No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #113

Hello, everyone. Once again I have a handful of links but this time there's much more to say about them. At this spring's GDC, a new voice rose to talk about the way emulation may be the only way to preserve old games going forward -- and with them, a big part of our era's culture. Which echoes Shamus Young making a similar argument exactly one year ago in The Escapist. You already know my opinion so I won't insist.

In unrelated news, we have this short Golden Axe retrospective. I must confess my experience playing the game was very different. While my 15-year-old self wasn't above staring at pixelated nudity, that was the last thing on my mind while playing a fast action game on a small EGA monitor. And I'm pretty sure that at least in the PC version the dwarf did have an axe -- the whole point was that he had a slow attack that could cleave in half multiple enemies at once, while the woman had a light, fast blade that did pitiful damage, with the male barbarian being average in that department. And guess which character was my only chance of actually making any progress...

To change the topic once again, someone who worked on many of the big LucasArts games made public a bunch of design documents. And it turns out there was a proper sequel planned for the Atari classic Star Raiders — not the one that ended up on the market. What stands out in the PDF: how game designers at the time did consider potential marketing needs, but at the same time made provisions for when a feature was just too hard to implement properly. Which is the opposite of my experience in software development: what the boss decided absolutely HAD to be implemented at any cost. Yet somehow I was always the one being accused of inflexibility. Somehow.

It's also amusing to see just how much of a Star Wars rip-off the game concept was, plus the terms liberally pilfered from Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica (the first one). Originality may be overrated, but there's inspiration and there's just sort of making a childish mash-up of cool concepts with no rhyme or reason. Then again, that perfectly describes Ultima I, and that's the game that single-handedly launched the modern CRPG genre. Your mileage may vary.

Last but not least, it's been three weeks since Rhianna Pratchett was mentioned on this blog, and here she is taking the stage again to remind people that storytelling in a game is more than just the writing — the entire design contributes, and developers need to learn how to work together in telling a story.

Then again, if people knew how to truly work together, the world would have become a utopia long ago. Cheers.