As the years passed, I never had access to the programs that Eric, my brother, and I typed into the Apple II. They are locked on disks that Eric still owns, 1000's of miles away. However I do recall one of the very first (if not the first) real "games" we wrote together. It was a "Guess The Number" game. After building elaborate ASCII rockets with "PRINT" commands for days, Eric's dad (A computer engineer at Hughes Aircraft) taught us about about "IF-THEN" and "GOTO" statements and then we went to town.
Because I have not seen the game in 35 years, I rewrote it using the emulator. My favorite discovery was the "FLASH" command. I had forgotten about it, but when I saw it in the reference guide, it sent me back decades. It was a magical command to me when I was 9 years old. It seemed like, with "FLASH", I could create a real "reward" for winning the game. Finding the roots of my love for computers, programming, and making games does not take an extensive search. It's pretty much right here in these 20-odd lines of code.
10 HOME 20 INVERSE 30 PRINT "NUMBER GUESS" 40 NORMAL 50 MAGICNUMBER% = INT(RND(1)*100)+1 60 LET TURNS% = 0 70 PRINT "I'M THINKING OF A NUMBER (1-100)" 80 INPUT "GUESS:" ; NUMBER% 90 TURNS% = TURNS% + 1 100 IF NUMBER% == MAGICNUMBER% THEN GOTO 170 110 IF NUMBER% > MAGICNUMBER% THEN GOTO 130 120 IF NUMBER% < MAGICNUMBER% THEN GOTO 150 130 PRINT "<<LOWER" 140 GOTO 80 150 PRINT "HIGHER>>" 160 GOTO 80 170 FLASH 180 PRINT "YOU WIN!" 190 NORMAL 200 PRINT "YOU DID IT IN " ; TURNS% ; " TURNS" 210 PRINT "HIT KEY TO PLAY AGAIN" 220 GET K$ 230 GOTO 10
So you have been waiting to get your hot little hands on a new bo0k to compete in the emerging market for web and HTML5 (for mobile and web). O'Reilly makes it easier today with 50% all e-books related to web development in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the web. Keep your skills up to date, or just have some fun late night Kindle reading on the Canvas and CSS3. Put doown that 50 Shades of Grey and pick up 50 ways to make a new web site to replace that stodgy old thing you call a "web presence" form 2008 or before.
Phrase: Flappy Birded (Verb)
Definition: Used when a the internet-at-large destroys an honest and earnest individual because said person had the audacity to become successful. Usually occurs when said person is not already famous or is not deemed to be "legitimate" or "worthy" of success, and or when the product they have produced is deemed to be not "of consequence." This can happen most often when the requirements to become "legitimate", "worthy" and "of consequence" are arbitrary or not clearly defined.
Usage: "That forum just flappy birded a guy on youtube with 20,000,000 views of his video of a cat walking on a piano"
See Also: Jealousy, Envy, Cult of Personality
By Jeff Fulton (@8bitrocket on twitter)
To the majority of the public, Atari died in 1983 and is relegated to hipster t-shirts and trucker hats with ironic joysticks on them. While 90% of the USA and 70% of the UK gamers were playing with their C-64's, Nintendo's, Spectrums, Amigas, and the like, there were a large number of game players who stuck by the various Atari incarnations and their machines of varying quality. The first Lucas Arts games were actually made as a partnership between Atari and Lucas to create the most advanced games possible for the Atari 8-bit machines (800XL computer and 5200 console). If you read thorough (the otherwise fantastic) Retro Gamer magazine you would be hard-pressed to even know that Atari existed after 1984. The Magazine has the Amiga, Speccy and c=64 so far up its butt (in a nice way) that incredible titles released for the Atari 7800, ST, Lynx, 2600, Atari-8bit and even the Jaguar are relegated to the "Spinal Tap Where are they now radio ads". To help rectify this injustice slightly, I have compiled a list of the Lucas Arts titles released for the Classic Atari Machines (actually there are no non-classic machines other than the Flashback consoles).
Atari 8-bit Computers (Most released by Epyx, produced by Lucasfilm Games
Atari 5200 (Releases by Atari, developed by Lucasfilm games)
Atari 7800 (Released by Atari)
Atari ST Computers (Developed or Published by Lucasfilm/Lucas Arts Games)
Yes, there were many more titles released for the Amiga and C=64, but it seems like the Atari computer titles are always relegated to "Oh yeah, there might have been other versions also". If they name the ST version at all, it is usually with a disparaging remark like "The Amiga 500 version was nothing more then an ST port", never actually talking about the quality of the ST games. In fact, in most instances I will see a game comparison in a magazine (looking at you Retro Gamer) where it will show a 3 color ugly screen of blobs (Speccy version) along with a colorful ST version and seemingly the Speccy version is always called out for being the better port. There is so much Atari ST and Atari 8-bit computer hate and indifference out there in the magazine and on-line world that it sometimes makes me ill just to read retro reviews or publications. Yes, the Amiga was an awesome machine, but the ST certainly was no slouch in the game department. We happily played our original 1040 ST from 1987 all the way through 1993, when we finally had to get a PC for work reasons. Even then, there was no game as good as an ST game on the 386DX40 until Wolf3d came out.
