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30May/100

John Russell Fulton: Isn't Artistic Talent Supposed To Jump A Generation?

I can't draw to save my life.  Neither can Jeff.  While be both can do a bit of  "abstract" work practical art has pretty much escaped us.  However the rest of our family has all kinds of talent in spades.

The most "famous" artist in our family is John Russell Fulton, our grandfather, who had a career illustrating and painting for most of the 20th century.  He did most of his work in advertising and "men's adventure" story illustration: basically the "internet" and "video games" of his era.

I just created a Facebook site to commemorate his work.  Some of his contemporaries have become quite well-known, but so far my grandfather has been left to footnotes and "also rans".

If you are interested in seeing the types of work someone who had a job in "advertising and adventure" would have done in to 1920's through the 1950's, there is a good sample of his work now posted.   A short history follows:

John Russell Fulton was born in 1896 in Valley Center, Kansas, to Francis (who, among other things, was an Arkansas law man, cowboy and descendent of the Royal Stuarts) and Millie Fulton. He spent his youth in the Oklahoma Indian Territory of his parents' property. This first-hand experience of life on the frontier (with wolves and buffalo still roaming) no doubt influenced the authenticity of his later illustrations and oil paintings (Fulton made really great cowboy and covered wagon oils).

When he was in his teens he worked as a newspaper artist for Henry Allen's (later a Kansas Senator) Wichita Beacon, was a staff artist at the Kansas City Star, and later from 1925-1926 worked for the Chicago Tribune.
He received training at the Art Institute, Chicago (1915), Fine Arts Academy, Chicago (1917-1918), American Academy of Art, Chicago (1926-1927), as well as took specialized courses and private instruction from Harvey Dunn and Robert Henri (Ashcan).

During 1918-1919, with rank as corporal during WWI, 'he painted posters for the Army and organized an art class for wounded soldiers at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.' (from Blue Book bio 1943). He returned to commercial advertising after the war (e.g. Karo Corn Syrup, Dodge Motors, Florsheim Shoes,') and worked steadily from 1922-1928 freelancing, as well as was on the payroll of prominent agencies, such as 'Palenski and Young.' After getting a big break with Collier's (covers) and Pictorial Review, he switched to magazine illustration and painting.

In the 20's, he married Wilhelmine and had two sons John Jr. (killed in action in 1944 during WWII) and Shaffer. This decade is when Fulton' art career began to flourish and he was on his way to becoming well-known for his work in the magazine field in Chicago and New York. He specialized in period and historical subjects, figure painting, New York scenes and exhibitor landscapes. He was represented for landscape and figure painting by the Forty-Seventh Street Gallery in New York City and had exhibits there for 10 years starting in 1938 (this gallery was 'razed during the building boom which followed the advent of the United Nations'). And, although Fulton was a non-member, he regularly submitted paintings to the Academy of Design up until 1962, but continued getting invitations to the Academy up to 1970.

From 1929-1952 he was a cover and interior illustration artist for many leading publishers, but is most known for his work for McCall Company and its magazines Redbook (worked for 11 years) and Blue Book. His illustrations also appeared in other magazines, such as: Good Housekeeping, Colliers, Liberty, Saturday Evening Post, Harper's Bazaar, American Magazine, The Pictorial Review, Argosy, and Cosmopolitan, among others.

He also illustrated a few books. including:
'The Law on Horseback': collection of western tales (1935) (Author/actor William S. Hart) 15 Pen and Ink drawings; Charles Scribner and Sons' 'Champion Caddy' (1942) (Author Marion Renick); and Book-of-the-Month Club's 'Look to the Mountain' for King Features Syndicate (1943).

One of Fulton' last works as a magazine illustrator was an assignment to paint a series of scenes, one for each state (Blue Book's 'State Series') which required extensive research as each scene was based on historical fact. A notable Blue Book cover by Fulton in another series (March 1951) was entitled 'Men of America: Mark Twain.' This work received a congratulatory note from Mark Twain's cousin Cyril Clemens, the president of the International Mark Twain society on (March 25th 1951).

