🎵 The song for this post is Layton's Theme, by Tomohito Nishiura, for Professor Layton and the Curious Village. 🎵
Ye Olde Compute storeys
Baked some really disappointing biscuits today (I never though I'd have to type those words); ate them over a 20-minute break watching this, which I enjoyed more than I thought I would:
I'm generally a big fan of the "weird computer things we did to make games great" genre: the "War Stories" video series above features Andy Gavin and Naughty Dog's story of Crash Bandicoot, the blog posts for which were legendary (they wrote the game in muthafuckin' SCHEME!!!). Gamasutra has so many good articles about this, and Patrick Wyatt wrote some good dev blogs on the road to StarCraft. I suspect a lot of the nostalgia around these stories, beyond the actual tech content, was around a time when you could viably make commercial games played by "the masses", with small teams, on more-understandable stacks.
I wonder: will we be making videos like this (or writing articles) for modern games and consoles? Which ones? There's some fun out there, like Terry Cavanaugh open-sourcing vvvvvv or Celeste open sourcing the code for Madeline. We'll have retrospectives, but I'm finding it harder to believe it'll have the same impact, since the constraints are less severe, the hardware/software systems involved are so much more complex, and the games landscape is much more massive.
Reactions while watching the video:
Man, "Shadow Man"? And you meet him jumping into a mirror? lmao. After so much Celeste I should fire up an emulator and give it a go.
Re: rotoscoping/VHS/animation: art gets better with constraints! This is part of what makes pixel art so much fun. I've got to play (or develop) some PICO-8 games. Also, Sheep it up!
Should I fire up an Apple II emulator? Would be fun to play some old, old games.
There is so much value in keeping journals. I should keep a paper one too; I've kept a few but its been years.
Reminded again what a privilege to be working with computers at this point in history. Industry's got problems but computers are marvelous.
Years ago I wrote up some cultural things I do in companies that a lot of co-workers seem to appreciate, try this one in your Slack when you want help sleuthing things.
Board games for two
Haven't capitalized on it, but Vox wrote an article of best board games for 2 players, for if you're quarantined with anyone else. I think the only one of these I've played is Fog of Love, and we were unimpressed by it. Karen and I actually don't have a surplus of time on our hands; we're both still hustling at our jobs on most weekdays, and when one of us gets a break, the other is usually on a call or doing late night company coding. So it's more Pandemic bot for me; if you're interested in playing a game with one or both of us, or a virtual movie night, or somesuch, reach out!
Drew Devault wrote a bit about the terrifying complexity of browsers. On the aggregators, commenters focused on the methodology of his quantification, but I feel like that's missing the point. Like, sure, it's flawed and an approximation, but it's a cute number that tells a story I don't think anyone disputes: nobody will build a new web browser that renders the modern Internet anytime soon, because we've grown the requirements up to something unattainable. You can view this as a problem or not.
I do, but I'm also resigned to it. I'm doing the little I can as an individual (using and boosting indie web and tech) to fight against most of the forces that consolidate the web for private companies, of which the exploding complexity of browsers is one. After spending the last year or so doing it (and getting increasingly comfortable with it), I'm pretty sure a core contingent of us will stubbornly keep it alive for ourselves, and I'm cool with that. There are serious elitism issues with "Eternal September" (and, like, I wasn't on USENET lol), but for those who care about these things 👆 we'll find our place.
I moved the site's analytics to GoatCounter! No more Google Analytics! Trying to detangle my properties from the big monopolies, support clean Internet, and products obviously written for and by humans. This one is written by Martin Tournij, and its obviously a product towards an Internet I like. While Amado isn't a project I'm actively building or plugging, when I feel comfortable paying for any of its components (bootstrapper's delight: Amado costs ~$3.50 a month!), I'll definitely move it off Google and get it a proper GoatCounter business license.
Also, I love goats. I might have carefully read the WikiHow on starting a goat farm. And other articles. It's not a today plan, or this year plan, but maybe before I'm 40. Goats are like Sapo, but larger, and better at speaking. Long live goats.
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