Hey, folks. It’s a good feeling when I have enough links for a newsletter to actually discard some of them. Released at the end of last month as part of Ludum Dare 36, procedural 2D platformer No Mario’s Sky promptly got a cease-and-desist from Nintendo. Naturally, all they had to do was replace some sprites and rename the project to DMCA’s Sky. (Techdirt covers the story in more depth.) Enjoy the egg on your face, big N. How much fan goodwill do you still have left to squander?
Still in the copyright department comes the announcement that Interplay is selling its properties. And you know, on the one hand it’s one of those times when one regrets not being rich. But on the other hand, are we perhaps overvaluing a bunch of titles? A game is a lot more than that, as various creators have recently demonstrated.
In unrelated news, AAA blog is running a retrospective of Civilization, and Jay Barnson writes a brief tribute to Star Trek, occasioned by the series’ recent 50th anniversary that so few people noticed. More usefully, my friend Sera writes about her favorite topic: five depictions of the afterlife in video games.
Last but not least, in the way of game design, part 2 of the series on inventory systems is getting really interesting. And from a roguelike development blog I sort of follow, here’s a write-up on procedurally generating backstory for games. Which isn’t even exactly new anymore, though what the author describes sounds closer to Versu than Dwarf Fortress. But you know… I remember reading a brief history of Middle Earth in the appendix to the Romanian edition of LOTR, and it all boiled down to a long string of “king X ruled between years Y and Z” and “country X went to war against Y, but Z happened and doom befell them”. Which is… exactly how history is taught in schools, and just as meaningless. Unless you can show me how it’s in any way relevant to the story I’m reading now, unless you can give me a reason to care, it’s a waste of space. And you can only do that if your story has a point in the first place.
So why are you telling me your story at all? For that matter, why does it need to be interactive?
Because, you know, most stories simply don’t.
I have a short week again, due to a dearth of news and not much to comment about those I do have. But then I figured out an angle for the first link of the week, and it all rolled out from there.
The Speccy Jam is, as the name suggests, a game jam where developers gather to make games that look as much as possible as if they were made for the eponymous 8-bit microcomputer. Interestingly, the games don’t have to be genuine Spectrum software — which reminded me of a friend who, seeing Spectral Dungeons and Escape From Cnossus, thought they were just excellent imitations rather than the real thing running on emulation. And you know, I can see the appeal of adopting the graphical style while doing away with some of the more annoying limitations. But then the purist in me starts yelling, “but it’s so easy to make genuine Speccy games!” And it fills me with doubt.