No Time To Play

Weekly Links #131

by on Jul.31, 2016, under Miscellaneous, News

Is it a book? Is it a piece of software? It is a game? The second edition of Make Your Own Programming Language, that I finished writing today, has a little of all three. Most importantly, it tries to recapture the fun of making the computer follow your instructions, that forgotten quality of programming that used to lure so many people decades ago. It will soon be out to beta-readers, and then I’ll let you know.

In other news, Rock, Paper, Shotgun is running a series of articles on the future of procedural generation, specifically about spinning lore for computer role-playing games. Which would be pretty interesting, except for most roguelikes that would be overkill, while in more conventional CRPGs handcrafted characters, stories and settings are the whole point. Do games that aim to have emerging narratives even need that much detail, especially if it’s ultimately fluff?

Going forward, via Jay Barnson, here’s a Gamasutra article about Chrono Trigger’s Design Secrets, that manages to be useful even though I never played the game. And Jimmy Maher’s history of computer story games has reached the demise of Infocom; check out the quote from Marc Blank, who was stating who knows how long ago what myself and others have been blogging about all spring:

If all of a sudden you can ask any question, but there are really only three questions that are important to the story, you’re either going to spend all this time coming up with answers that don’t mean anything or you’re going to have a lot of “I don’t know that,” which is frustrating. I always suspected it was a dead end. The nice thing about the command-oriented game is that you can come up with a pretty complete vocabulary and a pretty complete set of responses. As soon as it becomes more open-ended — if I can say, “I’m hungry” or “I like blue rubber balls” — how do you respond to that?

To end on a nostalgic note, here’s a blog post about abandoned arcades, and the slow death game cabinets are sentenced to when left exposed to the elements. Thankfully, there is interest in rescuing these old machines as of late, so for the most part arcades are a bit of history we can expect to survive.

Until next time, don’t let the past be forgotten.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Tom H.

    I’m looking forward to reading Generation Next precisely because it seems so poorly motivated: I don’t understand the widespread excitement about the author’s URR project when he’s not to my knowledge demonstrated any *fun*. The gameplay described seems like drudgery.

    Being myself a PhD, his work seems like the worst kind of academic “I have a cool idea I’m going to pursue whether or not it’s actually useful”, and I really hope it turns out better than that. If Generation Next is well-written I can at least hold out hope for a useful “lessons learned” postmortem.

    • Felix
      Felix

      Well, fundamental research has its place, and URR is at least a fascinating exploration of what is possible with PCG. And in the author’s defense, this attitude of doing stuff just because it’s possible, without considering the point, has been pervasive in the game industry for decades now.

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