Java(Script) and Twine

Has it been over a week since I posted anything? Geez. Well, last week I was suffering some food poisoning (though I did manage to get my Castalia House piece up!), and together with wedding planning, something had to give. I beg your indulgence!

Before my bout, I’d decided to take another shot at something I’ve only thus far barely even touched upon – programming. Because I need another project I don’t have time for. Over the years I’ve picked up bits and pieces of almost inconsequential coding experience – a smattering of HTML at computer camp as a kid, a pinch of Visual Basic in high school, a couple dozen chapters of Learn Python the Hard Way.

It’s always been a dream of mine to make a video game, though I’ve never had the fire required to give up my other hobbies in pursuit of that goal. There have been RPG Maker attempts that were quickly aborted after scope got too out-of-hand and frustration grew.

Not too long ago, I told a software developer friend of mine that I’ve been thinking of trying once more to learn a programming language. One of my issues in the past was that I never really had a solid goal, or concrete projects to keep me interested. I got bored with writing Python scripts that merely asked users for their favorite color or spit out the cube of 9. Perhaps if I were to go into this with the goal of writing some very simple games or programs?

Anyway, my friend listened to me babble about my situation and asked me if I’d heard of Twine, which he suggested might be a good starting point for me if I just wanted to make a game. Simply explained, Twine is an open-source tool that seems best-purposed for creating text-based “non-linear” stories and games.

twine

It publishes to HTML files, so it’s fairly easy to quickly create something and share it. Though Twine does have its own syntax, it also supports HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You can use conditionals and variables and media files, too. So depending on how deep you want to go, it seems there’s a lot you can do with it.

So far I’ve created two very simple “games” that I was planning to design as smaller elements of a larger game I’d like to make. One is a variation of the game Nim. The other is a riddle game.

I did encounter some frustration with the limits of the native Twine syntax and had to do a lot of debugging, which prompted me to explore JavaScript. I think knowing JS would give me a lot more flexibility in my coding.

I’m not quite sure if or when I’ll proceed with my Twine project, but I would like to continue studying JavaScript. Even if my game is still far off, the coding knowledge and experience can only help me as an IT guy. If I do pump out anything fun, though, I’ll have to host it somewhere and share it with y’all.

That’s about it for now; I started playing Undertale the other day, which I’ve heard is a pretty fast one to get through. Excellent game so far. I’m trudging through Eyes of the Overworld, which pains me to say, for I love Jack Vance. But Cugel is just such a d-bag. I’ve got the first Lensman book on the side, and I’m hoping to get to Larry Niven’s Neutron Star and ERB’s At the Earth’s Core before long.

Ah, if only there were more time!

-Bushi

bushi

Java(Script) and Twine

Coding with the snake

Just a quick post today. As I mentioned recently, I’ve been studying Python recently, with Zed Shaw’s regimen. I wanted to share a few brief thoughts.

python

As someone who’s done a bit of coding before but minimal programming (I was mostly self-taught with one of the older versions of HTML, and I did a little bit of Visual Basic in school), I have mixed feelings here.

I like that Zed’s lessons each give a task to be carried out and then anticipates common questions afterwards. Some points he seems to really try to hammer home, which is probably a good thing if this is your first programming experience. However he really does place a lot of emphasis on doing your own research. He lays out a lot of the basics and then tells you to search for certain elements or find out what various commands do. This may be a good way to learn for some, but as other reviews have pointed out, this also burdens  the student with finding good, reliable resources on the internet. This can be a little difficult when some sources may be referencing a different version of Python or may just be flat out incorrect. A lot of the Python resources I’ve encountered are also written in a very obtuse way – they assume the reader is already familiar programming terminology. I could see this scaring away beginners.

A glossary of terms and of commands and elements/modules/etc would have been nice, but he puts that on the student to build for oneself.

Then again, Zed does offer a free online version of the book, which I’ve been using. If I get through it I’ll probably be buying the full (physical) version. For the low, low price of free, this is still a great way to start learning Python.

I also like that he insists on using Powershell to run scripts. I imagine I’ll learn how to use an IDE at some point, but I’m glad to be familiar with something a little more powerful than the command prompt.

 

 

-Bushi

bushi

Coding with the snake