Weekly Links #281



Hello, everyone! Work on the game picked up over the past week. It now looks better, has a title screen (and high scores), and different enemy types.

Montage of four screenshots from a videogame depicting a first-person dogfight against round spaceships, rendered in a retro, abstract style and neon colors.

Along with less visible additions such as gamepad support, this makes for everything I wanted in the initial release, apart from audio. Once that goes in, it's time to hit Publish and move on to other things for a while. No more burnout for me. At least this game has plenty of room for improvement, once I feel like working on it again. Besides, it will be open source as usual. So stay tuned!

In the way of news, this week we have:

  • some more thoughts on the slow death of Flash;
  • beginner mistakes with TCP;
  • To Pong or Not to Pong?;
  • a new interview with Al Lowe and
  • a retrospective of the Wing Commander series.

And that's about all. Details under the cut.

I didn't have anything to post until Thursday, and then it turned into a longer write-up about Flash dying a little more. Ought to make stand-alone posts like that rather more often. These newsletters were once supposed to be a supplement to the regular blog, you know. So much for that.

Also on Thursday we get a primer on beginner mistakes with TCP. Ostensibly about the socket module in Python, it's really about networking in general, and it's most welcome seeing how many beginners want to make a multiplayer game right away, when it's one of the trickiest parts of this business. It's also short and well-written, so give it a read if you're just starting out with this kind of thing.

(And from the same author, who is on a roll this week, a more philosophical question: To Pong or Not to Pong?)

On Friday, K.D. alerts us of a new interview with Al Lowe of Leisure Suit Larry fame, that reveals things I never knew. Note his struggles to get a job working from home, before telecommuting was a word. (He wasn't alone though; other visionary people were already working towards making it a reality.) Even more interesting is that his breakthrough game was by no means his first, like in the case of other famous developers, and he was no twenty-something at the time either!

Oh, he is completely wrong about beta-testing: Incofom had been doing it for years, and if Sierra's king and queen could have been bothered to examine the practices of their wildly successful competitors instead of sneering down on them, they'd have known. And seriously? Dude, adventure games died twice after you created your masterpiece. Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, most people just don't care to prove they're smarter than you just for the bragging rights, and prefer to, yes, blow some steam shooting virtual monsters in the face? At least it's a clear task, and often much more varied than you make it. Especially compared with "pick everything that isn't nailed down and try using it on everything else until something clicks".

On the other hand, how many developers set out to make a game about something, even just getting a cheap laugh at someone's misfortunes? You know, as opposed to yet another wild goose chase without a point and hardly any context? And lo, Al Lowe is still beloved by fans. As he deserves.

Also on Friday, Hardcore Gaming 101 treats us to a retrospective of the Wing Commander series, and it has details I didn't know. Like Chris Roberts being born and raised in England, where he also started his gamedev career. And that was a very special creative school. I also didn't know Origin's first public showing of the game happened just as LucasArts was working on the first X-Wing game... which would be delayed due to the bar having just been raised considerably. As usual, the bulk is made of detailed accounts of the various ports, expansions and sequels, that give a good idea of the various machines popular at the time, and what they could do. Worth a read.

Have fun this Sunday, and see you next time.


Tags: news, preservation, programming, adventure, classics, interview