i hit a nice little achievement of 365 day streak with DuoLingo 🎉

it’s a really fun language learning app. they have it “gamified” nicely with achievements, leaderboards, experience points, unlockable bonuses, and streaks. it has been a nice replacement for me from playing C&C Rivals, hearthstone, or summoners war.

i started with learning Chinese and got through two tiers before things got really hard with dates and so i started mixing in Spanish lessons which are waaaay easier (both from being more similar to English and also having had lots of Spanish in grade and high school).

i was very competitive for awhile and got nearly up to the top league in the leaderboards. they had a bonus that would appear randomly each week where you could do an hour of lessons for bonus points so i would always jump on top of that and complete as many lessons as i could in those hours. since they removed that feature though i haven’t been as dedicated but have kept up at least a couple small lessons a day to keep the streak going.

i have no idea how effective it really is for becoming fluent in other languages but it is fun and satisfies that same reward system that games do while having more potential for being actually useful. 🙂

SketchClub 2.10

this month i shipped a big new update for SketchClub! it’s quite a big overhaul of the graphics engine. my goal for this update was to do these engine changes while preserving all the existing functionality, and intentionally leave new ui changes and other user facing stuff for a following update.

it worked out really nicely this way, and while flushing out some tricky glitches and device compatibility issues during the beta i ultimately did wind up sneaking in a bunch user facing changes too.

faster stroking, loading, saving, compositing, transforming, exporting, memory optimizations, procedural bristle brush upgrades, smudge and blur upgrades, gesture improvements, and lots more improvements.

people were especially happy about the tight layer thumbnails, support for tons more layers, direct import into gallery, and the blur tool enhancements. 🙂

iMore did a nice article on the best drawings apps in 2020 for the iPad and Apple Pencil and included SketchClub!

“Sketch Club is a super affordable drawing app that doesn’t skimp out on features.” thanks iMore!

raccoon buddy

there are some cats in the neighborhood that come over to my place regularly for snacks and treats. one day i noticed two of them lounging on the patio so i put out a scoop of cat food for them. out of nowhere this chunky raccoon scurried over, chased the cats away, and started chowing down!

for over a week he came back every day or two at dinner time. it was so fun watching him eat with his crazy paws.

ZeroVector Review

cool! ZeroVector was reviewed by shmup.com. 7/10 not too shabby for someone’s first shmup. 🙂 it’s in French so here’s it is translated by Google

ZeroVector 0.2

so i wanted to do an update to my game ZeroVector for the 2018 Christmas holiday (and one year anniversary of its original release) buuuut i got started on it way late and bit off too much work so it wasn’t actually until May 1st that i actually got it out. i think it came out pretty cool though! 🙂

a major part of the update is a new multiplayer “Conquest” mode. in it, everyone is assigned randomly to the blue, red, or purple faction and then compete to capture sectors on a hexagonal map. this gives an extra fun dimension to the game besides just a single score attack leaderboard. the stages in each sector are also different and sectors can have “mods” applied to them so there’s extra variety to play.

ZeroVector Conquest map

with the update, there’s lots more game content added. along with new enemy ships and firing patterns there are also two new bosses to fight! big thanks to Kirill for helping me out with 3d meshes for the spider and stealth bomber and some other cool enemies like the stingrays.

ZeroVector Laser Boss ZeroVector Spider Boss

the game uses a custom 3d engine and in 0.1 i had limited myself to drawing only lines. all the ships, bullets, effects, text, and UI just used single pixel width lines. this helped me keep things simple and focus on building out the gameplay instead of sinking all my time into fun graphics stuff. now with the 0.2 update i still go for the same retro vector display style but eased up on that lines only restriction. this meant fleshing out all the engine systems for fragment shaders, textures, font rendering, and such. also i implemented a simple animation system so that some enemies and bosses can have moving parts.

something i struggled with was making each stage feel different. i tried and failed a lot with different color schemes for the enemies, bullets, and backgrounds. i had to keep changing the rendering to make it possible for me to push the styles apart. hopefully it came out somewhat sufficient. i also try to have some different enemy types and unique firing patterns to differentiate the stages. for the backgrounds i built a new procedural system which can interact with the player, enemies, and triggers and the code came out quite cool but still falls short in the actual game. in future updates i want to make better use of it and have a million ideas still to explore with it.

ZeroVector stage styles

another thing i needed to do for 0.2 was build out a proper UI system. in 0.1 i had gotten away with a crazy simple hard coded UI needing it only for the main menu and score screen. with the update there’s loads more UI especially with the Conquest mode. it’s still quite a simple system though with hierarchy of controls in linear horizontal, vertical, and stack layouts. i render the text using pre-computed signed distance fields from the font glyphs and that works really nice for having text at many sizes easily.

ZeroVector Conquest leaderboard

overall, i built out all the different game systems a ton in this update so it’s now a lot easier to create new content for it. i think it’ll be fun to make some new content (enemy, firing pattern, stage, etc) each weekend and slowly build up a nice big set of content for the next major update while also releasing some to new modes and sectors in Conquest along the way. it’s fun having a shmup i can noodle with over time. 😀

if you haven’t tried it out, you can download ZeroVector for free from the iOS App Store and from Android Google Play. if you enjoy it be sure to visit the in game store and buy me a taco! it’s fun when people do that and i really do go out and celebrate with tacos from Taco Bell, Chipotle and Pepe’s 🌮 😍 🌮