Warm Days

Saturday, Nov 20, 2021
#life #aotearoa #gemini #tool picture of the rolling hillsides

The days are getting warmer here now. I haven’t been doing much programming the last month. It’s been too nice out to waste lots of time inside. I’ve been climbing 3-4 days a week most weeks. I’m hoping to buy a car in the next few months and perhaps even ship my climbing pad over. Although, the reactionaries have gutted the US postal service so much it might not be possible to ship anything here for quite some time. Despite not being too “productive” I figured I could write a little update since today is quite rainy.

Blender and Godot

I’ve spent some time learning more about 3D game development with Godot and creating models in blender. There’s still lots to learn and the 3D part of Godot is getting a massive rewrite soon so hopefully it’s not a waste to start learning it now.

my donut from the classic blender tutorial

Anyway, there’s this game on steam called Tabletop Simulator. It’s a 3D representation of a table with all the common board game pieces and cards. The controls have always been pretty jank, but manageable with some practice. When it first released back in 2015, there was a thriving modding community with people creating hundreds of incredible “mini’s” and maps for running RPGs like D&D. Naturally, people also scanned card games like Superfight, UNO, Cards Against Humanity, and loads of much cooler indie releases. It didn’t take long till the likes of Hasbro, Mattel, and such caught wind of this. They shut down the popular mods and replaced them with expensive DLC. The base Tabletop Sim game already costs 30$ (per player) and now you needed to spend loads of money on digital games which were often much lower quality than the original mods (made by actual players). Playing board games over the internet is already a much worse experience, but adding on all the extra costs made it not worth it for me anymore. My friends and I just played in person whenever we could and stopped bothering with Tabletop Sim.

Then the pandemic came around and we started trying to use it again. Somehow the controls have actually gotten worse and more confusing over the years and our friends with slower (average) computers had lots of issues with lag and crashes. Unacceptable given how simple the game should be. I started brainstorming creating an open source alternative to Tabletop Sim. I’d like it to have much simpler controls and better performance by sacrafising some of the janky physics features in Tabletop Sim. I don’t think many people care about playing dominos or marbles and there’s probably better dedicated games for that anyway. I’m also not going to spend loads of time making it perfect for every individual game. People who are serious about chess already use lichess. I’m designing it for playing bigger party games and RPGs and making it super easy to scan and import your own cards or models is a top priority. I’d like to get it working on tablets and phones and running alright on old shitty laptops. Not everyone has a beefy computer (including me, that donut took well over an hour to render haha). Exporting it and getting it on fdriod should be easy and I might even be willing to pay the 20$ to put it on the google play store. Last I checked you have to give apple 100$/year + own a recentish macbook and iPhone to put anything on their appstore. That’s way more money than I’m willing to fork over, but who knows maybe someone else will want to donate that or compile it themselves.


I’ve also been working on some updates to my markdown to gemtext converter. In October I added “templating” which allows you to convert a big ole list of markdown files and automatically add a header/footer. Currently, there are “actions” for adding the filename, last edit time, and title (cleaned up filename). In the future I’m going to add actions for generating an index page / document structure and maybe a list of backlinks (list all the other files that link to the current one). I can’t implement those features with concurrency so I have to think of a way to split the conversion process into a few steps and add those actions to a “post” step.

While I was at it I wrote a goldmark parser for “wiki style links”. A few popular wiki programs use a markdown-like syntax, but the links are just double brackets around some text. It makes linking to local pages more ergonomic which is important in a wiki. I use this feature in my personal vimwiki setup. If you grab the latest version of gemgen you can try it out, there’s some more instructions in the man page of course.