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    jacobus
    Latest Entry

    This is a project I started (in BASIC) way back in the early 80’s and put aside for many years. I recently found the original code, and after having a good laugh decided it would be an excellent project to re-write in Quick.
    The concept is simple – you’re an 18th century farmer dropped onto a forty acre/field grant of land and you have 50 years to try to survive and if possible thrive. In the process of surviving you will have the opportunity to develop the land, raise crops and animals, build the necessary infrastructure, weather disasters, and if you’re both lucky and smart - build some wealth.
    This game is intended to be a simulation and thereby has some relation to reality. It is not intended to be easy or even fair. Farming is a difficult proposition nowadays and a few hundred years ago it was too often an extremely labour intensive path to starvation. The game tries to mimic some of those former realities and provide a challenging experience.
    Warning - it will take a long time to play. Currently each year takes approximately 30 minutes of real time – so for a successful game you’re looking at an investment of 25 hours or more. I only recently sped things up from the 1 hour real time to 1 year of game time ratio I had set, so things could have been a lot worse! During each year of game time, there will be moments of frantic activity where you try to do many tasks in a short amount of time – such as planting and harvesting. Other times you’ll be sitting around watching things slowly develop and hoping you’ll be able to harvest enough crops before winter.
    The land will need to be closely managed – swamps drained, wells dug, fields fertilized, wood lots cut and replanted, barns and silos built, animal stocks fed, and disasters managed.
    The gameplay will consist of a graphical representation of the farm, along with an extensive menuing system to direct your actions. Crops will grow as the seasons cycle and their readiness to harvest will be clearly visible. Natural disasters such as hail, wind storms, fire, politicians, and plague will strike without warning. Winter comes and destroys any unharvested crops and tests the farmers ability to lay way sufficient food.


    The Environments
    Four types of environments are available in the game. Each have unique characteristics which should be considered carefully before developing.

    Forests
    With 25 per game, Forests account for more than half of the land area. Forests contain valuable wood and although they can be easily ploughed under and planted, forests grow slowly and are vital building products.

    Grasslands
    Grasslands are the obvious first choice for development. They can be easily ploughed under and planted. Grasslands are somewhat limited, and you will find only 10 of them in a game.

    Swamps
    Four swamps inhabit the landscape in your game. Each of them will need to be drained before they can be utilized. In order to drain a swamp, you will need to build a very expensive Windmill.

    Deserts
    A single desert exists in your game at the beginning. Deserts are fields with no water and zero fertility. In order to develop a desert you will need to dig a well and spend time spreading fertilizer. Be warned, any field that is over used and dry out and become a desert as well.


    Soil types affect how well crops develop and the risk of damage to your equipment. Soil types are:
    Swamp Too wet, you must build a windmill to drain
    Rocky Dangerous to plough – you may break your plough
    Clay Poor growing
    Sandy Poor growing
    Rich Better growing conditions
    Loam Best growing conditions
    Desert Nothing grows, must be fertilized and have a well dug
    Along with soil types, each field has a state that affects what can be done with it. These states are:
    Fallow Untouched, ready for work
    Ploughed Initial ploughing has been done, field can be planted but will not produce well
    Harrowed Field has been harrowed (must be ploughed first). Optimum condition for growing
    Planted Field has a crop planted
    Weeded Field has been weeded – improves growing conditions
    Harvest Field has been harvested, will return to fallow over the winter

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    I guess this is as official as things can get: I have completed my moved from New York City to Tucson Arizona, career and family. It was a lengthy process as I moved early February this year but life things got in the way, there is a broken leg involved due to an accident but all things resolved my relocation is done.

    My 8 bit micros are finally setup and running now, two permanent desks: Tandy CoCo 1 and CoCo 3, and a wild-desk / workbench where now I have a TRS-80 Model 4 being retrofitted into a 4D category. Said workbench will also serve to setup my other 8 bits: Commodore (VIC-20, 64, 128 and Plus/4), Apple (IIc and IIe+), other CoCos, TI/99-4As, Ataris (400, 800, STfm), Sinclairs (ZX81, QL) and others.

    Have to say the computers are enjoying the warmer dryer weather - I am the one longing for NYC. I was raised in the Nogales border (Arizona and Sonora México) so the SouthWest is familiar territory. Went to the Big Apple on a job as Broadcast Engineer and there I earned my keep over 13 years, looking forward to something less hectic as a work schedule in the Old Pueblo, at least until my kid graduates from college.

