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On this day in 2017

Apr. 11th, 2007

01:16 am - That is not dead...

It's been almost two years since my last post, and most people will probably think this project is now long-dead and beyond resuscitation. The wiki disappeared not long after that when my hosting provider went AWOL, and life has conspired to keep it off-line. Details of that can be inferred from my personal LJ, which recounts some aspects of the career rollercoaster I've been riding: needless to say all of my creative energies were for sometime channeled into other people's babies.

This is nothing new. Silicon Beach was born at the end of 1991, although the name took another seven or eight years to materialise, and it's lurched along through my backbrain in fits and starts as I've worked on all kinds of tasty geek fodder. That's the creative process I guess. Every couple of years a new collection of characters will force their way from my subconscious and insist I share some personal time with them, and I guess that time might be here again.

Now this isn't to say that Silicon Beach is set to be my main project this year. My good friend spikyblackcat and I are already commited to developing some revolutionary networking technology this year and that's where most of my time is likely to be channelled, but that's not the only thing I want to be doing. So expect intermittent updates.

Getting the old wiki back online isn't my top priority just yet but I've checked through my archives and all of the datafiles are still there. The easy choice at this juncture would be to stick a MediaWiki server up on my cable connection and serve that out, but I want to think about that. Last year I ran several MediaWikis for managing technical projects and that confirmed my dislike for the engine. The codebase is dirty and I find it difficult to have confidence in a tool with so much spaghetti under the hood. I also recently wrote a simple content management system in Rails, and the idea of having something that's specifically tailored to the kind of data that a project like this involves is appealing. Anyway, a month should hopefully be long enough for me to make my mind up one way or the other.

So how do things stand today, relative to the plans of two years ago?

Java to me is dead. The single biggest lesson of my recent adventures in network infrastructure has been that Java is too static and verbose for elegant code development. I know there are people who will disagree with that statement, and others who'll say that elegance is less important than performance: well good for them. Moore's law has always made the performance argument look somewhat dubious, but now we're entering an increasingly multi-core world we can afford to be wasteful with clock-cycles if we intelligently distribute our application load.

Ruby is more than just the latest hyped language, it really does put the pleasure back into coding. It's also an incredibly elegant language with a good extension model, and I'm considering building a 3D extension for it based upon the Sauerbraten engine (which has come along considerably since I last looked at it). I quite like the idea of having the upper level of the engine written in Ruby, with only necessary primitives written in C/C++. That's definitely a long-term project though.

Of more immediate interest is the release of Inform 7 which is taking interactive fiction to new heights. The editor is very much writer-oriented and I can see this being the perfect tool for prototyping and storyboarding. I've only had a brief play with it so far but I hope to do something about that over the coming weeks.

That's all for now!

Jul. 31st, 2005

11:40 pm - Progress stalled

Thanks to recent server problems and the necessity of job hunting, the project has stalled during the last couple of months. Hopefully everything will be back on track before September with fresh content planned for the Wiki, and a new back-end running on new servers.

I’m currently considering the move from a MediaWiki 1.3 engine, which is a nightmare of embedded PHP, to a fresh codebase using Ruby On Rails: this is a technology similar to Apple’s WebObjects, but using the Ruby language rather than Java.

Ruby On Rails makes it very easy to develop complex database-driven web applications with minimal quantities of code, so a conversion hopefully won’t take too long. I also want to develop a cross-platform client-side editing tool to make working on new content off-line that much less irritating as several significant updates to the site have been lost thanks to machine crashes, network outages and general browser crapness.

Feature suggestions (currently limited to automated backups) are welcome.

Jun. 15th, 2005

06:07 pm

Introducing the Identity Engine projectCollapse )

Current Music: Nice Boys:Nashville Pussy

Jun. 11th, 2005

04:00 am - Game engines in Java

So today I'm looking at Java Audio and 3D libraries, and pondering which is the best for the purposes of this project. The following is a run-down of those I've come across so far, please comment if you've any experience of them >:)

Sun TechnologiesCollapse )

LWJGLCollapse )

ODEJavaCollapse )

OctLightCollapse )

Xith3DCollapse )

OpenMindCollapse )

jMonkey EngineCollapse )

Java 3D Game SDKCollapse )

jPCTCollapse )

JIRRCollapse )

Cube & SauerbatenCollapse )

Jun. 4th, 2005

09:20 pm - Time to start making some technical decisions

How things standCollapse )

The case for JavaCollapse )

Application-level codingCollapse )

General DesignCollapse )

Licensing IssuesCollapse )

Current Mood: focused
Current Music: Time Honoured Tradition:Kaiser Chiefs

May. 10th, 2005

01:16 pm - Recent Progress

So time has been ticking by and it’s all been sounding a bit quiet around here, thanks in large part to the obsessive way I throw myself into sub-projects, and to a lesser extent my usual election fever.

