Although we're still a few months away - February or March 2014 - from the worldwide release of Vintage Game Consoles in full color paperback and ebook formats (Amazon pre-order), our publisher's Website, Focal Press, has posted the Table of Contents. This is a big milestone because it officially publicly reveals the 20 computer, videogame, and handheld platforms we identified as most significant. As with the previous book in the series, Vintage Games, which primarily covered 35 of the most influential games (and those they influenced) of all time, from our industry's beginnings right up to the book's publication, Vintage Game Consoles does the same for the platforms they're actually played on. The only constraints we placed on our choices were that the platforms had to no longer be sold commercially (eliminating all systems released from the start of the Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 eras and beyond) so the complete story could be told (with the obvious exception being PC Windows Computers) and that we kept the focus on primarily North America (our particular expertise, though obviously we discuss all regions throughout the course of the book). This still led to some tough decisions (like not covering platforms that featured similar games to another slightly more popular platform already in the book), but I think you'll find the list fair. If not, let us know, though of course I'd love you to reserve final judgment until you actually have the book in your hands.
Here's the Table of Contents (note, there is also an extensive Forward and Preface, and each Generation sets the scene for that particular section of the book--oh, and there are 400 images as well!):
Our friends over at Good Deal Games have a big discount on select homebrews in the Homebrew Heaven section of their Website. The deals, which are good until December 15, 2013, and in limited supply, include the following:
I got myself a new system (SV-328) in a pretty complete lot. Mind you I was pretty tired when I filmed this so bare with me. Check out what I got.
Spectravideo, or SVI, founded in 1981 as "SpectraVision" by Harry Fox was a US based firm. SVI originally made video games for the VIC-20 and Atari 2600 consoles. They also made Atari compatible joysticks and many C64s actually were completed with a set of Spectravideo joysticks. Some of the later computers were MSX-compliant and some even IBM PC compatible. SVI folded in 1988.
The SV-328 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Spectravideo in June 1983. It was the business-targeted model, sporting a full-travel keyboard with numeric keypad. Making it look like a professional machine that could compete with the big professional systems out there. It has 80 kB RAM (64 kB available for software & 16 kB video memory). Other than the keyboard and RAM, this machine was identical to its predecessor, the SV-318.
The SV-328 is the design on which the later MSX standard was based. Spectravideo's MSX-compliant successor to the 328, the SV-728, looks almost identical, the only immediately noticeable differences being a larger cartridge slot in the central position (to fit MSX standard cartridges), lighter shaded keyboard and the MSX labels.
Customers in European countries lucky enough to be able to use the Xbox One have been complaining about stuttering images when connecting a tuner through the HMDI through function. Since the dawn of time, European TV broadcasts have used 50hz and the Xbox One can only output 60Hz. This causes unwanted issues. With the switch to HD one would think that 50Hz has gone away, but for European TV - even in Full HD - it is still there.
Now, for years, PAL TV sets have been able to display both 50Hz and 60Hz, and most modern games offer PAL60, but because the Xbox One can't do 50Hz, passed through 50Hz images stutter because of incomplete frame rate conversions.
Seems a little oversight of the boys over at Microsoft. So the media centre thing seems to be something that doesn't cause a lot of joy right now. The issue creeps up most with panning and horizontal movements. Sports have been commented on as being unwatchable. Let's hope this can be fixed with a firmware or software update.
With the Xbox One's release this past Friday, November 22, we have the final piece to the next gen console puzzle. Whether you consider the Wii U next gen or not, or that neither the PS4 or Xbox One can truly be considered next gen in the face of a good PC, the fact remains that the Xbox One represented the last major new system we were waiting on for the forseeable future. Certainly the Steam Box will get some buzz once that's released, but price and compatibilty may represent hurdles to the type of adoption both the Xbox One and PS4 have thus far received. Plus, there's the argument - which I tend to agree with - that you don't necessarily gain any benefit investing in a Steam Box over a good PC. Final judgment will be reserved though once Valve's Steam Box initiative gets fully underway.
Naturally, both the PS4 and Xbox One launches can be considered a success, with each selling over 1 million units in the first 24 hours. The Xbox One needed 10 or 11 more countries with which to reach that number, but it was also priced $100 more, and faced similar supply constraints (meaning its arguable both could have sold more if stock was there). Like the PS4 and Wii U before it, a small percentage of Xbox One launch consoles were affected by technical issues, but, luckily, overall, all three seem to be solid hardware out of the gate. That does nothing to soothe those who actually have a unit with issues, but it seems that, based on percentages, all three major new consoles had reasonably smooth launches. To wrap up the sales commentary, if sales don't pick up for the Wii U this holiday and beyond, it's certainly reasonable to think that both PS4 and Xbox One will surpass total Wii U sales by or before June 2014 (as some analysts have suggested), which would also put to rest the idea that the industry's new norm is greatly reduced sales, i.e., the Wii U's sales issues are its own. No matter what, console gaming is still small change compared to smartphones and tablets, but we at least have the potential of still being a very vocal percentage of the technology ecosystem if sales for both the PS4 and Xbox One maintain positive momentum into 2014.
