COLD FIRE, which burns on the MARSH WASTE, can DESTROY the LANDWERES
December 30, 2017 3:59 PM   Subscribe

 
hbomberguy's videos are great. His Dark Souls and Bloodborne videos are fantastic.
posted by dazed_one at 4:22 PM on December 30, 2017 [5 favorites]


A more accurate video would cost 50¢ to watch and then end abruptly before you had any idea what was going on.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:39 PM on December 30, 2017 [46 favorites]


Long video describing the history and legacy of the other creator of Dragons Lair, Rick Dyer, and his ultimately failed attempt to bring a laser disk based home console to market. Loving celebration of an also ran, an ambitious, weird failure, and how video game history is written by the winners.
posted by gregglind at 5:13 PM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


I live near Frisco, TX and have never been to the video game history museum he mentions in the video. Guess I’ll be planning a trip now! (Ironically I don’t live in England but have visited Stonehenge. Thanks Geoffrey!)
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:51 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


This, like all of Hbomberguy's videos, is excellent.
posted by AlSweigart at 6:48 PM on December 30, 2017


This guy does make great videos and I am enjoying this one (I remember Dragon's Lair from the 80s and have the antipathy towards it that many people my age who spent far too much allowance money on watching death animations over and over), but I can't seem to convince myself that I haven't stumbled upon the secret YouTube channel of Elton Pope.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:48 PM on December 30, 2017


ten minutes in and I love this more than I have ever loved anything
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:20 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


That little toilet paper cash register game system is just ... I don't even know. It still seems so improbable that Dragon's Lair ever got made, but 1979-1983 was the insanest time for arcade games.

/beat Dragon's Lair and I think Space Ace too
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:35 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can remember when Dragon's Lair showed up; I had just turned 14 and it was amazing to see that first time. He's entirely correct about how the animation stood out, and he's also right about the boring gameplay.

Even as beautiful as it was, even as a fourteen year old with quarters in my pocket, I think I played it maybe twice. The gameplay was just so horrendously awful. I still remember the frustration of trying to get the character on the screen to correspond with joystick movements, and good freakin' luck figuring out when the hell you were supposed to attack. Nothing seemed to connect when it should, and I had far better things to spend quarters on than that overpriced, even if lovely, game. 50 cents a pop was expensive at 14.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 8:46 PM on December 30, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I quickly learned that Dragon's Lair and Space Ace weren't for me and my limited quarters. Man, that game frustrated me so much, and I learned much later I hated timed/memory reaction games like it, including Dance Dance Revolution and others, where you didn't really have any real control of how to play.

I did, however, quickly learn to gather around and watch with dozens of other kids when someone who could run the game was on, because that was the only way most kids were going to see it all the way through.

I played a lot of MACH 3 whenever I could find the big screen sitdown version, but those were often as much as 1-2 bucks, even that had pretty limited replay value.

Then there was the king of the quarter eaters, the Sega R360 3-axis pseudo-simulator running (blech) Afterburner II. If it was running at all. I remember paying something like 5-8 bucks for that, and the only place I ever saw one running was at the California Disneyland Starcade in Tomorrowland. And then you had to pay to get in to Disneyland to even look at the thing.

And when you get down to it, the only real goal of coinop Afterburner II in the R360 or other motion sim coinop is to do as many sick barrel rolls as you can and try not to die. I always wished Sega just did away with the stupid Space Harrier style 2 dimensional air combat SHMUP and put in even a basic flight sim with a time or fuel limit instead. Hell, super nintendo's pilot wings would have been fine.

Anyway, if you happened to be one of those kids who had a season pass or knew how to, theoretically, sneak in to Disneyland - spending a few hours or all day in the arcade was less of a big deal. And for something like 20-30 years, that arcade in Tomorrowland was definitely one of the best on the West coast, and they had all kinds of rarer older titles along with newer cutting edge ones, and they had plenty of space and competent technicians to keep things working. They also had the fastest air hockey tables I've ever seen. They must have put out brand new pucks every day.
posted by loquacious at 9:26 PM on December 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


I played Thayer's Quest in the arcades.

