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2022.12.01

Flax Engine

In a year full of personal experimentation in other carrers (like running for congress, for example :), I still programmed a lot. I invested a lot of time studying Docker and containers, Kubernetes, Home Assistant and hosting web systems myself (like Nextcloud).

But game design is a passion.

I’m constantly get annoyed with Unity3D and the latest events in the business side, had me to worry even more. I tried to use Godot and failed. C# is far better in terms of easy-to-use and safety and compared to C++ and even more to custom scripting languages. It’s more organized, well documented. And I have years of accumulated experience. And Godot-C# integration is buggy, unstable and full of gotchas. The way they re-implemented C# in the upcoming Godot 4 created so many artifacts to properly work that I got even more frustrated. I could not use Lists<>!

After watching a curious review in GameFromScratch channel, I tried a new kid in town: Flax Engine. It’s a C++/C# engine heavily inspired by Unity. The from-to process is straight forward. After just a of weeks playing with it, now I decided to invest in it. I am planning to port my closest-to-finish game I have to it by the end of year. It’s 1 step back, 2 steps forward.

Cons

πŸ‘Ž Like Godot, there is no way, currently, to drag-and-drop assets and actors with a specific class. I always have to ask for a generic Actor in the editor and check if has the given class in code. Annoying and error prone.

πŸ‘Ž Still lacking several common features, comparing to Unity and Unreal. It’s evolving and, mostly important, their competitors pave the way for inspired clones like Flax.

πŸ‘Ž Minuscule community compared to other game engines, even the indie ones. Recent Github report of biggest Open Source projects do not place Flax into the top 10.

Neutral

😐 Not FLOSS. It’s open source but it’s not free. The license requires paying royalties. It’s very close to what Unreal asks but more generous. I would love to see it converting to a full FLOSS model in the future.

πŸ‘Ž Old C#/.Net version. A branch with newest .NET 7 was created and being developed. The current version uses .Net Framework 4.8 and it is a pain to install on Linux.

πŸ‘Ž Still lacking Docker image for CI/CD (well, Unity and Unreal also do not have official ones). I might implement a repository myself, inspired by GameCI ;)

Pros

πŸ‘ 1-1 adaptation from a Unity developer. It’s not as feature rich, but it’s very competent.

πŸ‘ Open community. A lot of issues and Merge Requests in the project Github page. I’ve being talking to devs in a Discord channel and they are receptive.

πŸ‘ Small footprint. The editor is just a couple of megabytes and the “cooked” game is also small. If possible, running it in a Alpine-like image will create a really small image to use CI/CD.

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2022.11.29

Wingspan

Stonemaier games got famous when the owner, Jamey Stegmaier, blogged every aspect of his upcoming Kickstarter campaign. People felt confident with his struggles, thoughts and solutions.

After some success, Stonemaier created another hit. This time the game was not design by Jamey, but by the first comer Elizabeth Hargrave. Wingspan (which is currently at the high tier in BoardGameGeek) let you collect birds that provide special powers, that accumulate turn after turn. I bought it as a last year Christmas gift for my wife last year and it became one of the most played games in our collection.

Little eggs

Positives

Components and art, OMG, are all high quality and adorable. The board, the cards, the dice tower, the eggs… ohhh… don’t even mention the colorful eggs. The color do not have any gameplay meaning, but they are adorable. People always react when seeing those little eggs.

The care in creating each bird card is astonishing. The flavor text is rich of details, and most of them have a real implication in the game itself. Bird size, breeding pattern, type of food… it’s all grounded in reality!

There are objectively better birds than others, but the external objectives and bonuses may increase the usefulness of birds on each play. Considering also the large amount of cards, at least for the sake of replayability, it’s a major plus.

The core value of this game is the engine building mechanism. Each time you get a new bird, it’s powers will be used in subsequent turns. So by the end of the match, some super powerful combos will be created. It’s very satisfying to activate a multi-point machine!

Wigspan components

Negatives

This game is a multiplayer solitaire: while you can somewhat manipulates resources and face up birds a bit, it is best to be occupied to “do your best”. My nephews were hooked all the time, but mostly commenting about the birds looks and imagining their next moves.

It is very difficult to keep track of other people’s boards. So it is really hard to counter act. None will take mental notes tracking other players. But for those who actually do this, it could represent a major strategic advantage.

