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Weekly Links #261: classic MMORPG edition

17 March 2019 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! The big news this week is that I managed to complete a command-line port of Ramus 2:

(Screenshot of a terminal emulator showing a fragment from Roger Firth's Cloak of Darkness.)

Well, for certain values of complete. There are many more features to add. But hey, now you can play games natively on Linux and Windows. Source code is available, too. This lets me better understand the system, paving the way for other future improvements, and frankly it makes the whole thing look a bit more like a serious effort, if not exactly professional.

In related news, I started work on a gamebook using Ramus 2, because what's an interactive fiction authoring system without an original game made with it? No promises as to when it will be done, but the concept is strong and should work out.

Now, on to the week's major events. In mid-march, we have big things coming to Itch.io, EverQuest at 20, and a request for help. Details below the cut, and please read to the end. Thank you!


Multiple sources report that Dwarf Fortress is coming to Itch.io (and Steam, incidentally), in a paid graphical edition, while still being available for free if you can put up with ASCII art. The bad news? This is caused by the game's creator needing to save money for expected health issues. A terrifying reminder that even in this digital world we're still growing old before we know it, and nothing can turn back time, or make up for what we lose. On a more positive note, do support indie creators if you can. That's what you do when you buy the game online: not paying for the bits, which are trivially copied, but helping out a fellow human being.

Also on Itch.io, this Friday the community forum got a big boost with the addition of a new category for tabletop gaming. Which is already vibrant, proving how popular this supposed niche really is.


Speaking of time that passes, PC Gamer reminds us that EverQuest is 20. A remarkable achievement in this ephemeral industry of ours. I don't entirely buy the explanation that this is due to community bonds. MMORPGs with equally strong communities close down all the time. This however is a good observation:

"When I play something like Destiny, I don't really care about the people I've been thrown into a game with," [Holly Longdale] says. "If they die or quit, someone else will drop in. There's no connection there. But in EverQuest, if someone dies or bails on your group, you'll probably never forget about that human being for as long as you play the game. When people help you, you bond with them, and out of that communities are born. That is the special sauce of EverQuest."

Clearly, then, a strong community is a necessary ingredient for the long-term survival of a MMO, if not a sufficient one as the game's producer seems to imply.

There's a lot more in there, about unofficial fan servers, generational play or the trap of chasing fads, so to keep this from getting too long I'll just let you read. While you're at it, don't miss the same publication recounting how EverQuest came to be and the academic research it attracted. Truly in-depth coverage of a worthy topic this week, so all is well.


Last but not least: I don't ask for help often, but this spring No Time To Play needs you. Hosting bills are coming up in a week, and my PayPal account is just short of the required amount, with no prospects of more money coming in before the bills are due. Even a couple of bucks would make a difference, if you can spare that much. Any remaining money will be used to help other creators, and/or set aside for the next billing cycle.

Thank you very much. You're all awesome.

Tags: indie, mmo, rpg, roguelike, tabletop, interactive-fiction

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