(Still working through the video, but is there a mention of Bega's Battle?)

Also, as per the recent discussion of some of the products of the SomethingAwful forums, my, erm, Good, uhhhhh, friend tells me hbomberguy is a Goon.
posted by Samizdata at 10:34 PM on December 30, 2017


> Samizdata:
"I played Thayer's Quest in the arcades.

(Still working through the video, but is there a mention of Bega's Battle ?)

Also, as per the recent discussion of some of the products of the SomethingAwful forums, my, erm, Good, uhhhhh, friend tells me hbomberguy is a Goon."


Goon friend, even.
posted by Samizdata at 10:44 PM on December 30, 2017


I'm not as much a fan as Our Narrator's style. Besides starting out talking about Stonehenge for no reason at all except to waste out time and say "it's just a bunch of rocks," he then proceeds to badmouth both Mappy and Mario Bros., two actual classic games, because Dragon's Lair looks much better. When he gets around to conceding that those other games may have something more to them than Dragon's Lair's simple call-and-response and memorization gameplay, he doesn't seem to recognize what.

Well, I'll tell you what. It's strategy. It's in simulating systems rather than giving the players arbitrary stimuli to respond to. Systems that can be predicted by the player, that can be taken advantage of by him, that interact both with his actions and each other to produce greater systems that cannot be easily predicted or manipulated, but that the player can develop heuristics to overcome, through observation, practice and patience.

Strategy I see as being the middle of a continuum, from straight reaction times on one end, to turn-based tactics on the other. On the Dragon's Lair end, there's nothing to the game except dancing to the machine's tune in real time. (It's also the Dance Dance Revolution end.) On the tactics end, you have unlimited time and information, and are able to look at the game situation and, on a case-by-case basis, optimize every action you perform.

Both have their good points, but in the middle you have cases where you have to act without perfect knowledge, where you can and will make mistakes, but try to minimize them based upon what you've learned about how the game goes. Finding safe spots, grouping enemies, exploiting enemy patterns, inventing and utilizing rules-of-thumb and maximizing resources. In these ways, Mappy and Mario Bros. are miles ahead of Dragon's Lair.

As a thought experiment: Is it possible to make a laserdisc game like that? That can use the playing of video clips in service of a game with some depth to it? I think it is. If you greatly relaxed the real-time element, gave Dirk an inventory (maybe animating multiple versions of scenes based on his state), let him hang out in rooms and gather information towards what to do to complete the scenario, it might work. That doesn't sound all that different, really, from an adventure game.
posted by JHarris at 11:54 PM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


I found his voice and most of his "jokes" annoying too, but I didn't think he was dumping on Mario Bros at all except to point out how primitive and abstract the graphics were so that people could appreciate what a drastic, dramatic difference it was to see Dragon Age hit the arcades.
posted by straight at 12:42 AM on December 31, 2017


> JHarris:
"I'm not as much a fan as Our Narrator's style. Besides starting out talking about Stonehenge for no reason at all except to waste out time and say "it's just a bunch of rocks," he then proceeds to badmouth both Mappy and Mario Bros., two actual classic games, because Dragon's Lair looks much better. When he gets around to conceding that those other games may have something more to them than Dragon's Lair's simple call-and-response and memorization gameplay, he doesn't seem to recognize what.

Well, I'll tell you what. It's strategy. It's in simulating systems rather than giving the players arbitrary stimuli to respond to. Systems that can be predicted by the player, that can be taken advantage of by him, that interact both with his actions and each other to produce greater systems that cannot be easily predicted or manipulated, but that the player can develop heuristics to overcome, through observation, practice and patience.

