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28May/110

HTML5 Canvas Book Spotted in the Wild Plus Chart Positions (#1 in Game Programming)

HTML5 CanvasIts always fun to discover the first sighting of something you have created, "In The Wild".  Just about every Friday night I take a trip over to the local Barnes and Noble to look for the latest Retro Gamer or Wired. Today was a double success because aside from the latest Retro Gamer,  I found two copies of our HTML5 Canvas development book freshly tucked in-between the other various HTML5 and and assorted web-related books.

On to the chart positions. We thought it might be fun to chart the progress of the book on the Amazon charts. It has steadily crept up the technical book charts over the last couple weeks where it now sits comfortably #1 in the Game Programming book section and is the #6313 book overall. (it was just under 20,000 a week ago). It is also #12 overall in programming books and #52 in languages and tools.

  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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    27May/110

    Win Atari's New Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale From 8bitrocket.com

    If you know us you know we love Atari.   Besides the classic Atari franchises and properties now owned by the new Atari (Asteroids, Star Raiders, Centipede, etc.), they also own some of our other favorites: Roller Coaster Tycoon and Dungeons And Dragons.   While we are still waiting for news on a new version of Roller Coaster Tycoon (a social game perhaps?), a new D&D game was released this week.   It is an action RPG in the vein of a couple of our other favorites (i.e Baldur's Game Dark Alliance, Torchlight)The fine people at Atari sent us this information about it:

    The original epitome of geekdom is taking another step in its storied pop culture history as the Dalelands of the Forgotten Realms, is brought to life for gamers and enthusiasts across the world by Atari.

    The new Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale is a “hack and slash” action role playing game set in the deep mythology of the Forgotten Realms, is the first ever Dungeons & Dragons video game rooted in the 4th edition rules for consoles.  Players are summoned by a mysterious mage and given the duty of defending their homeland as Rezlus, an evil Zhentarim Cleric looks to bring the power of the Black Lord Bane onto Daggerdale and the rest of Daggerfalls. Restore order to Nentir Vale by unlocking the secrets of the Mines of Tethyamar, defeating the evil within the treacherous Tower of the Void, leading to the final confrontation with Rezlus himself.Players can take on the role of the melee expert Human Fighter, the quick and nimble Elven Rogue, the master of the arcane arts Halfling Wizard, and the powerful divine Dwarven Cleric.  Gamers use intuitive pick-up-and-play combat combined with a wide assortment of weapons, feats and powers to defeat a wide range of deadly enemies.

    Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale carries a suggested PC retail price of $14.99 and is available on XBLA for 1200 MS Points.

    However, one of you does not have to buy it.  We are giving away one copy the PC version to our loyal readers.  All you have to do to enter the contest is this:

    Leave a comment below describing some kind of geek moment in your life that involved a role-playing game.  It does not have to even be D&D.

    We will choose the best/funniest one, and that person will win a free copy.

     

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    26May/110

    Our HTML 5 Canvas book is the O'Reilly E-Book Deal Of The Day – 1/2 off

    HTML5 Canvas

    HTML5 Canvas

    Today, you can purchase our latest book on game development, HTML5 Canvas, in digital form, for $15.99. This is 50% off the normal E-Book Price.

    The offer code is: DDM94

    The link is:http://oreil.ly/kjeZ4P

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    25May/110

    Retro Scan of the Week: Tengen's Mostly Legal NES Games

    The Tengen NES games two-page advertisement scan from Video Games & Computer Entertainment Magazine April 1989.

    I say "Mostly" Legal because the history of Tengen is slighly confusing. They did release Gauntlet, Pac-Man and RBI Baseball for the NES while under a legal NES licensing agreement between 1987 and 1989. Their version of Tetris, which I never played, is routinely considered to be a superior version to the officially released version. I say offically released because Nintendo successfully negotiated with the Russian govenerment to release console versions while Tengen thought it had licensed those from Mindscape.   The Tengen version was pulled from the shelves after selling only a few thousand copies.

    They went on to try and attempt to reverse engineer the NES lock-out chip and suffered a loss to Nintendo in the legal relm.

    Tengen was the console arm of the Atari Games, not Atari Corp. Atari Corp was the console and computer division that was purchased from Warner by Jack Tramiel in 1984. Atari Games stayed with Warner and had to choose a new name when they went into the Console game business.  They chose Tengen as it was also from the same game, "Go", that the name Atari comes from.  Tengen released very good games for almost every 1990's console and computer system. They ported some great Atari arcade games such as Klax, Stun Runner, and Hard Drvin' to these systems before being re-absorbed into Warner to become Time Warner Interactive.

