Status of Moosader projects

Just to barf onto “paper” somewhere…

  • Undead Debt – active development (Fall/Winter 2018)
  • Ghosts – Intern visual novel – to be finished early 2019
  • Dance Competition – on hold
  • Flipside Fairytales: Sleeping Beauty – to be finished early 2019

The internship program is paused for Q4 because of holidays and school! 😛 We will resume in January. In the meantime, I am personally working on a pet project: Undead Debt.

Former students

I care about my students, even after they’re not my students anymore, but so frequently I’m used as a personal tutor once they’re in other classes and I’m just so burnt out. I have such a limited amount of free time, and they don’t understand how much time it takes up for me to be tutoring them or answering questions. But of course, I have a hard time saying no.

Kind Software

The struggle

How can we fight the powers-that-be in our normal, daily lives? What can we little people possibly do when even our one power – voting – is ignored. We call senators and tell them how to represent us, and they ignore us for their own gain.

When our daily lives are monetized for the rich. We use software that costs nothing to us, but we give our data. We are profitable. But these networks are so heavily ingrained in our lives.

I, personally, have used Google Calendar for over a decade to keep my life in order. I use gmail because its spam detection is the best. I sell my apps on the Google Play store because it’s easy and cheap. I use Facebook to keep up with political organizations, family, and friends. LinkedIn. Twitter. And so on.

And I know my daily life is being sucked of value because it brings profit to others. And it makes me sick. But how much of my productivity am I willing to sacrifice for becoming an individual again?

Well…

The sacrifice

We live in a capitalist society, and the main thing that influences our representatives (if you can call them that) is capital. I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling like our government works for the lobbyists and not for me. As individuals, we can’t make our own lobbying group, and we can’t bribe politicians into caring about our lives; we try to tell them the consequences of going against our wishes (“we won’t vote for you”), but that all seems to land on deaf ears.

But, we have some power: We are a product. And we can stop being a product.

We can shift our lives onto non-proprietary platforms that don’t monetize us. We may need to spend a little money to donate to keep a server up-and-running somewhere in a distributed system, or we may need to give up some polish and perhaps some features, and even a chunk of our social network.

Now, I know as a small business owner, and someone who has volunteered for a political campaign, that we can’t just upend this entire aspect of our lives. Social Media can be integral to making a living. But, I’d implore people to begin using alternative systems, and use them as the primary form of communication in our personal lives.

Of all the things you can currently do to fight against a corrupt system, isn’t being slightly inconvenienced by your software one of the easiest things to do?

And it can only get better…

Building and using ethical software

The more energy and time we put into platforms that are ethical – and maybe a bit rough around the edges because of the lack of a paid, dedicated UX team – the better these get. The more people know about it, the more quality of content exists on them, and the more programmers will invest in these technologies. It doesn’t have to be “inconvenient” forever.

If we understand what we’re doing by moving away from these “free-but-you’re-the-product” services, if we make that intentional move and encourage others to do the same, we can make the world a little better. Together, we can send a message that we’re more than just something to extract value from – we can send this message to companies as well as our own government.

These systems in place aren’t helping us, and they’re not taking care of us, so what is the point of these systems?

Let’s construct our own…

Ethical software vs. Open Source vs. Free software

I love FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) from the outside. When I am teaching people how to program, I prefer exposing them to FOSS tools available – anyone can program or make games, and you don’t need much money.

However, FOSS isn’t perfect. If you lift up the surface, you will find a lot of problems. Namely, the communities built around developing the software are known to be toxic.

Our software can’t be ethical if we’re making the developers suffer, or keeping willing participants out.

Just recently, Linux has replaced its “Code of Conflict” for a “Code of Conduct”, and there has been massive backlash – people are threatening to leave development of the system, trying to defend their “right” to be toxic and disrespectful.

Even the father of Free software posted:

“I disapprove of strict codes of conduct. They feel rigid and repressive to me.”

(Pulled from this Reddit thread)

It seems odd to me that a group can be ideological about how software should be Open and/or Free (as in liberty) and yet be against making software Good (as in Kind) as well.

And we can’t just flip these systems from the inside – we are outnumbered. We have to start at the ground floor and build our own movement for what we want to see in the world…

A movement?

