Episode 7 of Randy Kindig's Floppy Days Vintage Computing Podcast, entitled, Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 8.0, gives shout-outs 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 understandably butchers both my (it's actually pronounced "Low-joo-diss") and Boisy Pitre's last names (it's actually pronounced "Pete"), the mention at - approximately the 17:58 mark - is much appreciated. Kindig should also be receiving review copies of both books for future episodes of his podcast, which is a regular listen for me. Check out the episode here.
In preparation for working on our upcoming My Xbox One book, Christina and I thought it would be a good idea to check out Microsoft's Xbox One console prior to its official November release. Thanks to the One Tour, we had our chance today in Philadelphia through an Area One party. Basically, what this meant was that we had to pick one of the three hour blocks of time, wait in line, and hope we could get in to experience "live music, live gameplay, and more..." Naturally, we were most interested in the live gameplay part.
Once inside the large warehouse area, we were treated to our choice of multiple game areas where we could sit or stand and play some of the Xbox One launch and launch window titles, which included: Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct, LocoCycle, Ryse: Sone of Rome, Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood, Zoo Tycoon, and Kinect Sports: Rivals.
The arcade and pinball machine world is one filled with great individuals with big hearts.
Arcade Repair Tips has built a library full of helpful resources for troubleshooting and maintaining arcade machines. They have a strong YouTube presence with helpful videos, a podcast available via iTunes, social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook, AND a phone number to help you get that machine working.
In addition to all of this, they have made their videos available for purchase on DVD. These DVD volumes include many of the How To videos from Youtube as well as many extras as exclusives.
I recently sat down and watched the Volume 4 DVD and immediately wished I had had something like it when I first started working on arcade machines over a decade ago. This volume jumps into some of the really juicy topics of arcade repair such as troubleshooting games that are playing blind and rejuvenating a CRT’s picture tube.
A couple of months in I really really want to like it but I don't. I really don't. The concept is very cool, the Indie games for it are really cool and there's some great emulators out there for it BUT... there are too many negatives to make this right.
The controller just isn't up to standards, the thumb-pad touches the sides of the mold so it feels cheap and not well designed. What this also creates is a feeling of unresponsiveness on the thumb-pad button itself as it seems to get stuck in a depressed position quite often. The analog joysticks are actually the best bit of the controllers as they are of a good quality, but they do grind on the top of the controller's surface-plates creating a lot of plastic powder that will no doubt foul up button functionality in the future. The action buttons suffer a similar fate as the thumb-pad button - the holes on the surface of the controller are too narrow with too little margins for the buttons to move freely so they end up actually getting caught underneath the top of the controller. The touch interface area / mousepad is on the controller is actually quite nifty.
But there's more, read below to find out what it is...
Considering the amazing number of devices most of us have access to these days, including smartphones, tablets, consoles, set top boxes, and computers, I'd be curious to know how everyone goes about playing. Do you stick to a handful of devices (and if so, which ones) or do you like to sample from everything that you own? What if you're like me and also have a collection of vintage platforms to choose from as well? There's a point where you have "option paralysis," of course, where you have so many gaming options to choose from that you tend not to play much of anything. Have you reached that point?
As for me, I find my habits fluctuate greatly. One week I might be on a vintage platform kick, while another I might exclusively game on my tablet or PC, while another still I might pick a recent console. Other times I want to play multiple things on multiple systems and end up not being able to choose or be limited by real world demands on my time (or energy), despite my enthusiasm otherwise. I suspect this will get worse as the two latest consoles get released this November and interest in the previous generation of systems wanes and we have to start making decisions about what to do with these now "legacy" consoles. Of course, that's to say nothing of things like low cost Android devices and even the upcoming "Steam Box," which will add further options (and confusion) to the mix. All these choices are truly both exciting and overwhelming.
So, what's YOUR plan of action?
As an unapologetic technophile, I naturally crave the latest and greatest technology. However, somewhat stifling those cravings are the reality of the high costs of new technology, available space, and the needs of my present workflow. In other words, even though I spend a disproportionate amount of my money on technology, my purchases must still be carefully considered for a variety of reasons.
While I have a demanding day job as a Technical Writer, I'm also a professional author and journalist, which requires a certain amount of portability if I don't wish to be chained to a desk for 12 - 16 hours a day. This portability is particularly important to me as I always try to make a point of balancing my working life with my personal (especially family) life.
