After having some success getting my early QBasic programs running in the browser I had a bit of a look this morning to see if I could do the same for my Delphi apps. I found a project called BoxedWine which looks promising. Seems to be a minified version of Wine that that runs in browser using WASM.

I downloaded the example and had a bit of a play around with a Tetris clone I built. It worked… to a degree. It was a little slow, and some of the colours were off. But it ran, and was actually usable.

A screenshot of a Win32 Tetris clone running with BoxedWine running in Safari

I did another test with an app that used OpenGL, which was less successful.

A Windows style exception message indicating a null pointer running in Safari

I think some of the OpenGL shared objects are not in the minified Wine distribution it was using. It might be possible to include them: there are instructions, and a few demos, on how to load files from the full Wine distribution on demand.

Anyway, not sure if I’ll pursue this further but it was a fun little exercise nonetheless. I’m pretty impressed that this is even possible at all. The Web stack is pretty freaking awesome.

Spent some time today building a site for my Go utility packages. A feature I’ve decided to add is a Go template playground, where you can test out Go templates in the browser. Not something I’ll use everyday but I’ve occasionally wished for something like this before. Could be useful.

The template playground, with a field for the template saying 'hello what', the data which has 'what' equal to 'world' in Json, and the output which is 'Hello, world'

Mainboard Mayhem

Project update on Mainboard Mayhem, my Chip’s Challenge fan game. I didn’t get it finished in time for the release deadline, which was last weekend. I blame work for that. We’re going through a bit of a crunch at the moment, and there was a need to work on the weekend.

The good news is that there wasn’t much left to do, and after a few more evenings, I’m please to say that it’s done. The game is finish, and ready for release.

So here it is: Mainboard Mayhem: A Chip’s Challenge fan game (and yes, that’s its full title).

Screenshot of Mainboard Mayhem

At the moment it’s only available for MacOS. It should work on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs, although I’ve only tested on my M2 Mac Mini running Ventura.

It’s good to finally see this project done. It’s been in development for about last ten years, and I spent half of that time wondering whether it was worth getting it finished it at all. Not committing to anything meant any work I did do on it was pretty aimless, and I always felt like I was wasting my time. Giving myself three weeks to either kill it, or release it helped a lot. I’ll start making deadlines for all the other unfinished projects I’m working on.

As to what that next project will be, I not sure at this stage. Part of me wants to wait until this crunch time ends, but I suspect I’ll get antsy before then and start work on something else. I’ll keep you posted one way or the other.

But for now, if you happen to give it a try, thank you and I hope you enjoy it.

The app icon of Mainboard Mayhem

Project update for Mainboard Madness. Well, today’s the deadline for getting the thing code complete, and what a surprised, it’s not finished.

To be fair, it’s pretty close. All the levels are more or less done, and the beats of the in-game lore have been added. It all just needs tightening up a little. I spent today working on the end-game phase, which mainly involved coding up the credit sequence, and making sure I include credits for those involved in the original game (and who’s artwork I lifted).

Mainboard mayhem credit sequence showing the final credit message 'Thanks for playing'

The work remaining is to finish one or two game elements, adding a proper app icon, and finishing off the website. I’m wondering whether to add sound, but I feel bad enough taking the artwork from the original game, I rather not take the sound effects as well. That will mean the game will remain silent for the time being, but I can probably live with that for now.

I think we’re still on track for getting this finished by this time next week. Last dash to the finish line, then I can put this 9 year project to rest for a while.

Small project update on my Chips Challenge fan game.

Started working on the final level. I was dreading this a little, thanks to my awful level design skills, but I made a great start to it this morning and it’s actually coming along pretty well. It’s a good opportunity to use all the elements that I didn’t get a chance to use in any of the other puzzles, and it’s also shaping up to be one that has a bit of climax.

I’ve also started working on the website, which is little more than just a landing page. This meant finally coming up with a name. I’ve chosen “Mainboard Mayhem” which is… okay, but it’s one that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and I really couldn’t use anything close to “Chips Challenge”. I’m already using the tile-set from the original game, I rather not step on any more intellectual property.

Anyway, one more week of development left to go. Still need to setup the app icon, finish all the levels, and maybe add a menu. Then I think we’re code complete.

Early Version of This Blog

I was looking for something in GitHub the other day when I found the repository for the first iteration of this blog. I was curious as to how it looked and I’d thought that I’d boot it up and post a few screenshots of it.1

It started life as a Hugo site. There a two reasons for that, with the first being that I didn’t have the patients to style a website from scratch, and Hugo came with some pretty nice templates. I chose the Vienna template, which seems to have fallen out date: many of the template variables no longer work with a modern version of Hugo. I’m also please to see that I did end up customising the header image — a photo taken in Macedon of the train line to Bendigo — although that’s pretty much all I customised.

Believe it or not, I feel a little nostelgic for it. Such simple innocence in trying to summon up the courage to write stuff on the internet. Although don’t let the article count fool you: I think there were a total of 10 posts, with half of those being unfinished drafts. I was still trying to work out whether I’d like to write mainly about software technology, or simply talk about my day. But one thing’s for sure, I was under the impression that “real” blogs required posts with a title and at-least 300 words of content. That’s probably why I only had 5 posts finished in 8 months.