And there are groups working towards this – groups like Compassionate Coding with April Wensel, who advocate for caring and kind software development. I would like to go further than this and create a license and a resource website around ethical, kind, compassionate software development. That by, creating a project within this framework, you are committing to having Codes of Conducts, to treating people with respect, to building good software for a good purpose.

And we can start small. We can identify good, ethical, kind software that we can use, and identify what is problematic – even if it is under the umbrella of FOSS. We can build some small utility projects under the new license and release it to the world.

We will need to pull in all sorts of programmers as well. I cannot be “the boss”; I am a queer white nonbinary person, but I cannot offer (nor will I pretend to offer) insight for every view. An ethical coding movement must contain people from many different backgrounds, and it must honor and respect many perspectives. It cannot be centered around just white men/people building software for their own politics, but violently keeping out other people.

I’m going to be thinking about this project, and ask some friends to jump in with me. I hope that there will be interest and buy-in from others as well.

And if there’s already something like this that I’m not aware of (specifically making a “Kind Software” brand instead of just “Open Source” or “Free”), I will signal boost it.

Thanks for reading.


Kind Software homepage (edit)

I went ahead and created this page as a kind of landing page for “Kind Software”. Other people can also make suggestions and edit the page (+ issue a pull request) to add their own ideas. My main idea is that classifying your software as Kind brings along a certain set of expectations; a certain message you’re saying about your work.

https://kindsoftware.bitbucket.io/

Lol I didn’t make it.

“This semester, I’ve begun at UMKC. I’m taking Advanced Software Engineering, which is doable. I can get through this semester and I can work with a small team to build an app. Piece of cake.”

(http://rejcx.moosader.com/2018/09/exhaustion-depression-and-directionlessness/)

Lol nope. I took an incomplete in the course because I was really unhappy with the structure of the course and the quality of instruction, and I ended up complaining to the department chair.

Geeze. I have not yet completed even one semester of a grad class in the past five years. And I generally don’t think of myself as a failure; I know I’m good at problem solving, I know I’m a good programmer. I know I’m at a disadvantage due to working. I know I’m also at a disadvantage because I’ve worked in the industry, and I’ve taught classes, so I have a low tolerance for busywork-for-the-sake-of-busywork and poorly developed classes.

And it’s so frustrating because I could be such an asset to any school, but I cannot be because of the systems in place – whether it’s community college, or even teaching grade-school level (I’d be a kick-ass math teacher or computer teacher). I know there are restrictions to try to keep up the quality of instruction at all levels, so I don’t know what to say – I have experience teaching and the knowledge of the topics, so maybe I should be able to substitute this out in place of the requirement of a master’s degree? At least for high school level? Please?

But really, what I want is to make education accessible for everybody; not just people going to college (though I really love teaching college), and not just for people at a single school. So maybe I should just shift my teaching focus from a concrete classroom back to the internet, where I had originally begun teaching.

I still gotta pay bills though. And a full time software development job is starting to sound really nice, as long as I’m working with people I already know – to cut down on the alienation.

Exhaustion, depression, and directionlessness

Burnt-out Rachel on a laptop, saying

Burnt-out Rachel on a laptop, saying “I don’t have the inspiration to write lecturesssss.”

Maybe if I hadn’t been so over-worked the last two years, I would be willing to stick with it longer. But, working up to 12-hour-days on days I have class, and then spending so much of my time off-campus also at a computer working – prepping, grading, answering questions, etc. – has thoroughly burnt me out.

I mean, I’ve been burnt out for well over a year, but at this point I just don’t want to continue. And it’s only the 3rd week of this semester. I know I’ll have to tough my way through this semester, just like many semesters before it, but I cannot return to this in 2019. I need something else.

But what?


Interviewer:

Interviewer: “So why do you want to work for Boring Co.?”
Rachel: “Because you exist, and you hire C++ developers.”

From software to teaching

I was miserable as a traditional, corporate software developer with traditional, 8-to-5, salaried employment. I hated feeling baby-sat since I had to be at a specific location at a specific time to do my work on a specific machine with specific tools. Hated it hated it hated it!