Strategy I see as being the middle of a continuum, from straight reaction times on one end, to turn-based tactics on the other. On the Dragon's Lair end, there's nothing to the game except dancing to the machine's tune in real time. (It's also the Dance Dance Revolution end.) On the tactics end, you have unlimited time and information, and are able to look at the game situation and, on a case-by-case basis, optimize every action you perform.

Both have their good points, but in the middle you have cases where you have to act without perfect knowledge, where you can and will make mistakes, but try to minimize them based upon what you've learned about how the game goes. Finding safe spots, grouping enemies, exploiting enemy patterns, inventing and utilizing rules-of-thumb and maximizing resources. In these ways, Mappy and Mario Bros. are miles ahead of Dragon's Lair.

As a thought experiment: Is it possible to make a laserdisc game like that? That can use the playing of video clips in service of a game with some depth to it? I think it is. If you greatly relaxed the real-time element, gave Dirk an inventory (maybe animating multiple versions of scenes based on his state), let him hang out in rooms and gather information towards what to do to complete the scenario, it might work. That doesn't sound all that different, really, from an adventure game."


I am sure you can. But, with consoles/PCs, you need to remember getting the players to crank through quarters is no longer an issue. (Yeah, go ahead, start arguing about microtransactions/DLC and get it out of your system.)
posted by Samizdata at 3:14 AM on December 31, 2017


Well, there's multiple problems with what I suggest, here is a non-exhaustive list:
1. We're talking about game hardware from 1984. The hypothetical laserdisc-saving game I talk about would have to ride atop all the laserdisc controlling bits. A call-and-response reflex game you can do; something requiring greater state and memory would be harder. It wouldn't be *impossible*, some great games had been made up to 1984, but--
2. We're talking about a type of design that didn't exist at the time. Graphic adventure games in 1984 were rare and primitive. The original King's Quest came out in 1983. Asking for further technical development besides marrying laserdisc movies to a game is probably asking too much of a designer of that era.
3. And of course, as you note, we're talking of a game type that's never been made to work in an arcade setting as far as I know. I don't think it's impossible, but notably, nearly any story-driven game at that time would be vulnerable to one of Dragon's Lair's greatest flaws: once you've seen the whole game there's little incentive to play it again, and you can watch it played through just as easily by seeing someone else do it, paying his fifty cents. This is not an insurmountable problem, I think, but it is a problem, and a significant one.

Of course, I remember now, the market has already played through this discussion once before! This is just another version of the FMV fad from the advent of CD-ROM technology. The PC and console industries already did this with Night Trap, Sewer Shark, Myst, 7th Guest and a variety of other games that were popular for a while, but ultimately would have gone the way they did then as technology advanced, although in 1984 they'd have been a revelation for a bit longer.
posted by JHarris at 4:06 AM on December 31, 2017


That little toilet paper cash register game system is just ... I don't even know. It still seems so improbable that Dragon's Lair ever got made, but 1979-1983 was the insanest time for arcade games.

The "toilet paper" version reminded me of an earlier quarter eater called Desert Fox. I remember it well because one of them sat parked just inside the front door of the Woolworth's in my home town for years. In Desert Fox there was either a film loop or a series of scrolling slides projected onto a matte glass screen and they somehow had a way of determining whether you fired in the right place when a target went by.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:19 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


JHarris, he does eventually return to the Stonehenge thing, much later in the video. It also eventually becomes clear that he completely recognizes that the gameplay of Dragon's Lair is hot garbage; he cites shallow gameplay, frustrating deaths, and lack of replayability, among other flaws; the positive spin on it at the beginning is more of a rhetorical technique to help younger viewers understand the visceral impact Dragon's Lair had on people when it landed in arcades.

No, he never gets around to a deep analysis of why Dragon's Lair is bad and Mario Bros. is good, but I don't think this is because he doesn't understand that. I think it's just because that discussion is outside the scope of the video. A thorough answer to that question could easily fill a video, or series of videos, on its own. But by the end of this forty-minute video, it's become clear that the creator actually has a really keen point to make that is much more about people than video games. This video is not even really about Dragon's Lair. He spends much more time talking about Rick Dyer (the non-Bluth person behind DL) and his failed attempt to break into the home market with a doomed but ahead-of-its-time system called the Halcyon.

