Techie Funk

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. Normally, my relaxation time is spent playing games or reading. Mostly playing games, and even more specifically, playing MMOs. But lately nothing is scratching the itch for me. I spend all day at work bored and wanting to go home. Then I get home and I’m bored and trying to find something to do that interests me.

I finally took the time to sit down and navel-gaze about this. First of all, why am I bored at work? Well that’s pretty clear: I have no challenges. I was hired for a position I’m quite over-qualified for, and rather than use my skills, my manager (who really has no technical savvy) has me doing busy-work. On the bright side, the pay is rotten.

And I think this revelation leads me to why I’m bored at home, too. My brain is starving and playing games, which used to be my recharge activity, is just starving it more.

So I’ve decided its time to let my geek flag fly again. I was thinking maybe instead of playing a game, I’d take a shot at creating a game. But what language to use? I write PHP at work these days, and I’m tempted to build some kind of web game, but maybe I need a change.

And then I happened upon this post at Raph Koster’s site: Raph’s Website » A letter to a 12-year-old It’s a fun read, but as kind of an offhand part of the post, Raph asks his audience: BTW, if you had to recommend a programming language to today’s 12-year-olds, what would it be?

Now I’m a good deal older than that, but often enough I can act like a 12-year old, so I was interested to see what people suggested. One of the things suggested was Alice, developed as a system to visually teach programming to kids. It’s pretty neat! Basically it uses methods that are tokenized into draggable widgets, and you ‘stack’ these up to give orders to a 3D avatar. From some of the examples it looks like you can do a lot more, with collision detection for gaming and so forth. I haven’t dug that far into it. To me it was more a curiosity than a tool I’d use (I think!) but it was well worth a look to anyone with a taste for geeky stuff.

Another option mentioned was PyGame which is some kind of game development toolkit based on Python. I’ve never taken the time to learn Python and have always been interested, so I might give that a look. Some kind of open source UO emulator called RunUO was mentioned as well, but I’m not sure if that requires a UO client or what. Another item to dig into I guess.

Lots to dig into, and I’m still not sure that a web-based PHP game isn’t what I want to do. I have a rough idea of the kind of game I want to make: a turn-based dungeon crawler of some kind.

Anyone have suggestions as to other ‘get up and running quickly’ game creation tools out there?

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