1. Introduction (Clarion & A Game Database)

A Computer Game is Business Software.

A Computer Game is a system provided for the solving of a problem and the filling of a need.

Okay. It’s pretty obvious, so I’m not trying to be clever with those statements. Simple and clear.

However, most Computer Games are as far from Business Software as you can get staring into this rectangular magic looking glass view .. thingy.

Business Software has an interface which is very close to the database. Sure, we move from exact data representation on a form to transforming the data into a better User experience .. Browses and Tabs and Drop Down Lists are just the beginning. You’ve got Task Panels and Drag’N’Drop. You’ve got twenty billion Google Engineers slaving away on ease of Business Interface.

But it’s still close to the Database. And that’s fine.

The Game Interface is about as far away from the database as we can manage today.

Let’s backtrack a bit. The year is .. whatever year it was Bard’s Tale came out (1985). You had a couple of Window Frames, one being the main interface into the world. It was decidedly square. Of course, you had bit-pictures of monsters and blacksmiths which enabled our brains to imagine.

But still, it was a game. You couldn’t mistake it for an application which drove your boss’s Turbine Engine Simulation for Aeronautical Nerds.

Please substitute a bunch of games in here that expanded the Gaming Interface. Wolfenstein. Doom. Quake. Half-Life.

I’m going RPG here. It’s not a technical history article. It’s a opinion article based on the point I’m trying to get across.

Then along came Diablo (1997), and the interface jumped away. No longer was it NetHack and Angband with ascii characters. This was pure awesome. It transported things far beyond the business computer screen. Into a fantastical place where swords and scrolls dropped from scaly creatures whom you had just slain with spells of lightning and fire, with weapons of chaos and mayhem.

More games come every year which give us further .. Abstraction Reality, and less Actual Reality. Morrowind and then Oblivion for the RPG people. Let’s not forget the Bioware epics. Also a little game called Half-Life 2. And have you played WoW with some of the powerful and amazing UI Mods? Etc etc, blah blah blah. You’ve already thought of ten or twenty or a hundred other games.

Abstraction Reality is Developers giving us what we see, which is not what is. As we know, behind the evolving of the Game Interface are ones and zeros. Data. Tables and Structures and .. well, the stuff of true magic :). This is the Actual Reality.

From a Database-Modelling-Developer-Application-Person point of view, what separates the Computer Game from the Business Sofware is ..

.. Interaction with the Database. In a Game, the User has much less interaction with and effect on the Database. It is the Engine which manipulates the data. To varying degrees, obviously. And there are Business programs which wouldn’t be so far removed.

What I’m getting at here is that when you sit down to create a piece of Accounting Software, you think in terms of Data and User Interface. In a Game, it’s about Data, User Interface, and the Engine.

Data. User Interface. The Engine.

So what’s this post doing on a Clarion blog? Good question! I’m so glad you asked.

I’m going to set about creating a Backend Administration System for a simple RPG Database.

The Database is not going to be perfect. In fact, it will purposely leave big chunks of what actually should be in a Game Database out.

Plus, you have to leave room for my stupidity.

In the next post in this series, we’ll take a look at the RPG Database and deconstruct it a little. The third post will then go through in screenshots how we create the Clarion Dictionary (the place where all the Table references are kept). The fourth post will screenshot through the process of making the Application itself. And the last post will probably be a movie of it all. Maybe.

Pimp Monkey

Adam has a quick post up about the possibility of running two firefoxes (over on his blog, CodeMonkey) .. AND of a little piece of smiley software that installs for a bunch of messengers/browsers. It screamed CRAZY CRAZY too me, but I crumbled under the pressure of the peers (or peer in this case) and installed.

Anyway, I do have a dev post drafted .. just need to finish it soon. Apologies for the great long downtime.

Not to give away the new post, but I have one excuse. Fear Oblivion, for it will consume thy time. Walking to work this morning, I actually thought about pulling out my blizzard bow and taking pot shots. Bad. On so many levels.

More later.

Some Kind of Infinity

Sometimes it would be nice to own the Tardis. Or even Professor Farnsworth’s Smelloscope. Something out of the ordinary.

But then, you get plenty of chaos in life as it is. Just you’d like it to be fun ‘tv’ adventerous chaos .. which rarely steps into the boundaries of reality.

Currently, I’d really like to be granted, no holes barred, from some source, preferably kept under great secrecy, one million dollars.

I’m not reaching for the stars .. it’s not that much to some people.

It’s been a while since posting. I’ve been busy with work and side-projects .. have just finished up the first version of my project/task management web-services system. I’ll put it up here, pimp it on the clarion newsgroups. Get some feedback.

Am just examining my options of what to undertake next. It would be nice to take some time off, Oblivion has been released, and the drool is hanging off my mouth as we speak. But it’s not really an option at the moment.

I’m really thinking hard of ways to achieve some supplemental income. I’d like to get some experience with proper contracting. Small jobs, get in, do the work, get out. That sort of thing. It’s proving a little harder to do that than anticipated.

At the moment, the web scene is in flux. In my opinion that is. There are plenty of web jobs going for work that hasn’t caught up with the fact that the lines are blurring very fast between desktop and web. It’s a brave and bold new world. I’d like to be a part of that. The problem with doing the little side-projects I love is that they don’t bring in any cash. Of course, if I were more entrepenuerial (spl) I’d have figured out some kind of method to bring in said cash. But so far, I haven’t.

Of course, it’s possible that just around the bend something will break open.

I’m going to end this rambling post before it goes into negative coherency. I’m not my normal bubbly self. And this is not the normal Dev Dawn post.

‘Nuff Said.