Yearly Archives: 2023

LOG 15: Added Shops and New UI Style to Into The Inferno

Here I demonstrate a bunch of progress — new things like character creation, shops, an inn where you can save your game, a mana recharger, and a new style for the user interface.

I also made a small change to the graphics – a new floor and ceiling style. I’m in the process of customizing the dungeon graphics, and plan to show an update on that in the next demo video.

Disabling Automatic Closing Braces in Visual Studio Code

I really like Visual Studio Code as an editor, but it has some annoying defaults.

When working in C# (and a lot of other languages), it tries to be “helpful” by automatically adding closing braces, brackets, and parentheses when you type the opening ones.

An Automatic Closing Brace

Automatic closing brace added when typing an opening brace.

For some people, this is great. For me, no. It just doesn’t work with my typing and coding style, and ends up being something that gets in the way and I have to move or remove later.

Fortunately it’s easy to turn this off.

Go to File –> Preferences –> Settings

Search for “auto closing brackets”.

Change “Editor: Auto Closing Brackets” to “never”.

Auto Closing Brackets Setting

Turning off the auto closing brackets setting.

Problem solved. Happy coding!

Seasonal Website Advertising Income Differences (Monthly RPM Changes)

I’ve been running advertising-supported websites for about 15 years now, primarily music-related.

I typically notice a decline in income at the beginning of the year, and a spike in income toward the end of the year. My audience is international, but the majority of visitors are from the USA and to a lesser extent other English-speaking countries.

I gathered up the data on my historical earnings for the last three years and charted how much income changes throughout the year on average. Using January as a baseline, this is how things change throughout the year:

Month Earnings vs. January Pageviews vs. January
January 0% 0%
February -2.2% -9.9%
March -2.0% -3%
April -6.1% +6.6%
May -15.0% -0.4%
June -18.0% -15.7%
July -16.1% -17.0%
August -6.8% -21.0%
September -4.4% -38.6%
October +2.5% -8.0%
November +16.3% -4.1%
December +26.6% -3.2%

What’s clear and obvious is that income is heavily impacted by the holiday season.

Something else that I didn’t realize is how much both traffic and earnings drop during the North American summer and early fall. I think this a sort of “go out and play” influence — I tend to get less traffic on days when people are out with friends in the evening or otherwise on vacation. People tend to spend less time working on music and looking for tools to make that music when they’re out playing music in clubs or at parties.

That’s my theory, at least.

Of course, this is a sample size of one person (across two sites) over three years, so there will be a significant margin of error. Nevertheless, I still find it interesting.

Coming Full Circle With Game Development (Unity)

The very first programming I ever did was game programming.

It started with my Commodore VIC-20 in 1984. The computer’s manual had some BASIC programs you could type in and run. One was a Space-Invaders-type game.

Well, naturally, after typing in this game and playing it for a bit, I wanted to start making changes to enemy colors, speed, and score values. This was how I started programming.

It continued when I got a Tandy 1000 EX that ran MS-DOS and started writing games in GW-BASIC. By now I was coding much more detailed and complex programs. They were still text-only (ASCII), but I was creating them from scratch, and they had much more detailed mechanics.

I remember well a text-based gladiator combat tournament game that I spent the better part of a year working on, at about age 10, in addition to a few text-based adventure games.

Later, as the Internet started to grow, I became interested in multi-user dungeons. There were various codebases — Diku, Merc, Envy, Circle, and others. Not only did I work on some existing games, I also created my own, starting with Illustrium Arcana, and later with the Basternae  rewrite, Basternae 3: Phoenix Rising. If you look at the “Basternae and ModernMUD” topic on this blog, you’ll see that I was working on them well into 2013.

When I was finishing my college degree in 2004, I took some classes for credit at The Game Institute and got a job with a company working on simulators for the US Army (among other government contracts). It was basically a video game company, but replace “fun” with “realism”. I didn’t really work on any graphics code, and ended up specializing in audio and network communications. This was the first and last job I had in video games.

My strong knowledge of audio programming and networking protocols took me on to develop parts of the Authentic8 SILO browser, work on a home automation system, and build the various audio applications I released as Zeta Centauri.

Now I’m returning to my roots and learning Unity. It’s incredibly intuitive, and the programming is easy and natural thanks to the many years I spent writing C# code.

I’ve started with the “Complete C# Unity Game Developer 2D” course available through Udemy. I’m about 50% of the way through, and the deep, thorough coverage coupled with real hands-on coding projects has been great for the learning process. I’m definitely going to take more of the courses because they really know how to teach.

The Job Interview

(This is an old joke I remember from childhood.)

A guy was in a job interview, answering every question correctly and showing an impressive level of knowledge and skill. After nearly an hour of tough questions, the interviewer said, “You seem like a great fit, but I see there was a 7 year gap since your last job. What happened there?”

Guy: “Oh, I went to Yale”.

Employer: “Oh great! Well, you’re hired, and you start Monday. What did you say your name was again?”

Guy: “Yim Yohnson.”

The 80/20 Rule Is Going To Ruin Your Life

I’ve touched on this before, but it bears elaboration.

With the rise of AI, which most people call “Artificial Intelligence” but I call “Artificial Ignorance”, you are absolutely going to have problems if you are not normal, or are in the minority in any particular situation.

This is because AI systems use large databases to generate “rules” or guidelines about the world. Because they’re based on math and averages, there will always be a margin of error.

Let’s go with some fake statistics that I made up for the sake of this post.

  • 88% of people in Michigan like vanilla ice cream.
  • 91% of people in Michigan follow professional hockey.
  • 78% of people in Michigan own a pair of skis.

Well, if you don’t like vanilla ice cream, don’t follow hockey, and don’t own skis, it might be pretty safe to assume you’re not from Michigan. After all, only 0.2% of people in Michigan fail to meet one of these criteria, so it’s safe to assume everyone else is a faker.

When these 80/20-rule-type things start making decisions about your life, you are absolutely going to run into problems. Why?

  • Nobody is completely, entirely, 100% normal. Everyone is unique in their own little way. You will inevitably be in a situation where you don’t match the math that the computer has decided is correct.
  • As Google has shown, companies can get away with having almost exactly zero support for their products, so there will probably not be a Human you can talk to to solve your problem.
  • If there ARE Humans available for support, they probably won’t have the power to fix your problem, or will be overwhelmed with the 20,000 other people (0.2% of the population of Michigan) who have been miscategorized and need to have their issues fixed.

The AI apocalypse will not be robots shooting Humans. It will be dumb computers denying us food and housing because we don’t match their badly-calculated templates.