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Weekly Links #296

17 November 2019 — No Time To Play

Lately I just can't seem to get a break. After securing a little funding for No Time To Play earlier this autumn, now the site's future is in doubt again as the .org top level domain was just bought by a private equity company. In other words, one of those shady investors who squeeze dry everything they touch and vanish into the night. To call them vampires would be an insult to the likes of Dracula and Lestat. Oh well, if paying for the domain name becomes untenable, it shouldn't be too hard to migrate most or all content. The question is, where? To Neocities? That's also a .org domain... Maybe to a friend of mine who offered before. Which would even allow me to keep the wiki. Oh well, I'll see.

Meanwhile, I took a break from working on games in favor of an interpreter. Again. Might end up with something for here, too. Hoping for a sequel to Tiny scripting engines for everyone, in fact. Again, it remains to be seen.

In the way of news, this week a bunch of things caught my eyes, but I have little to say about them except "go read". So without further ado, here are the links:

(You can also find all of them in the link archive for November.)

With that, only four weeks' worth of newsletters are left in 2019. Happy Blade Runner Month!

Tags: meta, news, representation, technology, strategy, indie, classics

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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!

Read more...

Tags: strategy, classics, interview, business, education

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When games grow and time passes

17 September 2019 — No Time To Play

This was supposed to go in the newsletter, but it quickly ballooned into its own thing. Via the Pygame Discord server, here's a post from last week about What Happened to the Real Time Strategy Genre. I've followed trends in the area even less than the author, so let's see what they have to say:

In any case this brings us to the first thing that happened to RTS games: They innovated like crazy, created several new genres and split up into many smaller genres.

This includes things like tower defense, tower offense, more hero focused games like League of Legends, (but also some games in the the Dawn of War series) the new genre of auto chess, the tug of war genre, (still not really popular outside of StarCraft 2 mods for some reason…) survival strategy like RimWorld, idle games, blends with 4X games, non-combat RTS, Pikmin–likes, and probably more that I’m forgetting.

Which is good insight. MOBA games sprang from one Warcraft III mod. Tower defense started as an informal challenge for its direct predecessor. Idle games... maybe if you see them as offshoots of ultra-casual economic simulations like the infamous FarmVille. Either way, all these subgenres appeared because it was what people wanted to play. And as the author points out:

When you make the game that you should make, (“should” according to what’s hot right now) instead of the game that you actually would want to play, it usually doesn’t turn out that well.

Yep... I keep telling aspiring creators: write the stories you'd like to read. Make the games you'd like to play. The art you'd like to see. It's not even about setting versus following trends, but having something to say. Doesn't even have to be original. It does however need soul.

But there's one point the author misses entirely: ultimately, there's nothing wrong with gameing having some classics that remain great to play for a long time. Old books don't become automatically boring by virtue of being old. Shakespeare is still popular, too. And not always in the original form, either; we come up with updated versions all the time.

Which is exactly what people have been doing with games as of late. And just in time to rescue some of those old masterpieces from oblivion as bits rot away.

Tags: strategy, philosophy, game-design

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