Journal

2022-11-14 Assorted

The weather just turned towards early winter, and news are still slow, but there's enough for a monthly link roundup. In mid-October, as the Wall Street Journal revealed, Company Documents Show Meta’s Flagship Metaverse Falling Short. Then there are two write-ups about freeing games from racism and colonialism:

Still on the subject of attitudes towards games, we get a plea to Stop Remaking Good Games And Start Remaking Games That Could Have Been Good. As the tagline says: "It doesn't make sense to remake games that are already classics when there are so many games with potential that deserve a second chance." And last but not least, Nathalie Lawhead takes advantage of the newest feature in itch.io to write about Video game blogging at the end of the world (and recommend some games while at it).

Which is good, but also all I have for November. See you towards Christmas.

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2022-10-14 Assorted

It's been a slow news autumn, and that suits me just fine.

Let me start with a headline left over from last month: a roundup (in French) about new interactive fiction authoring tools. And while we're looking backwards, another from three years ago of The Best Command-Line-Only Video Games. There's even one I didn't know about!

Coming back to the present, there's a good opinion piece about Doom & Game Preservation. I wrote about this issue before, or rather about portability, and came to the opposite conclusion. Still a good counterpoint. Some notes over on Tumblr.

Last but not least, a delightful write-up titled How I play D&D with my kids, which as usual is always worth a read for people making computer games. And still in the tabletop department, someone put together a site to track Physical Game Jams on itch.io, which strikes me as a worthwhile endeavor.

But this is it for now. See you next month or so.

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2022-09-07 Assorted

Hey, folks. Turns out I just barely missed a link for posting last month's roundup too early:

No comment. Let's look instead at more positive news from the rest of August:

Last but not least, September opens with Défis fantastiques : 40 ans d’aventures dont vous êtes le héros: a French language story about the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, which as it turns out still gets reprints, and spiritual successors. So enjoy, and see you in October.

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2022-08-28 Updates

It's been a while since the last update, and fans probably want to know what's happening around here. There are three big items this month:

  • started work on a web port of Tipsy Turtle, and promptly set it aside, but will pick it up again before too long, promise!
  • resumed getting rid of tags, and moved more articles to the main site — a slow process, but it's getting there;
  • last but not least, added some more old links to the archive section.

Otherwise it's still relatively slow because summer, but at this pace there's probably going to be a link roundup on time mid-September, so see you then!

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2022-08-07 Assorted

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2022-07-22 Programming

If you happen to be in the market for a version control system, may I recommend Fossil?

Why Fossil: imagine having your own little GitHub running locally, out of a 7-megabyte executable, with no other files to worry about. Well, except for the repos, and each repo is also a single file starting from 220KB. You get all the usual goodies, including forums and chat if you share with other people. But even while working alone, bug tracking and a project wiki can help. Besides, the browser interface is so convenient when it comes to seeing changes from version to version and such.

Why not Git: everyone uses Git today. That's just wrong. Git is made for projects with millions of lines of code and thousands of contributors. You know, like the Linux kernel. Is your project even remotely comparable? Besides, Git is infamously arcane and unforgiving. It can and will delete all your work if you make a tiny mistake. Pro tip: people make mistakes. It's how we can learn and adapt. Any design that ignores this simple fact of life is fundamentally broken.

Fossil has its quirks too. Think twice before doing a commit, because you can't back out of it. (You can, however, yeet it to a hidden branch named "bloopers" or some such.) And binary files are managed separately, outside of the regular revision workflow. On the plus side, it has niceties like tracking all your (local) repos, changing tags after the fact or showing you a heat map of recent changes to a file. Once you get its philosophy, that will open new doors.

You can work without a safety net (I did, for years). You can use Bazaar, another fine VCS. Fossil is different. And a change is welcome these days.

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2022-07-14 Assorted

It's peak vacation season in the northern hemisphere. The world of games slowed down after last time, but picked up again in time for another monthly roundup.

To begin with: belatedly (but this is big enough), David Ahl places all his classic computing publications into the Public Domain. Also in the way of game history:

Yep, it turns out there are tabletop RPGs literally as old as Frankenstein.

That's damn cool! Now for the complete opposite, some tales from the crypt... o:

Funny how anything related to crypto seems to involve art theft. See you next time.

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2022-07-09 Programming

You know that XKCD strip that pits programmers against bridge builders and aviation engineers?

Do you know why the latter two categories can be reasonably confident in the relative safety of what they make?

Because they're highly trained people who follow procedures, don't skimp on safety features, and when disaster strikes? They learn their lesson!

We programmers keep backups, do some testing... and that's pretty much it. We hate redundancy, fallbacks or procedures. Heck, we hate learning our craft. Then we have the guts to act surprised when the houses of cards we build fall over and suddenly nothing works because we were unprepared again. Just like the previous nine times.

Pro tip: never eliminate cash, analog radio or manual overrides.

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2022-06-29 Programming

How did I not know about this?! Turns out there's a CSS pseudo-class called :target, that always matches at most one element: whatever document fragment is currently pointed at in the URL. Which means you can have links pointing at parts of the page <a href="#there">like so</a>, and only have the element with id="there" be visible, while all its siblings are not, with only a two-line stylesheet:

	main article { Display: none; }
	main article:target { Display: block; }

What can you do with it? Why, stateless CYOA, of course! In other words, [[Ramus?]] lite. Which is exactly what I'm calling it for now.

Stay tuned for details; meanwhile, many thanks to Snail Legs for enlightening me.

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2022-06-14 Assorted

You'd think people would be on vacation by now, but if anything activity is picking up again.

To get an ugly story out of the way: “Abusing you was by the book” (documenting two years of abuse from Game Journalism, after sharing my #metoo… the whole painful story all in one place). Just in case anyone thought that stuff was over by now. It's never over.

But there's also game design, a couple of things this time even:

And in the way of assorted news:

Which made me go on for way too long again, so enjoy, and see you in July!

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