just looking

I’ve been getting a little bit interested in games again. Not interested enough to spend any significant amount of time actually playing a game, but enough to spend some time thinking about them and looking at some interesting stuff.

I still haven’t finished Final Fantasy VIII, which I started playing in 2003. And I’m pretty sure the last time I made any progress with it was 2009. I jumped back in a couple of times recently, but I’m stuck at a boss fight that I can’t seem to get past, most likely because I haven’t played the game in so long I really don’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing. So I did some reading to refresh my memory, including finding a few various FAQs and walkthroughs that I had previously downloaded. So I think I have an idea of where I am now, and what I need to do to progress, but now I’ve kind of lost interest again.

Last night, I spent some time browsing through some of the stuff that’s marked down for Steam’s big sale this weekend. There are some good RPGs on sale cheap, including some good stuff that’s marked down to $1.50 or $3. But I’m pretty sure I’d buy something, then never get around to playing it, like I usually do. So I should really just not buy anything.

Over at GOG, I’ve noticed that they’ve added some more AD&D games since the last time I looked, including Dark Queen of Krynn, which is the one gold box game I never finished. And Neverwinter Nights, which I have a regular boxed copy of, for Mac OS, which I bought and never even installed, plus my brother’s old copy for PC (which he played all the way through, I think).

I’ve also been tempted to try out TIS-100, but I think I’m more interested in the idea than the execution on this one. If I want to learn a new programming language, I’m probably better off learning one that looks good on my resume, rather than one that’s really only useful as part of a game. Jeff Atwood has some interesting things to say about this game, and others like it.

Reading about TIS-100 has made me think more deeply about what I’ve been doing with my spare time lately, and what I want to do with it. I enjoy learning new programming languages, and reading (reasonably) high-brow stuff, but, at the end of a workday, I often don’t have the energy for anything other than TV and comic books. And my eyesight often fades at the end of a day, so doing more programming work is out of the question. Even reading can be a chore, depending on the material and typography. And playing a video game sometimes seems more stress-inducing than stress-relieving.

I wonder how somebody like Shawn Wildermuth can do so much work and travel and still spend 1300+ hours on Fallout 4. Lots of coffee, I guess. I can’t imagine spending that much time on a game, while still being a productive member of society. (Shawn, meanwhile, manages to blog, produce a podcast, create content for Pluralsight, and who knows what else. But I digress.)

I’ve been thinking that maybe learning a bit more about game programming might be a fun thing to do. Daniel Schuller’s book How to Make an RPG looks like it could be a good place to start. If nothing else, I’d learn Lua, since that’s the language he uses in this book. The book is almost 1000 pages long though, so that could be a pretty big commitment. (And I’m not sure if knowing how to write a game in Lua would be any more useful on the resume than knowing how to program the TIS-100.)

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