Douglas Triggs
06 May 2014 @ 04:36 pm
So, haven't posted here in a long, long time. Mostly because the game stuff has moved elsewhere (here for one), and haven't done any photography worth mentioning in a while.

It's not like I've been particularly active online anywhere in quite some time, anyway.

But, if you want to see at least one thing I'm up to these days, follow the link above. Otherwise, it's probably back to mostly quiet around here.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/9918.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
19 September 2013 @ 10:47 pm
And it's done...



It's actually been out for a couple days, but the last couple of evenings have been hectic; Tuesday there was a Muse concert and Wednesday there was an indie game dev meetup (and then there was this Football game tonight, but at least that didn't require actually going anywhere). And then there were some other complications, what with iOS 7 coming out yesterday (though the app itself seems fine).

Sales have been... Not bad. We might actually be in the black in a couple of days (not that our expenses have been great).

But it's done! Which is a heck of a relief, even though I have a couple bugs to fix (and some other enhancements I'd like to make -- but no crash reports at all yet, knock on wood). So, I'll be trying to finish all of that off this weekend so I can get a new version submitted.

I'm much happier about everything now that (hopefully the hardest) stage is finally done.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/9650.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
So, the game's out. So there's this:



...And pretty much the same content on the "official" web page (same description, better versions of more screenshots).

At any rate, it's done (which doesn't really mean I'm done -- I still have to port it to iPad, support it, fix bugs, what have you -- it just means that it's good enough to release and is about as feature complete as it's probably going to be for a while).

While I was waiting on the approval from Apple, I was reminded of why I started this in the first place: I started working on a new game while TSC was on hold pending the outcome of the App Store review. That part is fun... Actually building a game is fun. Design is fun. Implementation is fun. Fixing bugs isn't always fun, but it's satisfying when you finally track them down and kill them with fire. Debugging is a fundamental aspect of programming anyway; if you can't stand that part, give up, you're not really a programmer. Testing can get really tedious after a while, though. Eventually you will get sick of playing your own game; that makes it really hard to judge how things are going after a while.

...There are a whole bunch of things that aren't any fun at all, though. I.e., the actual release part. All the legal agreements. Navigating the long, involved submission process, carefully making sure you don't mess anything up. Getting your screenshots just right (well, that part isn't so bad I guess, not at first), then realizing they aren't presented quite the way you expected. Writing the best "ad copy" you can for the description on the web page and the App Store page. Waiting.

Of course, now some even harder parts happen, i.e., supporting your app. Having users can be a scary thing. Will they break the app? How will you fix it? Crash reports are nice, but maybe the game is just doing the wrong thing and you never see it -- this bugger's complicated, after all. And you never know if they'll savage you in reviews for no good reason (or worse, for good reason).

If it sounds like I'm complaining... Well, I am. But it's also pretty exciting to be done and have something to show for it, so it's not all bad. A weird sort of mix, really, not what I expected when I started, exactly. And bottom line... There's something out there I can point at and say is mine.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/9249.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
30 June 2013 @ 10:25 pm
Game  
So, there's a game. That I wrote. And you'll probably be able to buy it soon (at least, if you're on OSX. Soon being a couple months, maybe September, but we'll see). In the meantime, it has a web page and all that. You can see screenshots. They're... Well, you know, they're screenshots.

It's been an interesting few months writing it.

As you'd expect, the fun part is the beginning. Coming up with a concept, putting the basic framework together. Planning. Seeing it render anything for the first time. Seeing it play itself (since, of course, it has various testing modes that I can turn on to check things out -- there's no way you can playtest everything all by yourself, and after a while you are going to get sick of playing your own game anyway. Still, watching it play itself is a bit like watching Conway's game of life for the first time).

There are still fun parts along the way... Seeing the interface come together. Seeing the gameplay get smoother and smoother. Optimizing this and that. When the AI finally beat me for the first time. When the AI not only beat me but did it in a completely unexpected way. (As an aside, it's really hard not to take the AI into account during playtesting knowing everything you know about it because you wrote it. It's hard not to take advantages of weaknesses you know it has, knowing as you do how to manipulate it -- but when it beats you in a way you didn't expect anyway, well, that's something amazing).

