No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #216


Hello, everyone. The dry spell continued as I spent my time thinking and writing about social networking instead of games (also for a gig, but that's another story). Lately, you see, I've been again pondering why we do things, and why we do things in certain ways but not so much in other ways. And after finding my own satisfying answer when it comes to making games, my mind turned to something else I do a lot.

Not that I'm a formally trained philosopher or anything, but we all need to take time and do that a lot more. Because I see a lot of people (usually young) asking for advice about getting started with game development. And when you tell them to first make a simple 2D game, they go, "but I want to make 3D!"

Which is fair enough. You can't go around telling people what they're supposed to like or desire. The tricky part is making sure you really want it, lest you expend precious time and energy chasing a goal you're not ready for, only to drop just before the finish line. So think carefully.

And now, on to the news.

After a few days with no news, K.D. points me at a PCGamer account of playing vanilla EverQuest in 2018, just as it was at launch -- last century. Yes, someone went ahead and revived that edition, and people are even playing it. And while EQ was arguably too unforgiving at launch, most modern games fall in the other extreme, acting like a kind of helicopter parents to their players.

My favorite experience related to that remains a quest from the starting area for Runes of Magic, otherwise very much a theme park, that managed to convey the feeling of being lost in the woods not far from a mountain town. Which somehow worked despite the tiny landscape. And damn if it wasn't by far the best fun I had in those first 10 hours or so of gameplay.

Let your players wander off the beaten path if they want to. You can always reach out and show them back home if they cry for help. Otherwise, don't force it on them. It's both condescending and a bore.

Earlier this month I wrote an article decrying the lack of hybrid parser/choice interactive fiction even after the way has been shown by successful titles. Turns out, there is at least one good example I missed: Domestic Elementalism, from last year's IFComp. The game isn't my cup of tea, but definitely belongs in the category I wrote about. And it was coded ad-hoc in Javascript, too! So, many thanks to David Welbourn for letting me know.

Just as I thought there'd be no more news this week, Juhana Leinonen a.k.a. Nitku posts a detailed breakdown of how long it took him and Jim Munroe to develop Texture, an interactive fiction authoring system I sadly used for a single game -- City of Dead Leaves. Even better, he also provides a breakdown of how much code went into each component of the system. In his own words:

For me the main takeaway from these figures is that it takes a relatively short time to make a new system, but a lot of time to make a user-friendly tool for authoring games in that system.

Amusingly, in my own Adventure Prompt the interactive editor is also bigger than the runner, though the latter has been catching up, but the command-line compiler is smaller. And only the interpreter is likely to grow much more in the future. Goes to show how different the two systems are, I suppose.

Not much, then, but still a decent selection. Happy weekend!