It's interesting to see that a BYOND game is having some mainstream success. Congratulations to Silk & company!
I came back to check out what's been going on with BYOND after the success of Terraria on Steam caught my eye. A lot of people have been trying to figure out Terraria's appeal (or trying to deride it), but for me, that game is simply the exact sort of thing I imagined when I was growing up, playing late 8 bit and early 16 bit games.
When I was younger, I'd be playing a game and imagining what it would be like if it had open-ended play, a sandbox (though we didn't have that term back then) world, destructible/constructable environments, shared worlds, etc., and of course the technology just wasn't there. The processing power just wasn't there, the networking wasn't there.
Of course I dreamed of 3D and realistic games, too, but... well, if somebody had told me in the 80s or early 90s that there would be a game called "Ultima Online" in the early 21st century, I wouldn't have pictured anything like the game Ultima Online, even with its original 2D client. I would have pictured something like Ultima (or Ultima III or IV), online. And I would have thought that was an awesome idea!
Sure, Terraria has graphical glitz that SNES games lacked... and it'd be hard for a console game to match the pure point-and-click joy of mouse-based firearms... but it gets a lot of extra mileage out of keeping things simple and stylized, and I think this adds to its appeal by making it look like the childhood imaginations of those of us who are in our thirties.
It's retro appeal, pure and simple.
And of course, the most popular BYOND game right now is one with a similar (but much more explicit) retro appeal: NEStalgia.
There are apparently a few noisy voices who want to kick up a big fuss about the future direction of BYOND and how it'll never be a respectable game design system if it can't incorporate all the latest modern gaming advances, but you know what? BYOND's MUD roots mean that it was dated before it began, and as much as it grows and evolves and as much as NEStalgia's success involved customizing its look until it's almost unrecognizable, I think retro is always going to be a big part of the draw, and a big part of BYOND's repertoire.
Other systems are better at doing just about everything else, but if you want to make a game with tile-based roots BYOND does a heck of a lot of the work for you.
And here we come to why I'm back. The heyday of my BYOND posting/playing/developing days disappeared when my creative energies shifted more to writing, but I've always drifted back... always started new projects or (more often) tried to revitalize an old one, and then realized that I don't have what I need to make it happen. Not with my focus on my writing. Graphical games take... graphics, text-based games require their own special kinds of more work and eat into my reserves of writing brain.
But I note with interest that the current version of BYOND has native support for different icon sizes, and for stretching icons in the client. Why is this interesting to me? Because one of the main obstacles I found as I worked on the various versions of RetroQuest (my "Ultima... online" game) was that to achieve the look I wanted, I had to make 16x16 icons and then double their pixels up, which led to finicky extra steps in what would have otherwise been an incredibly basic bit of icon making.
With the newer version of BYOND, I can just make 16x16 monochrome icons. How simple is that? Well, I've been trying it out and the answer seems to be "simple enough".
So let's see if anything comes of this.
Edit To Add:
On the subject of "retrospective", I just glanced back to see what my last posts were... ah, Endless Lands. I made some decent progress on that version of the game, but when my laptop of the time crashed, it took my zeal for the project with it. I recovered my files but not my enthusiasm.