zero's a life

An extra chance.

Creator Questions

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Taking inspiration from Allison Parrish’s talk: Programming is Forgetting: Toward a New Hacker Ethic, here’s my version of Parrish’s new hacker ethic for creators:

Creator Questions

  • Who gets to use what I make? Who am I leaving out? How does what I make facilitate or hinder access?
  • What assets am I using? Whose labor produced them and what biases and assumptions are built in? What do the assets leave out?
  • What systems of authority am I enacting through what I make? What systems of support do I rely on? How does what I make support other people?
  • What kind of community am I assuming? What community do I invite through what I make? How are my personal values reflected in what I make?

Watch Allison Parrish’s talk for more background on why these sorts of updates are critical for shaping a more welcoming community.

Every Week a Dev

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Every Week a Dev is a twitter bot created by Rami Ismail that spotlights a new person involved in game development every week. Check out the archives and follow it if you haven’t already. The bot’s a great aggregator for gamedev wisdom.

Procedural Generation of Social Networks

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I’ve been thinking about how to run a hexcrawl style campaign in a cyberpunk world. Mobility is easy, so a spatially distributed procedurally generated map doesn’t make much sense. Characters could easily just look up information on an unfamiliar section of the map on whatever flavor of the internet exists in that world and buy a plane ticket or book a taxi ride to get there.

Transportation is cheap and the Sprawl has largely been explored. This is not to say that a typical hexcrawl-style campaign couldn’t work in a VR hacking setting. Look no further than Uplink to see a wonderful example.

In a cyberpunk setting the thing to be explored becomes the web of intrigue among the movers and the shakers in the campaign. Crosses and double crosses become the shifting landscapes and wandering monster encounters of the political landscape. See for, example this blog post at Monsters and Manuals and the organization chart from The Wire.

Why Does Pokemon GO Use Passive Voice?

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A colleague of mine wondered why Pokemon GO uses the passive voice when reporting,

Pikachu was caught!

The simple reason is nostalgia—that’s the phrasing from the original Generation 1 Pokemon games.

Was there a limitation inherent in the medium at the time that required using the passive voice? Below I’ll dig into the disassembled Pokemon Red source code to answer the question of why Pokemon Go uses passive voice.

A Grammar of Procedural Platformer Levels

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Brief post this week linking to a couple of great articles about elements of platformer game design. I think these articles make great resources for a procedural platformer level generator. Brevity and procedural focus stem at least partially from the release of the captivating No Man’s Sky.

Platformer Level Design

Ken Bowen’s 2012 article covering 2D Sidescroller Level Design has some great tips. I especially like the section called Define your Building Blocks. I think this will require some revisiting in a future post.

Fundamental Physics for Platformers

Zachary Burke’s article about Platformer Physics is a nice resource that explains the fundamentals in great mathematical detail. It also provides inverse solutions for deriving physics based on descriptive parameters for jump height and timing.

Taken together these articles suggest, to me, that we could achieve a fully descriptive grammar of platformer games to generate a variety of levels constructed from basic building blocks, with constraints ensuring fun and responsive gameplay physics.