8bitrocket.com
30Dec/090

Tunnel Panic

Tunnel Panic is very simple game. As your ship flies through the retro, 8-bit tunnel, simply press the space bar to move it up. Dodge everything and stay alive for as long as you can. You get more points the longer you make it through the tunnel.
Your ship moves from left to right automatically. It will move down and crash unless you press the space bar to move it up.

29Dec/090

My Interview with Arnie Katz (Co-Founder Of Electronic Games magazine) Up At Gamastra

My interview with Arnie Katz is now up at Gamasutra.
If you don't know who Arnie Katz might be, here is the intro I wrote for the interview:

Arnie Katz was a pioneer of video game journalism. In the late
1970s he, along with Bill Kunkel, started Arcade Alley in Video Magazine, the
first column about video games in a major publication. Then, in 1981, Katz along
with his wife Joyce Worley and Kunkel started Electronic Games magazine, the
first ever magazine dedicated entirely to video games.


Inside the pages of Electronic Games, Katz, Kunkel [also interviewed by Gamasutra in recent years], and Worley
invented video game journalism. The format of the magazine, letters, reviews,
previews, features and many other types of content, while frequently borrowed
from established traditions of magazine publishing, were molded to the subject
of video games for the first time.

Arnie Katz was the editor of Electronic Games, and many fans saw
the world of Golden Age video games through the eye of his editorials, which
began each issue of Electronic Games. Words such as "playfield", "shoot-em-up"
and many others entered the lexicon of video game fans after being invented or
popularized in the pages of Electronic Games Magazine.


While there were other
sources, at no other time in the history of video games has a single fountain
of ideas and knowledge like Electronic Games led the charge in hearts of minds of
so many people.


After Electronic Games ended in 1985, Katz, Kunkel, and Worley
continued as consultants to the video game industry, and worked on later
publications such as Video Games & Computer Entertainment and the '90s revival
of Electronic Games.


By the 21st century, however, the pioneering mind of
Arnie Katz had left the video game world completely. His partner, Bill Kunkel,
has continued to consult for game companies, teach game design classes, and
write about new and old games on the internet. He also wrote a book, Confessions
of the Game Doctor, which is required reading for anyone who fancies themselves
a student of video game history.


However, Arnie Katz ostensibly the inventor of the medium of
video game criticism has remained relatively quiet in the same time. Gamasutra
caught-up with him a few months ago, and he agreed to talk about the past,
present, and future of the video game industry.

You can read the full interview here.


25Dec/090

Merry Retro Gaming Christmas Inter-web Mash-Up from 8bitrocket.com

Merry Retro Gaming Christmas  Inter-web Mash-Up from 8bitrocket.com

Here are some retro-gaming Christmas treats for your viewing / reading
pleasure.
First some Christmas related retro gaming commercials and then some retro gaming
Christmas stories and finally a survey of some of the new Mochi Flash Christmas
games I could find.

First up is a collection of retro gaming Christmas commercials. This one is
pretty Tandy and Radio Shack centric, but Atari, Sega, Nintendo and others are represented
as well. This one is provided by YouTube user
Interghost.

You will find some cool little stocking stuffers in there:

1. The Tandy 1000
2. The Radio Shack Color Computer 3
3. The Odyssey 2
4. A treasure trove of classic Tandy hand-held games: King Man, Zak Man, and the
amazing 1 or 3 player Alien Chase game.
5. The GameBoy Pocket + games: Ken Griffy Jr. Baseball, Tetris Plus, and Donkey
Kong Land 3.
6. The Sega Genesis Core System + 4 games I'm having trouble naming: A Fighting
Game, A Tazmanian Devil Game, A Mickey Game, and a first person Sonic game.

7. The Nintendo 64 + Zelda 64, Turok, Soth Pak, Rogue Squadron.
8. The Sega Master System + Super Hang On, Gangster Alley (?), Transbot.
99 The Atari 2600 ET commercial

Next up is an absolutely brilliant commercial provided by YouTube user
Mappy1964.
This one includes a special Mr. T treat at the beginning and then a true set of
great Atari 2600 games: Ms Pac-man and Jungle Hunt. This was near the end of the
original Atari's reign and its sad that some of the best games were just
arriving.

