Hey guys! I'll be working on the Pong chapter while I'm working on the Spacewar! chapter, as their historical lead-ups kind of run in parallel. In any case, Pong needs no introduction, from its first conceptual appearance on Ralph Baer's Brown Box that "inspired" Nolan Bushnell to ask Al Alcorn to create the original arcade game, to the precursor to it all from 1958, William Higginbotham's "Tennis for Two". Of course I'll also be discussing the various home Pong systems and clones and a few ways that the game influenced future games. As always, your thoughts are much appreciated for this truly iconic game.
Well, the next chapter is on the wonderfully early Spacewar! from 1961 for the DEC PDP-1 mainframe. While there were other games before it that I'll be sure to mention, I would love your thoughts on the games, its home versions, its implementation in the first arcade game, Computer Space, etc. I would also love to hear your thoughts on its ties to Asteroids, as I believe there is a significant connection that must be discussed heavily in the chapter. So not only Spacewar!-like games, but also Asteroids-like games (and any other connections you'd like to suggest). I also read just yesterday that a version of Spacewar! is included in Microsoft's XNA framework as a sample game, so if anyone has any particular info on that I'd love to hear it! Thanks guys!
Play Spacewar! emulated in your browser: http://spacewar.oversigma.com/
Just a heads-up that our upcoming book, Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time, the one we've been discussing with you guys lately, is now available for pre-order from Amazon and many other locations you'd expect. We'll post about it again when the entries are updated (they're all essentially placeholders right now), but thought you might like to see that yeah, it's for real:
Keep in mind that the expected release date is roughly February 2009, so there's still a lot of work to be done, particularly on the publisher's end. Thanks for all your support and we'll continue to keep everyone updated. I'll be especially excited when the publisher finalizes the cover design, which should feature artwork from our own Mark Vergeer!
I've been doing some work now on the Pinball Construction Set chapter for the book and would love to hear some of your thoughts on this "software toy" construction set. Bill Budge's title, first published through his own BudgeCo company in 1982, was of course later picked up and published by Electronic Arts (one of their earliest titles that helped put the company on the map), starting in 1983, for Apple II, Apple Macintosh, Atari 8-bit, Coleco Adam (this release is overlooked by nearly every online source, by the way), Commodore 64 and PC. While I'd love to hear about your experiences with Budge's title and titles like it, I'd also like to hear about even some of the more hardcore construction sets or mainstream development tools, like, for instance, Penguin's The Graphics Magician. Every thought and tangent is appreciated. Thanks!
The next chapter I'm working on is John Madden Football, starting with the Apple II version right through today. Of course this chapter will be used to cover all non-racing sports games, so there will be discussions of games both before and during Madden's reign. The basic premise is that prior to Madden's rise, there was minimal emphasis on real teams and players, while post Madden it's become all but a requirement. Obviously these sports games have grown increasingly sophisticated over the years, becoming full blown simulations for those who choose to go into the nitty gritty details. Why Madden? Well, that's by far the biggest selling sports franchise in the US and I think really indicative of how the sports videogame industry has evolved over the years.
In any case, as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts about sports videogames in general, be it soccer, cricket, baseball, etc. I would leave out boxing and racing, only because boxing will be discussed in the Street Fighter II chapter and racing in the Pole Position chapter. Thanks!
Hail, brave adventurer! That's right--it's time for me to start drafting the chapter on Ultima for Vintage Gaming, the forthcoming book by your very own Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton. Thankfully, I've already done much of the necessary research for this title for Dungeons & Desktops, but I'd still like to hear your stories about the Ultima series. What is the best Ultima? What is the worst? What do you consider the most important innovations introduced by the series? I can think of several right off the top, such as the focus on ethical decisions and the more personality-driven character creation system of later games. The series is also known for introducing really memorable characters and stories, years ahead of the more character and plot-driven JRPGs. Other factors worth considering are the heavy attention given to the interactive world in Black Gate, and the radical changes made to the engine from game to game.
The next chapter I'll be tackling is the one on Grand Theft Auto III, which of course encompasses the games before and the games after it, as well as the various "sandbox" precursors and numerous modern day clones and knock-offs. I'm certainly no expert in the GTA mythos, so any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Right now I only own Vice City Stories for the Sony PSP, though I may have to rectify that with a rental to get up to full speed. Thanks for the help, guys!
I just received this month's issue of the Game Creators' Newsletter, and boy is it loaded with great content. Of course I'm biased since they give a nice review and excerpt of my book in there, but there are plenty of other columns of interest--Dark Basic, anyone? We don't hear much about the UK scene, so I'd check it out for that factor alone, but I've listed the sections below for your perusal. BASICally, if you're AT ALL interested in game development, get your butt over there and subscribe to this thing; it's fantastic.
The Super Mario Bros. chapter is going to be worked on on and off as well. Obviously discussion of the precursor games, like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Pitfall, etc., will be critical, as all of the 2D games in the series (Super Mario 64/Tomb Raider are their own chapter), as well as the "challenge" of Sonic, but what are some of your other thoughts about the impact, influences and clones of the best-selling game of all time? I'd love to know, as I'm certainly no connoisseur. In fact, I was a bit "resentful" of Super Mario Bros. and the NES in 1985/86 in my youth, as I kind of blamed it for the downfall of systems like the ColecoVision (how wrong I was). I still ended up wanting one, but never got a NES when it was a contemporary system.
By the way, I'm sure you're wondering why the "can of worms" comment in the title... I consider it one of those chapters that has to be done right, otherwise we'll hear no end of it... Even with the impossible time crunch, it's one of those chapters that Matt and I need to heap some extra TLC on.
Hey all. I'll be tackling the Flight Simulator chapter next and would love to know your thoughts. While obviously Flight Simulator really started with Bruce Artwick's original game for the Apple II and TRS-80 computers, I personally didn't play a true flight sim until Flight Simulator II on the C-64. I remember finally taking the time to go through the tedious manual to learn the controls and actually felt a sense of accomplishment as I "learned" to fly (in both the game's main flight mode and secondary combat mode). Sadly, I let about a month pass between Flight Sim II sessions and I forgot a lot of it and never really had the heart to go back and try again on anything more than a very casual basis!
I played a few combat sims on the C-64, like Sid Meier's F-15 Strike Eagle, but really never got into those types of games much as I always felt like I was flying in circles to either avoid or catch enemies. I remember very distinctly getting one of EA's combat flight sims for the Amiga (name slips my mind) and being impressed with the crude polygonal graphics, but my friend at the time (I think we were seniors in high school) who aspired to be in the air force, wasn't duly impressed. After that, I've tried such games on and off, but really, I"m no expert in the genre, though I do own some of the classics (like Falcon for the Amiga/ST and a few of the later combat flight sims from Ubisoft for PC).
So, anyone have any thoughts about the genre in general and what I should look out for? I'd love to hear some stories and what some of your favorite games are past and present. Thanks!