troubleshooting gamemaker went well today

Even though I feel like I am coming down with some kind of disease, and like death warmed over, I was able to play with GameMaker and troubleshoot some of the problems I had with my little mockup of Terraria (or, any platformer game in general really, but just inspired by Terraria).

One of the problems was really stupid and trivial and hard to explain, but it was ruining everything. Basically, to make a long story short, I had to make one number evenly divisible by another number, otherwise all hell would break loose. The little guy was getting squished into the walls a few pixels deep, and then wouldn’t move anywhere, because I had his ‘movement distance’ set to a weird number like 5, and when the game checks to see if you’re bumping into a wall, it moves you back a few pixels to wherever you were before you hit the wall, and… it was a mess and I really can’t explain. I don’t know how I even figured this out, except by sheer luck. It’s hard to understand what the game is doing when you can’t see the code, and you have to memorize the fact that when it checks for a collision with a wall, it’s putting you back where you started just before the collision happened.

Anyway though, I fixed that and a whole bunch of stuff suddenly started working properly. I had a moment when my brain just completely fried and went blank and I was totally hopeless and lost and just staring at nothing because I had no idea what was wrong and no idea what to do. My brain just would not move at all during that moment. That’s the moment when I need to be perfectly at rest, not being interrupted by voices in my head, as my brain will be doing some kind of subconscious processing and decision making and recovery, so that I can look for an alternative thing to do.

The voices were not *too* horribly bad tonight, and also I wasn’t eating sage, either. I only had a *little* bit of problems with hearing voices while trying to use my brain. I had a moment there when I believed that maybe hackers were the reason why nothing was working, and I was helpless, but then I figured out what was wrong.

Because of this, I feel like I have a memory of success instead of failure, in spite of difficult obstacles. I never got this far before, in terms of making the little player able to move around and do things. I was able to do some stuff before when I made another little mockup of a game, but never this much. I need to go look at that just for my entertainment.

After this traumatic experience, I am probably going to just have a constant rule that says ‘always make things divisible by this other number,’ and I probably won’t be able to question that rule – I will probably have to use the rule all the time even when it isn’t needed. It was so frustrating for so long that I really, really burned it into my brain that something HORRIBLE will happen FOR A REALLY LONG TIME if you don’t make Number X divisible by Number Y.

I already had a similar memory that ‘Something horrible will happen if you try to use the ‘movement’ functions, so you should always just use ‘Jump To’ instead.’ I don’t remember exactly what all the horrible things are that will happen, I only remember this vague feeling of being horribly traumatized and frustrated and helpless for a very long time and totally unable to understand what was happening.

Hopefully, maybe after this experience, I will be able to overcome the problems with the ‘move’ functions too. Maybe it’s just another situation where X/Y = a yucky number that’s causing problems. I have more of a memory of ‘I can overcome this obstacle’ instead of ‘I am completely helpless to understand what the hell is wrong with this thing.’

I can imagine hundreds of other people giving up and not even trying to continue. It’s not as self-explanatory or newbie-friendly as it could be…. There are some things that they’ve forgotten that you won’t know, that newbies won’t know, such as ‘Don’t ever make your jump-to increment a number that doesn’t divide evenly into the size of the blocks on the screen, or else you will land inside the walls.’ I kept seeing the objects on the screen as though they were real, physical objects, and my brain couldn’t understand why one object was going inside another one instead of being blocked by the wall. The objects are not real objects, and their behavior is not intuitive or familiar it is totally artificial, but they’ve made some functions that try to imitate reality a little bit and imitate the familiar things you see in video games all the time – but it can’t exactly imitate the behavior of real objects. I feel like by checking the box labeled ‘solid’ for the object ‘dirt,’ that just means I can always safely assume that no objects will ever penetrate the boundary of the dirt object, but they do anyway – what????

I wonder how my nephew Aidan was able to use this GameMaker? I mentioned it to him when I visited him a couple years ago in West Virginia (he’s yet another ISTP like myself and my brother), and he was using it, or attempting to use it – I wonder if he, too, ran into frustrations and he quit? Or did he become really good at it? John says that Aidan has some difficulties motivating himself.

I still haven’t made a smooth movement of the player – it has these huge, jerky, unnatural jumps. But I fixed the biggest problem of getting stuck inside the walls unable to move. I need to make a smoother jumping movement somehow. Right now you just sort of teleport suddenly to a point up in the sky above you, with nothing in between, just, first you’re on the ground, then suddenly in the blink of an eye you’re up in the air, and it doesn’t look natural. I need to play with this and make it look better.

There are some games that are just too hard for young children to play. I remember. I wish I had some newbie-friendly,
teenager-friendly games, including educational games, which are geared towards people who are intelligent but not super-duper-genius intelligent, people who might get frustrated and give up, but who will succeed greatly if they have the proper support, encouragement, and explanations of all the things that can go wrong if you do XYZ so that when that happens, you know what to expect and you don’t give up, and you can avoid all that pain and suffering and keep on trying.

I have all these things that I love about Terraria, and things that I wish were different, and that’s why I’m making a mockup of Terraria, with some things changed (that is, if I continue doing this project over a long period of time through all these struggles and the learning curve). I don’t like stupid monsters who have no reason for being. Who are you? Why are you attacking me? Don’t you see that there’s all these flashing lights and screaming of monsters being killed before you walk into the room and throw yourself into the propeller of my blades? Why don’t you have any survival instinct? Don’t you ever learn? Why do I have to kill monsters anyway? Can’t I have a game where I either don’t kill anything, or else I do kill something but for a purpose, like a hunter gatherer who is going to eat the meat and use the skin and bones of the animal to make tools? That’s not the same as killing millions of mindless monsters just so you can earn gold and get special weapons and tools that they drop.

I also liked something about a very old game called ‘Betrayal at Krondor,’ where they had actual photos of actors integrated into the game, real people. I like the sight of real people’s faces in the game. Same with Myst, which had real actors that I recognize, including, I think, the guy who played Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings. Real faces are very comforting. Even if it’s nothing but a photo that just sits there, like in BAK, it still adds warmth to the game that isn’t there if all the people are cartoons.

I want the Terraria knockoff to have some kind of planting of seeds, and growing and farming, but better than it is in Terraria. I want animals to spawn, but only if other animals are present – it annoys me in Terraria that monsters will spawn out of nothing, even if you just walked through there and cleared the area, because the entire game would be impossible to play if you weren’t able to keep harvesting stuff by killing monsters and getting things you need. I want this game to be environmentally conscious, like, if you kill all the monsters, then they can’t reproduce and they will never spawn there again. Monsters don’t spawn from nothing. They may have evolved from bacteria in the distance past, but aside from that, the only way to make a new monster is to have a mommy and daddy monster. Then there will be baby monsters, and what kind of asshole goes around killing cute little baby monsters? Monsters must have a childhood too, you know. I want to question this whole monster-killing trope.

This isn’t merely a ‘Sims’ game – and I forgot, I was going to go look that up on youtube and see what ‘The Sims’ looks like, because people have said I would like that game. This isn’t just a simulation game though. I’m still imagining a platformer-exploring-adventure game too. There might be an occasional killing of a monster from time to time, maybe, if I’m in the mood. But not the food-processor style pureeing of a hundred million brainless monsters who keep running towards your spinning blades without fear.

But right now I just have to make the little player MOVE. That’s all.

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