Weekly Links #297



Three weeks ago when I announced the text-based edition of Space Cruiser Orion, it was a complete surprise to discover how many people liked it. Trouble is, there's no good place to put the game up, either here or on Itch. What to do? Why, just upload the archive somewhere and link to it directly.

So here it is, for now only in a 64-bit edition. Sorry about that; right now the 32-bit system I could use for development isn't so easy to set up. The binaries are only for Linux, too, and I'm not sure how useful the source code is to most people. For what it's worth, instructions are included.

As an aside: dear software developers, there's a big difference between "sorry, can't make something for you to run right now" and a snide, snotty "everyone's on 64-bit by now". Um, no. Wrong. If that was true, people wouldn't be asking. Never dismiss the needs and wants of others. That you can't help everyone is another story. Least you can do is show a little respect.

Otherwise, fluffy alerts me of a campaign to save the .org top-level domain. Enough with the privatization of everything. The Internet is a public resource and must be treated as such. And also continuing from last time, my new research into scripting engines has been going well. It should bear fruit soon.

In the way of news, we have a retrospective of the Robocop arcade tie-in, and more lessons the game design of Doom. Funny how that one game continues to be an inspiration after more than a quarter century. Details below the cut.

Another week, another classic game retrospective. This time of Robocop, that like most games from that era I played on the Spectrum, not in the arcades. I don't remember perceiving it as hard, but more like boring: you'd just walk forward and shoot, with none of the variety in Double Dragon for instance. It would have been a lot more interesting to me if it focused on gallery and driving stages instead. Or if it was more like Batman (also from Ocean if memory serves). I even finished that one! But seriously: gallery shooting. To me, that defines Robocop from a gameplay perspective, what with the titular hero's iconic Robo Cam, as TV Tropes calls it, being so prominent and even plot-relevant in much of the original movie. And it was a well-understood game genre at the time, with some famous entries, both in the arcades and on home computers. Dear game designers: identifying the essence of a franchise you're adapting is part of the job description. Do some design work for a change.

It's hardly news by now that modern games take so much work from so many people there's not much room left for interesting level design, for multiple reasons. This analysis from Gamasutra makes some good points though: that theme matters; that difficulty levels don't just mean the same enemies with more or less health. A mention of games that play themselves in particular earns it points in my book. Allowing players agency in how they play, as opposed to holding their hand, is another good point. Emergent interactions? Rewarding exploration? All these take humility from the game designer, not just expressive freedom. And that's the biggest problem in this day and age.

A short newsletter then; but we have three more left in 2019. See you next time!


Tags: news, arcade, classics, shooter, game design