Unfortunately, the 'State Series' was dropped after about half the paintings had appeared when Blue Book magazine changed their style before they  'ceased publication in the rash of magazine failures that followed the advent of the radio, and LIFE and LOOK picture magazines.'

The sudden dropping of the old style illustrators, including the Blue Book artists and the 'sudden retirement' of their editor Donald Kennicott, sent a shock wave through these illustrators' world. Fulton knew that times were changing, but apparently, when this Blue Book change occurred, it was like these loyal illustrators 'dropped off the face of the earth' over night. In a letter of Fulton's wife wrote about the 'killing of Kennicott's Blue Book' and also mentioned how the new president of McCall Corp., Marvin Pierce, didn't believe in 'periodicals that carried no advertising,' and that there were 'a few more Blue Books after Jan 1952 that tried to carry advertising' before its demise (Marvin Pierce, btw, is former First Lady Barbara Bush's dad).

Kennicott was very respected by the illustrators and was a good friend to Fulton. (Fulton had known him since his Redbook days).  His son, Shaffer, wrote: 'What happened to (Dad) career-wise had happened to most illustrators by the mid-fifties. The vehicle for illustration was the magazine. Magazine sales were dropping, probably due to TV; many were going out of business. Remaining magazines were using more color photos for story illustration. The era of magazine illustration had come to an end, and with it dad's career. Subconsciously, I think he knew his (commercial art) career was finished' but he always spoke of the 'Good old days in New York,' 'going back to N.Y.' etc..' up until his death.'

After Blue Book, Fulton, along with other dropped-illustrators, spread out to find work. Because of their 'extensive background in realist styles and in American history' many of these illustrators became 'western theme artists in the tradition of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell'. After certain unsuccessful endeavors' among other things, a short-lived printing company with Robert Beebes 'Fulton-Beebe Prints' (they put out a series of 3 New York scenes), and a project with agent Larry Miller (apparently a friend of Hollywood greats) to paint 12 oils for record jacket covers for 'Tales of the Confederacy' with Victor Jory, Fulton headed west, permanently, to California.

He moved to a studio in a remote city called 'Hemet' (from 1955-1959) to paint landscape, particularly desert and western scenes. This is where my Fulton really found out his ability as an artist. Two of these Hemet landscapes 'Lilac Hill' and 'Desert's Edge' were accepted by the jury for the National Academy of Design's 130th Annual Exhibition of oils, sculpture, prints, and watercolors and were exhibited in 1955. Apparently, he also still received scattered illustration jobs, but nothing like before 1952 in N.Y.

At one particular exhibit at the Cowie Galleries in Los Angeles in 1959, which included his 'Tales of the Confederacy' work, an 'Alamo' and 'Desert' series, along with other portraits, such as 'The Cleaning Woman,' and New England landscapes, Fulton' work received notable praise. Critics compared his works to Sloan, Luks and Ashcan school, Bellows, Pyle, Grant, Wyeth, Marsh and Henri.

One critic in particular, Howard Burke, a Los Angeles Examiner art critic, wrote:
'In the great tradition of such American Illustrators as Howard Pyle, Gordon Grant and N.C. Wyeth, Fult
on's art has the aura of George Bellows, the overflowing life of Reginald Marsh and the workmanlike quality of Robert Henri. He proves that he is part of the contemporary American scene, and that good illustrating can be fine painting. As evidence of it, his work has been exhibited at the National Academy. To his fine drawing and composition he brings a masterful oil technique, and with his illustrator's eye for pictorial truth, he achieves somewhat the Goya touch.'

In his later years, Fulton moved to his home and art studio in Southern California where he lived with his wife Wilhelmine, and near his only living son, and his four grand kids. In the last decade and a half of his life, Fulton continued to paint, draw, engrave and print, occasionally gave talks or taught art sessions, or acted as a judge for art contests. He continued to paint for, or sent paintings to, small exhibitions throughout the state (which my dad called 'rip-off' exhibits). He still talked about going back to NY up until his death. He lived to be 82.

