The Just Jot It January prompt for today is ‘poke’.

First thing that comes to mind is the old Basic command POKE.

Right around the time the first Star Wars debuted and MTV launched, somewhere around there, I got my first very-own computer. From Radio Shack. It was a TRS-80 Color Computer II.

I would stay up all night connected to Bulletin Board Systems with my 600-baud modem, downloading text adventures to save on my cassette drive.

And sometimes I would try my hand at composing programs in Basic.

The two commands PEEK and POKE were akin to the unforgivable curses in Harry Potter (Cruciatus!) – because, according to my limited understanding, they allowed access the machine language underlying Basic.

I would PEEK, but never POKE.

Flash forward to now, and you’ll find me doing a little poking around, though. See, for the last month, I’ve been revisiting an old favorite computer game called Stardew Valley. This is because the game’s solo creator, Eric Barone aka Concerned Ape, recently released a big content patch free to those who already own the game. I’ve gotten re-hooked on playing it.

One of the many amazing things about Stardew Valley is that it is conducive to modification. There is a fairly vast community of developers and players who participate in the alteration and extension of Barone’s baby.

This is where the poking comes in. Not only have I been downloading and installing ‘mods’ which change Stardew Valley, I have also gone into the .json files of these mods and done some mod-modding of my own.

I’ll spare you the gritty details.

Suffice it to say, I’ve been having some grand and frustrating fun on my recent excursions into… what… I want to say something like ‘programming lite’ or ‘layman game dev’… whatever it can be called, it’s a real kick for me when, as a result of my poking around, my own words, images, and ideas come to life in Stardew Valley.