GameDev News for 15 October 2020: roguelike edition

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a thematic edition of the newsletter. We haven't had one in some time. See, I've spent the past couple of weeks learning a new programming language, under the guise of reviving an old rogue-lite prototype. You might have noticed my previous posts here:

That was a good opportunity to clean up and fix the original Glittering Light prototype, that only a few friends got to play so far. If you did, the main differences are:

  • the fog of war now works, and it's great to see the dungeon light up as you move around (in a terminal emulator!)
  • code is much cleaner, and makes use of advanced Python features I somehow only learned this spring.

Now to see about the native port, and hopefully next year Tomb of the Snake can get the same treatment. Meanwhile, let's see the news:

That's all for today, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. See you next time!

Tags: meta, roguelike, community, game design

From Python to Genie

Three days ago, I announced a side project to take one of my old text-based games and make a native port in C++ and/or Genie. It was meant more as an informal comparison, really. Meanwhile, as expected, my initial choice of game proved ill-advised. Luckily, there was a plan B: Glittering Light. Not the web-based game that's so popular, but the original text-based prototype I only showed off to a handful of friends. This has a number of advantages:

  • The code is 60% smaller than for Tomb of the Snake, making it much easier to tackle;
  • It's derived from a code clean-up of the same, resulting in more simplicity and clarity.

Once again, I tried doing this in both languages. Only this time it soon became obvious how C++ trips me up at every step while Genie, a language I only started learning ten days ago, performs better than expected, with only minor hiccups when I forget about the underlying C compiler.

I'm beginning to understand why many programmers prefer the latter to C++.

That's why this story is about Genie instead. And as it turns out, Genie is more than a glorified C preprocessor. If anything, it often ends up more helpful than Python, for all it's (inevitably) more low-level.

Read more... Tags: programming

C++ versus Genie for Python programmers

Not being in the mood for anything more involved, I spent a few days porting Tomb of the Snake to C++ and Genie. Well, "porting". The port is barely started, and I'm going to set it aside most likely. It was more of a pretext for me to compare and contrast both languages for future reference.

Now, C++ needs no introduction. As for Genie, let's just say it's like Python except it compiles to C, using GLib for a runtime library. GLib is better known as the foundation of Gtk+, and implicitly a lot of Linux or BSD desktop software. But it can be installed just fine by itself, and gives you more basic stuff: an object system, reference counting, fancy string operations, data structures, things like that. It's useful... but it's a dependency. Hence why I'm conflicted about making software that relies on it, as you'll see.

I've known C++ for a long time, but only used it very little over the years. I should still be somewhat familiar with it, but somehow it always manages to fuss over the details, sending me on yet another wild goose chase on reference sites. Conversely, I've known about Genie (and Vala) since they were still new, just over ten years ago, but never actually used them before. Not least because documentation wasn't nearly as good back then. It still has gaps, but I was able to figure out a lot of things from related reading and simple experimentation. Which meant being able to hit the ground running.

Sounds like the ups and downs of each balance out so far. So how did it go?

Read more... Tags: programming

GameDev News for 5 October 2020

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first newsletter of October! I spent the last ten days finishing out a couple of things. First, a new port of Dungeon Romp to the Linux console, using my equally new DukTerm library. A niche thing? Sure, but I tried popular. It's way overrated.

Anyway, because I'd been working on that since before the previous issue, and that's a long time to work on just one thing, I also took some time to set up a strategy game section, after going back and forth over the idea many times. As you can see, there's not much in it. Turns out, most of my work so far has been in other genres. Oh well, I'm not done writing and coding yet.

In other news, this weekend saw the start (and in one case, the end) of two game-related events. The Roguelike Celebration 2020 took place these days, though the usual venues were strangely silent about it and I had to read some coverage on Twitter, from the one and only Mike Cook. And the IFComp just started, as announced on their blog and amply discussed in the community.

Last but not least, for game developers we have the first article in a series about accessibility design, from a cool creator on Itch.io, while Jimmy Maher writes about Transport Tycoon, a game I never played in its time, but was well worth learning about. As they often are.

An eventful autumn then, and in a good way when it comes to games. Enjoy, and see you next time!

Tags: meta, roguelike, strategy, interactive fiction, accessibility

GameDev News for 25 September 2020

Hello, everyone! In-between working on a side project (to be announced soon), I did more website work since last time. To wit:

On top of that, I might finally bite the bullet and make a strategy game section on the site, like I've been meaning to for a while.

But for now, let's see the news. This time we have some old stuff that I couldn't just quietly place in the archive, some new stuff to keep things fresh, and one headline worth commenting on.

Well, there's also the big splash made by Microsoft acquiring Bethesda. It's the second major acquisition in IT this month, and it comes right before the launch of another console generation, so people are taking notice. Wish they started doing more than worry one of these days. But opinions are easy; to admit systemic problems, not so much. Let alone to do something about them.

So I'll let others cover this in more detail, and just move on to my main headline for today.

Read more... Tags: meta, business, rpg, strategy, arcade, interactive fiction, history

GameDev News for 15 September 2020

Hello, everyone! With autumn coming, and site updates in a lull, it's time to take stock of potential projects to tackle. Obvious choices are:

  • reboot Adventure Prompt;
  • write a third article in my series on tiny interpreters;
  • resume work on my exploration game, that I've set aside with the map half-drawn sometime in spring.

