No Time To Play

Tag: platforms

Weekly Links #102

by on Jan.10, 2016, under Gamedev, News

Sometimes experiments just don’t pan out the way we expect them to. But you know, that’s kind of the point. And sometimes the actual results are more interesting than those we were expecting.

I was going to write the article promised in the previous newsletter, but instead I found myself adapting the new mobile UI from the Deep Down prototype to an older game of mine: Glittering Light. Here’s the result after a few days:

So much for doing everything on a dumb drawing surface. Why should I reinvent the GUI wheel when the browser gives it to me for free? Just so it would be more like in other environments? Well, it’s not. It’s a browser game, might as well embrace that. It allows me to inline the credits and proper instructions, have a high score table, and as a bonus the buttons actually work in mobile browsers as well (unlike touch events, which should but don’t). Getting mouse events relative to the viewport was a bit of a problem, but now I can use a secret weapon: jQuery. As for that infamous delay when touchscreens simulate a click event, there’s a reason this game is entirely turn-based…

Experiment “write games using a standard GUI toolkit” is a success. Next, to embrace the paradigm more fully.

In completely unrelated news, my friend Sera alerts me to the fact that the Oculus Rift will cost nearly double the promised amount, and that’s on top of the already expensive gaming rig it needs to be at all useful. Dear Silicon Valley hipsters: some players make sacrifices to indulge in their hobby (and make you rich). Show a little respect. Oh, and you might want to look at a little competitor called Google Cardboard, which only costs a few dollars (by virtue of being make of literal cardboard), works with common smartphone models, and — check this out — is an open design, so buyers aren’t tied to a single manufacturer that might discontinue the product line or even go out of business at any time.

Sure, Cardboard is probably a toy in comparison. But it also has room to improve in leaps and bounds, with minimal investments that will be distributed across countless enthusiasts the world over. Good luck keeping pace.

Until next time, beware of overengineering.

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Weekly Links #76

by on Jun.28, 2015, under News

Hello, everyone. In accordance to the new policy, I’m skipping the introduction. This week’s theme is game performance. Nightwrath sent me this link about what Kotaku thinks is a low-spec laptop. And it’s scary. I could rant about it at length, but these three recent tweets do a better job:

Having recently switched from a 7-year-old computer to another 7-year-old computer myself, I heartily agree. Especially as I have friends — and I mean in the US, not Romania — who would love to have my “ancient piece of junk”. More about this in an article soon.

In the mean time, consider this: there are people out there still making amazing games for 33-year-old 8-bit computers and pushing the limits. Imagine the kinds of games we could still make for the machines that used to run Baldur’s Gate 2, if only we cared about making the best of what we already have. But we don’t, because apparently it’s easier to build a marketing campaign on raw numbers…

And because I mentioned games for old computers, @gnomeslair links to a list of homebrew games for legacy platforms. I actually played one or two of them, and you know what? Even the primitive Atari 2600 can do a lot more than its hardware specs would suggest. Think about that.

Last but not least, you know what those 8-bit computers gave us? Generations of good programmers — people who grew up knowing that computers are made to be tinkered with, as someone from Microsoft points out.

Having grown up with the ZX Spectrum, like many of my friends, I can confirm that’s indeed the case. Modern software development may be infinitely easier, but it’s nowhere near as inviting. And that makes a difference.

It’s not for the best, either. Have a nice week.

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Weekly Links #60

by on Mar.08, 2015, under Gamedev, News

Another week of development, another screenshot. I did much more that isn’t easily shown, such as adding mouse support, optimizing startup times and making sure the game can run on a monochrome terminal. Amazing how little work you need to keep a game running on supposedly obsolete machines as well as the latest Mac. Of course, Python and ncurses help a lot here — but that, too, is a lesson.

tomb-of-the-snake2-20150308

Speaking of lessons, I long wanted to make a roguelike with a variety of map types in some sort of logical progression, but even with the basically unlimited RAM and CPU of a modern machine, managing all the level generators is a hassle. Unless a game is focused on exploration, it’s better off with just one type of map, made as interesting as possible. Parametrization goes a long way here.

