The Exquisite Disappointment of ‘Truth’ in a Very Specific Case


A lot of what I tend to feel really bound up in when making games is some notion of the ‘truth’ of the game I’m making. By which I mean that generally there’s some very specific core idea I’m exploring, and the whole game (and accompanying design and code decisions) need to be bound by that ‘truth’. This is even advice I gave to some people today, so I even stand by my word? Who knew?

The thing about this ‘truth’ though is it can also bite you in the ass, which is has been doing this evening.

One of the versions of BREAKOUT I’m making in BREAKSOUT is based on Conway’s Game of Life, where the bricks act as the cellular automata. Ha ha, pretty great right? I was pleased when I came up with it, so it’s encouraging to hear you like it too. After implementing the algorithm, the bricks do indeed cycle through different states of ‘life’ based on their neighbouring bricks, and you can even hit them while they’re going through their paces.

The problem being that within the confines of the screen, six lines of cells leads to total death all the time. The bricks make it through around 10 states before they’re all extinguished, whatever you do as a player. Which sucks, because I really wanted a beautiful dancing pattern of life to appear on the screen instead of the usual six rows of bricks.

But that’s not how Conway’s algorithm works. And since it’s called BREAKOUT OF LIFE and the ‘truth’ involved is implementing Conway’s algorithm on the six rows of bricks that appear in a game of BREAKOUT there’s really nothing I can do about it. That’s where ‘truth’ gets you sometimes, a cold, dead world. Thanks, ‘truth’. Thanks a lot.

(Although in fact six rows is a stable pattern if you change some of the constraints, like how much vertical space the pattern has for example. But that’s not the case on a breakout screen so… thanks again, ‘truth’.)

(Also, don’t you love how all the screenshots have a big white ‘DEBUG’ on the side? Attractive, I know. I should really disable that.)


4 August 2015
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