Category Archives: Projects

Project List

The main purpose of this blog is to keep track of my various projects and to document them. The end result would be a long list of projects with all the associated metadata which can then be summarised to make browsing them easier. The Project List is a meta project that does just that. Each project on my website gets a file named project.php associated with it that contains the meta information. They are then gathered by the Project List and can be sorted, filtered, and displayed online. I’ve also added static pages, blogs, and talks to the lists of resources. You can view the Project List to read more it. This was tied in to a major update of my website, as I had to create new preview images and new styles to match the new way of showing the projects. This will probably evolve further over time, but for now it’s fine.

Screenshot

Project List, showing some projects
Project List, showing some projects

Update: Tangles

While giving my website a facelift I deciced that the Tangles (Live page) project needed some attention. The page was previously the main game, followed by a mess of buttons and then instructions. I rearranged the content to give a proper introduction and made an in-canvas transition screen between levels. The end result looks much nicer and now it’s almost a completely self contained game. With some more work it could be made into a standalone app for the App Store. This project also benefitted from a higher resolution canvas than the actual element size, leading to better graphics.

Screenshot

Tangles, with a new transition screen
Tangles, with a new transition screen

Update: Wolfram rules

While updating my website, another project that needed a little attention was the Wolfram rules (Live page) project. Apart from looking a little poor in its presentation, it was an experiment in DOM manipulation where a huhe HTML table was used to display the resulting algorithm. While it was nice to see that the DOM and CSS worked as they should, this project was better suited to the canvas, so I moved over to the canvas and added some colour to improve the presentation.

Before and after

Wolfram rules before the update
Wolfram rules before the update
Wolfram rules after the update
Wolfram rules after the update

Update: Conway’s game of life

As part of my website’s facelift I decided to update the Conway’s game of life (Live page) project. The content was rearranged to make more sense to the first time user, a the controls organised in a way that made them larger and easier to navigate. I also changed the links to different shapes to be gallery objects (similar to what I had for the Mandelbrot project.) This is also the first page to get the “You might also like…” feature at the bottom, which will soon appear on most other pages when I get time to add them.

Before and after

Conway before the update
Conway before the update
Conway after the update
Conway after the update
Conway after the update
Conway after the update

Update: Trigger game

In recent weeks I’ve been working a lot on the Trigger game (Live page.) These update have included an overhaul of the style, addition of new pages, rewriting of the “Spy mode”, adding new particles, tweaking the graphics, and many more changes behind the scenes. The code was significantly refactored to make it easier to extend and understand, as now this has becomes a collaborative project. The game has been tested on a few schools and shown to be a good success with children (and adults) and it seems to have a bright future. I also added sounds, music, and a simple music player.

Screenshots

Updated event display
Updated event display
Showing the various modes (some in development) with a garish colour scheme.
Showing the various modes (some in development) with a garish colour scheme.
Updated Spy mode, analysing the data.
Updated Spy mode, analysing the data.

Work in progress: Google Maps war

This project was made partly to combine the Hexagonal civ game with Google Maps, and partly to push the Google maps API to its limits. It turns out that Google Maps is not suited to this heavy use.

Links

Live page
GitHub repository

Overview

This project is intended to be a Risk style conquest game based on a map of Europe. The maps would be split into hexagons with rules for how the different unit (land, air, sea) could move from place to place. The map is split into equal areas of latitude and longitude with values chosen to best suit the arrangement of cities. Ideally the economic value of each hexagon would be taken into account, although this would require quite a bit of research. The connections between the hexagons is already defined, so in principle this could lead to a rather simple game by randomising the economic and defensive values of each hexagon (or giving them all equal value.)

Challenges

Challenge: The hexagons should be arranged in equal latitude and longitude, which isn’t necesarily equal area on the page.
Solution: The hexagons are not equal in area, so I had to draw them from the centre of each hexagon and find their vertices using polar coordinates around the centre of the hexagon. This was the first time I had drawn the hexagons this way and it turned out easier to make the drawing functions if I did it like this, given that I had already solved the coordinate problem in the hexagonal civ project. (Resolved)
Challenge: The game requires quite a bit of data entry.
Solution: Finding the economic values of each hexagon is very difficult and time consuming, so this has been put off indefinitely. The connections for the land, sea and air units have already been determined. (To be revisited)
Challenge: Drawing the hexagons requires drawing many polygons.
Solution: Using geometrical experience from the Skyline project, I found a reasonable way to label the hexagons with hatching in a colourblind friendly way. However the sheer number of polygons means that the performance is quite poor. It might be prefereable to draw the large map without Google Maps, and only underlay Google Maps when the user requests it. (Resolved, to be revisited)

Screenshot

Sample Google Maps War map.
Sample Google Maps War map.

