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Regularly updated news on all topics relevant to Armchair Arcade.
Matt Barton's picture

"The Jackals" are Back--On your iPhone

One of Nolan Bushnell's favorite diatribes is about the people he calls "jackals," those scrupulous copycats that, in his view, ripped off his ideas time and time again. Despite the fact that some accuse him of doing the same thing to Ralph Baer (especially Mr. Baer), it's hard not to sympathize with hard-working creators who see their profits annihilated by shameless clones and rip-offs. There's a nice example of it at Ars Technica, which documents a flagrant "The Blocks Cometh" knock-off (including art and name!) on the iPhone. According to the article, victims have few options other than to hire lawyers, which as well all know is well beyond the means of most indies.

I'm not sure what the remedy is here, though. The other extreme would be just as bad, with existing owners claiming that even the remotest derivative was a clone. What exactly is the line between a derivative and a clone, though?

Rob Daviau's picture

Ginge released for Caanoo!

A fellow Youtuber who knows I have a Caanoo handheld tipped me of to the release of Ginge, after some searching I found the following info:

GINGE Is Not GP2X Emulator-Ginge is an application that can run many GP2X F100/F200, Wiz games and programs on other ARM Linux platforms. Currently it's closed source and runs on Pandora and Wiz itself.

Matt Barton's picture

CRPG Difficulty

Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software has posted some Three Rules for Difficulty in RPGs, which has some great thoughts and advice for would-be CRPG designers. I enjoyed it mostly because of the obvious passion and emotion Jeff has for this stuff--his reactions to those who "ragequit" over a difficult fight are touching, to say the least.

Heck, maybe I should try to get him on the show.

Bill Loguidice's picture

HP's webOS - The Ultimate Answer to iOS and Android/Honeycomb Mobile Domination?

HP webOS DevicesHP webOS DevicesAfter acquiring Palm back in April 2010, HP yesterday unveiled their long awaited webOS strategy. While the two showpiece devices are arguably the HP TouchPad tablet and the HP Pre3 smartphone, HP's strategy involves getting webOS on all types of devices, including desktops, laptops and even printers, and making the development environment inexpensive and relatively transparent. This should in theory create an explosion of apps for all webOS devices in short order, assuming there is reasonable positive reaction to an alternative to the headline-grabbing Apples iOS and Google Android/Honeycomb device infrastructure. Certainly HP and Palm seem to have gone all out, creating what is being called an attractive and effective operating system/interface and one with hitherto unseen connectivity features. One example of these impressive connectivity features is shown in the video below:

Bill Loguidice's picture

Motorola's Xoom - A Missed Opportunity in Honeycomb Tablets

As I'm sure many of you have seen by now, Motorola's Xoom commercial during the Superbowl attracted quite a bit of attention. For those who don't know, Motorola's Xoom is one of the first tablets to run Google's Android operating system specifically designed for tablets, Honeycomb. Previously, Android tablets were running a version of the operating system optimized for smartphones, not tablets, so the release of a true Honeycomb device is big news in that it's the first real competition for Apple's dominant iPad. Anyway, the commercial is Motorola's send up of Apple's famous 1984 Superbowl ad, which pitted a free thinking Apple against the oppressive dictatorship of IBM. Of course, Apple got the competitor wrong. It wasn't IBM, it was Microsoft, and it almost cost Apple its business if not for an improbable comeback in mobile devices. Ironically, Motorola has similarly misidentified its true competition. It's not Apple, it's other Honeycomb tablets. Just like what happened in smartphones, where Android devices have overwhelmed the market with devices and risen to a position of leadership despite a somewhat fragmented marketplace and at-manufacturer-will upgrade paths, the same scenario is likely to play out in tablets, with Apple carving out a dominant - but not market leading - niche all to itself in the long-term. Priced at $800 with a bizarre requirement for a minimum of one month of 3G data to "unlock" wi-fi, Motorola has seemingly done everything to cripple its otherwise impressive device right out of the gate.

As I've discussed multiple times, I've been practically begging for a Honeycomb tablet to capture my techno-lust before the iPad 2 comes out, but if we're going to see efforts like this in what is already a late bloomer in things like tablet-specific apps and developer support, I'm becoming more and more pessimistic such a scenario will happen. In fact, if these Honeycomb tablets don't start coming out in reasonable quantity and at more attractive price points relatively soon, it will take even longer for them to wrest away Apple's 90% market share in the segment, and we may even be entertaining ideas of not what happened with Apple versus Google in the smartphone market, but what happened with Apple versus everyone else in the portable music player market.

