Let a billion videogames bloom

Everything game development: news, lessons, discussion

Weekly Links #310

08 March 2020 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! I started this week by taking that closer look at SFML promised last time. As the test is a success, I'm now seriously considering using it for a much-needed game port. First, however, to deal with a little side project that imposed itself on me. (Creativity works in strange ways.) Which I only started on Friday, after spending most of the week migrating old articles to join the new one above in the engine section of the website.

In unrelated news, this week I also wrote a mini-rant on Twine and community, while Emily Short shared some thoughts about the GDC cancellation, as part of her end-of-February link assortment. In the mean time, many more events of all kinds were canceled worldwide, prompting worries about the long-term effects on various industries. Gee, you mean outsourcing so much to just one country was a bad idea? Or for that matter making so much depend on a few huge annual events set up in rich countries, such that it takes ridiculous amount of money and planning to get there? And then you have all the private companies suddenly discovering the value of letting people work from home. It only took them 35 years to figure it out. Worse, it was fear that prompted the decision, after all the rational arguments were ignored.

In more cheerful news, the 7DRL Challenge took place this week. Details under the cut, along with comments on two long-form articles. Which I'm afraid makes for a very short editorial, but sometimes it can't be helped. Thank you for reading.

Read more...

Tags: meta, rpg, classics, business, hardware, roguelike, community

Comments? Tweet  

Twine and community

03 March 2020 — No Time To Play

This started out short only to grow and grow. Over on the Intfiction.org forum, Chris Klimas is asking for feedback on the Twine wiki. I never had an account, because reasons, but this matter is so important I promptly launched into a Twitter thread, contrary to my habit. Let me expand on it here where my followers won't be flooded.

For one thing, the last edit to the Twine wiki is spam. It's been sitting there since the end of November. That doesn't inspire confidence.

Second, a wiki is a community, not a piece of software. Without the community, what you have is a quirky, overly technical CMS. And frankly, when it comes to community Twine has long-standing problems.

No, seriously. The official Twine website used to have a forum, remember? It was closed down and replaced with a Q&A service... that was also closed down not long after. Sure, I get it. Chris Klimas would rather work on Twine than manage a community, which is a time-consuming and stressful task. (It can also be highly rewarding.) But who else to do this? Dear programmers, code is just an enabler. What we really are is public servants.

That's not all however. Another reason why a Twine community can't seem to endure on the web is due to prominent contributors who are abrasive at best if not outright toxic. And people would rather use crappy software with kind, helpful maintainers. It works out a lot better overall. Remember how Quest was saved?

(Now, maybe the Twine server on Discord is better. I'm afraid to try.)

It will take work to turn that ship around, and half-hearted efforts doomed to be soon abandoned aren't going to cut it. At this point, I'd recommend merging the Twine wiki into the IFWiki, and maybe looking into setting up a Twine community on Itch. There's precedent. But y'all must learn to respect people. And in recent years, the project as a whole has been giving out lots of bad vibes.

Twine is less a tool than an ideal. And now the ideal is trademarked.

Tags: interactive-fiction, community

Comments? Tweet  

Weekly Links #292

20 October 2019 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! Last time I mentioned a mysterious side project. As of this weekend, it's complete: a new port of Robots in Spring to native Linux. See the update at the bottom of that page for details; for now, let's just say it's been fun but it has to remain a diversion until further notice. Then again, great things often start out that way.

For now something else is on my radar: PROCJAM starts in less than two weeks, and I'd like to get in. My early plans for it weren't very exciting, but after some reflection it turned out I was looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Just got to pick up my work on the Eightway Engine from where it left off in August and go from there. Only in another direction.

Otherwise, not much to say this week. The game industry continues to act surprised that videogames are still political and VR is still a solution in search of a problem. Oh, a niche market of enthusiasts is well-established by now, including one or two of my friends; but they're not going to make even one manufacturer rich, let alone everyone who was expecting a revolution. Does this remind you of anything? Here's a hint: FMV in the mid-1990s. Which was a quarter century ago... in other words before most of the current crop of "experts" was even born.

Now you know why people in this line of work never seem to learn.

In the way of news, this week we have: more classic games now playable online, a neat little graphics engine for web browsers, and the closing of a retrogaming community. Details below the cut.

Read more...

Tags: retrogaming, preservation, graphics, procedural-generation, community

Comments? Tweet  

Weekly Links #289

29 September 2019 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! Thanks to a generous donation by my friend WereWolf, the hosting costs for No Time To Play are covered until next summer. So I can stop pestering you for a while. Any extra funds received will still be appreciated, of course.

In other news, due to recent developments I'm finally in a position to offer 64-bit Linux builds for my games. Currently, Escape From Cnossus HD is available in the new edition, both on No Time To Play and on Itch. Where, it turns out, I had never uploaded the latest builds from this summer. Oh well, better late than never.

On the minus side, I'll be less able to support the 32-bit editions going forward, especially for Windows. No reason to take them down, of course, you'll just be on your own with them. Oh, and I took the game entirely off Game Jolt, along with most of my titles from this year. They're just not moving. I'm not sure what to even offer the kind of people who go there to play.

Oh, I do have new games planned, and improvements to existing games, and articles to write... so much to do, so little energy. Should be more able to work on them in October, but how fast is another question entirely. Especially as I'm forced to make some changes in my workflow, and the kinds of things I can work on. Will let you know.

Anyway, for news this week we have changes coming to the event known as PROCJAM, words about the future of Ren'Py, and some philosophical considerations about Doom 2. Details under the cut.

Read more...

Tags: community, tools, classics, shooter, game-design, philosophy

Comments? Tweet  

Weekly Links #280

28 July 2019 — No Time To Play

So, my post from two weeks ago made the Dragonfly BSD Digest, a well-known and highly-respected linklog in the tech community. As of this writing, it had five times the usual number of readers, but no reactions. Maybe it's better that way, given its controversial nature.

In even better news, I started working on my game again. By now it looks like this:

Game screenshot depicting a dogfight against round spaceships from a first person perspective, in an abstract landscape suggested with neon-colored bars.

and people seem to like it, for various reasons. So even if the going is slow, I don't mind because the time taken will have been well used anyway.

As an amusing aside, the game was freezing randomly for short intervals after adding enemy missiles. As it turned out, trying to draw a filled circle in software when it was scaled too big took a lot of time. Dear fellow programmers: trust me, you're optimizing much too early and in the entirely wrong place.

Now for the news. We have quite a few this week:

  • how the myth of white, male Middle Ages came to be;
  • what being a game designer means;
  • the things game developers have to put up with from certain fans;
  • a sound critique of Steam's new automated curation features;
  • advice on making game enemies OK to kill.

Last but not least, a tribute to the late Rutger Hauer. Details below the cut.

Read more...

Tags: meta, history, game-design, community, curation

Comments? Tweet