In this video, we continue our conversation with author David Craddock about his investigation into the early days of game studio Blizzard for his new book, Stay Awhile and Listen. He's joined by Dave Brevik and Max Schaefer, two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. They talk about keeping games accessible, the importance of getting the amount of background story right in Diablo, and whether the creators of these early games have any regrets about them. They also talk about designing The Butcher. (This is video part 2 of 2. The transcript of Part 1 is now available, too, if you care to go back and read it.)
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If you happen to be one of the other five people who own an Atari Jaguar, you've probably played the excellent Tempest 2000. As chance would have it, a few months ago Llamasoft announced they were approached by Sony to write TxK, based "...on the essence of the original T2K. ... . We're not going to overload you with ultra psychedelia, but we will make it fluid and colourful and awesome-looking ... We're going to give you a perfect treat for your eyes, ears and thumbs with a modern extrapolation of one of the best shooters ever made on hardware that's just perfectly suited for it, and in a way that retains the purity of the original design." A couple of weeks ago, a working version of TxK was demoed at Play Expo. Read below to see the video. It really seems to retain the aesthetic of Tempest 2000 enhanced by modern hardware and a full color range, with a touch of Space Giraffe tactics (you can kill enemies at the rim somehow at least).
Many of today's adult video gamers grew up with a gaming industry that was still trying to figure itself out. In the early-to-mid 1990s, most of the gaming genres we're familiar with today were still indistinct, half-formed concepts waiting for that one game necessary to define them. Thus, many players sat up and took notice when a relatively unknown company named Blizzard managed to exemplify not one, but two separate types of game in quick succession. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans put real-time strategy on the map, and Diablo set the standard for action RPGs. The two games immediately elevated Blizzard to the top of the industry, and many gamers wondered how one studio could put out two games like these so quickly. As it turns out, it wasn't one studio; it was a blending of two very different but extremely creative groups who had a passion for making video games. In Stay Awhile and Listen, author David Craddock lays out the history of the two groups, from how they first got into the gaming business to their eventual success launching now-legendary games. Read on for our review of the book.
barlevg writes "A college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spent nine months meticulously remaking Super Mario Bros. based on the latest web standards. His project is open source and the code freely available through Github. The site recently gained widespread media attention, which unfortunately brought it to the attention of Nintendo, which has requested that the site be taken down. In a column on the Washington Post website, tech blogger Timothy Lee makes the case for how this is a prime example of copyrights hindering innovation and why copyright lengths should be shortened. Among his arguments: copyrights hinder innovation by game designers seeking to build upon such games, and shortening copyright would breathe new life into games who have long since passed into obsolescence."
vivIsel writes "Cyan, the company behind Myst, is taking another shot at an game in that vein — this time in a new game universe, with the Unreal 4 engine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they haven't gotten a lot of traction with traditional game publishers, so they are turning to Kickstarter with a $1.1M total ask. The Kickstarter video also has some neat shots of the Cyan headquarters — which looks a bit like one of the buildings on Myst island itself."
The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus, and their success elevated the status of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North to the point that further games are still hotly anticipated more than 15 years later. In an effort to discover and document that part of gaming history, author David L. Craddock conducted extensive interviews with early Blizzard developers. His intent was to investigate how both of the Blizzard studios succeeded at breaking into a saturated and competitive industry, and how their design process influenced both their acclaimed releases and the projects they discarded along the way. He's writing a series of books about the history of Blizzard, titled Stay Awhile and Listen. The first is due out on October 31st, and David has agreed to answer your questions about his investigation into those early games. David will be joined by Blizzard North co-founders David Brevik and Max Schaefer. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
glowend writes "On 24 September 1993, computer users were introduced to Myst. Grantland takes a look at the game's legacy, two decades on. Quoting: 'Twenty years ago, people talked about Myst the same way they talked about The Sopranos during its first season: as one of those rare works that irrevocably changed its medium. It certainly felt like nothing in gaming would or could be the same after it. Yes, Myst went on to sell more than 6 million copies and was declared a game-changer (so to speak), widely credited with launching the era of CD-ROM gaming. It launched an equally critically adored and commercially successful sequel, and eventually four more installments. Fans and critics alike held their breath in anticipation of the tidal wave of exploratory, open-ended gaming that was supposed to follow, waiting to be drowned in a sea of new worlds. And then, nothing.' Why didn't Myst have a larger impact?"
