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Matt Chat 197: Lord British on Virtue

Lord British returns this week to flesh out our discussion of the later Ultima games, including the groundbreaking virtue system. Richard relates some of his favorite fan mails and comments, which include a heartfelt letter about a little girl whose life was changed forever by Ultima.

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Matt Chat 196: Lord British on Ultima

In the second part of my interview with Richard Garriott--aka Lord British, we chat about the origins of Ultima, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Apple II.

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Matt Chat 195: Towns

This episode is a review of the game Towns, a 2012 release reminiscent of games like Settlers, Rogue, Dungeon Keeper, and Minecraft.

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Matt Chat 194: Neal Hallford on Dungeon Siege and More

In the fourth and final installment of my interview with Betrayal at Krondor designer Neal Hallford, we chat about a variety of topics starting with Dungeon Siege. Was Dungeon Siege too big for its britches? Then we chat about the hit game Champions of Norrath and why Neal prefers PC gaming to consoles. We wrap up with a discussion about Chris Taylor and his excellent leadership.

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Matt Chat 193: Neal Hallford on Swords & Circuitry

I'm back this week with part three of my interview with Neal Hallford, designer of Betrayal at Krondor. In this installment, we chat about why Ron Gilbert's Cavedog company failed followed by a discussion of Neal's book Swords & Circuitry, the best-ever guide to creating your own computer role-playing games.

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Sadly, Neal's Thief of Dreams kickstarter failed, but a third party has emerged to back him anyway.

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Matt Barton Joins TPG Cast

I was recently invited to be a guest on TPG Cast with Adam Ames and Phil Cordaro, and though Adam sadly had to miss, Phil and I had a great discussion on how I got started with Matt Chat, academic gaming, DRM, where the industry is headed, and much more. These guys are a hoot, so please check out their other episodes if you like this one.

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Matt Chat 192: Neal Hallford on Betrayal at Krondor

In my second installment of my interview with Neal Hallford, we chat about his masterpiece, Betrayal at Krondor. Famous among CRPG aficionados for its epic story and superb writing, BaK is set in the fantasy world of Raymond E. Feist. Unfortunately, Neal did such a great job mimicking Feist's style that many people wrongly assume that it was Feist who penned the game script! The interview also covers why a proper sequel to the game was never made.

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Matt Chat 191: Neal Hallford's Early Days

This week's Matt Chat features the first slice of an interview with fantasy author and game designer Neal Hallford, best known for his work on Betrayal at Krondor, Dungeon Siege, and Planet's Edge. He talks here about his roots and inspirations, which include Cinematronic's Space Wars arcade game. We also chat about his time at New World Computing, where he worked with Might and Magic creator JVC. There's lots of great stuff here for retro fans to enjoy.

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You can support Neal's new Kickstarter project for his fantasy novel here.

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What's so great about adventure games?


I received a notification today that Google is about to shutter Reader, so in my quest for finding a replacement (I ended up with Feedly), a blog post from Rampant Coyote caught my eye. He features the new trailer for Broken Age, which I must say just doesn't impress me as much as I hoped it would. Then Jay talks about how he has plenty of unfinished adventure games on his shelf now, just as he did back in 92. Like Jay, I also tended to give up on many adventure games, only finishing LucasArts classics like Monkey Island and a few other series such as Myst, Broken Sword, Gabriel Knight, etc.

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Habituation (Bogost on casual gaming)

Chess: Easy to learn, hard to master?Chess: Easy to learn, hard to master?I recently read Ian Bogost's book How to do Things with Videogames and was quite impressed. There are many good essays in this book worth discussing, and hopefully once this hellish semester/winter from hell is over, I'll actually have some time to blog about them. At any rate, one in particular that I think will interest folks here is called "Habituation," which tries to complicate Bushnell's argument that a great game is easy to learn, but hard to master.

According to Bogost, this maxim is misunderstood. Most people assume that this maxim applies to the game mechanics or rules being easy to master, but what it really refers to is conceptual familiarity. The reason Pong succeeded where the earlier Computer Space did not is that most people are already familiar with ping pong, so they brought a lot to the table, so to speak. By contrast, Computer Space was based on the game Spacewar!, which only a tiny fraction of people had played, and no one was familiar with the zero-G dogfight.

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