Week 5/6 Blues

The past couple weeks of Capstone have been more stressful than I would like to admit. In finishing up the vast majority of our CPU implementation, we have moved on the the picture processing unit (PPU), a vital piece of software that puts the game pixels up on the screen. To say the PPU is complicated is an understatement. There a lot of moving pieces involved in rendering a single pixel to the screen, and often times the documentation our group has mostly been utilizing can be just plain confusing. I have been able to find some good video tutorials of implementing the PPU, such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-THeUXqR3zY, but I hesitate to focus too deeply on things like this because the fun of implementing something totally new is figuring out all the details yourself, and I don’t want everything just given to me.

In finding that the PPU was overly complicated, I thought about taking a reflective pause. The detailed and structured person inside of me wishes our group could take a few days or a week and map out exactly what we would like to accomplish with this portion of the project. I initially created a pull request just setting up the bare bones of the PPU, but this was then added to and morphed into something that I did not quite fully understand. We are working in a remote group setting, so I get that we cannot always be in sync with what each of us is doing. But having a clear focus on what parts are needed to get just the backgrounds showing, for instance, and assigning team members for each part would be a great step in my opinion.

When we planned out the details of this project at the beginning of the quarter, we just did not know the complexity of the PPU, so I don’t blame us for not getting the planning done. But now that we are knee deep in the implementation, I think it would be great to take a step back, refocus, and plan out our next move. This is the only way I think I will feel comfortable with our strategy. Luckily, this week I was able to fix some lingering issues with our CPU implementation that we would have to get to eventually, so I feel productive in completing that. Otherwise, moving into the weekend and week 7, I think we are mostly on track with getting the project done by week 10. I just want to stop and reflect on how we are handling the implementation of the PPU, a task much more complex than I imagined.

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