Thought I was done gathering links for this week’s newsletter when Nightwrath pointed me at this postmortem of an indie RPG that was no less than 10 years in development. And that’s funny because this week I’ve been editing old blog posts for the book, and my first big article here begins with a handful of links to stories in the same vein. It seems people never learn: yes, you have to start small, and by that I don’t mean a smaller RPG, but a simpler game.
Oh, if you do have the fortitude to keep at it for 10 years or more, results can be wonderful. But do you?
And now for other news.
It’s always ups and downs I guess. Just a week again I was complaining about health issues. Now I’m well again, as for Glittering Light, it now has sound as well as something that can pass for a title screen. The plan was to also have built-in credits, a scoreboard and all the goodies, but that would just take too much effort at this point, especially with the lack of attention the game “enjoys”. It pains me, because I know I can make a game look professional — I did it with Attack Vector, and it wasn’t that hard. But that was back then.
Otherwise, this is another week with few news, so I’m going to fill the space with commentary instead. Specifically, about RPGs, writing, combat and how it all applies to other kinds of games.
Did I ever tell you about my friend Sera? She’s a very geeky girl who likes videogames and anime a lot. I’ve been meaning to highlight her Let’s Play series here for a while now, but couldn’t pick a suitable video — we have very different tastes in gaming. But recently she posted this:
Now that looks like a lot of fun. Sexist fun, as Sera points out in the video, but some girls like boobs too, you know? It can be forgiven for once. So, enjoy. And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out Sera’s fundaiser. (Yes, she’s transgender, and she needs your help. Any bigoted comments will be deleted. I don’t care.)
Now on to the few gamedev news I have this week.
Hello, everyone. As I’m writing these lines, No Time To Play is down, so I can only hope you’ll get to read them soon. One of my biggest finds this week has been a CRPG Directory listing an eclectic mix of mostly retro games in the genre, along with other resources such as blogs and forums. Interestingly, among them is listed Battle for Wesnoth, and I can’t even fault them considering how many RPG elements that game has. But most intriguing to me was the first entry:
The Adventure Creation Kit is a visual tool for making RPGs in the style of old Ultima games, running in DOS. And while that style of game ultimately lies outside my sphere of interest, I couldn’t resist taking a good look at ACK. Here’s what I discovered.
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.
You know, considering I haven’t really done anything in the realm of interactive fiction since about 2009 — with minor exceptions — I write about that particular genre a lot. Partly it’s nostalgia, and the friends I made over time. But mostly it’s because the gaming industry spent the past 18 years or so advancing graphics technology, while text adventure authors were busy perfecting things like puzzle design, map construction, story structure, NPC interaction, natural language processing… All those unglamorous tasks you can’t brag about in numbers, but which make or break a game to a much higher degree than “ZOMG! It’s running in 4000×4000 at 240fps! It requires four graphics cards linked together and cooled with liquid helium!”
And that’s why I have a whole bunch of interactive fiction links again.
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.
As if to compensate for the slow week before Easter, the gaming world returned with a vengeance to give me the most links I had since this year started. Luckily I know how to prioritize, so here we go.
The big news, of course, is that I’ve been invited to a game in the Storium beta. It’s a new web-based platform for roleplaying games, currently running a Kickstarter to fund further development. I gave it a try at the insistence of an acquaintance who’s already in love with the idea. In all honesty, I was halfway intrigued by the Kickstarter video, which makes it look like StoryNexus and phpBB met and had a child before moving on.
I missed the golden age of RPGs such as Eye of the Beholder or Zelda, and only played a couple of the newer classics, none of them to completion. To be honest, I didn’t go out of my way for them, either. It’s just not my kind of game. Curiosity is still a factor, though, and some recent titles just happen to be accessible enough for a casual player such as myself, both because of the platform they run on and the considerably simplified interface.
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.