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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogs⌂ Blimdom ⌂ (The procedurally generated ASCII blimp sim)
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Author Topic: ⌂ Blimdom ⌂ (The procedurally generated ASCII blimp sim)  (Read 2296 times)
Rogod
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« on: January 15, 2023, 03:23:03 PM »

Hi all! Figured we'd try something different, so here is Blimdom Gomez



Website                  Download



Screenshots




  • Many moons have passed since civilisation crumbled away.

  • Pockets of activity have begun to stir once again in the forests and at sea.

  • New and mysterious powers now govern the earth.

  • But above it all, blimps rule the skies once more.



About

Blimdom is an open ended exploration, automation and story game that takes place in a procedurally generated world. It is written in C# using mainly* codepage 437 for graphics.

The concept of Blimdom is born of wanting to take procedural ASCII games in a new direction. Even my own work in this area became too derivative and stock, so I'm headed off on a brand new journey, where possibilities are less constrained to tropes.

Some loose inspiration came from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Dragon Ball, Fallout, Dwarf Fortress (of course) as well as my very own Startron. (Hopefully I can do them all justice.)

The graphics style is an arbitrary restriction to invoke creativity (this technique has definitely proven itself before).
Please bear with me while I get the ball rolling on all this - I am just a dude making a happy game and a website to go along with it. Smiley

* I had to bend the rules and borrow the © character too



Questions

Q: Do you want help?
A:
Generally no, but I'm open to suggestions or if you've got something really cool to offer, I'll certainly give it due consideration. Smiley

Q: When will this be done/finished/released?
A:
Blimdom is an ongoing labour of love; the concept of an "end" does not apply.

Q: Will this be ported to anything else?
A:
Blimdom will be available on Windows & Linux natively in terminals as well as through a Unity emulator (which was a pain to write lol).

Q: Is my language supported?
A:
Blimdom will only be available in English UK/US for the foreseeable future unless more international interest arises. Part of the complication here is that due to having to support a Unity terminal emulator, I am restricted in what characters can be used. Not to mention left-to-right vs right-to-left text complications as well. I also wouldn't want anybody to translate the game's text until more of the key features are implemented.

Q: Will this be multiplayer eventually?
A:
While not an impossible feature, this is an unlikely direction for the project to go in.

Q: Will you ever upgrade the graphics?
A:
Blimdom is designed to be drawn with extended ASCII characters only but depending on interest and appetite for an alternate tile set, I could potentially provide such a thing in the Unity emulated versions (similar to how Dwarf Fortress on Steam just did) but the focus for now will be ASCII characters for ease of development, quick turnaround, and charm. Smiley
« Last Edit: March 13, 2023, 11:34:36 AM by Rogod » Logged

Rogod
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2023, 02:22:59 PM »

Update v0.02
Navigational! Gomez

Features in this version:

 Hand Joystick Added marker stones - place these down, fly away and you'll be pointed back to them

 Hand Joystick You can now drop cargo from your blimp

 Hand Joystick A manipulator arm is now displayed below your blimp when in manipulation mode:
 Pixel 30

 Hand Joystick Added a basic map screen:
 Pixel 30
 Pixel 30 (fog-of-war and panning around (maybe zooming) will be added later)

 Hand Joystick The manipulator arm will present what's being hovered at the top of the screen nicely now (the same goes for walking in front of objects in the town perspective)

 Hand Joystick You can walk inside huts in towns (but all the lights are off, there's no furniture and nobody's home yet lol) - This'll be getting expanded on in v0.03 with shops, furnishings & NPC dialog

Bugs fixed in this version:

 Hand Any Key Only bugs involved in these new features were squished


Dev stuff:

 Ninja Some technical debt was also addressed




Had intended to push an update sooner, so kept this one fairly brief so as to post more regular updates in the future Smiley
« Last Edit: March 04, 2023, 01:47:37 PM by Rogod » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2023, 01:34:41 PM »

Update v0.03
Introductional! Gomez

Features in this version:

 Hand Joystick Waves now emanate from deep waters and break on beaches
 Pixel 30

 Hand Joystick Poison trees are ever so slightly less uniform now Well, hello there!

