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!
Well, the time has come for me to turn my attention to King's Quest, having recently finished the drafts of Pac-Man and Myst. I played through the original King's Quest and a few of the later games, though again they're blurring together somewhat in my mind (will have to go back in to refresh my memory). Naturally, a discussion of KQ will let me talk about the PcJr as well as EGA and the early PC game industry. It'll be fun to talk about the many spin-offs, though I don't want to get too far away from the original game.
***UPDATE: Links to my reviews of all the Myst games below.***
Whew. I've been working all day on the Myst chapter of the book. I'm actually a good choice for this chapter, since I've played ALL the Myst games from start to finish and have a great love and respect for this venerable series. That said, it's been challenging; the games tend to blur together in my mind. I still think Myst IV: Revelation is the greatest of them all, simply because it had the best graphics and puzzles. Still, I admire III because of its brilliant marble puzzle and voice acting, and the final game for its luxury car interface that I still think is the best ever made for an adventure game. It's *comfortable.* I love it.
Well, I've decided to leap forward a bit and start working on the Pong chapter. While many people seem to think Pong is more fun to historians than gamers, I did see its draw demonstrated recently in Chicago during a videogame exhibit.
Well, for better or worse, it looks like the final name of the full color book Matt and I are furiously working on at the moment will be "Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario and the Most Influential Games of All Time". We're also zeroing in on what to do about the cover, which, unfortunately, there's little to no budget for or much room for an image. The biggest issue though is that we have at least 60 days worth of work to get done in 30 days. Fingers crossed and we'll definitely be tapping you all for help with more chapters!
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!
Pac-Man fever! That's what I have now that I've started work on the Pac-Man chapter in the book I'm currently writing with Bill Loguidice, the acclaimed collector and game historian. :) As usual, I started off by reading the wikipedia entry on the game, which this time was actually extremely detailed and helpful. One interesting thing about the wikipedia article is that it claims that the game designer, Toru Iwatani, was not inspired by a pizza as the old story goes. The article cites a book called Programmers at Work: Interviews, which I unfortunately do not own. If anyone does have this book or has thoughts on this matter, please let me know!
We've made no secret here about the book that Matt Barton and I are presently working on for Focal Press (Elsevier) on some of the most greatest and most influential (that's key) videogames of all time regardless of platform. It also explains why things have been a bit quiet around here from our end. We'd like to change that though and kind of give everyone at least a partial glance into the trials and tribulations of the process and perhaps even get some much needed help with certain parts. Hopefully it will be interesting for you and ultimately helpful for us, making a better book.
First off, let me start out by saying that if anyone has any questions about anything, just ask, and, if possible, we'll definitely answer whatever we can. With that all said, I'll just start things off by saying that the chapters on Dune II and Dance Dance Revolution are in the hands of our new tech reviewer, and I'm presently trying to finish up the chapter on Defender. Matt just finished off his part on Final Fantasy VII, and I just need to do my work on it and convert it to publisher's Word template before getting it off to the tech reviewer. Matt is now diving into the Pac-Man chapter.
By the way, Matt and I are doing our initial work in Google Docs, which is an easy way for us to collaborate from anywhere. Once the text is reasonably settled, meaning both Matt and I have done what we wanted to it, I convert it to the publisher's Word template. After that happens it goes over to the tech reviewer, who provides her comments/corrections, then we fix whatever we deem necessary. Matt and I then work on the images, I insert the captions and image references into the document, then zip the Word document together with a folder containing all the images (this usually works out to a 30 - 60MB file). I then pass that on to the publisher. Easy, right? ;-)
Finally, as part of the contract with Focal, we'll need to make a portion of Armchair Arcade dedicated to the book. That should be a lot of fun, as there will be lots of bonus content that simply wouldn't be able to make it in book form. I'd like to see Matt's first book get a similar treatment, right around the same time!
I have great news! The now infamous book on the first 15 years of US home videogames and computers - what I believe will be the most comprehensive work of its kind ever created - has finally found a new publisher. Matt and I are very excited to be working with Andrew Rollings and Hiive Books, well known for The Commodore 64 Book - 1982 to 199x and The ZX Spectrum Book - 1982 to 199x. We're confident Andrew and Hiive will give the material the layout/design and distribution that this deserves. We'll begin work on the book again in late August of this year, after we finish off the previously mentioned book for Focal/Elsevier. As always, we'll keep you posted on the status of this and other exciting projects. By the way, thanks to AA member Harmik for the heads-up on reaching out to Hiive!
I can't go into too much detail, but I can finally announce that Matt and I have secured a deal for a new co-authored book. The topic? The best, greatest and most influential games of all time. Not too exciting you say? Well, that's the challenge that Matt and I have--to really push our writing abilities to the limits to make this something that you'll be very, very excited about. And obviously being who we are, you know we won't leave ANY platform untouched in telling what will hopefully be a definitive and compelling tale. One nice thing I can reveal is that this will be a full color book (!) throughout and the publisher, Focal Press, which is part of Elsevier, is targeting only a $35 list price, which is pretty nice for what is estimated to be 350 pages. They also want us to create a special section on Armchair Arcade for bonus content related to the book, which we've agreed to. So, while I was unable to secure a new publisher for the years-in-the-making book excerpted at Gamasutra (which we'll revisit selling at some point in the near future), this is a nice "consolation" prize. In fact, after months of negotiation, Focal ultimately wasn't interested in that book for its economic viability, but was impressed enough to ask us to write to this topic, which was actually their idea originally. We have until roughly September to wrap it up and we're starting with ZERO content, so wish us luck!