29May/100

R.I.P. Gary Coleman And 80's Portrayals Of Video Games

Gary Coleman died yesterday at the age of 42.  He was best known from his role on the TV show "Different Strokes".  It was sad to see him go, as he never really appeared to achieve that he set out to do in life.

It is interesting to note that  "Different Strokes" was one of the first TV shows to tackle video games in any real way, and as kids in the early 80's, we craved anything on TV that portrayed things that we loved. 

In the early 80's, youth was not coveted, studied and explored to the dizzying heights as it is on TV today.  In fact, it was very rare to see anything on TV that represented much less pandered to the things that kids were saying or doing.  Instead, we were on the receiving end of blanket platitudes like "Just Say No", and were supposed to follow like little robots.  

If you watch any TV from the late 70's through the mid-1980s'. you'd be hard-pressed to find a video game on TV any place.  There were a few exceptions, but for the most part adults simply ignored what kids were doing.

However, "Different Strokes" was one of the TV shows that tried to speak to kids in their own language.  Sure, it was simple, low-brow and earnest, but it was one of the few shows we had.  The episode below is one of the first TV shows I can recall that handled the subject of video games.

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28May/100

Is The HTML 5 Canvas A Gateway Drug For Flash?

When I was 13 years old I wanted an Atari 800 computer. I wanted it to play all the great computer games I saw on the shelves at the local computer store, HW Computers, and because it came with the BASIC programming language. Not only could you play games, but it came with the tools to make your own. After getting an Atari 800 for Christmas that year, I spent countless hours programming in BASIC. BASIC was very easy to use with the Atari 800. You plugged in the BASIC cartridge, and restarted the computer. As soon as it booted you could start programming, you could run your programs, and you could save them to floppy disk. It was easy, accessible, and addictive. The power to sit down and create something quickly and run it was intoxicating. I spent the next 3 years programming games, applications, demos, animations, and everything in-between. Once I got a modem, I could upload those programs to BBS and share them with the world.

One of the main problems with programming in BASIC was that is was never as fast as compiled Assembly Language programs. In fact, the idea of writing compiled Assembly always held its ugly head above me, taunting me to its' abyss. I knew I should have learned it, but BASIC was too easy, and too much fun, and it was free. An Assembly language compiler for the Atari 800 cost $100's of dollars. For a teenager like me into the 80's, that amount might as well have been $ millions. What I gave up in speed and sophistication by using BASIC, I gained in accessibility and ease of use. BASIC was there. The tools were there. All I needed was a power outlet to plug into my computer, and I could sit down and create almost anything I imagined.

While I never learned Assembly language on the Atari 800, my first job out of college required me to learn 8086 Assembly language, and I jumped into that project with as much vigor as learning BASIC 10 years before. I credit that easy access to Atari BASIC for preparing me to learn the later technologies that helped me forge a career in software development.

In the same way, the HTML Canvas may never be as performant or feature-filled as Flash, but it might not have to be. Flash (or something similar) will always exist as the premium choice for interactive web content, but the Canvas may very-well be the answer for the curious masses of all ages: an easy to use, accessible language that can be used by nearly anyone to create neat stuff with almost no tools beyond a web browser and a text editor. Sure, it takes some time to learn, but so did BASIC. However, I learned BASIC because it was so easy to get my hands on, not because it did everything for me out of the box. The HTML 5 Canvas appears to have the same advantages.

Imagine this scenario: You buy a Google Chrome OS Pad the day it is released. You fire-up the Chrome Web Browser, and go to directly the offline (or online) Google Docs. In Google Docs, you create an HTML document, that includes a <canvas>. You save it, and then view it in Chrome. It looks neat, so you make a few changes, and view it again. Program some more, view it, and the iterations continue. This process is nearly identical to starting-up an 8-bit computer in the 80's with BASIC and programming. Nothing more is required beyond what was provided with the machine. Nearly every barrier to entry has been lifted. Furthermore, in this same scenario, once you have completed your application, you can package it up and distribute it in the Chrome OS Web Store, sharing it with the rest of the world.