But... There are not fun parts, too. Dealing with all the bureaucracy involved with becoming an Apple developer. Dealing with the business stuff (fortunately Ai-chan is there for that). Fixing subtle bugs that are almost impossible to duplicate. Dropping features you liked because they just don't work or they're too complicated to implement or use. Rewriting the AI from scratch and breaking half the game in the process. Trying to figure out why stuff that worked before suddenly doesn't when you rewrite the AI -- but doesn't seem to have anything to do with the AI in the first place. Rebalancing everything for the tenth time when you discover some subtle-yet-major bug that completely invalidates your previous game balance testing. Just working on it (after spending all day doing your day job -- always the priority, even when it's not as much fun -- sometimes it is, and sometimes it ain't, but you got to eat and pay Ai-chan's grad school tuition somehow) when you're tired of working on it and all the fun parts are done anyway. And, you know, writing those parts you don't care that much about but need to do anyway (say, the documentation you still haven't written).

At any rate the game's been code complete for a couple weeks (the last major feature being that whole game save thing some people, you know, might want). Of course, that doesn't mean you're done -- not even close. It just means it's time to go to beta, see if you can scrounge up people to test it (anybody else want to be a beta tester?), and spend the next few weeks fixing bugs. And, oh, yeah, write the docs. And a proper tutorial scenario, because your quickstart thing kinda sucks.

And then port it over to the iPad, which was the original goal of the exercise because that's where the real market is. And then, maybe next year sometime, you might get your weekends back.

And then turn around and write another one (or two, or three) because chances are the game won't make enough money to be worth the effort anyway (also in the category of not fun things: marketing), but if you keep chugging at it, maybe something will stick in this, your third stab at a creative career (since you've long since decided that writing and art isn't for you).

But writing games is fun, right? o_O

Anyway, back to that whole rebalancing and playtesting thing I might have mentioned.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/9153.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
13 May 2013 @ 06:41 pm
Getting fairly close to done, actually. The game is almost playable, but needs some serious balancing and a fair bit of polish.



[Click through for big fat retina view.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/8725.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
27 April 2013 @ 02:13 pm
More interface.



[Big old retina screenshot]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/8641.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
19 April 2013 @ 06:58 pm
The interface is starting to form up a bit.



[Coming off a retina display, it's a pretty big picture.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/8416.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
08 October 2012 @ 06:21 pm
Ai-chan and I hiked up to Hanging Lake weekend before last, and on the way, I got a few pictures. It's a beautiful place, but alas, overrun with idiot tourists being about as stupid and annoying as you could possibly imagine. A shame, really, sooner or later they'll finish destroying the place.

Anyway, here are some pictures, starting with a picture of the lake itself:



[The rest be reachable by the clicking o' through.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/7900.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
07 October 2012 @ 04:18 pm
Another set of pictures; this time from a pair of hikes Ai-chan and I did in Rocky Mountain National Park in September when the aspen were changing.

Lake Haiyaha:



[Click through for the rest.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/7588.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
06 October 2012 @ 05:19 pm
Finally (after almost four months) got around to going through my pictures from RMSS (Rocky Mountain Star Stare) back in June. And so, the triumphant return of the photo blog.

Also, as part of the trip (and so part of the photo set), on the way back from the star party we stopped at the Royal Gorge. Which was worth a few good pictures, although overall it's a horrible tourist trap and not worth the money (which we might have paid except for it being father's day... Er, long story). Anyway, here are some pictures, include a rather nice sunset:



[As is always the case, click through for the full set.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/7230.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
06 June 2012 @ 01:06 am
This evening, the last Venus transit for the next 105 years happened (I missed the last one in 2004, not sure when the last one before that was, but suffice to say, they don't happen too often).

