Jamin Brophy-Warren wrote various features for the Wall Street Journal until he found a niche. This fall he left WSJ and devoted himself full-time to gaming, drafting insightful analysis of games and the technology propelling them forward . Last week, he authored an interesting piece on free flash games with crummy graphics and no story for Slate's gaming club.
TheSmartAss.info's suite of Java emulators allows smooth, in-browser playback of literally thousands of old-school video games: 517 Atari titles, 148 for DOS, 636 Game Boy games (and 410 for Game Boy Color), 2,019 (!) NES titles, 238 GameGear games, 802 Sega Genesis titles, and 284 for the Sega Master System. Highlights include Space Invaders, Frogger, Galaga, Pitfall!, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, SimCity, Zero Wing, Duke Nukem, Sonic the Hedgehog, Aladdin, Earthworm Jim, Pokemon, and Metal Gear Solid. Use the search function to find your favorites! You can also register an account to save games on emulators that support it. Make sure to check the purple bar below each game for control info and links to alternate emulators in case the default one is buggy or slow.
Although it's commonplace nowadays to assume that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was the primary source of inspiration for Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax when they created the world's first tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons, a careful examination of the game suggests otherwise... James Maliszewski on The Books That Founded D&D. Some disagreement.
The Microsoft Surface was the subject of much ridicule. When Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade had the chance to sit down with one at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, known colloquially as the ETC, they saw potential for the Surface to become an amazing tool for Dungeons and Dragons tabletop gaming. They offered some suggestions to the team, and months later, SurfaceScapes is the result. Video. [more inside]
The Dark Mod, a total conversion for Doom 3 in the spirit of Looking Glass Technology's Thief series, has finally been released after years (and more years) of development and is now available to download.
"...call your custom class 'Loser'." IT-HE Software has posted its latest anti-walkthrough, this time for The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. [more inside]
We've covered web-based game Evony's peculiar advertising previously. Now intrepid gamers are playing/observing the thing, and finding a lack of both freeness and heaving bosoms.
Journey to the Center of the Earth - or DonDon (?) is an excellent exploration-based platformer game with fabulous little pixel graphics and a solid 45 minutes or so of gameplay. Think Diet Spelunky, or La Mulana Lite. A little more info and hints at Indie Games Blog.
Sorry, Windows only (direct link). F4 for fullscreen (but it's better in 1x windowed mode)
Sorry, Windows only (direct link). F4 for fullscreen (but it's better in 1x windowed mode)
This month marks the 25th aniversary of Elite, the groundbreaking 3D space trading game. The making of Elite. More on the making of Elite from The Backroom Boys. Emulate the original BBC Micro version. The Dark Wheel.
To jump straight into it, what made you decide to make a game involving rape? Inspiration was mostly personal, I’ve known a few girls who have been through similar situations, which sparked the concept. As far as the experience, I wanted to inspire emotion in the player, even if its vile and disgusting.Edmund is game designer Paul Greasley's contribution to indie PC gaming web site TIGSource's competition's adult section. Gamers react. [more inside]
OMGpop is potentially all your Flash Fun Fridays come at once. Clones of addictive classic multiplayer games like Bomberman, Pictionary, Tetris, even Mario Kart and Guitar Hero - plus a whole lot more, all wrapped up in an extremely slick interface with an added dash of chat and social networking features. Not yet out of beta, the hype is certainly extensive, but is the business model sound? [more inside]
"The average video gamer is not the stereotypical adolescent locked to a computer screen 24/7."* According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Andrews University: "A new study [PDF] says the average age of video-game players in the United States is 35 [PDF], and oh, by the way: They're overweight and tend to be depressed." [more inside]
The Play-Generated Map and Document Archive: finally providing a place to put all those odd doodles, detailed maps, and character sketches that come out of your weekly gaming sessions. [more inside]
Hulk-Margaret smash stupid Sony. Girls not stupid lilac people. Girls strong and awesome! AAAAARRRRR! Hulk-Marg like gems. Hulk-Marg like gem sweaters (previously). But Hulk-Marg no like pandering only to gem interests. Hulk-Marg well-rounded, has many interests and layers. Hulk-Marg give example: SMASHING. Let Hulk-Marg find PowerPoint and laser pointer. Hulk-Marg has PowerPoint here somewhere. Ahem. Hulk-Marg found PowerPoint. Made slides. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Takeshi no Chōsenjō: it came before the endurance test that is Desert Bus, and served as an inspiration for Janey Thompson's Marathon. In English it is known as Takeshi's Challenge. Released in December 1986 for the Famicom system, the game mechanisms include use of the Famicom microphone to sing karaoke for an hour. And that's after you drink to the point of blacking out, divorce your wife, quit your job, and learn to hang glide AND learn the Hintoba language, amongst other things. All of this takes place in lands populated with nothing but people that want to beat you to death. Of course, you can skip that all and complete the game in a mere 4 minutes by simply walking off the edge of existence, and magically ending at the final treasure room. [more inside]
In 1990, the first BattleTech center opened in Chicago in the US. The centers were based around networked play of the BattleTech (related to the Battletech RPG) and Red Planet combat and racing games via immerse pods. BattleTech enthusiasts have gone so far as to purchase new and decommissioned pods to set up their own centers. Occasionally, pods go on tour.
