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Weekly Links #218


Hello, everyone! The third game in my current series got done on Friday morning. I incorporated some lessons from the first one, but the game design didn't come together all that well. It's still a fun game that takes some skill and not just luck. And hey, for my first time actually making a strategy game (unused design documents don't count), the result could have been worse.

Now it's time to revisit the second one. As initially planned (should have stayed the course) it will be a two-player board game. Which establishes a new pattern: each entry should be in a different genre. And that tells me what to go for next.

But for now I need a break to sleep off accumulated stress from health issues. So let's see what's new in the world of game development.

Videogame preservation is an increasigly popular topic these days, as technologies keep changing at a dizzying pace even as PC hardware has begun to stagnate. I even have to skip over the occasional news simply for having little to add.

This time, Gamasutra points readers at an effort to preserve Flash games specifically -- a task made hard by Flash itself going away entirely in a couple of years, and the games also depending on files and server features that are hard to come by anymore. The author of this initiative does a good job of explaining why this is happening, and what is being done. What saddened me was hearing how Flash game portals don't seem to know what to do -- or else don't care. Like... this is their livelihood? A good part of it anyway, even if most of them have probably started transitioning to HTML5 years ago. But no.

A worthy cause, then, which deserves to be more widely known. Good luck to them!

This Thursday Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an introduction to collectible card games, something I ought to know more about. It's well-written too, lightly and humorously, giving a good overview of the market as of now. It even mentions a physical card game!

I would add the upcoming Slime CCG, that you can find on, and Patient Rogue, released earlier this spring. And hey, this might just be the kick in the pants I need to try and make one of my own.

To cap off the work week, RogueBase points me at the creator of Cogmind writing extensively about achievements in games, and it turns out they're useful for a lot more than just participation trophies to make kids interact more with a marketplace. I won't go into details; it's a long, thoughtful post which also segues into icon design (in ASCII art, natch) and implementation details towards the end. Lots of food for thought in there, so I'll just leave you to it.

As the weekend draws near, interactive fiction authors can enjoy a brief comparison between Twine and Ink (spotted by Raphaël Lucas). Written at an introductory level, it aims to give a feel for what it's like to work in either system, pointing out how both can do the same things, but in different ways, and with other defaults. In my opinion, it gives a better idea of what Ink can do than even the official documentation, which makes the system appear cryptic at best. A good read, then, and not long at all. Enjoy!

It's Saturday, and PCGamer treats us to a story about the making of Undetale, that makes unlikely connections but also provides excellent insights. I'm glad to see more people use the term "punk" while talking about a videogame, for instance. On the other hand, the game's success is hardly a surprise in retrospect: Undertale makes it painfully obvious just how same-y most other RPGs are, even those famous for letting players talk their way out of everything. Also how personal, heartfelt pixel art impresses players a lot more than millions of polygons that say nothing. Or, as the article points out, how underestimating kids is a mistake:

If its virality ensured the attention of young eyes, there were other reasons why youngsters were so enamoured with the game. “It’s funny, it’s messed up, kind of scary, and isn’t for kids, but doesn’t exclude them,” he says. “Kids love messed-up stuff that isn’t for kids, but doesn’t exclude them.”

So yes, we all have much to learn from this one game. But it's hard to accept the lessons we're being taught.

With that, I declare the week concluded. Enjoy the Sunday.