GameDev News for 25 May 2021



OMG, I'm actually doing it! The Unwanted Hero is a text-based RPG with extensive randomization, and prequel of sorts to my similar game from exactly two years ago:

Screenshot from a text-based RPG with a book-like user interface, showing a battle screen.

But The Unwanted Hero has been a dream for five years now. In fact this is my fourth attempt to make it, or some such; third time definitely wasn't the charm!

Early reactions are enthusiastic, so maybe this game won't flop like its predecessor. Makes sense; there seems to be a revival of text-based RPGs, even within the interactive fiction community. Which says a lot to me, but that's a story for another write-up.

In the mean time let's see some news, starting with the briefest:

  • A big thank you to my friend David, whose generous donation (coupled with a few book sales earlier this month) ensures I can secure the domain name here for another year when the bill comes at the end of June.
  • In unrelated news, game developers will be happy to hear that SpookyGhost is now free and open source! This is a procedural animation tool with a unique approach, that should be very helpful to beginners and pros alike.

But this week we also have some news discussed in depth, so see under the cut.

  • I missed this one last time, because it's way, way off the beaten path, and only found it now while searching for something else entirely. Turns out the classic JRPG Dragon Quest, that provided the template for an entire genre, will soon be 35 years old. And amazingly the series is still going strong, even though it had ups and downs over time like any other. There's something to be said about having a formula and sticking to it, you know.
  • Halfway between newsletters, Aaron A. Reed writes about the history of LambdaMOO, which is funny because it had come up in conversation with my friends just the day before. LambdaMOO is one of the text-based virtual worlds I surveyed in early 2010 (more than 11 years ago), with little success, so most of my knowledge about it is theoretical. In retrospect however it's obvious why I couldn't make heads or tails of the place, nor meet any of the few remaining residents. Pro tip: those few social MU*s that survived go out of their way to help newcomers get their bearings. And while newcomers always start by exploring and playing with toys, sooner or later they'll want to meet the locals. At which point it turns out that communities need rules, and rules have to be enforced. You can't work around that, not with any kind of technology. Funny how all those spiritual successors mentioned in the article had to rediscover this simple principle again and again.
  • For lack of anything better these days, it was interesting enough to read about the birth of E3, and an object lesson in how to squander a huge opportunity (not to mention years of accumulated goodwill) in one fell swoop. Goes to show that being a jerk doesn't pay, and that people in the most innovative industry can still be out of touch with the times. As for part 2 of the article, sorry, but just no. Study after study after study failed to find any link between violence in entertainment media and in real life. Those few that did... were invariably found to be faulty or outright fraudulent. Invariably. So can we please stop with the both-siding already? Pretty please?

That said, I'd hate to end this long, rich newsletter on a sour note, so enjoy the valuable history behind these links, and see you next time with more!


Tags: text-based, rpg, graphics, tools, business, history