How is this different than doing the same thing right now with HTML and JavaScript? Well, it is similar, but since the <canvas> is really a bitmapped screen, it is much closer to working with the graphics modes, plotting, and other capabilities of a classic 8-bit computer, than working with a DOM, HTML tags and JavaScript. Plus, working with the <canvas> "feels" similar to working in BASIC, and to me, the nuances here are what matter. Working in HTML can be clumsy, while working with the <canvas> fells like controlling a specific machine that you bend to your will.

This is why the Canvas excites me. Not because it's a Flash killer, on the contrary. It's more like a gateway drug. It can get new programmers interested by ease of use, and get them addicted to software development, just like BASIC did for the computer owners of the 80's. If this low barrier to entry helps get kids (of all ages) interested in programming, then the Canvas will prove its worth very quickly.  When they start building their own creations, they will learn the thrill of controlling a computer through their own imagination. When the skills of these users mature, they might be ready to invest their time and money into a technology that can really take them to the next level in power, sophistication and security for their applications. In this way, the HTML 5 Canvas could be the best thing that has ever happened to Flash.

 

26May/100

Game Design Inspirations: Some childhood 70's non-electronic games and books

Game Design Inspirations: Some childhood 70's non-electronic games and books

Growing up in the 70's Steve and I didn't always  have access to electronic and video games. It was 1981 before we had our first 2600, and before that we had but a smattering of hand-held electronic games that failed to effectively quell the urge to blow up digital arcade space ships. While we had many friends who had Apple computers, Atari 2600's, Bally Astro-cades, and even a Fairchild Channel F, we had to make do with non-video game interactive fun most of our early years. We did spend a lot of time going to local arcades and various haunts (liquor stores, grocery stores, etc) to play arcade games, but we found ourselves engaged with much more traditional entertainment before we had our own video game and computer systems. While we did spend a large amount of time outside making up baseball, soccer, basketball, and other sports games on our 150 foot driveway, when it came to virtual entertainment we mostly had traditional mediums to feed our hunger.

In this article we will take a look at a smattering of games I remember playing during this time. I am choosing ones that are not simply popular traditional board games (such as chess, Monopoly, checkers, Connect 4, etc) but rather ones that I remember being a little unique and maybe a little more interactive. While the traditional board games are an obvious inspiration for many recent games (especially clones), it is these lesser known games, books, etc that I think can give us some interesting ideas for games.

Bushwhacker (and other interactive board games)

I remember playing quite a few interactive board or pen and paper games during this time. The obvious pen and paper Avalon Hill war and TSR Dungeon Master games were actually made into computer games themselves in the late 70's (and continue on today). The unique board games seem to have been forgotten. These were games that combined some of the merits of a traditional board games (dice, cards, moving about a board) with some elements of war and dungeon quests - equipment to buy, various strategies for winning, and even and unique in-game economy. Monopoly and even the early Game of Life are two examples that have survived, but there was one (forgotten?) game that our father had called Bushwhacker that seemed to combine all of these elements into one.

Bushwhacker was a board game based on the old 1800's gold and silver mining days in the West. It came packaged in a long fat tube with the board rolled up inside. The game board was made of heavy plastic coated paper map on one side and felt on the reverse side. It was a very quality package that I am certain our dad had purchased this mail-order from the actual game designer (as very few were probably ever made). I can't find any links to it on the infobaun, but as I remember, it was sort of like a gold-mining version of Monopoly. You traveled around the game map finding gold claims, digging for treasure, buying equipment, and avoiding the "bad lands" and "banditos" there in.

The goal was to "bushwhack" the other players and steal their gold and claims. Games about the old West and especially goal mining seem to be ripe for exploitation as video games. The recent triumph of Red Dead Redemption will probably lead to a slew of copycats in AAA titles. I have seen a few casual and Flash games cover this topic, but none as a multi-player strategy game. I am sure there is or will be a Zenga game based on gold and gambling, but what I would like to see is a real adventure / strategy game in the Dune II variety using this theme.

