No Time To Play
newsletter archive

Weekly Links #29

Okay, what do I start with this time, because it's been a fairly interesting week.

Right. I might as well mention coming up with another game since last time. Like with Attack Vector, I chose to make a 5-minute intro that looks all polished rather than a long but ugly improvisation.

Yes, it's a visual novel, my first attempt at making one since I first heard of Ren'Py maybe eight years ago. It was inspired by some assets from Open Game Art, which turned out to be not entirely suitable for the task, but I was able to improvise. In any event, I'm much happier with the way it looks than the way it sounds, and more interactivity would be welcome, but early feedback suggests the story is compelling. So that's reason enough to keep going. Download it here.

Anyway, on to the serious news.

About half of my links today are of direct interest to game developers. Over at Gamasutra, we get to see how one game's art has evolved from the one-bit-per-pixel of the original Mac and up to modern gaming computers. It's a lesson in both technology constraints and aesthetics. Note how the artists had to cooperate closely with the programmers to make everything work; there was no room for prima donnae back then!

And speaking of limitations, did you know that Valve wanted to make a MMO before Half-Life? To their credit, they scrapped the project when it turned out to be just too much at the time, and just kept the best ideas alive in their next games. How many other studios would have plowed ahead regardless, killing themselves in the process?

But the truly fascinating news is that the design document for Maniac Mansion has been recovered. Amazingly, the entire thing is 14 pages long, of which more than half consist of concept art... which doesn't even look like the finished product. In Ron Gilbert's words:

Never be afraid to change your ideas. Refine and edit. If your finished game looks just like your initial idea, then you haven't pushed and challenged yourself hard enough.

It's all part of the creative process. Creativity is a messy process. It wants to be messy and it needs to be messy.

Other news this week relate to the social side of gaming. While in Final Fantasy XIV players have organized a virtual pride parade after being allowed to marry regardless of character gender, elsewhere women in gaming continue to suffer from harassment that harkens back to darker ages. And I can't help but think: seriously, guys? We've managed to beat homophobia before misogyny? What a world we live in.

Last but not least, some news for the interactive fiction crowd. Quest creator Alex Warren is at it again, this time with a lightweight system for generating choice-based adventures running in a web browser. It's called Squiffy, and right from the first version it seems more capable than my own Ramus, and easier to use on top of that. Good work there; now let's see how it fares in a very, very crowded market. Until next time.