Got other plans too, but those aren't related to games, so let's see what's actually going on mid-month. For one thing, Prince of Persia is getting a remake. No, not the original, but Sands of Time. Turns out, it's already 17 years old. Yikes! Where's my cane? On a different note, Nvidia is buying ARM (for a mindboggling sum, too). Well, better them than some venture capital firm, arguably. Though by now lack of competition in computer hardware is becoming a serious problem. Oh well, we're overdue for a return to more low-tech alternatives anyway.

As for links, for once I have a good handful, but no commentary at all again:

But this is getting an awkward length, neither here nor there, so enjoy and see you at the end of the month!

Tags: meta, business, critique, classics, hardware, history, game design

GameDev News for 5 September 2020

Hello, everyone! Clean-up work continues on the wiki, now in the way of checking old links. Is it just me, or are people getting better at keeping stuff online in recent times? Speaking of which, the new site is also shaping up, along with the attached Gemini capsule. (You're going to need a client to see the latter, such as Kristall or Geminaut. Enjoy the exclusive content!) Only actual games are still on the back burner. Sorry about that.

Otherwise it's been a slow ten days again in the world of games, which is odd, because you'd expect people to be back from vacation by now. Well, there's always the usual mix of mass firings, company acquisitions, mainstream game delays, and so on. Sorry, but I just can't focus on any of it. Reads like blah, blah, blah to me and nothing else. And it's getting harder by the week to find news outlets that don't ask for permission to spy on you, or put up a paywall, or the like. Luckily there's more to the online world, as you'll see.

In the way of news, at the start of September we have a couple of game design write-ups (about time and space in RPGs and open worlds, respectively), and a rising star in the world of game-making tools just got much better. Enjoy!

Read more... Tags: meta, business, tabletop, rpg, game design

GameDev News for 25 August 2020

Hello, everyone! Three newsletters into the new format, I seem to be settling into a new 10-day rhythm. Let's see if it lasts; almost didn't manage this time.

In the way of news, all my projects here are still on hold, apart from moving even more articles off the wiki. Instead, I've been again trying to expand my presence on social media. This time, a tilde server: Ctrl-c.club, part of the Tildeverse. So far I'm experimenting with a new (to me) style of web design, and also the new Gemini Protocol. Bringing the joy of game development to new audiences since 2010!

As for the links, today I'm short on comments to say the least:

Last but not least, here's a reminder that Flash Games Are Leaving Soon, but Their Memory Will Never Fade

Wish there was more, but after all the activity earlier this month it's gotten quiet again. Until next time, when I'll hopefully manage to get back into making games for a change. Have fun!

Tags: meta, social media, history, preservation

GameDev news for 15 August 2020

So, the big anniversary came and went. People congratulated me. They shared the post. Hardly anyone clicked on the links. Oh well. Time to go on. Especially as August suddenly picked up, with lots of headlines to highlight. How ironic, after changing the format five months early.

But first, a few words about my plans. With the big changes now in the past, I'd like to tackle some more games or at least game-adjacent projects. Like another write-up on scripting languages. Also to bring back Adventure Prompt (again!) as an illustration of the new text adventure engine I described recently. And much more, of course: more to do with the EightWay Engine; maybe flesh out the rule system from Glittering Light 2. But all this is enough work for another year.

Of course, I also plan to continue improving the website, and also to expand the online presence of No Time To Play. In fact I just found a potential venue for that; it's a good community and they seem to like me, but after being burned too many times, it's wiser to wait before trumpeting yet another thing that's doomed to fail mere days or weeks later.

Anyway, onward to the news, of which we have a surprising number today. Just not a lot to say about most of them. About tools, famous games, important concepts, critique, and more. Read on.

Read more... Tags: meta, classics, preservation, retrogaming, history, education

10 years of No Time To Play

10 years ago, I had been out of work for a year, in the middle of an economic recession, and in doubt of my future. But I did know that lately games had become a big slice of my life. So with NightWrath's initial investment, we went ahead and got the site going.

5 years ago, I was financially secure, even well off, thanks to Cheetah, but the site's future was again in doubt. The team scattered and my energy dwindling, I couldn't say if this project would go on. That's when I compiled the first book. If the worst happened, at least something would survive.

It came out so well, and reactions were so good, I immediately decided to write a second book over the coming five years. A deliberate effort helped, too, even as the site went through seismic changes a couple of years later. Except by now this was my life. I ruined my health to save it, and never regretted it for a moment.

And the new book came through! It's 2020, and I just hit the big button labeled Publish. You'll find it on Gumroad and Leanpub; it's a great way to get something in return for supporting No Time To Play. Otherwise, its contents can be found scattered all over the website, and will remain free.

Too bad the aforementioned friends are busy due to work and can't be with me today even virtually. We lost touch with the rest of the team years ago.

That leaves you, my readers. The few of you who are left. Thanks for sticking around. Recent changes chased off much of an already dwindling audience.

Oh well, it can't be helped. Thanks again, and see you around.

Tags: meta, personal, history