Now on to gamedev news that aren’t about me.

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Weekly Links #47

by on Dec.02, 2014, under Gamedev, News

Hello, everyone. We had a long weekend in Romania, courtesy of December 1st falling on a Monday, and I spent it meeting with friends. In exchange for the newsletter being late, I give you a new version of RogueBot:

Yes, after going in the wrong direction for weeks, I completely redesigned the gameplay, and it’s off to a good start this time. Even with just the absolute basics in place, it feels like a game. It’s frantic. It’s challenging. (If you want an easy game, try Buzz Grid.) It requires both dexterity and planning. And it feels like there’s room for improvement, both on the player’s and the developer’s side.

In other words, a success.

(continue reading…)

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Weekly Links #46: procedural generation edition

by on Nov.23, 2014, under News, Opinion

Last post was #200 on this blog. I’m kind of glad it happened to be my first proper article in a while, rather than yet another newsletter. This blog has been on life support for way too long now — at least a year if I remember correctly. And if I didn’t have a handful of faithful readers I’d just stop posting entirely.

Anyway, this week ended the Procedural Generation Jam 2014, after a most welcome one-day extension. Oh, I was already in, and entries were accepted after the deadline anyway — all very informal and friendly — but it was fun seeing how much I could do within the allotted time. Which was less than I hoped, due to lack of energy, but oh well.

But I showed off my entry before. I’d like to talk about the others today.
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Weekly Links #37: Talking Business

by on Sep.21, 2014, under Miscellaneous, News, Review

I’ll start this week’s newsletter with a signal boost. Friends of mine are working on a new RPG, a steampunk mystery, and they need some funding to make it happen. Details are scarce right now, but here’s what they have to say about it:

So, check out Hounds of Londras on Indiegogo, and spread the word. Thank you very much.

(continue reading…)

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Weekly Links #22

by on Jun.10, 2014, under News

I must be getting used to this. Despite the fact that I was really busy over the weekend (the good kind of busy, mind), a good bunch of links accumulated here. It’s going to be a very visual issue, so let’s get to the point.

You know I’m a big fan of Lords of Midnight, possibly the most unique strategy game ever. More than once, I decried the fact that ever since the original ZX Spectrum release nobody quite managed another title like it — even the official sequel wasn’t as beloved. At least there’s the modern edition keeping it alive.

Well, IndieGames.com alerts us of a brand new game based on the same concept, with an Arabian Nights theme and all the goodies one would expect from a game made in 2014. See for yourselves:

Never mind playing it… wish I would have made Legions of Ashworld myself. Good work there, folks.
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Weekly Links #17

by on May.06, 2014, under News

You know, for having spent half of the past week out of town, I’ve got more links than I hoped. Thank Ceiling Cat for wireless Internet and Android tablets.

I’ll start with this playthrough of a game from the recent Ludum Dare. Disclaimer: the developers are friends of mine. It’s one of them playing — I found the game just too hard for me.

For the curious, William the Wopol is written in Love 2D, using a custom engine and editor that by now has proven to be very robust.

(continue reading…)

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Weekly Links #14

by on Apr.14, 2014, under Miscellaneous, News

As of late, I’ve repeatedly posted links about the current generation of consoles and their woes. (Of which every generation seems to have plenty.) So it’s funny that just now a friend would point me at this older (from December 2013) video doing a first look at SteamOS.

As someone who’s been using Linux for nearly 15 years, I think I know what’s going on here. And it’s not very flattering for Valve.
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Three years of No Time To Play

by on Aug.11, 2013, under News

three-year-cake
It’s our third anniversary, and things have changed in the past year.

Oh, I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom. Life has ups and downs. We’ll be better again. But I can’t help but notice how in the past few months we’ve dropped below the one post per week average. Lack of time and energy will do that. At least there hasn’t been a month without some sort of update — I’ve seen websites go utterly abandoned, and it’s sad. Especially when life continues elsewhere, and you can at least keep taking part in the conversations.

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