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    24May/110

    Daily Interweb Mash-up: 5/24/2011: Canvas Game Tutorials, iPad Naval Gazers, Apple Heroics

    New HTML5 Canvas Game Tutorials Coming


    Jeff and I have each been working on an HTML5 Canvas game to talk about here.  Mine is called "Brickbasher Infinity" (a progressive Breakout game), and Jeff's is "Bug Off!" (a Centipede style shooter).  The games are 8-bit styled with pixels, particles, etc.  We wouldn't have it any other way, would we? The first entries for each should appear this week.

    This guy Thinks It's Good that the iPad/iPhone Has No Flash

    Never in the history of computing can I think of time when more navel gazers have had so many positive things to to say about a product line with broken and missing functionality. I like my iPhone, I thinking about an iPad too, but damn, I'm not going to justify missing stuff just so I feel good about it.   This is like 90's video game platform spec arguments (i.e.  "the SNES might not have 3D but it has Mode-7 which is way better dude!") but for I.T. nerds who pretend to understand the mind of Steve Jobs. (link)

    Apple Looks Like A Hero When It comes To Patent Hawks

    Apple did something very cool this week.  They have asked patent hawks Loadsys to "cease and desist" trying to sue iOS developers who use in-app payments.  Apparently somewhere along the line Loadsys scooped up a patent on payments inside applications and have been going after iPhone devs with it.   This was a very cool move by Apple to try to both defend their platform, and help their devs at the same time.  Bravo.

    The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com

    21May/110

    Daily Interweb Mash-up: 5/21/2011: Graphic Adventures, Flash CS5.5, & Hype

    Sorry, we missed a couple days there, but we had some special reports.  Let's get back to the news, shall we?

    The Guide To Classic Graphic Adventures

    hardcorgaming101.com has a new book that covers nearly every graphic adventure game ever made.   Here is what they say about it:

    "The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures is an ode to one of the oldest genres in electronic gaming. It is 772 pages in length, covers over 300 games and includes a number of interviews with classic game developers. It is an expansive tome, jam packed to the brim with history, criticism, and trivia. If you've ever asked the question "If I like LucasArts and Sierra games, what other games should I play?", then this book should be your bible."

    There is also a similar book from Wikipedia on Amazon.com, but this one looks more expansive and comprehensive

    Adobe Flash CS5.5

    Adobe is offering a "point" upgrade for their application suite for...a price.

    Here are some of the more interesting features:

    • Export as bitmap: Vector-based symbols can be exported as bitmaps when publishing a SWF file as a way of reducing CPU demands during playback. This feature is helpful for publishing on mobile devices with less-powerful CPUs. For more information, see Converting between bitmap and vector formats.
    • Convert to bitmap: This feature allows you to create a bitmap in the Library from a symbol instance. The new bitmap can be useful in separate versions of the project for mobile or other lower-performance devices. For more information, see Converting between bitmap and vector formats.
    • AIR for Android support: You can now publish a FLA file as an AIR for Android application. For more information, see Publishing AIR for Android applications.AIR 2.6 SDK The AIR 2.6 SDK is integrated and includes the latest APIs for iOS. These include access to the Microphone, reading from Camera Roll, and CameraUI. Retina display support is also included in the Resolution menu of the AIR for iOS settings dialog box.
    • Debug on-device via USB:You can debug an AIR for iOS or AIR for Android application

    You can read the rest here.    The upgrade from CS5 is $119.00, which is OK I guess.  There are some interesting features here, but I'd rather pay for a 6.0 with improved iOS support than just this...

    Hype For Hype?

    A new HTML5 based animation tool named Hype is now available for the Mac.  It appears to be designed to create HTML5 based web sites using Webkit (no Canvas that we can see) as a replacement for Flash.  Hmm...  It's not game oriented, but who knows what will happen in future versions.  It's only $29.99, so taking a chance on it is far less expensive than upgrading to Flash CS5.5...

     

    The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com

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    18May/110

    Something So Right: Flynn's Arcade At Disney's California Adventure

    Flynn's Arcade. Usually, I would not write a story about a seemingly throw-away, stop-gap style Disney attraction created to take-up space and distract visitors while major construction is taking place elsewhere in an amusement park, but then I never thought Disney's California Adventure could get something so right either.

