I’ve entertained the notion on and off as of late, but when I finally acquired a gamepad it was a spur-of-the-moment decision (and possibly a bad one if my finances don’t improve). The tipping point was the double realization that supporting a gamepad is actually quite easy, yet relatively few Linux games bother, so I could add support in my own games — learning how it works in the process — and perhaps raise awareness of this issue with a platform that still struggles to gain acceptance among gamers.
There was also the fact that very little appears to be written about actually designing games to work with a gamepad versus mouse+keyboard, as if it was a simple matter. And that’s really odd, considering how the control scheme is usually the biggest complaint about games ported from consoles to the PC.
I missed the golden age of RPGs such as Eye of the Beholder or Zelda, and only played a couple of the newer classics, none of them to completion. To be honest, I didn’t go out of my way for them, either. It’s just not my kind of game. Curiosity is still a factor, though, and some recent titles just happen to be accessible enough for a casual player such as myself, both because of the platform they run on and the considerably simplified interface.
So, some friends of mine were talking RPG miniatures, and someone came up with this list of papercraft resources as an alternative. My first thought was adding it to one of my link collections, but of course I lack an appropriate category. And why should I have one? No Time To Play is mostly about (making) computer games, right?
See, that’s exactly the problem with us computer heads. We’ve started forgetting why physicality is important, and what we can learn from the analog world.
For example, have you ever noticed how much papercraft is like 3D modeling? In both cases, you abstract and decompose a shape from the real world into polygons. You need to be frugal, either because of machine limitations or because there’s only so much you can do by hand. You need to recognize where you’re better off painting some details on top rather than forcing more triangles into a tight space.
Sure, the computer makes things easier. But that can be a trap.
When I first wrote Square Shooter in 2009, use of the canvas element was uncommon enough to earn me entrance into multiple game directories. Fast forward four years, everybody uses HTML5 and my little shooter was long in the tooth. The physics were broken (I had fixed them in the Python edition), it had no sound, and didn’t really adapt to different resolutions as it was supposed to. Worse, many of my friends now had touchscreen devices, and Square Shooter was unplayable on them.
A combination of burnout and indecision caused me to postpone this rewrite for a long time, and then it took quite a bit of experimentation to get things right. But it’s here now! The new Square Shooter runs more smoothly (thanks to the requestAnimationFrame shim from Three.js), looks good on any screen (except it strongly prefers portrait mode) and also runs on modern phones and tablets (though you need a fast CPU). It also features awesome sound effects courtesy of Open Game Art. I can never give enough thanks to the awesome people who make art for the rest of us to use.
So I give you the Enhanced Edition in all its glory. Play it. Fork it. And see if you can reproduce that one weird bug (you’ll know it if you see it), because I can’t figure it out.
Oh, and stay tuned because I plan to add graphics as well. Cheers.
Hello, everyone! I know it’s been quiet as of late, but we’re still around. There is an announcement coming soon, but in the mean time let’s welcome You I Give the Helm, a new multiple choice adventure by Roger Kenyon, which enhances Ramus with neat typography. It’s fairly replayable for its short length, too, so give it a go. Thank you, Roger!
For the past few months, the only hobby I’ve practiced was writing. That’s because every time I tried programming for pleasure I found myself giving up in minutes — that’s how badly I was burnt out. There’s been one exception to this: writing a text adventure in Alan 3.
Of course, Catch That Cat isn’t a new adventure. Initially written as a demo for a homebrew authoring system and later ported to TADS 3, it’s more like my own personal Cloak of Darkness, albeit one that’s rather large and complex for the task, having a bigger than needed map (like everything I design) and two NPCs with radically different behavior. But that only makes it more suitable for exploring a new authoring system in depth.
If you’re at all interested in gaming, you must have heard by now of the SimCity debacle. Whether it was a publicity stunt, incompetence or simple disrespect for the players (after all, always-on DRM had been already reported to cause problems in beta, never mind prior experience with other titles “featuring” the same protection scheme), the entire story might have blown over as EA added more hardware and compensated their customers with a free game. But no… the rabbit hole is getting deeper by the day.
Here’s a headline that should sound familiar to any gamer: Visual Effects Industry Does a Disappearing Act. The closing of an award-winning studio soon after launching a highly-grossing game is already a staple in the world of gaming. And while it’s easy to blame Hollywood accounting for the phenomenon, there is another thing that computer games and movies have in common, and which keeps pushing development costs to ever more absurd heights.
A few days ago, Sony has unveiled their next generation console, to doubtful reactions from bloggers, to put it nicely. (One article I’ve read was full of profanity.) And I couldn’t help but notice that according to all of these articles, Sony equates the future of gaming with more polygons. More… M-m-more polygons… Revolution! (Insert electronic music here.) More emotion in games? Just add polygons! New experiences? Same treatment!
The problem with that is twofold.
I think pretty much everybody agrees by now that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is bunk. But while language doesn’t really shape thought, it can definitely influence the way we think about things. Just look at the way scientists use the word ‘theory’ versus how the general public understands it — the “but it’s just a theory!” brain bug is sure to drive any knowledgeable person crazy.
As Shamus Young points out, one such problem term is ‘computer game’. In his own words:
A random retweet pointed me at this article in Kotaku praising the beauty of Doom 3 source code. It’s especially interesting to me, because Id Software’s coding guidelines are remarkably similar to my own style. Minimal comments, vertical spacing, public fields where it makes sense, minimal operator overloading… it’s all there. One place where I disagree with these guidelines is in the use of
printf over I/O streams. Folks,
printf is unsafe! It’s one thing to avoid excessive templates, and another entirely to make your code deliberately less robust out of some religious hate for the STL (which, by the way, most programmers simply aren’t qualified to replace). Conversely, I side with the Id guidelines against the article’s author in regard to method names. Wanna know why it’s a bad idea to name your methods
getLength() instead of
length()? Because it’s like writing “
make X the get the length of Y” versus “
make X the length of Y“. The latter makes sense in English. The former just doesn’t.
Don’t be a slave to code conventions. Always think things through. And make sure to read source code written by others from time to time.