posts tagged with: tools

Habit Tracking Tests

Habit Tracking Tests
Routine will always always always be something I consistently struggle with. I'm not really sure how to overcome this since I've been fighting it for pretty much as long as I can remember. Sitting in school everyday felt like torture and when I think back to it I'm not even sure how I made it through it.

It's not a secret that I have a lot of depression and anxiety related brain issues, so trying to fight those constantly is pretty much my every day life. Lately I've been pretty off the wagon when it comes to pretty much everything and I feel like I can't bring myself to do dang near anything. I've been trying to fight that on multiple fronts so here's just an example of one of them:

In the past I've had varying results with habit tracking stuff. I've used a lot of different tips and tricks and websites and applications. Thinking back on it I think the results have been overall pretty good, so I've tried to dive back into it. I grabbed a little app called Loop which is the most effective and most simple habit tracking app I could find. (I tried out a couple and oh boy are some of them terrible.)

Loop is pretty straight forward. All it ends up being is a list of what you want to accomplish every day and some boxes you can change into checkmarks for when you do them. You can set up different habits to be only on certain days, or just leave it on the default of every day. Right now my list is: Rowing 1mi, Rowing 2mi+, Walk 1mi, Draw 1hr, Draw 2hr+, Kpulv Projects 1hr, Kpulv Projects 2hr+, Contract Work 1hr, Contract Work 2hr+. I'm aiming to go for at least 1 hour on a bunch of stuff every day, and I consider the 2hr+ categories to be totally bonus.

For the rowing category that is one of the other fronts I am trying to fight the depression on. I got a relatively cheapo rower for Christmas and I've been pushing myself to row 2 miles a day. I think that's pretty good? But who knows. Maybe other people do like 10 miles a day and I'm super lazy. Walking is also on the list as that has the bonus of getting me out of my apartment. Walking around Denver is always nice, and being able to get my Pokemon GO in for the day as well is even better.

I've often seen articles and research that suggest that humans are creatures of habit. If you do something on repeat long enough it becomes a compulsion, but I'm not sure if I buy that. When a routine forms for me my brain does everything in its power to resist it constantly. As soon as I get into a habit I just want to break it because to my mind it feels so good to do so. I'm not sure if this is something that I'm totally alone in struggling with or what because it seems like everyone's cure for depression and other mental ailments is to just form good habits! Yeah, it's so simple...

This Loop app I think is helping though. It's satisfying to see the checkmarks fall into place, and it also has some neat graphs to show how each habit is progressing overall. My downfall with these types of applications is always the same though. Once I start to slip up the app reminds me how bad I'm doing. The missing checkmarks become a horrible sight and I cant stand to face them and I end up spiraling back down, so it always is a double edged swords with these kinds of things. When people suggest to establish goals for sorting out weird mental stuff I wonder if they consider what happens when someone consistently fails at these goals? It's a pretty bad feeling when you can't even meet your lowest expectations! But maybe people that are shining beacons of happiness never experience this.

Alright this is getting into weird rambly thoughts so that means it's time to wrap it up. So far I'm enjoying this habit tracking stuff but also I'm mostly on top of the stuff that I care about the most right now (mainly the exercise related habits.) We'll see how long I can stay on this wagon.

Visual Studio and Itch.io Refinery

Visual Studio and Itch.io Refinery
Itch.io just released their brand new Refinery tools to the public and I immediately jumped into them head first. After just a little bit of set up I was able to get their new magic up and running for Super Sky Sisters. I have a set up now in Visual Studio in which I can select "Itch" as my build target and push F6 to build and deploy the game to my beta testers on Itch.

So using Visual Studio 2013 (and probably other versions can do this as well) here's how to set up your game to publish on Itch with just the push of a button!

Asset Class Generator Updates

Asset Class Generator Updates
Over the last couple of weeks I've been thinking a lot about the idea of packing game assets into a single file for my Otter projects. Back when I was using Flash, and Game Maker, a compiled game ended up only being one main file. I always liked how simple the game would appear to be to a player. Just a zip file with an exe! There's no way you could mess that up.

In the wild world of programming with C# usually all of my assets end up being in a folder alongside the exe. This allows players to go through and view any asset the game could possibly load, and even modify those assets if they so choose. While this can be pretty cool, it also makes it tough to keep secrets.

Now I know the whole idea of "no matter how much effort you put into trying to hide stuff in your game people can still decompile it and hack it and see everything." Yeah, that is totally true, but I feel like that is only usually about 1% of all players of a game, and if I can put in just a little effort to hide secrets from most players I think it's worth it.