 Hand Joystick You can search barrels in settlements (just the fore-running work for more useful features in settlements to come in a future update)

 Hand Joystick Buildings have a basic interior now (also fore-running work as above)

 Hand Joystick Added an elaborate intro sequence
 Pixel 30

 Hand Joystick Updated the title logo while I was about it

Bugs fixed in this version:

 Hand Any Key Only bugs involved in these new features were squished


Dev stuff:

 Ninja Added a drawing tool with some handy features for me to create in-game pictures using the appropriate colour model for the engine (i.e. a comma separated list of the 16 colour indexes) because who wants to use a gross bitmap reader in a cross-platform game Grin




Needed to get the intro basically 100% done before I was happy releasing this - should be back to in-game features next time Smiley
« Last Edit: March 04, 2023, 01:47:49 PM by Rogod » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2023, 08:09:08 PM »

Looking great! I like blimps, I like bright colors, and what I see in the screenshots looks really cool.

I can't get version 0.3 of the Linux x86-64 Unity build to start on my system (Mint 22, Intel integrated GPU, 16 GB RAM, 1920x1080).

Code:
Process terminated. Assertion failed.
Can't fit on screen
   at Game.Program.SetupLinux()
   at Game.Program.Start()
   at Game.Program.Main(String[] arguments)
Aborted (core dumped)

I'm sure my screen is big enough, so maybe it failed to create the window, got a size of 0, and asserted.

Also, small suggestion: I would hide all those files in a subdirectory and start the game with a launcher script, something like

Code:
#!/bin/sh
cd game
chmod +x Blimdom
./Blimdom
cd ..

I do think this is really cool in any case. Beer!
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Rogod
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2023, 02:12:13 AM »

Hi mse, thanks for giving it a go.

Unfortunately what you've tried there is actually not the Unity version - I've not gotten round to finishing off the emulator and publishing a Unity version yet (this may have given me the incentive to get it ready though now).

The version you've tried is the native Linux build (designed to run in the terminal window itself). In order to get the Linux versions to work, the terminal size needs to be set up prior to starting the game, as .Net has no way to manipulate the terminal window beyond the characters shown within it. Sad (You can see why I've been trying to write a Unity emulator now Wink )

The only thing I can recommend for now (at least until I get a true cross-platform version out of Unity) is resizing the terminal to at least 80x40 characters (maybe just try a huge window at first) with a relatively modest sized monospace font - after starting the game, one can resize the terminal back down again to fit the content.

(Also yea, the files are in that state on the Linux versions for now just because it's what .Net converts the master-copy (Windows) version into.)

Let me know how it goes :D (If you face any other problems, have a look at the Blimdom support page)



EDIT:
See v0.04 below - this was the prompt I needed to get the Unity version working. Smiley
« Last Edit: March 05, 2023, 09:09:40 AM by Rogod » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2023, 09:08:58 AM »

Update v0.04
Unifying! Gomez

Features in this version:

 Hand Joystick A Unity version is now supported (as well as the original native ARM/Ubuntu/Windows versions)
 Pixel 30
 Pixel 30 (Behind the scenes Ninja)

 Hand Joystick Added a few extra acknowledgement/warning beeps while I was getting the PC speaker emulation working in Unity

Bugs fixed in this version:

 Hand Any Key Only bugs involved in these new features were squished


Dev stuff:

 Ninja Some technical debt was also addressed




I had intended to just barrel ahead with features, but clearly I needed a kick up the butt to get the Unity emulator working properly. Gomez
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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2023, 08:51:28 PM »

You're the fastest dev alive! Blimdom has a beautiful intro. Chilling. Then I get to the menu, and the Unity version seems to fail to generate a world on my machine. I select "Generate world" and both the Play button and the Generate world button turn grey and stay like that, not allowing me to start. If I just press Play, the game freezes at "Entering world..." (stuck for 10 minutes).
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Rogod
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2023, 04:59:47 AM »

Darn. Well I guess we got you closer at least.

Assuming it's not just a case of the world generator & save-file-writer needing more time, the only thing I can think is that the game hasn't got write-privileges.

By virtue of you being able to see the intro puppets and menu background, it must be able to see the folder that images get loaded from and user data gets saved to, but if it's crashing, it may not be being allowed to write the save file.

Not sure of the best approach here as this is somewhat alien territory to me (I only really have experience getting things working, Unity or otherwise, on Windows). Nevertheless, I know it's possible because I managed to get a world to generate and tested Blimdom on an Ubuntu virtual machine.

