News

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

A True Gamer Revolution Coming? (As in overthrowing governments?)

I was intrigued by an article mentioned on Dan Carlin's Common Sense Show about Gerald Celente, an analyst who studies big trends. You can read about his views here, and I'll post a fun video below. But what really stood out to me was his view that "the youth of the world" will unite--using internet and web 2.0 tools (Wikileaks, etc.) and overthrow the governments. Why? Because we're sick about all the debt and inability to get clear of it.

I'd like to tie this more into gamer culture in particular. I plan to explore this topic in more depth in the next podcast, but wanted to get your opinion on it. Do you get pissed off that our governments seem so corrupt, inept, and unconcerned about you--and feel that it's getting to the point where it's time to do something about it? Perhaps you've considered turning to cybercrime?

I think there's something about the gamer (some might call it a "hacker") mentality that encourages us to see even big problems like debt and joblessness as eminently solvable and not just inevitable. We also don't tend to trust authorities and feel that we could get in there and fix it ourselves if we had access to the information (transparency) and means.

I've formulated a few of these beliefs or attitudes that I think all serious gamers (or at least Gen X gamers) share. Please let me know if you don't agree with one or more of these points and be specific.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Bliss-Box - Use just about any controller from any system with your favorite PC emulator over USB!

Bliss-Box Prototype (Blue)Bliss-Box Prototype (Blue)I came across this unusual homebrew offering and thought it interesting enough to share. For anywhere from $35 - $150, this gentleman will create a USB device that interfaces with from one console or computer port ($35), all the way up to 12+ ($150) console or computer ports. Bottom line, that means you can use just about any controller from just about any system (Atari 2600, Mattel Intellivision, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, 3DO, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, etc.) with your favorite HID-compliant PC emulator, creating more of that "real feel" experience that we're always after. The pricing is actually reasonable for a hand-made product like this, but he even offers up the plans for free so you can build your own. Check it out here. While there have been other solutions like this is in the past - some that provide a breakout box like this and others that modify the controller itself - this is the most expansive such attempt to date.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Interviewed on The Static Hour with Don Kurtz!

I just finished my live appearance on Don Kurtz's The Static Hour. Give the replay a listen. On his show, we talk about all sorts of things, including the Jets (they won!), videogames, computers, fitness, and family. Don has previously interviewed all sorts of other people, including porn stars, musicians, and our very own, Matt Barton. It's an honor to be included in such a diverse interview pool...

Matt Barton's picture

Playing Pac-Man with Living Beings

This is a pretty weird but potentially cool experiment: Pac-Mecium. As you can see in the video, the idea is to super-impose a gameboard over a collection of paramecium, who you can move around to play the games. I'm not sure whether this is cool or sick! What's next, one where you shock rats and inject them with drugs? Anyway, check it out below.

Matt Barton's picture

Stencyl - Easily Create Flash-based Web Games

StencylStencylIan Bogost recently pointed me towards an upcoming project called Stencyl, which looks a wonderful tool for anyone like me more interested in game design than programming. It uses some technology from Scratch, but is focused on browser-based Flash games. They also promise to have plenty of free assets available for non-artists and musicians. It looks like a brilliant idea, and one I could use myself as well as with students. I applied for the public beta.

I can't seem to find any information about their pricing structure and what rights you'll have over games you submit to Stencyl, though I haven't dug deeply into the website yet.

Matt Barton's picture

Razer's Motion Controllers and Exclusive Portal 2 Levels

Razer Hydra MotionRazer Hydra MotionI was reading on Gamasutra that Razer, the company famous for its gaming mice and keyboards (and recently in the news for its upcoming Switchblade Mobile PC Gaming PC) has announced that the upcoming Portal 2 game from Valve--pretty much a must play for anyone serious about PC gaming--will feature exclusive levels designed especially for its Hydra Motion Contoller. I must say, I'm really impressed with Razer's lately. They seem to be doing a lot more innovating on the PC platform than anyone else these days. See below for a demo video.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Little Known ColecoVision Game Rediscovered!

