No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #221

2018-05-27

How does that keep happening. It's been another week when I couldn't think of making games, at least not productively. Apart from real life issues that still aren't resolved, my time went into picking the right Linux distro to revive a 2005-vintage laptop. That, and exploring options to do the same with a computer that makes said laptop look new in comparison. And damn, is that exhausting in a day and age when people seem to think everyone has a high-end gaming rig lovingly assembled by hand no earlier than Christmas.

By far the most lightweight option I found wasn't even a Linux, but NetBSD. Which is incredibly friendly nowadays, especially given its reputation and history. Another pleasant surprise was to find in its package manager a full suite of interactive fiction authoring tools: Inform 6, TADS 3, and Hugo! Too bad nowadays everyone uses Inform 7, or else Twine... and the latter requires a modern browser that barely runs on the aforementioned laptop.

Meanwhile, Infocom's classics still run just fine on 8-bit machines with 128K of RAM. And we're still finding ways to make ever better (graphical) games on the same. Somehow. After several decades.

Then again, people still find ways to write ever better literature... on paper... while efforts to "reinvent the book" could never seem to add anything worthwhile. Can we learn this lesson already and move on?

Now let's see this week's news.


It's a new week, and it starts with fluffy signal-boosting a call for help from the creator of Tiled, the premier tile map editor -- an essential tool for the modern game developer. Since this wonderful piece of work is open source, most people likely get it for free... but making it better costs money. And there's always more to do. So if you can help, please consider it. Thank you.


Over on Itch.io, we have a developer's rant about how hard it is to make money from games](https://polypogon.itch.io/wisdom-collector/devlog/34886/five-reasons-my-game-was-a-failure-and-yours-will-be-too) as an indie developer in 2018. Some stats and concrete advice make it worth reading; but there's also the fact that yes, people are fickle, they have lots of choice, and little disposable income. If you enter this business for the money, then yes, you're likely going to be disappointed. So many games I was hopeful about failed not just to sell but even to get any notice. To wait for success before doing more with them would be to wait forever. It's backwards, don't you see?

No, the only way to succeed, if you're going to succeed at all, is to keep making stuff until something takes off. And if you're putting money before your art, that's going to be very, very hard. So make a decision.


As the week begins to wind down, we have a blog post that's not directly about game development, but still relevant: how programs load and run on various computers, old and new -- what exactly happens behind the scenes. And yes, that includes consoles. At first the title seems unrelated, but then there's a twist as it gets into modern operating systems and the problems they created in an attempt to be clever. By the end, you'll understand the rationale for certain trends that seem dubious at first sight... and the enormous importance of keeping things simple whenever you can. Highly recommended.


That's it! Thank you for reading.

P.S. No, I didn’t go with NetBSD for the laptop. Devuan Linux is lightweight enough for it. Keeping the former for even more extreme cases. Yay, options.