Friday, August 11 2006

I think I’ve invented something of significant purpose for something I’m becoming ever more passionate about. But to help paint the picture, let’s think about the hero who invented compression molding presses. Without this kind of machine there’d be no inner tubes, no melamine crockery and no brake pads. There’d be no bike riding, no green bean casserole, no stopping of massive vehicles. Read: mayhem.

But no one goes out and tries to invent things like this, it just sort of falls into place. You need something to press the hell out of some bits of material, so you make something to do it, and you refine it, and with enough iterations you end up with some massive device with blinking lights and pressure gauges that can squeeze out a conveyor belt while you eat a Baby Ruth.

I’ve been doing the same thing with casually played massive multiplayer games. I keep finding the need for tools, and I keep building new things because I think I’m the only one daft enough to try and do this. But I have the same itch that the guy who needed to press the hell out of something had. I’m compelled to do things like build programmatic routines that let me efficiently blit an isometric perspective tile map with depth sorting using just CSS and HTML. And while they’re not yet perfect, they’re a preview of what’s to come.

Consider this example of depth sorting. It’s not perfect, but it’s a tool I really need for a new game I’m working on. Find the “North, South, East” and “West” links to see the red cube move around. There’s no real magic going on here, but it took a lot of trial and error to determine the best way to pull it off, much like I’m sure the compression molders so near and dear to all of our hearts took.

I can only hope that I’ll be able to make the work that I’m doing now to build rudimentary tools will become just as important, even if just indirectly, to what we do on the Internet as the compression molder is to baby bottle nipples.