Anyway, stuff that’s currently underway:

software secretsCollapse )

Current Mood: working
Current Music: Sickness:Marionettes

Apr. 25th, 2005

02:49 am - Wiki updates

I'm trying to get in the habit of making Sunday my main wiki-editing day seeing as otherwise it usually ends up pretty unproductive. I don't know if this will work in the longer term, but today's certainly kept me busy.
First up I've added some basic stuff to do with the Open Game License, so now it's possible to add OGL content to the wiki and properly identify it as such. My reason for doing this is to facilitate adding the Modern System Reference Document and the Action! System rules into the wiki.
Secondly I added half of the Modern SRD into the wiki, with more to follow at a later date.
The majority of source material for the Silicon Beach setting is currently written for the Traveller:The New Era rules system by the now-defunct Game Designers' Workshop. Whilst it's possible that I may decide to continue supporting variants of the Traveller rules system, I am keen to develop one or more OGL systems tailored to the particular needs of the setting.
I selected the Modern SRD as one possible alternative because it provides a detailed rule system capable of handling both hi-tech and the supernatural.
The Action! system by way of contrast utilises a relatively simple rules system with ample opportunities for customisation.
Whilst other OGL systems exist, at this point in time I feel that concentrating on these two systems will prove more productive than trying to juggle all the competing alternatives.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0 http://www.normsoft.com/hblogger/]

Apr. 6th, 2005

04:20 pm - Wiki additions

Well last night proved quite productive as I introduced two new major NPCs to the database.

Helena Prentise (aka Swamp Girl) is a psychic eco-warrior and a member of the extra-legal Marsher Alliance, a paramilitary organisation sanctioned at the highest levels of government. Helena is a veteran of the continental laws and a tad kick-arse.

Richard Deverre is the commanding officer of local regiment The Queen's Own Kentish Rangers and one of the British Army's most respected figures.

Two minor characters Stig and Sean are also in there. They're the backup muscle for Helena and will get a fuller treatment when I find the relevant notes.

Thanks to Richard and Helena the history of the continental wars is starting to take shape, along with the broader international situation. Quite a few key events exist in both bios, and as time allows I'll start to flesh them out with their own entries.

If anyone else fancies getting involved in the geopolitics side of things feel free - that's what a wiki's for after all >:)

[Posted with hblogger 2.0 http://www.normsoft.com/hblogger/]

Apr. 4th, 2005

01:18 pm - Spring cleaning and Superheroes

OK so this has overrun by a couple of days, but as soon as I've run a hoover over the floor this is officially over and the work can begin.

So what's on the menu for today? I think mainly some NPCs that are lurking in my box-files, including the only superhero to grace Romstairs: Swamp Girl, the girl from the swamp >:)

I partly jest about her being a superhero because she's one of those masked do-gooders a la Zorro, and the poster girl for an important paramilitary organisation called The Marsher Alliance. I'm not sure the politics will come through well in the first drafts, but imagine a feudal organisation of radical enviromentalists engaged in a covert war against multi-national corporate interests, embedded in the balkanized anarcho-bureaucracy that is the British government. I'm not sure I can do the concept justice in print, but I did find it a useful dynamic in one of my early-nineties postal RPG campaigns...

[Posted with hblogger 2.0 http://www.normsoft.com/hblogger/]

Apr. 3rd, 2005

03:31 am - Watch the skies

On Friday I caught an interesting programme on Discovery Science discussing the history of aviation research into the feasability of flying saucers (apparently the first working model was built by Skoda in 1944) and it gave me a far clearer insight into the dirigibles that dominate aerial warfare in 2017. I may have to re-read Marshall T Savage's Millenium Project handbook and graft some of that technology into the mix too...

[Posted with hblogger 2.0 http://www.normsoft.com/hblogger/]

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