Week 28-29 Report

Jan the Spider

So, I spent the last few days feeling pretty much under the weather, but I did manage to render the last batch of images for the upcoming update.

That’s 56 new images which will focus on Harley’s 3rd Tier.

This picture will be included in the update, so it’s kind of a foreshadowing as to what is going to happen…

Feel free to ponder it over, because I don’t want to spoil too much.

Now I’m just looking over the pics, fixing just the tiniest of flaws where I spot them and making sure everything looks right.

Then I’ll start writing down the dialogue, which to tell you the truth I usually just dread, before finally sitting down and banging most of it down in a few days.

I don’t want to set a date in stone just yet, I’ll tell you why:

It’s mainly because I hate to get you people excited and then having to postpone, but I promise you I have been working my ass off to be able to bring you the same kind of content that you’ve come to expect.

Hopefully I won’t have to make another post before you guys have the update.

Vaasref

As for myself I worked on setting up this devblog, installing what was obviously needed, tweaking the style to something I was satisfied with, it turned out quite better than anticipated really.

Anyway, I’m sure I’m not even started to tweak it as I’m sure that with time we will find that we lack a good deal of features. For example I might add a bbPress or something alike, I would like to have a better place for you to post bug reports and questions. There also might be some bugtracker plugin out there, I don’t know, didn’t checked yet, not really needed as there is no new gameplay feature plan short term, not until I have a decent keyboard to program on anyway, the handicap not having a good keyboard is the reason I started a series of posts about my process of making it (c.f. Project : Shining Armor).

Speaking of which I also continued working on it, I calculated as best as could the specs I needed for everything to work, finished the circuit schematics and started started the layout of the PCB. It’s coming along nicely but my computer was in a little bit of a blue error spree this week and the mobile phone network is quite spotty, so I was slowed down way too much for my liking.

Also being in holidays doesn’t help me to keep any sleep habit, so I’m only able to keep track of what I did more that 5h back. But I’m still able to know what part of the week it is.

It’s funny, I would say I have a almost decent absolute time frame while having a completely destroyed relative one.

But enough rambling for a single report, it’s kinda off topic really and I don’t want to belittle the work of Jan by telling too much of those poignant stories.

Personal project : Shining Armor – Part 1

First let’s shot the elephant in the room : it’s mostly off topic of this site.

Now that this is done, let’s talk about what it is.

So what is it ?

Simple, this is my project to build myself a mechanical keyboard from my dead MX Board 6.0.

Why is it dead in the first place ?

Good question myself. You see, it’s a quite common story involving sweat, hard work, and a not grounded soldering iron.

At first it should have been a “simple” change from MX red switches to MX white ones.

Years of membrane keyboards taught my fingers to try poke holes through them, and since I don’t see smashing keys hard as a negative I never tried to correct that. Needless to say that MX red are terribly too light for me (see I still said it for readers that are not into that kind of thing), even resting my finger on the keys when gaming was enough to activate them at time. That needed to stop.

So I ordered myself some Cherry MX white I could have gone for Kailh box navy, but since the keyboard is backlit I didn’t want even less light to be blocked.

In the same time ordered new keycaps, some double-shot PBT compatible with backlight, my layout (ISO FR), and with the keyboard that I found by some miracle on aliexpress. You see the old ones were quite badly worn out as you can see, the D and S caps are really carved, that was due to my nails being quite long since I randomly stopped biting them this year.

Original worn out laser-etched ABS keycaps

So, yeah, also changing the switches and the keycaps at the same time in my mind sounded like a nice metamorphosis (and we all appreciate a good metamorphosis here¬†ūüėČ).

I was in the process of moving so I kinda lost my soldering iron the the process so I ordered a TS100, that was definetly a good decision, that thing is awesome.

So once arrived I started desoldering those switches. I only had desoldering wick and a fluxpen that I found in my stuff and boy that was messy ! Took me something like 3h to remove 9 switches. By the time I called it a night, because it was dusk and I didn’t want mosquitoes to suck me dry, I was starting to refine my desoldering skills with the wick.

But the result were still so underwelming, that I ordered a desoldering pump.

Once it arrived I started again, and after around 2h I started having my hand with it, and I also installed some¬†mosquito net on my window so I continued until morning (I’m a bit of a nigh owl) once every switches and their LED were removed (that mean desoldering around 440 points and removing around 110 LED and switches which is deceptively hard at first) I cleaned a little the PCB and started installing the new ones.

Everything was “smooth” (not really but let’s go with that) so far except some traces I ruined the first day but nothing too critical.

Once every new switches were installed I tested the board, some issues were present : some switches that I forgot to solder, and a couple resistors pad that were bridging (the MX Board 6.0 uses a exotic design based on resistance to read the key pressed), after fixing them everything except the backlighting was working.

Then the trouble started, I installed the LEDs, trying not to make mistakes in their polarities aware of the fact that they were in series.

