Monday, August 9, 2010

Programming and the sacrifice of kittens

I'm not a programmer.  Despite having grown up in a house with no less than three avid Basic/C++ aficionados, programming is as alien to me as bacon-flavoured ice cream.  We just don't get along, you see.  I'm all about the grasp of English grammar and constructing a well-tempered sentence, when programming is... not.  You wind up with terrible things like :


void main {
GetIsMelted     (
oChocolate,
TRUE
        )

if (GetIsMelted == TRUE)       {

SetIsDelicious  (
oChocolate,
FALSE
        )
                 };
if (GetIsMelted != TRUE)       {

SetIsEaten      (
oChocolate,
TRUE
        )
                };
                }


You know what?  That's not even anything.  I made it up.  My parents and brother are all shaking their heads right now, I bet, disappointed in my ability to parse parameters like a good little quaternion.  Yes, I know that's not what quaternions do.  Ruin all my fun.  Go look at a hypersphere.

Despite the above attempt at code looking amusingly like a bunch of tiny people with far-flying boomerangs, I doubt it would run in a proper fight, even if I had pre-defined the variables and functions.  I just don't understand.  It's not for lack of trying - I've tried for years - it's just that it makes absolutely no sense to me.  I can stuff around and write things about chocolate, but I don't know how I would actually create those functions, whether calling them like that (are they even integers?  Surely being melted is more than a binary state!) would have the effect that I want, or if it's all just gibberish.

This all arises because I'm trying to do something incredibly simple in the Dragon Age toolset.  It turns out that to create custom local variables - which is all I want to do, really - you need to create a 2-dimensional array, convert it into *.gda format, import it, then write the associated functions and scripts to call the silly things, before you apply those variables anywhere else.  It's maddening.

I'm a writer, dammit.  I'm not saying I can't program, but I've got about an emu's chance at a turtleneck convention of finding a style that suits me.  I've been told Dragon Age uses a scripting language akin to C.  It could be banging moon rocks together over my head and I'd still have just as big a clue as to what's going on.

But, alas.  As a games writer, it's evolve or bust.  Possibly Dragon Age isn't the most useful in terms of functionality or ease of learning, especially when its predecessor (the Neverwinter Nights Aurora Toolset) was such a joy to use in comparison, even in all its buggy glory.  Unfortunately, however, Dragon Age does have a very good conversation editor, if I ever make it that far.  I'd settle down and use the StarCraft Galaxy Editor, or the Elder Scrolls Construction Set, but, honestly, they wouldn't let me do what I'm imagining.  Maybe what I'm trying to do isn't that simple after all.

Enough whining.  Back to memorising functions.  This is the dark side of games writing and academia that no one ever tells you about - if I don't post tomorrow, it may be because my family and friends have confined me away from the computer for my crimes against syntax.  Semi-colons, why dost thou mock me?

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