Dear God, has it really been five years already?

According to the calendar, it’s been five years today since Portal 2 was released. Since two of those years were leap years, it’s seemingly been on the order of exactly 521 weeks. Well, let’s see… Yep, it’s been a hell of a five years!

Of course I remember being a naïve Junior Cert student fascinated by the formulae Doug Rattmann scribbled on the board. Now I realize the Lorentz factor and Schrödinger Wave Equation are very basic pieces of mathematics in relativity and quantum mechanics. Still, as for why they would be on the same whiteboard outside a Modern Physics revision class, I don’t know… After all, the Schrödinger Equation is non-relativistic. Maybe the formulae were just there for Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, to teach the young girls a bit of Modern Physics!

Of course, it’s been five years of radio silence about Half-Life 3, five years in which I was upset at first, but have now come to appreciate Valve’s point of view. Case in point, this blog! It’s apparently been three years since I got it up and running, so I guess now is as good a time as any to apologize for my almost complete silence. It’s not often that I think of something to say. That said, there is currently a mega-post/essay in the works, pointing out, and trying (and possibly failing) to fix, some of the foibles of English spelling. If that sounds like fun, stay tuned!

Status of Subatomic Particle Simulator: PARKED

Well, there have been occasional minor updates on the status of the VIGoV Subatomic Particle simulator since it was exhibited in January 2014, but no real progress, despite optimistic sentiments voiced in the first half of that year. Since then, I have gone on to do first-year physics in university, including a little Quantum Mechanics. This opened my eyes to just how little of an idea I had of what I was doing when I wrote that code. Examining it again, I’m even less sure of what I was trying to do in certain parts.

In short, I don’t believe it to be salvageable. It was a huge project for someone who had never done university-level physics, and, while it was an educational experience, with some interesting (and sometimes impressive!) results, it can’t really be taken any further. The basic ways in which the simulation is carried out appear to be very flawed, but I don’t know how to fix them, despite what I may have told myself in the past. That is why I am suspending development for a couple of years.

Over the next few years, I will be learning about Quantum Mechanics in university. Then I may be able to continue the project, or at least rewrite some sections of it from scratch, on a sounder footing. Until then, I am frankly afraid to touch the code.

So, while I had fun programming it and learned quite a lot, I feel it best to park the Subatomic Particle Simulator indefinitely.

Rayman 2 i nGaeilge!

UPDATE: Version 1.1.1 has been released. Please download that version instead.

Well, I’ve finally got some good old-fashioned game modding to report here. I have finished my translation of Rayman 2 from French into Irish, done with the help of the tool sna_nochar, created by MixerX and distributed on the Rayman Pirate-Community. As a sample of what has been done, here is the first ten minutes or so of the very last β-test of the translation:

I did miss one Lum on purpose, just to test that cutscene (I had previously tested the cutscene where one gets all 5 Lums on the first try). Then, after making this video this morning, I ran through the rest of the game (skipping some optional bits with no dialogue!) to find any other bugs. I am pleased to announce that the translation is now ready, and available for download from this server:

http://www.vigovproductions.net/R2Gaeilge.zip

The installation instructions are fairly simple, they are written in the Readme.txt file in the above ZIP, in both English and Irish.

By the way, I used VMWare to record the video. I realised it was easier to test my translation in a virtual machine, since I could switch back and forth to a text editor to make changes, without crashing the game. But running the game in a virtual machine caused the physics engine to run too fast at times, which made gameplay really awkward…

That said, the camera glitch seen in the video happens even without a VM, and seems to be caused by the camera reaching the island too early in the cutscene. I guess my rig’s just too powerful!

Status of Aperture Ireland 2.0 and other things

I was just browsing through the archives of this blog and saw a post mentioning Aperture Ireland. I realised I’d never actually checked whether or not Valve had gone about porting Portal 2 to GNU/Linux. I fired up Steam and it seems that this port recently entered beta.

Had I known this earlier, Aperture Ireland 2.0 would probably be underway right now. However, at this late date, it seems unlikely that I will be able to release on this side of June, since I will be otherwise engaged for much of next week. I apologise for what may seem to have been an avoidable delay.

On the plus side, Sony Pictures Television History Mark IV is almost done. I am half-way through documenting 2011 and the animation work should be all done by Easter Sunday. After that, putting it all together should be simple enough, so expect it to appear on Tuesday!

Subatomic Particle Simulator now on GitHub!

Well, I have just spent an entire weekend using Windows, amounting to probably more hours than I had spent with this operating system in the previous six months! Of course, this meant that I had to endure loads of automatic updates, their drain on bandwidth and automatic restarts! It was worth it though to get the Subatomic Particle Simulator up, working just as well as it does on GNU/Linux! It’s nice to know that I’ve made this thing cross-platform.

