In some ways, I feel that my videogame experience has been a bit limited. While I know plenty about computer games of today and yesterday, I've owned very few consoles.
Friends, I'm madder than a pirate sued for singing copyrighted shanties that game publishers are STILL belittling us with burdensome, unnecessary, and utterly useless copy protection.
With all the recent buzz here at Armchair Arcade about Pool of Radiance and other Gold Box games, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the infamous "code wheels" most of those games used to inhibit sharing copies of the game with your friends. Eric Lambert of Vintage Computing has an entertaining article up called Old-School PC Copy Protection Schemes that takes a look at these "vintage" forms of copy protection, most of which rely on materials included with the game.
When I was but a whippersnapper, playing bootlegged games on my dad's Commodore Amiga computer, the choice seemed obvious. If I could play the game with a "trainer," I did so. A "trainer" was a little piece of code, inserted into many cracked distributions of games, that allowed you to play through a game with infinite lives, invulnerability, or some other such option that would let you blaze through the game without fear of a premature "game over." I doubt I could have ever beaten games like Turrican and Blood Money without one of these trainers. The games were brutally difficult, and, besides, the appeal of these games (for me, at least) wasn't so much about developing lightning-fast reflexes as savoring the amazing graphics. It was also exhilerating just to deal massive amounts of carnage. The trainers seemed to eliminate the frustration and lower the bar to the point where an average kid could get all the way through some of the most difficult games of the era.
Although I greatly enjoy playing adventure games and the occasional strategy game (Civilization IV being one of my favorites), the genre I always find myself returning to is the computer role-playing game. My fixation with the genre began at the tender age of 12 (or maybe 13), when I started playing the Bard's Tale series on the Commodore 64. If you remember, the first Bard's Tale is extremely difficult starting out. Fortunately, the cracked copy we had still had a saved game from whoever copied it, so I was able to play with high-level characters and thus get a better feel for what the game had to offer. However, it wasn't really until I got Pool of Radiance (the original SSI "gold box" game) that I really fell in love with the genre.
1UP is running a hilarious feature called 8-Bit Lit: Behind the Worlds of Power. These were books for children based on such popular NES games as Castlevania, Metal Gear, and Ninja Gaiden. The authors of the article do a great job providing snippets from these amazingly poorly written books published by Scholastic. Apparently, Scholastic was even more draconian about censorship than Nintendo!
GamaSutra has just publicly released an updated edition of a massive (if somewhat roughly edited) feature called A Detailed Cross-Examination of Yesterday and Today's Best-Selling Platform Games by Daniel Boutros. It's a labor of love of almost Bill Loguidice proportions, and if you're at all interested classics like Super Mario Bros. 3 and later platformers, you should definitely check it out. He not only describes the top platform games, but introduces a helpful terminology to help analyze and compare them.
Hi, guys. I'm about 99% done with my text adventure (hopefully!) and thought I'd post it here for you guys to try out (if you so desire). If you find any bugs (i.e., if it crashes), please try to tell me what happened so I can find and fix the bugs. I think I got most of them, but it's been tough.
I'm still editing it on a small scale, too, so if you see any typos or grammatical errors, I'd love to hear about them, too.
There's lots of interesting news in my Google Reader today. Perhaps the best place to start is an article on Gamasutra called Will 'Casual' Games Dominate the Future of the Industry?. This is a question Bill and I have been asking a lot lately on AA, and it's interesting to see how the opinions of the "professional analysts" GS pulled together compare with our own. I also have some news about upcoming Wii remakes, news of another "eye-based" controller, and more funny ads from GameSetWatch.
My friends over at Adventure Classic Gaming have a great interview up with Dean Erickson, the actor who portrayed Gabriel Knight in the second game of the GK series, The Beast Within. As you may recall from my review of the game, I didn't think Erickson did the best job, but now, after reading the interview, I'm feeling a bit more forgiving. Obviously, one of the great challenges of being an actor in a FMV game is trying to "act natural" in a FMV studio, because the end product may turn out so much different than a movie or TV show would. People tend to forget that all of the pioneering FMV games were working without established precedents and tried techniques; they were experimenting and, in my opinion, were abandoned before they grew into their own. What I want to do here is address some issues with acting in FMV that may account for hits untimely (and hopefully not permanent) demise in the mid 90s.
To put it mildly, I'm a big fan of electronic and computer music. Please don't confuse that with techno, dance, trance, or house music. While I have nothing against these other sub-genres of electronic music, I, er, don't listen to them. Think instead of acts like Tangerine Dream (my hero), Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, Jarre, and, to some extent, Kraftwerk. However, my latest obsession is with a genre I've recently discovered: Space Synth. What's great about this genre is that unlike most electronica, these tunes actually have melodies (i.e., you'll be humming them for weeks after you've heard them). I think I've found where all the talent ended up that lost mass consumer appeal in the late 80s! At any rate, I've found a website where you can sample some excellent space synth and see what you think.