    Wherever I go the 8 bits will follow :)

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    okay, so this is my first blog. I am exploring penn and tellers smoke and mirrors. strange game

  1. On his blog, Ken Shiriff is running an excellent series on reverse engineering the Intel 8086 microprocessor by looking at it's die under a microscope.  I'll be linking to the individual articles here as a sort of "Table of Contents" for the series.

     

    Counting the transistors in the 8086: harder than you may think

    Power and clock routing

    The HALT circuits

    Conditional jump circuitry

    Understanding the x86's Decimal Adjust after Addition (DAA) instruction

  2. Lauren Tyler
    Latest Entry

    After who-knows-how-long of never touching this blog, I've decided to start it over from scratch.

    I haven't got anything to report really, but I'll be updating from time to time.

  3. As I approach my mid-30s, an issue in gaming has been weighing on me more and more over the past few years. I find myself increasingly frustrated with how modern games attempt to structure my game time in ways that are often incompatible with my responsibilities and commitments. While I was never a gamer of immense skill, as a kid I could play through difficult, long ,or mediocre games and enjoy every second of the experience. Gaming was my "thing," and it stuck with me into adulthood. I don't like going to the movies, I don't watch TV, and I care less and less about sports. When I want to relax after work or on the weekend, I turn to games, and I find that my mood, energy level, and amount of free time really determine how much I can put into a game. After a long day of work, I might want to relax with a retro game for an hour or grind away on a 3DS JRPG before going to bed. If there is a new release in a favorite series that comes out and I can build time into a weekend, I can enthusiastically marathon a game. Sometimes I like to test my skill and give myself a challenge: racing rFactor 2 or Assetto Corsa with no assists or ranking up in Tenhou Mahjong at peak hours (yes, I have odd tastes). The point is that the restrictions of my adult life dictate how I engage with games, and nothing irritates me more than games that do not take the time constraints of mature gamers seriously in the design process. There is no good reason for this other than stubborn adherence to traditional practice, and it should end, because we are the gamers with the disposable income to buy the most releases.


    Here are a few specifics that I find increasingly intolerable:

    · Forced tutorials: As a fan of JRPGs, I detest the many needlessly complex, layered systems that require (in the most egregious cases) a full hour of tutorial time to introduce. The worst offenders often do this via pages of text instructions within the game. If I have to click through 10K words to get going, I'm putting the game down and selling it. Sports games are also offenders here, as they introduce new gimmicky systems every year that force you to re-learn skills or re-adjust techniques.

    · Fetch quests and forced crafting: While a properly designed fetch quest can be fun, many are just boring, derivative content that exist solely to give you more stuff to do. Crafting works the same way. I simply don't have the time to hunt around a huge map to find a stone to enchant my sword. Zelda BOTW really put me off with the constant foraging and cooking needed to advance in the game. These mechanics should be optional for those who enjoy this sort of thing.


    · Cinematic Cut-scenes and Hollywood Storytelling: I should not have to sit through a cut-scene for the sake of story exposition. Modern games have gotten better about giving you a skip option. But more irritating still are game sequences and dialogue integrated into the action to advance the narrative. The joy of gaming to me is that it is not a movie, and, in the past, was largely free from the nonsensical "story beats" and clichéd sentiments of Hollywood and TV. Now, however, development resources are being poured into to making games "cinematic experiences," and the results are mediocre at best, with a few notable exceptions.

    · Difficulty Gaps and Spikes: Some games seem to have wild gaps between easy, medium, and hard modes, with the result being that casual and time-constrained gamers are shafted. Sports games are the worst offenders here. Easy, to my mind, should mean that I find myself in an exciting, competitive game that I have the skills and talent to easily win. Instead, easy mode is often completely uncompetitive, whereas normal and hard force you to master all of these useless and overly complex yearly mechanical "upgrades" to have a shot at victory. The only solution is to tweak pages of sliders to get an acceptable experience. Action games are getting better in this regard, but are not perfect yet, and can sometimes include sequences or segments that frustrate otherwise smooth progression (like the tank sequences in Arkham Knight).