I hated how pointless it felt, building software that didn’t affect me, or didn’t improve things I really cared about, or were even remotely related to a topic I was even tangentially interested in.

I hated always being underpaid and underappreciated, always feeling different from everybody else, and feeling like a zombie throughout the workday.

When I began teaching (part time), I loved the freedom – I built my own curriculum, on my own machine, using tools I liked. I had to be in the classroom at a certain time, but beyond that, I was simply trusted to get my work done whenever and wherever. My best work is done from home, at my desk with my computer with my music, and not being disturbed by listening to smalltalk from coworkers on the other side of a flimsy wall in an open-office floorplan.

I loved teaching my students, and creating classes that they liked being in, that empowered them. I liked building accessible and welcoming classes, classes that understood that I’m teaching adults and they have their own lives going on, so I’m not going to assign grade based on attendance. Classes where they know that I know that they’re adults, and I treat them as such.


Rachel stands on a cliff and yells out to the world,

Rachel stands on a cliff and yells out to the world, “I’M NOT READY FOR SCHOOL TO BEGIN!!”

Teacher workload

But, over time I got more and more work. First a standard full-time load – four classes. But as the need arose, some semesters I ended up with 5 or 6 classes.

A majority of my work is done outside of the classroom, so it may seem invisible to most people. Again, it’s grading (very time consuming for programs), prepping for the next week’s classes, correcting errors/typos in slides and exercises, answering questions via email and phone, and so on.

If you reuse everything from previous semesters, students may cheat. Some things I can reuse, but I’m also always striving to make things better, so that does require work every semester to improve my slides and exercises and projects and so on.

In an effort to cut down on my grading time, I have been adding unit tests to all the projects and labs in my Data Structures class. Writing a programming assignment can take 2 – 3 days: Building the full program, building a sufficient amount of unit tests, writing the documentation, and bundling it all together.

I try my best to write clearly and give illustrations and diagrams where appropriate, I try to make sure my work is accessible and doesn’t leave students feeling completely lost. I’ve had so many teachers who were disorganized and 90% of the challenge was figuring out wtf they even wanted.


Rachel's in bed and the alarm goes off. Rachel looks disheveled;

Rachel’s in bed and the alarm goes off. Rachel looks disheveled; “Ugh can I not do today, plz??”

Student workload

Additionally, my employment as a teacher at a community college – adjunct or full-time – depends on me actively working towards a Masters degree in Computer Science.

I completed one semester at KU, taking an undergrad class and the orientation class.

The second semester, I dropped the grad-level Machine Learning class within the first month because I didn’t have enough time to complete the time-consuming hand-based computations (things that we should be programming a machine to do, but okay…).

The third semester, I dropped the grad-level Visualizations class within the first month because I bombed the first homework assignment because I also did not have enough time to figure out and work through all the computations and the programming assignment, and the drive to KU is 40 minutes at best, and I had to pay hourly for parking, and with my full-time employment it just was not doable for me.

I dropped out.

This semester, I’ve begun at UMKC. I’m taking Advanced Software Engineering, which is doable. I can get through this semester and I can work with a small team to build an app. Piece of cake. Also, UMKC is 10 minutes away, I went here for my undergrad, I know the campus and some of the faculty, and I’ve even worked here previously as an adjunct.

While the instructor of the class still assumes that the grad students are only students and not working three part-time jobs (teaching, teaching, and running a startup), it’s doable. It’s more accessible. But it’s still frustrating.

And it’s not really what I want.


(In 2002...) College employee:

(In 2002…)
College employee: “You’ve been accepted to community college! What will you major in?”
Rachel: “Oh, uh…” (Didn’t think about it.)
Rachel: “I like computers? So, that?”

Where to go?

I don’t really want another degree in computer science. I’m not really that interested in pure Computer Science theory anymore. Heck, I’m not even that interested in the idea of teaching Computer Science anymore – actually, I’m feeling rather adverse to it at this point.

I’m interested in linguistics. I’m interested in entrepreneurship. I’m not interested in software development for other people/businesses, and I’m not interested in teaching anymore; at least, not until I’ve had a good and thorough break. Maybe again in the future.

