8bitrocket.com
24Apr/090

8bitrocket Still Tweeting…

OK, we are still Tweeting...




23Apr/090

Game Programming Tutorials: What Would You Like To See?

Hey all you 8bit Rocketeers out there!

Jeff and I have been culling through our email and web traffic info over the past few days in a quest to figure out what type of content to fill this site with.

What we discoverd was this:

People love tutorials.

So, that is the plan.  Along with new games, we plan to write shorter tutorials that focus on or more aspects of game development/game design in Flash/Flex/Silverlight.

So, here is a question for you:

What would you like to see?

Are there any retro-remakes you'd like to see a tutorial for?  

Are there any game styles you would would like to see explored?

Now, we probably won't be giving full source for games, but we will give enough so that any experienced and/or serious developer could use the code to make some cool stuff.

So, again, tell us what you'd like to see.  I'm not saying we will do it,  but we are open for suggestions

20Apr/090

8bitrocket On Twitter: 4/20/2009

OK, we have finally entered 2008!  8bitrocket now has a Twitter account. You can follow our useless updates here:

http://twitter.com/8bitrocket

Here are updates in a Twitter Widget:





17Apr/090

Game Magazine Subscriptions Cancelled? Credit/Refund might Be Waiting For You.

Have you lost out on a game magazine subscription (or any other subscription) in the past couple years because the publication has ceased operations?

Well, if you bought the subscription through any kind of "magazine drive" (Girl Scouts, School promotion, door-to-door, etc.) you probably actually bought (unknown to you) it through QSP. (Quality School Plan). 

I have been having trouble with my subscription to PC Gamer, and finally after many emails, PC Gamer customer Service gave me the phone number of QSP. 

QSP took my zip-code and full name, and they were able to see nearly every subscription that I had ordered in the past few years.  Not only that, but two of them (a failed PC Gamer subscription from 2007, and a recent subscription to EGM that halted after they stopped publishing) qualified for a FULL CREDIT.

I ordered a couple different subscriptions (Rolling Stone, Nickelodeon), but the point is, had I *not* called QSP, I would have had no idea that I could get a credit/refund or other magazines from past failed subscriptions.  The publisher sure did not inform me of this when the magazines stopped coming. Anyway,  if you have had a recent  subscription cancelled/falied/ceased publication magazine that have not followed-up on, it might be wise to call them and ask about the status.

Here is the contact info:

QUALITY SCHOOL PLAN
PO BOX 10203

DES MOINES State: IA
50336
800-678-2673

By the way, this call to QSP has still not cleared-up my bizarre missing subscription to PC Gamer from 2008,but I feel a bit better now about other game mag subscriptions (especially EGM)that I have lost in recent time.

17Apr/090

PC Gamer Subscription Chronicles 2: Into The Black Hole

PC Gamer Subscription Chronicles 2: Into The Black Hole

In the first entry of this series, I relayed a mildly amusing story of how PC Gamer has inexplicably lost my new subscription, The event is seemingly suspect as it came directly after I published an article that was mildly critical of their magazine.

If you recall, when we left off, I had written this message to the PC Gamer subscription service:


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Excuse me. but you are mistaken.

My subscription STARTED with the January 2009 issue.
I received just two issues. You still owe me 10 issues.

Please send me the two issues that I missed, plus the next 8 issues.

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


Here was the response:


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.
We are unable to locate your payment.

Please provide any additional information about your payment, so we
may correct your subscription. Due to security reasons, please do
not include credit card or account numbers in your reply. Should you
need to provide that information, please contact us at the address below or call us.

PC Gamer


So, as I expected. since I bought the subscription through a magazine drive and not through PC Gamer directly, they do not have a record of the payment. That is understandable. I decided to give them as much information as I had available in the hope that they could locate something about my mysteriously missing subscription.


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

I purchased the subscription through a magazine drive, either through
Girl's Scouts or at my daughter's school. All payments were made by
check, and it was for a whole set of magazines (not just PC Gamer). I
received a subscription card with a code that I had to type-in on-line
to get the subscription started.

