No Time To Play

Weekly Links #19

by on May.20, 2014, under News

Another good week here in the way of gaming links. This time my dilemma is where to start.

Continuing his new series about 3D programming from last week, Shamus Young writes about coordinate systems and heightmaps. Which is meaningful to me because I’m most familiar with the left hand rule — not only I’ve been using POV-Ray for 15 years, but it’s the most natural system when calculating perspective manually, e.g. for a software renderer. But if I was planning to make a game with OpenGL? Yeah, I’d have to go with their own standard. I believe the main difference is that the Z axis is coming out of the screen rather than going in? Whatever. It’s not that hard to think of your game elements as being oriented differently in space — as long as you do it from the beginning.

In other news, people are always gushing about the ease of making games nowadays, but easy-to-use game creation software has been available since the age of 8-bit micros — at least text adventure builders and things like this. But I had no idea that the Atari ST had a general purpose game creation suite comparable to modern offerings. Thanks, Retro Treasures!

And because there can’t seem to be a week of gaming news without at least one business-related item, here’s Techdirt letting us know that Microsoft’s XBox One woes aren’t over. In the context of the console’s already troubled history, this raises an eyebrow or two. Has the age of consumer power really come? Or is it just that people are fed up with Microsoft’s shenanigans specifically?

I’ll end with two articles about gaming philosophy. On the one hand we have Kotaku running an article on males playing females in games, which is pretty good if nothing new for me. Then again, I have a special interest in gender-related issues. Anyway, on the other hand there’s this article arguing that games should be about much more than fight, fight, fight. Which is, you know, exactly how real life works: when you have no option left but to fight, it means you screwed up — and you’re probably in big trouble. Besides, are we really incapable to come up with interesting gameplay that doesn’t revolve around combat? Some counter-examples that spring to mind, apart from every adventure game ever: insult swordfighting; the frantic hide-and-seek in The Sentinel; or the unbearable tension in Lords of Midnight, a game in which combat was automatic, so all of the player’s decisions were tactical in nature. Moreover, a turn-based game in which you had all the time in the world to think your next move — and it was still a nail-biting experience.

So yeah… it’s only a matter of imagination. Think about that until next time.

Creative Commons License
Weekly Links #19 by Felix Pleșoianu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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4 Comments for this entry

  • Zesago

    Felix–

    Another good haul. I absolutely loved the Sentinel… let me gush about it: I still play the DOS version now and then (the speccy version rarely). It genuinely had a firm grip on me. I remember being extremely frustrated at failure and really elated upon success. It was one of those games where I’d mash the keys harder on the keyboard in the unconscious hope that it would make the avatar turn faster.

    You spoke about the ease of making games… I’m vaguely familiar with the pinball toolkit for the Spectrum, but hands-down the coolest game-making toolkit is ZZT ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZZT ). Not only did it come with some cool, playable games, but the community made some real treasures. Highly recommended for tinkering.

    –Mark

  • fluffy

    OpenGL doesn’t actually mandate a left-hand vs. right-hand rule – you can use whichever rule set you want, if you’re willing to set up the appropriate transform/projection matrices. It’s just that the standard glFrustum() et al use the right-hand rule because that’s what’s much more common in the graphics world.

    For that matter, POVray lets you use whichever standard you want, too. It’s all arbitrary.

  • fluffy

    Oh also I made quite a few games as a kid using Adventure Construction Set, on both C64 and PC.

  • Felix
    Felix

    Right, right, you can always flip any axis about. I was thinking in terms of defaults, because those are what most coders will tend to use.

    As for game creation software, huh, clearly I tend to forget about some of the options out there even though I heard of them. Forgot to mention Eamon for example — a platform that still has a dedicated audience after all these decades. And who knows how many of these things I’ve never heard of.

    Zes, I had no idea there was a DOS edition of The Sentinel. I don’t suppose it’s readily available to buy? Gog.com doesn’t have it… High-five though. :D

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