News

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

Interview with Julian Gollop, X-Com Designer

ApocalypseApocalypseEurogamer is running a great interview with Julian Gollop, best known for his work on X-Com (1994), also known as UFO: Enemy Unknown. You may remember my Matt Chat on it a few months back. The interview goes into detail about his past, which includes experience on the BBC Micro. A few revelations are that it did much better on the PlayStation than Gollop expected (he was very skeptical that it would work on a console) and the drama with Microprose over the graphics in Apocalypse.

Man, I bet he'd be a great guest on Matt Chat.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Crytek: "PC 'a generation ahead' of PS3 and 360, but being held back"

Website CVG is reporting that Crytek boss Cevat Yerli has claimed that developers' focus on PS3 and 360 is holding back game quality on PC--a format he believes is already "a generation ahead" of modern day consoles. I say, "too bad, Yerli, it's good for us gamers!". I've been pining for a reasonably stable PC spec to stop the technological arms race since the days of the 486 PC, but it's never happened. Ever since more recent times when the PC has had to take a back seat in software sales to consoles, it's been the console hardware that's been dictating what kind of big budget software has appeared on PC's (outside of a few high profile exceptions from the likes of companies like Blizzard). Why do I consider such a scenario a win? Simply because we NEED periods of 5+ years or so of stability in order for software developers to catch up to the hardware and start to butt up against the limits of what is possible. If the hardware remains a moving target, then there's less chance for normal coding challenges to be minimized, which leads to more opportunities for innovation since more focus can be placed on design rather than wrestling with the technology. With budgets already in the millions of dollars and team sizes in the hundreds, access to more power is obviously not the answer to the call for better games. Despite what some would like us to believe, there is no noticeable (i.e., real world, not benchmarks) technological divide between high end PC's and the PS3 or Xbox 360 outputting 1080p. Modest platforms like the iPhone and Nintendo DS have already long since proven that it's not necessarily power that succeeds, it's clever design. With that said, no matter what side of the debate you're on, I'd think it's hard to argue with how pleasant the idea is that the hardware we have in our possession now should be able to play the latest games for at least a few more years before requiring an upgrade, right?

Bill Loguidice's picture

Hear No Evil - The Current State of Speech Recognition

There is a great article by Robert Fortner on the once promising field of computer speech recognition, cheekily titled, "Rest in Peas: The Unrecognized Death of Speech Recognition". This is something that I think many of us with an interest in technology have thought about one time or another. While we've had many half starts on the personal computing end of the equation since the early 1980's, it's never taken off the way we all hoped, particularly now in late 2010. Even the original Star Trek series from the 1960's famously made it seem like computer generated speech would be a more difficult task than understanding speech. How wrong they were! Interestingly, I had recently experimented with Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is mentioned in the article, and it certainly let me down. You see, we had interviewed quite a few game developers for our upcoming feature film documentary and had about 15 hours of raw interview footage. Since these interviews were conducted with professional audio/video equipment, I thought I'd be clever and use the software to transcribe them for me, even if it meant some clean up on my part. Naturally, I ran into the very real problem of "training". Without being able to train the software in the interviewee's voice, Dragon Naturally Speaking was hopelessly lost in trying to figure out the majority of what was said, making any type of automated transcription useless. In any case, enough about that, check out the article and wonder along with me if the excellent speech recognition in Microsoft's Kinect implementation on the Xbox 360 - which requires no training whatsoever - will ever do more than understand single words and simple sayings. Certainly there have been interesting attempts even in the recent past, albeit some sloppy ones.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Our Classic CRPG Dreams are Answered with an All New Epic Game for the Commodore 64!

Newcomer (C-64) collageNewcomer (C-64) collageThanks 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!):

Matt Barton's picture

Happy 25th Birthday, Windows. Who wants to spank them?

There's a nice story up at Gizmodo today about the birthday of Windows 1.0, the crummy Mac OS knock-off that eventually became the Windows that we all know and loathe today. There's some fun factoids in the article, such as Microsoft originally wanted to call it "Interface Manager" instead of Windows. Bet that would have gone over well. Naturally, the article doesn't bother to mention the Amiga or Atari ST GUIs, which were far better than Windows 1.0. Nevertheless, while Apple, Commodore, and Atari were rolling on the floor laughing their fuzzy little tails off, the Microsoft tortoise was slowly but steadily waddling past them towards the finish line. Doesn't that make you hurt inside?

Matt Barton's picture

Are You Ready for the Armchair Arcade Gaming Academy?

You may have heard on the back channels about a big project in the works: The Armchair Arcade Gaming Academy! If you're savvy to the ways of gaming lore and would like to seriously study, discuss, and analyze games with us, start getting your application materials ready. Classes are open to all serious students of gaming regardless of their educational and professional background. All we want are people with the same passion for The Greatest Games of All Time.

Chip Hageman's picture

The Games Factory 2 (NewGrounds.com Edition) Free!

Clickteam and NewGrounds partner to provide a free version of The Games Factory 2. The free version will only export .SWF files for play on NewGrounds but it's still a good (read: free) way to learn the game creation platform... _and_ it can be upgraded to the registered version which allows for the creation of a full distribution version of the game.

No doubt, they are giving you a free tool to basically benefit them.. but if you were on the fence about buying TGF2 then this is still a good way to try before you buy.

Matt Barton's picture

Editing the Dead -- Choose Your Own Adventure YouTube Game

Wow! I just saw this on Gamesetwatch and had to share. Some clever folks have remixed the original George Romero zombie classic into a playable YouTube "choose your own adventure" style game. It's really creative and fun to boot. It's a good thing the movie is in the public domain! Be sure to check it out.

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