Sunday, 11 October 2015

Shenmue 3 - Finally being made after 14 years.

 Not too long ago in a land far far away, a not-so-simple
games-maker called Yu Suzuki produced a rather unusual
& often misunderstood game named Shenmue

And so the saga begun...

Nowadays it's become a bit of a thing to say how awesome and historically important the Shenmue game is, or was, to the current gaming industry. But this wasn't always the case...

I remember picking up the boxed sets of Shenmue One and Two for the Dreamcast from a second-hand games store, for around ten UK pounds (17ish US dollars),  a good few years ago. They were both in good condition and had all the original packaging intact. In fact, it looked like they were hardly used!
Of course that was before the game had really began to gather much of a 'cult following' status, and definitely before it became mainstream, or in vogue, to know about and 'like' the Shenmue franchise. Remember that this is a game that cost more than any other to make at the time of its release, and then (more or less) bombed in the high-street stores!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Artsy, not Fartsy...

In the Beginning...
There has always been an element of 'art' that has existed, and grown, alongside but generally separate (or underground) from mainstream computing, long before the computer games industry was invented. Likewise the 'can computers make art' debate has existed from the very beginnings of the medium.
Even the early Teletype operators used to send text generated pictures to each other.This was the beginnings of what became knows as ASCII Art, arguably the first true 'art' produced solely by using machines. Arguable, because some still say it was nothing more than akin to computer graphite. Is graphite art? Well that's a question for a different blog...

Sticking with computer generated art, Conway's Game of life was possibly one of the first computer programs that could ever be considered a true form of computer art - rather than 'traditional' art made on a computer. The 'game' was based on a cellular automaton thought experiment originally devised  by John Horton Conway, a British mathematician, in 1970. His 'game' had no user interaction other than the placing of the first cells in a grid. These cells ether 'lived,' 'died,' or 'reproduced' on each turn of the game, based on Conway mathematical rules.

The rules to 'Game of Life' were few and simple, but many intricate 'living,' evolving designs could be made from the placing of the original 'seed' cells.

This zero-player 'game' was typically written for most of the 1970's mainframe, and mini, computer systems.

During the 1980's it was a typically included in various how-to programming books and listings magazines as a teaching program for most 8Bit micro computer machines.

Friday, 19 June 2015

AR v VR.

Are we now seeing the next step in console evolution?

I'm writing this in the aftermath of an E3 conference that definitely had a very real tendency towards Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) gaming.

Now, both of these technologies are hardly new, Ether in concept nor in, largely failed, real world implementations. Although we now we seem to be at a place where the technology; and equally importantly, its cost; has caught up with consumer expectations, making large scale VR and AR devices not just commercially feasible, but viable in mas-produced marketplace, perhaps for the first time...

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Fictionally Interactive Oddity…

…Or, why the death of the text-adventure has been greatly exaggerated.

What is a text adventure?

There are those that would dismiss text-adventures as gaming-dinosaurs that rightfully died out decades ago.
And to be fair I suppose it is now possible that a generation has grown up without ever seeing, let alone playing, the genre.

Or perhaps you only know them as their latter-life nom-de-plume of ‘Interactive Fiction:’ a name that a lot of purists loathe with a passion, and although I wouldn't place myself firmly in that camp, I must admit that I do prefer the name ‘Text-Adventure.’

So what is it? Well, it’s essentially a story-based text only puzzle game, where you communicate with the computer by typing in common-language phrases and the computer responds. This response may be based on any number of conditions, not least of which may be your location, items you are carrying, objects or characters that share your location, things you may or may not have already done, or how you have actually phrased your commands.  And if all that sounds confusing and dull, you may be half-right. Confusing – undoubtedly, but dull? Like anything else that entirely depends on the player. There are people, like me, who began playing text-adventures in the early to mid-eighties, and still occasionally find something interesting in them now. But there is also a dedicated core of people still playing old and new text-adventures, and there is no shortage of new interactive fiction being written. So the text-adventure is still very much alive and not an extinct dinosaur medium at all. Hopefully this blog will go some ways to showing you the how, why, and where’s of this…

Sunday, 6 July 2014

When is a TV not a TV?

...When It's a Vectrex.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Vectrex. The worlds one and only vector graphics bases console. 

Now you may think you have seen vector graphics on everything from old home-computers right up to modern day browser based games. 

But the chances are you really haven't. What you probably have seen are line-based games made up of pixels, on a CRT rastascan or LCD matrix based screen.

Ah, you say, but all computer graphics are made out of pixels. Well no actually, vector systems displays aren't, and only a handful of Arcade cabinet games from the eighties, and the Vectrex console; by Milton Bradley, no less; have truly been capable of proper vector graphics.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Revolution Has Been Televised...

My grandparents remembered a time before television. My parent talked about a time where only one or two houses in their street had a TV... Black and white of course, with a whole three stations. I myself remember the hype when a forth station was added to this lineup only to be followed, some years later,  by a fifth. By this time our family TV was a whopping 28" and in colour with almost twice as much stations as it used to have, and not only that... I could also plug my VIC-20 computer into it and actually play games on there as well. Surely we were now truly living in modern times...

Oh how long ago that seems. Now here I sit in front of our modest 42" flat screen HD digital TV watching SKY and wondering if theres anything more interesting on NetFlics or LoveFilm, whilst typing this into one of our three tablet devices, and checking for e-mails and tweets on my smart phone. But if my teenage self could suddenly jump from then to now all this would be secondary, amazing, astounding, but secondary... Because underneath the TV sits a PS3. And there's an Xbox 360 and a PC in the bedroom, and what would I think when I switched ether of these, now aging, devices on - well, what would I think after wiping the drool away from my gaping mouth, that is?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Will iOs7 be the straw that broke Apple’s back?

Has the mighty Apple finally managed to slightly annoy its, traditionally very loyal, core user-base?
You may think their products are overpriced. You may get annoyed at their unnecessarily non-standard connectors, or become frustrated with their closed operating system and insular software licencing policies. But if you do then you probably aren't an ‘Appleite’ and definitely not on their target customer base.

Was the latest iOs7 upgrading a step too far for too many established users?
Apple has prepared a very successful business model through their plug-and-play approach to their systems, and I can see the appeal of these types of product to their target audience, who are for the most part, average non-technical consumers. But this time Apple appears to have missed the mark with the look of their new desktop. And in line with Apples own policy, the ‘look,’ along with simple no-fuss functionality, has always been one of the most important selling points.
Yes there were teething problems with the new operating system, then to be fair most new operating system have these, but this time a significant portion of the established user base seems to have taken a general dislike to the fundamental look and approach of the new desktop. Has Apple pulled a ‘Windows 8’ and pushed their vision of a modern desktop upon a consumer base that doesn't want it? A quick Google search would seem to support this hypothesis…