Seriously, I get the impression that maybe you gave up on this video too early; I think all the detail about the Halcyon, its crazy ambitious futuristic feature set, the financial boondoggle it became, its ambitious and deeply flawed flagship game "Thayer's Quest" and that game's various reincarnations for other platforms including PCs and DVD players (!) -- really, I think there's a lot in this video you'd seriously like.

A critical analysis of what, precisely, is wrong with Dragon's Lair could be really interesting, but that's just not the object here. This thing is doing something else, and I promise it's also something good and interesting and worth giving a chance.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 6:29 AM on December 31, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yeah, you see, his style completely lost me before I got to some of that. Maybe I'm just an old fogey these days. But then I already knew all about Dragon's Lair, so maybe I'm not the target audience. 40 minutes is a lot of investment for something that starts out wasting time.

I don't know. I might try again later. Have work to do. Thanks for the information.
posted by JHarris at 7:31 AM on December 31, 2017


Dragon's Lair was a revelation when it came out and remains captivating if only for its visuals, which are amazing. Remember also that, apart from the opening and ending sequence, the castle chambers were presented in a mostly random order. Yeah, it was a flawed game, but we're still talking about it, unlike Mappy, which I had never heard of. And I spent a ton of time in arcades in the 80's.

I can see how the narrator's style can be grating - he clearly thinks he's hi-larious - but the structure of the video turns out to be pretty slick and surprisingly free of meaningless info.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:51 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


I seem to also remember another laserdisc game whose attract mode depicted a noose and maybe also a swinging pair of legs. I thought maybe it was Cliff Hanger but can't find anything on YouTube that matches the memory. Or maybe I was so FREAKED OUT at the time by laserdisc games that I constructed false memories.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:39 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


unlike Mappy, which I had never heard of.

You just were in the wrong arcades, Mappy's not an A-tier Namco property but it's solidly B-tier, along with the likes of Skykid and Rolling Thunder. At the very least, the music is terrific. I even saw it played on Starcade a couple of times.

Enemy cat character "Goro the Big Bit" from Mappy is kind of an unofficial mascot for Namco in some of their games; his Japanese name is, wonderfully, "Nyamco." Anyway, Mappy's greatest flaw is arguably being released right in the middle of the crash. The original Mario Bros. would probably be similarly forgotten if it weren't the direct inspiration for one of the greatest console games of all time.
posted by JHarris at 8:41 AM on December 31, 2017


Well, the arcades I frequented had a Bega's Battle machine. The melting face in that intro freaks me out to this day.

@RobotVoodooPower - the noose death is indeed Cliffhanger.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:58 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if any laserdisc arcade game could have been much more than Dragon's Lair, just from the economics of such an expensive cabinet. It needed to mercilessly eat quarters to make sense.
The Rick Dyer/Halcyon angle was interesting. It's too bad he didn't get an interview... it'd be interesting to know what happened.
posted by netowl at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2017


I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, although I think his thesis is totally incoherent.

I HATED these games when I was a kid, and my preference for satisfactory mechanics and input feedback has continued to the present day.

Anyone remember those fucking terrible hologram games? I think there was a cowboy?
posted by selfnoise at 9:57 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


Aha, I was thinking of Time Traveler, and would you look at that, it's designed by Rick Dyer. Not mentioned in this video at all unless I missed it.
posted by selfnoise at 10:01 AM on December 31, 2017


Thanks grumpybear, that was a pretty creepy scene -- I really thought it was part of the attract mode since I don't remember anyone playing the machine. I may have tried it once.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:35 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


I feel like I watched a different video than a lot of you. It wasn't really about the game, or even nostalgia.