I am sure there were many more games like this produced by budding game developers who didn't have any electronic mediums in which to present their ideas. A trip to the local thrift store might yield some great finds and good ideas that can be molded into an interactive game.

The interactive board game is an idea that I think can be re-applied today. I have heard of some games using this concept - move pieces about a board and then play mini games to resolve conflicts on various game board squares. We have a Sponge Bob Monopoly game that attempts (with some success) this concept, but I think it is a ripe avenue for many more games and ideas.

Games Magazine Eyeball Benders

I always found most of the activities in Games magazine to be unique, if a little too mind bending for an action/arcade game fan like me. For me, one of the most interesting items in each magazine was a page with pictures of objects taken with a zoom lens. Your job was to figure out what each object was. The magazine is still going strong and has not diverted from its traditional roots. Here is a page on their site with some example games, including an Eyeball Bender. This could make a very simple Flash or HTML5 game or even a "Daily Game" on the prize sites.

There is even a site that celebrates these at EyeBallBenders.com

games_magazine.jpg

Yes and Know Pens Books

Sometimes known as "invisible ink pen games" these books contained puzzles, mazes, trivia, and other games that were all played by uncovering invisible ink with a pen. These are still available from Lee Publications (Some of the titles on this page I even remember owning 30 years ago!!! )

These were some of the first real interactive games we had. They were much better than traditional puzzle books or even Games magazine (to us at least) because of the added thrill of uncovering the answer to games and trivia with the pen and not having to go to the back of the book.  This created a very unique user interface that drew us into to fun in a brand new way.

I'm not sure that the actual games in these books offer any additional play ideas today, but they show how one can take the traditional medium (a book) and offer up a much higher level of interactivity by simple changing the rules of how it is read and the interface for doing so. These were very ingenious for their time. I certainly remember mazes, early games similar to the Microsoft minesweeper, connect the dots and more. The simple medium of the touch surface might make these types of games and activities much more viable now then ever before on electronic mediums.

yesandknow.jpg

(I remember buying this one at at J.J Newbery at the original South Bay Mall in 1978!)

Mad Libs

Mad Libs were sold in the same stores and shelf locations as Yes and Know Pens (usually on a Lazy Susan rack of some sort). Mad Libs are also still available today, but back then they were much more popular (than now) because we had fewer avenues for interactive, creative multi-player fun (let alone ones  that allowed to make up sick and nasty stories stories with our friends). They also were a quick and very simple interface for fun multi-player player games.

Each "Mad Lib" was a story with various strategic words left out. One player (we'll call her the Mad Lib Master) would read the story and ask the other players for words to fill in the blanks. Along with the blanks were the actual "parts of speech" that should fill in each spot. For example, it might say "Dave used his _____ to fight the fire". Under the _____ would be the word "noun" and the Mad Lib Master would query the other players for a noun to fill that space. Steve and I (plus our sisters and various neighborhood friends) used to fill these with pretty much as many bad words as we knew at the time. If you were a particularly clever (or sick) Mad Lib Master you would ask for all of the word types in advance and then fill in the ones that sounded the worst (or best, or most sickening) in the various spots.

Word games will always be popular, and if you can some how combine them with multi-player double entendre sex and poop jokes you will probably have a Facebook hit on your hands.

madlibs.gif

Game Books and Adventure Game Books

These books started arriving on shelves on the late 70's and early 80's and changed what many thought static entertainment could be. The most popular were the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. It is difficult to describe the incredible impact these books had on us when we had no other interactive story-telling medium at our disposal. The books were essentially what computer adventure games would become stripped of everything but the core story. At the end of every page or every few pages the reader would be given a chance to choose what the main character would do next from a small series of choices. The best of these books had a moderate number of endings (not too few and certainly not too many) and very nicely drawn out stories that could be re-read a number of times.

