Once upon a time, I ported a turn-based strategy / tactical combat game to the web. The average play time for the game is quite long (many hours), so saving games is an important feature.

PC/Console games have two ways to do "game saves":

  1. Save on the machine, keyed to the user thanks to the operating system's file system and
  2. Save on the cloud, keyed to the user by some identity provider.

1) is easy to implement (writing and reading a file to disk). 2) is much harder to implement, costs money to run, and requires the gaming machine to have network connectivity.

Web games can do 2) just as easily as PC games. Since this is a hobby project with near-zero players, I don't plan to build my own Cloud service, and I don't trust any Cloud-hosted "gaming" API to be stable enough or not get killed in the future. So that leaves me with saving and loading games locally.

Unfortunately, browsers have a major road block: they do not allow native file system access. Back a decade ago when I started to write the game, it looked to me like browsers would eventually implement this: progress on browser compatibility and "native app" capabilities were pretty breathtaking at that time.

So I put up with some jankiness: To load a savegame, pick a file from your computer. To save a game, the web app downloads the savegame file to your computer. That kind of sucks and doesn't allow a save-as-you-play experience, but good enough for now. I threw in more jank with the option to use Google Drive API as well for a cheap-o version of a Cloud service. (Why not Play Games API? Because they eventually killed their Web API. See "stable forever" above.)

All this jank was an acceptable workaround until browsers caught up, or so I thought.


Here we are a decade later. Though Chrome desktop has proposed and implemented the File System Access API for native file access, it's not quite enough when compared to what native apps can do - and other browser vendors have adamantly refused to implement true native file access, making this capability a sad bloated corpse floating in a lake. I'm saying native file access is dead in the water.

Why didn't I just use localStorage or IndexedDb for this? Well, for one, it was stubbornness and naïvety. For two, I worried about how much data I could store reliably. For three, I thought that users would expect their saved games in Chrome to be playable in Firefox or Safari on the same machine or want ways of passing their saved games around.

The fact my savegames are something like 35k means that storage was never really a concern.

The fact that most users only ever use a single browser, means I don't need to really worry that much about portability.

It's actually pretty straightforward to implement a virtual file system in IndexedDb that works good enough. Heck, Apple did it as some weird peace offering to people who wanted File System Access. [As an aside: as far as I can tell, an origin-private file system offers zero user-facing benefits over IndexedDb, you're just trading one API for another... so it's a devex offering. True native file access offers user benefits, such as backing up your save games, hacking, modding, sharing outside of the browser]

So in the end, I just wrote my own storage service that loads/saves games to an IndexedDB store in the browser. These days, superior user experience trumps web specification idealism for me every time.


P.S. I'm no security expert. I'm sure Mozilla and Apple have good reasons for rejecting the File System Access API. I'm just sitting here loving the technology of the web (zero install, the APIs, JavaScript/Typescript) and the developer experience but wishing I had all the perks that native apps do.

P.P.S. I was surprised to learn that an IndexedDB instance for a page at foo.net is different than the IndexedDB instance of an iframe of foo.net hosted at bar.net. That's a subtlety I hadn't thought through.

§1394 · April 19, 2024 · Apple, Entertainment, Firefox, Games, Google, Software, Technology, Web · (No comments) ·


I am a big BIG fan of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls and I consider Morrowind one of the best games ever made (my top 2 are Morrowind and Doom in no particular order). I have put in only a few hours into Starfield (so far), and I have to say I like it less and less. Primarily my complaints lie with all the loading scenes that break the illusion of an immersive, seamless galaxy to explore. It feels like Skyrim with even more disconnected regions.

In Morrowind you could walk from the wilderness into a city with no observable loading, the only loading screens were upon fast-travel (which was not necessary) or going indoors. As you leveled up, you could learn levitate spells that let you fly over seemingly insurmountable mountain ranges or water breathing spells that let you explore underwater. You could learn water walking and even walk across the ocean from the mainland to the new island included in the Bloodmoon expansion, if you were patient enough and didn't want to fast-travel via ship.

Oblivion did away with some of the crazier things (like Levitation and Water Walking), and added loading screens as you move into cities and this trend sadly continued into Skyrim. And yet, I still loved those games and devoured them, spending hours. Something about the ability to look at the horizon and say "I'm going to walk to there" was very captivating.

