Scenario: My friend Ben and I need to exchange links to web resources on a regular basis.

Problem: I do not have Facebook. Ben does not have Twitter. Ben does not use email. Lastly, Ben does not have a rich-web capable phone with which to receive links via SMS. As you can see, this is mostly his fault.

Solution: Ben And Ste’s Social, or BASS.

While it now has 3 users — and should more accurately be called BLASS — my latest PHP experiment remains a minimalist text-and-links sharing site. It has hardcoded user data, meaning you only need to enter a password in order to post. That is obviously ‘fail’ in several ways, but it is also super secure. It has its problems, but at the moment it does the job perfectly under the load expected.

I learnt to use flock() instead of the time consuming process of restoring from backups, and a major revision is underway which will queue and batch-manage messages rather than allowing each client to modify the master log.

The tagline, and even the name of the service (“Bass”) can be changed by any of the priveleged users in their Config options at any time, which adds fun. Messages stack in a way which I am beginning to realise is what is generally acknowledged as “backwards”. I will fix that.

Bass will also have support for an embedded HTML document for each user which gives them tabbed access to their favourite websites search facilities. It automagically recognises links, even those which lack protocol prefix.

BASS is private and has no signup system.

OK. Good. I’m glad we had this chat.


Game Design

I think about this topic a lot, so this may the first of many posts on the topic.

Leon introduced me to 1000 blank white cards. It is a game which was already present in my brain, as an ideal, but which I’ve never considered by name. In years 8 through 10, I think, Alex Tear created a card game called Smogioh, which was a comedy more than anything, lacked balance, and had no real strucutre, but was still engaging and amusing.

What is the base level of a “game”?

Triangles are popular in gameplay. If Rock, Paper, Scissors had two elements, it would not be a game. If it had 4 elements, it would be too complex. I once wrote a computer RPG where you had one stat: the game was CNinja Express, and the stat was Ninja. It served as currency, power, and high score. It turned out to not be very good, but it was playable.

Gameplay has to be fun… I suppose I miss that a lot in my search for clever dynamics, and valuing skill over chance. One of the best games I ever invented was almost entirely chance, and that was Ste and Trebble’s Paper RPG. Think Dungeons and Dragons as procedurally generated by dice rolls.

My conclusion is that the best games are the ones that you take the most satisfaction from, and I think a good source of gameplay satisfaction is how much of yourself you put into it. Games you invent and which then work, are awesome… perhaps the best. Games that somebody else made that aren’t fun, are surely the worst.

Now click for the above paragraph in the form of a bad comic:
Making a game with friends