Weekly Links #268



Hello, everyone! As expected, my game prototype took another week to finish, or almost. I took a break before starting on a more presentable version; in the mean time, you can enjoy it in command-line glory, like the original mainframe game:

(I was going to embed the gist here, but it turns out to pull the whole damn thing, not just a nice little box with a "view more" link like any reasonable person would expect from, you know, an embed code. So hop over to GitHub to get Space Cruiser Orion. Bonus points if you get the reference as well. Classic sci-fi for the win!)

You'll need a Python interpreter (normally version 3, but 2 might just work), and some familiarity with the subgenre; there is extensive built-in help, but no tutorial. And it could use one, the game being quite a bit more involved than it appears at first. Which is what drew me to it in the first place, and what makes a modern port worth doing. Wish I had the energy for many of them. Speaking of which.

In the mean time, I also wrote a 700-word review of Space Trader, a now-classic mobile game that I somehow never heard of when my Palm was still new, so I'm catching up belatedly. One thing the review doesn't mention is how many other ports there are apart from the two Android versions: to iPhone, Windows and even Java. The latter works, too, so you can play pretty much anywhere.

As for the news, this week we have a chat with Julian Gollop of X-Com fame, and a piece about politics in videogames. Details after the cut.

The week starts with a retrospective of Julian Gollop's career. That's the guy who made Laser Squad and later X-Com, a worthy exponent of the British school. Note how board games and TV shows informed his designs; videogames don't exist in a vacuum! Also note how good publishers defend their developers, and the work they believe in. It's not the first time I learn that a now-classic game was saved like that, which is all the more damning for the fate of projects like Van Buren. And gee, you mean skill and passion achieve more than trying to squeeze blood out of a rock?!

That said, no offense dude, but a LOT of people play videogames precisely because they don't need a human partner, who might simply not be available. Spare me the lecture on how it's just not the same to play against an AI. And you can't manage risk when it's completely random and the tiniest bit of bad luck kills you on the spot. Don't you dare blame the players.

But then we all have our blind spots, I suppose. Oh well.

On Thursday, Wireframe Magazine runs an opinion piece on the inherently political nature of videogames. I won't repeat the points made therein. Suffice to say, when people say they're apolitical, what they really mean is they're happy with the status quo and don't want to hear about any changes. And guess what all those "apolitical" games just so happen to be about: glorifying the military-industrial complex, and the trampling of brown people from the Middle East because they won't roll over for a certain world superpower. Or else the power fantasies of straight white men who seems to think all others exists for their own pleasure if they are to be allowed at all.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are proudly self-aware about politics in our games. Comes with the territory, you know. Can't very well not be when your very existence is made into a political issue all the time... and all too often brutally ended because you had the audacity to be born different. Funny how that goes.

That's it for the week. See you next Sunday!


Tags: history, interview, game design, politics, classics, review