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Attention: Long Post. Very Long Post.
But first, I have found a minor quick-fix solution to my cashflow. I've counted up my extra money, and I have:

�10 in 20p pieces that I'll not get around to spending at the launderette
�10 in 10p and 5p pieces that I'm saving for no good reason
�20+ in my savings tin (probably much more)
�20+ in my Lloyds account (again, probably quite a bit more)
�15 from Tony in a cheque I keep forgetting to bank
�40 from my parents on March 1st

Add it all up, and this gives me a grant total of at least �120. I think it might be time to sort out my finances, and get that stuff banked. Then perhaps I'll be able to survive on what little money I have left... I've cancelled my order of Independence Day from Amazon - that's another �20 that I won't have to pay. All in all, I guess things might be looking up.

Onto other things. Suddenly I feel creative - a feeling that has been absent from my life for quite some time now. However, it's back, and I need to write. So let's put some rocking songs on my Winamp playlist, and grab the list of update crap I put up earlier today...

Our House
Went to see the new flat today, with James. I must say, I was very impressed by the whole thing. There were four floors, arranged as follows:
Basement - Living room and kitchen, along with a utility room containing a washing machine and toilet
Ground Floor - Two bedrooms, both quite large, along with a small yard out the back - just concrete, obviously, but sufficient for hanging clothes out in the summer.
First Floor - A nice large bathroom, with toilet, bath, shower, all very nice and swish. Also on this floor is the biggest bedroom in the flat, which James and I pretty much simultaneously shotgun'd. I foresee arguments, leading to fisticuffs, leading to me having the room :o)
Second Floor - Two more bedrooms - both large and groovy.
Now the point is, the best bedroom is logically either the ground floor one at the back, or the first floor one. The reason being, the one on the ground floor at the front is just ugh - a window facing right out onto the road would be hell in Brighton, in my opinion. The two on the top floor are too far away from everywhere to be especially good - there are three flights of stairs between it and the kitchen. So you either have the room on the same floor as the bathroom, or the one on the ground floor at the back, nearest the kitchen / living room, which is also near the bathroom too. I want one of these... The students who were living there at present told us that it was a really great flat, and James and I are all for immediately getting in there and nabbing it. The girls will see it soon, I think, which will be good. Then perhaps we'll get the thing :o)

Evil Dead 3
Oh good grief. This is such a good film. I recognised Marcus Gilbert in it, but couldn't for the life of me think what he'd been in. Finally, it came to me - he played Ancelyn in the Doctor Who episode Battlefield. He was cool. The whole film was just so damned funny, and some of the commentary from my flatmates was just as good as the dialogue itself. The film goes by the following titles:
The Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness, the Ultimate Experience in Medieval Horror
Army of Darkness: Evil Dead 3
The Medieval Dead
Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness
Captain Supermarket
Evil Dead 3
It's the sign of a good film that it goes by so many names. I advise all people to see this film, if for no other reason than the fact that I have a feeling that much of it inspired the humour in Duke Nukem. The line "Come Get Some", amongst others, suggests that the people behind Duke 3D had certainly watched this film. There are so many references to it in Duke....

Mark Owen
Isn't he great? Well, actually, no, he's a posing talentless son of a bitch. But, regardless, he has done three or four songs that I rather like. So naturally, I have borrowed his album off Becca. Child is such a bloody good song. Anyhow, on one of his visits to see me in my room, James noticed the CD, and borrowed it off me - we now have two people in the flat who like the music of Mark Owen. The girls in the flat went nuts when they found out - they all hate him with a passion. But James and I are standing our ground here - we like him, and we are OK with that :o)

Ooh, such a good game. After a few games indoors (that plan never really took off), we decided to play in the field outside our back door. Myself, James and Ebs all went out there the other afternoon, to throw the thing about - at first, I was doing rather shite, but I can catch quite well, which is always good. Then, when we moved to more flat ground, I did far better. It was a rather cool male bonding experience too, since we had good chats about all aspects of life around the flat and such. Groovy :o) Later on, Annie came out for a quick game too, so we had tons of fun with that. All in all, Frisbee is something we should do more often, while we still live somewhere with en suite fields :o)

Red Alert 2
It's actually rather a good game. Who'd have thought that Westwood Studios still had it in them to produce quality software? Not me.... One huge feature they've removed is the capacity of the ore refineries - you can now store as much there as you like. It means you can just stockpile cash, which is always fun for when you build your Chrono Legionairres, who rapidly erase all your enemy's units from existence. Always good fun :o)

