No Time To Play
newsletter archive

Weekly Links #60

Another week of development, another screenshot. I did much more that isn't easily shown, such as adding mouse support, optimizing startup times and making sure the game can run on a monochrome terminal. Amazing how little work you need to keep a game running on supposedly obsolete machines as well as the latest Mac. Of course, Python and ncurses help a lot here -- but that, too, is a lesson.

Speaking of lessons, I long wanted to make a rogulike with a variety of map types in some sort of logical progression, but even with the basically unlimited RAM and CPU of a modern machine, managing all the level generators is a hassle. Unless a game is focused on exploration, it's better off with just one type of map, made as interesting as possible. Parametrization goes a long way here.

Now on to gamedev news that aren't about me.

Over at RPGWatch they have an interview with Jay Barnson, and there's a ton of good advice in there. If I were to quote just one, it would be this:

Make lots of games, make them well, but don't get hung up on trying to make your game a masterpiece. You'll hit a wall of diminishing returns really early as an unknown. Make it good, get it out there, and get going on another game.

Yes, yes, I know. You have this one epic dream game you want to make. We all do, trust me. But it's going to be a long, hard slog, and it's all too easy to lose your movitation along the way. Doubly so if you lack the experience of taking even a small game from start to finish... then again and again. More importantly, that's how you get better -- you're not going to make a good game on your first attempt.

From RPGs (ostensibly) to adventure games: the IGN publishes a roundtable with the grand masters of the genre, and to be frank it's downright scary. These are the people who made all the LucasArts classics, and more... and there doesn't seem to be a single one among them who likes computer games for what they are. They all want games to be movies, cartoons, holodecks... anything BUT games.

Does anyone get media at all anymore?

Speaking of grand masters, Polygon covers Jason Scott's GDC speech about computer game preservation. The article is cleverly illustrated with Wolfenstein 3D running in an iframe, straight from the Internet Archive, and bravely focuses on Scott's argument that the only way to rescue certain games from oblivion is to walk out with your own source code when you leave a job, even though it technically belongs to the company. A lesson many studios keep relearning ever since this new fashion of remastering famous titles. And I can't help but think how at DIFFstudios we were encouraged to keep copies of our games off-site, just in case. A wise decision, as it turned out when we had a computer stolen from our offices, with the only copy of a shelved but still valuable project.

Last but not least, in the not-even-news-anymore department, we have EA closing down legendary studio Maxis, presumably after their last two attempts to turn SimCity into a cow-clicker tanked shamefully. As always, marketers do dumb shit and developers take the fall. Yeah, yeah, I know: business blah blah profits blah blah blah bottom line. Enjoy playing with your money instead of SimCity. Having fun yet?