Check out Motorola's Superbowl ad below:

Bill Loguidice's picture

ZX Spectrum to be Officially Relaunched in Honor of its 30th Anniversary in 2012!

Mock-up of ZX Spectrum Re-releaseMock-up of ZX Spectrum Re-releaseWell, this is great news for fans of retro computers. One of the most prolific original developers for the ZX Spectrum back in the day, Elite, will be reissuing the platform in honor of its 30th anniversary in 2012. Though little known outside of Europe, the ZX Spectrum was one of the most popular computers of the 1980s in the UK, rivaling the worldwide sales leader, the Commodore 64, for overall popularity. While there are few details about what form the new iteration of the computer will take - some say it will essentially just be a bluetooth keyboard for use with emulators - it's still a fascinating experiment in nostalgia, one we hope is successful so additional platforms might follow suit. If you're curious to learn more about the ZX Spectrum, our own Mark Vergeer has recently posted some videos (here and here) for your enjoyment.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Issue 47 of the Commodore Free magazine - January 2011, Now Available!

The latest issue, January 2011, of the excellent Commodore Free magazine is now available in the usual .PDF, .txt, .seq, .d64, .html, EPUB, and MOBI formats. Get your copy in the format of your choice here!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Crazy Climber - The Second Bally Astrocade Homebrew in the Modern Era!

RiffRaff, aka Mike G., sent word via the ballyalley Yahoo! Groups group that his second Bally Astrocade homebrew, Crazy Climber, is nearing completion. Mike is the author behind the limited edition, War, which turned out to be a superb Warlords clone (I still need to do a full review at some point). As you can see in Mike's video, it uses a refreshing color palette for an Astrocade game and excellent sprite detail.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Sony's PSP2, aka NGP - Doomed from the Start? (and a quick mention of Sony Ericsson Xperia Play)

Sony officially announced their PSP successor, code-named Next Generation Portable (NGP). Details here. As you can see, its main technical features of note are a high resolution 5" inch OLED touch screen on the front, a multi-touch pad on the back, two analog sticks, and two cameras. It also has six-axis motion sensing system similar to the PS3's controller and a three-axis electronic compass. Typical for Sony, it's another "kitchen sink" handheld, with the only notable omission being 3D, a la the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike the 3DS - and even though I'm a long-time owner of the original PSP - I'm finding little to be excited about with Sony's new handheld. The PSP failed - relatively speaking, of course - because it did nothing to distinguish itself as a portable. Sony's strategy was to offer a portable console, which many people have no interest in. There appears to be a similar strategy with the NGP. The PSP was somewhere in-between the PS1 and PS2 in terms of power, the NGP is somewhere in-between a PS2 and PS3 in terms of power. If you look at the software list from the link, it's the same types of titles you get on the PS3. While there will be the usual augmented reality and sharing features (again, just like the Nintendo 3DS), the idea of a dedicated portable like this in today's world of smartphones and tablets seems a bit counter-intuitive, and it doesn't have the 3D angle Nintendo's 3DS features. As such, I'm skeptical of the NGP's success.

Rather further under the radar is the announcement of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, an Android phone that appears to offer PSP-like gaming and some ability to run the same type of software (albeit of the lowest common denominator variety, potentially taking some of the bloom off of owning the superior gaming platform if developers target both). This strategy makes somewhat more sense in that consumer energy is really behind smartphones these days, but to my mind Sony should have done the Xperia Play AND made the PSP2 a 7" Honeycomb tablet with the full complement of gaming controls and beefed up hardware. This way they could also sub-license to Android and Honeycomb vendors "PSP-powered" gaming technology. That to me would have made a far greater impact. As it is, I think Sony is not going to make much of a dent with the Xperia Play because Android-powered smartphones (technology-wise) are a fast moving target (and phones tend to get replaced every two years anyway), and the NGP - no matter how inherently cool - is not a distinctive enough technology to pull enough people away from the 3DS and their existing (or future) smartphones and tablets, the latter two of which already make formidable modern day gaming platforms. Sorry, Sony.

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