Hand-drawn map of the Kingdom of Hyrule.
Figure 1. Our hand-drawn map of the Kingdom of Hyrule. I drew a 2x1 grid in Inkscape and printed it out, then we filled it in as we went along.

It’s been about six months since the last update. We’ve mostly been camping, playing outside and generally enjoying the summer - although we have also squeezed in some gaming, here and there.

Favourite Games So Far

We spent almost all of our game time playing Legend of Zelda. It’s a towering achievement – a truly great game. I’m amazed that this thing is from 1986 – it doesn’t feel like it.

It’s also a great example of a different kind of co-op game. One where you play together by collaborating: discussing what to do & where to go next, how to tackle things, etc…​ We also took turns …

Continue reading “Speedrunning Computer Games History with a 6yr Old - Part 4”

Gauntlet Screenshot
Figure 1. Gauntlet, by far and away the kids favourite game so far.

Time for another update on the Retro Gaming project. It’s been roughly a month since the last update and we’ve been playing a bit more often this time.

Favourite Games So Far

Roughly in order of playtime:

Gauntlet is far and away the kids favourite game so far. Almost nothing else got a look in since I put it on. Even Super Mario Bros is a pretty distant second place, and the other games have barely been played at all.

I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, Gauntlet is a 4 player co-operative game. So far we’ve only played with two players, but even then, co-op games are just really fun. I think the other reason …

Continue reading “Speedrunning Computer Games History with a 6yr Old - Part 3”

Time for an update on the Retro Gaming project. It’s been almost four months since we started and it’s been, predictably, lots of fun. What with work and school and everything else, we have very little time for playing computer games. That, combined with a fairly dry winter & spring letting us get outside more, means that even with the Covid-19 pandemic curtailing activities, we haven’t clocked very many hours of playtime.

Favourite Games So Far

Roughly in order of playtime:

In the end, we didn’t actually play any ZX Spectrum or C64 games at all, sadly. I played a lot of these when I was a kid, so I was secretly disappointed …

Continue reading “Speedrunning Computer Games History with a 6yr Old - Part 2”

Galaxians vector
Figure 1. Galaxians.

As a family gift for Christmas 2020, I set up a Raspberry Pi 400 with Retropie. The plan is to load a selection of the “best of the best” games from computer game history, starting with games up to, roughly, 1985.

The kid doesn’t really know any better, so we can play Space Invaders unsullied by time and expectations and enjoy a speedrun through gaming history, playing just the highlights.

I’ll add more games as we go along, progressing through gaming history, one classic game at a time.

Continue reading “Speedrunning Computer Games History with a 6yr Old - Part 1”

A beautiful - and beautifully executed game. The controls are perfect - precise yet perfectly balanced; possibly the best jump in any platform game ever. But it’s so much more. Minimal in appearance, yet rich in humour, characterisation and depth. Who knew that rectangles could have such complex emotional relationships? Graphics, timing, narration, progression are all deftly done, with polish and perfect timing. And the soundtrack - even if you never play the game (which would be a huge mistake) it’s worth buying for the soundtrack alone.

I really don’t say this very often, but it almost makes you proud to be British.

Continue reading “Thomas was Alone Review”

Discussion piece about Lock’s Law:


For a virtual environment to qualify as ‘a sandbox’, your users must be able to create turing machines, out of stuff the found lying around. - Locks Law (which I just made up :).

I wonder if it is possible to mathematically model what characteristics of an environment are relevant to be able to build an effectively Turing-complete mechanism?

All the ones that I’ve seen (minecraft, dwarf fortress, little big planet) are 100% mechanical, so I guess all you need is the ability to move things around, plus some kind of basic physics, so that moving things around can have knock-on effects. Most of the DF ones are fluidic computers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MONIAC_Computer) and the rest are mostly falling blocks style. Quite Pratchett-esque.

I …

Continue reading “Turing Complete Sandbox”