Episode 1: Gamer Intelligence, BASIC, International DRM, Webkinz, and Vintage PC Soundcards

Matt Barton's picture

Armchair Arcade is proud to present its first official episode of Armchair Arcade Radio! This episode, hosted by Matt Barton, features material from each member of AA's staff: Bill Loguidice, Mark Vergeer, Christina Loguidice, and Chris Kennedy. Enjoy the episode and don't forget to tell all your retro computing and gaming friends! Stay tuned to Armchair Arcade for future episodes.

Episode One 48K version (23 Megabytes)
Episode One 128K version (60 Megabytes)

Topics include:

  • Does playing videogames make you smarter?
  • What was the first "recognizable" personal computer to offer BASIC?
  • How do international copyright laws and DRM hamper the European gaming scene?
  • What are Webkinz, why are they so popular, and is it part of a larger trend?
  • How does your choice of sound card affect the quality of your vintage gaming PC?

The podcast is available in 48K and 128K formats. Don't forget to comment below on what you think of the episode. If you are not a member of AA, just use the Join/Contact Us button above to set up your account.

Click here for the Armchair Arcade Radio RSS feed or here for the show on iTunes.

Thanks to "Plucky Dan 77" for the "Armchair Arcade" growl at the beginning.

Comments

Catatonic
Offline
Joined: 05/20/2006
more ramblings
Matt Barton wrote:

Yes, I was going to mention this, too. I bet only 1% of Apple Mac users know about this amazing tool. The same might be said even for macros in common apps like Word or Excel. Most people probably wouldn't consider this "programming," but it does automate quite a bit of work if you bother to learn them.

Automator does come in real handy sometimes, like in a minute or two you can write a program that automatically resizes & crops any images you put in a folder.. that sort of thing.

Word & Excel macros can get quite complex can't they, with VBScript in them? It's been years since I tried that but I know it used to work that way.

And what Bill said... I think I know what he's getting at, the old computers booted up right into an immediate-mode programming prompt. Or you just had to type 'gwbasic' to get there.

One of our school computers (20+ years ago) had LOGO on it, which is one of the greatest ways, I think, to get kids to write their first programs. You tell it to draw something, and see the results immediately. Then you learn how to make a loops to produce patterns like a spirograph. You can teach that to kids in one day.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Alice
Catatonic wrote:

One of our school computers (20+ years ago) had LOGO on it, which is one of the greatest ways, I think, to get kids to write their first programs. You tell it to draw something, and see the results immediately. Then you learn how to make a loops to produce patterns like a spirograph. You can teach that to kids in one day.

There are many great tools out there for kids learning how to program. I'm friends with a computer science professor, and he's taken me with him to see a demonstration or two. One that really looked sweet was Alice--well worth checking out.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Webkinz
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I've never heard of "Webkins (sp?)" before, so the concept was very intriguing and well covered. Using such toys to promote computer literacy in children is excellent.

Good catch; it's supposed to be Webkinz (with a z). I didn't notice that until now! Oops.

I've always thought the idea of combining toys with videogames was a good idea. I always imagined the possibilities of having Transformers with some type of wireless tech to integrate with a computer. I could also see putting a camera and a mic into a teddy bear; a parent (perhaps a distant one?) could use it to talk or play with or at least keep an eye on a child.

Quote:

The MT-32 card sounds awesome, better than my current sound card with MIDI stuff! The Ad-Lib and MT-32 comparison was mind-blowing! Good job, Chris.

That part also surprised me. I had no idea how substantial the difference really was. Next time I boot up Dosbox, I'll definitely have to experiment with the sound cards.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Yeah, I too was blown about

Yeah, I too was blown about by the difference in sound quality. It makes me want to break out my Roland stuff finally (and see what MIDI on the Atari ST is like). It also makes me think we should introduce more of such sound drops in our future segments.

n/a
Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Control...
Rowdy Rob wrote:

...Mark's rant on the various licensing restrictions in Europe was intriguing. I wonder if it's not just the major distributors of the games (i.e. XBox Live), but the wishes of the individual game producers to control their individual products that increase the maze of distribution contributions, which makes the overall effort to be a major distributor of games too complicated to be worth it.
....

Thanks Rob for your kind words. I think it is indeed a matter of game producers wanting to control their individual products trying to get the most out of each 'market' in combination with the big distributors... But sometimes the game producers themselves have little say over the content and the distributors get to decide.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Yeah, there's really no limit

Yeah, there's really no limit to what we could do in the future. I thought about interviewing and featuring a different composer (chip, game, or remix) for each episode (their songs could be used in the intro, outro, and transitions). We could perhaps help them reach a broader audience and make some useful connections. I could post about it on English Amiga Board and maybe one of the various scenemusic sites.

Also--of course I have hours of unheard interview footage from the various people I interviewed for Matt Chat. It might be fun to contact a few again.

