Results tagged “volity”

As I have alluded in some blog post or other, I've been working on an iOS port of the board game Fealty, designed by R. Eric Reuss. For the project, I chose to use the "turn-based game" API which is built into iOS 5.

(This is part of the GameCenter toolkit, aka GameKit; but not the whole thing. The original GameKit, in iOS 4.1, supported achievements, leaderboards, and peer-to-peer games, but it didn't have a system for turn-taking games. That came along in iOS 5. Just to be clear about the background.)

Building a game using Apple's API was kind of an adventure, which I may document on this blog someday. But the thing is, Jmac and I spent 2005 and 2006 building a platform for these sorts of games, with servers and APIs and everything. It was called Volity; it was very clever. (We weren't nearly so clever about PR, which is why nobody used it, which is why we took it down a few years later, which is why I'm not linking to it.)

We are not Apple, but we are gamers, and our Volity system is more general than Apple's toolkit. It can be used for more kinds of games. This blog post is my attempt to rattle off the differences. Not for bragging rights (Volity is down today, GameCenter is up, end of story) but to point at features that GameKit will (I hope) adopt in future releases.

Weekly Werewolf at volity.net

The user midnyte007 on Volity's discussion forums has suggested that a weekly game of Werewolf really ought to happen Saturday nights, at 7pm Pacific time.

As Volity's principal founder, and a fan of Werewolf (whose Volity version was developed by our own Andrew Plotkin), I encourage readers to give it a whirl. (If you don't already have a copy of Gamut, the cross-platform desktop application you need to play Volity games, you can download it from volity.net's front page.)

Obligatory Gameshelf link: Werewolf on YouTube.

2007 review

And so 2007, the first year I employed the four-pillars metaphor of organizing my life, draws to a close. The metaphor serves as more of a mnemonic than a scorecard, but let me nonetheless look back and see how well I balanced the year across them.

Dating: Well, yes. The first time I've had a relationship as long as a year, and isn't it just ducky that it happens to line up with the calendar year, too. All is well. (And I don't have much else to say here, because it's not really a bloggy topic.)

Video: It fell short of expectations, though what output I did make was great. The year saw only two Gameshelfs and two Jmac's Arcades. The Arcade receives an update only when I get inspired to spend a day stitching a show together, so its having a pokey pace is fine. But Gameshelf was supposed to see three shows in the first half of the year. However, both episodes we did make were better by a giant leap over the four shows (plus demo reel) that we shot in 2005. The improvement was entirely a matter of better overall planning by the whole crew. It leaves me really looking forward to what we'll do in the coming year, but that's a topic for another post.

Volity: Quite a ride. My relationship with Volity was stone cold through the winter and into spring. I was totally burnt out after throwing my life into it for most of 2006. A cafe conversation with AET re-ignited my interest in leading the web client project myself, and zthen I spent several months completely absorbed in it, culminating in a working pre-Alpha in August. And things haven't exactly stalled there; better to say that we've been caught up in highly devilish detail-work, which was slowed down a lot by my entanglement with personal financial setbacks in the autumn.

Money: Another crazy ride. At the start of the year I figured I'd be working for ITA indefinitely, but by spring I couldn't resist seeing what putting another iron in the fire felt like. So I got an hourly contract job with a remote client, and I liked it, enough so that at the start of the summer I officially started calling myself a software consultant. But I made a mistake in not building up more clients than the one, so when they silently stopped giving me work I was left in the cold. After two months of scrambling, I find myself with several new clients, and looking forward to a new year of self-directed work.

I don't know yet if I want to carry the pillars metaphor into next year. I probably will anyway, out of intertia. It's served me well and my areas of desired focus have not changed much.

2008: Stay the course, except moreso. Unless I don't. I admit to feeling that all my meeples are on the board, if you know what I'm saying. I want to be able to do new kinds of art, too, but I'm so invested that it's hard. We'll see what happens.

Volity news

The Andys and I had a good Volity meeting last night. For the first time, the web client was in a state where it didn't shatter into dust the moment Zarf looked at it. This allowed us to do some fairly deep testing and location of edge cases, all of which I should be able to knock off pretty quickly, the next time I sit down for a WebGamut hacking session.

I now declare that the alpha release will happen sometime around the new year. The demo has to be flawless by then, but more importantly I've got a lot of documentation to create. When the demo is done, I shall do this with joy and vigor, so no worries there.

This beast will get off the ground. I've been living with Volity so long at this point - over four years now - that my relationship with it is like one with a person I've been sharing intimate quarters with. Sometimes everything is beautiful and we work together in concert and I couldn't be happier. Most of the time it's more mellow than that, a subtle appreciation. Once in a while we have an explosive fight that leaves us not speaking to each other for a while. But we always find reason to patch things up and get back together.

I'm sorry for calling you a beast, honey. You know what I meant. Here's to four more years together. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this project.

Aside - I really like that Zarf has picked his Boodler soundscape-generator project back up. He started it at the beginning of this decade, put tons of work on it, enough to put up a webpage with some demo stuff to play with, then let it cool for a long time. This year he picked it back up again, recasting it as an open-source project, and it's been steaming forward since, with the help of various project contributors. An inspirational case!

Blood, Work

Walked to Davis first thing in the morning yesterday. Deposited a pleasantly prompt client payment into my bank, and then visited the Harvard Vanguard blood lab to get the ol' stick-n-drain. This was the final bit of followup business from my May checkup. It took so long because it required a 12-hour fast but did not require an appointment, making it quite easy to tell myself that I'd do it next week - week after week. My eagerness to hit the bank, and my good spirits resulting from same, moved me to delay my morning coffee and finally deal with it. I'm told that I'll get an analysis in the mail soon. I do not expect bad news.


Things are getting interesting with work. Starting next week, and continuing for the next month or two at least, I'll be working on two high-priority tasks for two clients. I have decided that, so long as the business is just me, two active clients is my maximum. That is, while I'll always seek to grow my client database ever larger, the number of clients who are actively expecting work from me at any given time should not exceed two.

Technically I already had a little experience working with two clients at once this past week, when I did some late-night emergency work for a third client. That was an interesting exercise in stress management and judgment. The problem was an ornery Perl script written by someone who didn't know Perl too good which leaked memory at an alarming rate, so much that it ran any machine into the ground within minutes. It needed to work ASAP because its output was crucial to a presentation the following day.

Printed it out, took it apart, stated to rewrite it. After an hour, it was clear that I wouldn't be able to finish it before midnight. So, with the client's OK, I settled for simply identifying the one thing causing the leak, patching it, testing it, and then handing it back otherwise untouched. Billed two hours, and noted in my report email that I'd be happy to help clean up the program later on, if they'd like. (An excellent habit for an independent contractor, suggesting one's own follow-up tasks to clients.)

Anyway, yeah. My only concern, as always, is leaving room for Volity. Lately I've been working on it whenever I've been hot to do so, which lately has amounted to around two evenings per week, and that's been all right. Found and killed a real forehead-slapper of a design problem on Tuesday night, which I do believe will make all the "random" and "unpredictable" errors that have been delaying the alpha release finally reveal themselves as nothing of the sort, allowing their rapid isolation and eradication. I hope to put a lot of time into the problem this weekend.

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