I haven't cancelled this one. I saw an advert for it on TV, just before I was going to cancel my order. I have decided to put up with the minor dent in my spending that this movie represents, and go through with getting it. It's such a good film, with a decent British cast (with a few notable exceptions (Brad Pitt for one)), with a cool plot, many clever little twists and subplots, and a real neatness in execution about it. I can't wait to get it :o)

Went to my Stats workshop this morning - the first one I've attended in four weeks. The student chick who takes the class pointed out to me that I'd missed a lot, and hadn't handed in any work. I simply said "Yes, sorry about that" - what else can you say? She asked if I was getting on OK with the subject, to which I accurately answered "Yes", and if I was having problems with the work. I informed her that no, I was not having any problems with it. She accepted this, and said that the sessions were only really to help me anyway, so it wasn't important that I'd missed them. She's cool. But I'm worried that the university has some sort of file on me now.... For starters, I've missed more than other maths people, but they've been called to see the sub-dean before, and I haven't. Why do I get the special treatment? And then later in the class today, she was talking to somebody behind me, and was telling him that he should come to more sessions. However, I think part of that was due to the fact that I think the work he was doing at the time was wrong. Very wrong. That explains a lot. She was explaining stuff to him, so I think he needed more help. I, however, do not....

.... yet ;o)

Anyhow, so let's see, what else is there? Well, today, I've not done much. Invented an imaginary workshop to get away from Alan - he's beginning to bug me with his overly keen attitude towards this band thing. Frankly, first of all I don't think I'm anywhere near ready to be in a band, unless it's a proper one from which I'll learn something. I'm not joining a group of cluebies just for all of us to struggle. Secondly, he's not playing my sort of music - examples of his music include:

Dsus4     Em7
Can't you see,
G                  Asus4 (with a G on the top string)
You're the one for me

Dsus4        Em7
'Cause all I want
         G                  Asus4 (with a G on the top string)
Are your lovin' arms around me

Frankly, I can't be bothered with that sort of music. Firstly, the chords ought to go more along the lines of D, E, G, A if they go anything like that - the way he's playing them, the top two strings are always G and D. That's so boring and samey. Secondly, those words, and the acoustic format of the song - bleugh. We're meant to be doing a piece for Open Mic Night, with a 6 song set. He chose a couple of the Goo Goo Dolls' most wussy songs, a Stereophonics song, and his one. My choices were for the opening and closing songs. For opening, I chose Otherside, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If I have to do this thing (and I'm hoping to get out of it), then by God, I'm going to open on a song I can do flawlessly, and show off with - I have my own little solo written on the back of each verse which I can do. For my closing song, I chose Hallowe'en Americana by Everclear. One of the best guitar-only tracks I've heard, and it gives me a chance to show off. I've been practising bits of it already, although I need only worry about the lead parts - Alan can learn the rhythm, if he can cope. And if the audience is anything like me, they'll welcome Alan shutting up.

The third reason I don't want any sort of band thing with him is that he simlpy doesn't understand music. He's very willing to learn, sure, but he doesn't get any of it. He thinks we can have a band with two people doing rhythm guitar / singing (one does one, the other does the other - he can't cope with two things at once), and me doing lead. No drummer. I tried to explain that you can't easily have two guitars and no drummer - nothing to keep you in sync. Would he listen? Would he fu...... Anyhow, he also doesn't seem to want a bass guitarist. WTF is the child on? For any band, we need at least a lead (and I'm not the person for that, he just thinks I am), a rhythm guitar, and a bassist. Plus drums. Plus vox. Ho hum, he'll learn soon enough, even if I have to kill him to shut him up long enough to tell him.

Well, so, while I was at my imaginary seminar, I got some work back. Programming stuff. The things I already had my marks for. No comment was made of my interesting commenting and debugging phraseology in my computer game. If you can call it that.... My comments were sarcastic and silly, including such lines as:
  • "Have the player say what he sees" - a concession to Irish genius Roy Walker, of Catchphrase fame.
  • "Is this a talking skull?" - No explanation needed
  • "Is this item good for you?" - I was tempted to add "too" as the last word of that, but changed my mind - determines whether the item is a health thing or not.
  • "Is this item lethal when wielded against others?" - A boolean check as to whether the item is a weapon or not.
  • "Are you dead already?" - A boolean check for whether the player has help
  • "Create me a hero" - The call to the player constructor method
  • "Let's see what you've got" - An inventory check
  • "What's in the room? Who's in the room?" - Report on the room, using the method whose comment reads:
  • "Well well, what do we have in this room then?" - Describe all objects in the room
  • "Smite, without mercy, all Monster Objects in this room" - Obviously, the SMITE command
  • "Are there monsters here? Are you likely to get eaten if you enter?" - A boolean check for whether monsters are in this room or not
  • "With the mythical third arm, use what's in your backpack" - My code once contained references to the Mythical Third Arm - you can use what's in your backpack when your hands are full, see? But I cut many of those comments, because they got too sarcastic. This one, I missed :o)

