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Beach-coder

December 18, 2012

As I mentioned before this week I am hitting the beach in the Malaysian island of Langkawi…

It is a tax free haven designed to attract and trap tourists, with its steep craggy cliffs drenched in tropical vegetation and white beaches studded with makeshift bars constructed from driftwood (or some such crap)…

Day 1 –

  • 8am – leave the house, get on the train, get on the plane…
  • 10:20AM – get into the departure lounge early, there is a solitary chair that says “internet use for laptops” the chair has a power socket and ethernet cable in the arm, after getting all my shit out to do some work I find neither of these work. Still I get Atomic Text pilot 60% working on the PSVita while I wait to board
  • 1PM – Get to the hotel, feeling like I have lost half a day…need to make up time…I have to pay for the internet, 12 USD gets me 24 hours worth…I am told that it works across the entire hotel including my room.
  • 1:20PM – hunting for a place to sit down, I want to look at the sea, I want beer and most importantly I need electricity. – my hotel room is nasty, on the ground floor and has no balcony, and the internet didn’t work so that is out..

1:25PM – hotel bar on the beach…I approach and ask if they have a socket I can use, whe looks at me confused and says “no sir” even though I can see empty sockets. instead of persisting I decide to leave because the bar smells of shit…yes really…

  • 1:26PM – I walk around the bar and see the source of the shit smell, an open drain with human excrement clearly visible and a few employees with various sticks and poles scratching their heads .
  • 1:30PM – I find a veranda overlooking the pool, it has sockets! I get my shit out and plug everything in, then I realise the sockets don’t work, I switch the power on and off at the wall, the switch is limp I hear a shorting sound and quickly unplug my possessions and move on!
  • 2:00 PM – I am walking the streets, nothing looks too hot…
  • 2:30PM – “Wellness” – is wellness a word? I think not…wellness massage, wellness therapy, wellness village – go fuck your wellness (you can imagine I am getting annoyed at this point, I’d rather like to find a place with electricity and beer)…
  • 3:00 – I finally find a bar and everything looks good “no sir if you are not a guest at this hotel you cannot use our premium services” – that is how she referred to electricity…it is a premium service…I find it hard to believe that any hotel goes through its handbook and specifically calls out electricity as a premium service…so I turn back…I will have to settle with my room…not a good start…I ask at every bar on the way back.
  • 3:30 – VICTORY! sorry “wellness” I take it all back, even though I still find you not to be a word, I shouldn’t have said “Fuck you” that was just mean. Anyway sand flies are biting my ankles but I have beer and electricity. I have to sit at the bar which is awkwardly far away from my laptop making my back ache…things are not quite what they seem – the barman is fond of talking about his time in the UK…
  • 4:30PM – after an hour of me ignoring the barman he eventually stops talking, and the place starts to fill up taking his focus away from me.
  • 7:00 PM – this is it! the sun is setting it is beautiful, I am knee deep in making a cut scene system for my game! everything is perfect!!!
  • 8:00PM – my code is now starting to get full of comments like “//YOU WERE DRUNBK WHEN YOU WROTE THIS IT PROBABLY DOESNT WORK”
  • 9:00PM – I realise I am the only person sat in the bar on my own, the fact I have been working solidly makes me realise I really am a nerd. I have a small moment of feeling slightly embarrassed, actually this has been building and now never quite goes away.
  • sometime after 11…. after nearly 9 hours of steady drinking it is getting hard to make good decisions, I realise it might be time to take my leave…and go home, stopping to eat more food than I need as I do so. When I get to the hotel lobby I make use of the 12USD internet to send a couple of emails, at 6USD each I think that has made them the most expensive form of communication I could have gone for. When I get to my room I engage in a dance-war with the mosquitos that have taken residence in my room (my ceilings are high so I am jumping in the air and clapping to try and squash them)

SCORE FOR DAY:

Things done 40%, general feeling of contentment: 30%…lessons learned “don’t underestimate how hard it is to find electricity”

Day2:

