Weekly Links #277



Hello, everyone! During the month of June, Sunset Flight was one of the most popular games on No Time To Play. By way of contrast, I'll soon have to take it down from Itch.io for lack of interest. And speaking of interest, the recently revived Buzz Grid is also getting a lot of views. Might have something to do with the mobile support.

But most importantly, I picked up again a project started a month ago that wasn't developed enough to mention at the time:

Screenshot of a retro game mockup: two rows of neon-colored bars suggest an abstract landscape going to the horizon. Distant rows of spheres flank a crosshair.

Yep, it's a retro-styled prequel to the aforementioned Sunset Flight. It's my second shooter to get this treatment; hopefully this one will be more successful. Might take a while though, due to other projects and obligations. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Prince of Persia is 30 (as of last Sunday), and in unrelated news we learn of a new job in gamedev: cultural proofreader. Last but not least, a reminder that No Time To Play still needs your help. Details below the cut.

On Sunday, Jordan Mechner gives us an anniversary blog post as Prince of Persia turns 30 (via the Dragonfly BSD Digest). Rather than comment, I'll settle for a short quote:

For me as a kid who dreamed of creating mass entertainment, in the pre-internet days, when you still needed a printing press to make a book and a film lab to make a movie, the Apple II was a game-changer: a technological innovation that empowered every user to innovate. Suddenly, I didn't need adult permission (or funding) to tell a story of adventure that might reach thousands — and ultimately millions — of people.

Things have changed, as he points out right away, but videogames are still a very special medium. Computers are still uniquely empowering. And new creators need guidance more than ever. So here I am.

This Friday Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a piece on "cultural proofreading" in games. It's more important than it sounds, in a world with many different cultures, each with their own rules... and stereotypes about them, that the rest of us often adopt without even realizing. Note how the vast majority of examples given in there are honest mistakes, or else are caused by censorious governments, as opposed to being due to a racist developer or some such. Which is one reason why the author's cynicism bothers me. Is business, and the business of gameing in particular, so universally seen as evil nowadays?

Look. I write speculative fiction. My stories often borrow elements from the real world for my imaginary cultures, especially when it comes to language and names. Heck, my novel borrows the name of a real-world place! That's because I only thought to check afterwards, and besides, "Vryheid" is so appropriate given the book's theme of freedom, there was no changing it anyway. Still, I can't help but worry that South African readers might have a problem with that, or else with my portrayal of a black character whose ancestors may well be from the same part of the world.

At least my Dutch beta-readers didn't seem bothered by my use of words from their language to name people and places in at least two stories. One less worry for me.

Now for something less pleasant. I'll have to renew the notimetoplay.org domain at the end of July, and my PayPal account is a few dollars short. With new, unexpected health issues cropping up just as a lengthy, expensive treatment ended, another thing to pay for out of pocket is the last thing I need. Help, please?

Either way, enjoy this Sunday, and see you next week!


Tags: news, arcade, retrogaming, classics, representation