For some reason, towards the end of my sleep cycle, I had a dream I was in a Doctor Who-like world. It's hard to recall now, but I remember lots of wood and alcoves, sort of like some space cruiseship thing built from stuff at Ikea. In any case, I remember the Doctor and his companions (at first the Doctor was another but he ended up being Tom Baker) struggling to get into the TARDIS for whatever reason and me dropping all the stuff I knew about him, almost like an outsider looking in, despite my standing right there. In any case, it was when I said "TARDIS" that they were finally able to get into the craft that was elaborately blended into the wood surroundings, though looking really nothing much at all like the famous sci-fi staple. In any case, I'll save that bizarre imagery for another day and perhaps turn it into a short story or something, where the Doctor and his companions don't know they're on TV or something (complete with our inability to hear their inner monologues).
Anyway, that rather long winded blathering brings me to my thought upon waking just a few moments ago thanks to a rather loud lawnmower cutting my lawn (or perhaps it was the fact that both of my arms were asleep or that my cat was warmly nuzzled in my left armpit; the point is, I woke). This thought can indeed ruin or at least taint my love of good science fiction, particularly when it involves humanoid travel between planets. You see, it's the very real issue of gravity. Why the hell in nearly every sci-fi book, movie, videogame, etc., is gravity never ever an issue when humanoids (or any other non-magical gravity balancing creature) land on a new planet? The planet could be very, very large, the planet could be very, very small. It could have no moons or it could have lots of moon. The point is, no matter how alien, regardless of need for some type of breathing apparatus or other equipment, there's no consideration made for the gravity, meaning the humanoids aren't either leaping about with ease or struggling to move? (I'm looking at you, Star Trek) Obviously part of it is convenience, part of (depending upon the medium) is expense, and part of it is that it wouldn't often make for a good story. Loud explosions in space I can handle, no inertia in movements I can handle, etc., but it sure would be nice if someone could throw a bone to gravity once in a while. Perhaps in Doctor Who's case it's yet another mysterious "gift of the Time Lords" or some type of blessing from the TARDIS, like being able to understand and speak all languages anywhere. Who knows?
By the way, I've been watching even more science-based programming than ever of late so that's had something to do with that weird and disturbing (for entertainments-sake) idea just popping in (recently our cable company moved channels like The Science Channel, Discovery, History Channel, etc., to hi-def). That and reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic "A Princess of Mars" on my Sony e-Reader for the past several weeks, which does in fact address the gravity thing (ding, ding, ding!), albeit a bit incorrectly (when the main character is mysteriously transported to Mars he's imbued with superhuman strength, including the ability to leap massive distances due to the red planet's lesser gravity). And maybe, just maybe, I was also influenced just a wee bit by my listening to the introduction of the digital audio book of "The Answer" on my way home from work yesterday, a book which explores where creativity and those "aha!" moments come from and how to make it far less of a random occurrence. Anyway, back to writing "Vintage Games"...
I'm presently trying to finish off the Defender chapter. I was wondering if everyone could chime in with a few of their favorite Defender clones I need to be sure to look at, either arcade or home versions. Certainly there are the obvious ones like Parsec for the TI-99/4a, but any others that might not be so obvious? I'm also going to tie in a bit with later side-scrolling SHMUPS as appropriate, like R-Type and the like. Thanks, guys!
Softkey Publishing's magazines', Hardcore Computing, Hardcore Computist, and Computist, are available for free from The Computist Project Website, either as PDF's or by request via free DVD. In addition, the PDF's have recently been re-cropped, color corrected, and OCR'd so they can be fully searched. Definitely check out this valuable community service to Apple II-series enthusiasts and software hackers in general. As a nice bonus, this project has even been blessed by the original publishing company! Check out the Website here. I know my free DVD is already on its way (thanks, Mike)!
Someone requested scans of the manual for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Treasure of Tarmin Cartridge for the Mattel Aquarius computer for an article they were working on that would apparently compare and contrast that lesser known version of the game with the better known Mattel Intellivision version. As such, I did a semi-forensic scan of the box and box contents, including a full scan of the manual from my collection. You can click the preview widget below for access to the full high resolution Flickr set, or here. Enjoy!
I went on vacation last week with my wife, kids, in-laws and sister-in-law to North Carolina. I'm not big on these types of vacations (particularly ones involving long drives) as they tend to be more effort than payoff, but one of the highlights was that my wife and I (sans our kids) got to go off-roading on modified Segways (essentially a bit more power and bigger tires). Now, ever since it was known as "It" and was really ramping up the hype machine several years ago, I've been intrigued by the concepts. I'm also a fan of inventor Dean Kamen. Despite it not living up to the massive hype and not being quite as groundbreaking as implied, it still ended up being something very, very cool. Needless to say, I've been wanting to try a Segway for some time and I finally got my chance with this tour. One option was to use regular style Segways and go on a city tour, the other option was to go offroading and explore forested areas. We chose the latter.
After repeated abuse from our daughters - mostly our one and a half year old - my wife's expanded Twinhead Durabook (Intel Pentium M 1.73Ghz Celeron) running Windows XP wasn't doing so well (toughbook indeed), so we went to our local office store a few weeks back and picked her up a nice 17" widescreen HP Pavilion dv9812us A
I recently received a request for manual scans from my copy of Six-Gun Shootout: Gunfights of the Wild West (1985), from SSI. I was happy to oblige, but of course I wanted to do a little extra since it's the same approximate amount of effort. In addition to the manual, I also scanned the box, the Apple II disk, one side of the registration card and the inside cover of the 1985 SSI catalog, featuring both Six-Gun Shootout and Colonial Conquest, the latter of which is one of my all-time favorites (C-64 version, though the Atari ST version is overall the best).
Here is the link to the Flickr gallery, which includes a few screenshots from the Virtual Apple 2 - Online disk archive, which allows you to play Apple II and IIGS games in your browser, including of course, Six-Gun Shootout. SSI's western-themed game is an interesting blend of strategy and RPG elements, similar in style to their war-themed, Computer Ambush, which I'm also lucky to own (I'm obviously a huge fan of SSI's entire catalog of games, from themes to cover art to when they used bookshelf boxes). If you have the time, I definitely recommend you check it all out. Enjoy!
This looks a bit old, but this person apparently successfully ported the real Space Invaders arcade game to a TRS-80 Model 4/4P with hi-res board (the board being the x-factor here and something few of us with TRS-80 collections have (I don't)).
Pretty extraordinary stuff and as the author says, probably the first of its kind ever attempted. As we know, someone did something similar on the far more capable (though no less impressive of a technical achievement) TRS-80 Color Computer 3 with arcade Donkey Kong.
Keep in mind that the Model 4 came out in 1983, based off of a platform first released in 1977, and the Color Computer 3 came out in 1987, based off of a platform first released in 1980!
We've been having a bit of a discussion about Ultima in the Gates of Delirium Live - Post 11 blog comments, and I was curious what everyone's thoughts were on the most authentic, interesting and error-free versions of each of the nine main Ultima games, not counting Akalabeth (though we can throw that in there too). This is both for my own selfish reasons of wanting to play these at some point (and to do it only once for each game) and also because I think this would prove to be an interesting discussion as I know everyone is very opinionated about the series. So, assuming you have access to any version - and any version's optimized hardware setup (for instance, you have an Apple II with two Mockingboards or a C-128), which would you pick, and in what order, say up to the top three systems for each version of the game? I'll start with my own only partially informed opinion.