We got lucky, the weather forecast for Denver was not very favorable for seeing it, and in fact part of the transit was clouded out, but we got lucky in that it cleared up long enough to see both first and second contact, and again at sunset, so we got the best of it (third and fourth contact happened after Sunset for North America, though). At one point we'd considered jumping in the car and just driving east for an hour or two, but the forecast didn't look any better there, and considering how things turned out (and the fact that we were hanging out watching it with a bunch of other locals as a bonus), it's a good thing we didn't.

At any rate, here are a few pictures:



[As always, click on the image for the rest of the set.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/7083.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
06 June 2012 @ 01:03 am
Because the internet needs more kitten pictures, have a picture of Wolfram in a box:



[Click through the picture for more new kitten pictures.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/6835.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
21 May 2012 @ 07:00 pm
So, Ai-chan and I went down to Albuquerque this weekend to see the total annular eclipse. Of course, since we wanted to avoid the 14-hour death march, we went down Saturday, and since we were there Saturday, we hooked up with the local astronomy club on Saturday night at their dark sky site, and then took a quick side trip to the VLA on Sunday morning. Of course, I took a few pictures along the way, including a few rather ad-hoc eyepiece projection pictures of the eclipse itself:



[Click through for the rest.]

Anyway, the eclipse pictures themselves were really not the best quality, but I didn't really plan to do any such thing, anyway -- we were just planning to watch it. We perhaps could have planned the trip a bit better, but we had a blast, anyway, so it's all good.

In the process, I also got my picture in the Albuquerque Journal. ^_^

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/6557.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
13 May 2012 @ 12:11 am
Have I mentioned that we adopted two Siberian kittens? So we have:



[More pictures past the link.]

Well, perhaps Ai-chan may have mentioned it now and then. The black one is Wolfram (pronounced "tungsten") and the tabby is Catmium.

Anyway, I'll probably take more pictures when I get some better light than we've had the last couple of days.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/6375.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
01 April 2012 @ 08:38 pm
370Z  
So, broke down and got the Nissan 370Z I'd wanted for some time. Ai-chan isn't particularly happy about the spending, but is somewhat mollified that I got the touring edition with heated seats (been so warm that it's not useful right now, but she's all for it in principle). And with the new job, we can afford it. It does mean that Domo-kun (the XTerra) is going to be relegated to the street -- only room for two cars in the garage. I couldn't ask Ai-chan to park the Fit on the street since she's the only one really driving these days anyway. Besides, I had to give on some things to get her to buy off on it in the first place.

No pictures yet -- they're doing final detailing and we'll be picking it up tomorrow (I forgot to take anything at the dealer). Plus busy setting up a new desk for the new equipment for the new job.

Also, did a Messier marathon last weekend before I went to Seattle to start the new job; I should do a post on that, maybe in a day or two.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/6019.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
16 February 2012 @ 08:10 pm
So, long time, no update. I suppose stuff's been going on, I just haven't been connected to this journal thing in a while. Not sure that this will become any sort of habit, though -- we'll see.

At any rate, I suppose one piece of big news is that I'm diving back into astronomy, and it all started when I picked up a used TeleVue NP-101 from an old acquaintance who was selling it (since he had a couple of larger refractors and didn't really use it anymore). Since this was the large(-ish) refractor I lusted after back in the day, I couldn't really resist (I had a 70mm TeleVue Pronto back then, which is about half the size at about the same focal length -- this is about as large a refractor as I'd want to deal with, for larger apertures I prefer other telescope designs). And so, now I have a scope again.

Well, a scope needs a mount, and I really want to stick it on a Losmandy GM-8. Unfortunately, they're somewhat backordered, so I'll have to wait a couple of months for mine to arrive, and in the meantime I'm making due with a borrowed alt-az (which works okay, but really isn't the same, especially if you want to put power on something, what without the tracking and the slight shakiness when you focus).

