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DevLog Watch: Trees, Religions, Spaceships

Games are varied, no?

GIFs aren’t only the internet’s favourite medium for sharing slapstick animals. They’re also a tool for democratising promotion and marketing. Can’t afford the time or money necessary to edit together a slick trailer? Don’t worry, a three-second GIF may better convey what’s smart, cool and interesting about your game.

Or if your game doesn’t have animation just write really long posts detailing the making of it anyway. Whatever. DEVLOG WATCH GO.

How To Be A Tree

I’m not sure two images could better sell the appeal of a game than these. How To Be A Tree. It’s a platform game about leaping across gaps, squeezing down holes and arboreal mincing. It looks a little like Incredipede, without the awkwardness of building your own creature. There’s a bunch more GIFs through at the link, each one funny and brilliant.

Ultima Ratio Regum

ANSI, not ASCII, which means it can be quite lovely to look at.

I’ve written about the ANSI, procedurally generated 4X/roguelike before, but designer and programmer Mark Johnson updates the game’s blog regularly with news of what he’s working on. Most recently, that’s been religions and cults.

I’ve pretty much finished all the work on religions. These take three forms – monotheistic, polytheistic, and “spirits”, which is the under-the-hood classification for animist/shamanistic beliefs, ancestor worship, and so forth. Hunter-gatherer civilizations are highly biased towards the third category whilst feudal civilizations have a roughly equal chance of producing monotheistic and polytheistic religions. Nomadic civilizations, meanwhile, never have official state religions – made up as they are by peoples from a wide range of places, and given their fluidity as civilizations whose people are generally in near-constant transit, I decided it would be more interesting if they were to often serve as “hubs” where large numbers of religions might be represented, as opposed to their feudal equivalents who may be more restrictive in the religions they’ll allow.

VIDEOGAMES. And worth a look.


In the signature for each post about Interstellaria, there sits this handy description: “SHIP/CREW MANAGEMENT, EXPLORATION, METROIDVANIA.” I like it when developers make my job easy.

I also like it when space games look like this:

Pale blues ships. Metal grey interfaces. The last year has spawned returns or spiritual successors to Elite and to Wing Commander, but I can’t help but wonder when we’ll see a successor to the likes of Captain Blood. Space as a source of chill weirdness.

I’m not sure Interstellaria is that game – its platforming Metroidvania planet surfaces suggests otherwise, but for the art, I’m onboard.

There’s sixteen pages of development updates and GIFs, as ever, on TIGSource.

From the archive

In a time before Kickstarter, in a world before blogs, there was the finger protocol and .plan files. What ancient wisdom can we pull from this archive of developer musings from near the turn of the millenium?

Heretic II. Uh, thanks guys.

Heretic, Hexen and Hecatomb would have been the artistically “right” way to preserve the scope and story of the Trilogy of the Serpent Riders. After i left, Hecatomb became Hexen II and series integrity went out the window.

The sentence that was originally here was rewritten about 10 times because i’m trying to be Politically Correct in stating my feelings for how the whole series lost its focus and instead is just using its established brandname to sell copies.

Writes John Romero, March 26th 1998, about Heretic II being called Heretic II. Which is a little negative, so skip ahead to December 10th, 1999.

It was six short years ago, down to the hour. I remember staying up the last 30 hours doing exhaustive testing before Jay Wilbur uploaded the shareware version of DOOM to the University of Wisconsin’s FTP site. We couldn’t get in — too many people were sitting on the site, waiting for our upload. The target directory was full of bogus files with names like “” and “”, but finally we got the sysop to up the connect limit to 250 and we barely got in. After that upload, things changed.

I remember the crazy lockup bug we had the day before — if DOOM sat running for too long, it would just lock up. Turned out to be a value that was being incremented by the 140-tic-per-second timer function that was wrapping around (it takes a very long time for a LONG to wrap, even at 140-tics-per-second, but this one was uninitialized so it took even less time). So, we finished it up and sent it out, just knowing everyone would have a lot of fun with it. Happy Birthday, DOOM.


And that’s the third DevLog Watch column done. You’ve convinced me; this will now be a regular.

Many of the games already featured in this column appeared because their developers dropped me a line. A wise move. Are you making a game? More importantly, are you blogging about the creation of that game? GIFs or not, if you’re explaining what you’re making, mail me a link and maybe I’ll cover it.

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Graham Smith


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