We should also start thinking about possible sponsors or advertisers as well, assuming all goes well. I should probably start trying to get us listed on iTunes, though it is a pain in the arse.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
iTunes, etc.
Matt Barton wrote:

We should also start thinking about possible sponsors or advertisers as well, assuming all goes well. I should probably start trying to get us listed on iTunes, though it is a pain in the arse.

Well, we definitely have to get on iTunes, Zune, and the other marketplaces. It would be silly not to offer subscriptions that way.

n/a
Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2006
Myriad of Subjects to Respond to
Matt Barton wrote:
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I've never heard of "Webkins (sp?)" before, so the concept was very intriguing and well covered. Using such toys to promote computer literacy in children is excellent.

Good catch; it's supposed to be Webkinz (with a z). I didn't notice that until now! Oops.

 
Um, I wasn't correcting you, I was wondering how to spell "Webkinz" myself, since all I had to go on was the audio from the radio show! :-)
 
Playskool, Bratz, Play-Doh, and now "Webkinz" .......... no wonder our kids can't spell!
 
 
Matt Barton wrote:

I've always thought the idea of combining toys with videogames was a good idea.

 
As has been discussed on AA before, the concept of "making a game" out of anything (such as learning) seems to be a great idea. This has been used in educational software, but it seems to be slowly entering other aspects of self-improvement as well. Wii Fit is a great example.  This trend can only be good for the game industry, since it helps improve the image of games as something more than just a "slacker" hobby. 
 
If only they'd find a way to make vacuuming the floor fun!  :-)
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Rowdy Rob wrote:

The introduction of "Basic" into personal computing was an important milestone, and was very well covered on the show. It's a shame that Basic has largely fallen out of favor, and is no longer a basis (or even a "front-end") for general computing.

I wholeheartedly agree. It doesn't have to be BASIC per se, but it's a darn shame that modern OS's don't come with a default programming language of some type, even if it's a modified click and place language. It made our past computers so much more than what they would have been otherwise.

 
Great point. BASIC was the closest thing to a plain-language, easy-to-use method of programming that a moderately-nerdy person could understand and create something with. BASIC no longer seems "basic"  anymore, but I'm sure something like a modern click-and-place substitute would suffice! It seems that first there was BASIC, and then there was..... nothing. Unless you seek it out and buy (or download) some geek programming language, you're likely to see the computer as an appliance, and never even consider programming something nowadays.
 
Matt Barton wrote:

That part also surprised me. I had no idea how substantial the difference really was. Next time I boot up Dosbox, I'll definitely have to experiment with the sound cards.

I've never liked MIDI music in games, and now I know why: I wasn't really experiencing true MIDI!  MIDI music always sounded clunky and tinny, and that impression was especially pronounced since I was quite accustomed to the awesome MOD music on the Amiga. If mainstream MIDI sounded like what Chris demonstrated with the MT-32, I would have not only enjoyed MIDI, I probably would have been a MIDI enthusiast. Even now, I'm suddenly excited about MIDI!

Matt Barton wrote:

Yeah, there's really no limit to what we could do in the future.

Lots of great ideas, but don't let this radio show become another "AA Magazine," which resulted in burnout, among other negative things. I'd hate to see that.

One thing I'd like to see, and I know it's possible technically, but perhaps logistically difficult: the  "AA Radio" hosts talking to each other, in a dialogue format. Not as the whole show, but perhaps as a segment. Just shooting the breeze, joking with each other, picking each others brains, discussing a subject together,  or even debating each other (or maybe all of the above). Perhaps it's an unworkable idea, considering different schedules (and even time zones!), but it might be fun.

Anyhow, it was an enjoyable and enlightening show, and if this is just the first show, wow, what does the future hold?!?!

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Thoughts
Rowdy Rob wrote:

Lots of great ideas, but don't let this radio show become another "AA Magazine," which resulted in burnout, among other negative things. I'd hate to see that.

I think if we keep this to once a month for the foreseeable future, we'll be OK. Doing audio is not as time consuming as putting together a magazine or even a video, plus everyone on the team is committed to it.

Rowdy Rob wrote:

One thing I'd like to see, and I know it's possible technically, but perhaps logistically difficult: the  "AA Radio" hosts talking to each other, in a dialogue format. Not as the whole show, but perhaps as a segment. Just shooting the breeze, joking with each other, picking each others brains, discussing a subject together,  or even debating each other (or maybe all of the above). Perhaps it's an unworkable idea, considering different schedules (and even time zones!), but it might be fun.

Anyhow, it was an enjoyable and enlightening show, and if this is just the first show, wow, what does the future hold?!?!

That was actually the original intention, but getting our schedules together is tough. For all intents and purposes we're in different time zones (and one us, a different continent) and have generally packed schedules. We still very much intend to do this, but it may be in smaller groups and only as the occasional special addition. Otherwise we're probably going to go with the standard segment format as the baseline.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
I submitted it to iTunes

I submitted it to iTunes earlier today, but it takes awhile for them to review it. I'll try to check back in a few days and see if it went live there.
 

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.