I also got some other stuff to make it useful -- I'd had a few books and supplies, but was missing a few key items like, say, eyepieces. So I got a cheap Celestron set (for the filters and such as much as the eyepieces, honestly -- the eyepieces themselves will make good star party eyepieces someday, maybe), and now a couple of "real" eyepieces, namely a 22mm Nagler and a 7mm Pentax XW. They make a decent pair, but eventually I plan to get a few more (the current plan is to get a 9mm Baader Orthoscopic, a 12mm Nagler, a 5mm Takahashi LE, and -- maybe -- a 2.8mm Takahashi LE someday, as well as a 41mm Panoptic whenever I get a telescope with a longer focal length than the NP-101. And, of course, every single one of these cost significantly more than the entire Celestron kit which combined contains five eyepieces and a bunch of other stuff). At some point I'd like to replace my Celestron C11 Schmidt-Cassegrain, maybe even get a medium-sized Maksutov-Cassegrain for planets and such, but for now, this is what I'm using.

Anyway, the big near-term thing I want to gear up for is the Messier Marathon, usually best done in March or so. (Farther down the road is the annular solar eclipse in May, and the Venus transit in June.) I've done it before with both a 4.5" Newtonian (the first scope I owned in Colorado) and my old 70mm Pronto (the Newtonian was about perfect -- the NP-101 should be as well -- but the Pronto was just a tad on the small side). So, both as a bit of practice and also because it was clear and I wanted to get some observing in, I did a mini-Marathon run today (a Messier 5k?), and I'm sure everyone is still reading and wants to know how it went... And so I'll tell you.

M74 -- the first failure of the night was the very first object, which I just couldn't pull out of the light pollution to the east, even after coming back to it and trying it a few times.
M77 -- no problem.
M31 -- extremely bright, so easy, although all you could really see was the core.
M110 -- the companion galaxies, on the other hand, were a complete bust, couldn't see them at all.
M32 -- see M110.
M33 -- no dice, it can be hard to pick out under dark skies, with this much light pollution it was hopeless.
M34 -- no problem finding this.
M76 -- couldn't find it. It's not a good sign when you can't even pick out the guide stars in the light pollution.
M79 -- couldn't see it. Pretty sure I was looking right at it, too.
M42 -- easy target, even pulled out the OIII filters and spent some time on it.
M43 -- on the other hand, couldn't see this part.
M78 -- no problem -- I was actually surprised I could see this one.
M50 -- I don't think I found this one; it was just too low (trees in the back yard, plus light pollution).
M47 -- I'm pretty sure I found this one when I was looking for M50 (it was almost impossible to see the guide stars).
M46 -- no dice.
M41, M93 -- didn't even bother, down behind a tree.
M52, M103 -- didn't bother, hard to see over the house.
M1 -- found it, was a little surprised I could see this one, too.
M45 -- easy under any conditions, so yes.

...At this point, I decided it was too cold (about 30ºF -- more to the point, the light wind was a tad annoying) and kinda gave up. I'd already seen the next objects anyway (M36, M37, and M38). I did take a look at M44 just because I hadn't through this scope yet (some of the other object above were repeats). So, managed to nab nine objects (out of 110-ish), failed to spot another nine, didn't bother with the rest. I might go back out later and look at some other stuff, but I'll probably just get up in the wee hours and look at Saturn or something instead.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/5683.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
18 September 2011 @ 08:27 pm
So, it's been a couple weeks since I've posted anything here -- I've been kind of worn out by back-to-back conventions (one for fun, one for work) and haven't had a lot of extra energy for working on the game. However, today, I have a new screenshot to show. And so, since last time:

- Finished the ship design tab.

- Redid the scrollbars on the other pages after deciding that the default scrollbars just didn't work. I would have left them alone except for one thing -- I resize my content to fill the remaining available space when the scrollbars appear, and doing that led to various minor rendering issues, but the real deal-breaker was on the ship design page where not only did the scrollbar take up an awful lot of space on the component and hull views -- slightly annoying, but not the actual deal-breaker -- but it got into a nasty infinite expand-contract loop when the squeezed content was small enough not to need a scrollbar but the unsqueezed content needed one. Bleah. So I just finally took the damn thing out and implemented my own.