  • 7am – Wake up early as a mosquito flies past my ear….
  • 8am – after the most pathetic shower of all time I go to the beach sit on a chair (it’s wet) – find a table, and work for an hour or two trying to understand what I did the day before when I was drunk. (the smell of human waste is no longer present)
  • 9am – Go to breakfast, “Sorry sir breakfast wasn’t included in your booking you have to pay 25USD” I’d rather not, so I leave to walk the streets for breakfast.
  • 9:10am – use the internet again, sign up to be a Raspberry Pi developer…I will probably never actually develop anything though (although monogame does support it, and it has an online highscore / achievement system, which makes it better than the android and PSM)
  • 9:15am – There is a cool coffee shop I saw yesterday…oh it’s shut on Tuesdays.
  • 10:15am – After a lot of walking (around an hour) I admit defeat, most things are closed, I see the green and white horror that is starbucks looming on the horizon…I go in, it has electricity at every table, very slow (but free) internet…therefore it serves my purposes….I am ashamed to be on holiday in such a lovely place sitting in a starbucks. At leats it seems to be the emptiest starbucks I have ever come across.
  • 1PM – still at starbucks, writing this blog, and getting my pokemon style speech bubbles to work for my cutscenes…generic cut scene systems are hard to write…I won’t allow myself to leave until it works…maybe after that I will get a foot massage as a reward, before going on the electricity hunt once more.
  • 1:03PM – It is worth noting that I fucking hate christmas music
  • 3PM – too much curry…looks like rain
  • 7:30PM – after working in my room during the downpour (and having a sleep), I realise that there is no point being not in your normal home and doing this kind of thing. Hotel rooms are depressing, they don’t have your comforts inside….and in the case of mine, I am now upto about 100 mosquitos…everything I move has them pouring out of it…I think the repelent device attracts thenm rather than makes them go away. Still now speech bubbles work, and my game has a really ugly cut scene inside.
  • 10PM…oh dear, so I am at a reggae bar, I have endured reggae versions of Hotel California and Wish You Were Here, both are amazing songs destroyed by the horror of the offbeat guitar. Anyway, the “oh dear” was aimed more at a computer crash from earlier. While at starbucks I added some files to my remote SVN network, the internet here is so bad that it never made it through the commit (somehow my entire PC died in the process). Now I have found out that my SVN server has this error: “sqlite database image is mallformed” I cant do anything to fix it, this means my PC is now the only place my work lives until this gets fixed….worse is the fact that I completely destroyed a file in Nuclien last night while doing the drunk coding, and I now want te undo the evil via SVN….Computers are crap, I just adjusted screen brightness I pulled the slider-bar all he way to the left and then my screen turned off…several hard resets later and a safe mode restart and it now works again.
  • 10:24PM – WOW! http://repositoryhosting.com/ are the people I use for my SVN hosting they are cheap and pretty solid….but best of all I wrote to them with my issue, three minutes later I had a detailed reply. These guys are really worth your $6 a month.
  • 11:15PM – The Reggae bar has internet, and I have now retrieved nearly all of my projects and as far as I can tell (on 5 pints of beer) I have managed to fix a lot of the mess that I made – SVN merge when drunk might not be the best idea in the world. Last night coding was getting hard on my new game, so I decided to work on small bits here and there in all my other games instead – so much for damage control.
  • 12:28 AM – I think the busier these places get, the more I start to feel a loser, sitting at a bar with your laptop is far from cool I am like some social outcast freakazoid in this situation. Still that’s where the booze numbs the awkwardness
  • 1:20AM – The bar guy is talking to me again, (this is a different bar) I think when you are on your own people asume you want to be talked to! its very nice of people, but really I am just happy to be doing my own thing….and RE my previous comment, I dont really feel like a loser, just like an isolated weirdo…but that doesnt detract from the fact that I am having fun making awesome occur on the screen….Now trying to blow ants out of my keyboard….I also feel if my behaviour was accepatable in any social circles this would be ths ultimate evening out…doing the coding, and getting drunk…I think I just need to get used to it and embrace the experience, no one has said anything to me, so I don’t really care….part of it is I have never tarvelled before on my own, so perhaps the isolation of that is making me think in an odd way.
  • 2:45AM – it turns out using your laptop at the bar makes people think you own the bar…anyway, I have found myself writing comments in my code as little messages to myself for the future for example: float VerticalPad = -10;//WTF surely this should not be a negative number – you are in a reggae bar, you are drunk – your logic is no doubt flawed…and reggae is still shit
  • 4:30AM – and sleep…

Day3: Wednesday

  • 10:AM – awake..
  • 11:45AM – My code from last night looks better than it should do…I have checked out of the hotel and am now in the cafe that was closed yesetrday waiting for my sandwich (kiwi and chilli?)
  • 1:15PM – New Hotel, in the middle of nowehere, this means I have to pay for the internet – or start drinking (you get 2 free hours per drink)
  • 8PM – having spen a long time in my room working, I realise I am not getting much done….time for dinner.
  • 9PM – time for a massage
  • 9:30PM – try to do more work, the plan is to stay up all night to make up for my unproductive afternoon….
  • 10:PM = Trying to submit the playstation mobile version of “Space Lift Danger Panic!!” can’t get past this well worded Sony compile error :
    “Some of source files are updated. Need build before packaging”
  • 12:PM – give up and go to sleep, but play wipeout for a bit first

Day 4:

