Weekly Links #275



And... we have a donation! Another one like this, and the domain name is paid until next summer. Thank you very much, D.! I'll keep everyone informed of how that goes; in the mean time, you can keep track of the current status on the wiki. In fact, the figure should probably include book sales; will adjust next time.

In related news, I just released a new version of Escape From Cnossus HD. The most visible change is a full-screen mode, but it's not the only one, and hopefully not the last one either. Check it out! And as of Tuesday, Electric Rogue had its UI tweaked once more; now it should fit on mobile devices again, while still scaling to any screen size.

A much bigger change is the return of Buzz Grid, that I took offline in 2017 and left in limbo for almost two years. Now it's back and better than ever, with more improvements planned for the near future. You tell me how well it's aged.

Otherwise, we have a retrospective of A Final Unity, Graham Nelson's talk on opening Inform, and a guide to making Long Play videos. Details after the cut.

At the start of the week, Hardcore Gaming 101 covers A Final Unity, the one Star Trek TNG adventure game, that I remember game magazines covering at the time. Even back then, the review wasn't very favorable, but still a lot more merciful than here, probably owing to the relative dearth of games back then, especially big ones based on popular franchises. We're truly spoiled nowadays, and seldom aware of it.

The Narrascope conference took place this weekend, and Graham Nelson gave a long-awaited talk about Inform 7, as Emily Short points out. It's all kinds of smart and inspiring, but it also can't help but highlight a problem with the way the project has been handled until now: insist on making things all academic and rigorous, you'll just end up with the same tangled ball of yarn anyone else would, except a huge one that threatens to crush you at the slightest attempt to untangle it. And solutions of the too-clever-by-half sort, such as literate programming, only serve to obscure breakage and fixes alike, not least by making the code unmanageably large. That is why almost nobody uses it nowadays. Oh well, at least minimizing dependencies is always a good thing.

Looking on the bright side, Inform 7 is now on GitHub and will be open sourced soon. The Artistic License 2.0 is an excellent choice too, very fitting in name and spirit for projects that are code and work of art at the same time. Like interactive fiction was from the beginning, and now its future promises to be that much more interesting.

(See also: Andrew Plotkin's postmortem of the event.)

On Wednesday, Vintage is the New Old runs a detailed material on making long plays of classic games. Which is not the same as Let's Plays! Beginning with motivations and common mistakes, it continues with direction advice before delving into technical matters. I shouldn't be surprised to hear that emulator features meant to support tool-assisted speedruns also help a lot with long plays. And recording the video proper is just the first hurdle. In fact, it's scary how much of the article is about video encoding. And funny how the best solutions turn out to be, as always, the open source ones.

On this note, enjoy the Sunday, and see you next time.


Tags: meta, arcade, roguelike, adventure, interactive fiction, preservation