No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #73

Thought I was done gathering links for this week's newsletter when Nightwrath pointed me at this postmortem of an indie RPG that was no less than 10 years in development. And that's funny because this week I've been editing old blog posts for the book, and my first big article here begins with a handful of links to stories in the same vein. It seems people never learn: yes, you have to start small, and by that I don't mean a smaller RPG, but a simpler game.

Oh, if you do have the fortitude to keep at it for 10 years or more, results can be wonderful. But do you?

And now for other news.

Just last week I was writing about a game that takes procedural world generation to a whole new level. Just on cue, here comes Hardcore Gaming 101 with a feature on Dwarf Fortress. And it's funny how the point they make about emergent stories bubbling up from the complexity of the simulation reminds me of Chris Crawford and Emily Short's efforts. By pure coincidence, Jimmy Maher's article on Knight Orc provides a counterpoint in illustrating how emergent behavior is at complete odds with a hand-crafted story. And while I never played Knight Orc, I remember all too well having to restart The Hobbit because I couldn't coax Gandalf into giving me a hand...

And since I mentioned Dwarf Fortress, here's an article explaining why it's important that losing should be fun. Which also boils down to the idea that emergent behavior butts heads with a crafted experience. Funny that. Do you suppose game designers will learn to let go any time soon?

Remember, as a game designer you should be working with the player, not against them. Indirectly, you are playing your game with someone you never met. And that reminds me of the time when I playtested a board game, and while I came out in 3rd place out of 4 players, the game's inventor said I played the nicest. Which to me was worth far more than a victory...

In other news, three months ago I was covering the issue of videogame preservation as raised by Jason Scott. In the mean time, his story has made Ars Technica, and Jay Barnson points out it's the bad old games that need saving. I won't repeat his excellent points here, but I'll add that we can only learn from mistakes if we remember them. Also, preserving the games nobody cares about is good practice for doing the same with those that matter. All of them used to run on the same platforms, you know.

What else? Let's see. When I saw an article about accessibility in Twine, I didn't expect it to be about language and cultural context, especially after reading about Twine's poor support for screen readers elsewhere. But ease of use, by authors and players alike, is an even bigger issue, if anything. So, good points.

Last but not least, Boing Boing posts a comprehensive summary of the latest mini-scandal in gaming, the #GamesSoWhite Twitter hashtag. At least this one has blown over quickly, but I still remember noticing it and wondering what happened this time, only to be told by an acquaintance how they accidentally started it, or at least made it popular. In any event, diversity in games is now a mainstream topic of conversation, and that means the battle is half-won.