The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

January 2, 2011

Some Resolutions for the Irresolute

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 11:11 pm

I’ve never been big on the whole idea of New Year’s resolutions.  I know that we’re all supposed to make some big list of grandiose plans for the new year, spend about three or four days pretending to do something about them and then sweep the whole thing under the proverbial rug at the first convenient opportunity, but I’ve never been a big fan of the concept.  After all, being a human being, I’m sure I’ve got a gaping personality flaw or two that I really need to do something about, and I suspect that it’s going to take a bit more than the passing of some arbitrary chronological checkpoint to get me to do much about that fact.  Besides, it always ends up being the same few things:  Lose some weight, find a wife, quit being so freakin’ cynical all the time (I was fortunate enough to cross of the “quit doing contract work and get a real job” one recently though)  I’m pretty sure I don’t need a New Year’s resolution to remind me of this stuff.   It also seems that, in spite of best efforts, I apparently enjoy being fat, grumpy and single far more than I really care to admit to anyone (myself included.)  Either way, I’ve never been particularly good at accomplishing any sort of resolution.

That said, I have come up with a few goals I would like to set for myself over the course of the coming year, although these are more in the “would like to do” category than the “must do” one.   

Build a game from scratch.  For as much time as I’ve wasted on video games over the years, it seems that I should have at least an idea or two that could be applied to creating one.  And really, with all the tools that are out there these days it’s easier than it’s ever been to do this.  In particular, XNA seems like it should be well within my ability to learn and to produce something in, and I’ve already got the tools installed on my PC from previous tinkering that never really amounted to anything more than something that made a box move around the screen to controller input.  I have no illusions of ever getting rich off something like this (or, for that matter, making any money in the first place) but maybe I could at least learn something in the process which could come in handy later on. 

Build a Supergun.  No, I am not planning to create a doomsday device to try to take over the world (at least not this year, the way things are going I might have to reconsider at some point though.)  A Supergun is, in short, a device that lets you play arcade games at home, using a TV and (in some cases) a gamepad much like you would use on a more typical gaming console.  Since I got rid of my arcade cabinet when I moved out of my old apartment, I have a whole bunch of boards that I really can’t do much with right now, so I’d like to come up with a way to play those without taking up a third of my living room with an arcade cabinet.  A Supergun isn’t strictly a console though; all it really provides is a connector for an arcade PCB, some sort of video/audio output device, a power supply, and some sort of controller interface.  The boards themselves are essentially self-contained, and provide all the hardware needed for the game in standalone form.

While most of this stuff required for one of these can be found on the Internet in one form or another, the controllers are a bit tricky.  Although most people seem to build their Superguns to be compatible with NeoGeo controllers, even when those were still being made they were tough to find, making them even harder to find now.  Fortunately, the pinout is pretty simple for one of these (owing to the NeoGeo’s arcade roots, the controllers are little more than buttons and sticks wired directly to the controller port,) and building some sort of enclosure for the stick and buttons would almost be trickier than wiring everything up.  Then again, this might be a job for which the laser cutter I used to make ornaments a couple of months ago would be suited (it’s relatively easy to make boxes and other enclosures that might be required.  More on this one when (if) I get started on it.

Write something significant.  I’d like to think that I’m a reasonably decent writer (or something resembling one,) but to tell you the truth I have trouble writing anything longer than about  4,000 words or so.  I’ve been meaning to try for years to write a novel of some sort, but I just can’t ever seem to string together enough ideas for anything more than a short story.  That’s not to say I can’t write enough material for one:  Assuming an average of about 1,000 words per Blog post (give or take a few, I don’t know what the actual average is)  and 77 posts written last year, that would amount to roughly 77,000 words, which I understand would probably be enough to fill about 200 pages.    With a total of nearly 500 posts on the Blog, that tends to add up after a while too.  So the volume is there, the tricky part is figuring how to focus all of that into something cohesive, which is the part I’m not particularly good at.  And given the fact that such a project would, presumably, be something separate of this Blog, it would mean that I’d have to figure out a way to juggle both at the same time.  Oh, and did I mention that I’ve got to keep myself gainfully employed while I’m doing all this? 

If there’s one thing all these goals have in common, is that they’re all things that should be within my capability to do (well, the second one would probably take some refresher courses on electronics and soldering,) and things that could be accomplished gradually over time.  The main problem is that I just don’t quite know how to get started.  Still, I suppose we all have to start somewhere, and now seems as good a time as any to do it.  Besides, it’s either that or try to find a wife (after which all the other stuff probably goes straight out the window, perhaps even literally.)  And we all know how THAT one has worked out so far.


1 Comment »

  1. I think you would make a great novelist. They say you should write what you know but you are so smart that doesn’t really narrow it down for you! You can do it though, I look forward to the result. Can I be your editor?

    Comment by jacki — January 4, 2011 @ 2:27 am

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