I’m sorry, I get this way when I stay up late.  (ie, when I wrote most of this)

Anywho, admidst much late-night debugging I’ve managed to get the code to what appears to be a functional state.  What you see above is the extent of my testing.  That is to say, I haven’t tested extensively, so there may be some bugs, but I wanted to get this out tonight soon as promised.  I’m dubbing this version 0.3.0 — it’s not a spectacular change from the last, it’s not sporting tons of new features and fixed bugs, but it does represent a different direction for the project.  I’m interested to see what comes of this and what sorts of worlds arise.  I’m happy that some other folks will get to experience the strange brew of emotions as little worlds grow in the dusty old desktops they appoint as server-boxes.

If you missed the last post, this version of Infinite Blank is hosted by YOU GUYS, so some folks will need to set up servers and announce them online before anyone can play.  I’ve set up a new board in the forums for that, with instructions on putting a server together.

>> Infinite Blank forums :: Servers <<


0.3.0 for Windows
0.3.0 for Mac OS X 10.6+ (intel)  –  This *might* work on Leopard too.
Linux/Unix users, try WINE for now; I hear IB emulates well.

As with 0.2.9, teleporting and avatars are broken.  Expect fixes for those in 0.3.1.  (there’s a workaround for teleports, but if you use it they’ll end up shared between all the servers.)  Also in 0.3.1, or perhaps 0.3.2, will be a lobby system that servers can register themselves with, which will make finding and connecting to servers much more straightforward.  I’m getting some help from my friend Adam Reineke with the back end of that.

0.3.1 release tentatively scheduled for next weekend.

Report any other bugs you find in the forums.

Have fun.  I’m excited to see what you guys create.

5:27 AM

Okay, bear with me here.  I finished the update, and the client and server appear to work.  (!)  I’m hung up on the Mac build and it’s really late.  I’m going to get some sanity sleep and push the update out tomorrow.

The Next Step

This project has been in a sorry state for some time.  That’s changing.

I’ve made a decision.  Upon the next release of Infinite Blank, the server software will be distributed and the game will launch without a central server.  The reasons for this:

  • I’m having a lot of trouble finding a way to host a central server right now.
  • I can’t commit the time to moderate worlds with my current obligations.
  • It will allow players to experiment with the game in some new ways.
  • It’s in the spirit of the game, I’ve realized.  Anyone can host.

The central server will return in the future, but it may be a while.  I apologize to those who have been promised private/public hosted worlds in this version, but at this point Infinite Blank needs to avert complete failure.  (On the upside, I finally have the tech to make renderings for the prints!)

I’ll need to make some changes to the client and a small database interface to allow players to find servers.  If I can swing it, I’d like to get avatars working again, too.  Because I’m working on a team project and contract work right now, I can’t say how long this will take.

For now, I’ll tell you about an interesting trick.  You’ll need a wifi network, two or more machines that can play the game, and an equivalent number of humans.

  1. Download the latest version of Infinite Blank onto the computers.
  2. Choose one to be the server.  (Anything more powerful than a netbook, with some free hard drive space, should do.)
    Open a copy of the game on that machine, and press control -0 at the menu.  Now it’s a server!  (Yes, you could do this all along.)
  3. On the SAME machine, open the game again.  (You can use the same copy.)  Press control-1 at the menu and it will connect to itself.
  4. This part’s a little buggy.  You’ll fall through empty space if I recall right.  When you fall across the border, choose NOT to edit.  You’ll bounce back and be asked again whether you want to edit.  This time, accept.
  5. Draw the first cell!  Players spawn at the center.  If you’re really mean, you could box it in, but don’t expect it to go over well.
  6. After you save, have your friends boot up their copies of the game, pressing control-3 at the menu screen.
    (if this fails, have them make sure they’re on the same LAN)
    For bonus points, stare interestedly at the console output of the server program as they do so.
  7. Proceed to have an Infinite Blank party.  Consider sharing your results in the forums!
    All your stuff will be saved in the “blank/server” folder tree.  A complete backlog of world history is saved.

I’ll document admin functions and release a tiny patch to allow connecting to remote servers soon.  I might do this faster with some encouragement.

