ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Friday, March 09, 2018

Update 29 - Gotta Split!

As the saying goes, premature optimization is the root of all evil. On the other hand, this means there are some necessary evils in programming before optimization can happen. Up until recently, that's where VNgen has been, but now with 1.0 fast approaching it's my job to root out those evils.

In other words, it's optimization time. But don't let that word conjure up false impressions of fanboy wars arguing over whether Game X is poorly-optimized or their platform of choice is just inferior. Optimization is... well, a lot of unexciting humdrum much of the time. But it also has a habit of producing new tools you can use, and with the latest update to VNgen, there are several—and you can use them right now!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Update 28 - Drawing Infinity As Fast As Possible

VNgen is an unusual GameMaker product. As previously described, it breaks the linearity of Step cycles and re-implements many built-in functions to do more work faster. With 1.0 approaching, I'm forced to evaluate the state of each part of the engine and ensure it's working as desired and is consistent with other engine functions, which has often led to even further reworks of standard GameMaker conventions.

Some of these have been significant enough to warrant spinning off into their own, separate products. However, none so far have been quite as amusing as a certain trick added to VNgen over the past couple of weeks—one which makes drawing infinity a cinch even for the lowest-end hardware on the market today.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Update 27 - Semantic Arguments

With all major features in place, VNgen is now on the straight and narrow path to version 1.0. As you'd expect, this means isolating and fixing bugs—many of which are difficult to produce in the first place—but more importantly, the past two weeks have been all about standardization. Sound boring? Well, read on, because as you'll discover, standardization doesn't mean nothing new was added. And even better, you can see for yourself right now!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Update 26 - I've Got a Feeling

Alright, I've avoided it long enough: after two posts and four weeks of dodging discussion over the state of VNgen, it's finally time to get back in the swing of things for the new year.

As previously mentioned, part of the reason for the delay was life matters in the month of December. But that's not to say things weren't being accomplished—far from it. Rather, the bigger reason is that VNgen was undergoing such major changes that there was never a good point to stop and share it all. Now, most of these changes are internal and won't affect the user experience at all—or at least, they shouldn't. But they were. Other changes were purely experimental, and although interesting, proved incompatible with the engine's design or design philosophy and had to be rolled back. Some days, I couldn't tell if I was making progress or regressing.

But now those days are over, and at last, VNgen is here with a new update. And I'm pretty sure you've never felt anything quite like it before.

Yep, that's right. Felt.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Update 25 - Untangling Quantum

It's been four weeks since the last regular update on VNgen. While normally that'd be enough time for some major changes and improvements, between the holidays and personal family matters holding back development, this weekend's focus will be slightly different than usual, with regular VNgen updates to resume next time.

Even with delays and reduced work hours, however, progress has certainly been made. Some of it has been largely experimental and required rolling back, but not without gaining valuable knowledge in the process. The rest has been the polar opposite: fundamental changes and enhancements to VNgen's core framework, Quantum.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Meaning of Work (So long, 2017!)

In every life, there's always that handful of stand-out years that mark events which go on to be catalysts for great change. As I look back on my own, it's not hard to recognize them. In 2011, I hit rock bottom and spontaneously traveled halfway across the world to rethink where my life was going. Seemingly unrelated at the time, I also started a blog which would eventually evolve into the website you're reading right now. In 2014, I pivoted from writing about the creative industry to becoming a creator myself. (And also contracted a chronic illness I'll have to live with for the rest of my life, but that's a story for another time.)

In 2017, I took everything I'd learned, reorganized from the ground up, and published my first new product in over a year: the world's most advanced consumer visual novel engine (yes, really!).

As 2017 draws to a close, I think it's safe to say that this year will be included in that list of pivotal moments in life. Not to imply I've arrived yet—far from it. But the seeds are planted, and I bring with me into 2018 a work ethic that I'm confident will produce a harvest if I keep at it long enough.