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Procgen, Pico8, Boulangerie, Moonshots, Wallpaper
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Recently, I came upon a Twitter thread showcasing an Ultima 1 demake Pico8 tilemap / sprite sheet. Spurred on by one of the replies I felt compelled to forge my own response in defense of handmade craftmanship and at the same offense of this faddish impulse to program the fuck out of everything.

Resisting the urge to pick apart said reply like some kind of lonely, nubile troll, I will instead focus on the meat which urged, passive aggresively (I thought), that said map could've been done via code. To the insistence on procgen'ing the fuck out of everything I have this to say - fucking fuck off already with that procgen bullshit. IMHO, fwiw let's reward devs for handcrafting things again as though your life depends on it. Pretend like you're the Queen's personal boulangerie; one mis-baked croissant, or one shitty procgen'd map, and it's off with your head. Remember that wise culinary cliche which states that you're only as good as your last dish, :s/dish/tilemap.

Truth is probably not that far from farce in this instance. With the influx of shockingly stellar one-person projects you'd better be fucking sure that all of your maps are bang on moonshots, devoid of bugs, crappy AI or bad item placement or people will likely move on to the next shiny thing. Or, don't take chances, do it all by hand, hardcode it to ensure that every pixel is on point, every monster just where it needs to be to ensure that brilliant balance of difficulty and reward and thrill.

Developers, go forth and rally behind any number of words in your press release and marketing material which gleefully and unironically bellows out your confidence in non-procgen; bespoke, handcrafted, custom-made, cherry-picked, and so on and so forth.

Does procgen have its use, does it occasionally yield interesting results, is it a worrisome trend perhaps indicative of our badgering demand to be constantly entertained like that bratty 6 year old shit at his OTT birthday party, losing his goddamned mind because the mountain of presents is insufficient? Yes, yes and yes.

My argument is not for the sake of nostalgia, which in itself is a crutch worth exploring in its own article. If procgen is your thing then do your thing. But let's also celebrate intentional level design that's borne out of purpose and a mission to take you on a 500 page journey rather than a 50 page choose-your-own-adventure.

@tekkamansoul, whoever you are - please listen. Your handcrafted Ultima 1 demake maps are fucking awesome. Keep at it.

PS - If you're taking requests, I'd also love to see a Dragon Quest 1 map. Plonk that shit on a poster or wallpaper and I will meditate on it and lose myself in a long long smile and many memories spent grinding, reality blissfully forgotten.

72 Jan 23

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