    · Time and Money Trades: The fact that modern AAA games are borrowing freemium monetization strategies is disturbing. Those games use the design process to frustrate players into prioritizing time investment vs. money investment, and with both resources being scarce, this robs gaming of its fun. If I have the sense that a game is forcing me into a time/money trade, I will assume that it's rigged and get rid of it.

    · Save Points: It's 2017. I should not have to tell my girlfriend, "Sorry, I can't come to dinner, I need to find a save point." I should not have to wonder, "Did I hit that checkpoint yet?" Players should be able to suspend and continue a game whenever they wish. If I lose game progress because of a save issue, I will likely not continue playing the game. Time is precious, and I can't reinvest more time to make up progress in a game that was lost due to an inadequate save structure.

    What I am advocating for is a design philosophy that allows gamers to explore the content of a game at a pace that is suitable to a player's needs and commitments. We are, after all paying for this content, and it should not be locked away behind a time investment model inconsistent with our own priorities. Developers need to be flexible and creative in how they allow their games to unfold, and give players control over and options for how they experience a game. Some games have done this well. Take, for example, the adjustable encounter rates in Bravely Default and GTA V’s offer to skip a gameplay sequence and just progress the story or mission. Are they the "ideal" or "pro" ways to play the game? No. Should you get trophies for this approach? No. But the option should be offered to players who are passed the part of their lives where game skill matters. Yes, there are some favorites that I can still play at a high level and play seriously but, for the most part, I could care less about trophies, death in a game, or how I stack up against the pros. My goal, at this point in my life, is to relax and enjoy a game, not hone my skill.

    Let's take the newly released Sonic Mania as a case in point. I find the game to be much harder than my beloved Genesis Sonic games. I'm dying way more frequently than I ever did back then, and I really need to work through levels, memorize patterns, and give the later levels a number of runs before I can beat them. I think this has to do with the fact that I'm not 12 anymore, but also because the levels are larger and have more obstacles, and the 1UPs seem pretty scarce. Because I have some vacation time, I'm playing through it, beating the challenges, and repeating it for Knuckles and Tails. During a normal work week, however, I probably would have put the game down.

    What could be done to make this wonderful game "aging gamer friendly"? Give the user the ability to save between Acts, so that playing Act 1 after a death is not necessary. Let the user select how many lives Sonic can have (up to, say, 7), so that deaths are less significant to the less skilled. And have the debug code unlocked from the get go. This would allow people to run through the content they paid for at their own pace. All games can and should be adapted this way. Give me the option to use this assistance as often or as infrequently as I choose, and know that this issue will only become more urgent as the generations who were kids in the 70s, 80s and 90s age to the point that their reflexes and cognitive abilities are drastically reduced. No one should have to age out of gaming, whether because of family commitments, job responsibilities, or inevitable physical decline. Games should adapt to our needs and time constraints, not the other way around. I want to be the master of my gaming life. I've earned it! I'm old and I've given this industry tons of my disposable income, from my first allowance to my latest bonus. And the brutal reality for developers is, when many of us find ourselves saying "this isn't worth my time," we will find other outlets for that time and money.



  4. blog-0513887001502647788.jpg

    As the 40th anniversary of the Atari 2600 VCS approaches, I decided to compile my personal favorite games on the legendary system. I've owned Nintendo NES, SNES, and Wii, Sony Playstations 1 and 2, the original X-Box, and Sega Genesis, as well as other Atari systems (5200 and 7800), I always find myself coming back to the 2600. I was a kid during the height of Atari-Mania, not to mention I was born the same year the VCS launched. Therefore I present my

     

    TOP 10 ATARI 2600 GAMES

     

    10.

    WARLORDS (Atari-1981)

     

    Imagine if Bruce Campbell designed Breakout, that's pretty much Warlords in a nutshell. You know the story: four knights guard their respected kingdoms/forts, and you can play up to four people with each knight, or two people doing doubles. You can use the slower fireball for beginners, or the lightning ball for advanced gaming. Anyway I played this with my younger brother and we enjoyed trying to beat each other (usually I'd win).

     

    9.

    MEGA FORCE (20th Century Fox-1982)

     

    Based on the movie of the same name, Mega Force has you defending your palace from spaceships and missiles. I remember my older brother having this game and loving it. I got it now and still love it. The colors are flawless (as flawless as the 2600 will allow) with the only real flickering with the missiles launching at you.

