Weekly Links #308



Hello, everyone! This is another edition where I'll be talking more about plans than results. The promised Tkinter port of Glittering Light 2 is likely to take another week, and I don't even have an interesting screenshot. I'll be done just in time to watch the 7DRL, which was the plan all along. One must make some time to play now and then, you know.

In the way of plans, I'll probably spend the spring building up a scaffolding for Electric Rogue 2, to be completed in autumn. It worked great for the first game, and will also leave me time to prepare the new book. Might even manage to squeeze in another EightWay Engine demo featuring a trick I haven't shown off yet.

Meanwhile, it turns out I have even more to say about game genres. It seems to be a leitmotif of 2020 already, which is fine with me. Writing is easier when you have a guiding line. I've also been doing more work on the website, mostly shuffling old links around. Anything more would require some serious restructuring, and I just got it into shape. The trick is finding a way to organize ten years' worth of material such that it doesn't become overwhelming. And that requires careful thinking.

As for the news, this week we have a cursory look at SFML, and three headlines with little commentary, but still very much worth reading. Details under the cut.

I took advantage of a free afternoon to take a look at the Simple and Fast Multimedia Library, a.k.a. SFML. Not with any intention to actually use it any time soon, but it's always good to be on the lookout for alternative game libraries. After browsing the site and documentation briefly, I came away with a few impressions:

  • SFML is very small itself, but has quite a few dependencies. Not sure how I'd distribute a Linux binary based on it. Maybe just tell people to install it.
  • Excellent documentation, with up-to-date tutorials, clear examples and so on. The API reference is complete, but terse, and assumes a competent programmer.
  • Draws on top of OpenGL (no choice there), but is intended for 2D, including vector art. In this way it's much like newer versions of Love2D.
  • The C++ API can be used by mere mortals, and there are bindings such as for Python. It's more flexible than (say) Pygame, but also more verbose due to that.

There is also a community forum, wiki and Discord server, which I'm probably going to need if I ever decide to get into it. For now however there's no obvious benefit for me. But if you happen to be in the market, take a look.

Last but not least, these are very much worth your time, even if I didn't have much to say about them:

  • OpenGL, Vector Math, and the Fiery Heat of Hell: a funny rambling about 3D graphics programming. Also very instructive, being written by a beginner for beginners. Note the bit about established game engines making games same-y. It's rare when someone dares to say it out loud, so I make sure to point it out every time.
  • A retrospective of Link's Awakening from last October, occasioned by the game's 25th anniversary: a long, thoughtful piece chock-full of excellent game design advice. I could never get into the Zelda series, but a hybrid of adventure and RPG is exactly my goal as of late, and it makes sense to learn from the uncontested masters of the genre.
  • A list of links to advice for making games more inclusive from WereGeek, one of my favorite webcomics. Before the current interlude, I had no idea the drow were officially purple now. Thought it was a stylistic choice for artists, as it's a lot easier on the eye and paper. This is an even better reason!

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


Tags: tools, graphics, retrogaming, game design, representation