This summer, do your gaming in the backyard! Kotaku editor Brian Crecente adapts your favorite videogames for play outdoors! Get your friends together for a game of Katamari Stick-With-Me, Super Hopscotch Brothers, Metal Gear Sneak-and-Hide, and more!
Janey Thomson's Marathon Any longtime fan of 80s arcade game Track & Field and fan of old gaming lore around Desert Bus will no doubt fall in love with this new classic game written in the perfect style of early 80s Konami combined with brutally long punishment games. I gave up after a few minutes but damn did I want to keep going and see the finish. [via mefi projects]
The gaming website Eurogamer posted a scathing review of the MMO Darkfall, yet the developers claim that the reviewer only played the game for two hours. Eurogamer refused to take down the review and became hated by the Darkfall community. This lead to what might be the most sublime nerdrage in the history of mankind. To Eurogamer's credit, they commissioned a second review of the game by Kieron Gillen. [more inside]
The New York Times profiles Jack Vance (but fails to mention Vancian Magic. (Curse you Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition!)
The downward spiral that is Evony, a web based multi-player game, advertising. Also: The Best Worst Ads by 1UP and fake in-game ads by Something Awful.
I Went Left Instead Of Right In Pitfall And Kept On Tickin' And Now I Believe In Miracles: An absurdist play.
Wolfenstein 3D, the animated graphic novel.
bonus level is a new flash gaming portal. Games include Captain Dan V Zombie Plan, reminiscent of Berzerk, Push, an unusual platformer that combines level manipulation with quick-reflex timing and jumping, Jump Gear, an acrobatic timed racer and a ton more I haven't even tried yet. What sets bonus level apart from other gaming portals is that it's headed by three great names in game development, Wouter Visser (Wouter), Tõnu Paldra (tonypa) and Jean-Philippe Sarda (JP). Part of their philosophy is allowing anyone who registers to make and share levels for their games, as well as giving budding designers access to the flash APIs used to create all of bonus level's games.
In the wake of the Resident 5 racism flap (previously), and with the final game released, one of it's chief detractors, N'Gai Croal, talks to its producer, Jun Takeuchi (Part 1, Part 2). Meanwhile industry magazine MVC takes a look at Africa as a games market.
No reset button here, kiddo. What happens when you decide to drop a novice into the middle of the 24-hour race in your Nissan 350Z race car...? Gran Turismo game designer Kazunori Yamauchi decided to find out.
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved" .... and mad enough to play fantasy baseball. In the new book Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats, a NY Public Library archivist considers documents revealing the author's detailed obsession with the imaginary exploits of players like Pictorial Review Jackson and teams like the "Pontiacs, Nashes, and cellar-dwelling LaSalles" in his finely grained, fictional Summer League.
Game developers are unconstrained in their designs for the enemy. Such designers will be punished with poor sales, not death in the gulag, if their designs for the overlord are unpopular. They could go anywhere with the homes of evildoers: halls of electric fluorescence, palaces carved from corduroy, suburban back yards. And yet, in spite of this freedom, most videogame designers choose to make a definite connection to familiar – or real-world – architecture ...
At GDC this year, Heather Chaplin to game developers: "You're a bunch of f***ing adolescents." Chaplin, co-author of the book Smartbomb, spoke at the Game Developers Conference during a panel called the Rant Session. [more inside]
Monopoly killer - how The Settlers of Catan redefined board games.
