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Weekly Links #22

I must be getting used to this. Despite the fact that I was really busy over the weekend (the good kind of busy, mind), a good bunch of links accumulated here. It's going to be a very visual issue, so let's get to the point.

You know I'm a big fan of Lords of Midnight, possibly the most unique strategy game ever. More than once, I decried the fact that ever since the original ZX Spectrum release nobody quite managed another title like it -- even the official sequel wasn't as beloved. At least there's the modern edition keeping it alive.

Well, alerts us of a brand new game based on the same concept, with an Arabian Nights theme and all the goodies one would expect from a game made in 2014. See for yourselves:

Never mind playing it... wish I would have made Legions of Ashworld myself. Good work there, folks.

Another interesting game announced recently is the highly experimental and self-referential Magic Circle, in which you play the indefinite protagonist of a game in perpetual alpha and have to battle the developers' apparent incompetence. Sounds like a game for all the ambitious young programmers who don't realize just how much work goes into a big-budget title. Eurogamer lauds the game's postmodern nature (which is admittedly hard to get right). But as a writer I especially appreciate the idea of having a hacking mechanic in a fantasy setting. Because in writing as in gaming, genre boundaries really are artificial...

And still in the way of game reviews, a friend pointed me at this Cinemassacre coverage of an oldie (but not goldie), namely Back to the Future 3 for the Sega Genesis console -- a platform I was never familiar with. The game, however, exhibits the same problems as many of its contemporaries: punishing difficulty to disguise the fact that it's just too short, and what I term the "game over" syndrome: killing the player over and over before they can get their bearings and figure out what's expected of them.

Lesson learned: a string of minigames with a common theme can make for a compelling title, but they're a lot of work and take up ample space that would be better used by giving the player a bigger playground.

You'd think that's no longer a problem nowadays, what with storage still growing cheaper and more plentiful even as CPU power has plateaued. But over at The Escapist, Shamus Young tries to put in perspective the 40-gigabyte size of Wolfenstein: The New Order. And it's scary. Just think of it this way: if this game was sold in a box, it would come on 10 DVDs. Ten of 'em! Think there would be a single box out there without at least one faulty disk? And what for? So you can see the freckles on the face of every single enemy?

But relax, it's only sold as a download. How big a pipe do you have?

Last but not least, on the 30th anniversary of Tetris, Retro Gamer treats us to a "making of" article dedicated to the great classic. Many lessons in there for a budding gamedev, too.

And because I've been working on a game of my own again, I couldn't help but notice this tutorial teaching how to make a raycasting engine a la Wolfenstein 3D in just 265 lines of Javascript. Of course, it's not the only such tutorial out there, and others I've tried at least run in my browser rather than making it choke. But the explanations and code are both crystal-clear, which is something. YMMV.

But that's it for today. See you next time.