Now, with all that out of the way, I'll provide my impressions of the Xbox One. Since my wife and I are writing a book on the Xbox One, My Xbox One, follow-up to My Xbox, which covered the 360, we needed our usual two consoles: one to play with, and one to keep pristine so we could methodically document the goings on. For now, I just opened up the one to play with.
Episode 8 of Randy Kindig's Floppy Days Vintage Computing Podcast, entitled, The TRS-80 Model I (Part I), gives another shout-out to two of the upcoming books I've co-authored, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer and Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time. Though Kindig messed up our names again (they're not easy--we've since given him a pronunciation guide), his support is of course still much appreciated. Kindig will also be receiving review copies of both books for future episodes of his podcast, plus he will be interviewing Boisy and me on an upcoming podcast (we want to wait for him to get a copy of the book). One other correction, the CoCo book should be out by the end of December, not November! Check out the episode here, which is part one of a two part interview with the authors of a popular TRS-80 book, as well as additional info on the computer itself. The TRS-80 was the first major personal computer Tandy did before the Color Computer (CoCo), and was part of the original 1977 trinity, which also included the Apple II and Commodore PET.
I'm happy to report that CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer has officially gone to press. This means that it should ship out to retail locations worldwide roughly on schedule near the end of December. If you'd like to read more about the book, you can visit the Amazon link or go to the publisher's (CRC Press, part of Taylor & Francis Group) Website.
First off, it's clear that there have been widespread reports of PlayStation 4 (PS4) consoles that have had various technical issues, requiring a call to Sony technical support. The resolution for many of these individuals seems to be a roughly 10 day turnaround to get a replacement console. Not good. With that in mind, I can report I've had no issues with mine, so I can safely judge the PS4 on its own merits rather than frustration with a damaged unit. Hopefully the Xbox One consoles we ordered will be similarly trouble free in the coming week.
Anyway, I have the PS4 console, the camera, a second controller, and three retail games on disc: Knack, Killzone Shadow Fall, and Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (the latter two games got various pre-order add-on bonuses, and in fact Killzone itself was free from Amazon with the purchase of the other two games). I was able to supplement that with two free games thanks to my PlayStation Plus subscription, as well as a third game with a $10 credit in the PS4 box. I have some of that credit left still and will likely get one more games from the digital store: Sound Shapes. Anyway, the three digital games I have now are: Contrast, Flower, and Resogun. There was also a free offer for Warframe, which I believe is a freemium game where pay for additional in-game items. As a Plus member I got a bundle of in-game items to get me started.
I integrated my smartphone, a Galaxy Note II, with the PlayStation app, as well as my PlayStation Vita with the PS4 Link app. There were no issues with either pairing--just enter the numbers that appear on the PS4's screen and you're linked. The smartphone app gives you access to various account settings and the digital store and allows you to connect to the PS4 for control purposes, but there's nothing particularly intriguing about it. It's functional, but I probably won't use it much except to prepurchase items.
The Vita integration on the other hand is incredible. Taking the Vita's previous integration with the PS3 to a new level, the Vita can now display anything that the PS4 displays on its screen and also play any of the games the PS4 plays. My PS4 is hooked into my network via a powerline network adapter, and my Vita of course connects to the same network over WiFi. While I haven't tried it from every room in the house yet, there was little lag or delay in streaming the one game I tested with the setup so far, Knack. It felt nearly as good as playing it on the TV. This is a VERY promising feature.
Anyway, back to the console. It was easy to set up the PS4 and login to my existing PSN account. I was also able to integrate Facebook and use my Facebook picture as my account picture. Speaking of Facebook, the PS4 automatically records the last 15 minutes of whatever you're doing, which can be uploaded to the social network (live streaming to other services is also an option) either in screenshot or video form. The videos can also be edited and cropped. Simply hit the "Share" button on the controller and you're in business. Again, a very nice feature.
Here are some links to videos I posted on Facebook (I trimmed the latter videos on the PS4 itself):
Hewson Consultants was a software company founded by Andrew Hewson in 1980. Hewson has a reputation for making highly playable games with a high production value that were very innovative. Fine examples are classics like Uridium, Paradroid, Avalon, Dragontorc, Gribbly's Day out, Exolon, Cybernoid, Nebulus. Even to this day Hewson games rank among my favourite video games of all time. In the 90s Hewson transitioned into '21st Century Entertainment' which was responsible for classics like Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies, Pinball illusions and many others.
The games by both Hewson and 21st Century Entertainment play a huge role in my personal gaming history and when I found out that the man behind those companies has created a Kickstarter project, together with his son Rob, I just had to find out more. The purpose of this article is to inform you about the Kickstarter for a book entitled 'Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers'. And here a link to Hewson Consultants Ltd's website. I pledged and invite you to check out this Kickstarter project as well.
Below you can watch the interview I did with Andrew.
Update November 16th 2013:
11,481 Pounds have been pledged by 270 backers (10:29 GMT+1), so only 519 pounds to go with a couple of days left! I think there's a good chance this Kickstarter will make it! :) But do consider pledging to the Kickstarter as there are some benefits as a backer! Check out the Kickstarter page.