Last updated 2 months ago
Project Black Gold: NSW Fuel Prices
Last updated 2 months ago

So recently, I got a grant for using the NSW state government's Fuel Pricing data in a relatively small, personal project (you'll be able to access some of the results on this very blog in fact!) - it's just by lucky coincidence that Fuel pricing seems to be the talk of the town at present. The goal of the project is simple; "Historical fuel price tracking across NSW, Australia. And to provide a service to find the lowest price fuel nearest to a user."

It's little more than just some hobby tracking project - using a dynamically updating data set, there's just an added benefit that it'd let me save some money hopefully :)

Last updated 3 months ago
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Last updated 3 months ago


So, as of tonight I managed to complete Shadow of the Tomb Raider (just going to call this Shadow from now on for this article). I was a huge fan of this most recent Tomb Raider reboot, and happily played through the first two instalments of this trilogy (Tomb Raider, and Rise of the Tomb Raider). They detail, tombs being raided, and artefacts being 'restored' notwithstanding - the character growth and development of Lara Croft.

I have to say that I'm both a tad relieved I got to see the conclusion of the trilogy (perhaps not of this Lara's tale though) but also slightly disappointed at the way the story was told, the writing it had and the overall gameplay. In terms of gameplay, I was a little bit more forgiving, it's the third game in the trilogy, they were pretty much stuck with the whole same-same-but-different play on things; and quite literally it was a lot more of the action which did make the first two games a hit. There were a lot less QTEs which was great; but I found the game super buggy, and almost every time I died, it was because of the camera-angle-meets-movement-to-a-random-tangent syndrome.

What got me was the writing and the story. Shadow is very evidently, a game of forced passion. From the very beginning, you can tell the team starts out strong with some production values, which seem to peter out and it's as though they ran out of steam at the 90% mark. There's some incredible attention to detail displayed in the game's language settings - NPCs can speak their native languages, the subtitles are nicely coloured and even with multiple characters speaking I never lost track of who was talking. Animations for the most part were good, but Rise of the Tomb Raider's animations seemed to be so much better than this game's - Lara's facial expressions, the overall polish of it, felt much nicer than Shadow's efforts.

Environments, truly they were stunning, but adding in glitchy movement, with a camera I had to fight with on a few occasions - only a few, but they were memorable (probably due to rarity, but just frequent enough to be in recent memory) - as well as a confusing underwater enemy element at times due to their glitchy animations - I found myself dreading having to deal with water parts of the game.

I find myself constantly saying that there's great things... but etc. And the negatives are almost on par with the positives. This game is still a worthwhile play for anyone invested in the story or whom completing a storyline is quite important. But I can't find myself recommending people play this game over the other titles in this reboot. You can see that there's so much promise there in the game, with the way certain things are told, how key plot points are revealed and the way the characters interact. But... they just left them. You can see the gleam of a fantastic game underneath the muddy, crappy covering that Square Enix has somehow managed to leave coated all over the game.

I love the effort that has been put into the game. Single player games with big stories, and production values are a dying breed. It's clear though, that even more effort than the (most likely outrageously) big budget this game had could provide. There were all these changes I saw along the way that I thought could have made this game superb, but knowing a little about the coding side of things, I can imagine it would've been pain staking to fix, and difficult to catch from a developer's perspective.

I find myself constantly saying that there's great things... but

I want to say this is a great game, but sadly I can't. Perhaps, the campy writing was an excerpt from their dev blog (see the line in the opening picture at the top).

6/10 from me. Get it on sale, if you've got the other games.

Last updated 3 months ago
Microsoft VSTS + Visual Studio Code
Last updated 3 months ago

I've always been tinkering around with Gitlab, GOGS, and other various services like Github, Bitbucket, etc. to try and store my code in some place that's not as fallible as the personal servers and storage I keep around. I've recently stumbled across Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) which seems to be an outstanding offering from Microsoft (I already use their free Visual Studio Code editor, which does a stunning job as my editor of choice)

It's pretty cool so far, and I've started moving across some of my GOGS hosted repos to it, so that I have less reliance on my own paid services; it's cost-saving for me, and VSTS actually has a really nice deployment/testing Pipeline creation tool. It's nearly entirely drag and drop, and save for a few little bugs, it works perfectly for my personal needs.

Just for my future reference, when running SSH CLI commands, I need to disable fail on STDERR as git will write to the STDERR for any git results, meaning it'd make the build fail; which we don't want! for a few little bugs, it works perfectly for my personal needs.

Secondly, I think I've also settled on using VIsual Studio Code as my pseudo-IDE of choice. It has quite an expansive toolset that I can bolt onto it that really lets me control and do actions for nearly everything. For it to qualify as a full-blown IDE would mean the integration of a browser window so I never have to leave it.

I've been using Visual Studio Code as my editor of preference for the past 6 months or so at my current workplace; and I've grown accustomed to it, even if some people consider it a bit slower than other editors, or slightly less functional than an IDE. So far, it has met my everyday needs, and I think I'm fairly comfortable in saying that it is my tool of choice for development.

The combination of these tools, now means that I've got a development process available to me which does away with the extra resource usage of hosting my own code repositories; and allows me to build smooth, integrated pipelines that'll deploy my projects as needed.

They all roughly follow:

  1. Create a project;
  2. Master, Release, Develop, Feature and Hotfix branches as per Gitflow
  3. As each Pull Request merges into Master;
  4. SSH into servers using Private Key
  5. cd /to/deployed/production/folder and git fetch && git reset --hard origin/master

Some notes:

I'd execute any particular unit tests as required, in between steps 3 and 4. And I am aware that following Gitflow for a single developer project is probably overkill, but it's a practice I like to keep familiar with, as I use it every day in my day-to-day job where there's more than just myself developing code on a project.