HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! … What do you mean it’s almost March?

Yeah, I don’t use this blog much. My usual excuses are that my life isn’t that interesting, and I procrastinate a lot so I rarely have anything to actually write about. Which is funny, because I do tend to like writing things? It’s just that blogging is a lot of effort. I have to create a file! And write front matter! And if I want to add images that’s a sort-of annoying song and dance. Then I have to commit it! After that it’s all automated - after pushing, GitLab CI will build the site and deploy it here. But there’s still a lot of work leading up to that.

I would use Twitter or Mastodon, but the text limit and poor markup is discouraging. They’re also social networks, and I mostly just want to scream into the void without it screaming back, if that makes sense. (Makes you wonder why I set up comments on this blog then…) And Twitter sucks, for obvious reasons.

I am considering setting up IcculusFinger - having a single file I can just update through the day and gets archived automatically is appealing to me. No titles, no responses, no categorisation, just thoughts. It appeals to me. It’s also very retro, fingering dates back to 1971. Jesus. (And, of course, the innuendo potential is infinite.)

But honestly it might just be best to do that but on this blog. I kind of get it into my head to use this for bigger write-ups, which rarely happen. In reality it’s fine to use this for whatever thoughts come to me. I sort of considered moving back to WordPress - if only because creating posts is slightly easier - but it’s not really worth it.

The only thing that’s happened to this site recently is that I switched it to the auto skin for Minima - basically, it has a dark mode if your system is set to that. You’re welcome. It’s ugly, but dark modes are.

Anyway… here’s some things that’s happened since the last time I posted:

Catacombs Plus

GameMaker layers have depth - like, actual 3D depth

So - this is something I was dealing with since I was working on the Ludum Dare version of Catacombs 51. For some reason, the fog shader I wrote was making the wall tiles darker, and the floor tiles even darker.

It’s not immediately noticable in the above image, but you might be able to tell that enemies are brighter than the floor, for example.

Clueless as to the actual cause, I just worked around this by making sprites darker to blend in. It works better with 51’s lighting, but compare this damaged wall sprite versus the wall tile it’s based on. The sprite is darkened to compensate for the fact that the fog was making it darker.

Eventually I was tweaking the new lighting system further and ran into this issue again. This was months ago now, so the actual problem solving process has been forgotten now. But I eventually threw the game into RenderDoc and saw this:

The layers had DEPTH! They had a Z axis! And my shader was taking that into account when calculating the distance for fog all along.

The fix was simple… if aggressive:

# HG changeset patch
# User Sean Baggaley
# Date 1703714576 0
#      Wed Dec 27 22:02:56 2023 +0000
# Node ID 74e1306550726be4c926c490711899f9f89e1812
# Parent  53cf1f822e28a6a7695ce6e313b2cd351bd38c79
Lighting tweaks and fixes

diff -r 53cf1f822e28 -r 74e130655072 shaders/shd_main/shd_main.fsh
--- a/shaders/shd_main/shd_main.fsh	Wed Dec 27 21:21:17 2023 +0000
+++ b/shaders/shd_main/shd_main.fsh	Wed Dec 27 22:02:56 2023 +0000
@@ -25,7 +25,9 @@
 void main() {
 	vec3 lighting = vec3(0, 0, 0);
 	vec4 albedo = texture2D(gm_BaseTexture, v_vTexcoord);
-	float fog = 1.0 - (distance(v_vPosition, u_playerPos) / 320.0);
+	// Fucking GameMaker!! LAYERS ARE LITERALLY 3D!!
+	float fog = 1.0 - (distance(v_vPosition.xy, u_playerPos.xy) / 196.0);
 	vec3 ambient = albedo.rgb * u_ambientColour;
 	for (int i = 0; i < u_numLights; i++) {

This is what it looked like immediately after the fix:

Much better.

For good measure, here’s what it looks like today:

It’s not hugely different. But I have returned the decor to regular brightness.


The new revealer powerup will show you the location of the exit ladder, weapons, powerups, and lore items. It has a nice fancy effect when used:

Controller support

I added controller support to Catacombs Plus. It works reasonably well, I think. The control scheme is a familar twin-stick shooter layout: left stick moves, right stick aims, trigger to shoot.

There’s also an aim assist which will snap the cursor to enemies in the direction you’re looking at. This is pretty helpful, aiming needs precision which is hard to get manually.

An annoying detail of my movement code is that the left stick controls acceleration, not movement speed. So, if your stick is tilted half-way to the left, you will reach max speed slower, but you will still reach max speed. I’m not too sure how to fix this.

More things

I’ve worked on some additional level styles, which I’ll keep secret for now.

I’m still not an artist.

There’s also boss levels, which currently occur every 5th level. These are levels using existing styles, with a single much more difficult enemy based on the enemies from that level. Killing the enemy drops a ladder to exit the level, and a bunch of items.

Other people’s games

Side Order

The second wave of Splatoon 3 DLC, Side Order, finally released last Thursday - after 18 months of waiting (they announced the DLC like a month before the game even released!) It’s enjoyable, but a bit underwhelming? For the time we’ve waited, I expected more content, especially story-wise. There’s only a limited number of maps, which is fine, but they can get repetitive fairly quickly. Each run takes about 30 minutes, and there’s twelve palettes to get through, so I 100%d them all within 8ish hours (including my few failed runs). There’s only three bosses, so those get old and familiar really quickly.

Despite this, it’s still fun to play. It’s solid Splatoon, accumulating chips and becoming stupidly OP is satisfying. Hacks make it rewarding as your prior runs can influence your future runs, and you can tone down the hacks once you get familiar and develop strategies on completing objectives and maps.

It’s basically the gameplay of my Catacombs mixed with Splatoon and Nintendo levels of polish. Now I just have to think of which ideas to steal back 😉

Tiberian Sun

I’ve been slowly working through the Command & Conquer games again recently, starting with the Tiberian Dawn remaster and now Tiberian Sun.

I like Titans

I really like this game. I love the style and setting, the sort of apocalyptic desolate landscape ruined by Tiberium is served well by the isometric style and lighting. The gameplay is pretty solid C&C, and of course the soundtrack is really good. I’m working through it slowly - currently finished the Nod campaign and I’m about half-done with GDI - but I’m having a good time when I do play.

And that’s about it

I probably wanted to talk about some other stuff here but if so then I forgot what it was.

See you next time I post? Which will probably be in three months again. Ugh.