Seemingly to inflict more suffering upon himself, Matthew Garrett (lord of getting things to boot using EFI) decided that booting directly into Zork would be cool. Quoting his weblog entry: "So, Frotz seemed like the natural choice when this happened. But despite having a set of functionality that makes it look much more like an OS than a boot environment, UEFI doesn't actually expose a standard C library. The EFI Application Development Kit solves this particular design decision. Porting Frotz ended up involving far more fixing up of Frotz bugs that tripped up -Werror than anything else. One note, though - make sure you include DevShell in the list of required packages at build time, otherwise file i/o will mysteriously fail." Grab the code, assuming you have a copy of Zork (or any other Z-machine game, as long as you name it ZORK1.DAT, I think).
theodp writes "Before there was Pong, there was Ping-Pong. Table tennis began in 19th-century Victorian England as a parlor game for the upper-middle class, with cigar box lids used as paddles. Today, as BusinessInsider half-joked, federal law requires all tech startups to have a functional ping pong table. Photographer Alec Soth discusses his love of the game in a NY Times interview and shares some vintage photos of the sport from his new limited-edition book Ping Pong. So, why do people — especially lots of computer programmers — get obsessed with Ping-Pong? Table tennis is 'a way to do a physical sport that has actual athletic qualities but is kind of contained,' explains Soth. 'There's a real mental element to it. It's not chess, but your brain is engaged. It's a break from neuroses.'" As workplace stress relief games go, a ping-pong table is also a lot easier to carry than an air hockey set-up or a bowling alley.
An anonymous reader writes "While the Wii U struggles, Nintendo's been raiding the archives and resurrecting some of its lesser known stars from yesteryear, including Chibi Robo, Steel Diver, and yes, Mario's oft-ignored brother himself — the company is going so far as to call 2013 the "year of Luigi". But as an article published today points out, there are still many more forgotten heroes in Nintendo's IP back catalogue. Series like Excitebike, Waveracer and 1080 used to be trusted to launch a new console, while NES classics like Ice Climber have all but been forgotten, alongside some of GameFreal's lesser known creations. Will they be enough to save Nintendo this generation?"
New submitter DeathToBill writes "EA is in the midst of another user backlash, the BBC reports. After EA took over operation of the online Scrabble brand, it introduced a 'new and improved' version. Improvements include requiring manual refreshes to see other players' turns, irretrievably wiping players' game history and a switch to the Collins dictionary (rather than the traditional Chambers edition) that has proved deeply unpopular with Scrabble fanatics. "EA was unavailable for comment.""
Feast Huggston writes "Indie Dev Darkseas Games has released an early gameplay trailer (video) of Road Redemption, a modern reimagining of the Sega Genesis (and later 3DO/N64/PSX/PC) motorcycle combat-racing classic Road Rash. The project has been in development since early 2012 and utilizes the Unity 4 engine. It is currently slated for release on PC, Mac, and Linux in 2014, with a stretch goal of eventually reaching the major game consoles. So far, it has raised over $24,000 of its $160,000 pledge goal on Kickstarter. While Road Rash creator Dan Geisler recently stated that he was interested in making another Road Rash, he is apparently not directly involved in this project, although he has given it his blessing. I grew up playing the heck out of this on Genesis and PC and it already appears that for many, a rebirth of this franchise was long overdue."
jones_supa writes "Many Slashdotters are probably aware of the 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System platformer classic DuckTales (video, designed around the Disney cartoon series. Capcom announced today at their PAX East panel that they are resurrecting the beloved game. Developed by Wayforward and Capcom, DuckTales: Remastered is something of a remake based on the original version. The embedded video shows some solid back-to-basics platformer action. The game will be out this summer for Xbox Live, PSN, and Wii U."
