Things lost in the aether

As the title suggests, I have just spent quite a long time writing a long and interesting post about all sorts of exciting things. Sadly I took so long to write this epic my session timed out and I lost the whole lot when I submitted it. This is mainly as a result of some error in my website code. I’ll put the job of fixing it on my list of things to do once I finish my time machine.

So in an attempt to present at least a little of the lost content and avoid the chance of losing it all again, what follows is a simple summary in the style of an FAQ.

Why so long since the last update? Shortly after the last update, the site was subjected to quite a significant breach of security (through a hole in the comment entry page) several files were added to my server and my address was used as a platform for a phishing attack on a major bank in America. Don’t worry though; Anybody visiting the site as normal would never have been in any danger from the malign content (you wouldn’t even have been aware of it). It’s payload was delivered directly to the customers of the American bank via emails.

While I fixed it and removed all the evil files (sadly at the loss of the nice looking comment entry dialog) I disabled a few delicate areas of the site just to be on the safe side. Now it’s all fixed I can once again post things.

Where is iO and when will it be finished? If you don’t already know, iO is a game project I’ve been slowly working on for over 2 years now and in answer to the question; it’s still ‘on it’s way’. Don’t take the huge time scale of this project as an indication of the scale of it’s final content, It’s been designed and re-designed four or five times in that period. You might also ask why it is that I’ve not just stuck with one design and got on with it. Well:

The aim of iO has always been to create a game with similar themes to CoreWar but significantly more accessible (and nice looking). A game in which you construct some sort of machine or program and pit it against the creations of other people. Very early on I decided that these creations could not be robots (or mobile avatars of any other kind), it had to be a machine or a program, more like Cellular Automata and less like Robot Wars. It had to be easy to learn but have lots of scope. Preferably, the tools should be turning complete. Then, after all those requirements, it has to be fun and engaging.

If it’s not obvious from the description above, This is an almost impossible game to make. I may still fail to create it. So far I’ve gone through a huge range of levels of complexity and difficulty.

At one end of the scale I created a simple graphical programming language to produce similar things to Logo tasking the player with fighting for the filling of pixels and overwriting each others logo turtle. Sadly it was much to simplistic to be fun for more than a few minutes.

At the other end of the scale I created a turing complete 8 Bit assembly language (based loosely on RedCode) That ran on a 2D network of 65536 concurrent virtual processors. The player was tasked with capturing and holding key processors by propagation of their code and manipulation of processors and network signals. Much as this was all very interesting, it quickly became quite hard to understand what was going on and as such was almost impossible to play.

It’s current incarnation falls nearer the lower bar of complexity. It’s quite graphical, everything that’s going on can be clearly seen and it’s lots more interesting but (hopefully) not overwhelming. Sadly it’s still not in a state that is anything like finished. Six months perhaps.

What else have you been doing? art? music? where’s everything else? I’ve made two new music track (neither of which are my best work) and I’ve altered all the embedded details of my current tracks to correctly match my new internet name. I’ll start posting those just as soon as I get around to it.

I’ve got about 5 pieces of art I’m currently working on and sadly none of them are progressing very quickly. Before long I might decide to just post some sketches give an indication of progress.

Anything else? On top of all the other things I’m trying to achieve, I’ve got several changes I want to make to the site code, I’ve got plans for an XNA game I want to make, I’ve got to start planning for Tortuga next year and I need to finish writing my next tabletop roleplay campaign so I can start playing again. Oh yeah, and I need to get fit again.

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