I realize that with as little time as I have to post around here, the posts I have been making are, mildly put, “vague blogging.” So, what am I actually working on, what does any of it actually look like, when am I actually going to put something out?

Well I did release the executable JAR of my senior project to anyone who wanted it. If you don’t already have it, ask and I’ll dropbox you a link. I made a GIF demonstrating a bit of its functionality in tiny, low res mode, and I suppose these days I have the tech and resources to actually make some short videos showing how the program works.

I don’t recall but I probably never put online any screen shots of my latest progress on the star system generator. I was futzing around with algorithms back in December and trying to work out exactly how to represent trade routes between worlds so I could put store them in the database and retrieve them again properly.

I finally settled on a couple of parameters to determine the number of jumps in a route and the minimum jump drive necessary for the route. My HOPE for jump routes was not MERELY to plot trade through the stars, but to actually make the calculation, or acquisition, of jump routes an adventure in and of itself, with some routes gaining notoriety and so forth. I mean otherwise, why not just recalculate them every time you need them?

No, I figured it would be more fun and storied to make jump routes like the “Kessel Run” (pre-Solo) where an individual route might be well known and even a source of bravado due to say, pirate or military activity along the way.

Of course the problem was I kept running into problems committing to an algorithm for actually making the routes. And I kept running into problems displaying my sectors. And lots of other stupid issues. Development ground to a halt for a bit because the cognitive load to work on it was in direct competition with learning the ropes at my new job, so stargen AKA “Macleod” as my wife calls it, took a backseat.

Now when I can’t work on Macleod, I read about things I could be doing with Macleod, including how to improve performance and get the most out of what I’ve already built.

Some things I’ve looked at for example, are calculating and displaying stellar, planetary, and satellite orbits. If I want users to be able to actually see binary, trinary, and quaternary systems, then I need to be able to represent them well. Which ultimately means interpreting and displaying the Traveller data – – yeah, okay. So what? UGH WHERE DO I BEGIN.

Astronomy has come a long way from the 70s. Perhaps most distressing is that new stuff is discovered all the time. I won’t lie, I love reading about space. But it’s hard to design a game system around something about which our understanding changes like, every year. (It’s more like, every month.) Honestly with the new stuff we keep hearing about, it’s like we’re entering another Space Age, which is freaking sweet. But back to game design.

Okay what else? Gosh, I finally read Dune and it gave me a mental model of what a real space empire should probably look like. People get so spread out that it’s kinda like the wild west, but everywhere. It’s weird to think of folding space in Dune simultaneously opening up the galaxy – – or perhaps the entire universe – – to colonization, and what the subsequent “explosion” would do to humanity.

I didn’t have time to read the sequel, and hopefully it doesn’t take me as long to get to those as it did just to read the first one. Le sigh

What else? I watched the Star Wars prequels again for the first time in over a decade. They just aren’t *quite* as godawful as I remember. Some parts definitely are. I mean, Phantom Menace was fairly passable on all counts, actually managing to be a political drama in space for the new millennium. But some of the dialogue in Attack of the Clones made me want to claw my eyes out.

Finally trying to piece together the plot as it evolved across the three films made me understand how these worked on paper. I mean, the plot of the prequels tells a more coherent story than the original trilogy. Palpatine is a master manipulator and he wins at pretty much everything. I feel like the films are awkwardly weighted though, and Phantom Menace is for the most part, superfluous.

Instead it seems like too much was made to fit into the runtime other two films, which should have constituted the entire trilogy… with a hypothetical third film actually taking place over the decades before the first film… Showing the actual rise of the empire and the systematic (not simply overnight) elimination of the Jedi. The wholesale slaughter of tiny, young Jedi actually seems pretty merciful compared to what probably should have happened IMO. Pappy likely should have eaten them or something.

Oh no, I got started talking about Star Wars. This post is over. I’m killing it here.