Yet Another Graphomaniacs Compendium
Monday, February 23, 2004

A parallel world


While we played on our Speccys, Beebs, Orics, TRS80-S, MZ80K's or whatever, there was a whole other world developing in parallel on the other side of that curtian. I'd like to see some of the sadder retro apologists - the ones that bang on about any game from later than 1982 being creatively bankrupt - from Edge locked up in a small dark room with one of these for a year...


The part that's really interesting about this post is the IQ151 tape "network". A teacher was able to load a program from one tape onto all his/her pupils machines simultaneously. I have visions of the UK euqivalent - a bank of Spectrums connected by serial cable, all displaying the same dancing colour bars of the loading screens in perfect rolling harmony..

posted by John Connors at
Monday, February 23, 2004

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Sunday, February 22, 2004

HTML-Tidy


Another thing that I learnt from the XML.com discussion was the existence of HTML-tidy which turned out to be a very useful app when it comes to preventing your html turning into bug soup. A nice straigtforward command line app that you run on an HTML file. Wonderful. Integrates beuatifully with vi and finds a truly frightening number of glitches in my templates..


The only thing wrong with HTML-Tidy is the fact it doesn't recoginise blogger tags. It would make a good blogger template validator otherwise. I should have a look at the source. It should be easy to change.

posted by John Connors at
Sunday, February 22, 2004

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Saturday, February 21, 2004

Parsing RSS with a bit of string and chewing gum.



I finally get round to looking at RSS parsers and the new-generation of newsreaders - and guess what? The best way of parsing RSS XML turns out to be good old regular expressions.



The degeneration of XML into tag soup is an interesting process. It's a social process, a lazy process. Define a standard so anal it takes real effort to conform to it, it will get broken. Some popular app (usually a Microsoft one) will do something different from what the standard expects - and we get two sets of rules for escaping strings, for example. It can be seen in HTML, filesystems, many image formats (remember what a mess flic files became?)



Free standard conforming libraries woud be the answer, you'd think, but no - programmers need to hack. Better to kludge up a few lines of 'C' to generate sort of XML than actually use a bulltetproof library. 'It's quicker', the chourus, 'the library is too big and clunky'. All the time, they sink slowly into the mire..




Half a litre of tag soup, please. With css bug croutons ;)


posted by John Connors at
Saturday, February 21, 2004

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Nevrax


Somone seems to be trying the "give the code away", keep the art and music under a key approach. It's for an MMORPG which is a good idea, because an MMORPG is basically selling a service anyway. It's also in a very crowded marketplace which Microsoft live in. Not a place I'd want to be.


The trouble is that the engine is just infrastructure that most players don't care about. What you definitely should give away is the tools for creating content. Mods always enhance a game, the engine itself isn't enough - although this way people can modify the engine to enhance content (add animated textures, specular lighting, etc).

posted by John Connors at
Saturday, February 21, 2004

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Text only writers


And just in case you think I have a bad case of the "good old days", good things are being done with the old text adventure medium now. Look at Emily Short or Adam Cadre's games and you will see what I mean. Enough, or I will sound like a monomaniac.

posted by John Connors at
Saturday, February 21, 2004

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Friday, February 20, 2004

Anacreon


It looks like the source code to Anacreon has been released under the GPL - 13 yrs after it was published. A sourceforge project has already sprung up around the game. It ought to be very interesting to see how a remake of a 13 yr old text only game will look on modern hardware. It's amazing that it has an active fanbase at all after all this time. Some games just refuse to die, and the GPL can give them new life. How many of those BASIC text -only games deserve a modern remake ?

posted by John Connors at
Friday, February 20, 2004

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Angels in America


Like millions of other people I've watched Angels in America. I've been struck by the resemblance between this and Was, by Geoff Ryman - both have central characters dying of Aids, both are about the central truth of America as opposed to the fantasies of the right - currently much in vogue. However although both tell very different stories - they both do the same thing. They confront history with fantasy - and attempt to overcome it, by attacking fantasies about history. Dangerous, delusuive, and destructive fantasies need to be contrasted by others, and not only in the USA, but probably the whole world. It's what writers are for...but I'm a games programmer. I plead irresponsibility!

posted by John Connors at
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

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Monday, February 09, 2004

Programming


n. A repetitive, yet challenging activity desingned to provide irrefutable proof of your own stupidity..


When you spend 45 minutes compiling the wrong source file and wondering why things are broken..things like this come back to you. Sigh.


posted by John Connors at
Monday, February 09, 2004

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Sunday, February 08, 2004

Business models



Seeing games like Diablo rip off the glory days of ascii gaming and Nethack and looking at the tendencies of UNIX programmers to write text based programs that work 100% and *then* put on the GUI on top of this makes me wonder, couldn't a similar thing be done with games? Write a sequence of text only games: interactive fiction, rogulikes, simulations - anything that works in text (everything except 'twitch', basically) or simple 2d graphics. Give them away on your site for free. Observe feedback, observe downloads. The most popular one, gets the full - on 3d commercial treatment..



It would be a fun way to get started, and nothing gives you traffic like "free stuff"..and you'd be building on top of something proven, and popular - that *works*..

posted by John Connors at
Sunday, February 08, 2004

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Friday, February 06, 2004

My to do list.


Multi-full body overlay : cache lookup.


ISubAnimationAccessors.h -- writeable!?


Overlays/Aiming - they need a manager


Refactor "Get Animation Code"


All minor things. All things that would have been "done properly" with more thought out requirements and design. A long time ago I worked for a financial services coding shop - no feature was added without a design doc detailing it - givning the declaration of each function needed to implement to achieve it and an english language description of what each function could do.


I've yet to see any game I've worked on get near this level of professionalism - except Stuntman.

posted by John Connors at
Friday, February 06, 2004

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Thursday, February 05, 2004

The spririt of Lambdamoo lives on the web


One of the more interesting "early" net-phenonema was LambdaMoo - a freeform mud anyone could log into and extend - most MUDs kept the powers of coding to wizards - and do any kind of bizarre thing with. Some of the whackiness that resulted seems to have been replicated on the web (to judge by the hype) in "The Game Neverending" . It will be interesting to see if it treads the fine line between a fruitful creative commons and a horribl e noisy free for all, and if the engine will allow the flexibility that makes this possible in the first place. I've signed up as a beta testa out of pure curiosity.

posted by John Connors at
Thursday, February 05, 2004

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The Journal



A miscellany of topics that intersest me: deaf culture, game design, politics as soap opera, the cyborg condition and the experience of learning to hear again. Other topics presented are speculative fiction and imaginary cities. There are appearences of snippets of work in progress, public rants, pointless posts and Mish the Mouse.




The Writer

A lower middle class cyborg living an innocous life in a suburban village near Newcastle On Tyne, in the United Kingdom. Mostly autobiographical and creative notes posts and musings on the topic du jour.


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