If it helps, here's exactly what I run when I test things on my virtual machine:
Code:
sudo su
...passwordypassword...
rm -R /home/rogod/linuxDist*
cp -R /media/windows-shared-folder/linuxDist* /home/rogod/
chown -R rogod:rogod /home/rogod/linuxDist*
chmod -R 777 /home/rogod/linuxDist
exit
./linuxDist/Blimdom.x86_64
When this Unity version starts up and I get to the menu, pressing G will grey out "Play" and "Generate world" (in lieu of a loading spinner) for a minute or so, then the flashing arrow next to "Play" freezes while it saves, then "Saving..." appears in the bottom left, then "Play" and "Generate world" are enabled again and I can press P (or enter) to play where I am greeted with the character creation screen over a landmass.
(I fully accept that the UI needs to be more responsive and clever here - but we're only on version v0.04 lol)

Hope some of this helps :S

Very interested to know if it's something else - as I can put this into the support section for others having similar issues. Gentleman
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2023, 07:06:24 AM »

The initial UX flow was just the information I needed! I gave everything 777 permissions (though there were never any file access warnings in the terminal), pressed G on the main menu, waited 3 minutes until the cursor froze, waited 45 seconds, then pressed P when the play button turned blue.

I am now comfortably drifting over a silent world in my tiny blimp. I'll let it drift for a few hours as I sleep, and see what awaits me!
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Rogod
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2023, 07:51:24 AM »

Hah, don't be deceived - the world is not infinite - you're just going to hit the edge lol - although I do appreciate the stress-test benchmarking of running it for a few hours. The idea is to have the world wrap like a globe later. (And I may chop the world up into smaller files at some point which should mean I can increase the world size and cut down on save times as well.)

Developer-hack for now: if you want a larger blimp, you can press F2 to cycle the 3 current designs (they will have different attributes & performance later).

And there won't be any errors in the terminal as this is all handled within the application itself (regardless of Unity emulation). - But knowing there can be problems here helps me to provide something on the UI to prompt people in future, so this has still all been valuable. Beer!

Oh and as for the silence - I am currently in discussions with a musician to get us a soundtrack. Smiley (Music only though; any sounds will always be from the PC speaker.)



EDIT:
In fact, you won't even get to the edge of the map - because I've just discovered a bug with the wave generator that crashes the game if you get too close. Sorry Embarrassed - fix coming in v0.05
« Last Edit: March 06, 2023, 08:00:44 AM by Rogod » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2023, 02:33:37 PM »

It's awesome that you're iterating on feedback!

For reference, this is the screen where it froze (and continued to eat 40% of my CPU):


I cycled through the different blimps. It's really impressive what you can do with colored rectangles. I think there might be some lag going on because it takes about 1/10 to 1/5 of a second to adjust the directional slider, and beyond that the world updates at a lower rate and the blimps move at what looks like realistic blimp speed. Personally, I would update the world view at least 4 fps and make the blimp instantly move in the direction I point. I would also make it beep more. Beep when I take off, beep when I land, beep whenever it can. I like auditory feedback.

I would also suggest mouse input as an alternative to pressing keys. Pressing "C" doesn't quite feel right to someone who was born in the 90s and whose first computer was a Mac.

It's really awesome and I like the aesthetic of colored rectangles rather than the standard characters so many games use. It's a more detailed simulation than I anticipated, resembling Startron. You put quite a lot into a retro blimp game there is absolutely no mainstream market for. I guess that comes with the zen of lived experience.
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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2023, 03:22:13 PM »

Update v0.05
Progressive! Gomez

Features in this version:

 Hand Joystick Cleared snow at the poles will gradually re-settle there again

 Hand Joystick The world generation now shows a report on progress and a loading spinner so you know Blimdom is still working

 Hand Joystick Soil and sand's appearance is now slightly varied

 Hand Joystick A catto has appeared on one of the barrels in the settlements (most important feature)

 Hand Joystick Rigs from the forgotten world now generate out in the ocean (they don't do much yet but they're harder to find as they don't show up on the map)
 Pixel 30

 Hand Joystick The grey mystic orb and blue mystic orb now spawn somewhere in the world (lore and villager dialog will reveal what this is all about in a later release - but props to anyone who finds these 2 orbs at least for now)

 Hand Joystick Blimps can continue flying while viewing the map screen now

Bugs fixed in this version:

 Hand Any Key Fixed crashing near the edge of the map (oops)

 Hand Any Key Fixed map generation sometimes crashing

 Hand Any Key Fixed the character creation option not resetting between worlds


Dev stuff:

 Ninja A tweak to the developer draw tool was implemented too




@mse
Surprised it sat there using 40% CPU when it did that, I guess that's just the price of the Unity emulation, as the actual game underneath will have ceased entirely.

So the directional sliders are intended to be a bit delayed as you're tweaking the velocity of the blimp mid-flight, but if you're experiencing the same lag in manipulation mode then this is possibly a result of the Unity emulation as well. (I can potentially tweak and improve the performance there as time goes on.)

