Weekly Links #286



Hello, everyone! I've done little in the way of gamedev this week, mostly because a failed computer migration sucked up half of it and stressed me out to no end. In my defense, I'm planning a couple of articles (one on interactivity, the other on level generation in roguelikes). Meanwhile, you can enjoy a few minor updates to Buzz Grid: the game now looks closer to how it was originally supposed to, and should move more smoothly on top of that. Might try to give a similar treatment to Square Shooter as well, but no promises yet. Oh, and there's also a new project on the way, with more planned for the autumn.

Oh, about that migration. Look. I've been out of the loop for a while in regard to hardware and software. But my 10-year-old PC, running a 5-year-old operating system and apps, is giving signs of fatigue. Luckily I own a slightly newer machine, that couldn't be used for a while due to an overheating problem. Having finally fixed it, I set out to install Debian 10 and migrate all my files over.

Turns out, the overheating problem wasn't fixed. Or rather, it might have been, but for modern software seemingly being made for top-tier gaming rigs with liquid cooling. In fact, Debian 10 by itself, running in text mode, causes a Celeron CPU to run worryingly hot, as I discovered when installing it on my even older laptop. The Atom I'm on right now wouldn't stand a chance to run a graphical desktop and web browser released this year.

Fellow programmers, are you nuts?

Plenty of people are stuck with low-end computers. Older computers. Slightly defective computers. Even if we could afford buying replacements, why should we have to? No seriously, what exactly changed in the HTML5 standard recently to make a three-year-old browser obsolete? DeviantArt, I'm looking at you here. Oh, and by the way: Firefox, what exactly are you doing with all the CPU and GPU cycles you're gobbling up like a pig these days? Because you're still slow as molasses. Then you wonder why people flock to the competition.

I'm so tired.

In the way of news, this week we have a tip to help preserve Flash games a little while longer, and a retrospective of Dragon's Lair. Details under the cut.

Just over a month ago, I was writing about the imminent death of Flash. In the mean time, yet another emulator project has been started; good luck with that! Turns out however there's a simpler method to preserve Flash files a little longer. A timely retweet points me at this short and sweet guide for making stand-alone executables from the official desktop Flash player, a.k.a. the Projector. Why is it needed? Turns out this functionality existed, and Adobe removed it in the latest version. Because protecting their own IP (however this move is supposed to protect anything) is more important to them than preserving a huge chunk of human culture. At least if they were simply neglectful, like other corporations, instead of actively breaking stuff.

Save what you can, folks, because nobody else is going to. And we need to remember.

On Friday, Hardcore Gaming 101 writes about Dragon's Lair, and it's a surprisingly insightful retrospective. I never made the connection with the Great Videogame Crash, or for that matter CYOA. By which I mean the early, simplistic kind that presents you with a couple of choices at every turn, most of them leading to instant death, and no state to keep track of. At least with FMV the limitation makes sense, considering the staggering cost of producing even a few minutes of film at professional quality levels (that were artificially inflated, but that's another story). That some scenes lacked the flashing hotspots, that's much less excusable. In fact it's painfully reminiscent of hunt-the-pixel problems in adventure games from a later era. What is it with so many game designers, even today, apparently hating the player?

Maybe it has something to do with them never actually seeing their players. Which would explain why reputed game masters from the tabletop scene tend to become equally reputed game designers when moving to the digital realm.

Pro tip: give feedback, dammit. Always. Generously. And focus on the fun.

Before I conclude, let me remind you than No Time To Play needs your help to remain online. If sending money directly feels unrewarding, please consider buying a book. Either way, thank you very much, and see you next week.


Tags: hardware, technology, preservation, arcade, retrogaming