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Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 129: A Chat with Graphics Guru Mark Soderwall

This week begins my interview series with Mark Soderwall, an awesome guy with 20+ years in the industry. His resume is huge, with jobs at Mindcraft, Atari, and LucasArts. He's worked on games NBA Live, the Terminator games, Demon Stone, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, just to name a few. Now he's devoted himself to training the next generation and inspiring indie developers with his Game Creators Vault. Enjoy!

If you haven't supported the show, don't be a scrooge! If you like these videos, please put a dollar in my stocking!. Come on, McDuck, it's Christmas! As always, you can download the MP4 for playback on your mobile device.

Chip Hageman's picture

Slixed: Online Commodore 64 graphics editor

Introducing Slixed: An online drawing program which allows you to create Commodore 64-esque pictures with the C64's glorious 16 color palette. You can choose to create a new drawing from scratch, or load an image (in JPEG, GIF or PNG formats) which can then be edited in either hires or multi-color modes. Once you have an image worthy of hanging in the Louvre, you can save it off in PNG format for posterity or for later editing.

The program is currently in alpha, but it's certainly quite usable. One can only imagine what great features may be coming down the pike: Saving and loading in native C64 formats.. editing the various interlaced (high color) formats.. exporting images to assembly includes (for coders).. the skies the limit.

Just one more great cross platform tool to help modern C64 developers create new games, demos and art.

Check it out here.

Matt Barton's picture

The Free Sample: Explaining Minecraft's Enviable Success

Minecraft: It takes more than screenshots to sell gameplay.Minecraft: It takes more than screenshots to sell gameplay.I'm certainly not the only one who has ever wondered why so much of modern gaming (and, if we look back, past gaming) is so focused on graphics. Surely, there are more important issues at stake when we discuss a game--for instance, its rules, setting, story, modes, and so on. There is a reason why so many people still enjoy Tetris, for instance, whereas games whose major appeal was graphical (such as The 7th Guest) fade quickly after the initial blitz. Most people who bother to give it much thought will quickly come to the conclusion that graphics have much less to do with their enjoyment of a game than the marketing seems to suggest or even insist.

I have given the matter much thought over the years, but keep coming back to marketing. The reason why graphics continue to dominate most discussions of game quality is that so many of us depend on them to learn about new games. In particular, I'm thinking of still shots--screenshots that can be put in a magazine review or advertisement, the back of a game box, a website, and so on. It's enlightening to look through a stack of 80s gamer mags and see "eye-popping" screenshots of games that look woefully crude to us today. It has always been easy to put these images on the marketing materials and use them to lure gamers. It is something that gamers can see or glance at, then make a snap evaluation of the game's quality. The fact that this evaluation is so often wrong does not seem to deter gamers the way it should.

Matt Barton's picture

The Rise and Fall of the IFF Format

AmigaAmigaWow, the Amiga news just keeps on rolling in today. Well, this isn't precisely Amiga news, even though that's the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the word "IFF." IFF, or interchange file format, was developed by Electronic Arts in 1985 in its bid for world supremacy. It became a very important format on the Amiga platform for images of all sorts. Indeed, jpeg and gif support was a long time coming to the Amiga, which was a definite problem during the early days of the Web for Amigans. Anyway, IBM has published a very nice page about IFF, and makes a surprising and evocative claim: The Interchange File Format (IFF) standard is widely regarded as long dead, and indeed, no one uses it anymore, except that nearly everyone uses it sometimes.

Matt Barton's picture

The Most Beautiful 2-D Games

Shadow of the Beast: 2-D Graphic GoodnessShadow of the Beast: 2-D Graphic GoodnessGameDaily is running a special called Top Five Most Gorgeous 2D Games. Topping off the list is the Guilty Gear franchise, one of the few fighting games I've completed. Perhaps I'm biased, though, but I would've felt compelled to include some of Psygnosis' games for the Amiga platform, particularly the Shadow of the Beast series, though I agree that Yoshi's Island is a very aesthetically pleasing game. If you feel the need to cleanse your palate after all these 2-D titles, check out this new Far Cry footage. I really enjoyed the first Far Cry and will probably get this one when it comes out, assuming my computer can run it without tanking. The idea of destroying trees and houses has appeal! Perhaps more fun than killing AI soldiers...!

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