Beep improvements will come with features don't worry. Wink

But I'm afraid mouse input is something I'm deliberately avoiding as Blimdom (and Startron before it) are designed to be played entirely in a terminal in text mode. (Much like Dwarf Fortress.) For the native Windows & Linux versions that run on .Net, there isn't even a way to grab cursor input, as you'd essentially be clicking and selecting text in a document as far as the operating system is concerned. The lack of mouse input is also a stylistic preference to go along with the ASCII characters and 16 colours. Sorry Sad

Maybe in some far off fantasy world in my head, Blimdom will spawn a genre in and of itself some day. Big Laff
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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2023, 06:43:48 PM »

On a technical level, the game now runs perfectly! Well done, and once again in record time! It's interesting seeing the details of map generation progress as it's loading. I would add a fullscreen mode too. (Obviously stretched to center at desktop resolution, not native monitor 4:3. I don't know how modern Unity does it.)

Now that I've played a few minutes of manipulator mode and cleared some land, I find myself unable to switch between items to build. There is no on-screen indicator of how to scroll through the list, and the arrow keys move the manipulator tool.

Quote
Maybe in some far off fantasy world in my head, Blimdom will spawn a genre in and of itself some day.
Boy do I have ideas. I would post the spiel if this forum had a spoiler tag. I'm working on concept art, but it's cringe to all but the most indie TIGers.
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2023, 01:15:30 AM »

Quote
On a technical level, the game now runs perfectly!
Awesome - that's what I was shooting for in the first place Gomez

Quote
I would add a fullscreen mode too.
Oddly enough I actually have the Unity player set to allow fullscreen as the scaling & centring works fine out the box. But for some reason despite the setting being enabled, the resultant build doesn't let you maximize the window. (This'll get ironed out eventually, but the plan is to support it.)

Quote
I find myself unable to switch between items to build.
Sorry, early-days build & all that Wink - The on screen prompt for this is missing, but it's Ctrl+Up and Ctrl+Down (as with Startron).

Quote
but it's cringe to all but the most indie TIGers.
Post it anyway - someone'll wanna see it :D - And it can't be any worse than those spammy threads we get in devlogs from the University of Michigan every semester. Big Laff
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2023, 01:58:05 AM »

Quote
Quote
I find myself unable to switch between items to build.
Sorry, early-days build & all that Wink - The on screen prompt for this is missing, but it's Ctrl+Up and Ctrl+Down (as with Startron).
I haven't played Startron yet but I saw your thread on it. Sadly, I can't get Ctrl-Up or Ctrl-Down to work, so I can't build anything when I have the grapple out. Maybe those hotkeys are bound to something else in my distro or configured in my BIOS or something, I don't know. I see a list with things like "Build storage yard" and "Build boards" but I can't move the selection up or down.

Quote
Quote
but it's cringe to all but the most indie TIGers.
Post it anyway - someone'll wanna see it :D - And it can't be any worse than those spammy threads we get in devlogs from the University of Michigan every semester. Big Laff
Well, these were generated with an AI tool using prompts that I thought were fitting. I was going to feed them into another tool and flesh out the concept a bit more, but the general idea is sexy girls + 1930s-1950s + cybernetics + dirigibles + high society + alcohol.

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« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2023, 03:49:28 AM »

Quote
I can't get Ctrl-Up or Ctrl-Down to work
My bad - it seems I never properly implemented the Ctrl key handling when writing the mapper for Unity's input to the game's input. - Fixed in v0.06 Gomez

Quote
1930s-1950s
Ah, thought you meant you had an idea for a TIG thread. Blimdom isn't going down this road of traditional steampunk, dieselpunk and cyberpunk. I guess Blimdom is more in the direction of wood-punk as we're pretty far removed from current society in the story. Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2023, 04:16:24 AM »

Quote
I can't get Ctrl-Up or Ctrl-Down to work
My bad - it seems I never properly implemented the Ctrl key handling when writing the mapper for Unity's input to the game's input. - Fixed in v0.06 Gomez
Hand Joystick Can't wait! Hand Joystick

Quote
1930s-1950s
Ah, thought you meant you had an idea for a TIG thread. Blimdom isn't going down this road of traditional steampunk, dieselpunk and cyberpunk. I guess Blimdom is more in the direction of wood-punk as we're pretty far removed from current society in the story. Smiley
These aren't suggestions for Blimdom, nor are they exactly ideas for a game. More like an extended dream that I only remembered when playing this. I agree that Blimdom is not steampunk/dieselpunk/cyberpunk, but something about "woodpunk" sounds too much like Minecraft. Yes there are bright colors, but beneath the surface are dead societies and mature ideas that go beyond the aesthetics, it seems.

