No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #65

Hello, everyone! By the time you're reading this, Tomb of the Snake is out, three days ahead of schedule -- mostly because I cut one last feature, but also because it seemed fitting to announce it on my usual posting day. (That it happens to coincide with Easter in my neck of the woods is more on the awkward side.) Here's what you're getting:

Village level
Cave level
Catacomb level
Game over screen

It's both more and less than I hoped for. It's no big deal, certainly not perfect, but it fills an underserved niche or two, and it was a surprising amount of work for what's in there. Get the game from, on GitHub or even here on No Time To Play. I hope you enjoy it, and remember: feedback is welcome!

Now on to the few other news I have this week.

I've ranted before about games that apparently want to be movies, but I'd never have imagined that some game developers hate their chosen medium enough to make this wish literal. Turns out, that's not even new: released almost five years ago, Metroid: Other M already came with a "theater mode" that just chained all the cutscenes together into a movie. And I'm all for letting players experience a game the way they want to, but think about it. Why would they pay $60 to see a movie, when the same costs at most half that on Blu-ray, brand new?

Only because it's not available as an actual movie at all, of course.

While this is an extreme example, the general trend has been obvious even to me. In his Escapist column, Shamus Young names a few more offenders in the same category. And you know, maybe it all has something to do with the way people seem to want stories in every game... and to make stories out of surreal, nonsensical games that were never meant to have one at all. It makes sense in a way: stories are important to people. But all too often, it seems we can't make a story without breaking a game.

Is it because we still don't understand games, after all this time?

In better news, the aforementioned is hosting a couple of very special game jams this spring. Through Twiny Jam, which ended just this Wednesday, the inimitable Porpentine invited people to write a Twine of only 300 words! And judging by the impressive number of entries (for a while, the new game feed on the site was swamped), many people dared to make a game who would have shied away if the entry treshold had been higher. Which was exactly the point. One can only hope that some of them will set their sights just a little higher next time.

In a similar spirit, Sophie Houlden's upcoming More Is Better Jam will challenge people to make as many games as they can in just one week! I can't help but think about that story with the pottery class that circulated on Tumblr at some point. Because you see, young developers do have trouble releasing games; learning to let go and just release something playable (as I did with RogueBot) can be hard.

The enthusiastic Ms. Houlden has been trying to encourage newcomers to the art for a long time now, and for good reason. We need a Cambrian Explosion in game development, and technology can truly deliver nowadays; all we need is the people. So here's to another fun initiative, and see you next week.