As I sidled up to the sofa for yet another hour of Sony's MLB 14: The Show for the PlayStation 4 yesterday, it dawned on me how, despite the obvious sports trappings, it really is the ultimate action Role-playing Game (RPG), setting a standard that the more typical fantasy-themed games in the genre would do well to emulate. Now, don't get me wrong, for the most part, MLB 14 is a standard sports videogame, one obviously themed to the well worn game of professional baseball. However, it does have among its cavalcade of modes, Road to the Show, which is as much of an RPG as any RPG that ever RPG'd (or something like that).
Road to the Show lets you create a baseball player from scratch. You have a pool of stats to distribute over a wide range of abilities (hitting, throwing, running, fielding, etc.), determine physical characteristics, design the player's features, determine preferred position, decide on the player's age, etc. In short, you can mould exactly the type of character you want to play, albeit only a male one (you can thank Major League Baseball for that particular restriction), right down to the name, which can even be spoken by the announcer who calls the games if you choose something common enough (my first name was there, "Bill," but not my last, so I chose a nickname of "Train," as in, "freight train - look out!," for my last name (don't judge me!)). (Read more)
This right-after-the-fact casual blog posting will be about the rarest known version of Telengard, one that has not previously been documented in otherwise exhaustive historical accounts, so bear with me a bit as I set the scene... Since I lack any real electrical engineering skills, I recently sold off the non-working portions of my Otrona and Heathkit collections. Both collections went to fellow collectors who should be able to get the various systems working. While it was difficult to part with even those non-working portions of my 430+ system videogame and computer collection, this will give me more room and time to focus on all of the items that do work, and at least shows that psychologically I'll be able to part with more redundant and/or non-working portions of my collection going forward. One item in those groupings that I didn't sell off was my Zenith Z-100 all-in-one, which is the pre-assembled version of the Heathkit H-100, able to run Heathkit-branded versions of CP/M and MS-DOS thanks to its dual processors. As you may or may not recall, I was trying to get my low profile (same system, no built-in monitor) to run way back when. Long story short, among many other hurdles and much fact finding, and after acquiring an unnecessary replacement power supply and a necessary replacement disk controller board, it had a memory error on boot-up. So, I sold it along with various other Heathkit items. However, when I was going through my saga of acquiring those replacement parts, I was able to acquire a working all-in-one version, the Z-100. Now, I obviously love old technology, but truth be told, I was most interested in running the aforementioned rare versions of the official Avalon Hill games on the system. Interestingly, these ports run on the Heathkit/Zenith Z-90 or H/Z-100, as long as they're running CP/M-85 and MBASIC. Now, I did not have a copy of CP/M-85, but I was able to acquire a replacement set (among other disks) from a gentleman who provides that service for a modest fee. Unfortunately, the Avalon Hill games require MBASIC, which was NOT included by default with the Heathkit/Zenith systems apparently. Luckily, a gentleman from the SEBHC mailing list was able to come through with a copy for me. Here is what went down, told casually, as it happened a little while ago, complete with equally casual photos and videos (by the way, check out Matt Barton's old interview with the late great author of Telengard, Daniel M. Lawrence, here):
All right folks, this time I'm back to cover the second topic for this pair (group? series?) of articles. (As an aside: I have NO idea exactly how or why my stuff turns into multi-part explorations--it just does, all on it's own. Which is weird, considering I'm the guy supposedly running the keyboard when I write. So I have to ask your indulgence here.) Anyway, just to refresh your memory or in case you missed Part #1, here are the two game related topics I brought up for everyone to mull over.
I've been chomping at the bit to play a good multi-character CRPG for some time now, but am typically presented with various barriers, which I'm constantly looking to overcome. I think I've found one way to get through one of the most egregious barriers, and that's minimizing set up time. Whether truly necessary or not, when it comes to a good CRPG, I like to read the manual first so I can plan out my character creation strategy and then hit the ground running. Unfortunately, gathering the motivation to actually break out the manual and read it is difficult at best since there are so many other demands on my time, many of which are considerably more fun than reading rules. Since the Kindle app on my iPad 2 now supports the sending of documents over email directly to the device, I was able to send both the PDF manual and PDF map for Darklands (which Matt Barton covered here and here) from my Evernote account via my Kindle-specific email address. While I own the complete boxed version of Darklands, having both the manual and map on my iPad are considerably more convenient since I can read the former at my leisure, and refer to the latter as needed. In fact, I read about half the manual today during lunch, and will probably get through the rest when doing cardio at the gym tonight after hitting the weights. This way when I do have a little time in the evening, I can simply start the game. And speaking of the game, I got Darklands on gog.com, and it's already installed on my gaming PC, so no need for me to set up my original disks on an old PC and go through the whole tedious process that that would involve. This of course further streamlines my ability to actually get to the game before using up all of my time and/or energy.
An overview and unboxing for Pier Solar and the Great Architects for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. This specifically covers the USA Posterity edition of the game. It's an amazing homebrew creation involving hundreds of volunteers and years of effort.
By the way, Super Thunder Drive III is a clever fake, and underneath the cartridge is a certificate of authenticity card. Mine is Copy number 11 of 800 for the Posterity edition! Oh, and the "posterity" bit means my name along with the hundreds of others who pre-ordered this edition are mentioned in the manual...
Thanks to our friends at GameSetWatch for the excellent blog post informing us of the pending release of a computer role playing game (CRPG) for the legendary Commodore 64 (C-64), entitled, Newcomer. Apparently 20 years in the making, this appears to be the epitome of "epic", with top notch visuals, enhanced interactions, and everything else you'd expect from a modern day C-64 game. According to GameSetWatch, "The game has elements from both classic adventure titles and tabletop roleplaying games, placing an emphasis on interacting with characters, exploring the world, developing in/game and real life skills, and solving puzzles.
It's a massive title (for the C64), as one would expect after 20 years of development. Newcomer features 180+ characters to interact with (each with their own portraits), 10+ people who can join your party of six, 50+ areas created with 30+ graphic sets, 100+ cutscenes, 180,000+ words of in-game text, thousands of puzzles, and more all packed into 2 MB."
I for one can't wait, and I know one or two our readers surely feel the same...
Full Feature Set from the Protovision Website, where they seem to indicate that this had a prior life, including as "Enhanced Newcomer", with this version being "Ultimate Newcomer" (fingers crossed this gets a fully packaged release!):
Most of us who are heavily involved in games and game design realize the massive benefits to simple, classic turn-based mechanics. I'm not going to say that turn-based is "better" than real-time any more than a screwdriver is better than a hammer; they're just tools which we can use to get the job done. These days, however, many game designers are indeed using a hammer to nail in a screw, and building some pretty shoddy birdhouses. So many games coming out today would greatly benefit from a turn-based gameplay mechanic - often you can see that the designers knew this, but that something held them back from using one. Today I'm writing about what this something is - a deep-seated cultural mistake that we make about games in general.
Rampant Coyote has posted a new review of my book Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games. It's a very positive and detailed review and really gets at the heart of what I was attempting with the book: Bottom line (again): I loved the book. If you are a serious computer RPG fan who doesn’t believe the genre began with Oblivion or Diablo II, and especially if you are at all involved in making or reviewing RPGs, you should give it a read. I have a response below.
Wow--now this really sounds interesting. Apparently Fable 3 will let co-op players have sex and eventually have children. Details seem scarce, and some are already thinking back to the seeds and trees thing from Molyneux. Even if it doesn't work out, though, I think we can all see the potential of something like this.
This week's show features Tunnels of Doom, an 8-bit classic rpg for the TI-99/4A. Enjoy, and please spread the word.