Sometimes I think I should go back to doing software development for a bit – it’s good pay, and I’d be able to come home and just veg-the-fuck-out for once. I wouldn’t be able to continue going to school, though. And if I dropped out, I’d be denying myself the option of the “back up career” of teaching. Maybe I’ll want to teach again in another 10 years? Or in my retirement age? So I don’t quite want to deny Future-Rachel that option.

But the idea of going back to work full-time as a software developer feels like a step back. It’s not what I want, and it would continue to steal time away from things that are really important to me, although not very lucrative right now: My startup. Learning about linguistics and languages. Projects revolving around educational games, language preservation, and so on. Volunteering for good causes. Raging against capitalism.

I could do contract work, or part-time software development (if such a thing even exists; it’s super rare if it does.) For a contract job, I’d probably have to find some other people to work with, I wouldn’t want to do it alone, and I probably wouldn’t want to be the one in charge. I’d need a human buffer who can translate human requirements into programming features, because I don’t need that kind of stress in my life right now. I’d probably need a second programmer to help split the work so we’re not over-encumbered by what should be an alternative to the 8-to-5, 40+ hr/week development job.

Or, I can be a contractor at an established company for a short amount of time. Usually, companies dislike my history of working here-and-there for 6 months at a time, but maybe it’s fine for a contractor. At the end of this year, I’ll have been teaching at my community college for 3 years now, so I can stay somewhere as long as I’m happy.

I wouldn’t mind being the “all-tech” person at a small business that doesn’t revolve around software. Like fixing the business’ computers and updating their website and making little utilities to help make life easier. That sounds fun. Some Kansas City small business, hire me as your techie.

But going back full-time just … doesn’t seem right. I don’t think I could even begin to tolerate it. What I’ve wanted to do, since I was 12 years old, is just run my own company. But I also have to pay bills.

Rachel:

Rachel: “This is how I think a business should be run.”
Guy: “Yeah, we do the complete opposite of all of this.”


Rachel is looking at their calendar. Rachel:

Rachel is looking at their calendar.
Rachel: “It’s a miracle! I’m not 100% busy this week!”

Fragmented focus

Here’s what I actually want: Time to build some educational games, and focus on those games. Focus on making them and marketing them. Focus on getting the word out. Focus on maintaining them. Focus on making them a viable product to sell.

And keep working at it. And keep trying. And keep going until I succeed in making some amount of money.

 

But with the way my life is, with having to work full-time, or be going to school, or whatever else, I can’t. I literally cannot, because my focus is so fragmented. I am constantly switching between planning for this class, or that class, or the other, or switching into student-mode and focusing on lectures and doing homework. When I’m home and allow myself a bit of free time alone, I pursue projects I can complete within a day, within a few hours: Drawing, writing a comic, making the odd YouTube video, programming a small experiment or utility, and so on.

We’re all working on visual novels this year, and we’ve been getting them done with our once-a-week meetings. But, I still don’t have time to focus on the marketing, or much of anything. Artwork here and there for the games, getting them published and on a store, and not much else.

We stop working for weeks at a time because we’re all so busy. And even when I neglect the things I want to be doing, I’m still completely overwhelmed by work. Work work work work work. If I take a Sunday to spend time with friends, the regret hits me the next day as I’m even more overwhelmed and under pressure.

 

I’m tired. I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to build cool things, useful things, educational things, fun things. I want to have a chance to make it work. And I’m so depressed because I still have 14 weeks left of class – the semester has only just begun.

DIALECT: A Game about Language and How it Dies

I love languages, and I love constructed languages.

Years ago, I heard about a Kickstarter for this game: Dialect. I was excited, and so were other Esperantists.

I finally received my physical copy of the game and I was so excited to play it with friends, and seeing the variety of Backdrops provided with the game (four core ones, and several additional ones contributed by others) inspired me to start thinking about how an “Isolation” is formed, and what counts as an “Isolation”.

I can’t find a lot of information about the game elseware online, but I hope popularity for it blows up. I would really like to read about other peoples’ stories and languages they develop through the game.

In the meantime, I’ve created a BitBucket repository with a template “Backdrop” page, and some custom backdrops I made, inspired by stories that I like, or games my friends and I used to play as kids. Feel free to print and use them however.

https://bitbucket.org/rejcx/dialect-extra-backdrops/src/master/

Right to religion

People have a right to practice their religion.