My thanks to those who have prodded with comments and the odd forum post over these last months.

The Status (and some thoughts)

Hey, all.

So Infinite Blank’s on ice again, for the longest time yet in its short history.  I still see evidence that people come to check on the game now and again, so I ought to explain the status.

A month and a half ago, I moved away from my birthplace in Iowa to Los Angeles, California, to go into business with a friend and collaborator of many years, Beau Blyth.  Together we’re working on a nifty little multiplayer game for handheld devices.  Around a month or two ago, the server (Blankcube) powered off and, distracted as I am, I didn’t take notice for a while.  As it turns out, its spot back at my university wasn’t available any more.  So I’ve had a friend pick it up and I’ll be thinking about how I can get it back on a half-decent connection.

In the meantime I’ve had an increasing itch to get back to work on Infinite Blank despite my somewhat busy schedule.  One plus is it shares a codebase with Plaid Notion’s project, so there could be some technical crossover.  Still, I’m doing contract work to feed myself, and juggling three projects might not be a great idea.  MMOs don’t make good side projects.

Yet I’ve had so many ideas bumping around in my head for the Blank.  An important (and painfully complicated) algorithm that might fix the brokenness of the painting tool is in a state of semi-completion, and other technical features I’ve added to my engine promise to speed future development.  I’m having ideas for solving the “loneliness” of playing and making the community aspect of the game exist IN the game, and not just in disused forums.

This project is special to me.  Not because it’s my most “successful” in terms of the number of people who have tried it and the recognition received, nor because I’m happy with its progress — it has a long way to go and frankly I don’t think it’s ever been very good to play.

See, I remembered recently the reason I started work on it.  The first month of a lazy summer had gone by, and I hadn’t worked on much of anything for a while.  I started a few little projects, including snatches of music, art and writing, but quit each out of dissatisfaction.  It’s frustrating having a creative mind when so much technical skill (and time!) is needed to make something that can be shared.  It’s frustrating to have an idea bumping around in your head and not have the skills you need to get it out.  (See “why?” for some thoughts on how the internet makes life hard for novice artists)

Then I remembered an old idea for a collaborative drawing game, and it gradually dawned on me that it could be an answer to that.  Infinite Blank wouldn’t rate creations based on technical skill.  It would encourage people to take those vivid ideas filling their heads, and represent them with whatever ability they have.  It would help people to represent their ideas well even if they weren’t great artists.  And it would help them learn.

Other games I work on because they’re the sorts of things I want to play.  Infinite Blank is a game I’m making because I want it to exist, as a remedy to the depression I felt that summer — wanting to share an idea but failing to make it into something sharable.

The very same creative frustration has held the project back more than once.  This lull is not over, and will probably not be the last.  But I hope to have the resolve to see this vision through, one way or another.  It needs to exist.

My sincere thanks go to those whose encouragement has kept me going so far.  That includes you, for reading.

Over and out–

An Excess of Moderation

Hey again.

Today happens to be another anniversary for Infinite Blank:  the first release was one year ago.  Fancy that.

Anyway, I’ve battled off the hordes of evil robots infecting the forums.  No longer will we be subjected to ads for hair removal, easy bake ovens, and yet more sinister things!  (Actually, there are a few sleepers still, but they’ll be taken care of as they appear.)  There’s a chance I might have deleted a legitimate account or two, but I was careful and do not believe that to be the case.

In celebration of our victory over the cyborg army, and in keeping with its purpose, I’m opening a topic in the forums for anyone who wants to throw ideas around for a cleanup system inside Infinite Blank itself, and the sorts of challenges it would face.  I wrote a rundown of systems that have been proposed so far and some new ones.  The ideology and guidelines behind the system are also up for discussion.

>> To the forums, if you dare… <<

To the casual reader:  don’t expect the forums to be too active until I can get off my butt and release a good, solid update.  Regarding development, I’m going to try to find a way to allocate a small but regular allowance of time to Blank development amidst the contract work and super-secret commercial project I’ll be working on this summer.

Thanks for reading–

  • (Server's down)
  • Infinite Blank explained