Tuesday, February 22, 2022

These violent delights

I've spent the past few days working on an Inform 6 compiler patch to tighten up generated code. While I was working, I tweeted this screenshot of a buggy game:

I feel silly posting an image of text, so here's that again:
 At End Of Road                                      Violence isn'Violence isn't
tease oti n.

Welcome to Adventure!

Violence isn't the answer to this one.Violence isn't the answer to this
one.Release 5 / Serial number 961209 / Inform v6.37 Library Violence isn't the
answer to this one. S

At End Of Road
Violence isn't the answer to this one.


Inside Building
Violence isn't the answer to this one.

Violence isn't the answer to this one.

Violence isn't the answer to this one.

Violence isn't the answer to this one.

Violence isn't the answer to this one.

I tweeted it because it was funny; my followers volubly agreed. (Thanks folks!) But how did this happen? Hey, I haven't written a code post in a while. Let's dig into it.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Shade and Heliopause fall off the iOS App Store

I mentioned a couple of years ago that I was no longer supporting the IosGlk framework or the iOS IF apps that depend on them. Thus, Hadean Lands, Heliopause, Shade, and Dreamhold have gone three years without an iOS update.
I expected them to last about five years before Apple yanked compatibility out from under them. (Recall that My Secret Hideout lasted six years without an update.) But apparently Apple has gotten more proactive. A month ago I got notices on Heliopause and Shade saying, in short, "update them or it's yank city."
Well, fine. I already decided I wasn't doing that. So this weekend, down they came.
This also takes down an app bundle I had featured -- "all four apps for the price of HL alone!" This was a promotional gimmick, of course, but a pretty effective one. At least I think it was. Ah well.
Apple has some interestingly undocumented policies on what they yank. All four apps have exactly the same update history and software framework, but only two of them have been removed. Maybe they're going after cheap (one-dollar) apps first? (Dreamhold is free, and HL is "premium".) Or maybe it has to do with popularity -- Shade and Heliopause sell two or three copies a month each, where HL is more like ten or fifteen a month.
Anyhow, the important summary is that Hadean Lands is still available on both iOS and Steam, and all the other games can be played for free on my web site, just like they always have. I'm really just posting this as an information point. Three years from last update. When the other apps get their takedown notices, we'll know one tidbit more.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Job status update: 2022

I don't mention my day job much, but here's an update. As of today, I am signing on with The Molasses Flood as a Narrative Systems Engineer.
If you recall the news from a few months ago, that means I am employed by CD Projekt. That's the Polish studio responsible for the Witcher games, Cyberpunk 2077, and GOG.
What am I working on? Everybody's favorite, the Unannounced Project! But to quote the press release:
The Molasses Flood [...] will be working on its own ambitious project which is based on one of CD PROJEKT’s IPs.
So, um, count up CDP's IPs and pick one.
This is less of a jump than it seems. I spent a good chunk of 2020 contracting for Molasses Flood, working on a narrative/dialogue system for a different game. That game wound up shelved -- but when Molasses and CDP started cooking up this project, the Molasses narrative engine was a key component. So Molasses brought me back on as a contractor last August. I've been working on Unannounced Project for the past six months, adapting and updating the engine for the new requirements. I like the Molasses folks, they like me, I want to see the game through -- so now I'm wearing the hat.
(And getting the health care benefits. The ACA has been great for me as an indie, but who knows what happens the next time it lands before the Supreme Court.)
Anyway, the upshot is that I'm still doing all the same stuff for IFTF; I'm still selling Hadean Lands and Meanwhile; I'm still writing game reviews and stuff here.
This is a strange moment for me. Everybody knows me as a games guy, but the last time I started as an employee of a game company was... 1995. (Working on the Mac port of Icebreaker.) And that lasted less than eighteen months.
I won't reiterate my career, but it's involved a lot of boring ordinary software-dev work. I took a few years off for HL and Meanwhile, but that wasn't self-sustaining. Then I fetched up at SpiritAI, working on game-related tools, but it wasn't a game company per se. Then I did contracting here and there, which led to Molasses, and now... I'm working on a game. An "ambitious" one, according to the press release. Not what I expected!
But my job title is "Narrative Systems Engineer", and that's pretty darn cool.
More news when there is news.
(The Molasses Flood is hiring, by the way.)