No Time To Play

Weekly Links #107: the value of generality

by on Feb.14, 2016, under Miscellaneous, News

Another week, another close shave. It was only yesterday that I found a link worth sharing, but what a find! Over at Vice Magazine there’s a book excerpt arguing that the ZX Spectrum encouraged creativity more than any other 8-bit platform:

Other machines had more sophisticated sound and graphics, and provided built-in features to make writing games easier. A good example is the Commodore 64, which not only had an advanced sound chip but the ability to use sprites, graphical objects that made animations easier to create. “The trouble was, that guided everyone into making games that all looked incredibly similar,” recalled Spectrum games programmer Jon Ritman. The Spectrum had no such hardware support, and yet its simplicity and origins as a machine to be explored made it a flexible medium to create games that did not have to obey the rules. “The Spectrum was just ‘here’s a bit of screen’. It’s laid out in a funny way, which is a bit of a pain,” explains Ritman. “But you just draw things. And you could do whatever you want. It might not be as fast, but you can do whatever you want, and I think that as a result you got more interesting ideas on it.”

I wrote repeatedly about the value of working with a dumb drawing surface (always controversially, I might add). And then there’s the bit in Jimmy Maher’s Amiga book where he points out that all the technical cleverness of the platform’s legendary chipset was of no use when Doom came along and required raw processing power. Yet the creativity angle is fresh to me, however obvious in retrospect.

In unrelated news, the amazing Michael Cook recently posted the first in a series of articles about Danesh, his new tool for exploring procedural content generators, and it’s a very promising concept indeed. (Hooray for fuzzing becoming a mainstream programming tool. Whether you call it by that name or not.)

But that’s all for today. See you next week.

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