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Drop #195 (2023-02-08): It’s All Just A Game To You, Isn’t It?
8-bit Workshop; StageTop; DOOM The Way it Was Meant to Be Played
Programming note: I make it a point to Kagi, Google, and Bing the newsletter theme titles just in case the most prolific result(s) of my “clever” coinage might be offensive (at least to me). This edition's themed title most prolific result is, indeed, offensive (again, at least to me) but I'm sticking with it. I suggest folks do not perform the same search, but if you do — and have similar sensitive sensibilities as I — at the very least don't tap the song/lyrics results.
Daily life can, at times, be a grueling slog. Games can provide a much-needed escape from this reality, and today's Drop has meatspace and digital resources to help you make your own worlds to explore, or experience an ancient and familiar one in a new way.
I start this section with something I should say more often: you should never feel pressured (by anyone!) to “create” anything in your “spare” time except a safe space for you, and those you 💙, to decompress from the daily grind.
Most of these Drops feature resources that are building blocks to make other things. Sure, many of them likely help many readers in their
$DAYJOBs, but I even go so far as to (kind of) “forcefully” suggest you should have a weekend, tech-oriented project, which is not the case.
Having noted that, for many folks the act of creation can itself be an escape. When those creative talents are applied to making games, the resultant artifacts can also be an additional escape for the creator as well as anyone they share it with.
I grew up when “state of the art” in gaming consoles was the TV Scoreboard.
The “coming of age” period happened in the 8-bit era, a time when programmers had to have some clever tricks up their sleeves to bend the hardware of that era to their collective wills.
Today, folks freely explore massive, incredibly rich and detailed 3D, hyperrealistic worlds on giant/multi-monitor setups.
Building an immersive, 3D gaming world as an individual is definitely getting “easier”. Just browse through Lynn's a “game” resources if you have doubts about that. AI and other modern tools make this all possible, but it is still “work-work”, and does require some advanced design and programming skills (I am seriously envious of daughter #1’s talents in this field).
While you do need some design and programming chops to create in 8-bit space, the onboarding into that realm is a bit (heh) easier and faster, especially when you dig into all the resources 8bitworkshop (🐘 @8bitworkshop) has to offer.
The platform has online tools and an in-browser IDE that will transport you back in time so you, too, can be a pioneer in this byte-sized universe.
The IDE has support for a crazy number of classic systems:
Sega Master System
ZX Spectrum 48k
and the Dithertron tool lets you convert any image into a format suitable for inclusion into many of said platforms.
Speaking of projects, you can check out what others have built and learn from their creations.
On top of just being fun, this is a great, judgment-free, and unbreakable environment to experiment with/learn low-, mid-, and high-level programming languages. You even have the option of designing [virtual] hardware! The best part (to me) is that you can go at your own pace, build on others' creations, and spread some 8-bit joy with ones you create.
If meatspace gaming is more to your liking, and you either have a 3D printer (with a 210mm+ plate), or wanted an excuse to get into 3D printing, then you may be very interested in a recent, successful Kickstarter: StageTop (the Kickstarter page has more content than the main site, for now).
Aside: While I usually avoid including "must purchase" items in these Drops, 3D printing is here to stay and getting crazy better with each passing year. Becoming familiar with small-scale 3D tech could be a catalyst for diving in deeper. It will, at the very least, open up a new world to explore.
What you receive for a ~$50 USD investment is access to STL (Standard [Tessellation|Triangle] Language) files which you can use outright, or customize, then 3D print to assemble gaming tables (in multiple configurations) and gaming accessories.
“Gaming tables?” you ask?
While they are not at all necessary to have to play board games, serious (and ostensibly wealthy?) meatspace gamers will invest in them to level-up the physical gaming experience.
Printing out all the components to make your own table will, of course, also cost folks some more coin — for materials and a printer, if you do not have one already — (and lots of time). But, you can make the product just the way you want it, and expand upon your creation whenever you want to (which would be a tad more difficult to do with a pre-made, multi-thousand-dollar wooden table).
The usual disclaimer applies: I receive nothing from this resource drop, save for the knowledge that I might have helped at least one more human learn a new skill or discover a new resource.
DOOM The Way it Was Meant to Be Played
The source code to one of the most popular first-person shooter games was open sourced a while ago. Since then, clever humans scramble to be the first to port DOOM to new platforms (e.g., the Apple Watch / the (now defunct) MacBook Touch Bar).
Buried in the original 1.1 version of DOOM (which you'll need a “shareware” copy of vs. the source) was a remarkable feature for the time (1993) — support for multiple perspectives of the same 1-player game session across multiple networked PCs. It uses the IPX protocol (vs modern TCP/IP or UDP/IP) to coordinate the gameplay across the DOS-fueled LAN.
You can read a tiny bit more about it, or just consume the video in the section header to see it in action.
Must. Not. eBay. Three. Massive. PC. Boxes. And. CRTs.
We close with a bonus drop of a recent game we acquired: Alice is Missing, a clever, modern take on the role-playing game genre.
Alice is Mising is a silent role-playing game about the disappearance of Alice Briarwood, a high school junior in the small town of Silent Falls.
The game is played live and without verbal communication. Players inhabit their character for the entirety of the 90-minute play session, and instead of speaking, send text messages back and forth to the other characters in a group chat, as well as individually, as though they aren’t in the same place together.
While we have the physical card version, you can also play it with gaming pals over the internet if you acquire the Roll20 version. The silent/SMS aspect of the game makes it especially well suited for that use case.
Game on! ☮