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Digitiser: The Game: Development

Part 15 - 29th April 2020

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Still nothing playable, but fair progress by my usual standards.

Last time, I was planning to work on the scripting for the animated sequences. However, when I sat down on holiday to have a good think, that instead became the starting point for a virtual machine. It doesn't do much at the moment, but already feels like the better way to make something that can be played, rather than watched.

This pleases me more than you.

As far as I can remember, in the process of bashing out a tiny Spectrum prototype for someone else, I realised just how difficult it was to follow numerical variable references in my current scripting language. While working out on paper that I could use real names instead, if I then substituted them for numbers at compilation time, my attention wandered back to making a little world that players could explore.

Once back at the computer, but still working partly on paper, I realised that the scripting language was also a poor fit for constructing a navigable map. On a whim, I discovered that not only was XML potentially much easier for people to read, it was also well supported by Python.

While writing a Python routine to convert my XML into Spectrum data, I realised that, having previously followed what seemed like a dead-end with PyGame, it wouldn't require much more work to visualise this data.

Then, by the time that was done, including keyboard commands to skip between screens, and a timer to sleep when not redrawing anything, it seemed silly not to try prototyping the game this way.

There's nothing playable yet. It's not even a true virtual machine so far, as it's working from native data structures, rather than unpacking bytes and bits as required. However, I can read the code back without simultaneously struggling to remember what it does, which is quite an improvement on my scripting language.

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