Weekly Links #107: the value of generality
Another week, another close shave. It was only yesterday that I found
a link worth sharing, but what a find! Over at Vice Magazine there's
a book excerpt arguing that the ZX Spectrum encouraged creativity
more than any other 8-bit platform:
Other machines had more sophisticated sound and graphics, and provided
built-in features to make writing games easier. A good example is the
Commodore 64, which not only had an advanced sound chip but the
ability to use sprites, graphical objects that made animations easier
to create. "The trouble was, that guided everyone into making games
that all looked incredibly similar," recalled Spectrum games
programmer Jon Ritman. The Spectrum had no such hardware support, and
yet its simplicity and origins as a machine to be explored made it a
flexible medium to create games that did not have to obey the rules.
"The Spectrum was just 'here's a bit of screen'. It's laid out in a
funny way, which is a bit of a pain," explains Ritman. "But you just
draw things. And you could do whatever you want. It might not be as
fast, but you can do whatever you want, and I think that as a result
you got more interesting ideas on it."
I wrote repeatedly about the value of working with a dumb drawing
surface (always controversially, I might add). And then there's
the bit in Jimmy Maher's Amiga book where he points out that
all the technical cleverness of the platform's legendary chipset were
of no use when Doom came along and required raw processing power.
Yet the creativity angle is fresh to me, however obvious in retrospect.
In unrelated news, the amazing Michael Cook recently posted the first
in a series of articles about Danesh, his new tool for exploring
procedural content generators, and it's a very promising concept
indeed. (Hooray for fuzzing becoming a mainstream programming tool.
Whether you call it by that name or not.)
But that's all for today. See you next week.