The point we can take from these is that the story and possible endings had to be good or the reader simply would not start up the story again to explore all of the different ending possibilities. The text adventure or even traditional adventure game is one that is not developed often anymore. One reason may be that writing the stories is a very difficult and time consuming process. If done right though there could be a re-birth of this genre using something like Chris Crawford's interactive story telling ideas.

thegameoftime.jpg

(either Steve or I got this from a 4th grade book fair. We never look at books the same way again).

Encyclopedia Brown

Encyclopedia Brown books were as unique as the Choose Your Own Adventure books, if just slightly less interactive. The point of these books was for the reader to figure out the answer to the mystery contained in each chapter. As the Reader followed Encyclopedia Brown, the boy hero of each story, through each story he/she was tasked with figuring out who was lying, who was telling the truth, what facts to ignore and which were certain clues. Mostly the answers were based on some sort of scientific fact or observable logical fallacy. I remember pouring over each chapter in hopes of finding that one clue they hoped I would miss before I read the mystery answer. Aside from reading comprehension these stories taught budding little minds many facts and trivia that we could use to impress our parents and friends. The point of these in a game-sense was very similar to the "hidden object" games of today, but took much more analytical skills to accomplish. Today, a good set of mysteries based on certain topics might be a nice educational tool as well as a fun way to spend some online game time.

encyclopediabrown.jpg

(The school library was full of these babies!)

What do you think?

What games and traditional mediums did you (or do you currently) play that might help spur some game design ideas? Let us know in the comments if you have any suggestions you would like to share.

 

26May/100

Would A Basic Book on HTML 5 Canvas Games Interest You?

While we are in early talks with some publishers about a book on building games the HTML 5 Canvas, I'd like to know: Would this interest you? 

Unlike "The Essential Guide To Flash Games", this book would take a more ground-up approach, and include all the information you need to get started building games and apps for the HTML 5 Canvas.  It might even include breakout boxes that say "For Flash developers, this on the Canvas is this in Flash". 

The focus would be a lot of runnable examples, with some new games.  It would be beginner level, but still include a few advanced game concepts.

Why do this?  Well, even though Google and Android are posed to help push Flash, we still believe that developers are going to be asked to explore the Canvas.  This will be pushed by either by overzealous producers or reps at design firms, or by internal managers wanting to have developers explore what can be done with it...or just by curiosity to know how it works.

Since we respect JavaScript and use it, but are not steeped in the "cult of JavaScript", we think we can bring a real-world approach to the subject that come from hard fought battles with with techno-snobs and early adopters alike.

What do you think?
What you like to see included?

24May/100

Geometry Attack: First Found Game Made From The Essential Guide To Flash Games Book?

Yesterday we were alerted to this game, Geometry Attack. It appears to be the first game made from the games from our book: The Essential Guide To Flash Games. However, this is not a complaint. The whole point of the book is to get people to make games. 

We want to highlight the creations of others.

You be the judge though, is this an iteration of Blaster Mines?:

21May/100

The internets is full of smart, beautiful people…actual complaints about the Google Pac-Man Doodle (edit)

The internets is full of smart, beautiful people...actual complaints about the Google Pac-Man Doodle (edit)

The Google Doodle will only be live as Pac-Man for the next few hours(approx after the Champions League Final Tomorrow). I read a few blog entries on the anniversary celebration and some of the comments from "users" that accompany the stories are particularly odd. I have left off the names of the people who submitted these, and I sincerely hope they are all fake...but I just don't know anymore.

It seems that many people must have Google.com set as their default home page in their browser. Some of them must not understand how computers or the internet work.

 Maybe on some browsers the sound in the swf that is used has a problem, but in all of the browsers I tried it works fine. I have to assume that these people are nuts, stupid, or just ignorant.  Some people also had trouble realizing that they could still use the search box search with the Doodle changed to the game. Since when has the doodle not allowed someone to search (it changes all the time, just not to a game).

Note: We realize that the game is in Javascript. We took  deep dive look at the code to figure out how they were playing the sounds because sound in Javascript games is notoriously awful (and difficult to code). The Google guys used a unique solution - they embedded a swf on the page with the sounds and played them with the Javacript to Flash external interface. Brilliant! So, when we said "swf"  above (and further down) we don't mean the actual game (it is n Javascript, not HTML5 or Flash) but the sounds package.

