No Time To Play

Tag: randomness

Weekly Links #169

by on May.07, 2017, under News

Hello, everyone. Despite everything, this week also came with plenty of interesting events in gaming. So many in fact that I had to trim multiple links, and it’s still a lot. Shall we?

Let’s start with an interview with the director of Wolfenstein 3D, occasioned by the game’s 25th anniversary. And there’s a ton of good advice in there, some of which I follow (embrace limitations, and don’t burn out), some I unfortunately fail at (use the best tools available, and if there aren’t any, make your own). And still on the topic of classic games, we have the first article in a series about the history of Sierra, which in turn quotes from a recent interview with two of Sierra’s creators — both valuable bits of history.

Now for something completely different. Over at PC Gamer, there’s an article about the portrayal of mimics in videogames (the D&D monster). I had high hopes for the article, too, because one of my favorite webcomics, Rusty and Co., features a mimic turned adventurer — and a talkative, witty one at that. But there was no mention of it. There was, however, a mention of Luggage from Discworld… but not a single word about Luggage’s origins as a character in a novel written to parody fantasy cliches.

Dear people in gaming, do you ever read anything outside of reviews and strategy guides?

In the way of game design, Jason Dyer illustrates the biggest problem with random number generation, while the creator of Cogmind writes about clever uses of RNG seeds. And you know, I considered doing just that, but in my one game that could have used the trick, Spectral Dungeons, generating each level is so slow it would be especially annoying to do it all over every time. I am, however, careful to use a separate RNG for world generation versus enemy behavior when at all possible.

Also on the Grid Sage Games blog there was a discussion of various versioning schemes, which are as thorny as they are arbitrary, as we know from Windows, the Linux kernel, or the race between Firefox and Chrome. My advice? Don’t fuss too much over it unless you develop software according to a strict plan; just pick a scheme, and use release code names to make things more clear.

To end with a couple of items from the world of interactive fiction, Emily Short writes about the place of parser-based games in 2017, while over on the forum there’s a discussion about compass-based navigation, with some surprising conclusions.

I should probably write a come-back with my own extensive thoughts on mapping and virtual places, but for now this newsletter is way over quota, so see you!

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Weekly Links #108

by on Feb.21, 2016, under News

Hello, everyone. I won’t be so talkative today, having already spent my energy on the previous rant. Let’s start with Develop magazine explaining how practical models defined the original Doom. Which is pretty funny, considering how Hollywood went through a period of all CGI, all the time around the turn of the millennium, only to rediscover the value of practical FX. But I had no idea game developers would also resort to props and such in the past. Maybe that would be a better way out of the uncanny valley than even more polygons?

Then there’s Shamus Young with an overview of randomness in gamesanother issue I tackled myself in the past. In the same key, a thread on the forums discusses what card-based mechanics can do that dice can’t. Worth keeping in mind, especially as I gave serious thought to making games based on card mechanics but never got around to it.

Last but not least, it turns out someone is implementing a Civilization clone on a Commodore 64. Which is way cool, and proves once again (are you tired of hearing this already?) just how badly we’ve been underutilizing computer hardware for the past… oh, more than 30 years now. And as a post scriptum, here’s a spoilerific retrospective of Planescape: Torment by Hardcore Gaming 101.

Have a nice week, and see you next time.

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Good randomness, bad randomness

by on Nov.19, 2012, under Case study, Gamedev

The proper use of randomness in games is a serious problem. I’ve written about this before, so I was happy to see other game developers recently raising the same issues as I did, and mostly drawing the same conclusions. But while Craig Stern of Sinister Design writes about board games and what we can learn from them, Jay “Rampant Coyote” Barnson plays devil’s advocate a little — an important counterpoint, as it turns out.

What could I possibly add to this? As it turns out, one of my attempts at making a roguelike actually went far enough that I had to tackle this problem, and surprisingly enough I solved it pretty well. Except I never explained how, and this is a good time for it.

(continue reading…)

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My love-hate relationship with roguelikes

by on Apr.04, 2011, under Case study

I liked roguelikes ever since I discovered the genre, possibly in 2002 or 2003 — around the same time I stumbled into the modern IF community. But while my involvement with the latter was significant, the former remained a marginal interest at best, despite attempts to change that.

Wait, what are roguelikes? For younger gamers, they are the ancestors of Diablo, although that might seem hard to believe when you see the latter next to, say, Nethack. Connoisseurs will tell you it’s one of the oldest computer game genres, along with text adventures, and with the same timeless appeal due to the use of text as a medium.

They can also be some of the most frustrating computer games out there.

(continue reading…)

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