The CAT Scheduled Oil Sampling GameThe CAT Scheduled Oil Sampling GameI thought this type of discovery deserved a bit of a higher profile, so here goes. Digital Press forum member, "Seaquest", posted about a game his father found about four years ago. I'll let Seaquest's words describe the finding:
"The Cat S.O.S game (Caterpillar scheduled oil sampling game)along with a colecovision was given to every cat dealership in 1983 to support the S.O.S. program. The customers would play it while waiting in the lobby. The game was made by the company Nuvatec. It was never sold commercially and could only be found exclusively in cat heavy equipment dealerships. My dad (who worked at cat) found that they were about to discard of both the game and the console so he saved it and gave it to me to add to my collection.

The game consists of a bulldozer that rides around and pushes dirt. Each dirt pile represents a "job". To keep from exploding you have to send in oil samples to the cat dealership ,then you will be told if the oil is good or bad. If you fail to do this occasionally your oil will go bad and your bulldozer will explode. To clean the oil you have to go to the cat dealership. The goal of the game is to make the most money from finishing "jobs".

I am pretty sure I have one of the last copys left in existense. If anyone knows anything about the value or has any questions please send me a message. Thanks!"

As you can see in the forum topic - which also contains more images - someone has already taken the charge to get the data off the cartridge and create a ROM of this amazing find!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Is the PC's Reign Ending?

There's an interesting piece by Mercury News Columnist, Troy Wolverton, boldly titled, The PC's reign is ending, where he basically states that this is the beginning of the end of the PC's dominance as our primary computing device. This is the same basic premise as "PC gaming is dying", which we all know is an overblown idea that's been run up the flagpole since the 90's, but, as with that well-worn mantra, I have to agree there's some truth to the concept when it's not taken strictly as a sensationalistic headline. After all, many of us, myself included, have smartphones that perform the majority of functions we used to need powerful desktop or laptop computers for, effectively replacing them in a surprising number of situations.

Luckily, the article is not as superficial as the headline and opening, and does in fact make the point we've made around here time and again, that the reality is a computer by any other name is still a computer. So while it may not be a big gray tower under your desk or a clamshell notebook with a full stroke keyboard in your briefcase, it's really just an evolution of the form factor and more specific functional repurposing (e.g., a smartphone being designed around making calls first, or a videogame console being designed around playing games). The reality is when you factor in things like smartphones and now, tablets, computers are more explosively dominant than ever and will continue on such an upward trajectory until we reach the point of complete saturation and actual disposable computing devices. It's said everything will eventually have a microchip, and really, we're not that far off. I for one welcome our new computing overlords, no matter what shape they take or by what other category we try to place them in.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Second Ever Magnavox Odyssey Homebrew in Development

Odball in actionOdball in actionThe second ever homebrew for 1972's Magnavox Odyssey console, a system we talked about here in one of our bonus chapters from Vintage Games, is now in development from the gentleman who did - appropriately enough - the platform's first ever homebrew, Odball (original AtariAge development forum topic here). This new game is thus far called, "Project Mentis", with preliminary discussion here. It sounds like a clever board game design, able to be played with or without the Magnavox Odyssey, and by either one or two players, which is why he dubbed it the "World's first single player Odyssey game". Though that's steeped in hyperbole, this is undeniably another cool project for a very unusual, but historically significant platform. While you're still in an Odyssey kind of mood, don't forget to check out the popular Chronogaming series we ran to learn more about the original games for the platform from the early 1970's.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Happy New Year from Armchair Arcade! Some thoughts and reflection...

As we enter our ninth calendar year of operations here at Armchair Arcade, I just wanted to take a moment on behalf of the entire team to wish everyone out there a happy, healthy, and successful 2011, and reflect on what has come and what will come around here. A lot has happened since Armchair Arcade's founding in 2003, some bad of course, but most of it very, very good. We released a year and a half worth of original Webzines before moving exclusively to an available-content-right-after-it's-created blog format, which began in October 2004. We've produced four major books to date, with the promise of more on the way. We've been in production on a major feature film documentary since 2009, which we expect to finish and release this year. We've been producing popular Web videos since 2004. And of course we recently entered the podcasting arena with our eclectic Armchair Arcade Radio, which is already onto its sixth episode. Though that's just the tip of the ongoing saga that has been Armchair Arcade, it's something I'm quite proud of and quite thankful to have you along for the ride after so many others have come, gone and even come and gone again (and again).

Anything new you'd like to see us tackle in 2011? Have other ideas? Have some feedback? Let us know in the comments. We always love when you make some noise out there!

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