- Did a bunch of graphics for technologies and modules and such -- still have a few to go, but all the ones I needed for the ship design page (plus a bunch of others for other technologies) are done.

Anyway, your moment of screenshot -- have a big, complicated ship design tab (this just scratches the surface of it):



[Click through for full size.]

And, bonus Ascension Theory technology image:



Onward to the fleet tab, probably.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/5607.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
05 September 2011 @ 12:38 pm
Long weekend. So, since last time:

- Added a planetary display (that was pretty quick and easy -- mostly copied the code from the system display on the galaxy tab).

- Redid the buttons. I wasn't happy with the contrast (it was nearly impossible to see if a button was selected or not). Unfortunately, you can't just change the button colors, you need to replace them with a completely different type of button. I'm still not happy with them, really, but creating my own buttons would be a real pain, and they're good enough for now).

- Added the option to play various races on startup.

- Spent a good chunk of the weekend making logos for all the races.

- Added a diplomacy display, which was really what those logos were for in the first place. Also went back and added them to the planetary and galaxy displays (see screenshots for what I did). Again, another page which was largely a copy of a previous page (although this time, copied the layout instead of the content).

- Redid the research page a bit so it better matches the color and layouts used elsewhere.

So, screenshots:

Planets:



Aliens:



[Click through both for larger images.]

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/5132.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
30 August 2011 @ 06:36 pm
Not really that much since the last update Saturday morning, mostly I just have a few screenshots people might find interesting. But... What I did do:

- Created a number of "special" systems, including the home systems of a number of alien races.

- Changed some of the art around, namely the switched the black hole art (from system to galaxy display and vice-versa), and added art for the neutron star systems. And a few special planets.

- Created first-pass alien races, along the way finishing off a number of special star systems (some are more random than others, though).

- Updated the planetary display, colors, population, etc.

- Optimized galaxy creation a bit (it's still kind of slow).

So... Screenshots. First, our home system here:



[Click through all the images for full size.]

A black hole:



A neutron star:



One of these names is not like the others:



Anyway, kinda fooling around with races and names at the moment.

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/4967.html ]
 
 
Douglas Triggs
Since our last episode:

- Added a background galaxy to the galaxy display. It actually took quite a bit more work than you'd think; I had to figure out how to draw parts of the stars transparently, and part opaque, which required figuring out the Cocoa drawing methods and making additional masks and such of the star images. But... I did manage to get the effect I was looking for, with the galaxy fading out as you zoom in, and more prominent zoomed all the way out. I also changed the overall galaxy shape and creation process to match.

- Did some optimization to speed up scrolling and zooming, i.e., fixed off-screen rendering (i.e., so it doesn't happen) and added a bunch of smaller versions of all the images so it can draw things faster when zoomed out -- I might do a little more work there, it's responsive, but it's still not nearly smooth enough to make me happy. Instead of enforcing scrolling so you can't go off the map, I let you do whatever you want, so added a center button if you managed to get lost off the edge, or just want to zoom out more quickly so you can go somewhere else.

- Changed the look of the screens so that they're more uniform (mainly the tech screen). I also changed the buttons so they look better on black (which ended up giving them kind of a "Star Trek" feel which I like). I also integrated debug into the existing screens and removed the dedicated debug screens (basically, you can toggle on debug to make everything visible instead of just what would normally be visible).

- Added a system screen that shows, well, the planetary systems. Added more controls to handle that, as well as planetary information with colors based on habitability. I also upped the minimum size a bit so that was more readable.

- Added a startup screen, with options to set the galaxy size and research rates.

- Went through all the existing code and refactored out a huge number of NSNumbers I don't really need (replacing them with floats and ints).

So... Some screen shots. This time, full-sized screens (full-sized on my huge screen, I mean), starting with the galaxy display as it was a few days ago:



[Click through for full-sized (also below).]

And the system display as of a couple of hours ago (still fiddling with it right now, none of this stands still):



...And onward we go...

[ Crossposted from http://doubt72.dreamwidth.org/4700.html ]