Well, we made it to Australia at last. Most of our updates are available on Anna’s site and there is a Flickr page too. I didn’t have a lot of time when we were travelling across the US to write any code (except working the odd plugin into our blog), but now that I have installed lighttpd, PHP and MySQL on my little laptop I am perfectly able to work on blog stuff offline.

I have discovered two important things while coding on the high seas, which pre-internet coders will already understand well, that I think I will keep up after I return: one, there are few distractions and it’s very easy to stay focused on the task at hand if you leave the browser alone and/or have no internet access; two, it’s a royal pain if you’ve decided to work on some new functionality for your project but forgot to download all the manuals before you leave! Also, seasickness can be a problem in certain weather conditions…

It turns out I had forgotten more of the OpenGL detail than I realised and without any recourse to the usual repository of internet knowledge, the latest version of my octopus game now has input, and simple AI and the rough beginnings of a game mechanic now working, but it can’t even render the floor properly in 3d space (I think the issue is with the camera init code). Previously I was going to write my own isometric 2d renderer as a thought experiment, but I quickly realised that OpenGL would be well up to the task and would serve well if I ever want to scale up to full 3d when I am in once again equipped with a fast PC. Reinventing the wheel has never been my strong point. While we were at sea, I converted the entire project to Java (as demonstrated by Markus Persson of Minecraft fame, applets are an extremely good tool for packaging your game!) and am now using LWJGL after a brief look and rejection of JOGL, which is less rounded a package for this project.

My other project is updating Anna’s site with some custom trickery – we are looking at improving the site load times (cue Firebug and some javascript hacks) as well as a nice way to present our America articles that fits in with our existing WordPress infrastructure. I have started building a HTML5 Canvas-based map showing our route and linking it to the existing articles – I will make another update with pictures once it gets a bit further on!

Another unexpected development is my rediscovery of some old games that I never completed when I was younger. I have found the joy of ZDoom, ScummVM and DXX-Rebirth, all of which still run well on modern underpowered hardware (let’s not forget for a moment that most of these games originally ran comfortably on 100Mhz of horsepower, way below the output of our ‘little laptop’, so these source ports are relatively inefficient!). I think at some point in the future I will write a couple of reviews for these old games – they hold up surprisingly well against more recent games in the genre (which shows you how little we have progressed in 15 years)! Internet cafes are plentiful here but it’s quite hard to make it all the way to one to play something modern, given all the other stuff that needs doing round here…

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