Chain of Associations: Surprising Places for Answers

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Mech Retriever Dev Blog

I was dealing with a problem–a coding problem, but this isn’t a coding post. Basically, I had to replicate a bunch of code about game rules in the AI and in the code that shows player stuff. This was bad because it was a ton of extra work and makes a more fragile system. How did I solve it? That’s a weird answer.

I’d decided to read Clockwork Planet, a manga about exactly what it sounds like it’s about. The main character does incredible stuff because he has hearing like no one else, and can use that to detect dissonance in clockwork. So I thought about how I might use that idea to solve my problem.

Obviously I didn’t use super-hearing to solve my problem. I don’t have that. But I was thinking about it while I watched some videos on design patterns and something called a Finite State Machine. And as I drove to visit my little sister I kept tossing over concepts in my head, letting my mind wander through a chain of associations. Hearing. Earrings. Deer. Campfire. … It went all over the place, but it eventually trained my mind on to the answer as I talked to myself.

You see, everything somehow relates to everything else, so forcing yourself to find the connection to something seemingly unrelated–like the manga I read–can cause you to think in ways you normally wouldn’t. Just as the character had hearing to detect dissonance, I realized that I needed to change the code for the AI and the GraphicalView to listen for options and pick one instead of building its own. I’ll talk a bit more about what I mean next time, but the important part is to stimulate your thinking by looking in unusual places.

May you build the ultimate giant robot.

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