Matt Chat 16: Lode Runner, single-screen platform excitement & user-generated content

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Matt Barton's picture

Here it is, Matt Chat #16: Lode Runner. In the review I talk about the game's impact, precedents, and even some of its contemporaries.

Please excuse the "Frogs" thumbnail; I still haven't mastered the YouTube thumbnail service and this time, none of the rest were of Lode Runner either. Also, I ran out of time before getting to mention some other important platformer games, including Pitfall and Ultimate Wizard. Those 10 minutes blaze by like nobody's business.

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Matt Barton
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Live Action Pitfall!

Geez...

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yakumo9275
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pins! plato chat may have

pins!

plato chat may have got more views as it was the plato forum guys watching it multiple times to make sure you really did "play the games wrong(tm)."

How about a prince of persia+karetka, or carmen sandiego or taipan?

taipan, i spent many hours on that beast!

-- Stu --

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Matt Barton
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Wow, that Taipan! game looks

Wow, that Taipan! game looks fascinating. A good example of an early trading game. I wonder if Ports of Call was inspired by this at all? It'd be awesome if I actually had the box and all the materials for something like this or Universe, or maybe some of edu-ware's old stuff.

I haven't played much of Karateka, though of course have heard tons about it and would be up for trying it out. Rowdy Rob was saying I ought to give the PoP games a chance. I played the first one a bit, but again not hardcore. Carmen Sandiego is very tempting indeed, because I love adventure games with an educational bent to them, and that was probably the most popular game of that type of all time. Damn you, Stu, you have too many good ideas!!! :)

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Gashead
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Great video

Hi

Another great video Matt.

Especially good to see an honourable mention of one of my all time favourites Manic Miner. Check out the sequel Jet Set Willy as well. Shame you did have time to mention Pitfall (another fav).

In terms of the next few Matt chats maybe an overview of systems is the way to go. I really liked the PLATO one and I hadn't even heard of it! Not sure it made it to these shores?

Having said that as an Ultima fanatic I would loved to see Ultima VII. In fact I would watch individual videos on each Ultima game probably one after the other! But maybe that would be a bit niche!

The frog game stirred vague memories for me as well and it reminded my of a similar game (in terms of graphics transposed on to a backdrop) where you harpooned a shark (anyone know what this was called?) Plus the old classic Boot Hill.

Matt Barton
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Maybe the answer is simply

Maybe the answer is simply to mix it up. Do a few shows on specific games, with intermittent special episodes on platforms or whole genres or series. The only problem I see is again that the broader the topic gets, the more superficial your commentary is going to get. Imagine trying to cover the best games for the Commodore 64, for instance. What are you going to do, flash them on the screen for a few seconds with a title that disappears before you can read it? I've seen lots of those types of videos, and other than the pleasure of identifying the games there is not much there.

My goal with all of my videos has been to try to inspire people to want to know more about the game or platform and then seek it out themselves. I'm not really the guy to give you the lowdown on how the code or the chips worked. I'm more of the, "Look, here's this cool thing, here's why it is cool, go check it out." A lot of people seem to respond well to that, though of course there are some really nasty critics. I think the "read wikipedia instead" comment is the modern equivalent of the quip "tell me something I don't know!" I guess that is an audience problem. The type of people who watch Matt Chat tend to be knowledgeable about the games and hardware, so I'm not really communicating anything new or esoteric. I guess it would be more interesting to them if I were an engineer or a coder who could talk on a high technical level about this stuff. I just don't have those skills, though, sadly. My goal was more to celebrate these things, trying to get people to either have that nostlagic spark ("OOoh!! Lode Runner!") or perhaps get them thinking about the context of a game and where it came from, or maybe just what was neat about it. Seems like that just doesn't cut it for some folks. They want a level of hardcore knowledge that I just can't provide. I think a lot of is just different personalities and life interests. I know I would much, much rather go hear Richard Garriott talk about Ultima than go hear Chuck Peddle talk about the 6502. When we were interviewing people for Woot! I was much more interested in hearing their personal stories, what inspired them, how others reacted to their work, their favorite gaming experiences, etc. When they started talking in code or technical stuff I had a hard time staying focused. For instance, it was a lot more fun hearing John Romero talk about deathmatches at his job than when he started talking about building a special interface to hook up an Apple II to the Commdore 128 so he could bypass the latter's keyboard.

I'm not saying I don't respect that area of expertise, but that's just not what interests me. I know very little about it and most of it would be completely over my head. I guess technical interests aside, I'm more into humanities than science. :)

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jakdin (aka Matt Rau) (not verified)
Standing Ovation for Matt Barton's "Matt Chat"

Hi there Matt! I just want to start off saying that I had been hearing about your episodes but had not viewed them, that is, until 3 days ago. Friday evening, I believe.

