I’m Back!

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It’s been a while! I’m sorry for not posting to this blog for, oh, a little over one entire calendar year. It kind of slipped my mind, and I’ve been busy with other things in my life. But really, that’s not an excuse, I still want to finish my Moby Dick project, and also keep writing as a creative exercise. Get these ideas out of my head and onto the page, that sort of thing.buny

What I’ve Been Up To

In the past year, I’ve still been out of work (mostly), but continuing my education at Seattle Central College. I was in a web design career training program, and am just inches away from graduating. I did my capstone project, I redesigned my personal website again, I learned more about PHP and taught myself React. I did a couple of freelance jobs on contract! That was an interesting experience.

A screenshot of RTVGilder.com

But, mostly, I’ve been, well, living through the pandemic, same as everyone else. I’m lucky enough to have a relatively comfortable living position, though it is at home with parents which… is getting pretty old. I’ve come to miss my old job at the Pike Place Market, even though it was outside and made me deal with the general public. It was nice being able to get out of the house on a regular basis, and have some small disposable income.

H.V.I.U

For my degree, I had to complete a “capstone project”. There was a class for it, and I was pretty much given free rein to come up with something to make to demonstrate my skills. Of course, my first thought was a game of some sort.

I was thinking something along the lines of the old web games I used to play, RPGs like Kingdom of Loathing or Fallen London. That could be done pretty simply with PHP, but I also wanted to build a more marketable skill, so I decided to use React.js, a very popular JavaScript framework.

As I was considering it, the idea morphed into a dungeon crawler! A type of game I’ve wanted to make for a very long time. It’s a genre I find endlessly fascinating, though most of the games in it are not ones I want to play. I love the Etrian Odyssey series, but most games released are aiming to emulate the old Wizardry series, which was extremely obtuse and punishing.

A screenshot of a web game, HVIU

Not to say that EO is easy, per se, but its difficulty comes in a way that is less… annoying to deal with. I find that most modern dungeon crawlers include too many archaic mechanics, just for the sake of the genre I guess. Things like Elminage Gothic or Stranger in Sword City or whatever. There’s so much potential in dungeon crawlers, but very little of it has been realized.

The main problem was figuring out how to show the first-person view of a dungeon. I ended up looking at screenshots of like the NES version of Wizardry, very simple things like that. It helped me figure out how to make the different tiles, and how to warp and stretch them together to make a pseudo-3D view.

I want to figure out CSS 3D stuff, but that’s gonna take some real work. It’s still pretty primitive, and I don’t know enough about 3D rendering to just use it without more study.

hviu_2

Still, I’m very happy with how the game turned out. It was a lot of fun figuring out React in such a short time frame. There were a lot of technical challenges, but I just worked my way through ’em.

It’s still not close to being complete, more of a demo or proof of concept, but you can check it out over here, on my personal site. The title, The Heartless Voids and Immensities of the Universe, is, of course, a Moby Dick quote!

Finishing School

I had two instances of having to go back for one last class to finish this degree. Over the summer, I took a class on WordPress (the other WordPress, not this one), and in the fall I took a statistics class. The latter was actually pretty fun, I was kind of afraid it would be hard since I haven’t taken a math class in ages.

WordPress was… frustrating, but useful. I can see how it’s good to have this platform that is standardized, and can be used for many different types of sites. But it’s also very rigid, and difficult to get working just the way you want. It kind of draws you into an ecosystem which adds another layer of abstraction that you have to work with. I’d much prefer just making something directly with HTML and CSS (and JavaScript and PHP), and figuring out my own content pipeline.

The one last lingering requirement is work experience. I had a contract job for a psychiatrist office in Bellevue over the summer, got that done in about a month. I got paid for it, but they haven’t put the site up yet, been too busy to sit down and work with me to put it in place. It’s a little frustrating, but hey, I got paid, so I’m not too impatient about it.

Unfortunately, the teacher who was supposed to check my form and report back to the school… left, over the summer. There was kind of a big shake-up at the IT department at SCC, so a lot of teachers left and new ones got hired in the shuffle. They combined a couple of departments (there was a separate web technology one), and switched to a new backend system called CTCLink.

Anyway, suffice it to say that I ended up emailing someone at the school and figuring this out on literally the last day of fall quarter. I got assigned to a new teacher at the beginning of this quarter, and sent him the stuff a couple weeks ago. Still waiting to hear back, but I should be good to go!

The Job Search

So, now I’m looking for work in earnest!

I’ve been building up my LinkedIn profile, making more and more connections (I’m up to over a thousand now), and keeping an eye on the job market. But now, I’m out there applying for jobs all over the place, not only on LinkedIn but also Dice and ZipRecruiter and Hired and whatnot.

There are so many job sites nowadays, and they all kinda feed into each other in weird ways. There are a couple times where I’ve been sent to consecutive external sites, and then just ended up on the company’s home website to fill out an application. At least you can usually just attach a resume too, though I don’t know if those even get looked at.

The feedback has actually been pretty good. I’ve been contacted by a couple of recruiters directly for more information, which makes me feel better about my prospects. I think having React on there helps a lot, and so does having C#, though admittedly I haven’t actually written any for years.

I learned it back when I wanted to make a game with Unity, took a couple online classes for it, it was fun, really helped a lot when it came time to learn JavaScript. Though I may go insane if I ever have to read through an explanation of how arrays work again, I feel like I’ve done that a hundred times through different attempts at learning programming.

Forward!

So, I’ve been having trouble the past few months.

The new expansion for FFXIV came out, and that ended up eating up a lot of my time. I also have a lot of anxiety around my job search, both in being judged by other people and worrying about not being able to find anything. I’ve been in a real rut.

So, I’m going to start writing again! As one of several projects I want to return to working on. The others are:

  • Finishing another redesign of my website
  • Going back and working more on HVIU
  • Write a review for every movie I’ve watched during the pandemic (I’ve been keeping a list)
  • Finish the Yakuza games (I left off on 4)
  • Get back into shape!

I have a whole backlog of games I’ve been meaning to get to, including all the Yakuza ports that came out last spring. I just keep gravitating back towards FFXIV or these action roguelikes, Spelunky and Gunfire Reborn.

So, no more! I’m getting back on a schedule, and I’m going to be updating regularly here again.

See you soon!

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