Work in progress: Skyline

One of the features I want on my webpage is the silhouette of a skyline to use as background image. This project is aimed at allowing the user to draw a complex skyline, with the possibilty for animation.

Links

Live page
GitHub repository

Overview

The user can create individual “buildings” with many layers, and then arrange the buildings into a skyline to generate an image. If possible, the user can animate the image (for example adding lights at night, allowing the sky to change to match the time of day.)

The design would take place on the canvas, with a suite of tools to allow the user to correctly determine the size of buildings, add arches, spires etc. A second layer would allow the user to add windows, and a third layer would allow them to add other features. These would then be saved to file and a script would read the file to render the images on screen. The images would be rendered on a canvas that sits behind the main content of the page. This project is largely a problem of geometry.

Challenges

Challenge: Initially I wanted to set the canvas as the background of the page.
Solution: There are methds of taking the content of a canvas and using it to draw images that can be used with the DOM. I tried to use Javascript to change the source of the background image to match the canvas, but this lead to “flickering” effects, even when to canvases were used. As a result this was not a viable option. (Abandoned)
Challenge: The user needs a simple and intuitive interface.
Solution: This project allows the user to draw wire frames for the buildings. They can draw straight lines, circle arcs, and quadratic curves. The interface is not perfect, but it is easy enough to quickly make buildings. A grid is also provided so the user can keep track of sizes. (Resolved)
Challenge: This projects needs to be able to calculate interections and unions of polygons.
Solution: One of the hardest problems to solve is the interserction and union of two shapes, so that the user can make complex shapes. This is a non-trivial problems of geometry and finding solutions online was not east. I honest cannot remember if I completely solved this problem or not. (Resolved, to be revisited)
Challenge: This project would ideally respond to the client’s time.
Solution: Animation and time dependence has not been implemented yet, but eventually the colour of the sky and weather would chance, lights would turn on and off, and vehicles would move. This should be relatively simple to implement, once I find the time. (To do)

Sample output

Sample skyline.
Sample skyline.

Work in progress: Hexagonal civilisation game

It’s another unfinished game!

Ever since I played Sid Meier’s original Civilisation I’ve wanted to make something similar to explore the gameplay and create something fun to pass the time.

Links

Live page
GitHub repository

Overview

In principle this game should be fairly easy to develop because it is turn based and each problem (except the AI) is well defined. I first tried developing a game using SVG and one of my friends suggested using hexagons, which gives it a nicer, more rounded feel. However like many other projects this one is much lower priority than the others and it’s hard to justify the large amount of time required for development, so it’s stayed in a very rudimentary state for a long time.

As usual this game uses the canvas with the normal model for user interaction that I developed when writing the Feynman diagram maker. The rest is simply a matter of keeping track of the variables needed for the game to function. The interface would be as clean and elegant possible, as I felt this was the main advantage the original game had over the rest of the series.

Challenges

Challenge: This was one of the first games I developed using hexagons.
Solution: The choice to use hexagons leads to some non trivial problems. The most important challenge is the choice of coordinate systems and arranging it in an intuitive manner. It tooks some trial and errr but in the end I created a map that could be used for the development of the game. (Resolved)
Challenge: This game would need some (basic) artificial intelligence.
Solution: This is something I haven’t even started to think about yet! (To do)

Screenshot

Screenshot of the game, showing units and overlapping cities.
Screenshot of the game, showing units and overlapping cities.

Project management

Here’s something special for the 100th post! It’s project I use to manage projects.

This project was made to manage other projects. Each project has its own metadata which is parsed and arranged to give a useful summary of what the project does, how it was developed, and what I learned during development.

Links

Blog
GitHub repository

Overview

Each project has a python script that summarises the metadata, including the GitHub repository, the relevant links, a short description of the project, and details of implementation. Summaries are made for the Projects WordPress blog, and special links made for the PHP pages for projects that are hosted on my website. The scripts are organised so that they iterate over all projects (currently 83 and growing) at once, allowing a summary of all projects to be formulated.

This project management will eventually be extended to include icons, images, and other useful information. So far this has mostly be used to allow me to catalogue my existing projects in my spare time, which has taken ~15 months, but now that is nearly complete my needs will change, so I will add new functionalities.

Challenges

Challenge: This project needs to be versatile enough to handle a lot metadata about many projects.
Solution: In order to accommodate so many projects I had to create a new top level directory in my user space which is arranged hierarchically by category to contain all the projects. The choice to use python is motivated by the need to have a project management system that is versatile enough to handle a wide divrersity of projects with different metadata. (Resolved.)
This is how the sausage is made...
This is how the sausage is made…