The second reason why I went with Hugo was that I’d have no excuse to tinker with a CMS. I’d figure that, given that I wasn’t using one, I’d be force to focus on the content. Well, that level of self-discipline didn’t last long. About in the middle of 2020, I started building a CMS for the blog using Buffalo. I was thinking of launching it with the name “72k” (, named after the milepost the header photo was taken at.

I got reasonably far with building this CMS but it still lacked a lot, like uploads and an RSS feed. It also involved a really annoying workflow: in order to publish something, you needed to choose a “post type” (whether it’s a long-form post; a link post; or a note), the “stream” the post will appear in, write a summary, and then “review” it. Once all that’s good, you’re free to publish it. This was in service of building this up into a popular, wizz-bang blog with a well-engineered navigation and category-specific feeds (I think that’s what “streams” were). Yeah, these grand plans got the better of me and really crippled the usability of the CMS2. I never launched it, opting instead to move to

So that’s what this blog looked like, back in the day. I probably won’t look at these projects again. It’s only been four years and already bit-rot is settling in: it took me all morning trying to hack these into a state where I can open them in a browser. But it’s good to look back at what it was.

Still really happy I moved it over to

  1. I don’t deny that part of this is procrastination of other things I should be finishing. [return]
  2. To be honest, I think part of this lengthy workflow was to satisfy the “resistance”: self-imposed roadblocks to stop me from publishing anything at all. [return]

Working on my Chips Challenge “fan game” this morning. Added the notion of “lower thirds,” which will show text at the bottom of the play field. I’m hoping to use it for narrative or way-finding, like here in this hub level:

Demonstration of the lower third indicating the direction of movement towards tutorial levels in a hub map

Also working on puzzle design. There’s about 19 or so “real” puzzles but I’m wondering if it’s worth adding a few tutorial ones for those that have never played the original Chip Challenge before. I’ve done about 5 such puzzles and I think I need to add maybe 3 or 4 more to cover everything I’m hoping to demonstrate. I wish I liked puzzle design more than I like tinkering on the engine.

Of course, the big question is why I’m working on this at all. There is, for lack of a better word, a vision for this, in terms of narrative and structure, but this project has been in development on and off for about 9 years or so, and I’m wondering if it’s time to just stop working on it altogether. I really am starting to get sick of it, in a way. And yet, this project has shown remarkable staying power over that time that I feel like if I don’t actually wrap it up, it’ll just continued to be worked on. It feels like the only way to end this project is to finish it, in one way or another.

So I’ll set myself a dead-line: something releasable in two weeks, and actually released a week after that. After that, no more! I’ll work on something else.

Attempting to design an app icon for a Chips Challenge fan game I’m working on. Going for something that looks like the fireball sprite in the original game with a hint more realism and tinted in the colour blue. For reference, here’s the original fireball sprite:

Fireball sprite in Chips Challenge

And here’s my attempt:

Blue plasma shaped like the fireball sprite in Chips Challenge

I started with Stable Diffusion to get the base image:

Stable Diffusion production of the image described in the caption
Prompt: a blue plasma fireball shaped like a throwing star with four points on a white background, pixel art

Then imported into Acorn to rotate it, colourise it, and distort it to look a bit closer to the original sprite.

Screenshot of Acorn showing the image produced by Stable Diffusion rotated and the effects applied to produced the final image.

Desaturating the original image got rid of the purple centre, then applying the Glowhoo and Hue Adjust effect recolourised it to the blue I was looking for (I’m not sure what the Glowhoo effect does, but it seems to adjust the colour based on the pixel intensity, so it was good enough for what I wanted). Finally, I added a Twirl Distortion effect to achieve the slight warp in the star.

And yeah, it’s not going to win any design awards, but it’s good enough for now.

Oh, and just for kicks, here was my first attempt of producing the sprite using Affinity Designer.

First attempt at the blue plasma logo, crafted within Affinity Designer

That’s definitely not going to win any design awards. 😂

Success! Managed to get a Go app built, signed, and notarised all from within a GitHub Action. It even cross-compiles to ARM, which is something considering that it’s using SDL. Here’s the test app being downloaded and launched in a VM (ignore the black window, the interesting part is the title).

Spent most of the weekend going down various rabbit holes to get a Go application signed and notarised as a MacOS app. I’m trying to do this in a way that would make this easy to automate using GitHub Actions. This means things like no implicit access to the system keychain: I want to make a temporary keychain, add my secret stuff to it, then delete it once signing and notarisation is done.

It also means no XCode GUI either: command line stuff only. Not that I had much hope of using XCode here anyway, since this is a Go application.

But that’s fine, preferable even. I’ve never liked all the manual steps needed to get code signing work with XCode. What are you going to do when you change systems? Would you remember all the steps you took several years ago, when you last setup developer certificates?

So this is why I’m trying to get it working with the terminal. But it’s not easy. Lots of esoteric commands that I need to learn and be made aware of. Just hope it’s not a huge waste of time.