No Time To Play
newsletter archive

Weekly Links #30

I don't even know where to start. Paradoxically, it's because of too few links this time, rather than too many. How do you tie together thematically a handful of completely different topics?

Oh well. Two weeks ago I was writing about Kickstarter projects that fail after being funded. Well, here's a postmortem of one that succeeded. As it turns out, that takes a lot more than just enthusiasm. And money is never as much as it appears.

Speaking of money, from another of my favorite gamedev bloggers comes a fascinating opinion piece claiming, in essence, that for a lot of people making games is just an escape, a release valve, much like a lot of people play guitar without any expectation that they'll ever perform in front of an audience, let alone make money from it. Which is pretty much what No Time To Play's motto, "when development IS the game" has been trying to remind readers for the past five years. Not that I'd mind people Flattr-ing our games from time to time...

In unrelated news, there have been a lot of unusual first person 3D games as of late that got people talking, such as The Stanley Parable and Gone Home (curiously enough, last year's Proteus didn't cause such a stir). Now Rock, Paper, Shotgun alerts us of another one, called 3DTextAdventure — which doesn't leave room for much more of a description, really. I couldn't help but notice the reviewer pointing out how limited the text adventure side is. D'oh, it's hard enough making even a two-word parser and a primitive world model, and that's for someone who knows a bit about the genre. (Cough, cough.)

But mostly, it's hard to make a first person 3D adventure, period. Over at The Monk's Brew, a graphical adaptation of the acclaimed story game Vespers has been in development for eight years now and is still a long way from being done. The 3D side of the equation is hard enough already -- my brain starts to melt every time I try to look into it. Then you have the sophisticated world model of modern interactive fiction. Now imagine having to blend the two. Not just in the sense of being able to, say, push/pull/turn/move a wooden crate (physics engines exist for a reason); you also have to script and animate any events it triggers, consider possible side effects and so on. It's no longer a simple matter of typing a textual account of what happens and code to set a few flags. Especially when you have an entire cast of complex NPCs staging a virtual theatrical play.

It makes me conflicted. On the one hand, I wish developers were more reasonable. Sticking to the basics is usually the best way to get something done. On the other hand, someone has to push the state of the art. And my readers know how much I like first person games.

Just don't stop working on games, and see you next time.