Disclaimer: Warning the first half of this blog contains much technical ranting as I was in a seriously bad mood over the last few days over some technical problems that occured - Click here to avoid
This is somewhat different from my usual blogs thus far where I usually try and play catch up on the blogs I should have written as I was doing the stuff. I have been doing alot of backend stuff as lead dev for a Development Group and soon to begin on unannounced mod as of late. My time being already pretty limited and outstretched by college as is I grasp every opportunity to procrastinate and write these blogs. So why is this any different from the others I have posted?
Well last night I noticed that one of the forum apps wasn't functioning. I traced down the problem to the php not writing the necessary script. This was fine as I assumed that it was down to an admin had inadvertently been playing with the setting and either switched the access from being public to admin or vice versa and so the app stopped working. It seemed like it should be an easy fix and if nothing else I would uninstall and re-install. I was still a bit perplexed as to why this had happened in the first place as it was highly unlikely that any of the other admins had touched anything nor had I done any recent installs or modifications to the system. I just chalked it down to the fact of things happen. I set about trying to re-install but after various failed efforts I decided that perhaps the API of the external service provider had changed and that I may need a updated version. It being three o'clock in the morning I was decided that I needed sleep.
Having left my laptop to power down and was about to hop into bed I forgot that I hadn't checked to see what ungodly hour of the morning I was in college for. My usual phrase of "its way too early in the afternoon to be awake" should give some indication of the random sleeping patterns. Trudging back downstairs I booted up the netbook and loaded up the interwebbs. I had a number of tabs still open and one was the forum. It was displaying a lovely 503 error for the front end. I thought it was just my netbook but going around the room to the others still awake 4 other laptops decided that they too were giving the same error. Since I could still access the backend I presumed it was just another symptom and that maybe it was a problem with the forum and not the app after all. I was way too tired to play ball with it so off to bed I went.
Waking up a few hours later I noticed there had been a nice stream of emails from everyone telling me there were problems, lots of problems. I had college to get to and so was pre-occupied it wouldn't be until a few hours later that I would get back to checking out the problem. By the time I go back it was after work hours so I sent an email off to tech support. I had to wait until the next day before a response so it was a good opportunity to get some sleep for a change. It appeared from my end that my hosts webserver has gone down so there was little I can do with it until the help desk technician realises the problem isn't on his list of stupid questions. I know he has to ask those questions when you start a help call, though when explain that it isn't anything to do with it he still has to go through them none the less. He should probably escalate it. I'm sure I caused the problem in the first place and like wise my own response time of sending email is questionable but when he is blaming the problem on an index.html as the problem I question competency.
Its a bit annoying when you know more than the support guy but I suppose he is only doing her job so I should give him a break. While he does his thing I have been rapidly FTPing all the content to ensure I don't lose anything and yes the other servers works, and doing sql dumps as we speak. So after numerous back and forth emails they decided to restart the server application pool and low and behold everything started to work again. Those evil server gremlins magically gone. So now just need to replace some apps and everything will be like nothing had ever gone wrong. So I'm feeling alot better now and think that I over the situation already so should probably go and do some work.
After all that It then appears that the initial problem had nothing to do with the hosting service so back to the drawing board on that but i'm glad to have the server stable again. I tracked it down to a php function not working for reasons beyond me and echoing anything fixed it. I ended up writing a custom version of the app, even after my house mate, an experienced PHP user was left him more confused. It really was a TECHNOLOGY HATES ME week.
As I finished that rant I noticed the title of this blog was originally going to talk about had Chocobos so I really cant' leave them out. So back to the not so modern times and my development cycle of doing something and subsequently getting distracted by side projects I ended up creating Chocobos. At this stage I had developed the dynamic lighting as far as it could go, the train had progressed nicely but was still such a large project that I didn't want to take back on full-time. I wanted something interesting and new that nobody hadn't tried before. Lets face Chocobos are awesome. They have been the stable diet of the Final fantasy series and are probably one of my favourite reoccurring creatures. But I not need to figure out how I was going to do this.
My original idea was to have some form of gambling office, where the players could bet on various races and as I quickly came to realise on the forums the community hadn't the resources to implement every random idea that gets thrown about.Sometimes though with a plan you just need to start somewhere and see where it leads. So I decided that getting a working Chocobo in-game would at least be major set in terms of overall progress. My first thought was to just up and replace a skin on a base creature.
So I googled lots of images and searched everywhere for things that would be useful to start the process. I found a reference chocobo by a member who had been around a year or two before me but had since then moved on. You might know of for his famous Final Fantasy Mod collection for Oblivion called Lord Mad Dog. I dropped him an email in any case to see about using his stuff for reference and thankfully got a reply for use of his stuff as he was no longer developing it. Happy days. I then set about creating my own version and think that I did quite well. It is still very much a work in progress but looks good none the less. I am quite happy with how this turned out at this stage. All this ranting has tired me out so I shall leave you with this.