Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Waves of Code

I swam with that open water group again last night. We went to a different area of Lake Travis, "Hippie Hollow", because it has a longer swim area than the place we went to last week. This site also happens to permit public nudity, so that was a little... awkward. It wasn't too bad though; there were only a couple naked guys hanging around and they weren't swinging their dicks around in the air or anything. ;) Anyway, it was really windy yesterday so the water was choppy as hell. My form completely fell apart because I wasn't used to this type of swimming and I started freaking out because when I'd come up for air, sometimes I'd just get a big wave in my face instead. I eventually reverted to my old "panic style" of swimming, which involves keeping my head above the water at all costs while doing free style. It was fun fighting for my life while trying to get a workout in though. :) All together I swam about 1200 meters last night (3/4s of a mile).

I don't know what happened, but on Sunday I started writing some code and for the first time in months, programming felt fun to me again. So fun in fact, that I am having trouble stopping myself and its somewhat getting in the way of my training. I added two new features to the video engine, loading menu skins from multi images and adding support for allowing multiple menu skins to be used at once. Since yesterday I've been performing major surgery on the battle code (it needed it... badly). Basically I'm wrapping up the GUI display and update code for a couple menu windows into their own classes, which makes the primary battle class much smaller and easier to understand. I'm really happy that I enjoy coding again, because I had honestly been forcing myself to program for the last couple of months to get our release out for Allacrost. We had a meeting over the weekend and decided on a small number of features that we would add to the game and then make a new release. We're trying to make our release cycle shorter while still introducing enough new features and content to make each release significantly improved over the last. We've been trying to recruit a lot of new people to the programming team to help speed up development efforts, but so far we haven't received very many applications (compared to what we are used to anyway), which is honestly somewhat disappointing. I don't know if we chose a bad time of the year or if our game looks too "finished" now in the eyes of someone who takes a glance at it.

My dreams are consistently vivid and somewhat exhausting these days. I'm actually starting to wish for nights were I don't dream, because sometimes I wake up after having fought in some war, or had some other major traumatic life event I had to struggle through. Even though physically those things didn't happen, they feel real to my mind, and the psychological stress I experience when I'm asleep often leaves me feeling burnt out by the time I wake up. Who knew sleeping could make me so exhausted? :) Seriously though, its becoming quite a bother. Once I find a new job and get on health insurance again, I might consider talking with a psychologist or someone else about this if it becomes a bigger problem. Speaking of jobs, I need to begin seriously looking for one now that our latest release is finished (I told myself and others that I wouldn't get a job until after that happened). I was going to start looking last week, but I was wrapped up with the aftermath of our release so I put it off to this week, but now I have my head wrapped in code and I can't stop (plus I kind of need to get this battle code commit out the door ASAP, because no one else can work on the battle code while I'm working on these large changes). Anyway, time to get back to the code =D

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And... I'm back

So the last two months have been reasonably eventful (for me anyway). Yes, I'm still unemployed, but I can't get these damn recruiters to leave me alone. I get a call/e-mail from one nearly every weekday and I'm getting sick of re-telling my life story to them. I'll be looking for a job soon though, and I'm hoping that I'll find something I don't detest by the end of this month.

At the end of April I became a member at Lifetime fitness and ever since, I've been spending more and more time at the gym. One of the first things I did there was take a fitness assessment test that tells you your "body age" compared to your chronological age by measuring your VO2 max, strength, flexibility, and body composition. I did fairly well and my body age was 18 years old (my chronological age is 24). So that made me kind of happy to hear that. :) I spent most of May focusing on my weak point, body strength, but I also started cycling in addition to running. Towards the end of the month, I started swimming too, which has been a difficult challenge for me because...well, I like to breathe when I'm working out. :) Over the past 3 weeks I've been self-teaching myself how to front-crawl properly and I've come pretty far in such a short time. Now I can easily do bi-lateral breathing (turning your head to the left and right for breaths of air) rather than always trying to keep my head out of the water. The furthest I've swam in a day so far has been about 0.8 miles.

Yesterday my roommate (who is a cyclist and occasional triathlete) invited me to go swim in open water with a bunch of people that meet weekly to go swim. I went and it was fun, although a little freaky since I haven't properly learned how to sight. Most days if I'm not tired, I try to do two forms of cardio, but today I went all out and did three. I swam for half a mile, cycled for 12.4 miles, ran over 3 miles, and did about an hour of weightlifting. Needless to say, I'm totally exhausted as I write this right now, but in a good way :) Even though I won't be anywhere near race condition by the time it comes, I'm thinking of doing a 5K race on or around July 16th, which will be my 25th birthday. It is to be my official "come back" into the world of competitive sports. (For those that don't know, back in high school I ran cross country and track and I loved racing more than anything at that time). My roommate is trying to convince me to do a triathlon, and I actually think I want to do one too, although not until after I get comfortably back into running races again. Plus the way my training routine is going, its almost like I am already becoming a triathlete. ^_^

A couple days ago we finished our second release for Hero of Allacrost. Its a major improvement over the first demo we released in October last year. So far we've seen a pretty good stream of publicity and positive feedback. The most important thing about this demo, in my opinion at least, is that now our code base is mature enough that it is extremely easy to build onto what we already have. I re-wrote some major subsystems of the code after our first release, particularly I re-designed that map code nearly from scratch (to add free range movement support among other things) and I re-wrote the global code, which is the code that manages all of the data that different portions of the game share (characters, inventory, skills, that sort of thing). I haven't announced this on our site yet, but the plan from here is to make smaller, more periodic releases that add a small number of features/improvements over the previous release. We're also going to start a recruitment hunt tomorrow to increase the number of programmers and artists on our team to help speed up production. Needless to say, its an important turning point for our project (which is now 3 years old by the way).

Well I'm exhausted and need to get some sleep. Tyler out.

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