Personal

Whales, Beavers and Snakes (Oh My!)

My family is visiting me here in Boston, and over the Independence Day weekend we toured Western Massachusetts for a few days. I captured some interesting photos. Having finally convinced myself to purchase some nice lenses for my SLR, I am particularly pleased with this haul.

Humpback Whale

Miscellanea

Here's a quick summary of interesting things from the past few months that I haven't blogged. Unfortunately I can't give each topic the time it deserves, but I think that's better than not mentioning them at all.

GHOP Results

The Google Highly Open Participation contest finished, and was a great success, with 40 completed tasks, a great improvement over my earlier post. Of particular note was the huge number of rules implemented for Gendarme. I'd like to thank all of our successful students and their mentors, and congratulations to Dan Abramov, our Grand Prize winner. I'd also like to single out Andreas Noever, another absolutely stellar student who very narrowly missed out on the top spot.

Novell Hack Week

During Novell Hack Week I worked on an automatic error reporting system that I intend to use in MonoDevelop at some point. I got rather hung up on collecting as much system and process information as I could, so it unfortunately wasn't completed.

However, I did have fun "architecting" a client/server/webserver data channel, which I planned to re-use for several other purposes: reporting problems' solutions back to the user, and collecting application usage data. Now that I've seen how useful such data can be, in Jensen Harris's awesome presentation on how the Microsoft Office ribbon was developed, I'm particularly interested in having something similar in MonoDevelop.

Game Developer's Conference

Towards the end of February some of us on the Mono team went to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to promote Mono as a game scripting engine, and find out what games developers need to make this work for them. All in all it was great fun, and very successful. Miguel has a longer writeup.

I would be interested to find out what we could do to make Mono more attractive for gaming, both for embedding as a scripting engine, and as a portable runtime, and how this could be supported by MonoDevelop. One of the real strengths of Mono is the development tools, and I would like MonoDevelop to become part of the gaming development ecosystem. One suggestion would be an "Axiom Studio" addin for MonoDevelop as an alternative to XNA.

MonoDevelop 1.0 Release

After years of development, we released MonoDevelop 1.0 alongside Mono 1.9, and work is already well underway on the next release. I'm already working on ASP.NET code completion, which is coming along quite nicely. I've also updated and integrated Matt Ward's XML Editor into MonoDevelop trunk.

Google Summer of Code

MonoDevelop is once again taking part in the Google Summer of Code under Mono's umbrella. I really enjoyed mentoring Marcos last year, and I'm looking forward to doing some mentoring this year.

Visit to the UK

These past couple of weeks I was in the UK visiting family and friends. it was nice to see people again after 5 months in another continent!

Joined Novell, and moving to Boston

I apologise for not having updated my blog more often. Things have been quite hectic recently...

Spellsword adventurers

According to the RPG Class Test, I'm a spellsword. Unsurprisingly, this is the character type that I always like to play. However, this isn't because I'm playing me, but because I consider it to the the most sensible mixture of skills for a good self-sufficient adventurer.

RPGs usually involve killing lots of things, and you'd have to be an idiot not to have close combat skills in case an enemy gets too close, so a warrior class is a good basis. Going for a character with some intelligence, they'd probably pick a sword or dagger as the most refined of the melee weapons. Given the opportunity, it would be a good idea to pick up a few utility spells to give light, open boxes, teleport back to towns and so on. Given these basic parameters, you're going to end up with a spellsword. That said, a rogue or ranger would also make a good stealth adventurer.

Oddly enough, it's often not easy to play a spellsword character, as RPGs tend to reward characters for emphasising a single class or those multiclasses where the skills directly reinforce each other. This is most obvious in RPGs with large parties, where the party has a mixture of skills, but individuals can contribute most strongly if they focus on a narrow field. In single classes, skills seem to increase at a linear rate, and this mechanic escalates battles to an unbelievably epic level.

I think that it would make much more sense that everyone could easily pick up the basics of sword-fighting and casting simple magical cantrips, and get reaching higher skill levels would become exponentially harder. I don't see why attributes are so often quantised either; surely this is a relic of old pen-and-paper RPGs. Sometimes I'll post my more detailed thoughts on the direction that I believe RPG skill systems should be taking (hint: it's closer to Oblivion than Neverwinter Nights).

Hiro's photos

My friend Hiro Mori has just put up a load of photos on Flickr. He's studying photography at university, and works a lot with film. There are a lot of very good photos, especially among the ones from Cuba.

Theo's Website

My friend Theo Currie has a website with some pretty cool photos.

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