Some of these comments are from people who didn't like the idea, some from those with technical problems, some from people who just don't like Pac-Man (explains their insanity), and some are just idiotic inbreeds. You be the judge. I am speechless at some of these, so I won't add any more comments here.
I will leave that up to you:

Note: After reading all of the below comments I have come to the
conclusion that there must have been some sort of problem with some
browsers and the sfw used to play the game sounds. In any case I will
still make fun of the comments because there were not posted on a Google
board, but they were posted as comments on various blog and news sites.
I think some of these people actually thought that by complaining on
some random site they could get their "home page fixed" (sic).

"The noise coming from the google site is insane and can drive anyone
insane. Are you trying to reduce your customer numbers? Well you are
doing a great job at killing your appeal to customers. This is so called
celebration was very stupid and immature. I see that you can not even
call to complain. You must have been bombarded by angry people. I am
sadly disappointed in google... And I thought you were so great."

"Google is not my front page. Just heard the din when openning web.
Thought this was a virus.

Wasted hours trying to get rid of it without use of web. Now I know
what it is I am disgusted that google could be so iresponsible."

"Enough! get rid of this crap"

"The noise was confusing to me, I couldn't figure out where it was coming
from, finally I realize something was going on in the background&
saw that it was a game, I tried everything to delete it, without any
success."

"Please stop that sound."

"please turn of the pacman sound i can't stand it
anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Google changed the home page for hundreds of us without giving us the
option of opting out. That sucks!!!!!!!!!"

"The Pacman is so annoying. At first I thought it was a virus, and no
matter how much I tried, I couldn't get rid of it. Please just tell me
how to remove it from my home page"

"I am a teacher and found this to be extremely annoying today! Students
were playing pac man instead of doing research for projects."

"PLEASE DELETE THIS ANOYING PACMAN OR PRIVIDE US HOW TO GET RID OF IT"

"My Google home page only shows a tiny square box with the pacman logo.
How do I get to get on my google home page?"

"How dare YOU Google invade my private space with that screaming noise
from pacman.

Good bye Google.....!"

" dont want this on my screen the noise is grating on me and i cant stop
it without muting my computer can you remove it now!!!!!
"

"How can I get rid of this google doodle, I did not ask for it and I
don't want it, do I have to change my browser ?"

"I thought it was a virus.

Hope it goes away soon"

"Help - the noise is driving me mad. How stupid to put this on Google
home page. I am fed up with intrusions like this! Tell people how to
switch the blinking noise off!!!!!!!!!!!"

"how to delete this stupid game it disturb me"

"Please get rid of this load of rubbish called Pac_Man"

"How do I get rid of this pac man nonsense"

If you want to read comments from actual sane people (read those who like Pac-man) the Joystiq article and comments are "bad ass".

21May/100

Why Google Rocks: Pac-Man in Google Banner (with co-op Ms. Pac-Man mode).

Why Google Rocks: Pac-Man in Google Banner (with co-op Ms. Pac-Man mode).

google_pac_man.jpg

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, the awesome (even more awesome than ever) Google has magically placed a Javascript version in their home page banner. By clicking on the "Insert Coin" button you will start up a new game of the original in a horizontal maze format (that spells out Google). By pressing the "Insert Coin" key a second time you can add Ms. Pac-Man in as a co-op second player.  In this mode Pac-Man uses the arrow keys and Ms. Pac-Man uses the WASD keys.

After taking a look at the Javascript for the game we found the secret behind their ability to mimic the sounds properly... FLASH!!! There is a SWF on the page that contains the arcade sounds and functions for playing them using the Javascript to Flash external interface calls.

What a brilliant idea (on all accounts).