Retro Gaming Christmas Stories

1. 8bitsteve's
Best
Christmas Ever
(Atari 800)
2. 8bitsteve's
Top 3 Worst
Christmas video games presents
: Jaguar, ActionMax, and Coleco Shooting
Gallery
3. 8bitsteve's
Atari 7800
Christmas

4. Retrogaming
Times Monthly: Dec 2009
has a couple very good retro gaming Christmas
stories - Odyssey 2, Atari Carts: Real Sports Volleyball, Frogger, Donkey Kong,
Star Wars, ET. Also exploiting the 1984 Christmas return policies.
5.
The Gamers' 12 Days of Christmas
(lots of cool retro stuff in this one).
6.

My Atari Christmas (SCRAM)
- Miner 2049er, SCRAM, The Atari 400 +classic
commercials and more...
7.
Atari Christmas page of the 1980 JC Penny Catalog

8.

Tech Christmas Nostalgia
:: Lots of systems listed - Texas Instruments TI
-99/4A, Atari 5200, Nintendo NES & Sega Master System, Tandy 1000-SL, and Sega
Genesis.
9.

Christmas Nerd Style:
Sears Catalog Pages for Atari, Star Wars and more from
1983.
10.

A real Christmas Miracle story
that also includes and Atari game system.

 Three New Mochi Flash Christmas Game Capsule Reviews:

Most Christmas games are jigsaw puzzles, dress-ups or quickly re-decorated
catch style games. These were sifted out from those...

1.
Xmas Frenzy
- Sweet little retro platformer. Jump on the heads. Nice
considering the rest of the crap I have looked at today.
2. Xmas
Stars
-   A well done  "Bloons" style game sort of in
reverse. Nice touches all around.
3.
Ninja Santa
- Stay on the screen while it scrolls up by jumping on platforms
and throwing stars at Ninjas. It doesn't have much to do with Christmas, but its
late and I'm tired. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Filed under: Atari Nerd No Comments
24Dec/090

What Happened To Silverlight Games? (Or, Why Flash Is Still The Platform Of Choice For Web Games)

As you may recall, we started this year experimenting with technologies beyond Flash. First, we started to review iPhone games because, well, my wife got an iPhone Touch and I wanted to start looking at the games and explore the possibility of making them. Next, we looked into Microsoft Silverlight. Silverlight was just coming into it's own at the time. Version 2.0 was mature, and version 3.0 was on the horizon. Gone were the days of executing complicated, multi-file, plain-text scripts in a web browser. Microsoft has seen the "light", and had taken steps to make Silverlight much more like Flash. At the same time, we were exploring ways to expand the scope of our blog to encompass more online game development topics beyond Flash.

In the first few months of 2009. Silverlight looked very attractive for making games. Microsoft was sponsoring game development contests, and blogs were springing-up around the internet touting Silverlight as a Flash killer. We took a much more measured approach. We looked at both technologies and attempted to re-create some of the same games on both platforms. The first project was simple "Guess The Number" game written in both AS2 and Silverlight. To be honest, after writing this tutorial, I was somewhat "sold" on the Silverlight tech. While Silverlight still did not have all the features of Flash and AS3, it had some interesting advantages for development. The main advantage was development workflow. Microsoft split development into two products. Expression Blend for designers, and Visual Studio for programmers. Both could share the same "project files", but the tools were designed for specific disciplines in a way that Flash developers could only dream about. I continued the process, and wrote another game, Zamboozal Poker Dice, a very basic re-write of a game we made 20 years ago. the Silverlight and Flash versions were so close, that it was very hard to tell the difference. I was further intrigued because the development of the Silverlight version went much smoother than the Flash one. My final test of Silverlight was a game I made for my 3 year old for her birthday, Katie's Heart Catcher. After that game, I took a short break from Silverlight, waiting for version 3.0 to be released. I spent sometime reading and writing about blogs and events in the Silverlight community, and some of our stories and games were featured on Silverlight.net.

