What can your Atari 800 do for you? Well, according to this You Tube video of an Atari 800 in-store demo (see below), mostly business and professional applications (yeah, right). It's almost sad to see Atari working so hard in this demo to impress the very people who dismissed Atari as nothing more than a maker of game consoles. Both Atari and Commodore shunned the "game machine" label, even though the most loyal fans of both systems probably played more games than any other type of software (though I'm sure any of these fans would be quick to defend these machines as "real computers.") Although the demo mentions the popular hit Star Raiders, it's obviously designed to minimize the game-playing potential of the system. Interestingly, companies like Alien Ware (and increasingly Dell) seem willing to offer "gaming rigs" without bothering to play up the business/professional potential of these systems.
Stan Veit's History of the Personal Computer, authored by--you guessed it, Stan Veit--is a roughly edited collection of memoirs and editorials Veit wrote during his tenure as editor-in-chief of Computer Shopper. Veit's personal experience with personal computer history is tremendous. He was the first personal computer dealer in New York City, and got to know almost every early luminary in the industry on a first-name basis. He's one part technician (he can talk chips and boards with the best of them), one part salesman, and one part patron. In short, it's hard to find an author better qualified to take us on the journey from the Altair to the IBM PC. However, the book is not without its flaws--it's poorly organized, and the typos make your head hurt.
What's the #1 thing slowing down your modern PC? According to Tom's Hardware, it may be your hard drive. According to authors Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos, hard drive technology has greatly expanded in capacity, yet lagged seriously behind in terms of performance. The authors take a look back at the past 15 years of hard drive technology, going into plenty of detail about compression technology. However, all is not bleak:
FTL's Dungeon Master, released in 1987 for the Atari ST and a year later for the Amiga, represents a defining moment in the evolution of the computer role-playing game. Although it is certainly not the first 3D real-time computer role playing game (see Dungeons of Daggorath), it's probably the first such game to really hit the mainstream. It was the #1 best selling product on the Atari ST platform, and remains one of the best-known and playable of the early CRPGs. Indeed, I've recently become addicted to the game and will probably not be happy until I've completed it! What I intend to do here is discuss some of the game's more innovative features and try to get at what makes this game so endearing and important.
While it's not actually a game, I thought our readers might enjoy taking Jake Mandell's hearing test. It's a free FLASH application that takes about 6 minutes to go through. I'd suggest wearing headphones and turning off the iTunes before starting, though. It's more fun than you think! Hopefully you folks haven't been blasting your eardrums with to many SID files cranked to 11...Link via Gizmodo.
Why are so many people these days, surrounded as they are by some of the most sophisticated gaming technology ever designed, still captivated by so-called "obsolete" games like Pac-Man, Joust, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and Frogger? Why are so many thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people running MAME or any number of other computer/console emulation programs on their modern PCs? Indeed, why would someone with a "decked out" PC capable of running the latest FPS in near-cinematic quality want to run programs intended for the humble Commodore 64 or the outright meek Atari 2600? The reasons, I think, are not as obvious as we might think.
"The Creature of Kapu Cave," the 15th episode in the popular Nancy Drew graphical adventure game series, scores big in some areas and misses in others. In some ways, this is the strongest entry in the series, scoring particularly high marks in graphics and interface. The problems are a bit trickier to isolate. Essentially, the problem is making a long story short. I've been covering Her Interactive's Nancy Drew games for some time now, and this one felt the briefest. Of course, that's not always a problem, and I prefer a game that leaves me wanting more rather than one I can't wait to be over. Unfortunately, what's abridged here are some of the most charming qualities of the series--fun, well-developed characters, intrigue, and plot twists. The focus here is mostly on a series of simple mini-games, all held together with the Hawaiian theme.
Well, it's finally over: Check out the results of the 12th annual IF competition. As you can see, there were plenty of entries and plenty of judges. The winner (no big surprise) was Emily Short, a very notable IF author whose game "Floatpoint" scored 113 points. Runners up include "The Primrose Path" by Nolan Bonvouloir and "The Elysium Enigma" by Eric Eve. Even my own humble entry "The Initial State" didn't fare as poorly as I feared, but came in at #28 with 63 points. Download them all and revisit the days when Infocom was king.
"Roll up, roll up, see the amazing Tyrannosaurus Rex, king of the dinosaurs, in his lair." Of all the things you might expect to find running on a ZX81 in 1981, a real time, first-person, 3D maze game would probably be somewhere near "impossible" on your list. Yet, that's exactly what Malcolm Evans was able to pull off--basically in his spare time, as little more than a diversion for himself. Nevertheless, Evans' tinkering became one of the most celebrated games for the ZX81 and a forerunner of the modern first-person game.