After I typed in the code, I received the January 2009 issue (In
December), and the February 2009 issue (in January) and then the
subscription ceased arriving in my mail box.

I'm not sure what else to say. I've NEVER had a subscription cease 2
issues into a year, and then have the company claim that I never had a
subscription in the first place. Why did I get the first 2 issues of
this year if my subscription ended in December 2008?

If, for some bizarre reason, I only bought a "2-issue" subscription,
why would your system say that I did not renew in December 2008?

One question: Is there any history of school magazine drive companies
not making the payments to you, and you guys stopping subscriptions?

Here is the full # from my first shipping label (if that helps)

#xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


So now I suspect the magazine drive company. They seem to prey on small schools. They have all these 'cool' young adults come in and make a presentation to little kids to make it seem 'cool' to basically become annoying door-to-door solicitors selling stuff that people really could live without want or could easily find if they really wanted it in the first place. I recall both my school age daughters both very excited about the drive and about the crap-tastic prizes they could win ("a free can of green slime dad, if we sell 100 subscriptions!. "). It seemed underhanded at the time, as did the process to claim your subscriptions when they arrived, which involved a certificate that came in the mail several codes that had to be entered via the web. It was almost as if they hoped people forgot to to use it, kind of like a gift card. As well, there was no cancelled check or receipt, and I have lost the original certificates (there seemed to be no reason to save them at the time duh!).

Anyway, Here was what PC Gamer found.


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.

We are unable to locate your order placed through an independent sales agency.

You will need to contact the agency using the information provided to you.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous e-mail correspondence

Sincerely,

xxxxxx (cs rep #1)


So they found nothing.

Was I completely nuts? I bought a subscription, issues arrived in the mail, and then that subscription just disappeared.

However, I was still not willing to let them off the hook. I sent this in response.


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Why did I receive 2 issues of 12 issues subscription if my subscription never existed?!?!?
Was it magic?
Was it a coincidence that I bought a subscription and then for some odd reason issues started to arrive in my mail box, but for some reason OTHER THAN the fact that I bought a subscription?
Where would the account information go?
Does any of this make sense?
Does this happen often?

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


You see, there was NO REASON for me to get any issues of PC Gamer in the mail unless I had purchased a subscription, and likewise, there was NO REASON for that subscription to cease arriving. I had started to see that this was going no where. I was not willing to buy a new subscription. I figured all hope was lost. then I received this in the email.


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.

We have located a subscription for the person whose name and address appears below. Please verify if this is your subscription.

If not, please provide the information exactly as it appears on your address label, including the account number located above your name. Upon receipt, we will process the necessary adjustments.

STEVE FULTON
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous e-mail correspondence.

Sincerely,
(cs rep #2)


My God! They had done it. They found it! My subscription did exist. I was not crazy. There WAS a logical a reason why I was receiving issues of a PC Gamer in the mail, and it had to do with the SUBSCRIPTION I PURCHASED. This was sent by a second customer service rep (they were now naming themselves instead of just putting PC Gamer at the bottom of the message).

In my excitement, I sent this message:


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Yes! That is me.
I am that person.

Will I get any more issues?

-Steve Fulton


A couple days layer, I received this response.


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.

Our records indicate your subscription expired with the December 2008 issue. Would you like us to renew your subscription and send an invoice for the amount due?

The additional issues you are receiving are complimentary. If you prefer, please pass them on to a friend, school, or library.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous e-mail correspondence.

Sincerely,
xxxxx (cs rep #3)


????

A 3rd customer service rep has basically taken this whole thing right back to the beginning.

And what was this about:

The additional issues you are receiving are complimentary. If you prefer, please pass them on to a friend, school, or library.

Huh? What additional issues?  I BOUGHT A #@$! SUBSCRIPTION.  Since this is yet another customer service rep, I get the feeling they keep passing my emails around the office, trying to come up with more and more humorous excuses as to why they lost my subscription!

