No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #19

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.

P.S. In the original comments, my friend fluffy pointed out it's relatively easy to convert between coordinate systems. But I say that would be going against the grain, and confusing any developer who might have to maintain the code after you. So no.