No Time To Play

Off-topic

Papercraft and games

by on May.01, 2013, under Off-topic

So, some friends of mine were talking RPG miniatures, and someone came up with this list of papercraft resources as an alternative. My first thought was adding it to one of my link collections, but of course I lack an appropriate category. And why should I have one? No Time To Play is mostly about (making) computer games, right?

See, that’s exactly the problem with us computer heads. We’ve started forgetting why physicality is important, and what we can learn from the analog world.

For example, have you ever noticed how much papercraft is like 3D modeling? In both cases, you abstract and decompose a shape from the real world into polygons. You need to be frugal, either because of machine limitations or because there’s only so much you can do by hand. You need to recognize where you’re better off painting some details on top rather than forcing more triangles into a tight space.

Sure, the computer makes things easier. But that can be a trap.

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From paper to computer art and back

by on Aug.27, 2012, under Miscellaneous, Off-topic

Table Easel with Computer to Side

I used to love drawing as a kid, but various causes conspired to keep me from getting any good. Then I got seriously into computers, and for sixteen years I’ve barely set pencil to paper. That finally changed two weeks ago, when a sudden bout of inspiration made me pull out my sketchbook (yes, I’d taken to carrying one with me!) and get started on a little cartoon.

No, I won’t show you right now. It will be a while until I get back up to speed. But the re-learning process itself is a story worth sharing, specifically in relationship to all the things I’ve learned and done in the mean time.

Because, you see, all the things I’ve done with computers inform my art now, and vice-versa.

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How cool is that?!

by on Feb.07, 2012, under Off-topic

So, earlier today Nightwrath shows me this video tutorial for Unity 3D (on YouTube). It’s not my thing at all, but I watch a little out of curiosity. Wait… this bloke sounds like a twelve-year-old. That picks my interest, and I click through to his profile, then his blog. Which is full of game and console reviews, and more video tutorials. To top it all, he makes music as well. And what do you know… he actually is twelve! How cool is that?

No, I won’t give you an “in the old days” speech. Things were different back then. But I’m thrilled to live in an age when so many people can make a contribution to the world’s culture, without having to ask anyone for permission. As Michael Masnick put it recently, We’re Living In the Most Creative Time In History, and that’s not a given. Be grateful for this freedom. Fight for it.

And don’t forget to check out Computoguy’s blog.

Creative Commons License
How cool is that?! by Felix Pleșoianu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Secure Boot endangers software development

by on Oct.21, 2011, under News, Off-topic

Software developers are willing to put up with a lot for the chance to earn a little money. (Hello, Web agencies!) This is most visible in the iPhone market, which has two very onerous barriers to entry:

  1. you have to own a Mac and
  2. you must pay a $99 developer fee just to test your own apps on the device you bought honestly.

Despite these obstacles, the official Apple app store has enjoyed a veritable gold rush (which, like in history, has benefitted few people, often not those who took risks and toiled). This may have something to do with the fact that many developers already own a Mac, and you can at least develop your app without asking for permission.

This is not a given, however.

(continue reading…)

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Relying on the unreliable

by on Apr.26, 2011, under Miscellaneous, Off-topic

One advantage of not being in the market for mainstream A-list games is that I’m sheltered from this sort of incident. In fact, I only heard about it more than ten days later, when another incident caused some people to remember the previous one. Which in turn promptly reminded me of yet another — unlike the others, this one did affect me.

It’s easy to call us alarmists when we rant and rave about the dangers of the “cloud”. But reality proves again and again that technology is inherently unreliable, and corporations doubly so. Whether you are a consumer or a service provider, depending on the continued availability of something that could go offline at the first storm or the whim of an executive (whichever comes first) is simply reckless. Never mind the issue of DRM; relying on a centralized source for anything at all pretty much misses the whole point of having an Internet.

Don’t get me wrong: a central meeting point has its uses. That’s why I still use identi.ca instead of setting up my own Status.net server. But at least I have the option. One day, Battle.net will go down, possibly for good, and a million Minecraft players will be all, “I told you so”. But then it will be too late.

Creative Commons License
Relying on the unreliable by Felix Pleșoianu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Text, text everywhere

by on Apr.20, 2011, under Miscellaneous, Off-topic

What’s the most low-tech computer game you can imagine? Rogue? Space War? Pong? Tennis for Two? Zork?

I vote for Hamurabi, a strategy game reduced to a dialogue between player and computer, where three numeric inputs is all you get. And yet it is remarkably immersive, not least because it requires serious thinking. That, and the evocative setting. Yes, evocative. You’re a king in ancient times, struggling to feed your people and grow the kingdom against various hardships. What more do you need?

See, that is the nature of text. A tiny bit of it goes a long way.

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Tools are easy, products are hard

by on Mar.31, 2011, under Off-topic

tools-are-easy

I learned a lesson these past few days.

Starting something on the Internet has become frighteningly easy.

You can create a Google Code project, or a Google group, or an Yahoo group in seconds. Or if you have your own hosting, you can set up any number of Web applications in minutes. WordPress, MediaWiki, you name it: with practice, you can do it essentially without thinking. All the infrastructure required to launch an open source project (or the next great Web empire) can be set up literally on a whim.

And therein lies the danger.

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So much for plans

by on Feb.07, 2011, under News, Off-topic

Sooo… I have good news and bad news. The good news is, I’m working on a new game. It’s too early to show you more than a screenshot, but it’s coming along nicely. What’s it about? Imagine a combination between Pac-Man and Robots, except with a few twists. It stayed in Limbo for a while, as I had the base game mechanic down, but no idea how to use it. Now I’m past that hurdle, it shouldn’t be long.

The bad news is, of course, that this post is late. You’d think that after four years and a half of blogging I’d know to prepare better. But nooo…

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Top 5 myths about C++

by on Nov.13, 2010, under Off-topic

C++ Illustration

There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses. — Bjarne Stroustrup

Nothing is perfect; certainly not programming languages. But it’s one thing to complain about legitimate issues, and another entirely to go by old misconceptions that could be cleared up with a little research. Due to its prominent status, C++ is often a victim of ignorance, as people think they know things about it just because they keep hearing the name. So let’s see a few things people believe about C++ that just aren’t true. This isn’t purely for fun: programming is hard, and the last thing you want is to limit your options artificially.

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Secrets of a successful programmer

by on Nov.02, 2010, under Off-topic

Stone Tablet

I like to brag about my work, for the simple reason that I like, well, my work. But it usually results in people taking me for a much better programmer than I am. Then again, that might have something to do with the decent number of completed personal projects on my website: working software, complete tutorials, playable games… Although they are small stuff (after all, there are people out there who write operating systems for fun), they obviously count as accomplishments.

Now, if even such limited success seems to elude you, you may think people like me have some secret ingredient. But all I have is a number of common sense rules derived from (sometimes bitter) experience.

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