In the interest of keeping everyone up-to-date with, Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time, we're now releasing the table of contents. With the book "in the can" as it were and on track for its March 2009 release date, now is as good of a time as any. Also, Gamasutra has all but agreed to run the nine bonus chapters, one a month, for nine months, starting in January. The nice thing is that this is content that is truly a bonus, as it will be found nowhere else and has the unique feature of cross referencing and being cross referenced in the book itself, so we're really treading on exciting territory there. We'll also be releasing 90+ images that didn't fit in the book on Armchair Arcade, complete with captions. That will bring total image count between everything to over 600 full color images. Here's that Table of Contents, which I hope for some will already convince you of the value of the material, and for others further pique your curiosity (remember, each of the games in question in the chapter is merely the focal point - we discuss related games both before, during and after the reign of the main game, and include plenty of quotes, references and other content to really round out the reading experience):
As previously stated, I want to keep everyone informed about the latest goings on with our book, Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time:
I thought I would take the liberty of sharing a sample, unedited page proof that demonstrates what the final interior layout for our book, Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time, should look like. Not too bad in my opinion and it bodes well for how nice the final book should look:
Well, this is probably not the greatest of news, but here it is anyway... According to the publisher, we're at DOUBLE the estimated page count of 352 pages, so obviously that's not going to fly and will require some cuts. Hopefully between a combination of layout restructuring by the publisher and us dropping a number of images, we can get closer to the original and required estimate. For those who don't recall, here are the estimated stats on the deliverable to the publisher, which apparently translated to the 700+ pages when formatted, which are obviously impractical for a mainstream book, particularly a full color one. On the plus side, right now it looks like the images that were cut and their companion captions will make it to a special password-protected Website from the publisher so readers will not miss out on the full experience. As a final, more positive update, we got some amazing testimonials in from people whose opinions really carry some weight, including from a legendary game designer, so the buzz is starting out very good already!
Good grief. It looks like Bill and I might actually be handing in the completed draft of Vintage Games tonight. Even as I write this, Alyx is finishing up the last few chapters (then we'll need to make the necessary changes). It's been a long, slow, grueling process, but I think you're going to be impressed with the book.
Hey, guys, I want to thank you all again for the help with the book, and rest assured that I've thanked as many of you who helped as possible in the acknowledgments. Matt and I should have solicited help much sooner, but I was being a bit protective of the material until we settled on our formula and everything was well and truly underway (we'll release a full chapter list, i.e., game list, when we get closer to the pub date, then we have to create a special section on AA for the book per the contract). Well, I just checked, and I think the last chapter that's left (several more still need to be written) that we haven't had a discussion here on, is the Tony Hawk chapter. My basic reasoning for including it is that besides being a videogame phenomena in its own right, to my mind it kind of signaled the return of alternative sports games, i.e., the return of slightly more casual sports games and alternatives to the traditional sports like Madden, which as you know is also its own chapter. So while the goal of the Madden chapter is to kind of detail the transition from arcade style sports to the modern sports genre, the goal of the Tony Hawk chapter is to kind of detail the return to an alternative to the modern sports genre. I kind of see games like 720 degrees, California Games, NBA Jam and NFL Blitz leading to Tony Hawk and all the modern extreme sports games, and the introduction of things like SSX, NBA Ballers and the like. In other words, they're all related. So, Madden and Tony Hawk to me represent the main division in sports videogames and that's where the two chapters will differ and the reason for including both (at least at the time). So please let me know what you all think, as the help is absolutely needed with only a few more days left to go!
Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time, the one we've been discussing with you guys lately, is now available for pre-order from Amazon (only $23.07 at the moment!) and many other locations you'd expect. The cover is now up for your perusal, featuring an invader created by our own Mark Vergeer:
Keep in mind that the expected release date is roughly February 2009 (the publisher wants it for GDC 2009), so there's still a lot of work to be done, particularly on the publisher's end. Thanks for all your support and we'll continue to keep everyone updated.
I wasn't necessarily planning on doing Star Raiders next, but since we were discussing it here, I figured why fight the momentum? While I have the Atari 8-bit and Atari 2600 version (the latter of course with the Star Raiders controller), I must say that my experience with the game is limited. I'd love to hear what you like about it, about any other versions you're aware of (the Atari ST version is notable, but it's my understanding that it's missing some of the magic), including any clones. Obviously it influenced Elite and Wing Commander and maybe even the Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back arcade games, and was itself inspired most likely by Exidy's 1979 arcade game, Star Fire (is that correct? In any case, it was a knock-off of Star Wars the movie), or was it something even a bit earlier? Star Fire was even cloned on the Commodore PET that same year. See the video here. Thanks!
Well, it's beyond crunch time now and we're in danger of having to drop some chapters if we don't pick up the pace, so we need your help now more than ever. I've been jumping around a bit in the book and just threw a bunch of notes in the Robotron: 2084 chapter. I would love to hear about all your favorite games with Robotron-like 360 degree independent movement and firing, be it in the arcade or at home, to ensure that I don't miss any. It would also be a big help if I could hear a good listing of Xbox 360 and PS3 downloadable games that make use of the Robotron-style control scheme, as there are legion. It would really save me a ton of research. Thanks so much, guys!
Hey guys! I'll be working on the Pong chapter while I'm working on the Spacewar! chapter, as their historical lead-ups kind of run in parallel. In any case, Pong needs no introduction, from its first conceptual appearance on Ralph Baer's Brown Box that "inspired" Nolan Bushnell to ask Al Alcorn to create the original arcade game, to the precursor to it all from 1958, William Higginbotham's "Tennis for Two". Of course I'll also be discussing the various home Pong systems and clones and a few ways that the game influenced future games. As always, your thoughts are much appreciated for this truly iconic game.