The abilities are fun but and require a lot of reading to understand. While the text are not long, the font is bit small.

The dice tower, despite being cute, is prone to damage over time. I already not using it in my sessions, in order to preserve it.

Wigspan components

My Rating:9β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
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2022.11.26

Owner of Social Network Data aka Indieweb

During the campaign for Congress, I had to transform my social networks in a real sales platform. They all had to be super aligned with the same purpose.

I should have already installed/hired some social media manager, like Hootsuite or Zoho Social (Zoho has been my online service provider for years) as this is no trivial task. There were more than 8 networks. And many of the contents are copies of each other.

In addition to the difficulty of managing the various networks, there is confusion as to what content I would release as official. Canonical. Especially networks that are essentially competitors.

  • Twitter or Mastodon?
  • Tiktok or Youtube Shorts or Instagram Stories?
  • Facebook or my blog?

It gets substantially worse with stories like Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. He’s made so many changes to the platform that it’s not impossible to think the company will eventually go broke. Thus, years of content would be thrown away. And the constant changes in rules and permissions?!

Indieweb: The owner of the content is ME

To address some of these concerns, I’m trying to centralize the source of information to a system that I have full control over. And nothing better than this site itself to be responsible. Here I do whatever I want, optimize images (one of my concerns that I never had much discipline was taking the metadata from images), customize their appearance. This then becomes the official center of what I do.

POSSE is the practice of Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere, in other words, publish links or copies on other social networks always citing the original source of the content, so that anyone can follow you directly at the source.

Reposting on Twitter and Mastodon is easy as they are usually text and few images. Meta/Facebook sites are more boring because they are richer in content and have no API to automate. Video ones are even more work, as hosting videos in person is quite expensive (I’ve always felt that Youtube does an almost humanitarian job in hosting such a volume of data).

For now, I must keep old content on its source platforms. Gradually I will try to write only here. Eventually start to even export all the old content from these services to have back and put static on the site.

Microformats, Fediverso and Webmention

To adapt the site to be the center of the online universe, some changes need to be made:

βœ… Make it easier for computers to also understand the site

I also implemented microformats on the site and in the contents, so that any other system that reads the site can extract the main information: the author, title, content, publication date. Several of this information already appear visually on the site. As humans, we can understand easily, but computers cannot. Therefore, a series of modifications were made so that the contents are also easily understood by machines.

Separating the different types of content

As I use the blog as a tool for longer texts, daydreams and ideas, I’m thinking of creating specific lists for small texts (tweet/toot) and maybe images (today the site has a tag that points to my posts of photos. So everything would be better indexed and found. Blog and notes. My site manager, Hugo, allows for several approaches. The question is how to do the better implementation.

Integrate comments, replies and shares made on other sites

I’ve tried using some commenting tools before, like Discus and Cactus.chat (super cool concept of using Matrix as a comment source). I don’t have a lot of traffic here, so it wouldn’t matter. But the goal is now bigger: to include comments and reposts of my content made on other sites.

The W3C’s own standard (the organization that standardizes the internet) created webmentions, a way to formalize that someone is commenting on someone else’s content. That’s the only way I can maintain a great discussion about the content I’ve posted on any network.

“Automatically” republish content written here on other social networks

This will take some time as I will need to use a number of external services that will read my site’s RSS and try to post on social media instead. Essentially using a HootSuite/Zoho Social type solution. Even better if it’s open source. I will investigate the use of n8n.


As soon as I manage to implement more things, I’ll post them here. I want to give the least amount of work to the next ones who are excited to take control of their own digital lives.

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2022.07.08

Books From 2022 (So Far)

Every year I try to compile a list of games, books and movies I experienced. Let’s go.

I continue to read (listen in fact) almost every day for the past years. It’s in my daily routine when I walk the dogs. It’s a very different proposition from laying down and dedicate some time to read them. I have a urge of a secondary task when I am performing a no-brainier routine, just as.. walking the dogs. Otherwise, I just feel wasting my time my just walking and no thinking.

This is the list of this year’s books that I ingested. These lists are -definitively- not comprehensive ones. Since I’m not updating my GoodReads personal records nor writing about them in this blog, they are just the ones I remembered. I may edit this post if I remember other items.