In Starfield, you get loading screen after loading screen, moving from location to location, outdoor to indoor, in and out of spaceships, launching from the surface, grav-jumping, etc. I know this criticism is not incredibly insightful or novel; many folks have already complained loudly about this online and contrasted it against the illusion of seamlessness in No Man's Sky. I know I'm just adding to the din, but I can't help myself, my disappointment is as vast as the regions in Starfield are not.

There are no enormous planets floating in endless space. You're just an ant hopping from leaf to pretty leaf trying to cross a river. I expected so much more.

I will give it a few more hours, but sadly it's been a dud for me so far. Anybody have a recommendation for a modern open world game that knows how to maintain the illusion?

§1376 · January 18, 2024 · Entertainment, Games, Microsoft · 1 comment ·


Apropos of nothing, to the person who once said to me that the 1990s had no good music, I offer a list of 40 albums worth owning. This list has a good drubbing of obvious Alternative Rock and Brit Pop picks, but banks and dips into Shoe Gaze, Noise Pop, Trip Hop, and Electronica, which are more recent musical interests of mine. I own other albums from the nineties that are Canadian Rock-weighted (Tragically Hip, Tea Party, Odds):

  • Heaven or Las Vegas by The Cocteau Twins, 1990
  • Gala by Lush, 1990
  • Achtung Baby! by U2, 1991
  • Ten by Pearl Jam, 1991
  • Nevermind by Nirvana, 1991
  • Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, 1991
  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1991
  • Screamadelica by Primal Scream, 1991
  • Peng! by Stereolab, 1992
  • Lazer-Guided Melodies by Spiritualized, 1992
  • So Tonight That I Might See by Mazzy Star, 1993
  • Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins, 1993
  • Debut by Björk, 1993
  • G-Stoned by Kruder & Dorfmeister, 1993
  • Zooropa by U2, 1993
  • Dummy by Portishead, 1994
  • Superunknown by Soundgarden, 1994
  • Weezer by Weezer, 1994
  • Post by Björk, 1995
  • (What's the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis, 1995
  • Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins, 1995
  • The Bends by Radiohead, 1995
  • Exit Planet Dust by The Chemical Brothers, 1995
  • Electr-O-Pura by Yo La Tengo, 1995
  • Odelay by Beck, 1996
  • Emperor Tomato Ketchup by Stereolab, 1996
  • Among My Swan by Mazzy Star, 1996
  • Ok, Computer by Radiohead, 1997
  • Urban Hymns by The Verve, 1997
  • Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized, 1997
  • Homogenic by Björk, 1997
  • Opera by Tosca, 1997
  • I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One by Yo La Tengo, 1997
  • Northern Star by Groove Armada, 1998
  • Mezzanine by Massive Attack, 1998
  • Moon Safari by Air, 1998
  • Music Has the Right to Children by Boards of Canada, 1998
  • Glee by Bran Van 3000, 1998
  • Vertigo by Groove Armada, 1999
  • Surrender by The Chemical Brothers, 1999

That 1997 tho.

And since I want to keep the party going, here's an extension of this list into the first half of the 2000's, 20 more albums too good to leave off:

  • Since I Left You by The Avalanches, 2000
  • Felt Mountain by Goldfrapp, 2000
  • Kid A by Radiohead, 2000
  • And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out by Yo La Tengo, 2000
  • Simple Things by Zero 7, 2001
  • Amnesiac by Radiohead, 2001
  • Comfort Eagle by Cake, 2001
  • Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) by Groove Armada, 2001
  • Charango by Morcheeba, 2002
  • Machine Says Yes by FC Kahuna, 2002
  • Lost Horizons by Lemon Jelly, 2002
  • Details by Frou Frou, 2002
  • Elephant by The White Stripes, 2003
  • Black Cherry by Goldfrapp, 2003
  • Talkie Walkie by Air, 2004
  • When It Falls by Zero 7, 2004
  • Lemon Jelly.ky by Lemon Jelly, 2004
  • The Campfire Headphase by Boards of Canada, 2005
  • Haughty Melodic by Mike Doughty, 2005
  • The Cosmic Game by Thievery Corporation, 2005

I guess it's kind of easy to look back twenty years into the past and peer at "the best of" with the rosy hue of critical acclaim and record sales, but man, do I enjoy the music. Please drop me notes on what I've missed or what I should pick up from the next twenty years!

§1286 · January 3, 2024 · Entertainment, Music · (No comments) ·

Roll the dice

I'll try to keep this one short - it's not exactly tech-related, but it kinda is. A tiny story about a tiny story that you might enjoy, in three parts.