     

    8.

    Centipede and Millipede (Atari-1982, 1983)

     

    I'm listing these two together, even though they're quite different (Millipede having more going on) they are still fun and similar in gameplay. Pretty much you're shooting either the Centipede or Millipede while avoiding spiders (both games) fleas (Centipede) and other insects (Millipede). I've always enjoyed these two games. Centipede will start you off, and Millipede is the next level.

     

    7.

    H.E.R.O. (Activision-1984)

     

    I actually played this on an emulator, and loved it. I still need to get the cart, so maybe one day I will seek it out or look for it on eBay. But I love the different caverns you go in and rescue the people. H.E.R.O. is a definite must-play!

     

    6.

    Cosmic Ark (Imagic-1982)

     

    First of all I love the game Atlantis, but I dig its sequel even more. You start out on the Ark shooting at asteroids and then you go to different planets to rescue a wide variety of aliens. The ship you use the rescue the aliens is the same ship that escaped Atlantis when the planet blows up.

     

    5.

    Solaris (Atari-1986)

     

    This game was released when development for the 2600 resumed. Solaris is one of my favorite space games for the 2600. You went and fought different enemy alien ships and rescued folks from enemy planets and blew up said planet. Solaris was the planet that you were trying to find as it was your home planet, but you had to fight through aliens and rescue folks from enemy planets on the way. It's definitely a must-play for any Atari 2600 fan!

     

    4.

    Starmaster (Activision-1982)

     

    This was another one my older brother owned. It was like a Touch Pad-less Star Raiders. Instead of switching to the map on the Touch Pad, you used the Color/B&W switch on the console. And Starmaster did not disappoint! It's a get-them-before-they-get-you type of space game with plenty of action to go around. Also there's four difficulty levels with one being the easiest and four being the hardest. You'll love Starmaster.

     

    3.

    River Raid (Activision-1982)

     

    What can I say about this classic that hasn't been said already? River Raid is awesome! You're shooting helicopters, ships, planes, bridges, even fuel tanks which you also use to refuel. River Raid is a fun and challenging game that never gets old and keeps you on your toes.

     

    2.

    Pitfall 2: Lost Caverns (Activision-1983)

     

    I love the original Pitfall!, but its sequel is far more superior. Many fans of Pitfall! say that Pitfall 2 is the best of the two. From its musical soundtrack that plays in the background (a pioneering feature in video games that would later become the norm) to its horizontal scrolling, Pitfall 2 is the full package and very challenging. Pitfall! may have started the platform gaming, but Pitfall 2 perfected it!

     

    Before I get to number one...

     

    HONORABLE MENTIONS

     

    M*A*S*H (20th Century Fox-1983)

    Ms. Pac-Man (Atari-1982)

    Yars' Revenge (Atari-1981)

    Atlantis (Imagic-1982)

    Pitfall! (Activision-1982)

    Stargate (Atari-1985)

    Joust (Atari-1983)

    Dark Chambers (Atari-1989)

    Frogger (Parker Bros.-1982)

    Frogger 2: Threeedeep! (Parker Bros.-1983)

    Keystone Kapers (Activision-1983)

    Adventure (Atari-1980)

     

    1.

    Adventure 2 (Atari-2005)

     

    An exclusive to the Atari Flashback 2 and Flashback 2+, Adventure 2 is another sequel that's superior to the original. The land is more elaborate and challenging (I'm still trying to beat this thing!) and even more castles than the original. The three dragons Yorgie, Grundle, and the menacing Rindle are there as well and as ferocious as ever. Yorgie is still afraid of the yellow castle's key as he was in the first game. If you own any of the Flashback consoles, especially the FB 2 and FB 2+, you must play Adventure 2.

  5. For a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out what are the determining factors of a great game, and by extension a great game system. It doesn’t take much self-reflection to realize my favorite systems are the VCS, NES, and Wii. Many of their games satisfy one of the following criteria. Numbers 1-4 are pretty essential for me, but when a game also includes number 5, I’m hooked. With the Atari Box supposedly on the way, I hope it can also muster plenty of games that fit into this list.

    1. Simple. The game needs to be easy to learn and play. There’s a balancing act the game programming has to perform here, because you don’t want the game to be easy or boring. Going along with this theme, I really enjoy single-screen games and tend to avoid 3-D worlds.

