A couple weeks ago, I traveled to the DC area to visit some family and friends. Among them were two classmates from Boston University who also graduated with computer science degrees (one with me in 2001, the other in 2002). Discussion over dinner the last day we were in town turned to one of the more entertaining classes we took - Introduction to Computer Graphics. The tools were C, OpenGL and one decidedly non-stodgy instructor, and the objective was to make code that looked good inside and out.
Although the most impressive project we did was a flythough of a first person shooter level, the favorite project required much less thinking and much more creating – a terrarium. The assignment was simple enough. We had to write a program that would put two distinct types of animated creatures into a closed environment and have them move around and interact with each other in some way.
My first attempt at the terrarium – which was basically recoding Pac-Man without the pellets or loss condition, was an abject failure. First of all, I don’t think the titular glutton met the requirements of the assignment, since he didn’t have many visual details. Worse than that, though, was the fact that I did not have time to write any interesting behaviors for either him or the ghosts.
Fortunately, I bailed in time to start from scratch and still write a passable program. Attempt 2 involved what was quickly becoming one of my favorite game series of all time – Pokémon. I let a certain electric rat that most gamers are familiar with wander around a room with some randomly placed furniture and one of the original circular pink monsters. When they met, it was time to attempt a shocking attack! But alas, Ms. Puff is a balloon rather than the commonly believed marshmallow, and thus made of rubber (because I said so), and the jolt did nothing. Disappointed, the rodent left on a vain search to find water-type targets.
Was it good enough to earn me any awards or release as an indie game of its own (if such things existed back then)? Certainly not. But it was amusing, and it was a chance to do what I really wanted to do, on a small scale, at a school with far too much O(n log n). Tonight I get to check out build 3 of Point of Descent, and I’m expecting some new fun coding stories to come between here and release date.