However. after that, something odd happened. New information about Silverlight games started to either dry-up or morph into something else entirely. The first to go was also the most promising. Author Bill Reiss' blog site, Silverlight Games 101 stopped publishing new articles sometime in April. Bill is the co-founder of Silver Arcade, a site dedicated to featuring games made in Silverlight. I even submitted my to little games there, because thought the idea was really cool. However, as the months went on, updates to that site slowed as well. At this point, they are up one game in the past two months. My initial excitement about the idea masked a flaw that now seems apparent: only developers care what technology a game is made with. Players don't care, they just want good games. A portal to highlight Silverlight games really only pleases Microsoft , Microsoft devotees, MVPs and certified developers. If you are technology agnostic (I've at least made an attempt to dothis my whole career "use what is best for the job at hand"), a dedicated site might seem far to limiting. Similar sites like http://www.silverlightclub.com/ , http://silverlightgames.org/ and http://www.mashooo.com/ seem to be doing about the same,with the Alexa rankings well over 1,000,000. By contrast, most Flash game portals have Alexa rankings well under 100,000 or even 10,000. However, there is some good news: Bill is still going strong. His book Hello Silverlight 2 is now re-titled Hello Silverlight 3, and will be released next year. In fact, it may have been the announcement of Silverlight 3 that stumbled Bill up a bit. His Silveright 2 book was scheduled to be released when Silverlight 3 was announced. Now his Silverlight 3 book is scheduled for release, and Microsoft just announced a Silverlight 4 beta. Damn. This also highlights what might be one of the flaws in Microsoft's Silveright strategy: how does Microsoft expect developers and technical writers to get traction on their technology if they keep upgrading to new full revs every 6 months?

However, it was not just Bill that slowed-down his writing Silverlight game development. Silverlight Switch, a blog that look promising way back in April, has only updated a few dozen times. While there is still some fresh content, you will notice that much of it is geared towards general purpose design. That can't be said for Shine Draw, a very detailed and interesting site that compared Flash and Silverlight versions of the same apps and games, and asked people to vote on them. The site appeared even handed, but there was always a hint that Silverlight was the tech of choice. That site has not been updated since October. One of the better voices for Silverlight, Andy Beaulieu, has been updating a lot (nothing this month however), and in fact his blog about writing a Pinball Game in Silverlight was fantastic. However, another story about "Why Silverlight Is Great For Games" reads like a ho-um list to Flash developers who had most of those things (and much more) for many years. Another key blog is Microsoft employee Scott Guthrie's. While it is updated regularly, Guthrie has never focused on games, so there is not much for game developers to grasp onto. As well, for a key blog, the updates are still sporadic and not really focused on Silverlight, but on general purpose news on Microsoft technologies. The Official Silverlight Team blog has very few (if any, I could not find any) references to game development, nor do the blogs hosted at blogs.silverlight.net have many entries about games or game development.

While I still believe that Silverlight is an exciting technology, I believe it is really only exciting to Microsoft .NET developers who can add it to their tool-kit for developing Microsoft web applications built on .NET and Sharepoint. For those developers, the hooks in Silverlight that either exists now, or will be built by Microsoft in the future, pose an offer they cannot refuse. To remain a developer of Microsoft technologies you almost MUST learn and develop with Silverlight. However, from my (albeit limited and not all-encompassing evidence), there is very little "groundswell" for Silverlight game development beyond official sources and related web sites. Microsoft might still see games as way to get developers interested in Silverlight, but in the long run, games are not what they care about. Keeping a hold of their corporate customers so they will not switch to open-source or other technologies semes to be one half of Microsoft's strategy with Silverlight. While I don't blame Microsoft for trying to keep their business, they are not winning over game developers in any significant numbers to their platform with this tactic. The target for Silverlight seems pretty lowand narrow. Microsoft has missed allowing Silverlight to target other Microsoft or important platforms. They have been very good about Mac and Linux browser plug-ins for Silverlight, but they have failed to allow Silverlight code to compile down to target Zune, XNA or even the iPhone. Because of this, the second half Microsoft's other strategy with Silverlight appears to be aimed at "killing Flash", instead of broadening the scope to embrace the needs of developers.

Like it or not, Flash *is* the platform for 99% of web games (OK, I made-up that number, but it might be higher). On the other hand, Making games in Silverlight is a means to an end. You do it to learn the tech or satisfy the whim of a client or customer, but in the end it will not be your focus (not now anyway). While there are Silverlight games being made, their numbers are few and they are mostly located on web sites that have a Microsoft focused audience. In fact, most (not all mind you) active sites and blogs that discuss Silverlight appear to be hosted by Microsoft, run by Microsoft employees, or at the very least, run by people who have some kind of Microsoft connection (MVPs, Certified Developers, Microsoft Partners, etc). This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it shows Microsoft does go a long way to support developers who use their products. However, to foster indie game development there needs to be a strong network of sites and developers who work independent or even against the wishes of the technology company who has created the platform.