    2. Fast. This does not necessarily apply to the game’s pace. Fast means I press the start button and the action starts. I didn’t turn on my game system to watch a movie. This also applies to duration. I should be able to enjoy a round even if I only have a few minutes to spare.

    3. Fun. The game should be challenging, but not overly frustrating.

    4. Concept. The game should be an original idea or a creative twist on an old one.

    5. Ingenuity. The game should match the technology of the system and make creative use of its capabilities. The VCS and NES did this by designing games that maximized the limitations of the system. The Wii and mobile games do this through maximizing the systems’ unique player interaction. I really appreciate VCS paddle games, since it is not a common type of controller.

    I would say every game in "Racing the Beam" meets all these criteria. The most famous NES games meet them too. In general, WiiWare games did well on these too.

    A game doesn't need to score high in every one of these criteria for me to enjoy it, but that definitely would increase its chances. Now I doubt many serious gamers would share my tastes on this. However I think this list could be a useful framework for what the general public would embrace. I know expectations are low for the Atari Box, but the company would do well to keep this list in mind.

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    PhilipTheWhovian
    Latest Entry

    Hello everyone, brief update.
    Here is the Neo Geo blog.
    https://neogeopod.blogspot.co.uk/

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    atasciiview
    Latest Entry

    ATASCII file viewing

    ATASCIIView is a program that allows viewing and printing atari 8-bit formatted text files.

    ATASCIIView supports the true-type fonts created by Mark L Simonson

    There are three versions:

    • Standard Windows - runs on Windows XP and later
    • Macintosh - runs on Mac OS X
    • Windows .Net - runs on Windows 10 (or 7 with Net 4.5 Framework installed) and has more features than standard Windows version


  6. blog-0658236001499359682.jpg

    This has quickly become my favorite game on Atari. It is so entertaining and challenging. I am curious as to how many others like this game and if you like the port from arcade to console?

     

  7. so, some more new editions that bring my total game count to 59.
    I got tennis and starmaster because I want to get all the activision games first
    yars' revenge because it has been too long that I haven't owned it already
    and eggomania because it looks different.

    eggomania has a messed up label, but all the others are in good condition

    blogentry-52670-0-37460500-1496428525_thumb.jpg

  8. DanOliver
    Latest Entry

    Four years, no progress.

    For me doing a game means producing a board, box, cart, manual. Giving a player a complete experience. I got everything nailed down except the board.

    I had two basic board choices. Melody or non-Melody.

    I know there is a debate about old school code or new. I understand the challenge of writing an old school game, but I've done that already. Doing it again with modern tools, Stella, fast builds, not having to burn an EPROM for each build wouldn't seem as challenging to me. And I hate the idea of doing a non-Melody game knowing there're other designers with that option available. Having a hand tied behind my back seems silly to me. I want to deliver the best game possible. Players should care less what crap is inside the cart...it's what's on the screen, the beauty of the box, the cool story line, that matters.

    So really, hard to see the non-Melody option being one I'd take. Been 4 years, could have by now.

    The Melody option has been frustrating. Melody is a monopoly. I'm not even completely clear on who controls this monopoly. I've been unable to secure a reliable source. My goal was to produce a series of maybe 10 games to spread out the startup cost. Figured I might be able to break even if my games were really good. Without a secure source of Melody boards, or a license, that plan is far too risky.

    I could try and get into the inner circle, curry favor, move to the front of the line. I hate that crap.

    When I say Melody is a monopoly I don't consider it a dirty word. I'm a capitalist and a monopoly is always the goal of capitalism. Markets normally provide many ways to break monopolies like how Activision broke Atari's monopoly on 2600 games. I love that environment. I'd love to rewrite the Melody BIOS, make my own PCB and go head to head with the monopoly. I don't think there are any patents so it would be legal. To me, that would be fun.

    But there's a rub. Something I can't get around. I'm pretty damn sure the community would not like me doing this at all. At least a big chunk wouldn't. I'd be ripping off whoever. It is a community, not a market. So I'd have to deal with that mess, boycotts probably. Back to not making financial sense. Since I am a capitalist I do believe markets define what is wanted and what isn't. People can say they want something as much as they like, but if they're unwilling or unable to pay the cost it means they don't actually want the product no matter how many posts in a forum they make. I trust the market.

