It feels so good when links worth sharing appear to seek me out on their own. I’ll start with a couple of retrospectives. For once, Hardcore Gaming 101 runs a feature on a modern game, that only seeks to emulate the classics: L’Abbaye des morts. I remember it being widely discussed on the World of Spectrum forums, and never realizing it first saw life as a PC game. Fun!
In unrelated news, it turns out that personal games (a topic I mention with increasing frequency) are becoming mainstream, as evidenced by this article in The Telegraph. Good news indeed. And while I stopped following the Don’t Die project some time ago, there’s the occasional interview I simply can’t miss. This one covers many of the ugly problems with the modern game industry, from the endless crunch mode that’s the normal way of life for developers, through burnout, abusive behavior online and back to the killing of creativity. Along the way, they even find the time for a jab at virtual reality, a piece of tech everybody always seems to want except for the buying public. But sure, this time it just has to catch on. Or else next time. Just like we’ve been saying for decades now.
Last but not least, I just found out about a 20-part tutorial on making your own roguelike in Java. I haven’t looked at it, but from the table of contents it looks pretty detailed. And then there’s an article about making games more accessible through visual cues and other forms of assistance. Which promptly reminded me of Cheetah’s old plead for configurable games. Because we don’t all have the same abilities, even if you don’t factor in the little issue of gamer aging.
Until next week, help combat snobbery in gaming.
With my schedule messed up again by a death in the family and a fight with bureaucracy, I almost forgot it was time for another newsletter. The week’s highlights are a couple of articles about the so-called “indiepocalypse”, and how it’s way overblown: one relying on statistical analysis, the other on a look at history, and both drawing the same conclusion: good games still sell, bad games still tank. Nothing to see here, move along.
In other news, Techdirt alerts of even more game-breaking DRM changes on Windows. And for game developers, @gnomeslair points at a dialogue editor based on Twine. I wrote about alternate uses for Twine before; this is someone taking the same idea to its logical conclusion. And via the same source, here’s an article about the best games based on books — food for thought whether you’re a developer, writer or player.
Last but not least, I want to talk about a very personal writeup titled Video Games Versus Disability. Mind you, I’m able-bodied. But I’ve met blind people who play MUDs and interactive fiction because hardly any other kind of game works for them, and it pains me just to think of that. As for hearing… I remember playing Blade Runner back when my English wasn’t nearly this good (my spoken English still lags behind), and wishing for subtitles to help me along a little. Imagine being physically unable to hear the game at all. Come to think of it, try playing your own game with the speakers unplugged. Screen contrast turned way down. A metronome tick-tocking in front of the screen. The language changed to one you don’t speak well. These will give you just a taste of how some people experience not just games, but every waking moment of their lives. Can you make something they can enjoy anyway?
Until next week, think about those who Are Not Like You™. Thanks.
This will be another newsletter without any screenshots. The HTML5 port of Glittering Light is coming along, but slowly, and I have nothing to show off quite yet. So I’ll just jump into the news. Most relevant events this week happened in the world of interactive fiction, so that will be the main course. But first, a piece of news that’s as sad as it was predictable: the Ouya console is in trouble.
I called it. I totally called it, right the moment they announced the Ouya as this new thing never before attempted. Which wasn’t true: open source consoles have been around for many years now. In fact they seemed to have peaked around 2009. I even wrote an article at the time suggesting they’re the way of the future.
And they weren’t. Every single open source console was a total flop in the market. A terribly sad thing to a nerd like me. I’d love to own them all, and develop for them.
But nobody would play my games.
The reasons why aren’t simple; a write-up on this topic would take up several newsletters. But these are the facts. The GP* series, the Pandora, the Dingoo A320 were just a few famous examples. Ever heard of them?
I didn’t think so. And that’s because only a few nerds with money — a niche in a niche — ever bought any. And nerds never have a shortage of toys to play with. (Just look at the Raspberry PI.) It’s not the nerds who need catering to.
So, that’s the tl;dr version. Now let’s see about more cheerful news.
I shouldn’t have continued this newsletter past New Year. Once again all I have for you is a couple of links, and not even a progress report, having failed to keep working on my game. At least I learned a new thing or two, but my enthusiasm truly is gone and it’s time to admit it.
So here’s a resolution: no matter what happens, this newsletter ends with issue #75, right before No Time To Play’s fifth anniversary. There’s a good chance I won’t have the money to renew the domain anyway, in which case it’s all moot. Sorry about that.
But for now, this week’s topics are game accessibility and artificial intelligence — two things I care about despite not being very skilled in providing either.