    Disney's California Adventure was a mis-fire from the day it opened just about 10 years ago.  The selection of attractions (many of which have been replaced of have disappeared all-together in the past decade) was terrible. There were too many movies in lieu of rides (It's Tough To Be a Bug, Muppets 3D, Seasons On The Vine, Golden Dreams), not enough things for kids to do (a paltry 9 attractions for kids under 42 inches), and bizarre choices at every turn (Bread and Tortilla Baking exhibits, a Wine Tasting room?).  The California theme was limiting , and lacked the essential Disney imagination that makes Disneyland, just 100 yards away, so very special.  The overall feeling of the place was "rushed".  Too much blank concrete, too many cheap attractions, and too little to do for the price of admission.

    A few years ago, John Lasseter (of Pixar fame), took over the reigns of the theme park attractions (among other things) for Disney.  When he was young, he worked at Disneyland as a ride operator, and has a great love for the place.  He quickly brought a renewed sense of quality back to Disneyland and to California Adventure.  Under is direction, Disney's Californa Adventure is now getting a complete make-over.  In a couple weeks they will open an giant E-ticket dark ride based on The Little Mermaid.  Next year they will open the massive "Cars Land", themed to the hit movie that Lasseter himself directed.

    In the mean time the managers of California Adventure felt it needed some things tide over the growing crowds.  One of those things is the new "ElecTRONica" night time, glowing, dance party based on the the Tron movies. While this might sound a bit gruesome at first, it's actually quite well done.  One of the best parts, is the recreation of "Flynn's" the arcade featured in both Tron Movies.  Located at the far North-East corner of the park, Flynn's is not huge. However for what it lacks in size, it makes it up in pure nostalgic ambiance.

    First of all, the games are nearly perfect.  Tron is there, as well as a working Space Paranoids machine, the game Flynn was supposedly working on in the first Tron Movie.  Howeverm the other games included Stargate, Defender, Galaga, Frogger, etc.   While there were some anachronistic entries (i.e Gauntlet), most of the games would have fit perfectly in a real Flynn's from 1982.  The games themselves were in good condition, and each cost $.25.  just like every other arcade from the 80's, custom tokens bearing the name of the establishment (in this case, Flynn's  of course) were also available.

    Besides the games, the music playing in the room was a perfect mix of 80's AOR.  Not the usual-suspect 80's music (Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie), but an authentic of the exact mix cheesy guitar-rock (i.e. Journey, Foreigner, J Geils Band) and  non threatening new-wave (INXS, A Flock Of Seagulls) that arcade operators of the 80's played to keep the masses of kids coming.
    The walls were covered with neon art recreations of some of the most famous games from the time (i.e. Asteroids, Pac-Man, Galaxian, Scramble, Defender).   They were placed a on faux brick wall paneling, that felt like it was right out of an authentic 80's arcade location: the cheapest, must musty and drafty building on the the street.    The only thing missing was the smell of teenage boy sweat, and stale churros.

    It's hard to describe in words what it felt like to be inside Flynn's.  The surroundings were not huge or elaborate, but they were, note for note, perfect.  I wanted to stay there all night long, playing the games, and drinking in the pure, perfect nostalgia of the place. What could have been a simple throw away room with arcade games turned out to be quite a trip back in time.  Disney has done an amazing job with Flynn's.  It' a great example of what you can do if you take a rather mundane idea,  and then add care, nuance, and quality, to turn it into something very special.   If the loving care Disney has shown  with Flynn's is any indication, the next few years will be a very exciting and wonderful time for Disney's California Adventure Park.

    And here is note for Disney: please don't get rid of Flynn's when the Tron promotion is over.  You have hit on something very special that deserves to live on and be enjoyed by people for years to come.

     

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    17May/110

    Gagaville goes gold (and silver, and sparkley, with a meat dress)

    I was a small cog in the big Zynga machine that just launched a giant promotion with Lady Gaga today - Gagaville on Farmville.

    By playing you can unlock pre-release versions of her up coming songs, acquire Gaga specific items for your own farm, and much more.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I love that Robot Cow and the sheep on the motorcycle.

    16May/110

    8bitrocket.com Daily Interweb Mash-Up: Monday May 16, 2011

    Death Of Unicorn Death Is Pixelated Awesome
    Play the Mochi Game of the week, Death Of Unicorn Death.  It's an awesome bit  of pixelated madness.  It also has some juicy 8-bit in all the right places!

