GameDev News for 25 July 2021



Hello, everyone! As of this writing, my Game Programming Interfaces book has a new home on the main website, clearing up that much more space on the wiki for content that's actually dynamic. You should notice a change here, too, by the time you're reading this. But more about this next time, to mark a year since our Weekly Links became GameDev News.

In the way of news, this Sunday there's a bunch of headlines:

That makes for a rather short editorial. Luckily this week I have more to say about a couple of items. See below the cut.

This Thursday, Aaron A. Reed tells the unlikely story of a MUD launched in the same year as Ultima Online, that’s still going 24 years later, having massively outlived its famous graphical competitor, and many others as well. Along the way, it apparently pioneered the F2P model we now take for granted, stirred real-world controversies, and lured in famous game designers. Pretty amazing, even if it’s not my kind of game at all. And I can sympathize with the founder withdrawing from active play even as it had become his life. We grow old so fast.

Last but not least, Jimmy Maher writes about how The Dig, LucasArts' grand sci-fi adventure, came to be. I had no idea.

This is horrifying. “Idea guys” are toxic. I don’t care how famous they are. Real creators roll up their sleeves and make stuff with their own sweat. By the time you’re remotely famous? You should have a good feel for what’s feasible.

George Lucas’s dirty secret is that he probably never had to do anything himself.

As for the coding: that’s why I do my best to keep code minimal. Not out of any love for minimalism, but in self-defense. I have to keep it manageable for my own sake, and a better IDE or version control system only help so much.

Other troubling details include a game made by filmmakers, with cinematic ambitions, not using the time-honored technique of storyboarding. Or how this disaster of a game wasn’t binned a lot sooner. That’s another problem when working with celebrities apparently.

Funny how in the end it was done by someone with actual experience finishing projects. That’s a skill. You have to learn it. And yes, sometimes the result disappoints. That, too, is why you need to control scope.

But that's enough ranting for one newsletter. Enjoy the end of July, and see you!


Tags: meta, worldbuilding, mmo, rpg, community, adventure, history