In a way understand them.  Their job must totally suck, and if they can get some mild enjoyment out of my lost subscription, then a salute them.

However, Instead of actually getting some place, I had entered the PC Gamer subscription black hole. I checked the PC Gamer customer service site, and indeed, my record said that my subscription started November 2007, and ended Dec. 2008. It also said I filed a "Change Of Address" in November 2008. Of course, none of this was accurate at all. It was either fat-fingered (likely), or (unlikely) changed on purpose. Still not ready to give-up, I launched this final query:


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

No!!!

This was the whole point of my original email.
I bought a NEW subscription in November 2008.
I have not had a subscription for a few years prior to November 2008.
I received 2 issues, one in December, one in January.
Then my issues stopped arriving.

The issues WERE NOT complimentary. They were the FIRST issues of my NEW subscription.
There is NO REASON I would have started getting issues again, unless I had a NEW subscription. the subscription I purchased in November 2008.

Again, to summarize, I have not had a subscription to PC Gamer for several years. I bought a new subscription in November 2008. I only received 2 issues. I want the rest of my subscription.

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


No matter, I believe all hope is lost. It is no wonder these types magazines are failing. People who legitimately buy them can't even get them or read them. I've subscribed to magazines my entire life. I've probably had 100+ subscriptions of both large and small publications. In all that time, something like this has only ever happened once: right now. I'm not sure who is at fault, but it doesn't really matter. To me, game magazines are teetering over their edge of their own grave, and they themselves will give the final, necessary nudge to end it all.

14Apr/090

Flash Game Development Inter-web mash up: April 14, 2009

Flash Game Development Inter-web mash up: April 14, 2009

The latest in Blog entries and articles that might interest Flash game developers.

Our Mash-up of all things Flash Indie Game Development is back, but to mix things up, a more DADA, stream of consciousness, not-so-focused, more verbose, and not quite as LINKY version (this time). The old format(s) were cool, but to keep my interest up, I decided to pick fewer entries and add more of my own useless comments. How great for all involved! Richard Davey has been doing his part to take up the slack, so with no further ado (especially not Freddy (Adu), who is stuck behind EVERYONE on the Monaco Bench...) - oh yeah, with more references to Football (Futbol), Atari, and my secret plans to take over the planet in this version. Lucky you. You see, this mash-up started out as fun, and became a JOB! Job's aren't fun, fun is fun. No hard feelings if I left you out this time. Give me a shout out and I'll take a look for next time. It gets more "linky" near the end, but old habits (and popular ones) are hard to break.

PHOTON STORM!!!!
So, Richard has been doing his part to keep the world of indie Flash Game Development informed on the various tidbits and whatnot. Besides launching his outstanding game across multiple platforms, he has his own linky style posts, and has been regurgitating Tweets. Plus, I plan to "borrow" his bitchen idea of really cool particle worm explosions for my new game (in some form or another). To make things difficult though, I am NOT going to use his source code from the 4K comp, but design my own version. Nice work, Rich.

GAMINGYOURWAY!!!!
So, nGfx and Squize have been busy and not updating as much lately (completely understandable). Squize has been working in Unity and has this sweet sweet, loving Plasma effect to show for his efforts.. nGfx has been having trouble loading XML in Flash. Via Twitter, one of them has a new job, nGfx is setting up a German version of their site, and one of them has moved to the Mac side of the building (where the cool kids and the much much hotter girls, though usually damaged in some way, hang out).

