My Interests This Week podcast – Episode 9

In this week’s episode (for the week ended November 21, 2020), I struggle to get a small computer to do big things, and talk about designing multiplayer maps.

Show notes

Trying to get a Raspberry Pi to use ZFS

  • Site with a tutorial on setting up a Raspberry Pi as a NAS.
  • Been a bit busy this week, with work and all that jazz.
  • Went to try to find another 256GB SSD for my Raspberry Pi 4. It’s suggested, when creating a RAID configuration, to have drives of the same size.
  • Went to Fry’s electronics because they would probably have the drive. To be honest, I didn’t know they were still open.
  • Over the past year or two, when I went to a local Fry’s store, most of the place was barren, with very little on the shelves.
  • Went to the store, and found a Raspberry Pi 4 case. I walked around the place, but couldn’t find an SSD. I tried looking in the usual place where they had storage drives, but they had changed them to holding office supplies.
  • Was too depressed by the look of the place to ask a store employee where they kept the drives.
  • Went to the Best Buy across the street.
  • I tried for nearly 15 minutes to find hard drives and SSDs. I found a bunch of other cool stuff (tablets, Apple stuff, and car stuff). But I had to ask an employee where the hell the SSDs were.
  • Guy took me over to the drives, and showed me what they had. The smallest external drive was 500GB.
  • They had an internal 256GB SSD. But I didn’t want to get an enclosure for it because that would have been too power hungry for a Raspberry Pi.
  • Got a 256GB thumb drive instead.
  • Got home only to realize that I needed a micro-HDMI connector for the Raspberry Pi 4.
  • I purchase the micro-HDMI cable the following day.
  • I put the Raspberry Pi in the case, and tried booting the SD card that has Ubuntu on it. The Raspberry Pi doesn’t start.
  • The fan spun up, but the OS didn’t boot. I tried restarting it, changing around some of the files on the SD card, and even put a different OS on the SD card. Then I figured it was the case itself.
  • From what I can tell, the wires that lead to the fan are coming in contact with the metal case, and so something is shorting to ground, or preventing the OS from booting.
  • After straining to take out the little screws on the lid of the case, I removed the lid, left the Raspberry Pi in the lower part of the case, and was able to get Ubuntu to boot. But that was the first part of the problem.
  • The WiFi on the Raspberry Pi wouldn’t connect to our wireless network.
    • I would love to hook this up to the WiFi router. But that’s not an option.
  • Working on this problem for a good thirty minutes yielded me nothing. I finally found out that the version of Ubuntu I was using (the server version) uses something called “netplans” to get the networking stuff working.
  • This answer on the Stack Exchange led me to change a certain file in the “netplan” configuration files, and I was able to get the WiFi working.
  • I hooked up the thumb drive and SSD to the Raspberry Pi in order to have RAID 1 storage. At least, that’s what I tried doing.
  • Turns out the Raspberry Pi 4 can’t supply enough voltage to power the two drives. That’s when I had break out my USB hub.
  • With that, I was able to hook up the thumb drive and the SSD.
  • I set up the drives to use ZFS, and tried using Cockpit (a server management frontend) to make the thing do stuff. I was able to get it to share the disks, but I couldn’t hook up remote shares via Samba.
  • And that’s where I’m currently stuck.

Designing multiplayer shooter maps is hard

  • Need to design a course for the players to run.
  • Must have balance in where players go, what weapons they can get, what power-ups they can receive.
    • An symmetric map doesn’t mean the whole thing is balance. In fact, that may not be so fun.
  • This is made more difficult by the fact that these maps will be procedurally generated.
  • I’m looking at how the Call of Duty (CoD) and Halo maps are designed.
  • The CoD maps are made with various routes to run.
  • Studied the map “Vacant”.
    • When a player spawns (or respawns) they can usually move in two or three directions.
  • In a typical CoD map, powerful weapons can be found in spots without much cover. This is a risk/reward situation for the player.
  • Cover for players takes a bit of trial and error. Some parts of the map may have too little coverage, and so is an easy spot for a player to be sniped. Places with too much coverage doesn’t look inviting the player, and could throw off the balance of the map.
  • Some of the maps from Halo that I studied look as though someone could live or work there.
    • Looked at Blood Gulch (though I actually looked at Beaver Creek) from Halo: CE.
    • Zanzibar (from Halo 2) is an abandoned military base.
    • The biggest attraction of the map is the large wheel spinning in the center.
  • It’s good to have attractions like that because it helps the players to find their way around the map, serving as a marker.
  • In the maps for Block Wars, there will be paths for the players to transverse, as well as land markers to guide them.
  • How the items and weapons will be placed is still yet to be determined.

Podcast theme by Kevin Hartnell under the CC 4.0 license.

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson has been hacking up computers for nearly 20 years and has been using Linux for over 15 years. Among that, he has a BBA in Accounting. Look him up on Twitter at @FakeJasonA and on Mastodon on

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