I failed. Nothing lit up.

Without a multimeter (remember, moving) I pulled a LED and used it to try to troubleshot the issue. It never worked, I saw some LEDs I mounted the wrong way, and turned them but still nothing I didn’t even manage to find the source of the current for the backlighting.

Then I saw yet another LED mounted in the wrong way and by them I already stopped to unplug the keyboard to solder on it. That probably was the mistake that lead to the disaster.

Early when desolreding everything I noticed that when I was in contact to the ground of the board and that I was touching the LED terminals when soldering them some lit up probably due to me and my iron not being grounded allowing a little AC to flow from the PWM of the soldering iron and my capacitive mass. That would be my guess anyway.

So when I was trying yet another time to fix the backlight my computer started going crazy, and the keyboard test software running told me that indeed I messed my keyboard PCB.

I think that due to the nature of the key reading the PCB was quite rugged, I must have shorted pretty much everything without causing any issue, that is why I think that it must be the soldering iron background AC that caused it. And by that I mean my mistake to solder while keeping the board plugged and my decision based on laziness to not bother grounding it.

So what then ?

After that I looked at the board annoyed by my stupidity, tried to look how it was made, on the logic side.

The issue is that the keyboard now spat inputs every milliseconds (as advertised that resistance based tech does work after all). My guess was that I either bridged the PWM of the backlight with the logic side or that I fried a component between the microcontroller and the keys, after checking for bridges, I sided with the fried something hypothesis.

The logic board being crammed in the space above the nav’ cluster arrows, I looked at the ICs, but nothing visible, so I now had a choice to make.

Buying blindly some replacement hoping that it was not a passive or part of the microcontroller that got fried (part because it was still working as a keyboard, a mad one, but a keyboard) in those cases I wasn’t skilled enough to fix it, swapping the other ICs would have already be hard enough due to their size and my lack of equipment to do reflow properly.

The other was to give up.

I was leaning to giving up when an idea stroke me.

Why not double down of the customization ?

Entering the “Shining Armor”

After frying the logic board I was now left with : my regrets, a useless PCB, a bunch new and old all functioning switches, a metal mounting plate, a cast alloy casing (supposed to be aluminium but still ferromagnetic) and a plastic backplate with still unbroken flipping feets (quite the feat since I broke them on all my previous keyboards, probably because of my hammer fingers).

That keyboard was built like a tank, if I would not shot at it with AP AC shells it would still be working.

Given the price of it and the fact that it was in fine only part of what made it a good keyboard that was destroyed I figured : why not just replace the PCB ?

I tried to look for a donor keyboard but since the model was considered overpriced at the time and not sold anymore. My quick search were in vain. But when looking at some specialized forum I read a topic about a drop-in replacement for an other Cherry keyboard, and I though : “hey that is not a bad idea”. I looked for a replacement for my keyboard, nothing, quite unsurprisingly for this quite unpopular design.

Then I found a tutorial about making you own design, and since I’m quite the type to learn how to do stuff I chose to go for it and make myself a custom drop-in replacement for my as-good-as-dead PCB.

By then I decided that the customization was heavy enough to justify the status of named project.

I chose “Shining Armor” because of the MX White switches. I figured that with all the metal and the white switches and the backlight, the theme of the “white knight in shining armor” does match, doesn’t it ? I mean it matches at least 4 words out of 5. But the name was too lengthy and the “white knight” part was already¬†connoted on the internet so I kept the “shining armor” part. And I don’t mind naming it like a pony which is a prince consort in a matriarcal society.

Hum, kinda loop back to a SJW subject when you think about it …

Anyway I still think it’s a cool and adequate name.

My goals with the design

First I want to retain most of the features of the keyboard, that means.

  • Keeping the plain colored backlight, maybe a smidge more fancy as long as it’s light on the programming and electronic side
  • Keeping N-Key Roll Over, since it was that made me buy a new keyboard in the first place, I want to be able to roll my head on the keyboard and still have perfect inputs
  • Keeping the same footprint, including the use of the backplate (kinda forced by the fact that I have switches for plate mounting anyway)
  • Keeping the same dual color LEDs for toggleable button like num, caps and scroll locks

I will also try to :

  • Keep the number of active components low while I don’t care about passives
  • Use through holes components where I can since I’m not equipped for SMD
  • Use 2 layer PCB, 4 layer could be easier to design but kinda overkill and pricier

However I must say that because my goal is use as few active components as possible it means I must use the microcontroller I/O efficiently so the matrix has to remain efficient too : I have around 25 I/Os and an optimal conventional matrix of 11 by 10 takes 21 I/Os, that can make routing quite tricky at time

Gender neutral pronouns ?

First I’ll state two things:

  • I speak for myself
  • I don’t give a damn about pretty much all the LGBT + herb and spices stuff

Despite of that I often use gender neutral pronouns. That begs the question : “Why ?”

