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Weekly Links #269

12 May 2019 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! With the command-line prototype out of the way, it was time to tackle the game as intended. And it's been coming along remarkably well:

(Screenshot of a retro strategy game drawn in primary colors, showing an abtract galactic map.)

This despite some firsts for me, such as having a proper mouse-driven GUI in a SDL-powered title, complete with text input. Which required some custom coding, but you know what? All games used to, back in the day, and they did just fine. It's been fun to work on, and not even hard for the basics. In fact, I often have to write more code than this to get a proper GUI toolkit do what I need. And damn if it doesn't look gloriously retro. The right font also helps a lot with that part.

So it happens that a week in, the game looks poised to take no longer than the prototype did (despite already being bigger), and yield some reusable code too. Feedback has been good as well, and there's even a player's guide now. Stay tuned.

In the way of news, this week we have a big rant about an equally big coverage of the Star Citizen debacle, and a whole bunch of links for retrogaming enthusiasts. Details below the cut.


Let's start with something from last week. As multiple sources pointed out until I couldn't ignore the story anymore, Forbes Magazine ran a detailed account of the Star Citizen debacle. Apparently, this is the latest project of legendary game designer Chris Roberts, which was crowdfunded to the tune of 300 million dollars, a mindboggling amount, yet after no less than 7 years in development still has little to show for it, despite obvious efforts. And if the journalistic assessments are correct, then it's once again a much too familiar story.

For one thing, what the hell is it with creative types and disdain for any kind of rules or restrictions? People call me disciplined and orderly, and I'm like, have you seen the chaos my life is? But without some guidelines to go by, all people can do is flail about without making progress in any direction at all. What's so hard to understand? No, you're not supposed to accept arbitrary rules imposed from outside, but set your own, dammit! And live by them.

Second, and that also seems to be a problem with businesspeople, there's the issue of scope. Dude, we all want more. Bigger, better, shinier. But can you deliver? Pro tip: it's not just a matter of ambition. You have something called limits. When you run into them, you can lower your expectations and get something done, or you can end up with nothing at all. Choose wisely.

Third, that bullshit about "living worlds" that "don't revolve around the player". Unhhh... You do realize there's a difference between game and game world? Also between player and player character? Sure, arguably it makes little sense for everyone to just stand around reacting passively to the protagonist and nothing more. But check this out: the player wants to be the hero, that's the whole point of playing a game. Ultimately, everything that happens in the virtual space is for the entertainment of the very real human sitting at the keyboard. And having the fun they paid for wander off on chicken legs because they were 1.75 seconds late to a key location misses the whole point. Dear game designer: I don't care about your "realism". It's normal for art to be stylized.

But you try explaining all that to a superstar who was never told "no" in their life.


Last but not least, we have a whole bunch of news about retrogaming:

Have a great week, and see you next time.

Tags: business, game-design, interaction, graphics, philosophy

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