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Weekly Links #264

07 April 2019 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! As of right now, Keep of the Mad Wizard is on the home stretch.

(Screenshot of a computer role-playing game showing a character sheet.)

Since last time, I implemented potions, added more content, and figured out what to do for the endgame. Even added a good chunk of it, apart from the ability to solve it with spells. Also a prologue and epilogue, that give the game at least the pretense of a story. The game is coming out shorter and easier than expected, but it's not automatic, and feels balanced enough. It even requires different play styles for the three classes!

And because working on a game is great for inspiration, I wrote yet another article about CRPGs, more exactly scope versus accessibility, for player and developer alike.

In the way of news, we have the long-awaited release of Pygame 1.9.5, Itch.io's new job board, a write-up about licensed games and a retrospective of the King's Quest series. Details after the cut.

Big news for those who use Python to make games: after many months of work, version 1.9.5 of the Pygame library was just released into the wild. To quote the official announcement:

Every single source file has been heavily modified and moved in this release. Initial (source code only) support for SDL2 has been merged in. We also support compiling with SDL1 in the same code base, so the migration to pygame 2 is easier. pygame 2 will be released with SDL2 being the default backend when some remaining issues are ironed out. The 1.9.x releases will continue with SDL1 until then. Also, the C API of pygame is undergoing a transformation with lots of cleanups. Then there have been plenty of other cleanups all throughout the python code as well. There's still lots to clean up, but things should be significantly easier for people to contribute (👋 hello and thanks new contributors!). The documentation has been improved with better examples links, search functionality, and improved navigation. Support for older Macs, and newer Macs has been improved. The mask, midi, draw, and math modules have gotten lots of polish with rough edges removed.

Click through to read the thank-yous and detailed changelog. I'll add that the switch to SDL2 means future versions will be able to run on Android, and also have new features such as supporting multiple windows where possible. Other additions are being planned, that should make Pygame more useful than ever. Hopefully more popular too, wink, wink.

It was on April 1st, but very much real: Itch.io just launched its very own job board! Aimed at serious game companies willing and able to pay people a living wage, it offers quality reviews and the platform's popularity with aspiring developers in exchange for a price meant to discourage joke postings and the like. As of April 2, there's one customer too: Failbetter Games, a studio famous among other things for being an excellent work environment where truly innovative work is done. A good omen!

On Friday, PC Gamer has a material about the limits of making licensed games, and the level of absurdity is through the roof. Makes you wonder why studios ever bother taking them on. Especially as the decision makers often don't really care about them, as one of the people interviewed points out. Why should anyone else? All those heroes we love are just cash cows to their corporate owners.

That said, I've been on a project where we were supposed to port some silly little advergames between platforms, and we also weren't given the originals to play, or even gameplay video to work from. Just flimsy design documents, and very late copies of the assets. Some of them. And it wasn't some super-secret tie-in to a big franchise. You can imagine how it went.

So no, it's not just big-budget licensed games. Business just makes no sense.

Last but not least, Hardcore Gaming 101 takes on the King's Quest series, and there's some stuff in the links section that didn't fit. Enjoy!

Tags: rpg, game-design, programming, business, classics

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