8bitrocketheartgoogle.png

21May/100

Flash 10.1 On Google TV, Chrome OS, Android Makes Apple Look Silly And Petty

8bitrocketheartgoogle.png

Adobe announced the Flash 10.1 Beta today, and then went ahead and told everyone why it is so awesome.   When Adobe is not on the ropes defending Flash from Steve Jobs' shots below the belt, they are pretty good at explaining why Flash player 10.1 is so good.  Here are few highlights (I'm paraphrasing Adobe here, so if you want the full depth, please go read the original article):

  • Power and Battery Optimizations
  1. Instance Management:   Intelligently load and play back Flash content only after it comes within view on the web page.
  2. Pause and Resume: Flash Player will automatically pause the content that is running when the browser is hidden from view.
  3. Timer Throttling: Flash Player makes use of timers to control the speed of content execution.
  • Maximizing Performance
  1. Automatic Compression:  Compression of media in memory to match the typically smaller screen size and color depth of a mobile device.
  2. Circular Buffering: Allows Flash Player to constrain the size of the media buffer and recycle this memory as the content plays.
  3. Low Memory Detection:  A new system that detects when memory is running low so defensive actions can be taken to prevent a crash
  • Usability and Interactivity
  1. Consistent Smart Phone Behaviors: Supprot for Full screen, zoom, double taps, device roations, etc.
  2. Text fields: Support for virtual keyboards, and intelligent repositioning of text fields on the screen.
  3. Other Mobile Paradigms: Accelerometer Support and Geolocation support

Anyway, this announcement along with Google's recent announcement of...

  • Google TV:  A an Internet/TV platform that includes Flash 10.1 Support
  • Google Chrome App Store: A Store to sell web apps made in ANY technology
  • Android Froyo : New Android with Flash 10.1 support 
  • WebM: A New open source video standard using the VP8 codec

...has we here at 8bitrocket.com towers falling in love with Google.  We especially love this story from PC Magazine:

Excuse us for not siding with Steve Jobs on that one.

I appears to us that, without the blocking maneuvers, 1/2 truths, and reality distortion from Apple, Adobe was able to achieve some pretty cool stuff while working with Google.  In fact, one of the things Google announced for both Android and Google TV was the ability to play FLASH GAMES.  As far as we are concerned, they are in it with us for the win. 

To us, this simply makes Apple's stance on Flash look foolish.  It might be great for their own business...in the short term, but in the long-term it appears that Google and Adobe are winning the war for the hearts and minds of developers. 

21May/100

Mochi Creates Android Games Portal, Answers Our Burning Questions, Almost Makes Us Forget Apple

Yesterday, Mochi Media announced a dedicated games portal for the Android phone, m.mochigames.com:

"The site, m.mochigames.com will
feature more than 25 games and will be available upon the release of
Google's next version of Android ("FroYo") phones. The site features
mobile-optimized versions of puzzle game Biomass, card game Magic Towers
Solitaire and strategy game Wheekling, as well as other puzzle,
strategy and shooter games."

We caught-up with Mochi yesterday and asked them a few burning questions we had about his new avenue for Flash game developers.

Q: Will Mochi be accepting new games onto this Android portal? Will
it be editorialized by Mochi staff?

Yes, we'll be continuing to add games in the future. I don't
think we'll be editorializing too heavily (outside of making sure they
are working well and mobile-optimized), but more details to come on this
in the near future. 
Q: Will Mochi publish some guidelines for developers
on how to "optimize" games for the Android (real world optimization
from the Mochi brain-trust). 
Yes, we're
working with Adobe on this and will have guidelines to share soon. 
Q: Is Android specific development going to be part
of the Mochi Game Development Fund?
We are very
excited about mobile here at Mochi. The goal of the Mochi GAME
Developer Fund is to help developers build world-class Flash games and
businesses, and mobile could certainly be a part of that but we don't
have a part of the fund specifically focused on mobile today. 
Q: Does Jameson Hsu have a monocle yet?

Nope!

Coming on the Heels of the Chrome Web store announcement yesterday, we are feeling pretty good aboutthe future for Flash games and Google technology.  It almost makes us forget that we are still so mad at Apple.  Almost.

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