I generally see religion as a good thing, and I feel like any accusations that “this religion causes this!” or “that religion causes that!” is just scapegoating something that does bring happiness, value, community, and support to peoples’ lives.

Religion isn’t what causes Bad Things. Humans, abuse of power, greed, etc. cause Bad Things. You can abuse power in the name of anything.

Investigate your personal biases, especially now this day in age. Do you find yourself feeling negative toward certain people or groups? Why? Investigate that part of yourself.

Are you afraid of Islam? Why? How much do you know about that religion? How many Muslims do you know? You can’t rely on what YouTube atheist bros say about peoples’ religions, you need to learn about what the religion means to the people who practice it.

Most of your everyday regular people just want to thrive, have friends and family nearby, and take care of each other – regardless of their religion or lack of religion.

And there are plenty of free resources for learning about all religions online. Maybe learn a bit about each religion so they become less “unknown”, less “scary”, less “weird”.

I’m not religious, but I respect other peoples’ beliefs. I compare it to… I’m not married to you spouse, but I BELIEVE in the love you have for your spouse. I don’t have to marry your spouse to respect that. ;P

Right to choose, right to family planning

People have a right to birth control – you may not use it, but other people have a right to use it.

People have a right to choose to have an abortion – you may not have one, but you don’t know every scenario that happens and you cannot make that choice for somebody else.

People have a right to fall in love with and marry whomever they want in a consensual adult relationship – you may not want to marry someone of the same sex but other people have a right to.

In the near future the supreme court will be able to overturn rulings that have given people rights. They’re going to try to control peoples’ reproductive rights more and more. Women aren’t just here to be incubators for seeds, women are full human beings and have a right to make their own choices. We need to protect everybody. Stay on your toes.

I miss Fin ‘N’ Kit

Where I was, job-wise

Back in 2012 I quit my job as a software developer and decided to go back to school and use this chance to try to make and publish games. I was so sick of working in the basement in a 6’x6’x6′ cubicle (in retrospect, I was lucky to have a cubicle!) and I was incredibly depressed. All things considered, it was a good job – I look back on it as the best place I’ve worked as a programmer, but back then I was waking up and panicking because I did not want to go into work.

I did go back to school – one semester at one place, and one semester at another place, different degrees each time, neither of them a good fit, but I still had to pay for those classes so I had racked up more student loans.

I’m trying to look at my LinkedIn to put the pieces in place, because I don’t remember exactly when I ended up being unemployed for an extended period of time. I had part-time jobs at an office store and at a music store, but those paid nothing. Anyway, it looks like the original Fin ‘N’ Kit was published in 2014, so around then – I finally went back to work as a software developer around May 2014 because school is expensive and I needed money.

So somewhere in 2014, I had no job on purpose, because I wanted to try to start making and publishing games. While at my previous job, I had always been day-dreaming ideas for all these great things I could make if I just had the time and the energy. Was depressed, quit job.

Taking the plunge, unsuccessfully.

At the time, I was fortunate enough to have a boyfriend that I lived with and seemed relatively okay with me only working part-time retail jobs while trying to work on games. There were two projects I worked on during this time – one was a contract game for a client to advertise their brand, but Fin ‘N’ Kit was what I did first.

The old title screen of Fin ‘N’ Kit, back when it was Delfino & Katyuno

It was originally named “Delfino & Katyuno”, which is an Ido language title, but nobody is going to remember how to spell that. Anyway, I was working on Delfino & Katyuno for a while. The gameplay and having a cat/dolphin I thought up in a dream, and it seemed really cute.

Gameplay of Fin ‘N’ Kit for Android

I also wanted to include a level editor so people playing the game could also make their own levels.

The old level editor

(The level editor ended up taking me a majority of the time to make.)