The current company that holds the Atari brand and assets is filing for bankruptcy and planning to sell everything to the highest bidder That fact is not as much news as an update to the "when will Atari go bankrupt again" section of the Atari entry on Wikipedia. What *is* news is the fact that we now live in the D.I.Y., crowd funded, Kickstarter era that allows for "crazy ideas that just might work". In the case of Atari, it's the loyal fans who have spun up an idea that is simply too good to fail, but probably will anyway:
The fans want to buy Atari.
Over at AtariAge.com, the preeminent spot on the interwebs for Atari enthusiasts, an idea was sprung today to take back Atari for the fans. The effort is being spearheaded by Curt Vendel (recent co-author of Atari Inc.: Business Is Fun). The idea is to buy Atari' assets when they go up for auction, then start a new company then embraces fan efforts and the true history and legacy of the company.
Even though the idea seems outlandish, what if it came to be? What if every dollar you contributed to a Kickstarter.com campaign turned into a share of stock in a video game company? I'm not sure the SEC would let it fly just yet, but that's a matter for others to figure out.
For now, my thoughts (and my $20 or so) are behind owning a piece of video game history. Will it work? You can check out the idea and the progress here:
Bob Cringley has finally done it. He has finally written a column that tries to tackle the current sad state of corporate IT. You have to read until the end, but in a single paragraph he crystalizes the issue:
"Against this we have a cadre of IT workers who have been slowly boiled like frogs put into a cold pot. By the time they realize what’s happened these people are cooked. They are not just resentful but in many cases resentful and useless, having been so damaged by their work experience. They just want things to go back the way there were but this will never happen."
You can read the rest here.
For the 4th of July, here is an Atari 2600 inspired fireworks demo in HTML5. Click the mouse button to explode a firework shell. This demo was originally designed to test our particle FX engine for the HTML Canvas with an object pool.
While I don't have enough time this morning to go through all the code, here is a quick run-down on what is going on.
var particleManager = new ParticleExplosionManager(context);
Then we listen listen for a "mousedown" event,
This is a new column named "I Wish I Had Made That!" where we explore games that are so close to our hearts, that we wish we had made them ourselves. In fact, most will be games that we started and never finished, and someone has beaten us to the punch. The first game in this series is Dragon Fantasy from Muteki Corp.
Dragon Fantasy is an iOS (plus Mac and PC) homage to classic JRPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, games that were, in-turn, inspired by early American computer games like Phantasie and Ultima. Muteki is an American company, inspired by Japanese games, that were originally inspired by games from America, so it feels like this games has come full-circle and returned to its' roots.
Dragon Fantasy has the nuances of the JRPG ironed out to an exacting degree.
Weird monsters? Check.
Extremely linear gameplay? Check.
Story elements woven into game at regular intervals? Check.
Grinding required? Check.
Random battles: Check.
Conservative Save Points: Check.
8-bit Graphic Splendor? Check.
A addictive quality that keep you coming back for more? Check Check Check.
The guys at Muteki have done their homework with this one. The game feels like a genuine JRPG in almost every way. It reminds me very much of Final Fantasy 1 (or just Final Fantasy), which is my all-time favorite game in this category.
On iOS, the game plays smoothly and is easy to control. Input is very simple: drag your finger to move Ogden (your avatar), and make selections from menus. However, simple is fine in this case and that simplicity masks a very sophisticated ramping structure that appears to perfectly emulate the games that inspired it. It's also funny, or at least tries to be funny, which is 1/2 the battle.
Why Do I With I Had Made It?
So why do I wish *I* had made this? Well, because I've always wanted to create an RPG like this, and these guys beat me to it. In fact, we have been planning an RPG since about 1987 using overhead maps and turn-based combat. It was not based on a JRPG, but on the Phantasie series from SSI (designed by Winston Douglas Wood). Still, since Phantasie was one of the precursors to JRPGs (The Japanese were so keen on it that Phantasie IV was Japan only release), it still feels related.
Our game was going to be based on California History And Legends with a time travel element back to the old west. We were designing it on the Atari ST with STOS, but time got the best of us, and we never finished it after we moved onto DOS PCs in the early 90's. However, Dragon Fantasy shows me that it can be done on new devices, if the proper care is taken to get the nuances right.
One thing that intrigued me about Dragon Fantasy is that the main character was inspired by the deceased father of one of the developers. In fact, this is why I plunked down my money in the first place, as I believe in supporting those kinds of efforts. I really like the idea of commemorating someone in game like this. It's something I plan to do for my father some day soon. Since we traveled through California together on all sorts of adventures, making my dad the main character in an exhumed (no pun intended) California RPG might be a good choice. It also might get me to finally finish the game.
Dragon Fantasy is great game that has inspired me to play and be creative at the same time. What else can you ask from a piece of software? Get Dragon Fantasy now from iTunes for $2.99 (it's well worth the price you spoiled cheapskates) or PC And Mac for a couple dollars more. If you are into classic JRPGs, don't miss it. A plussed-up 16-bit era sequel is planned as well.