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Everything game development: news, lessons, discussion

Weekly Links #318

03 May 2020 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! Early this week, a young developer asked the Itch.io community for advice on starting out. While it's usually hard to give generic advice, I wrote this in response:

Make the games you like to play, because you'll be playing them a lot.

Be patient, because you're not going to make great games in a week, or a month, or a year. It will take much study and practice. You'll probably fail a few times, too.

Start with something simple. Don't turn your nose at text-based games, for example. People love them, and you have to start with something you can handle.

Talk to people. Play their games, too. Then show them your games.

Try all kinds of engines. Try to learn programming. Figure out what you like best and what you can do good work with.

Don't give up easily.

Be kind.

More people had interesting contributions, so check out the whole topic. And in the way of news, we have a new old interactive fiction blog, a history of early shareware games, and a headline of great importance for No Time To Play and the internet in general. Details below the cut.


Tags: education, interactive-fiction, history, business

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Weekly Links #298

01 December 2019 — No Time To Play

Dear makers of video tutorials: cut it out. Cut it out with your "learn gamedev with X and Y in Z lessons" series, where you have beginners copy-pasting bits of code before they know why indentation matters in Python. You're perpetuating a culture of instant gratification that's destroying the world. They're not going to get bored if you first teach them how to make, dunno, a guess-the-number game. In text mode. Using input. And they'll be grateful later. So will the rest of us, when we don't have to spend much of our time pointing people at, you know, the beginner-level tutorials they should have started with in the first place.

Conversely: dear beginners, code is just text. You don't need a fancy IDE that will sing and dance and make your coffee. A humble text editor is enough to get you started. Just get Geany or something. You want to set up your language and libraries independently of your editor anyway. Other people won't have it! Besides, you need to know what's happening behind the scenes anyway. Otherwise you'll be helpless when things go wrong. When, not "if". You'll go asking for help, and people will try, but you won't even understand their explanations.

Education is like building a house: you have to do it right. Otherwise it will come crashing down on you sooner or later, and many people will bear the costs.

In the way of game development news, I'm afraid this week is kind of thin on the ground. We do have a couple of game design lessons worth reading though. Not so much comments:

Otherwise, there's my new direct-to-wiki interpreter construction tutorial. Which gave me a lot of ideas, so languages will be my focus for a while. Hopefully not to the detriment of games, but you know how it is.

Meanwhile, enjoy the Sunday and see you in a week for the next-to-last newsletter of the decade. Thank you for reading.

Tags: education, game-design

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Weekly Links #293

27 October 2019 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! As of this week, I have the framework for an Eightway Engine game up and running. Don't want to make too many preparations before PROCJAM, though at least some preproduction work is in order. Let's see how much of it I can do while working on something entirely different.

Otherwise, most gaming news this week appear to be of the "industry executives act surprised when fads prove to be fads" variety. Despite, I might add, all the warnings. Then again that's human beings for you: ignoring countless alarm bells and red flags until it's too late, then crying that nobody warned them.

Meanwhile, indie games continue to soar. Too bad successful developers thereof fall prey to survivor bias and start handing out terrible advice. Dear young creators: don't believe everything you hear!

Speaking of which: I continue to be impressed by the number of high-school students who get started not just making games but putting them online too, thanks to services like Itch. Even younger sometimes. And all too often, the teachers who should be first to help them fail in their duty, leaving volunteers on chat servers to pick up the slack. In the past, I've complained about some of these kids being impatient or clueless, but now I see it's often not their fault. When school and commercial products alike promote instant gratification at every turn, it's hard to blame impressionable young people for buying it.

We're all educators, and we're responsible. Let's act the part already.

Meanwhile, this week we have an interview with the creator of several classic 4X games, and a retrospective of a horror classic, as befits the season. Enjoy!


Tags: strategy, classics, interview, business, education

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