No Time To Play

Weekly Links #135

by on Aug.28, 2016, under Miscellaneous, News

Hello, everyone. You might like to know that my new book Make Your Own Programming Language is now also on itch.io. This version isn’t as pretty, but it’s more printable, with fewer pages and no syntax highlighting. The content is otherwise identical, and you get the same file formats.

In actual news, Emily Short’s RPS column for this week is a presentation of Texture, the hot new authoring system for interactive fiction. And you know… it bothers me to no end that people sing the praise of Texture’s input system after bashing two-word parsers for decades. Because that’s what Texture did: it reinvented the two-word parser. Which of course is perfectly fine, but can we please acknowledge and address the issue?

On a rather different note, via Vintage Is the New Old here’s a story about someone remastering a ZX Spectrum game after a quarter century — a very instructive, if overly technical, look at history. More approachable is an article about the masters of Commodore 64 games, but the moral is the same: we’re truly blessed nowadays. Why did the hardware makers from decades ago have to make their systems so damn quirky? In retrospect, the quirkiness appears to go way beyond what was needed to squeeze more features out of that limited hardware…

I’ll end with Hardware Gaming 101’s brief overview of Thomas Was Alone, the strange indie platformer from a few years ago that proved there was a huge market for games not driven by technology, and opened the way for more recent successes in the same vein — a most welcome trend if you ask me.

Until next time, consider the lessons of the past.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Emily Short

    I’d really disagree that Texture is a reinvention of the two-word parser, though. The major differences I see are

    a) discoverability: it’s easy to see what options are going to work, and guess-the-verb is not a concern. The two-word parser doesn’t offer this.

    b) de-systematization: a two-word parser implicitly promises to recognize every one of its verbs in every situation. (It often doesn’t do so in practice, but that contributes to user confusion.)

    Texture doesn’t do that — you have a different verb set, potentially, on every page, unless the author chooses to stick to a standard set. You could argue that that’s actually a worse design choice; I’d say that it’s a choice that suits Texture for a different style of work than a two-word parser.

    c) mobile-friendliness: you don’t have to type anything to operate Texture, which is one of the key ideas underlying its design. If you’re running on a PC, that probably doesn’t matter much, but I don’t especially enjoy playing parser games unless I have a full-sized physical keyboard available.

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