    And besides, I want to get into that BIOS. That's where the power is. That's where something really great might be possible. I don't know, but maybe.

    There was a recent project, to do some hardware to get C++ able to make games or something. I didn't really understand it. Just sounded like maybe there was going to be some open source Melody type board I could get my hands on. Looks like that project has now stopped short.

    I'm unable to see a way forward. Once again I've a spent a couple days researching, setting up yet another workstation and another dead end. I think that's enough for me. I don't like too many items on my todo list so I'm dropping the idea of doing an Atari game.

    My rant letter to the editor...
    For what it's worth I think the owners, whoever they are, are incredibly dumb to not open source Melody or to at least license it. They have every right to do whatever they like of course. But from my perspective, wouldn't it have been great to see lots of people taking their design and running with it? Maybe doing games that we never imagined? Maybe adding more hardware? Look what happened when Activision broke the Atari monopoly. The quality of games jumped orders of magnitude. Would there even be an AtariAge today if Atari had been able to keep their monopoly on 2600 games? I think the creators of the 2600 console, the people, must have been so proud to see their machine, their creation, exploited so beautifully and so completely. Even today, with Melody, which was a huge triumph. But yet today only a few games exploit it even a little and by even fewer designer. That Melody's potential has been so limited is a shame. It's primary purpose to make producing games easier, to get lots of old games into a Harmony, seems a waste of a brilliant design to me.

    I get I'm a completely insane person, never been a shortage of people to tell me. But I thought with enough people creating games for Melody that maybe a break through game could have been developed and ported to other systems. And in Wikipedia it would say that this monumental game started on Melody, on the Atari. That would have been cool. At least a cool goal.

    I think it would have been possible. Pretty well known in the game design world that great games can come from designing on simple platforms. Limiting the platform forces focus on the game itself. Yeah, non-Melody could provide that platform. But really, a lot of good designers exploited that platform back in the 80's. A small boost in power propelled game design forward a bit with Pitfall....that could have continued with Melody. And maybe it still will. But each year there will be fewer people who remember the 2600. Fewer designer will follow.

    Just a shame.

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    Buttons
    Latest Entry

    blog-0428367001494558409.jpg

    YAY!!! A successful superimposition!

     

    Last winter, some meanies vandalized an ice sculpture in our downtown area, knocking out the letter "i" in our city. Soooooo, I superimposed one of Papa's recent photos and made HIM the I in Richmond.

     

    This was great fun and highly amusing to me.

     

    P.S. I will work on better blog titles. I am not that creative.

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    There are few games that had as large of an impact on my childhood as the
    Phantasy Star series. My Sega Master System-owning neighbor had the original
    game, and it came into my possession when he sold me all of his games after he
    acquired a Genesis.

     

    I and my friends spent way too much time with Phantasy Star. I even made a
    complete set of dungeon maps, which I still have to this day. Later on, that
    same neighbor got Phantasy Star III, which I ended up purchasing from him as
    well.

     

    I still have that copy of PS3. Recently, I dug out my long neglected trove of
    Genesis games and decided to start playing them again. The backup-battery had
    died in PS3, so I had it replaced at a local store and got to business.

     

    Generations of Doom

     

    When I was a kid, Phantasy Star III was unquestionably awesome. My friends
    and I played it constantly, powered along by the excellent official strategy
    guide (sadly, I don't have that guide anymore). It was a quite a shock to me
    when I discovered that the world at large thought that PS3 wasn't all that
    great of a game.

     

    Phantasy Star II, rightfully considered a classic by just about everybody, was
    the last game in the series to find its way into my hands. If I had played
    PS2 in-sequence I might have realized just how underwhelming its sequel was.
    I ran through it again just prior to my PS3 replay and was surprised by how
    well it held up. Would that magic continue into the next game?

     

    The legends of the past shape our lives...

     

    Phantasy Star III's big gimmick is that the game is experienced through three
    generations of characters. You start the game playing as Prince Rhys of
    Landen, and at the conclusion of his quest you will have a choice of two women
    to marry. Each bride leads to a different son. This process repeats after
    the second generation, leading to four different characters for the final
    generation. Each of these four has his own ending, all of which are actually
    pretty lame.

