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Weekly Links #311

15 March 2020 — No Time To Play

Hello, everyone! After a meaty issue comes a thin one. It's in big part because I spent most of the week working on a desktop port of Laser Sky R, using C++ and SFML. Which is quite a bit of work because I have limited experience with the former, and none with the latter.

Mind you, it's working out. SFML proves to be just as easy to use in practice as it seemed at first sight, as it uses both OpenGL and C++ to its advantage. Maybe trying too hard to stay simple, by its lack of features that are needed in most projects, such as the ability to anchor a drawable from the center or any corner, or length and normalize operations on vectors. Both however should be easy to add. It seems to be intentional too, as even a simple framerate counter is left as an exercise to the programmer.

As for my next point: I've known C++ for years, but hadn't used it much before, preferring dynamic languages instead, not to mention something with garbage collection. But newer dialects are much better; between auto, move semantics and to_string, to mention just a few small things, the old workhorse is looking much better and turns out to be perfectly usable too. What differs from, say, Python is that C++ requires self-discipline. You have to plan out your code. It's still very flexible, allowing for a lot of freedom, but that has to happen in an orderly fashion. Which happens to suit me just fine. For prototyping I can always use something else.

In the way of news, this week we have a handful of links with only brief commentary. Details under the cut.


Between current events slowing everything down and my attention being captured by a specific project, I didn't notice many news worth talking about much. But stuff did happen, and it's worth saying a few words at least.

  • All-time classic Blade Runner is being remastered: turns out, someone put in the effort to reverse-engineer the lost source code, which means the game can now be properly ported to modern machines, as opposed to the ScummVM emulation completed last year. Here's to hoping that this new edition will be worth the effort.
  • inklewriter lives again! as Inkle Studios graciously turned over their entry-level authoring tool to a team of open source programmers. I promptly tried to follow the interactive tutorial, only to end up confused and lost. Wasn't InkleWriter supposed to be simple? And what is it with all these tools designed for stories with very little text? Consider Squiffy instead. It doesn't look nearly as good, but it's a lot easier to learn while being more powerful and with a big community attached, on top of that.
  • A year without E3 is a chance to take stock, as a British columnist pointed out on Friday. Yep, the other mega-trade show in the world of gameing got the axe as well this week, and this opinion piece echoes my own thoughts. These big excesses of light and sound, by and for the privileged few, are an artifact of the times when a few big publishers had free reign of the market. Indies have better ways to come together.

Speaking of which: Hardcore Gaming 101, one of the best game historians these days, just announced that their books are now on Itch. Another thing to do while staying inside. Enjoy, and see you next week.

Tags: programming, classics, adventure, interactive-fiction, business

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