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April 13th, 2018

64 bits and Visual Studio 2017

This month's update is a bit shorter than usual, mainly because the behind the scenes happenings have been quite technical and non-exciting, whilst on the gaming arena I've been playing the same game as during the previous update. That said, here we go!

TAGAP 3 v1.5

Today, TAGAP 3 v1.5 has launched, bringing Pablo's adventure on Pluto to native 64 bits. The earlier versions of the game, of course, were in 32 bits. So, this brings up to obvious questions – why wasn't the game already in 32 bits AND why didn't I change it until now?

Well, when I started the game project almost seven years ago, 32 bit PCs were still very dominant on low-end computer market. Moreover, Windows XP was still a viable operating system, despite its support ending. These two things in my mind, I started building TAGAP 3 as a 32 bit application for maximum compatibility.

As to 'why now?', this is a two part answer. First, when we got nearer to the launch of TAGAP 3, I tried to do port the game to x64, but my development environment – the old-yet trusty Visual Studio 2008 – refused to co-operate. Instead of releasing something I wasn't able to debug properly, I decided to keep the game as x86 application. After all, the game didn't require x64 architecture and it doesn't matter to modern Windows if the app is x86 or x64 as long as it works properly.

However, as you might already know, I'm already working on the next Penguin DT project and keeping that in x86 makes absolutely no sense. Since VS2008 wasn't co-operating – and its support ending this year – I jumped ship to Visual Studio 2017. With it, I converted the new project to 64 bits. And using this porting experience as base, TAGAP 3 followed suit.

So, there; that's how Pablo got his latest upgrade!

What am I doing right now?

Basically the last couple of weeks have been all about familiarizing myself with Visual Studio 2017. It's quite an improved beast as compared to the VS 2008, but that is to be expected – there's almost 10 years between the two versions, after all.

The first thing that hit me was the improved code editing interface. VS 2008 code editor looked essentially like Notepad, only using specific colours for comments, variable type definitions and such. VS 2017, on the other hand, works essentially like Microsoft Word – in real time, it monitors your coding and underlines your typos and undefined variables with red underline.

Another great set of features in the new version are the improved validation tools. They are really good, spotting even some super-minor hitches that have been laying dormant in my codebase since the beginning. Scrubbing two code sets – the new project and TAGAP 3 – took quite a while but as the result we now have some super sparkly C++ code.

What's next?

On the development front; now that the x64 porting is done, I can finally resume pre-development and prototyping on the new project. Of course, if the 64 bit upgrade of TAGAP 3 goes as smoothly as I hope, I may do the same to TAGAP and TAGAP 2 as well!

On the gaming front; still hunting monsters in Monster Hunter World. Darn the game is huge! Just when I think I've gotten the game mastered, it finds a new mechanic or a completely new kind of monster at me, keeping things fresh. This is why I didn't do 'Playlist' feature this time – I'm still playing the same game.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin

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