Simon Willison’s Weblog


19 items tagged “games”


The Digital Antiquarian: Sam and Max Hit the Road. Delightful history and retrospective review of 1993’s Sam and Max Hit the Road. I didn’t know Sam and Max happened because the independent comic’s creator worked for LucasArts and the duo had embedded themselves in LucasArts culture through their use in the internal educational materials prepared for SCUMM University. # 17th July 2021, 3:12 am


Game developer’s guide to graphical projections (with video game examples), Part 1: Introduction. Absolutely delightful series of illustrated essays by Matej ‘Retro’ Jan explaining how different graphical projections can be used for video game art. Each concept is illustrated by screenshots or gifs from a mixture of games spanning four decades. Reading this was a real treat. # 28th December 2017, 1:07 am

Return of the Obra Dinn: Dithering Process (via) Lucas Pope (creator of “Papers, Please”) has a new game under development: “Return of the Obra Dinn”, a first-person adventure mystery game set in 1807 that is spectacularly rendered in a 1-bit art style. He has a development diary on, and in this entry he describes the extreme lengths he has gone to in order to develop the best possible dithering implementation for rendering his 3D world in 1-bit colour. “It feels a little weird to put 100 hours into something that won’t be noticed by its absence.” # 23rd November 2017, 9:21 pm

Dead End Thrills. Duncan Harris Is a photographer who works in the medium of video game screen captures. # 12th October 2017, 2:23 am


Calendars: When posting a facebook event page for an event that is repeated on two dates, should you use one page or two? (The events are games that are identical and should not have overlapping players)

I would use separate pages. The most valuable part of a Facebook event page is being able to see who is going to that event (and hence which of your friends will be there). If there are two events on two separate days you want to be able to maintain two separate lists of attendees.

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What are some great board games to play for 3 or more people?

I suggest looking in to German-style board games. They tend to be quick to learn and extremely well balanced but with a great deal of strategic depth once you get in to them, and they also have running times in the order of 45 minutes to an hour and a half. They’re ideal for games nights, especially if you might be playing with people who think they don’t like board games.

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What are good ideas and examples for event gamification?

Straight up points and badges style gamification seems a little contrived to me, but there’s definitely a lot to be said for activities that encourage delegates to meet new people.

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Are there guides for playing Minecraft on Mac laptops?

I play on a Mac laptop using the trackpad and ctrl+click for right clicking and that works absolutely fine. It’s worth fiddling with the keyboard commands in the options screen (as with any game) but I’ve found it to be perfectly playable otherwise.

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What programming language is primarily used in the making of big budget console games?

C++ still rules the roost here, but many games also integrate a dynamic scripting language of some kind for scripting level logic and so on. Lua is a popular option for this.

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Tuning Canabalt. Fascinating insight in to the game parameter tuning needed to make a game feel just right. # 13th October 2010, 8:32 am

The Pac-Man Dossier. Exuberantly detailed. Everything from how collision detection works to the exact pathfinding and target selection algorithms used by the four different ghosts. There’s even a tutorial for playing the legendary 256th level, where an overflow bug corrupts one half of the screen. # 11th August 2010, 11:20 am

Werewolf: How a parlour game became a tech phenomenon. The legendary “everyone’s a villager” game from Foo Camp ’08 gets a write-up in Wired. # 17th February 2010, 5:30 pm


Just One More Grim Thing (via) Tim Schafer releases 72 pages of design documentation for Grim Fandango, my all-time favourite computer game. # 6th November 2008, 7:51 pm Launched today, powered by Django—a combination of (mostly ex-Gamespot) quality editorial content and a massive structured wiki of every computer game ever released. This is going to be a lot of fun—all of the crazy detailed content that Wikipedia tends to reject. # 22nd July 2008, 7:09 am

Walk, Don’t Run (via) A retrospective look at Grim Fandango (possibly my favourite game of all time) and the fan community that are keeping it alive, nearly a decade after it was first released. # 25th May 2008, 2:04 pm

Core Techniques and Algorithms in Game Programming. Scarily detailed online book on games programming, including 2D and 3D graphics, AI, multiplayer network code, indoor and outdoor rendering, character animation and much more. UPDATE: Removed the original link, which appeared to be a pirated copy. # 1st May 2008, 12:26 am


Musical hackery. Indescribably clever musical video game creation, where images from classic games spell out their own theme tunes. The smartest thing I’ve seen on YouTube, well, ever. # 22nd November 2007, 5:03 pm

Weewar (Nat v.s. me). Really impressive turn based strategy game, implemented entirely in the browser. Surprisingly addictive; you have been warned. # 20th November 2007, 11:52 pm

Team Fortress 2. I gave this a go today for old time’s sake. Nine years in development and all they could come up with was TFC without the grenades? # 23rd September 2007, 10:33 pm