  1. Piranesi (Susanna Clarke) (9β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…): Piranesi lives in a fantastic place. He forgets a lot, but keep detailed notes. A great mystery.
  2. The Well of Ascension
    The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)
    (Brandon Sanderson) (8β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : just after the events of the first book, the protagonists now have to maintain the power they acquired. Fascinating.
  3. Steal Like an Artist
    Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
    (Austin Kleon) (8β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : great super-short book about creative process. He incentives people to leap forward in creative work disregarding self judgment. Get inspired and try to copy work of other in order to practice and find one own voice.
  4. Keep Going
    Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad
    (Austin Kleon) (8β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : another small but very motivational work from Austin Kleon. Do not stop creating. Do small iterative works until it’s done.
  5. Show Your Work!
    Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
    (Austin Kleon) (8β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : another small piece of Austin. Create a blog, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok account and show people what you being working on. Even hobbies stuff, like sketches. Eventually it could become your masterpiece.
  6. Parable of the Talents (Octavia E. Butler) (8β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…): is the sequel of the excelent Parable of the Sower (Octavia E. Butler) (9β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…), telling about the protagonist is her daughter.
  7. The President Is Missing (James Patterson, Bill Clinton) (7β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…): modern cyber terrorism thriller. Very beliable. Tips and ckecks done by no other than Bill Clinton!
  8. The Power of Habit
    The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
    (Charles Duhigg) (7β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : a modern classic self-helping book. It starts preaching the power of understanding and controlling habits. The it exemplify, chapter after chapter, the different facts of habits interfering in our decision making. Very good.
  9. Different
    Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd
    (Youngme Moon) (7β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : essay about competitive advantage of being different in the market. Curiously enough, the second half of the book she acknowledge that being different might not be important depending on the situation and market. Good book.
  10. Communication Skills Training
    Communication Skills Training: How to Talk to Anyone, Connect Effortlessly, Develop Charisma, and Become a People Person
    (James W. Williams) (7β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : comprehensive discussion about communication skills. Nothing fantastic. But very good.
  11. Justice
    Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?
    (Michael J. Sandel) (7β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : several philosophical aspects, situations and approaches of what is justice. It does not, however, present definitive answers about anything.
  12. The 4-Hour Body
    The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
    (Timothy Ferriss) (5β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : several tips about proper workout, diet and routines to get the body you want.
  13. The 10x Rule
    The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure
    (Grant Cardone) (4β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : sales people kinda talk. Super aggressive, alpha behavior about using all your power and willing to achieve goals and success. I tried to focus the core messages and occasional motivation in his words, but it’s hard to not get pissed with the alpha male dominant attitude.
  14. Think Sex and Grow Rich
    Think Sex and Grow Rich: How to use the power of your sex drive to succeed in business
    (Marcus El) (4β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
    : it tries to sell the idea that we are driven by sex and we should channel this constant desire towards business goals. It starts fun, then became very tedious.

From the second part of 2021 that was not in the mid 2021 list

  1. Dune (Frank Herbert) (8β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…): read in 3 nights in order to watch the movie. Loved it.

For more books, you can check my online read list on GoodReads.

edited in 2022-07-14 because I forgot some books. In fact, I believe there are even more.

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2022.03.27

Multilanguage Site

brunomassa.com has been always an international site. Almost all posts were written in English. But now that I will venture in the politics (more about this in a later post), it’s worth to separate Brazilian Portuguese contents apart. Mixing posts about programming, gaming and movies will just confuse followers and voters.

Instead removing non-related contents, I decided to just split languages. In Brazilian Portuguese edition will show up more posts about Brazilian scene. Curiously, most of old posts written in pt-br were already about politics or football, so they are already fit for the job!

I do not know how to create a hybrid model using Hugo, with most language-independent content intertwined. If I find, I will enable it in the future. It will be specially useful for hot-pages, those pages that serve as a entry for promotions and special situations. It would not be good to create a hot-page for brunomassa.com/pt-br/hot-page, because it would defeat it’s purpose of easy to remember and share. To help even further, I’ve just bought the brmassa.com domain, aligning with other social media usernames.

So, I’m going to start to work towards generating more content about politics and Brazilian context. This week I plan to make the now-not-much-a-surprise announcement.

This very post is a multi-language. Click in the small flags to switch.

Bruno π•„π”Έπ•Šπ•Šπ”Έ