    Angry Video Game Nerd Takes On The "Mattel" Power Glove
    Mattel has had a long history of mis-fires when it comes to video games.  They might be the world's largest toy company, but when it comes to technology, they have a very hard time finding their footing.   The "Power Glove" was their attempt to cash-in on the "Nintendo Craze" in 1989.  The Angry Video Game Nerd does a great job of describing exactly how well the thing worked.   By the way, he also takes on the Intellivision and Colecovision. (warning, language is NSFW)

    Video Game Cereals At GamingWithChildren.com
    Over at GamingWithChildren.com, the prolific Cary Woodham has a neat article about video game breakfast cereals.

    From The Blogs
    - Rich over at Photonstorm is reporting that he as moved Flixel to GitHub and has add a slew of new stuff, including a comprehensive Getting Started Guide (just what I needed).

    - Iain Lobb takes us to Game Camp with him.

    - Michael James Williams wants you to Understand The Game Loop.

    The Latest and Greatest Count-downs from Cracked.com
    -Six Gaming "Innovations" that are way older than you think they are (our readers know most of these already). Muds, the Vectrex, and more are covered in light detail, but it's a fun read.

    -Eight special effects you won't believe are not CGI. Any list that incudes Escape From New York is a list worth reading.

    What's new at OldGamesNews.Com
    - Kotaku  has some great PS1 commercials
    - Geist Force might make its log awaited debut on the Dreamcast (yes, you read that right) very soon.

    The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com

    13May/110

    A Look at the Atari Facebook Retro-remakes

    Atari has been finally been diving into its extensive back catalog to create console, PC, and even Facebook versions of games that have been ignored by the various Atari branded entities over the years.  While we have not been overly impressed with the recent Star Raiders and Yars' Revenge 3D console / PC remakes, Atari has also been putting some better games up into the social gaming space. Here is a brief look at Yars' Revenge and Asteroids.

    Yars' Revenge

    Yars' Revenge (First War) - While the PC/Console remake was a good looking, decent rail-shooter that had  very little in common with the 2600 classic, the Facebook game is a well made, also pretty, 2D Flash game with 600+ levels that does a lot to make us forget about the console version.


    The original game-play has been left intact while adding new features and a galactic map style level choosing sequence. Your best bet will be to plug a game-pad (or USB 2600 stick)  and use Joy2Key or something similar to map the key presses to joystick buttons.

    The social experience is enhanced by adding a leader-board to the bottom of the game screen:

    It didn't display any friends who had actually finished a game yet, but I assume if any had they would be in the front of the line.  It also looks like you might be able to play a real-time battle against your friends based on the "fight" button (coming soon pops up though).

    Like most Facebook games, you can spend coins earned in the game on upgrades, but Atari Tokens can also be used.  Atari Tokens cost real money ($5 for 400 through $50 for 5000).

    Yars' Revenge is well worth your social currency, especially if you loved the 2600 classic.

    Asteroids

    Asteroids - Luckily (or unluckily depending on your view), there have not been any recent "rail-shooter" console re-makes of Asteroids to compare the Facebook version to. That means I basically have to compare it to the original, Deluxe, Space Duel, Blasteroids, 100,000 other re-makes and my own Retro Blaster from 5 years ago. Needless to say, I love Asteroids, and am not going to be easily pacified by a poor version.

    Luckily, like Yar's Revenge, Atari Asteroids measures up nicely. As a pure action game with purchasable bolt on weapons it plays nicely and looks great.

    The game is broken up into missions and missions into sectors. You collect  coins (Galactic Credits) and experience by doing well and those can both be spent at the between mission selection screen.

    Some upgrades simply cost Galactic Credits and can be implemented right away while others take time that can be sped up by paying Atari tokens.  Atari Tokens cost real money ($5 for 400 through $50 for 5000).

    While I really like  this version of Asteroids, I'm not sure I would actually pay to speed up these upgrades. I'm a cheap bastard though.

    All in all, Atari Facebook Asteroids is a very nice, well crafted version of the classic. It certainly looks pretty an plays well. There are a variety of missions and upgrades, but essentially this is a rock shoot and it's a pretty fun one at that.

    Conclusion:
    Atari is doing a nice job of creating retro-remakes for the social space that feel and act similar to the classics on which they are based. We don't know how successful action games are at driving incremental purchase revenue, but Atari is providing entertainment in the form of official social gaming releases to an under-served market.  These are fun games that build on the originals, and will hopefully draw in new fans as well as us older gamers who are nostalgic for retro blast fest. We hope these are very successful as we would love to see Star Raiders, Food Fight, Gauntlet and many other classics re-made for this space with the care and precision of Yars' Revenge and Asteroids.

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