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Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 122: Josh Mandel's Insider Scoop on the Failure of the Dreamcast

I know a lot of you guys are big fans of the Dreamcast, so prepare to be traumatized by this episode. Josh acknowledges that there might be plenty of other reasons for the short production cycle of one of the best consoles ever, but his description of the inexplicable attitude of Sony of Japan's attitude towards their American branch is pretty damn revealing, if not downright disgusting.

You can also download the video here, but don't forget to tip the bard first. A few bucks and a few minutes of your time is all I ask for all my work.

Matt Barton's picture

Josho Part III: Sierra's Epic Fail

Hi, guys! I'm back with part three of my interview with the amazing Josh Mandel. In this segment (which is frankly required viewing for any true fan of classic computer games), Josh talks about how thinks went awry at Sierra, eventually sending him on a quest to find a new publisher in Legend. He also chats about his favorite creation, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, and the future of adventure games as a viable genre.

Download the mp4 here, and don't forget to drop a few dollars into the bard's hat!

Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 120: Freddy Pharkas & Space Quest 6 with Josho

I'm back this week with part two of my funtastic chat with Josh "Josho" Mandel. This time, the maestro chats about why point-and-clicks were a dumbing down from the parser days, the making of Freddy Pharkas, his voicework as King Graham, his thoughts on LucasFilm and Myst (loves the former; loathes the latter), and Space Quest 6.

If you want to buy Space Quest 4-6 for only $10, DRM free, get it here to support Matt Chat at no extra cost to you!

You can download the mp4 here as well.

Matt Barton's picture

Matt's Podcast #5: The Time Police (Design Project)

Hi, folks. I'm back this week with another podcast, this time discussing my game pitch for "The Time Police," a project I've been brainstorming and planning for some time. It still has a long ways to go, but I'm excited enough about the idea to want to make a podcast about it. If you have thoughts or suggestions, please let me know.

Download the podcast here.

Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 119: Josh Mandel on remaking King's Quest

In this first segment of my interview with Sierra designer Josh Mandel, we chat about how Josh got his start, remaking King's Quest, Zeliard, Leisure Suit Larry, Laffer Utilities, and much more. We also talk about the difference between creating puzzles for parsers vs. point-and-clicks. Josh thinks the latter was a dumbing down with grave consequences for the genre.

Download the MP4.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Atari Flashback 3 Review and Video

NOTE: This is now the audio-fixed version of the video review, with much quieter in-game audio.

(Download the mp4)

Today I'll be taking a look at Atari's new Flashback 3, which, despite the name, is actually the fourth major Flashback system released. I reviewed the first Atari Flashback way back in 2004, when it was first released. Unfortunately, Legacy Engineering Group (LEG) was apparently only given 10 weeks to create the system from scratch and therefore had no choice but to rely on a NES-On-A-Chip (NOAC) to power the product. Since the goal of the Flashback was to deliver both a plug-and-play Atari 2600 and 7800 experience, this was definitely too tall of an order for what amounted to a Nintendo Entertainment System clone, particularly given the limited time to optimize the game simulations.

While the first Flashback clearly disappointed anyone remotely familiar with any of the 20 first party 2600 and 7800 games it clumsily simulated, the upside was that it sold enough for Atari to order production of a Flashback 2. This time LEG did have the time to do it right, and, while they dropped all efforts to replicate the 7800 experience, they ended up developing what amounted to an "Atari 2600-on-a-chip," whose high accuracy more than made up for the omission. Released in 2005, the Flashback 2 came with a mix of over 40 original, prototype, hacked, and homebrew Atari 2600 games. While the first Flashback was styled like a miniature 7800, the Flashback 2 was styled like a miniature Atari 2600 VCS, complete with simulated woodgrain. As a bonus, the two included joysticks were pin compatible with the originals, meaning they could be used on other systems that worked with Atari-style joysticks. This also meant that you could use original paddle controllers with the Flashback 2 to play the hidden paddle games. This was in direct contrast to the first Flashback, which merely converted its paddle games to make use of the joystick, which again, was not the way you wanted to experience those games. As a final bonus for those with the requisite skillset, the Flashback 2 could be hacked to add a cartridge port, which outside of a few relatively minor compatibility quirks, made it an ideal modern revision of the original Atari 2600 hardware, particularly since it had default composite video output rather than RF.

Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 118: The Dagger Has Fallen and It Can't Get Up!

This week, I finally get around to retrospecting Bethesda's 1996 masterpiece Daggerfall, the game that for many fans is still the best ever Elder Scrolls game. While not without its share of bugs and interface issues, it's still a terrific achievement and demonstrates the possibilities of procedurally-generated content in CRPGs. Just don't make the mistake I did of not checking ALL the options for keyboard and mouse. :)

Still, the resulting misadventures are pretty darn funny.

Download the mp4.

Matt Barton's picture

Matt's Podcast 4: Can a videogame get you high?

Turn on (the videogame)! Turn on--the gameThis week, I address a question that I'm sure we've all pondered at some point--are videogames really addictive, and, if so, is that necessarily a bad thing? I'm particularly interested here in what it would take to design a videogame that would "turn you on," offering a comparable experience to taking LSD or even peyote but without the potential side effects. How close are we to developing true digital drugs? Will you be the Albert Hofmann of videogames?

Download the podcast.
If you enjoy this, please post a review on iTunes.

Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 117: Supreme Commander & More with Chris Taylor

Lots of great stuff in this last segment of my interview with Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor. Here we start getting into some stuff that really disappointed Chris, as he struggled to achieve quality despite pressure from publishers. He also talks about how important it is not to bite off more than you can chew (Space Siege), and why he thinks consoles are the future of RTS. He's very candid throughout, and you definitely don't want to miss the ending when he talks about striking the right balance between pleasing gamers (with modding tools) and publishers (with profitability).

Note: I encourage you to watch the downloadable version this time. YouTube is screwing me with their algorithms again, this time providing advertising for Square Enix at my expense. I'll post it here nonetheless. Last time I ever use clips from one of their stupid game trailers.

Download the video here.

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