No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #15

All right, so I'm going to state the obvious by pointing out it was Easter, so for once I have an excuse to not give you many links.

The big news is of course that Richard Gariott has recovered the source code for Shroud of the Avatar, one of the world's earliest CRPGs, which he wrote to run on teletypes way back in 1977. And now he's organizing a contest to have it ported from the original BASIC to modern web-based platforms. A neat idea, but for two little details:

  1. The $500 big prize is good for the amount of work involved... if you live in Romania. The listing seems small -- 1000 to 1500 lines -- but it's line number BASIC from the year I was born. And I don't see a way to run it in emulation...
  2. After all that work, you don't even get to keep any rights on your port. I beg your pardon? First of all it's a competition, not work for hire -- the latter would have to be paid at fair market rates. And second, it's a primitive BASIC game from 37 years ago, the kind they used to print in books and magazines. What exactly is he protecting anymore?

Sorry, but I'd much rather work on my own original games. Oh wait, I'm not sorry.

Another headline that caught my eye was an illustration of how videogame mascots evolved. And it's scary. Where have all the cartoon characters gone? Not that they've stopped making Mario games, or Sonic games -- they'll probably go right on with the sequels and derivatives until the end of time. But creativity sort of implies making new stuff now and then for a change. And not just grim, gritty "realistic" stuff. There's color in the real world, you know. And joy.

Unless, I suppose, you're a CEO from the world of big media.

Today's final headline comes from The Rampant Coyote, who comments on the cancellation of a World of Darkness MMORPG. And indeed, it has been a truism for quite some time that rules made for tabletop RPGs don't translate well to computer games. D&D only worked thanks to heroic efforts by generations of programmers, and the relatively mechanistic nature of the rules, which are otherwise rather complex and irregular. But a game fundamentally centered around player-run intrigue? That's the sort of thing people run on forums and MUDs, in a freeform environment.

But I haven't even done that in a long time. Oh well, see you!