out with her, even though we’ve done it for the past 18 years. She talked about friends she’s made and how she’s been taking care of the things she’s had to take care of for school work and getting things in order. She’s already matured a great deal in just one month, which made us very happy. She’s doing well, and if I haven’t said it before I’ll say it now: I’m extremely jealous that she’s having this opportunity for the first time.

Local Dumbass Makes Dumbass Decision

When we got back home my wife and I fell into our usual routines. She was watching football upstairs and I was down in the basement, trying to generate some interest in something I wanted to play. I made the mistake of opening Steam and noticed that Game Maker 2 was 33% this weekend.

Oops.

I am a sucker for well-designed UI and comfortable, friendly workflow, and after watching some videos, this app seemed to have both. I landed on the YouTube page of FriendlyCosmonaut who — regardless of the subject — has provided the absolute best and consistent level of informational videos I have ever seen. She has an entire series on how to make a Stardew Valley-type game in GM2, which I am currently working through.

Look, I’ve been all over the damn map when it comes to game development and I am really tired of it. I’ve tried Unity and the web, and even mobile, and things just get slow. I realize that this process is Hard Work, and that doesn’t bother me; I’ve spent days on a single method recently for the web version of the Space Trader game, fixing and refining it, but the thing that keeps me moving ahead is seeing progress. If I feel that I’m just spinning wheels without some level of measurable progress, then I lose heart and drift away from the project.

This is why I say that a comfortable, friendly workflow is important to me. Punching in numbers and seeing the sum is easy; it’s what I do for my Day Job so I don’t really sweat that level of development. It’s the other, game-specific crap that usually bogs me down: the visuals, the intricate web of connections that aren’t as connected as they would be if this was a straight-up business app. I’ve found that when I can’t get a handle on the workflow, then code can get so tangled that I have to constantly go back to the well to make heads and tales of code that I wrote. That takes time and doesn’t push the project forward at the speed that I need to maintain interest. I’m not saying that I need everything to be full speed ahead; I just need to have some kind of observable progress on a consistent basis.

We’ll see if I can get that with GM2. I don’t have any solid plans right now, so I might just work on something simple, or dissect one of the off-the-shelf starter kits to see how the app handles itself. So far I’ve liked what I’ve seen via Cosmo’s videos, so we’ll see what — if anything — we can accomplish with this. This does not mean that the Space Trader project is canceled or even on hold. That’s still going because it’s been going so well so far, which is a testament to the whole “needing to see progress” thing,

2 Comments

  • Pete S

    September 23, 2019 - 10:46 AM

    I’m jealous of your daughter. When I first went to work at Strategy Plus, the offices were on the second floor of one of the buildings on Church Street, which I bet you strolled down over the weekend. It was a great place to hang out. Tons of places to have lunch, tons of places to go for a beer after work, nice strolls down to the lake…

    Then they moved us down the highway to Richmond, VT, where there was none of that, tho of course I still hung out in Burlington on weekends.

    • Scopique

      September 23, 2019 - 10:51 AM

      Champlain — as you probably know, but others might not — is about 15 minutes from Church St on foot. We walked down there Saturday evening to hit up the Ben & Jerry’s (of course). Parking down there is such a PITA, but it was too close to the school to ride-share. Needless to say the elders — my wife and I — were hurtin’ because while getting to Church St was all down-hill, it was UP HILL on the way back. My daughter, on the other hand, has College Stamina from the fact that her school is made up entirely of staircases that only go up. I don’t know how they do it.

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