And here's my spoof report on the software:

This program is designed to entertain and bemuse poor unsuspecting gamers. It models a castle as being an environment consisting of three floors of nine rooms, containing various monsters, items, puzzles and null pointer exceptions. The player has to smite his enemies in order to get bigger weapons of mass destruction, to further his goal of creating carnage left, right and center, ultimately leading to him destroying the nasty demon that makes up the goal of the game. Of course, the player isn't told much about his goal - the fun part is letting him find out, because we all know how daft these users can be sometimes. The game loops around the player's commands - he can move between rooms, pick up objects, discard objects from his inventory, use those objects, fumble with case sensitivity, and fight monsters.

This is done by having the main method create a three dimensional array of room objects for the player to screw up in. The player can then move between adjacent rooms at will (assuming he knows the commands), pick up objects in rooms, place his own objects down in the rooms, use his objects in the room, and use his objects with each other to create new objects. He can also fight bad guys with sharp pointy teeth and big horns, although this usually results a terminal condition known as "Game Over". This process is handled by a combination of the command prompt and a lot of trickery involving tactically placed bugs.

In this way, the player is able to control his environment (assuming he has limited ambition), and choose what to do. In order to fight an enemy, he must use a weapon in his inventory, and pray that he has enough health to survive it. He may also use medical equipment to increase his health (assuming he can find it, because I'm buggered if I could during beta testing), use a talking skull (which gives hints as to how to win in case he can't figure it out), combine two items together (which actually only applies to two items in the whole game, but the framework for more is there), or get or drop items. Using these simple commands, the player can shape his sad little world. If the user instructs the character to get an object, the character searches through all available objects in the room until it is either found, or he has exhausted the contents array. He will either have the item, or will simply sit down crying, claiming that it doesn't exist in the room. The item names are case sensitive, which may present problems at first, and odds are he'll be more likely to pick up a null pointer exception than an item.

The game reports where the heck the player is every time a command is entered, like it could possibly help the poor guy. If the player uses the command look, then a seemingly more detailed description is displayed, which on closer examination proves to be just as vague, and only half as useful as the other one. It lists all those items, monsters, staircases, or special attributes that never quite got past the testing stage, and gives him a taste of what he could have played with if the coder hadn't been drugged up to the eyeballs on caffeine. The player is then able to enter another command, and so build up a sequence of actions, each more futile than the last.

Particular limitations in my opinion were related to the lack of color the environment had, not to mention the fact that the coding itself was a pile of wank. It's very sterile to read "You are in a room on the ground floor at the south west end of the castle" - it would have been nice (had I had the time and/or inclination) to have added a scenery randomizer to the constructor method of the rooms. That way, each room could have different features, which would be highlighted every time the room was described. However, this is far more an aesthetic feature for poncy morons who think that if a game doesn't use OpenGL then it sucks, rather than a functional feature for people who give a shit about the game. What would be more interesting, more functional, and wouldn't make my ears bleed in implementation, would be the random insertion of immovable objects that could contain moveable items. There could be a 50% chance that a room would have a container of some description, which might have to be opened (with a key, maybe) before the item within could be taken out. The advantage of this is that it could be done differently every time the game was run, thus confusing the user into thinking that perhaps the game isn't as bland and one dimensional as it in fact is. To be sure, if you also randomized which rooms all objects were put into, and perhaps managed to get it so that the bug in room [0][1][2] would sometimes appear elsewhere, you could define the arrays to be any size you liked, and come away with huge resource munching maps. Since you could even combine different types of objects (weapons that had healing properties for the wielders, because when jabbed into an enemy they sucked his blood out, ready for you to drink it, or indeed weapons which could unlock doors by means of extreme force), there is a wide scope for large, complex systems of rooms, stories, monsters and null pointer exceptions. Also, as specified by the rather sarcastic comments in the program code (which I feel I must apologise for - it's not that I'm treating the whole thing with contempt - it's just that your course has deprived me of sleep to the point where I know no better), the stairs need not be two way things. It would be quite possible to have elaborate systems where there are trapdoors in many rooms to get to lower levels, but few ladders. Perhaps we could implement a way in which players automatically fall through trapdoors on entering the room, which would seriously piss them off if we took all the ladders away.