I'm so glad that I watched; and then watched, and watched, and kept going until I ran out of Matt Chats to watch. I even viewed some of them multiple times to keep the nostalgia hot. These are perfect little gems of heaven for me. I can sit with my daughter and put the headphones on as she is doing something for a few minutes, or watching along with me, and just feel good. I can even watch them at work, knowing they are short enough for a quick break. I can, and did, watch them while visiting the W.C.

Let the nay-sayers go one saying nay, because they don't really know or appreciate what you are doing for us here. Foo on them. Foo.

When I get an extra bit-o-cash, I'll be purchasing your Dungeons and Desktops book, as well as you and Bill L's Vintage Games book.

There is so much that I want to say, that I better just end with a BIG THANK YOU, MATT!

Rowdy Rob
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Taipan, Mixing it up, tech-head gripes, and other comments.
Matt Barton wrote:

Wow, that Taipan! game looks fascinating. A good example of an early trading game. I wonder if Ports of Call was inspired by this at all?

I'm surprised you haven't heard of "Taipan!" before, because it is definitely an old-school simulation classic. I played versions of this game on the TRS-80, Apple II, Amiga, and Windows platforms, and with only minor differences in the graphics or interface, they're all the same game. I lost many hours, and perhaps points off my GPA, playing this simple but addicting gem of a game. There is indeed many similarities to "Ports of Call," although "Taipan" is a far simpler game, and it also includes very simple ship-to-ship combat with pirate ships.

A very faithful port of "Taipan!" is available on Download.com if you want to try it. It has a mouse interface, but the underlying game is the same, for better or worse. I actually prefer the old school interface to the mouse one, but this mouse version is still "Taipan," and will save you from having to boot up an emulator. Here's the Download.com link for the game, and it's only 2MB. Read the comments: "There's no graphics, no sound, no action, this game sucks!" and so forth, so you know you're getting the real deal. :-)

http://download.cnet.com/Taipan-for-Windows/3000-7562_4-10145722.html?ta...

Matt Barton wrote:

Rowdy Rob was saying I ought to give the PoP games a chance. I played the first one a bit, but again not hardcore.

If you find PoP:Sands of Time in a bargain bin for $3, I recommend trying it, but otherwise, I'm not sure it's worth the risk, considering it does require very deft reflexes to beat. Despite my praise, it IS an action-arcade/puzzler, which might not be up your alley.

Matt Barton wrote:

Maybe the answer is simply to mix it up. Do a few shows on specific games, with intermittent special episodes on platforms or whole genres or series. The only problem I see is again that the broader the topic gets, the more superficial your commentary is going to get.

Mixing it up may be a good idea. You don't have to cover ALL the great games in one sitting! Perhaps "Matt Chat: Grab Bag o' Great Games for the C64" will give you some leeway in covering a select few games in one episode, and you can come back at a later date with "part II" or "part XXIV" or whatever. Just an idea. I'm quite satisfied at how Matt Chat is playing out so far as is, though. And "the customer is NOT always right!" I thought it was a bad idea for you to cover the Atari 2600 platform, only to have egg on my face when it turned out brilliantly in your "Adventure" episode. Pick something you want to do and MAKE US LIKE IT!

Matt Barton wrote:

My goal with all of my videos has been to try to inspire people to want to know more about the game or platform and then seek it out themselves. I'm not really the guy to give you the lowdown on how the code or the chips worked.

Only the nerdiest of nerds would be disappointed that you don't say "the game consisted of dual player/missiles set at bit 3 of the priority register, with multiple display lists and audio running during the vertical blank interrupt." That's the TECH, NOT THE GAME! The game is the concept, the WORLD, and the experience! Neither the interested newcomer nor the nostalgic gamer really cares what went on behind the curtain; they care about the fun and magical experience to be had from the game in question. Your videos get that part right! I have yet to see a "Matt Chat" where the end result didn't make me want to play the game being covered.

jakdin (aka Matt Rau) wrote:

I'm so glad that I watched; and then watched, and watched, and kept going until I ran out of Matt Chats to watch. I even viewed some of them multiple times to keep the nostalgia hot. These are perfect little gems of heaven for me. (.........)
Let the nay-sayers go one saying nay, because they don't really know or appreciate what you are doing for us here. Foo on them. Foo.

Preach on, brother!!! At least you had the pleasure of experiencing these "Matt Chats" successively; the rest of us had to wait a whole week for each new episode!

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Matt Barton
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Wow!

Thanks, guys, your posts really made my day. Foo on the nay-sayers indeed! :)

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Hammer
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Joined: 03/23/2008
OMG, you have to do Karateka

I've met a few developers, but when I met Jordan Mechner I acted like such a fanboy that I scared him off. : )

Back in the day, Karateka was da bomb, and then Prince of Persia took it to a whole 'nother level.

BTW, I am pretty sure that the Atari version did have the ability to dig behind you as well.

Orakio "O Gagá" Rob (not verified)
Man, I love Lode Runner!

I used to play Lode Runner for hours and hours on my MSX, it was definitely one of my favorite games. And just seeing the video has triggered that old "I must play it now" feeling...

Your videos are great, I hope you keep recording them. Thanks!

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