There’s been another Game Breaker’s Toolkit Jam! And it gave me the push I needed to revive some of my earlier internet silliness and let it see the 2020s. If you can’t be bothered reading the rest, it is at justwizards.me, not
The boring backstory
Back in 2017, I was doing a “Digital Design and Web Development” course. It was a mixture of technical web stuff (i.e. get Notepad out to write your HTML), non-technical stuff (i.e. get Adobe Animate and Premiere out), and of course theory stuff (e.g. complementary colours).
As is typical of these things, some course material was outdated… some was even blatantly incorrect. What is less typical is one of our lecturers stopped showing up to work without explanation, and another fell ill. At the time, we heard he was on his deathbed, but I haven’t found an obituary for him so don’t know if he actually died.
So between me not enjoying the course material and half our lecturers disappearing, it wasn’t a very good time and when work was due I stopped going in.
Honestly, the most value I got out of that course developed from forming a small group of friends. I lost contact with them in the process of deleting my Facebook account. Saw one of them carrying shopping a few years back, but I was on a bus and had somewhere to be.
This brings me onto the fact I made two essentially one-page websites which tied into our little group. One was about one of them wanting to buy a £625 sweater (about £800 or $1000 in today’s money) which didn’t even look very good. I took it too far, so I won’t be bringing that website back into the spotlight. It was rather poorly made, anyway, with multiple scroll bars and not a lot of content.
The other website I made was “Just Wizards”, revolving around a funny picture of a guy in a wizard costume. The Wayback Machine scraped the HTML, but none of the images or other media content. Which is just a bit sad, really, so I thought I’d remedy that.
Changing the wizard
The original website was created in a mad rush, so for its re-release I made some changes that should improve it a little without significantly altering the content of it.
Neither you or I want to go into every little change made for this version, but I’ve listed some of the things I dealt with below. About half of the things detailed in the website’s accompanying References & Easter Eggs article are new or altered, if you want to do some further reading.
One browser limitation I think is “new” is the limitation on large custom cursors. See, scam websites would use them to make you think your cursor was where it wasn’t. By crafting a large, mostly-transparent cursor where the clicky bit isn’t where you’d expect, they could trick you into clicking things on the page when you’re actually trying to click outside the page.
To quash this, browsers now limit cursors that can exit the page to no larger than 32×32 (logical size, so on an HDPI display this may be 64×64). Unfortunately, this also applies to maximised and full screen windows, as I realised with my Sinking City Saviour game.
To work around that problem, I’ve added a 32×32 wizard cursor as a fallback for the 128×128 one, so that it can shrink when you move your cursor to the page edges rather than entirely revert to a system cursor. It’s certainly not ideal and I hope web browsers loosen their cursor restrictions a little.
I also discovered that there’s a higher-quality version of the wizard out there. The original website used a 680px-tall image, with heavy JPEG compression and all. Since then, there have been new uploads of the same image to the internet, and Google’s reverse image search has been improved, so I was able to find an image that is 3114px tall — a remarkable improvement!
Previously I had used the Fuzzy Select tool in GIMP to remove the background from the wizard, which had some rather jaggy results. Even if you feather the edges, it isn’t ideal. With this higher-quality wizard, it would be easier to do a cleaner job (even if just from virtue of any jaggies or stray bits of background getting scaled down) but I instead opted to use ClipDrop’s AI-driven background removal tool since that was easier and did a better job than I probably would’ve managed.
The free tier of ClipDrop capped the resolution to 1024px. I find this is generous enough, given the wizard is never displayed larger than full height, which comes out to less than 1024px on a 1080p display unless full screen.
Conversely, the quality of some of the images is now worse than it was. They were something like 40MB in total, and the high resolutions were a bit of a strain even once downloaded, so I’ve compressed them down to a more sensible 3.4MB. I also figured out how to apply SVG masks and get arbitrary filter colours out of it, which is helpful. The latter seems to tank performance due to applying a whole chain of filters, but it’s cool!
The exception to quality reduction is the “Press F to pay respects” one, as I mentioned in Behind the Wizards.
The end of paying for domains
As I’ve alluded to, the website was previously at justwizards.com, which I had for one year before letting it expire. I sort of didn’t pay for it in the first place — I earned Bitcoin from watching ads and bought Namecheap credit with it.
In another sense, I overpaid by a lot when you look at the price difference of Bitcoin between then and now. I had no idea its value was on the rise at the time and didn’t think much of my wallet. But hindsight is 20/20.
For sake of argument, let’s take the view that I didn’t pay for the domain. Well, I’m not about to start paying for domains now! Through the power of
.edu email addresses, I was able to secure justwizards.me without paying a penny!
This will expire at the end of July 2024, and, as before, I don’t have any plans to renew it. But it will continue to be available at itch.io.
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