I built the original Fin ‘N’ Kit with Gideros & Lua, as well as that contract game that became Gift Grab. Gideros made it easy to test on mobile and publish on mobile, though trying to figure out how to do certain things with the filesystem was a little difficult. I published a Fin ‘N’ Kit demo for free here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Moosader.DelfinoKatyuno

After the demo was released I began working on the contract project. However, now I was unemployed and stopped seeing my therapist because of the cost. I was depressed at work, I was depressed off work. I did get the project to a complete state, despite feeling useless and lethargic and often crying on the floor, immobilized. But it had been like this for years – it was always a struggle to get myself to move forward. It felt like there was one me, who wanted to get stuff done and felt terrible if they didn’t (the Anxiety-Rach), and the other me, who felt like I was a failure and useless (the Depression-Rach).

So the whole “quit your day job and make games” experiment failed.

And of course I felt bad about that.

Back to work

I went back to work as a software developer for two more companies, from 2014 to 2015, and again, I was so fed up with that world. Every subsequent job I took was worse, and I kept looking back at the job I had before I quit with nostalgia. Sure, I broke down and cried a lot, but at least that place was decent. Oh well.

I had quit my last software development job, and had an interview with a new place. They were going to offer me a salary of $100,000, which would have been my highest salary I had made, but after I informally verbally accepted, I kept breaking down. Again, I was on the floor crying, and I couldn’t quite explain why, but staying in the field felt wrong.

After a few days of this, I told myself: Look, this is my body telling me that this isn’t the right decision. I can’t keep doing this.

So I rejected the job. What else could I do? Working part-time in retail was beans, and I can’t support myself with that (I was with a different boyfriend at this time). Back in 2013, when I was going back to school at UMKC, they had given me the opportunity to be an adjunct there for a couple of semesters. I really enjoyed teaching there, even though it really challenged my shyness and difficulty speaking in public. I had always really enjoyed teaching – my first job was tutoring math at my community college’s math lab. And, being an adjunct, while the cheaper alternative for schools to go with for hiring, was still a better paying job than working part-time at an office supply store.

The CS department at UMKC has always been pretty good to me. I was able to email the chair and ask if I could teach there again, and I got one class. I also ended up meeting another instructor at JCCC through a friend of mine (who was a classmate of mine back at UMKC), and that got my foot in the door for teaching there as well.

In Spring 2016, I was teaching two classes: CS 201R at UMKC, and CS 200 at JCCC.

I also had asked my doctor for antidepressants.

I had also met this cute boy on Tinder…

Rai and Rachel!

Rai and Rachel!

Teaching and gamedev

2016 was the best year of my life in a very long time. I was excited to teach – I loved teaching and making programming assignments and lectures and recording videos. I had also began my relationship with Rai and we hit it off so well, unlike anyone I’ve ever met. I was also on antidepressants, so that probably kept my mind more focused as well.

I was committed to continue working on games while working part-time as an adjunct, and I did manage to do that, even though this was my first semester teaching in a while and I had to prep basically everything. (I’m picky, I think textbook resources are really boring.)

I decided to work on Fin ‘N’ Kit but I didn’t want to use Gideros – I was having a hard time working with the filesystem, and now I had teammates to help me work on levels but the problems with Gideros made it hard to work online and send each other levels. I decided to rewrite the game.

In C++, SDL, and Lua.

Actually I had a lot of fun writing it – though of course I would also get worn out by having to implement everything as well. I split the game into two parts: I worked on the Kuko engine, all the reusable bits common to any game, while simultaneously working on Fin ‘N’ Kit itself. I also used the Lua scripting language, and that’s how levels, language files, menus, and other things are stored. I was so proud of that code. I would go back and refactor as I saw fit because, unlike writing software for someone else, you can freaking choose to take the time to make things better!

The beautiful map editor

Like the first version of the game, I also spent an ungodly amount of time on the map editor itself. My excuse this time was because I needed other people to build levels, too. I kept tweaking the UI and adding features to make it better and better.

A cutscene – Fin says “Hello!” and Kit says “Hi!”

I went with a totally hand-drawn look, and wanted to make it super cute. The main game had still cutscenes you could watch before playing the story-based levels…

The level select screen

I had intended to add several map types – Beach, Swamp, Lava, or something I don’t remember what they were!

“Balmy Beach”, the first world

And I kept polishing it up and updating it to look really nice.

Fin ‘N’ Kit looking really nice

I worked all through the spring semester on this, but I was also feeling weary – my teammates couldn’t work on anything while I was the bottleneck, programming this entire game solo.