"Since I attacked my opponent in the past and the time waves have not yet propagated the results of this battle to the present, my units are still here in the present" Got that? Meta-Time Strategy Gaming [more inside]
A Life Well Wasted is a new podcast about video games and the people who love them, created by freelance writer Robert Ashley. [more inside]
Want to play a swashbuckling pirate, space opera hero, or monster-fighting Victorian dandy? How about a supervillain fighting against alien invaders? Or a mutant snack cake? Welcome to Savage Worlds. [more inside]
Cinemaware produced games with one goal: a "strong commitment to movie-like quality." A laudable goal, and their tools were measured in bytes rather than megabytes. They made these games in the 80s. This one intro used an entire 880KB floppy disk! A number of Cinemaware's games are available for download as ROMs, and there's even a flash version of Defender of the Crown. Some of the original artists behind the games are still creating art and music. [more inside]
Street Fighter II. It basically created the 2d-beat-em-up, and invented the combo, the special move, a wide roster of diverse, playable characters who people grew to love, and all the other things that gamers have taken for granted for years. It spawned a whole series, none of which ever quite captured the original's charm or had the same influence. This was a game that people obsessed over - bands were named after its special moves, rappers cited it in their lyrics, and even Premier League footballers weren't immune to its charms. Poor Raul Julia's final film was this masterpiece, and a new version's headed straight to DVD very soon. Now, 17 years later, Street Fighter 4 is about to be released in Europe and the nostalgia machine is going into overdrive. The game's producer's been talking about its links to Street Fighter II, reviewers are getting misty-eyed , and even musicians are getting in on the act with Akira the Don making his very own Street Fighter-themed track. Apparently it's pretty good. Hadouken!
The Socially Conscious Gamer is just the most recent example of growing discussions about how gamer culture and problems with silencing and pushing women out, wallowing in racist stereotypes, self-fulfilling cycles of exclusion, and why these conversations are hard, if not impossible to have. Still, if rational discussions can be had about games dealing with slavery, perhaps there is still hope. Personally, I can't wait for escapism to be for all of us, and not about escaping FROM us.
Trump Entertainment is about to run out of the third extension of its debt payments. Station Casinos is offering its investors as little as 10 cents on the dollar in a pre-packaged bankruptcy. Wynn Resorts is cutting staff hours and bonuses to avoid layoffs. MGM Mirage may see a default rate of 30% on its City Center condominiums. Harrah's long-term debt has doubled. There are no more traffic jams on the Strip. Oh... and the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City had to settle a $70 million sexual harassment lawsuit brought by its beverage servers. In short: times are tough.
"For the first time in history a wireless motion-sensing wig is used as game controller." SLYT via Kotaku
Interview with Jon Schindehette, senior art director at Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons. See more fantasy art at his blog, ArtOrder.
Despite the oft-declared death of the Adventure Game, Nintendo's success has raised the genre's mainstream profile and quality to a level unseen since the 90s. The DS in particular has been an ideal platform for AGs, leading to the release of a number of popular Japanese titles in the American market. Professor Layton and the Curious Village is only the most recent to receive praise from western game rags - but it is the most consistently well-reviewed - making many short-lists of the best DS games of 2008. Featuring beautiful illustration, engrossing puzzles, and a charming story, Professor Layton topped Japanese software charts on its release (as did its sequel, Professor Layton and the Devil's Box, still unreleased in the US), though all indications are that its American sales have been underwhelming. [more inside]
Most video games are easy to learn, but hard to master. For those focused on single player, there are always speed runs. However, multiplayer competition can often be much more interesting to perfect. Of course, there are those who make gaming a career with games like Halo and other FPSes. There's Street Fighter II (as well as other editions and variations), which can lead to some incredible matches. There are some very intense StarCraft tournaments, as well as similar tournaments for a variety of other RTSes. Often, games can last so long beyond their shelf lives simply because of the fan base and multiplayer aspect.
Friday Flash Fun: Evacuation is a puzzle game about explosive decompression. Save the crew! Eject the aliens into space by opening the spaceship's doors! The catch: doors of the same color all open together. [more inside]
So you've spent the holidays playing games, but now you have to be back at work. How to get your gaming fix during commutes and lunch-hours, whilst keeping up with that resolution to Learn Something New this year? Well, you could make a Sack-Boy. You can keep your portable games device warm with a Zelda cosy. You can knit up a Pacman scarf or a Space Invaders bag or socks if you're feeling retro. Or you can make a pocket ninja, an invincibility star to get you through the afternoon, a maqgnetic Katamari ball to spring-clean that desk, or a friendly companion cube. (and if you're too cack-handed to knit, you can sew a friendly cube with the pattern here and tutorial here!)