Blimpunk?

There is a fundamental difference between 20th century New York and a world reclaimed by nature. Along that train of thought, there are multiple ages of blimps: The optimistic golden age, the current dystopian age of spy blimps and death from above (portrayed in Blimdom's intro), and the post-mankind future yet discovered (possibly portrayed in the game). It's definitely not the alternate history angle one would expect.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2023, 05:04:09 AM by mse » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2023, 01:45:15 PM »

Update v0.06
Aerodynamic! Gomez

Features in this version:

 Hand Joystick Improved performance in Unity versions

 Hand Joystick Allowed window resizing in Unity versions

 Hand Joystick Made fountains spawn slightly less frequently (they're supposed to be rare yet I keep finding them everywhere Blink)

 Hand Joystick The red mystic orb and purple mystic orb now spawn somewhere in the world (lore and villager dialog will reveal what this is all about in a later release - but props to anyone who finds any of the 4 implemented orbs)

 Hand Joystick Marker stones now show on the map

 Hand Joystick All the actions in the bottom left have been condensed down so they stop clipping things and using up space (since I keep adding more Durr...?)

 Hand Joystick Allowed blimps to continue flying when looking through the inventory

 Hand Joystick Allowed free upgrading of your blimp if landed on boards (just for now to make it less of a developer feature)

 Hand Joystick Added the settlement name to the top left when wandering around a settlement

 Hand Joystick Made different blimps fly at different speeds (this'll get honed and tweaked over time, as there's already a known bug where the slider bounds go beyond the UI).

 Hand Joystick Added the ability to collect all of a resource out of a yard (so you don't have to pick each one up individually xD)

 Hand Joystick Added an animated look to lava

 Hand Joystick Changed the highlight colour for the-area-around-settlements-you-can't-fiddle-with to be red (to distinguish from the purple highlight indicating mechanical power)

 Hand Joystick Added heat pumps (another way to get mechanical power with greater range, from a volcano)

Bugs fixed in this version:

 Hand Any Key Fixed Ctrl not working in Unity versions

 Hand Any Key Fixed © not rendering properly in Unity versions

 Hand Any Key Fixed the UI strings not existing in places for watermills and windmills

 Hand Any Key Fixed the UI strings being wrong when placing ground tiles

 Hand Any Key Fixed waves breaking on beaches differently depending on direction


Dev stuff:

 Ninja A tweak to the developer draw tool was implemented

 Ninja Some extremely minor future-proofing I missed from the last version was implemented too (shh don't tell anyone Wink )




@mse
Quote
that go beyond the aesthetics
Yea I prefer the notion that there be some history to randomly generated structures, rather than just accepting that they exist because they exist (as with Minecraft). Epileptic

Quote
current dystopian age of spy blimps and death from above (portrayed in Blimdom's intro)
Actually the intention was that the intro portrayed some non-fictional advanced version of our own civilisation. Then the fantasy only begins after the world recovers.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2023, 01:56:42 AM by Rogod » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2023, 12:16:37 PM »

The Unity version's window scales nice and crisp. Ctrl-down works to scroll through the list, but Ctrl-up does not. Very pleased with the length of manipulator tool.
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« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2023, 01:12:13 PM »

Update v0.07
Municipal! Gomez

Features in this version:

 Hand Joystick NPCs are interactable (this'll be expanded on for proper conversation & rapport later)
 Pixel 30

 Hand Joystick There are now 2 shops in every inhabited settlement
 Pixel 30

 Hand Joystick Prevented intro playing if a saved world already exists (i.e. a player has likely seen it before)

 Hand Joystick Added building tile characters next to the build menu options for better clarity on what's going on (also added the prompt for how to navigate the build menu Embarrassed)
 Pixel 30

 Hand Joystick Added fog of war to the map so you can't just see the entire world when you start

Bugs fixed in this version:

 Hand Any Key Fixed Ctrl+Up not working in Unity


Dev stuff:

 Ninja Some shuffling around of code and renaming of variables occurred




@mse
The manipulator tool was just an in-universe way of saying "Build mode" really. The fact that there is a literal arm coming out the blimp to move the cursor around is just an embellishment to solidify the concept. (There'll be an option later to hide the arm to make building easier if folks find it gets in the way.)

And it turns out that from Ctrl+Up, Ctrl+Down, Ctrl+W & Ctrl+S, I'd just somehow missed Ctrl+Up. (Not aided by the fact Ctrl+W and Ctrl+S refuse to work in Unity.)
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