GameDev News for 5 September 2021 (classic games edition)



Hello, everyone! The latest changes to the site are working out. People are finding and (hopefully) reading the revived wiki journal. Likewise the game API guide in its new location. Still not buying the book, but one can't have them all. Oh, and ever since I mirrored my interactive fiction articles to my personal website, they're finally getting visits. Over there.

In the way of news, we learn about:

Okay, so this is a short intro, but we have to continue under the cut, for the capsule review of a tabletop RPG that wasn't planned, and then I have opinions about the retrospective of several classic text adventures.

Speaking of books: a new tabletop RPG was just released on, and looks pretty damn cool. It even opens with an introductory comic! Bonus points for PoC representation and (apparently) non-binary characters.

But what it is exactly? A light-hearted space opera romp with transhuman touches, based on a 2d6 rule system, with just enough classes, races, skills and levels to make it interesting. It's substantial (if fast-paced), and I have a newsletter to finish, but this all looks very good so far.

Last but not least: as September starts, The Digital Antiquarian covers some now-classic text adventures (pun not intended) from the mid-1990s. Too bad that only serves to remind me how authors tried from very early in its existence to position this storied (hah) genre as the literary fiction of computer games, apparently not realizing that success would mean becoming a derided niche. They almost succeeded, too, when the commercial era ended with the demise of Infocom, then a second time when Twine started gaining ground and the community’s reaction was to double down on Inform 7 as the One True Authoring System.

I see it as no coincidence at all that my own text adventures only succeeded when they dropped all pretense of being deep and meaningful literature and turned into lighthearted romps, sometimes complete with the dreaded random combat that, it turns out, players don’t mind nearly as much as common wisdom claims. They probably never did. Gamebooks, anyone? Yeah, I though as much.

Oh, and Graham, you’re overthinking it: what we call “history” is already a fantasy of the past, more often than not; fiction is at least honest about it.

Oh well. Enjoy the Sunday, and see you all next time.


Tags: meta, classics, game design, tabletop, rpg, interactive fiction