No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #55

You know, it's odd. Over the past year and a half, I lost my interest in games completely, yet here I am, not just continuing to write about games, but also making one again. There are three reasons for that:

  1. It's an idea that's been sitting in the back of my mind for too long, and I'd like to get it out, not unlike the story I wrote last autumn.
  2. For various reasons, I can't write these days, and spare time is too precious to waste.
  3. I'm less burnt out on programming than usual for some reason.

So yeah. It's too early for a screenshot, but it's going to be a roguelike for the Linux console, written in Python/ncurses (for reasons I'll explain in the future). And that's a skill that can prove useful for much more than just games.

Now, on to this week's actual links.

Appropriately enough for my "new" project, a friend just sent me links to a couple of roguelikes I hadn't heard of. The Enchanted Cave and its sequel are graphical roguelikes made in Flash, featuring a fairly original system whereas you can only go down in the dungeon unless you find an item called Escape Wings, that brings you right back in town. The second game also sports a crafting system and JRPG-style conversations, in addition to really good graphics, mouse support, pathfinding and a skill tree. On the other hand, neither game has any AI — all monsters and NPCs stay put. And you know what? It doesn't bother me at all. Guess I should never have been ashamed of the limited AI in my own games. On the minus side, the UI in both Enchanted Caves is really unintuitive, making all too easy to buy or sell stuff you just wanted to examine. Something to keep in mind.

In unrelated news, over on his blog Robert Fearon delivers yet another of his great rants, this time about the supposed glut of bad games on Steam. And you know, there are lots of games out there. And books. And music. Lots of everything. But first of all that doesn't make it any harder to find what you like — you've heard of "tags", "genres" and "search boxes", right? — and second, are you honestly telling me that back in the golden age of big publishers there were no crap games put on the market? Did you buy and play every single title that came out? And you loved all of them?

I didn't think so. And then, how are things any worse now? If anything, with all the stuff on the market it should be easier to find stuff you like among it all, and at any price point on top of that.

Oh wait, I know. It's not the gamers complaining, is it? The gamers are fine. It's the creators whining — all those creators who thought this new era of Internet distribution would mean easy money for everyone. Oops. Didn't we have this exact chat before, during the dot-com boom? Oh my, it's been 15 years. Did we forget already?

Maybe, just maybe, it's time we consider why we're doing all this crap. Because if it's just for the money — like 90% of everything people do these days — you're in for rough times.