The opening bit about Stonehenge eventually becomes a callback to the idea of anonymous builders creating an icon, and most of the video is about Rick Dyer, who is largely anonymous, and built what is unarguably an iconic game (even if it wasn't any good as a game).

I found it really interesting, and appreciated his sympathetic view of Dyer's dream and ambition instead of just turning it into a mocking take on some hubristic fool who created a crap game.
posted by Ickster at 11:36 AM on December 31, 2017 [8 favorites]


Ickster, I watched that same video! His praise for this forgotten man and what he was able to accomplish (and nearly accomplish) with the technology of the time... Dyer deserves to be better remembered. Voice activated computer games, in the mid 80s? That's... like basically impossible. BUT IT HAPPENED. Just not at consumer prices.

I think the video is full of really great and interesting information about this slice of computer and gaming history. And while I haven't watched any of it, talking about it right here makes me think of the Halt And Catch Fire post, about a TV series about the founding years of computer development. Only this story would never be told there.
posted by hippybear at 12:08 PM on December 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, include me on the list of those traumatized by Bega’s Battle. There you are, just minding your own business, going to get your Q*Bert on, and all of a sudden WHAT THE HELL MAN
posted by MrBadExample at 1:04 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


> selfnoise:
"Aha, I was thinking of Time Traveler, and would you look at that, it's designed by Rick Dyer. Not mentioned in this video at all unless I missed it."

Wow. I remember playing that one too. (YoungSamiz was the kind of kid that wore proudly wore a sweatshirt with the Space Fury iron on on it he won from the local Sega arcade for getting the monthly high score.)
posted by Samizdata at 2:14 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, although I think his thesis is totally incoherent.

His thesis is that we easily forget the effect even our failures can have on the future, and that remembering and honoring people who fail might help us to create more interesting things that succeed.

I think his style reads differently if you've seen his videos with more obvious self-parody in them (spoiler: most of his humor is self-deprecating) like his anti-PUA video. His video game videos tend to have that toned down somewhat, which I think makes it harder to read his exaggerations as jokes.

I love his "X is garbage" videos, though (most humorous digression ever - a chunk of his 'Sherlock is garbage' video is about a virtually unknown tv show called Jeckle), and his Plagiarism video actually manages to be vaguely short if it's the length that bugs you, led me to an awesome channel on voice acting/sound/etc... called SoulBrothaNumbah3, and includes a reference to what makes him laugh which I found interesting.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:52 PM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


> Deoridhe:
"I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, although I think his thesis is totally incoherent.

His thesis is that we easily forget the effect even our failures can have on the future, and that remembering and honoring people who fail might help us to create more interesting things that succeed.

I think his style reads differently if you've seen his videos with more obvious self-parody in them (spoiler: most of his humor is self-deprecating) like his anti-PUA video. His video game videos tend to have that toned down somewhat, which I think makes it harder to read his exaggerations as jokes.

I love his "X is garbage" videos, though (most humorous digression ever - a chunk of his 'Sherlock is garbage' video is about a virtually unknown tv show called Jeckle), and his Plagiarism video actually manages to be vaguely short if it's the length that bugs you, led me to an awesome channel on voice acting/sound/etc... called SoulBrothaNumbah3, and includes a reference to what makes him laugh which I found interesting."


Holy shitsnacks! I have seen Jekyll TOO! It was amazing. The lead actor pulls an incredibly good pre-Tatiana Masley off with just attitude, intonation, and body language. (Yes, it is a version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but modern day and with ZERO makeup.)
posted by Samizdata at 1:01 AM on January 1


I've seen Jeckyll too, and, like hbomberguy, hated it (I hate Steven Moffat and all of his works, though, so no surprises there). It's not that unknown of a tv show. Moffat is currently, or was until this year, the showrunner of not one but two flagship BBC One shows, so his before-he-was-superfamous show is something people know about. (I loved that Sherlock video. It's so ridiculously long and I watched it while doing tedious shit at work. My hate only makes me stronger.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:22 AM on January 1


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