More good news: In the process of porting the code, I realised that the best thing to do was to fork the Source SDK repository on GitHub, and that way avoid all the problems of contaminating a working copy to compile the simulator. It is here, so you can now clone it in a ready-to-compile state, or even download a ZIP file if you would prefer.

Again, same legal restrictions apply – due to incompatible licences, it is not currently possible to (legally) distribute binaries. Once again, I apologise for this, and hope I can sort it out in the future.

PS. If you would like to express your opinions on how legal restrictions like this should apply in the future, please go to this new campaign website.

Release of Source Code of Subatomic Particle Visualiser

Well, this is kind of embarrassing. In October, I implemented the GNU Scientific Library as part of the science project I mentioned in the previous post. Since I was working towards an actual deadline, I guess I was too hurried to thoroughly check what licence the GSL uses. Apparently, I assumed it was licensed under the LGPL, which many GNU libraries tend to be. However, it is actually under the much more restrictive GPL, which forbids me from distributing it combined with any proprietary programme. The code given by the Source SDK for the server DLL (the only thing I actually modified) counts as proprietary, since it is distributed under a licence that forbids selling. Therefore, while experimenting with the two pieces of software together is fine, if I were to distribute my compiled server library, I would be in breach of the GPL.

Therefore, the long and the short of it is that my only option is to distribute my code and the GNU Scientific Library on their own, and let you, the user, actually compile it. To that end, here is an archive containing my code plus the GSL code, in a directory structure that will let it fit right into a fresh download of the Source SDK, plus instructions for getting it up and running:
http://www.vigovproductions.net/simsource.tar.gz
It is currently designed to compile only on GNU/Linux. A Windows version will be made in the coming days.

Here is a game directory to put in your SteamApps/SourceMods folder:
http://www.vigovproductions.net/simulator_mod.tar.gz
Once you put it there, don’t forget that you need to add in a bin folder, with the libraries compiled from the source code. They can be found in “sp/game/mod_episodic/bin” and “sp/game/vigov_simulator/bin”, under the Source SDK directory structure.

I apologise for not being able to release a compiled game. In order to do so, I would need to either pick a different game engine or a different mathematical library (or write the code myself…). I may do one of those in the future.

My return to the blogosphere

The time has come for me to return to this blog and explain my absence for the last few months. I was spending a lot of time working on a project for a prestigious science and technology exhibition. As such, between that and school work, I had basically no time to blog, or upload anything more than trivial logo videos to my YouTube channel.
Well, the project is now “finished”, and a selection of the fruits of my labour has been uploaded to YouTube.

The files for this game/tool will be uploaded to this site in a few days’ time, when I have had a chance to sort through them.

Here are some of the things I could have mentioned had I been actively blogging:

  • The change in Saorview frequencies, and how it left everyone with eight extra dud channels in their EPG.
  • The introduction of RTÉ One HD, and the stretching of classic programmes that came therewith.
  • The court cases involving the NSA.
  • Halloween
  • Christmas
  • The New Year

So what’s on the cards now? Well, apart from school, there’s:

  • Sony Pictures Television History Mark IV – I know, when does it stop, right? Well, significant info has been discovered since Mark III was made. Hopefully I can reuse lots of animation from previous videos – the thought of starting from scratch really doesn’t appeal to me!
  • Updates to the spreadsheet-based corporate timelines published on this site.
  • That new Aperture Ireland release I promised but never delivered. Speaking of which, I wonder if Valve will ever get around to porting Portal 2 to GNU/Linux…

Post-release development activity on Aperture Ireland

Just a note to say that advanced chambers are now being developed for our Portal 2 mod Aperture Ireland. A patch has also been released to allow installation with the SteamPipe version of Portal 1. Please read the full post on ModDB for more information.

On the political side of things, Continue reading “Post-release development activity on Aperture Ireland”

How to destroy a Universal logo

There are a few ways of using animation tricks to “destroy” the 2013 logo of Universal Studios (or a Blender remake of it, at least).

Here it is, Warner Bros. Animation style:

…And Mozilla style (which is kind of related, since, you know, Mozilla started off inside Netscape, which was an [AOL] Time Warner company for many years):

Got any more ideas? I’ve released the BLEND file for the Universal remake, so, if you have Blender, go nuts with it! It’s released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported Licence.

Half-Life 2 comes to SteamPipe! PLUS: a note on nuclear physics

Well, wasn’t I pleased to see Half-Life 2 and its episodes show up in Beta form on my “Linux Games” list? From now on, I need never boot up Windows again! Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration, I’ll still need it for coding games and playing Portal 2 for the moment, but anyway! Portal 2 definitely can’t be far off now!

I’m not sure if this means that the HL2 games are now on a newer engine version, and if so whether that means more or fewer bugs. I’m not going to test it straight away.

Also, for those who have not yet checked them out, I have decided to post my YouTube videos on nuclear physics right here:


They cover protons, neutrons and the nuclei of the first three isotopes of hydrogen.