So with all of this in mind I made some updates to both my Asset Class Generator, and Otter. The Asset Class Generator can now pack assets together as bytes, and Otter has a static Files class that can load in assets that were packed by the generator. None of the files are encrypted or anything, but if you wanted to do something like that yourself it wouldn't be too difficult.

You can download the latest build of the Asset Class Generator from my open repository kpulvtools. Check out the details on how to use it here.

So far with tests in Super Sky Sisters this method works pretty well, and instead of a sprawling mess of folders and assets I can now just include a simple "data.pak" file along with the exe and dll files and off it goes. Now if only I could get rid of these pesky dll files somehow!

Dev Log: Sounds n Stuff

Dev Log: Sounds n Stuff
Hey I'm being productive! Mostly. I'm still 'crastinatin' on the animations I have yet to do for Super Sky Sisters, but I am now getting some final stuff done on other aspects of it. I've been tackling some of the sounds lately and throwing in some temporary music so I can set up the music management system.

For sounds I'm turning to a new program I found on the internet called LabChirp. It's similar to the great and eternal BFXR, but it creates a different style of sound that's (to me) more akin to the old console sound chips.

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In other news I'm also working on the balance of the game. I've gone through and tweaked a lot of the game events in regards to how they grow more difficult over time, and I've also done some reworking of the difficulty levels that can be selected at the start of the game. My goal is to have a single play session last around 10 minutes, and during those 10 minutes I want the player(s) to be able to defeat all three of the game's bosses.

Asset Class Generator Update

Asset Class Generator Update
Just a quick post to say I've updated my Visual Studio Asset Class Generator with some bug fixes here and there. Download the new version right here.

There were some issues with duplicate file names, and also files with more than one period in the name would destroy it so I've now set it to ignore those files. I've also cleaned up the code that the generator writes.

The source code for the updated version is also now available here so you can feel free to modify it to your hearts content!

Dev Log: Productivity Experiements

Dev Log: Productivity Experiements
When the new year came about I was determined to break my cycle of endless procrastination loops. I find that my productivity is tied to my mood, and my mood is tied to my productivity, so when things are going great in either one of those then it's awesome, but if one of those drops then it's kind of a self reinforcing downward spiral into the abyss. It's not impossible to break out of it, but it is really really difficult.

When I got back from my holiday season travels the very first thing I did on my main workstation computer was completely block reddit. I'm using a website blocking extension for Chrome that will just straight up block the site entirely. Reddit is a big problem for my procrastination. When facing a super hard problem I could either sit down spend a lot of time trying to solve it... or maybe open a browser and type "r" and suddenly an hour has gone by.

I've blocked reddit before, but not as hard. Usually my previous reddit blocks have just been totally mental. I would catch myself starting to type in reddit and then divert to something else, but this time I wanted to try a more all out approach. Also I can still browse it on my phone which I still do sometimes before bed, but having it blocked on my computer I should be doing work on feels different.

In similar fashion I've also limited my Twitter and Facebook time on my computer to one hour every 24 hours. Other sites are included in this time limit but it's mostly the big T and F. I actually don't think Twitter and Facebook are that much of a problem for me, but it is nice to have a hard limit on it per day, and even just having that limit does make me mindful of how much time I'm actually spending on those sites. For limiting time on sites I'm using the Chrome extension StayFocusd. I think I've only ever hit the hour limit once, but there are some times where working on various projects does involve Facebook and Twitter usage.

Blocking and restricting sites on my computer felt weird at first. I thought "well if I do this won't I just immediately find ways around my own restrictions?" As time goes on though the restrictions feel more like a part of my routine. Since I only have an hour of Twitter and Facebook I spend very little time on those sites now, and the time I do spend on there is very focused and brief. I haven't really felt a need to go to reddit lately, and I feel like I might just be better off without it. If I really really want to browse it I can use my phone which is a separate entity from my work computer.

The last thing for now is toggl which I've mentioned before. It's a simple time tracking application which can also be downloaded as a desktop program. I have a couple of different work categories such as game dev, drawing, blog, misc tasks, and I put exercise on there to track that as well. So far it's been working out pretty well and I am interested to see the results of it after a month or so. It is useful to see how much time was actually spent on certain things during the day.

I'm not holding myself to any sort of requirements through the day. Right now I just work on stuff as much as I feel like I can. Between drawing, game dev, and other stuff I'm logging about 4.5 to 5 hours of productivity a day which seems pretty decent.

As a continue to experiment with productivity I'll be sure to talk more about the results. Right now things are going pretty well with a weird prototype. It's getting me back into the groove of coding which I'm hoping will transfer back to my current projects like Super Sky Sisters and Stratoforce.