ICKYDIME!!!!
Mark G has a nice template that Basement.tv uses to lay out 1024x768 web sites. On a subject that is very interesting to me (TV content on the Web), Mark has a nice post. Certainly with sites like Hulu and Netflix on demand, we are about to see a "sea-change" in how TV content is delivered. Until it was moved to Friday nights, I watched the Sarah Connor Chronicles exclusively on Hulu because the DVR was set to record too many shows on Monday night already. Also, I subscribe to the MLSNET TV connection that gives me 800K streams of most games live and all games after the fact. The ones on ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel are not available for live viewing, but they can be watched a day later at most. I also subscribe to NetFlix on Demand through 360, Mac and Windows. There are also multiple new TVs with direct connections to the Internet for content. Soon, all of our televised entertainment will come via IP, but when will the broadband companies catch wind and start to charge us much more for our connections? Time Warner has already started this in some places.
Also, Mark's blog is now 1 year old!! Nice work, Mark.

URBANSQUALL / GAMEPOETRY!!!
Urbansquall has been cleaning up bugs and getting ready for the launch of three new versions of Battalion: (Arena, , Ghosts and Vengeance). By the way, Battalion is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and a must play. GamePoetry's Making Money with Flash Games in a MUST READ. He says all of the little things I never got around to saying, and this quote describes most of my games perfectly - "Yet Another Developer Fails To Recover Costs on Flash Flop".

MICHAEL JAMES WILLIAMS!!!
I like Michael. He is one of the good guys (as are all of those I list in this mash-up). To play the linky link link link, linky link game, I will link to Michael's link to a great article on the RiverManMedia (Paul) site about managing screens in Java. Why am I linking to Michael's link? Why not? He has created is own version of Paul's code, but applied it to Flash games. Also, commit these Seven Common Flash Game Mistakes to memory (and also try to avoid doing them because just memorizing them will do no good).

FREELANCE FLASHGAMES!!!
Ryan is always a great source of new material, Freelance Flash Games doesn't disappoint this time around. Creating a Distribution Package is a MUST for novice and experienced alike. I find now that the distribution portion is vital, but oh so sad when your games are rejected (a lot!!!). He has interviewed Eric from FGL on the subject of Sequels, Level Packs, and Game Updates. Some very good insight is provided.

EMANUELE!!
The best Italian Geek game developer and blogger we all wish we were, Emanuele has a collection of new content to peruse. My favorites are this Box2D car simulation, The Official Facebook Flash API, and Ryan's Guide to Mochi Self Serve Ads. Plus, until Obama fixes things, you can't use Paypal in Cuba...

FREEACTIONSCRIPT!!
Free .fla files full of goodness such as: Water, Beer, and liquid Bubbles effects; Enemy Behavior - Run Away and Follow the Player; and realistic Water and Wave Effect,

Quick hits: Partner in Crime, Bryson Whiteman has a nice post on the $10K per month controversy and the PANG! like game that started it; Hatu launches Ragdoll Keeper; Flash Perfection has an analysis of FLV editors; ASGamer continues it's Making a Complete Flash Game series with Pre-rolling Sponsor Ads and Your Own Logo; Iain Lobb's hits Tunnel's Push Buttons; Then read Push Button Engine Beta in Jeff Tunnels words; Lost in Actionscript gets lost in JSFL; Retro Shoot, the Mochi Flash Game Friday winner is FOOKING AWESOME!!!!

Off Topic (Footie, Atari, and Taking Over the World): The LA Galaxy need help, but the MLS Referees need more. Too many Terry Talley like Goons in this league; Fulham is rocking the EPL cake and Dempsey's brace was the icing; Atari 7800 Pac-Man Jr. discovered; We Tweet, therefore we are...

As always, visit Flashgameblogs.com for your daily dose...

To add your game, site, blog, etc to my list, please send me an email to: info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com

10Apr/090

PC Gamer Subscription Chronicles #1: Where Are My #$@! Magazines?

Some of you who have been paying close attention may have seen this story from back in December.  Back then I thought it would be fun to do a review of PC Gamer Magazine.  I had just started a new subscription through my daughter's Girl Scout magazine drive. Since it is the last domestic USA computer game magazine left in publication, I figured it might be enjoyable to take a close look at what computer game magazines have become in the 21st century.

