from the archive, writing

Python to be renamed

I wrote this for segfault.org in May, 2000. I think I was living in London at the time. 

segfault.org was a nerd satire site, based on the style of slashdot that was popular in the late 90s and early 00s. It was founded and run by the internet’s Leonard Richardson and Scott James Remnant. segfault accepted reader submissions and they were kind enough to publish about a few by yours truly. 

Links to the post made it to a couple of Python mailing lists and Guido van Rossum kinda, sorta responded.

In a press conference held early this morning, Guido van Rossum, creator of the Python programming language Python, announced that his most famous project will be undergoing a name change. The new name for the language is Homer.

Python was originally named after the British comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Today Mr. van Rossum told reporters he had “gone off Python” and enjoyed watching reruns of the Simpsons. “I caught a Simpsons marathon last weekend – that Homer, he’s so useless and so funny. And that Bart, what a little rascal,” said van Rossum.

Mr. van Rossum denied that the name change was bcause former Flying Circus member John Cleese has repeatedly declined invitations to come round one evening for some pizza, a few beers and some late night hacking.

“No no,” he insisted. “I’m just sick of reading ‘I fart in your general direction’ on the error messages of every second Python program I use. I want some new jokes, and the Simpsons will provide them.”

As well as the name change it appears the Python organization will be getting a new sponsor – Fox TV. Australian-born Fox boss Rupert Murdoch explained:

“Yeah mate, Disney have got that bloody Squeak so I thought we should have a language too. It’s all fair dinkum, they get money, we get ratings. And anyway, the Simpsons is a bloody laugh, not like that limey rubbish.”

There were other benefits resulting from the name change, added Mr van Rossum. “Writing comments, for instance. Not everyone understood the phrase “Luuxury” next to a variable declaration, but everyone will get “Mmmmm, integers.”

Segfault.org asked John Cleese for his comments on todays announcement:

“I’m not too worried about the name change at all. Actually, I’m glad it’s all over. Perhaps he’ll stop pestering me about his god-awful hack-a-thons. If you ask me, there’s nothing you can do in Python or Homer or whatever-it’s-bloody-called-today that can’t be done faster and more efficiently in assembly code.”

Already Homer applications are popping up on freshmeat.net. Included among them are a a program that orderes a can of pop over the Internet when the TAB key is pressed, and a script that scans comments and replaces the word “Ni!” with “Doh!”

i made a thing, video games

robotfindskitten for Pico-8

In 2014 I was faffing around with PutHTML along with a few people I’d met on IRC. After a couple throwaway experiments I decided to make a version of robotfindskitten, the Zen simulation originally written by the internet’s Leonard Richardson. It was very bad JavaScript code but it worked.

In 2018 I discovered Pico-8 and decided to replicate the experiment. 30-odd days ago I uploaded a working version of robotfindskitten to itch.io. It is very bad Lua code but it works. As of writing, dozens of people have tried it. Dozens!

You can play the game online at itch.io or download versions that will run on Windows, Linux, and macOS. And, you can get a “cart” that will run in the Pico-8 virtual console.

I really enjoyed writing the game. I wrote the code, created the sounds, and named almost all of the non-kitten items. Like I said, it wasn’t good Lua code but it was very satisfying to build it from nothing and get it onto something like itch. I’ve started the next game which I think will be similar to the surfing and BMX mini-games from the 80’s California Games.

video games

Played: THE LAST OF US

I just finished THE LAST OF US. It is roundly lauded as one of the greatest video games of all time and for good reason.

The story is compelling, the writing is top notch, the acting is phenomenal. I played the remastered version: it was gorgeous.

I’m not a huge fan of stealth-based game mechanics but I really enjoyed the balance of stealth and aggression in THE LAST OF US. There was often more than a couple ways to progress past a pack of infected or group of hunters.

The monsters were genuinely scary. Clickers especially.

My only criticism would be the incredibly high human body count – I understand that’s more due to game mechanics but it was really the only thing that stretched my suspension of disbelief.

Still, what a fantastic game. I’m so glad I played it.

comics

Reading: WEST COAST AVENGERS (2017)

Kelly Thompson’s run on HAWKEYE was really good and I was sad when it was cancelled. Fortunately her new WEST COAST AVENGERS book has been just as much fun so far.

The first issue starts with land sharks marauding across LA and continues with a giant Tigra invading from the sea. The team features the good Hawkeye and Hawkguy, Gwenpool, America Chavez, and Quentin Quire.

What more do you need to convince you? Get thee to your local comic book store.

video games

Played: Reigns: Her Majesty

In this 2018 GDC talk, Writer Leigh Alexander shares her narrative design process around the tricky political tightrope of women’s power, especially when it has to be both violent and funny.

Reigns was a simple, fun game: make decisions to keep the needs and whims of your kingdom in balance and stay alive. Reigns: Her Majesty adds more depth – the goals that seemed like bonuses in the original make up an actual plot in the new version. Staying alive isn’t the goal. The lack of actual power afforded to the wife of the king leads to more interesting and fun decision making, too.