I also didn't use exceptions. When you write perfect code, where the fuck is the point, eh? While it would have been quite possible to handle errors with them, I found that the way in which my rooms knitted together meant that trying to move outside the game area wasn't an issue. Additionally, it was simply easier to say "That object doesn't exist, you freaking moron" to erroneous requests for blatantly fictional objects than bother coding an extra exceptions object, just to look smart and clever. It's not smart. It's not clever. It's bloody poncy. However, while this was true of this small project, anything much larger would probably be difficult to catch all such problems with, and throwing exceptions in all sorts of random directions would be a simple and effective way of dealing with that - the solution is to crash the program out before the user finds that you can't code worth toffee..

In order to test my code, I started the player off with a couple of random start states, and tried a couple of actions with them. Rather than running the program normally, I only tested one operation per state, thus limiting the scope for finding bugs. If you don't find them, they're not there, right? In order to pinpoint errors, I had it output all relevant information, such exactly how much of my memory Windows was taking up at the time, and why it was that you simply cannot run a program on 1kb of free memory. In this way, I weeded out (what I believe to be) all the major (although by major, I obviously don't include fatal exceptions, null pointer exceptions, or calls to the well loved newBlueScreenOfDeath(RandomMadeUpReason a); object) problems with the code. The code was, as far as I'm aware, working perfectly, until Mr Gates intervened with his lack of Java compliance in his POS operating system. It's enough to turn a guy to the Mac, I'm telling you. No, wait, shit, just kidding - BeOS or Linux, far more sensible… Really :o)

In conclusion, I would say that this particular exercise has taught me a great deal, although not really about programming. I learned new methods for staying awake for extended periods of time, although I am still adjusting to the side effects of such activities. I'm sure that, given sufficient time, I'll be able to blink again, and maybe when I pass out tonight, I'll get the rest that your subject has deprived me of for so many hours. I hope my project formats your hard disks, you creativity parasites.

Long enough for ya? I missed out the bit on my dynamic web page protocol, and my latest developments in the realm of genetic algorithms, and their use in computer virus technology. Maybe those ones for later... As things stand, this fucker is over 3,500 words long - that's plenty for now :o)

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Bejeebers that's a hell of a post. I won't lie and say I read it all. Life's too short (well ok, I lack attention span, but life's too short sounds more profound than "I'm lazy").

Is evil dead 3 the one with a chain saw and lots of skeletons? If so I remember seeing it years ago n finding it funny. If not, what the hell am I remembering?

Oh and before I go to bed can I just slip in a quick "Mark Owen? bwahahahaha"? cheers ;-)

Evil Dead 3 does indeed have a chainsaw and skeletons. So does Evil Dead 2, though. 3 is set in the past, and is very cool and funny :o)

As for Mark Owen - you just don't understand his music. Mind you, nor do I - he sucks. But I like some of the songs, so... :o)

I reiterate - bwahahahaha

ok I'll leave it alone now.

Nope, one more,

ok I'll leave the little girlie man alone now.

regarding evil dead3, I have an image of the army of skeletons standing on a hill overlooking a castle or something and there are dead guys on horses n stuff. But then I have such strange dreams the lines blur a tad lol

You still haven't banked my cheque??

MMm.. think I'll contact my bank and cancel it... hehe


when it gets to all the 'puter stuff can you put a litle heading saying, 'Becca this is above your level of understanding' Thank you. Flat sounds nice, got to start looking too, ARGH. Don't like one of the people I will be obliged to move in with. Whatcha doin' about the 10th March, cos you might just be lucky...speak to you soon, luv Bex xxx

Re: Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee

Becca, I just assume that you can't understand anything I say, and as such, don't feel the need to point it out every single time ;o)

March 10th? Not doing anything... Well, not yet :o)

Re: my spoof report on the software

Very good, I'll give you 67% for it (which of course isn't worth anything but I thought I may as well voice my opinion 'cos that report was more than a bit amusing :).

Re: my spoof report on the software

Well thank you. That's the sort of writing that means I still do the AA FAQ, despite competition :o)

Re: my spoof report on the software

I don't think the AA FAQ would be the same without all the James-style comments in it :)

Hmmm band you say. You won't get any better at playing in a band if you're not in one. If you just practise on your own, it's not going to help you at all. You need to play with other people as it is a totally different thing than playing on your own. Wow I said the same thing 3 times...All bands sound like shit when they are starting out. I started out playing when I was 13 and pretty much right away got to play in a band....and I was not very good i must confess. Forget this Alan guy.....You gotta have a drummer and a bass. You don't necessarily need to have a lead guitar. Two guitar players usually just make a mess. It's a lot easier just to be one. That is if you want a band. Oz

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