Weekly Penguin
April 21st, 2023

From the new mainframe

This blog update has been brought to you via the new Penguin DT mainframe computer.

Yes, I got myself a new computer, finally. And me living in the land of laptops, which means another completely differently set-up keyboard, so I might as well try to re-learn the key placements via typing out a blog.

The other bigger updates have been left into the background whilst this process is going on, but I should be back in business shortly.

What am I working on right now?

New computer means completely re-setting up the development environment. The change has been pretty drastic on all levels, from the hardware and operating system to the software used for development.

As I've mentioned several times earlier, I've stuck to Windows 8.1 as long as I could. The user interface of it was horrible, but its core was brilliant. Thankfully, you could change the user interface with a custom one, meaning you could get the best of both worlds. However, with the support of the OS being shut down by Microsoft – including its Windows Store – my hand is forced.

I've gone over this multiple times, but the double whammy of having to look for Photoshop alternatives and the processor requirements of Windows 11 meant I needed to do a full system upgrade. After months of search, the cheapest alternative to fitting my requirements was found on the manufacturer's own website – in this case Lenovo's.

And the cheapest alternative at the time of purchase was a monster. Like, it is complete overkill for TAGAP – it's like I have a housefly I need to swat, so I bought a tactical nuke to handle it. We're talking about a Gen 13 i7 with 32 Gb DDR5 and RTX 4070. I'm actually looking into information how to 'nerf' the system to test lower end performance.

On software side, I've moved the code generation to from Visual Studio Pro 2017 to Visual Studio Community, mainly to get hold of the code analysis tools. I would've preferred to get my flippers on a the Pro version, but it is a subscription software now – because of course it is – so that's a hard 'no'.

As for graphics editing, I'm testing new things. I'd love to get rid of Adobe's products for good – the way they burnt me with Photoshop is something I will never forgive – so I'm right now giving Paint Shop Pro a go. I managed to grab a copy via a Humble Bundle last year, so let's see how this goes. Initial reactions aren't good, as PSP can't handle PSD files that have vector data... which is how more than 90% of TAGAP art has been done. I could of course do the next game all as raster art, but I would still loose source access to everything I've ever done for TAGAP until now (incl. the layout of this very website).

So, that's pretty much what I've been doing whole week. Transfer of assets (all games) and my sound effect libraries alone took a whole day.

TAGAP Updates

Still incoming; even if the future of the Next Game is in limbo until I can get to art creation, I can work on updates to the older games. Since the upgrade to the latest version of Visual Studio tool sets – and now having a modern OS to test changes on – I will do a brand new code sweep, analysis and test runs. It'll take a moment, but if there are any compatibility issues – like those TAGAP 3 has had in the past – I will have 100 times better chance of catching them now.

So expect a new batch of maintenance updates to all four games in the not-too-distant future. Feature improvement patches should follow after.

The full multibyte character and translation support for the older games has to wait until after I have managed to find a graphics software solution, mind. I can't expand the done-in-PSD-vectors fonts of the first three games without a program that can handle the source files, now can I?

Lesser updates

With everything going to Hell in a handbasket over at Twitter recently and with the rumours of the platform being turned into crypto-powered Chinese-style everything-app, I decided it was time to scrub the Twitter and Facebook integrations off of the website. Not only were they very little used, but our Facebook has been on low-maintenance-mode for ages anyway and now Twitter is what it is. That's a few bytes of code per page I save on traffic now.

As for the bird app; I'll stick to it until it croaks, turns into something too dystopian or they paywall the ability to embed my feed onto the front page of TAGAP.net.


Playlist is a regular feature in our Penguin DT blog; A chance to highlight cool games both old and new that I've been playing. As always, I believe that in order to make games, you need to play them, preferably with a broad scope when it comes to genres, so each day I dedicate at least an hour to actually playing games. The rest of the free time? There is no such thing, it all belongs to TAGAP!

Since the last post it's been all about void* tRrIM2() // Void Terrarium 2 from Nippon Ichi. It is good, a brilliant sequel that carries on from where the first game left off and nicely expands on the mechanics whilst also tying them more together.

Again, the game is about protecting Toriko, a young girl who is the last surviving human in a post-apocalyptic underground world devastated by deadly fungi. You play as robot Robbie who, together with FactoryAI, keeps Toriko well in a life-preserving terrarium. And this is done by crafting the terrarium better from materials gathered from expeditions to the outside wastelands. The outside exploration is a proper turn-based Rogue-like, whilst the terrarium side of things is closer to Animal Crossing.

I won't spoil the story here, but the narrative now cleverly takes place on two... layers, I guess you could call them; the main campaign and the side story that is all about exploring the history of the game's post-apocalyptic world where humans went extinct. On top of those, everything you craft gives you bonuses to your stats, allowing you to delve further during explorations and gather even more exotic materials. Some crafting requires materials you need gather from cultivating plants in the terrarium, too – it is all well interconnected, but streamlined just enough that it doesn't feel like a hassle.

So yes, go grab yourself Void Terrarium 2. However, I would strongly recommend playing the original game first. The story of Part 2 kicks off, at least in terms of the narrative, immediately after the ending of the first one.

What's next?

In TAGAP land, trying to find a graphics software that doesn't feel like a kick to the groin and working on the slew of maintenance updates for all the games.

In the playlist; Just started a game that has been in my backlog for far too long – Yaga. It is an action RPG based on the Slavic folklore (and particularly Baba Yaga), is beautifully illustrated like a story book and has an amazing soundtrack by Romanian rap-artist Argatu'.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin