Friday, January 17, 2014

The problem with physics

    I admit that I have a love/hate relationship with physics in general.  It was always one of the most challenging subjects for me in school and software development.  Like math, physics is a subject that you forget if you don't use the equations or logical thinking on a regular basis.  This makes it challenging to just throw together an idea in your head into a program without pulling out the old books again.  On the other hand, I like that given the right equation, you can define an environment.  This is especially cool if you want to create a game that looks realistic to the eye.  If the software environment can continue to handle a games objects in a realistic manner without me having to duplicate nature, is even better.  The need for a decent physics engine really increases when you are building most kinds of games.  Of course, it also helps to understand the underlying physical laws that the engine is duplicating.   This leads me back to the old books and physic tutorial sites on the web.   Ugh.
    Some people I know are fantastic at physics and/or math.  It does seem to be easy for people with good memories, but especially if they are passionate about the subject.  Neither of these characteristics apply to me.  Like math, once I figured out there was a formula that could be looked up and applied to a computer program, I promptly forgot the formula.  Just knowing that it could be found is usually enough for me.  I like to think of this process as just keeping the index file on the book in my head instead of the whole book.  More likely, it is just that I am too lazy to devote a lot of time memorizing all the formulas and principles unless they are currently necessary.  I know, lazy.  But selective laziness is my family motto.  I love programming so it must offset my natural laziness, but I also appreciate the fact that once I develop something, it works without my help after that.
   (We will just ignore the fact that programmers do a lot of fixing existing products)
    Did I mention that I have started work on another game for Zenerdgy?  Its pretty sketchy at this point, but I am pretty sure it will use simple graphics and work on both iPad and iPhone.   I am looking at a few ideas using the new SKSprite Kit from Apple.  It has a physics engine baked in and although it is still missing some features, it seems to do a pretty good job of supplying the tools to build a game.
    Physics.  Ugh.  Well time to look up that vector and radian formulas again.

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