On Multitasking

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Over the past few days, I've determined that, yes, despite the degree to which I screwed with the original Equirectangular Projection map to get it to fit onto a texture and 3D model, it is still possible to map latitudes and longitudes directly to an accurate X and Y screen position for my game. Hooray! I have to build the adjustments directly into the code that interprets the latitude and longitude, but it works.

That means that I don't have to manually enter in all the positioning data in-game. What I do have to manually enter in is latitudes and longitudes into my XML database. Fortunately, I have a standardized source for that: Wikipedia. My teacher parents, the living embodiment of "citation needed!", would freak out, but the data is all in one place and the tests I've done thus far are accurate. As a result, all of last night's work was spent (a) taking the latitudes and longitudes in the format of 41°49'25"N 71°25'20"W (Providence, RI) and converting them into a string-friendly format, like "41d49m25sN71d25m20sW", (b) loading that string into my XML database, and (c) coming up with code to parse that string correctly into X and Y coordinates in the game itself. Which I did. And it is awesome. Details and probably a new movie soon.

Oh, and I made the ocean background less horrendous. Again.

And you know what? I did all this while watching Dante's Peak!

It's a pretty archetypal '90s disaster movie, as far as things go. I used to love it, and found myself having a fun time going through all of the movie's (and the genre's!) cliches while I was hammering aggressively away at my laptop. Where to begin?

Tragic Hero: Having an unattached male lead and an unattached female lead that eventually get together isn't even a cliche at this point. It reached Maximum Cliche Velocity roughly around 1638. Fortunately, the need for one of these characters to be appropriately Tragic and Stoic is still a cliche. The beginning of the movie shows James Bond's wife being killed by a lava bomb. Tragic!

Unheeded Hero: Remington Steele shows up in the town of Dante's Peak and almost immediately predicts a catastrophic eruption. Few people believe him. Ultimately, he is proved right. Moving on!

Villains: Any good disaster movie needs villains who either don't heed the hero (hence, him being Unheeded) or take active measures to ignore or silence him. Since it's a cliche, it must be followed. What we get is two of the weakest, most sympathetic "villains" in the genre. There's Thomas Crowne's boss, who disagrees that an eruption is imminent, and cites the major economic fallout from pointlessly scaring a town if an eruption doesn't happen. That... makes sense. And he sticks around to continue watching the data and make sure nothing bad happens on his watch. Very considerate and professional of this villain!

Also, there's Sarah Connor's elderly mother in law, who lives dangerously far up the volcano and doesn't believe that an eruption is imminent, or doesn't care. She'd prefer to die up in her cabin. She's old, okay? People are like that! Harry R. Truman really did die when he refused to leave his cabin at the foot of Mount St. Helens in 1980, so there's historical precedent for that. I guess the mother in law is only villainous cuz she's kind of distant after her son fucked off somewhere.

Noble Villain Deaths: Now that we've established that there are villains (even if these villains happen to be decent people), they have to die. In a noble fashion. This is the law! It is ages-old and it is immutable. That means that Grandma has to die when she wades into an acidic lake to tow her family's rowboat safely to shore before it melts. That also means that Mamma Mia's! boss has to push a National Guard Humvee to safety, even if it means being killed when the bridge he is on is destroyed by a lahar. Awww.

Absurd Conditions Which Endanger People: These things only happen because the stars of these movies are fucking retards. Grandma has to tow the boat to shore in an acidic lake because they didn't motor the boat near the shore in the first place. Despite the fact that they knew it was acidic. And Remington Bond's boss dies after being given ample time to save himself. I wrote 200 lines of code while I was waiting for him to just fucking die!

Cute Kids In Danger: Young boy and young girl from central casting must be in danger somehow. Bonus points if they endanger everyone else with their antics. Dante's Peak scores big here, as the kids steal a car and drive up the mountain (during the eruption!) to try and persuade the stubborn Grandma to come down.

Alejandro's Note: In terms of kids endangering main characters, nothing, nothing will ever surpass Lex in Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novel. In the movie, she's more redeeming because she's the computer whiz that saves them at the end. But in the book, she's the youngest. She's dumb. She has no redeemable personality traits or valuable skills. And she actively almost gets everyone killed on multiple occasions by being stupid. A sleeping tyrannosaur almost eats them because Lex wakes it up by freaking coughing next to it!

The Dog: There's always a dog. And it always survives. In mathematical terms, that's

Dog > (Old People + Bosses)

And the formula doesn't adjust for the Old People and Bosses inherent non-villainous goodness. It is immutable! Got that? Good.

And We Lived Happily Ever After: Sure, the volcano erupted, and lots of people died (some of them in fireballs), and the whole town was destroyed by a pyroclastic cloud. The main characters cheated death on several occasions. Grandma died in your fucking arms. But, nooo... the surviving main characters are pulled out of the wreckage after being buried for two days, and what do they do? Smile and laugh and kiss and hug and promise to go fishing together. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not happen in movies! Ever!

These are just the way things are done. And they make for pretty fun movies, although it's the ones that subvert formulas - like, Psycho - that become truly famous. But why be famous when you can settle for merely making a pile of cash?

So, in conclusion: immutable.