Some of the interesting things I did, read, or otherwise discovered in 2015. Inspired by Michael Fogus' yearly wrap-up, which is also worth reading.

Inspired a bit by Michael Fogus' post, I thought I would share some of the things I read and did in 2014 in case anyone is looking for ideas for the new year.

Earlier this year at Guelph Game Jam 2, I decided to go analog and build a card game with real, physical cards. After the 8 hour jam, I ended up with a quick little game called Monster Mages, heavily inspired by aspects of Dominion and Magic: The Gathering.

Monster Mages

There's a rule of thumb in the hackerspace community - hold your open house on Tuesday. It's completely arbitrary. No matter what day of the week you do pick for your open house, there will be someone who just can't make it. Many just pick Tuesday by convention and no more thought is needed. Unfortunately, it makes it hard to visit other spaces since members generally want to be at home base for the open house. But since I was out of town with no hopes of making it to Kwartzlab, I had a perfect excuse to take a Tuesday to visit

Lightning Photography

I remember reading an amazing article in National Geographic back in the early '90s about lightning. There were a handful of brilliant photographs, but the one that really grabbed me was a night shot overlooking a city as a storm front moved in, capturing 30 or more forks of lightning over a 30-second exposure. I'm no photographer (as I am happy to admit at every available opportunity), but when I saw an incredible storm front moving in on the evening of the 24th, I couldn't resist trying to create some of my own photographs of lightning.

Lenovo T400 Repair

I've been having some trouble with my Lenovo T400 laptop recently. When under a heavy load, such as playing a game or watching a full-screen video on YouTube, the computer would spontaneously shut down without warning. I finally got fed up when it happened while playing a game, causing the saved game to become corrupted and losing several hours of progress.

I had seen these kinds of spontaneous shutdowns before on a desktop, which I eventually traced to an overheating graphics card, but had never seen this show up on a laptop before. Still, suspecting some overheating, I decided to investigate.

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford is a short, dense, humorless outline of a safe subset of JavaScript, targeted at programmers who already hang a few languages on their toolbelt and who find themselves curious about this newfangled "web programming" thing. This book is packed - packed - with key details on the many quirks and foibles of this less-than-perfect language, but ultimately misses its goal of being a strong first stop for new JavaScript developers.

SoOnCamp Location Scouting

On Victoria Day Monday, I joined a handful of folks from the Hamilton hackerspace Think|haus in Mount Nemo to have a look at one of the leading location candidates for SoOnCamp 2012.

Site 3 Visit 2011/04/21

On April 21, a delegation from Kwartzlab made the trek to Toronto to check out fellow hackerspace Site 3 - and in particular their laser cutter!

The beginning of Day 9 marked a change in our goal planning. Up until the end of Day 8, our development was still targeting the path laid out in our original design doc on Day 0. While we knew after about Day 5 that we weren't going to meet all our goals, it wasn't really until Day 9 that we stopped and talked about our revised target. Considering what we had (and more importantly, what we didn't have), we changed the core of our game to better suit our development timeframe. Instead of "evolving a powerful dungeon-crawling character", our game was going to be about "destroying as many enemies as possible before dying".

With that key change in mind, we set out our goals for Day 9:

  • Get the in-game targeting system running for targeted spells
  • Create some textures for the player, enemies, and items
  • Develop a particle system to show spell effects
  • Complete as many cool spells and abilities as possible
  • Make some effort to balance the game (currently too easy)