Dev Blog - How to build a holodeck, week ten

This week has been a slow one. Apologies for the late post!

Whatcha been doing?

I’ve spent about half the week refactoring my existing prototype code such that I can have more than one prototype easily share some of the core code I’ve written over the last few weeks. There’s still a load more effort here if I want to reuse the UI (gaze tracking, head gestures, etc) without bringing over a copy of all the existing menus, and there’s a lot of work to be done with general flow control in the app (startup ordering, which systems should be active, that sort of thing).

Creating prototypes from scratch is awesome fun - there’s no legacy codebase there to deal with, there’s no restrictions in place - whatever you need, you just write it, steal it or copy it.

Once you’ve got a codebase that’s working, the temptation is to keep adding to it. I’ve seen this happen in commercial settings where the end result is the conclusion of many people actively jamming new code into an ever more messy codebase, and in my previous roles actively avoiding this (and architecting ways to mitigate the issues) was a key part of my role.

It’s been really liberating to spend a couple of months just avoiding even thinking about this, but the time has come to start splitting up the existing mess I’ve got in my environment scanning prototype and pull out some of the useful code into separate parts. I can’t avoid it any more - I have to spent time thinking and planning around this.

COLLADA exporter

One of the easy parts to pull out is my COLLADA exporter code - that’s now up as a public repo on Bitbucket here:

If you think you might find it useful, clone it and use it. This is my first bit of shared code in recent memory, so feedback is always welcome, even if it’s negative.

What else?

I was intending to make a start on networking - but instead of that, I’ve been messing around with the Vive in Unity. What a wonderful bit of hardware. I’ve made a bit of progress reading button states and tracking the controller pose - I’ve yet to bring this into the main codebase, but there’s still a lot of learning to happen before I attempt that.

It’s also spurred me into thinking about a variety of side projects and games I’d like to look at. I think I may spend a little time in the next few weeks trying out some controller-related concepts, while I get the core networking up and running in prototype 2.

Next week …

Oh, I really don’t know this time. Let’s play it by ear and see what comes up!

Written on May 2, 2016