  • 5:30 am – wake up, I have a headache, I have had one for at least 24 hours now…my lap top runs for about 1 hour before running out of power, I want to make it downstairs for sunrise…
  • 7:00 there has been a cock crowing for an hour, its stopped – that means I should go downstairs and look at the sunrise while I sit on the marina. I think the Cut scene system is almost there (two days of pain) now I can actually start looking at the game…I think this game was a bad choice, everyone said it was too big, and they were right. This will take me a long time to finish…
  • 1PM Watching the sun rise was very nice….and this hotel gives me free breakfast…even though I’d probably rather pay for something that isnt quite so nasty….there is so little to do here, it kind of makes it perfect for working, however I just wish there were more places to actually go and do the work other than my hotel room.
  • 7:31 PM – Let me try and explain why my head wants to melt…My game is set in space, it is 2D however some things have 3D co-ordinates (stars for example) so if I pan around space stars that are further away from the “camera” move slower. Oh I mentioned a camera, my game is 2D so it doesnt have a camera, it isnt like I can just shove a load of stuff in a scene and let the engine handle it….anyway so there is that (which doesnt work properlly yet because I didnt factor in zooming when I wrote it….) ahhh zooming, my game allows me to not only pan but also zoom in and out…this is also a pain in the ass, partiularly as zooming affects my input, ie a spaceship at 0,0 could normally be touched by placing your finger at 0,0, clearly once I have a world origin that is moving around I have to offset the input by that ammount, same goes for scaling, zoom out and I have to scale up the virtual touch input by the same factor, so on a device with s screen resolution of 1024, 1024 I can end up with touch data of 100000, 1200012120 0r something. OK so to get that working was pretty straight forward. Now it get’s harder, I have multiple “motherships” these contain various things and can be built by the player. A mothership is simply a point in space, that point has a series of children offset from it (in an RTS these would be your factories and things, I call them rooms) when I zoom in on these, the motherships facade fades away to reveal the interior…this is also pretty straight forward…however the mothership can move, so all its children get dragged along with it. Inside each room of the ship there are people, these people run around or fly between rooms, because they are the children of he rooms and not the mothership, when they get to the edge of a room I have to delete them and make a new person for the next room (it sounds like a bad way of doing it, but I had my reasons)…then there are fighters, these fighters fly around shooting at targetted components of the other enemy motherships, which are also flying around….I can zoom out to show the entire battle of several thousand ships, or zoom in to watch one guy walking around the base…I can take control away from the player and play a cut scene where new characters appear in specific rooms of the mother ship (if those rooms havent been blown up ofcouse) and walk around. Rooms getting destroyed by enemies means all the people in that room must die, and all the people who were going to that room must now go somewhere else….hardly surprisingly a lot of what I am talking about doesnt work….I feel like this is the real life version of inception, as I reach past each of the levels into the next I get lost deeper and deeper inside the layers of intricacy….I am finding it quite tough….probably time for dinner…. (I also managed to avoid the free flow booze thisafternoon which was for the best!)…oh did I forget, possibly the worst thing about it, my rooms are square, so that wonder that is different screen apsect ratios is also doing its best to ruin my mind…I am coding so many systems I have never even thought about before with this game…ah well if it all worls it will be a miracle!
  • 12:00 – trying to submit space lift danger panic to Sony again, I got a little further…I got this amazing error: PSM_Error
  • 12:30AM – my little guys now navigate…and I can go to sleep.

Day 5

  • 7:AM finally my 3 day headache has gone…I had a dream about making games, I made this crazy 3D thing, and I was showing someone and it turns out there was mountains of levels and stuff…I realised in my dream that I had made it with the help of lots of people I know….maybe mymind was telling me to start collaborating a bit more when things are hard like this current game. Anyway last day before I start an actuall normal holiday (which I am looking forward to a lot), so I need to make it count…I still can’t really play the game, and still don’t know what it exactly is!
  • 7:48 – I have been avoiding the buffet breakfast, it isnt really very nice…and I have only had it once so far. (I am bound to go down later, but I feel full from last nights marthon of unpleasantness, I don’t like buffet’s these days because I am getting a bit fat…the buffet here is one of the better ones though, because it comprises of primarily disqusting food).
  • 7:49  – BIG SUCCESS – Space Lift Danger Panic on android had one bug, then someone pointed out that I should be setting “isFullScreen” to true…hahaha and yes, they were right! so now it god damn works! hell yes…now I just need to make its content more Android friendly (microtransactions, highscores, links to the web, links to the store etc… – which will no doubt be hell)
  • 8:20 – today they have Prata!!! yeaaah…upon collecting a load, I find out its cold, and hard.
  • 12:48PM – so my little guys could move around, but it turns out they likes to have breakdowns every so often and zip around the screen in a total mess…it took me until now to fix it. I realise I havent even walked down the road of this hotel to see what is in the direction the taxi didnt come…so I shall do that now.
  • 5pm: after a work related telephone call that lasted an hour I decided to indulge n free flow cocktails…$15 for 3 hours…. Not having had lunch I was wasted fairly quickly….I ate dinner and wen to sleep….

Final day

I woke up to find my mouse was broken from an evening of neglect….I ordered one  via mihiro who would be arriving in 3 hours from Singapore….eventually I got the trackpad working again through awkward windows navigation without a mouse…I spent an hour looking at the mission manager and can now spawn enemies  correctly….anyway time to take a small break before getting back to it on new years day?…here is a video (this post was long and boring I apologise)

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2 Comments
  1. Gavin permalink

    I’m utterly amazed to hear that Malaysian Reggae bars are not the best

    • It got worse, the hotel had a selection of reggae pop hits, uninspired versions of songs ranging from Chris De Burg (a personal favourite as I am sure you know) to jason maraz, all spiced up with that offbeat guitar and a pile of bass. It may not have been jason maraz, it was just some of those songs that I get subjected to by the world, and guessing Jason was just the first pop music man that came to mind.

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