Jon Brodkin writes "Pity poor Mega Man. The little blue robot boy with a gun for a hand was one of the most popular heroes in the Nintendo Entertainment System's heyday, starring in a video game series almost every bit as good as The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The original Mega Man series resulted in some great games for the original NES and the Super Nintendo. But then he dropped (swiftly) from the face of the Earth. Attempts to bring Mega Man into the 3D world resulted in games not nearly as fun as their predecessors. Most recently, the planned Mega Man Legends 3 for Nintendo 3DS managed to generate a bit of fan excitement, but the project was canceled in July 2011. Gamers moved on — some grudgingly. Fans have clamored for Capcom to revive Mega Man for years, and it's happened to some extent. Mega Man 9 and 10 came out in 2008 and 2010, respectively, continuing the original series with the same graphical and gameplay style perfected in the 1980s. And Monday, something perhaps even more exciting occurred for Mega Man's 25th anniversary: the release of Street Fighter X Mega Man, a celebration of two excellent game series that have lost their luster in the HD age." Read on for the rest of Jon's review.
antdude writes "Pumpktris is a fully playable version of Tetris built into a pumpkin, with 128 Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for the display and the stem serving as a game controller."
YokimaSun writes "Fans of classic graphical point-and-click adventure games, will be happy to learn that a new version of ScummVM has been released with support for new games such as 'Once Upon A Time: Little Red Riding Hood,' 'Backyard Baseball 2003,' 'Blue Force,' 'Darby the Dragon,' 'Dreamweb,' 'Geisha,' 'Gregory and the Hot Air Balloon,' 'Magic Tales: Liam Finds a Story,' and more. ScummVM not only supports Windows, Linux and new platforms such as iPhone and Android but also consoles such as Dreamcast, Gamecube and Nintendo 64 and rarer handhelds such as Openpandora and Dingoo."
the_newsbeagle writes "The annual computer poker competition has just wrapped up, in which artificial intelligences battled each other over the (virtual) Texas Hold 'Em table. A researcher who worked on one of the top programs, the University of Alberta's "Hyperborean" program, has blogged about this year's competition and entrants for IEEE Spectrum. His first post explains the rules of the game and why it's tougher for a computer to win at poker than at chess; his second post describes Hyperborean's strategies, and the third gives the results and takes stock of Hyperborean's performance."
theodp writes "In 1999, TIME's cover warned readers to Beware of Pokemon ('For many kids it's now an addiction: cards, video games, toys, a new movie. Is it bad for them?'). But Pokemon wasn't as easily felled as Lehman or Bear Stearns. Thirteen years later, 16-year-old Manoj Sunny has his eye on a Pokemon world title, having earned the chance to travel to The Big Island with 35 fellow Americans for the 2012 Pokemon Video Game World Championships, which will be held Aug. 10-12. Sunny, who also captains his school's chess team, credits his success to a good memory, intuition, daily practice, the use of an online simulator, and a competitive attitude ('I hate losing. Once I lost, I needed to get better.')"
An anonymous reader writes "Stainless Games has been fundraising for Carmageddon: Reincarnation, a modern day remake of the classic Carmageddon racing games, on Kickstarter for weeks. Stainless said that if they hit $600,000 in pledges before time runs out, they would commit themselves to creating a Linux port of the game, as well as a MacOS port. Today they made it official: the fundraising has come so close to netting $600K overall, with a few more hours left to go, that they are officially committing themselves to creating a Linux port of the new game. PC gamers will get to play Carmageddon 4 first, with a February 2013 release date. The MacOS & Linux versions will follow the PC version later in 2013."