This does not mean Adobe has done everything the right way when it comes to Flash game development. In fact, many game developers feel like bastard step-children when it comes to Adobe and how they are looked-upon by the company. We have been developing Flash games for 10 years, and it is only recently that we have felt Adobe has seen the value in our work, and the work of 1000's of other dedicated Flash game developers. The Flash game development community has thrived and made huge advances (Box2D, PaperVision, etc.) because they love the technology, but are tired of waiting for the stewards (Adobe) to add useful and necessary features. Almost in-spite of Adobe, Flash has now become become a mature technology that is growing day by day. We are now seeing signs that Adobe has caught-on.

Flash AS3 games are being released at a clip that is unrelenting to general purpose game portals all over the internet. What used to be about a dozen or so a week has turned into 100 or more, and this just from the sources I check regularly. Adobe has opened-up Flash for development on the iPhone (native compiled, but it's still a great opportunity), and Flash player 10.1 is slated to show-up in all kinds of phones, devices, set-to-top boxes, etc. in the next 12 months.As well, if you can maneuver through the maze of contracts and approvals, you can use Flash to make games for for Nintendo Wiiware. At the same time, Adobe does not confuse developers with new versions every 6 months. Actionscript 3 has been around for almost 3 years, and while new versions of the Flash IDE and Flash Player, AS3 has only been only extended with new classes. Developers can still rely on the underlying tech to remain, pretty much,the same. Adobe has also recently created the Adobe Flash Platform Game Technology Center to help assist developers and support (finally) games written in Flash. (They have a link to this site there too, which is really cool of them). Furthermore, the release of Flash Builder and Flash Catalyst in 2010 will remove the only advantage Silverlight currently has over Flash: developer workflow. So, while I still like the idea of Silverlight, and I like the idea of making games in Silverlight, and while I'm still a fan of Microsoft's server-based products (.NET/C# is unmatched in it's brilliance. I'm not kidding), they have not unseated Flash as the game development platform of choice for web games, and as far as I can tell, they never will.

23Dec/090

8bitrocket's Five Favorite Retro Inspired Flash Games of 2009 Podcast

8bitrocket's Five Favorite Retro Inspired Flash Games of 2009 Podcast

We've featured and reviewed many games this year. Over the next couple weeks we are going to take some time to list our favorites in a few different categories. The first category is near and ear to our hearts - retro inspired Flash games.

The Video Podcast:

The games featured:

Retroshoot by Davie Munsie

NinjUFO by Ninjadoodle

Mountain Maniac by Pixeljam

3D Runner Arcade by fejuto

CronusX
by GamingYourWay

Filed under: Podcasts No Comments
18Dec/090

Planet M.U.L.E First Impressions

Our first impressions of the Planet M.U.L.E, the online playable 2009 update to Dan Bunten's classic Atari 800 game, M.U.L.E.   http://www.planetmule.com

 

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14Dec/090

idkwid.com "Flying Blind" video tutorial…

A simple tutorial for playing IDKWID.com's game "Flying Blind". 
(http://www.idkwid.com)
 

Filed under: Podcasts No Comments
13Dec/090

Flash Game Blog Interweb Mash-up Video Podcast Dec 12, 2009

Flash Game Blog Interweb Mash-up Video Podcast Dec 12, 2009

I decided to have a go at doing a Mash-up as a video podcast with mixed
results. How many different iMovie transitions can you recognize?

See below for links to all of the sites, articles, and whatnot.

 

Gamingyourway.com


Twitter Cloud


Ionic

 PhotonStorm.com


Aardman profile


PixelNovel SVN


The Burd

Freelance Flash Game


Streamline development like a pro

 Iain Lobb


8 Actionscript Annoyances


Github SVN

Ickydime
(Mark's name is cutoff in the video some how). That's Mark G. to you.

Flash 10.1 Runtime Hypocrisy

Michael James Williams


Intro to PV3D + 3D Glasses

 Retrogaming Times
Issue 67
with Christmas stories and much more

 

As always, check out
www.flashgameblogs.com
for your daily dose.

Filed under: Podcasts No Comments
11Dec/090

8bitrocket.com IDKWID.com Mochi Game Review blowout!

 

Today we cover our new favroite Flash Game developer, idkwid.com. I believe idkwid stands for "I Don't Know What I'm doing".   We cover these gems:

Just in case you are wondering, no we are *not* kidding.  These games may not have amazing graphics, but their humor, game design, humor, cleverness, humor, etc. make them exceptional to us.

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11Dec/090

8bitrocket Reports On the Mochimedia 2009 Survey Results + IKDWID.com Preview

 

We report on the Mochimedia.com Flash Games Market Survey.

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