Part One

I got into some speculative short story reading during the pandemic and Ray Bradbury was one author I got into. I think it started with some of my comic book research from the 1950s. Now I won't go as far as Rachel Bloom on ol' Ray, but the man definitely knew how to spin a yarn. In terms of sheer volume of interesting ideas, he beats out Isaac Asimov for me big time.

Anyway, in 1950 Ray Bradbury wrote this great short story called "The Veldt". It's only 13 pages and, rather than read a synopsis about the story, I think you should read it. Here's a free copy I found, though I noticed some typos. G'wan read it, I'll wait.

Back? I thought it was great, what about you? I think it's got a lot to say about how tech has invaded our lives, de-sensitized us from each other, maybe other things that are way over my head. And it holds up today - nice and dark.

Part Two

Ever hear of deadmau5? He's an electronic music artist from my homeland. Not sure if you're into progressive house or the techno scene, but the guy has earned a lot of awards for his work. Anyway, he wrote a song called The Veldt in 2012 (the year Ray Bradbury died). Here you should watch the video:

Rolling Stone thought it was one of the 50 best songs of 2012. My musical wheelhouse is more the 1990s and early aughts, but I really love the tune.

Part Three

And how did this come to be? Apparently deadmau5 created the music in a "22-hour live streaming session" back in March 2012. Crazy, but what's even crazier is that one day later, deadmau5 discovered that a fan named Chris James had posted vocals for the track. He was ready to shred the guy on his live stream but instead this happened:

So yeah, that music video you watched, the song that officially landed on the album, the one that Rolling Stone thought so highly of, is the combination of deadmau5 and Chris James' vocals weaved together over the course of 48 hours.

In some way, I find this a satisfying balance to Ray's meditations on technology... Anyway, I'm off to play in Africa!

§1343 · May 17, 2023 · Entertainment, Music, Technology · (No comments) ·

Logo for Feedly

Hey, if you are into Comic Books or Superheroes, I started another blog here. That blog takes the place of this Google+ Collection that I was occasionally posting to, but I decided to own the data this time and start at the beginning... so far I've made it to the debut of Superman... it should be more interesting going forward 🙂

Feedly has some buttons you can add to your blog here, but I wanted one that didn't involve a network fetch unless the user clicked it, so I made one (thank you inline SVG):

<a href='https://feedly.com/i/subscription/feed%2Fhttps%3A%2F%2Fwww.codedread.com%2Fcomicbooks%2Ffeed%2F' target='blank' title='follow us in feedly'>
  <svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" width="70" height="30" viewbox="0 150 1400 530">
    <rect x="0" y="150" width="1400" height="530" fill="#6CC655" />
    <path fill="#6CC655" d="M111.615 420.945L297.64 234.92l186.025 186.025L297.64 606.97 111.615 420.945z"/>
    <path fill="#FFF" d="M201.837 622.782L64.179 484.193c-16.742-16.742-16.742-53.017 0-68.829l197.187-198.117c15.812-15.812 51.156-15.812 66.969 0L526.45 415.364c16.742 16.742 16.742 53.018 0 68.829L388.792 622.782c-8.371 8.371-21.393 13.952-34.415 13.952H234.392c-12.092 0-24.184-5.581-32.555-13.952zm125.567-53.947c2.791-2.79 2.791-8.371 0-11.161L300.43 530.7c-2.79-2.791-8.37-2.791-11.161 0l-26.974 26.974c-2.79 2.79-2.79 8.371 0 11.161l21.393 20.463h22.323l21.393-20.463zm0-114.405c1.86-1.86 1.86-6.511 0-8.371l-28.834-28.834c-1.859-1.86-6.51-1.86-8.37 0l-83.712 83.711c-2.79 2.791-2.79 9.302 0 12.092l19.533 19.533h22.323l79.06-78.131zm0-113.476c1.86-1.86 2.791-7.441 0-9.301L299.5 303.749c-1.86-1.86-7.44-1.86-10.231 0L148.82 444.198c-1.859 1.86-2.79 7.441-.93 9.301l22.323 21.394h21.393l135.798-133.939z"/>
    <text fill="#FFF" x="600" y="500" font-size="250" font-weight="bold">Follow</text>

Obviously replace my feed link with yours ... unless you want to send me random subscribers!

§1194 · January 17, 2019 · Comic Books, Entertainment, Software, SVG, Technology, Web · Comments Off on Feedly Your Blog ·