I'm thrilled to officially announce that another one of my new books, Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time, written with Matt Barton, is now available for pre-order from booksellers everywhere, including Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, and of course, the publisher's (Taylor & Francis/Focal Press) Website. As always, my personal favorite place is Amazon, where you can buy it at a nice discount from the full retail price, plus, if the price drops upon the book's publication sometime in February/March 2014, you get it for the lower price. Of course, you don't get charged until it actually ships.
What Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time, did before it for software, Vintage Game Consoles, does it now for hardware platforms, covering 20 of the greatest game playing computers, consoles, and handhelds of all-time. This full color paperback and ebook is packed to the gills with well over 400 pages of content and 400 images. Nathan Strum's amazing cover art, inspired by legendary magazine, Electronic Games (the first I ever bought myself as a child and incredibly influential to my future path in life), rounds out the package.
Also in early 2014, be sure to look out for My Xbox One, written with Christina Loguidice (the follow-up to My Xbox: Xbox 360, Kinect, and Xbox LIVE), and of course, published this holiday season, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer, written with Boisy Pitre.
I'm happy to officially announce that my next book, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer, written with Boisy Pitre, is now available for pre-order from booksellers everywhere, including Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, and of course, the publisher's (Taylor & Francis/CRC Press) Website. My personal favorite place is Amazon, where you can buy it at a nice discount from the full retail price, plus, if the price drops upon the book's publication sometime in November, you get it for the lower price. Of course, you don't get charged until it actually ships.
What's nice about the book (available in both paperback and ebook versions) is that this is the first time the story of Tandy's Color Computer - affectionately dubbed "CoCo" - will be told in this manner. The first version of the computer debuted on July 31, 1980, and it and its successors were staples in Radio Shack stores into the 1990s. While never the most popular computer series, the ubiquity of Radio Shack's stores, catalogs, and overall advertising meant that it was impossible to ignore, even if systems like the Apple II, Commodore 64, and IBM PC garnered all the headlines. Thanks to extensive interviews with most of the principles involved in the computer's creation, community, and support, you'll have a definitive first-hand account of how the computer series came to be, from an extensive pre-history right through to what's going on today, where a small, but enthusiastic cadre of fans still enjoy working with the systems. In short, you get to learn about the "soul" of this underdog computer series, including all the business decisions that went into its creation, all the personalities both directly and indirectly involved in its support, and some of the herculean efforts needed to keep the platform alive.
Finally, for those not interested in pre-ordering, I'll be sure to post again once the book is actually ready to ship. As always, I greatly appreciate the support.
The Android handheld I reported on earlier has now also become available for sale on the company's updated website. There's an order now button where you can place an order directly from the manufacturer or request additional information. The manufacturer is located in Hong Kong so it could be that you will have to pay additional import taxes according to your locale. Getting one from a retailer locally would be your best option but if that isn't an option going the direct route may be a good alternative. The unit comes in a sturdy box and is well protected by a specialized air filled sleeve. A charger compatible with your local AC power grid is also provided.
There's also a very informative video explaining how the VKM - virtual key mapping software - works. This has been substantially updated since my video as it is now also possible to map swiping gestures onto the buttons (right thumb stick).
Performance wise this unit is capable of full speed emulation of many game systems, including the PPSSPP and original Playstation. Also many games, run great and the battery life on the unit is quite good. The developers of the RetroArch emulator have gotten a unit too so one can expect an even better native support for all buttons in future releases of that emulator. Hook the unit up to the TV over HDMI and you'll have a great console experience. Blue tooth, wifi, microsd slot - all is there. The amount of flash memory 8Gb is similar to the OUYA and in real life comparison - side loading the same apps onto the OUYA - this unit trumps the OUYA on real life Android apps despite the fact that in theory the OUYA has more beefy hardware. There is no lag on the GameMID's buttons and it seems to be my gaming tablet of choice at a great price. A lot of the Android gaming videos on this site have been recorded using this device. Check them out if you want.
It is with great honor and humble appreciation that I write this blog post officially acknowledging Armchair Arcade's 10th anniversary. That's right, Armchair Arcade was founded way back in September 2003, an eon in Internet time. Little did we know when we founded it back then that we'd still be going strong 10 years later, and looking forward to another great decade ahead. Since Armchair Arcade's founding, our team members have created well over a dozen major books, a documentary film, and countless thousands of feature articles, blog posts, forum posts, editorials, games, podcasts, and videos. Of course, team members and friends have come and gone in those 10 years, and we've even had a few births along the way, but the more things have changed, the nicer it's been that Armchair Arcade itself has stayed right where you'd expect to find it.