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Academic/research software, and rogue-like game stuff January 12, 2015

Posted by ficial in computer games, games, open source, software, techy.
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This blog is still live, just… sporadic :)

I’ve wrapped up a couple of projects relatively recently that might be of general interest. Both are java applications for pretty specific areas of study. The first is actually a work project, while the second is a personal one.

GeoShear (on GitHub and at Williams) is an application to aid structural geology research and teaching. It models shearing deformations (simple and pure), providing both an interactive visual interface and exportable quantitative data. It was created in collaboration with Charles L. MacMillan Professor of Natural Sciences Paul Karabinos as a part of NSF grant 0942313 – “Visualizing Strain in Rocks with Interactive Computer Programs”. In brief, it lets you mark a set of ellipses (representing cross-sections of pebbles) and then apply a shearing transformation to them. Charts of the pebble attributes are updated as shear is applied, so you can easily see the connection between them. The file format used is a simple tab-delimited one, so data can be entered in a spreadsheet if desired, and/or a spreadsheet can be used for further work post-deformation.

TideMiner is a smaller, simpler tool (also available on GitHub) that’s used to calculate the flooding frequency and duration of one or more given elevations, with tide levels from tide station data from NOAA. It works best with intervals of an hour or less. Basically, get your tide data from NOAA, load it into TideMiner, type or paste in the elevations of concern, and click the analyze button. The results can be saved in a tab-delimited format or copied and pasted directly into a spreadsheet for further work. This one is personal both in that it was not for work and in that I created it as a gift for my father (and the larger saltmarsh ecology community).

On a slightly different note, I have an ongoing fascination with rogue-like games, starting with Moria, then Angband (and a number of its variants) and ADOM. As a coder, game designer, and GM I’ve long toyed around with the idea of putting one together but somehow never quite gotten around to it. Over the recent holidays I decided that it was time to do more serious hacking around. I don’t necessarily expect to release any particular game (though I’ll put something up somewhere at some point – how’s that for a commitment :) ), but after a couple of weeks I have a solid core engine working and I’m getting to toy with fun things like AI code and ecosystem engineering. For my first real project in this realm I decided on Javascript because it’s so very adaptable/flexible (I may switch to Java for my next one, but JS has so far worked out pretty well so maybe not…) and requires so little in the way of infrastructure. It helps that one of the excellent tutorials I came across (I particularly recommend Trystan’s Blog for java and Coding Cookies for javascript) is based on rot.js, a really good rogue-like library for javascript.

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