And, there was a texture glitch – probably because I used vanilla pointers in the Kuko engine and was manually managing the memory, instead of using smart pointers.

Where did Kit go??

Textures would disappear or be replaced with other items’ textures, and I knew it would take a while to figure out what was going wrong. In the meantime, my teammates didn’t have anything to do. So, for the time being, we put Fin ‘N’ Kit aside.

The client who contracted that game I worked on back with the original Fin ‘N’ Kit had, years before, decided to not publish that game. I was really proud of my work on it, and I thought it would be a waste to just let that code die, so I had ended up paying back the money they paid me so that I could keep the code and republish with new assets, but it had always been sitting around – no time to work on it.

So in autumn of 2016, I was working on new graphics for the game, Tea worked on translations, Jessica worked on marketing and the trailer, and Rebekah helped with testing. We put out Gift Grab: Christmas Quandary together by Thanksgiving.

Depression, revisited

Two weeks from November 1st, 2016, Rai’s employer’s client decided they didn’t need him on-site anymore since they were going through budget cuts. They let him know he would have to return to India in two weeks. We were already living together, but had only been dating for eight months. Those two weeks were so tough, and we weren’t sure what was going to happen to our relationship. He went back on November 1st, and leaving my night class, walking to my car, knowing that he wasn’t there waiting for me was crushing.

Soon after, the election happened. Antidepressants can only combat so much.

For the rest of 2016 and most of 2017 I just got through each week like a zombie. Each workday like the last, just class prep, teaching, grading, repeat. Kabe the cat was there for me in the evenings, and most nights I just laid on the sofa and watched TV after work.

Kabe and me

I did go to protests, I did some volunteering for refugees, I donated money monthly to multiple causes. But I can’t remember much of anything from 2017, except my trip to India to see Rai, meet his parents, and officially get engaged.

Rachel and Rai at his parents’ house after engagement

OK, but what about Fin ‘N’ Kit?

I’m still really proud of that code. I’m also proud of the game and the polishing I did on it. Sometimes, when my students ask about using graphics in C++, I pull down the code and run the game and step through how it all works together (from a high-level overview). Every time I open it up for my students, I remember how much I love that game.

Through 2017 I was working full-time and more-than-full-time, so I didn’t have the energy or the time to work on much in the way of game development. This year, I’m working on focusing! I’m so bad at focusing on one project. But after these visual novels, maybe I’ll work on Fin ‘N’ Kit on the side while everyone else works on their own games. I know writing a game from scratch… IN C++… seems like a weird thing to do, but I really enjoy it. I love so many aspects of game development: The UI design, the art, the animation, the programming, the code design, just putting all of it together!…

…Awwman I want to work on Fin ‘N’ Kit so much!!

Canvas is bad and it should feel bad – March 19 – Quizzes are terrible.

View: Canvas LMS is bad and it should feel bad >>

Quizzes aren’t exactly the most fun thing for students to do, but if they’re done well they can offer the student a way to practice and review topics and see what they’re getting wrong. Generally, I like to give my students multiple tries at a quiz, so that they can get certain ideas down.

Here’s the first problem: The user interface.

Here, I’ve made one quiz question. Notice how terrible the user interface is. How is it this bad? This one quiz question takes up such a large part of my screen. Why is vertical space hogged so much by each element? Why is there so much wasted horizontal space?

Next, I want to add a similar question. However, Canvas does not support duplicating questions. I’m going to have to create a new question, set up the question text and the answers all over again. In this case, the question is brief, so not a big deal. There are only three answers, so not a big deal. It is wasted time, however. It aggregates. It’s annoying. It breaks workflow.

So here, let’s create another problem with the same style. I’ll keep the original question open to reference it (even though it takes up SO MUCH DAMN SPACE), while I work on the new question. But the little widget that lets me upload images and files is gone!

It’s actually just stuck to the top of the page, which is stupid as hell when I get more than a few questions in my quiz. It just sits up there. I have to scroll up to even use it.

Scrolling up to use the damn widget.

Everything about Canvas is terrible. WHY IS IT SO BAD?

Here’s a video of me trying to make a set of randomly-selected questions that are similar: