Re: [dev] Suckless design in Games

From: Robert Ransom <>
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2010 03:38:44 -0700

On Wed, 11 Aug 2010 11:19:37 +0200
lordkrandel <> wrote:

> > A computer game is a computer program whose creator intended primarily
> > that human beings enjoy interacting with it.
> I was just arguing that the idea of "suckless design" may fit not so
> well in game programming.

That depends on what the game's target audience enjoys.

I cease to enjoy the Battle for Wesnoth when I have to manage well over
a dozen units each turn, by hand, with a lousy GUI, and I forget what I
was trying to *do* with each unit.

I think I would enjoy a game with the same logic, but with the ability
to set user-designed AIs for units and/or groups of units added to the
frontend. The easiest way to allow that is probably to chop the GUI
out of the game client and connect the two using a well-designed,
well-specified protocol (preferably built on 9P). That would have the
side effect of moving BfW slightly closer to the ‘suckless’ ideal.
(Not noticeably closer, though; have you *seen* its WML data format?)

If designed and implemented properly, a game can be quite suckless, and
still have an interface that mainstream gamers (I know, that sounds
like an oxymoron) enjoy interacting with.

A suckless game should make interfaces that other audiences would enjoy
easy to add, whether that is part of the definition of ‘suckless’ or
just a side effect.

> That's why at a certain point I answered a message in a private way
> but then the reply came on the mailing list. Sorry for the "crap".

I'm glad you aren't one of those professional philosophers (they
*would* ask for more precise definitions of “neurologist” and

Your message was not crap, and objectively defining “to be fun” (by
defining “to enjoy”; an activity is fun if the animals participating in
it enjoy it) was probably useful, but I do NOT want to go one step
beyond that down the road of trying to precisely define everyday words
in terms of other words -- the sophists have done enough damage to
society with their word games already.

> > To the extent that this list has a topic, it seems to be ‘the
> > philosophy of computer programming’. That does not mean that any of
> > us want to read the kind of crap [that *is* a noun, right?] that
> > university departments of Philosophy emit.
> Suckless dev also means discussing about what "suckless design" is.

Good point, although I consider that an aspect of the philosophy of
computer programming.

We're never going to agree on how to define “suckless design”, but
it'll be fun to try to find out what it means. (Through heated
discussion, of course.)

> I'll never quit saying: If you are not interested, do not read, do not
> reply.

I am interested in discussing useful philosophy. I am also very
interested in keeping “grue” and “bleen” off this list. (For those of
you who have not been exposed to that bit of modern sophistry, “grue”
does not refer to the monsters in Zork here.)

> I'll get back when I have a -n lines patch so you will all be happy.


Code size isn't the only measure of complexity. Sometimes, one program
needs to be made larger in order to keep the complexity of a larger
system down.

Let's start another flame war:

I think pacman (the Arch Linux package manager) is too simple to manage
packages well. Seriously.

Robert Ransom

Received on Wed Aug 11 2010 - 12:38:44 CEST

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