Soon after this story was published, my issues of PC Gamer stopped arriving in my mail box.  Since I was only 2 issues into my 12 month subscription, I thought it was kind of odd.  I have still not received any new issues since January.

While I do not seriously think that PC Gamer would halt my subscription because of a silly blog (one that gave them a score of 81%), I have been having a lot of trouble getting PC Gamer to realize that my subscription was halted after only 2 issues.

Anyway, I have decided that it might be fun to document my correspondence with the PC Gamer subscription service, because so far it has been maddening.  I realize that this process could amount to nothing, or it could be pure comedy gold.  We'll have to wait and see which way it goes.

Below are the first 3 messages we have traded:


To:PC Gamer customer Service
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: Missing Issues

Dear PC Gamer,

I have not received the
March 2009 Issue
April 2009 Issue

Please send them to me.

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


Simple and to the point.  Right?  Well, apparently not to PC Gamer.


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.

We have not received a renewal order; therefore, your subscription
expired with the December 2008 issue.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your
future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all
previous e-mail correspondence.

Sincerely,
xxxx


OK, that was bizarre.  I never mentioned a renewal.  I never even mentioned anything about December 2008, because I have not had a subscription to PC Gamer for several years.  In fact, that date seemed to have been pulled from no where.  Odd.

Here is my response:


To: PC Gamer
From:
Steve Fulton

Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Excuse me. but you are mistaken.

My subscription STARTED with the January 2009 issue.
I received just two issues.   You still owe me 10 issues.

Please send me the two issues that I missed, plus the next 8 issues.

Thanks,

Steve Fulton



Again, short and to the point.   I'm very interested in seeing where this will go.  I really just wish they would restart my subscription, but something tells me that it won't be that easy...

4Apr/090

The perfect Apple BlueTooth Mouse Replacement?

I don't know about perfect, but the Targus Blue Tooth laptop mouse was only $34.99 at Best Buy and the scroll wheel actually works. Outside the Apple community there is little knowledge of a dirty little secret that they would like to keep quiet- the $80 Blue Tooth Apple mouse is a piece of crap. There, I said it. I have been to numerous web sites where every crappy hack fix has been presented as a cure for the atrociously poor quality "wonder ball" (think bionic scroll wheel / center button).

AMB04US_accessories_b.jpg

A little over 2 months after purchasing a Mac Book for my wife and an iMac for myself, both $80 Blue Tooth mice crapped out. Her's just died outright and I purchased a plain old Microsoft wireless laser mouse to replace it. It has worked beautifully ever since. My iMac Blue Tooth's roller ball stopped functioning not long after, but I wanted full Blue Tooth to keep a free USB port.  So I tried everything I could dig up on the infobaun to fix it myself and none of it worked. Even the much ballyhooed "White Piece Of Paper" trick did nothing but make it only work going up (occasionally). So, today, while on a fruitless search for non suck-worthy SpongeBob Mac games with my son, I happened upon this little Targus beauty at Best Buy. Now, I can actually scroll up and down on Web Pages and even in Flash Develop in Parallels!!

I admit that it doesn't match my the rest of my peripherals (look-wise) and isn't quite as pretty as the apple version, but then again, I don't feel like throwing it at the wall yet either - so even Stevens in my book.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing else bad to say about my iMac and Mac Book purchases. It has been nearly a year and the machines functional like new and still run Windows better than any dedicated PC hardware I have ever owned. The Keyboard is divine, the screen absolutely beautiful (good enough to watch an 800K Galaxy game stream today). It's just that mouse. It is designed like a piece of art, it uses very little power and has incredible battery life...but the ball thingy just blows chunks.

Anyway, if you are in need a a replacement, or want a good Blue Tooth mouse for any reason, you can go wrong with this baby.

Filed under: Apple No Comments
3Apr/090

Atari Nerd Interweb Mash-Up: Mini Edition

OK, here are some neat links to some cool Atari related content:

That's it for today...

Filed under: Atari Nerd No Comments
   
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