Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Recycled Game Ideas

Breakthrough technology. Innovative gameplay. Revolutionary features. It seems that every new game claims to incorporate some aspect that players have never seen before. From a marketing standpoint, that’s understandable. We all want value for our money, and what better hook is there than offering a fresh experience? What better enticement is there than a style of game we’ve never seen before?

Wolfenstein 3D and Doom reshaped the gaming market almost overnight by giving players a chance to step into the skin of their character. When Diablo first hit the shelves, one of its biggest selling points was the nearly-unlimited replayability afforded by its randomly-generated maps and quests. And Neverwinter Nights boasts one of the strongest online communities around, due in part to the extremely powerful editing tools that allow users to create adventures every bit as polished as what the game shipped with.

These titles are all examples of truly unique, one-of-a-kind ideas dominating, and changing, the gaming world. Or at least, they would be, if the ideas behind them really were unique. But how many gamers remember titles like Ultima Underworld, Castle of the Winds, Mordor, and Shattered Light?

Read the full article at Vintage Computing and Gaming.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Today in the mail

I received a copy of Doom 3 from Vsafanov, and a copy of The Movies from absolutebtch. Thanks for the great additions, guys!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Old-school copy protection

Nothing seems to make headlines more these days than war and copyright infractions. Whether it has to do with movies, music, or games, “piracy” is now a household word, and media providers are searching for ways to reduce it and make money off of it at the same time. Hollywood’s Broadcast Flag. Sony’s rootkit debacle. Starforce. So much time, effort, and public goodwill has been wasted on the quest to prevent people from copying things.

All right. Did I scare off the casual passers-by yet? Because this isn’t a crusade to rail against the evils of modern copy-protection. No, I just needed a legitimate sounding opening to introduce what I really want to talk about: old-school copy protection. We’re talking “Don’t Copy That Floppy” here, folks — back in the days when men were men and boys had to learn how to handle boot floppies and extended memory.

Continue reading at Vintage Computing and Gaming.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Here's the latest gathering of goodies and the people who supplied them:

From funstufftd comes a copy of the Diablo expansion, Hellfire, which is getting harder and harder to find these days. Atwog made me a great deal on Beyond Divinity, the somewhat-sequel to Divine Divinity. Unfortunately, it will never be installed on any of my PC's, because it uses Starforce copy protection, and I refuse to let that crapware on my systems. It's still nice to have the game to add to my collection, though.

A title I've been looking for for quite some time is Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. Thanks to shoppenqueen, I now have a copy. And from lornagdoon comes a great old strategy title, The Ancient Art of War in the Skies.

Last, but certainly not least, an old ebay favorite of mine, soul2spare, has sent another small collection of titles: Phantasie III -- The Wrath of Nikademus, Alien Rampage, and Ancient Empires. As always, it was a pleasure doing business.

And to add to all of that, my boss left a sack of games sitting on my desk today. Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, its expansion pack P-38 Lightning, Fleet Defender Gold, Cart Racing, LHX Attack Chopper, The Terminator, and Strat-O-Matic Computer Baseball.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Frets on Fire: Thrash Your Keyboard

I was checking out the last few news posts over at MobyGames, and ran across a link to Unreal Voodoo's Frets on Fire game. You've seen those DDR-style Flash games on various websites (like Flash Flash Revolution)? Well, FoF takes the concept one step further.

To start with, you have five notes or frets to worry about (by default, the F1-F5 keys), as well as your pick (the Enter key). You can hold down the frets as long as you want, but when the scrolling note indicators hit the bottom of the screen, you have to hit the pick at the right time -- otherwise you get some nice distorted slop instead of the proper note. The tutorial even recommends picking up your keyboard from the desk and holding it as a guitar, with your left hand wrapping around the upper edge to hit the fret keys, and your right had free to hit the pick. In practice, I found it just as easy to leave it lying on the desk, and with different keyboard sizes and shapes on the market, everybody will have to play around a bit to find the most comforatble position.

As for the tutorial, it's not as clear as it could be. It took me a couple of run-throughs to figure out just what was intended. For instance, holding down the frets is explained, but using the pick is never mentioned. After getting 0% a couple of times, I finally got the idea, but a bit more explanation in the tutorial would be nice.

The overall gameplay is great -- the graphics are simple and uncluttered, the controls are easy to pick up, and the difficulty for each song can be adjusted. More variety in songs would be nice, as FoF in its current form only offers three. There is a song editor utility included, but I would like to see more songs from the developers available for download, and possibly a genre-based sorting system within the game.

Overall, though, it's a great idea combined with great execution, and I'm very interested to see if development continues.

Oh yeah, and it's free. That never hurts.

[edit] You should be able to find some extra downloadable songs over at [/edit]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

And our guest tonight will be...

Me, over at Vintage Computing and Gaming!