First, some context

I’m french, in french every word has a gender, it kinda sound stupid when you state it out loud, but I’ll point to only English native speaker (and those who natively speak a language not using that feature) that are not aware of it, that it’s quite common across spoken langages.

Also in french the 3rd person is gendered being singular or plural.

That means that when I speak or write in french I must deal with using gender even when speaking about things that are obviously genderless. So I’m quite used to it : it’s my native language so you internalize that kind of stuff.

But since I communicate in English a lot if not more than in French, I’m also used to the English language features. And when it comes to something related to the subject of this post, the 3rd person “it” is something quite nice. You don’t need to bother about what gender you should use for that genderless thing. That helps a lot in the blending process. The mistakes due to the quirks and strange rules of a language it’s often how I spot non-native speaker or writer so the less they are needed for day to day the less it’s obvious.

So “it” is a thing.

Now I must introduce an other fact : I work creating an erotic game, shocker right ?

What that mean is that I keep myself up to date with other game and more so with other erotic games (pro tip: it’s never as easy to pretext that you are doing research playing erotic games that when you are a erotic game maker, because even if you are not only researching it still true). So I’m exposed to a shit ton a fetish (rarely the other way around but still) that I doesn’t share and occasionally some I can barely stand. But erotic games games are still games, if you cannot fap, you might can still enjoy playing.

Anyway I’m exposed to fetish that I don’t share and frankly don’t care about, but I’m not a savage and more importantly as I said I don’t care (a recurreing theme about me as you may have guessed), I have no reason to bash something I don’t care about. So I can live in harmony with other fetishes.

So by my work I will speak to people that doesn’t have the same interest as me and they may declare it. But I will still have to communicate with and talk about them. So how do I do that ?

Laziness and Apathy

So how would you call someone that you don’t know, with the most precision, without making mistakes (because you really don’t like to do mistakes) ?

You simply go for the more generic pronoun you can find. And since “it” is used to object (and while there is probably a fetish for constant objectification, I have yet to meet something that is into it, but I would sure be curious to talk about that to it). So “they” is quite handy in that context.

As a lazy and apathic person as well as a programmer I could not be more pleased with a gender agnostic pronoun. English is already way easier to deal with than French since that “the” or “a” doesn’t indicate the gender of the noun it is used before. But here using “they” allow for a complete lack of any kind of management of gender for character, it’s perfect.

So with that how I see the choices from here :

  • Use “he”, “she” and “they”, not simplifying for now but as it gets accepted it might, in the long run, it doesn’t cost much to implement either so after all why not
  • Use only “they” and explain that it’s because you are lazy is simpler while still fitting all
  • Use only “they” and not give a fuck

It’s not about ideology (for me, remember)

For me at least it’s not about ideology, and I’ll see “they” as that when I will look at any piece of software or rule defined system. It’s simpler when precision is not needed.

If a programmer voice themself about it being because it’s because of their ideology then any backlash they will suffer is perfectly justified, because they went for the ideology first. If not, please users don’t assume their ideology¬†ūüôÉ.

But for me it’s simply more practical and it doesn’t harm me to use it, so I do.

Bonus point :

While it may trigger some antis, at least they would be wrong since they would target an alleged ideology of mine, while the triggered pros would try to push me do something for the sake of an ideology I don’t share while I would not bother them using it.

The anti are against ‘A’, while the pros are against ‘not A’. The pros are against a larger group than the antis because the antis are not be against ‘B’ while the pros are because ‘B’ is not ‘A’.

 

 

Next week I will talk about veganism.

Nah, joking, I could be it’s too off topic.

Welcome to Serum Games

After using only the Patreon page for quite a while now, it’s time to move to the next step by starting a full-fledge devblog.

Having our own website kill multiple birds with one stone. [Quite the massacre really.]

The main reason to that change is the limitations of Patreon as an information channel. You see, Patreon doesn’t allow for multiple account to manage and post on the same funding campaign. Adding to that is the inability for the campaign manager to give access to gate posts at his discretion, thus making it impossible for me (Vaasref) to read the comments and reply under the posts. That also prevent me to release fixes if the need arises.

Also while Patreon is fine for concise posts, it not a fully-fledged CMS, it’s not really made for posting content (the simple fact it lack a RSS feed boggle the mind). With that added ergonomic we hope to post a more diverse panel of content, of a more unofficial and unformated nature let’s say. Don’t hope for much stuff from Jan, I’ll try to push him to post but he is quite the shy guy.

We will also be more independent from Patreon righteousness surges, we never know when non-consensual drugging or mind control will be deemed unacceptable by that paragon of virtue. So by having our own channel right now we can brace ourselves for any upcoming issue of that style and not be forced to do it in a hurry or worse to alter the content.

We might also add other ways to support us for those (understandably) allergic to Patreon. It’s not on the short term to do list, but at least now it’s a valid option.