     

    Rhys' quest is actually pretty fun. It's pretty well fleshed-out, you get to
    do lots of interesting things, and the characters are generally interesting. I
    think it's probably the best part of the game, which is a good thing since
    it's the only part you'll play every time through. After this, things get a
    little shaky.

     

    ...and those of our children

     

    Nial and Ayn, the second generation heroes, face completely different quests
    in largely different areas. These two sections are actually pretty decent,
    but Ayn's is far more interesting. The biggest problem with this section of
    the game is that Nial and Ayn have no real personality or development. We get
    to see Rhys have his bride kidnapped at his wedding and lose his temper, which
    isn't much, but at least you kind of feel for the guy. All we know about Nial
    and Ayn is that Rhys told them to go do something, and they should take Mieu
    and Wren with them. Not terribly compelling stuff, although Ayn's quest
    features a lot of callbacks to Rhys' adventure, which adds a little magic that
    Nial's journey lacks.

     

    The struggle that almost destroyed our world

     

    In generation three, the wheels come off. The four heroes, Adan, Aron, Sean,
    and Crys, basically have the exact same quest. The starting conditions and
    party compositions are a little different, but not terribly so. The biggest
    difference is that Nial's children, Adan and Aron, get a bit of a head start
    due to things that Nial accomplished on his adventure. I guess that makes
    Nial the better dad.

     

    The third generation quest consists of locating all of the transformation
    modules for your Wren cyborg and using them to acquire "the five legendary
    weapons." You will then use these weapons to fight an ancient evil and save
    your world.

     

    Two of the five weapons fall into your hands for free, since two of your
    characters will come wielding them. The other three are not difficult to
    obtain, but one of them always bothered me.

     

    Siren's Shot, a powerful gun carried by the ancient cyborg Siren, is found in
    a place called Sage Isle, which also happens to be the first place you need to
    go after collecting the five weapons. Siren himself is hanging out there, and
    he passes his weapon to you before he dies. What makes this encounter really
    strange is that a treasure chest nearby, practically on the same screen,
    contains another very powerful gun. Why is this gun here when the most
    powerful gun in the game lies just down the hallway? I always suspected that
    there was supposed to be more to this part of the game, perhaps a showdown
    with Siren to collect his weapon. He's the main antagonist of Ayn's quest,
    and it would have been fitting to fight him again.

     

    Other oddities like this plague the third generation. Another glaring example
    is the city of Mystoke, which hides a critical item in its castle. Nial
    acquires this item during his quest and passes it on to his children, but if
    his sons return to Mystoke the people still greet him as if he were the one
    who would finally retrieve the item. Lazy programming, or did Sega just run
    out of time and budget?

     

    While playing the game again, I couldn't help but be reminded of Might and
    Magic IX. MM9 was rushed out the door by a failing 3DO and ended up a
    complete mess. There is a city in the game, shown as a large and important
    place on the included map, that ends being a collection of three or four
    shacks with a throng of people standing about, most of them speaking to you
    about places in a city that doesn't exist. The developers never had time to
    build this city, and just dumped the people in a field with their dialogue
    unchanged.

     

    I've played MM9 several times now, and it fools me every time. It starts out
    OK, but there's a certain point where everything changes and it all falls
    apart. Phantasy Star III now feels like that to me.

     

    There are still a few things I really like about PS3. The graphics are really
    excellent, although the monster animations are simply awful. People harp on
    this all the time, and justifiably so. The first two games had great monster
    animations, so I'm not sure what happened here.

     

    The soundtrack is also fantastic. I particularly like the main world theme,
    which adds a new instrument every time you gain a party member. When Rhys
    begins his quest alone, it's a pretty simple and haunting tune. As he gains
    allies, it becomes a sort of rollicking battle march. Great stuff.

     

    I also love how fast the battles are. It's fashionable now to look down upon
    the random encounters that filled the games of old, but I think that what made
    those work is that fights were generally very fast. A typical PS3 battle
    takes fewer than ten seconds. Modern games, with their load times and ornate
    battle animations, just can't keep pace and random encounters drag the game
    down. Disc-based games can get this right, Shining the Holy Ark
    on the Sega Saturn is an example, but it's fairly rare.

     

    The magic system is also quite interesting. There are 16 spells (or
    "techniques" as they're called in-game, I'm not going to get into the deep
    Phantasy Star lore behind this) and the spells are divided into four groups of
    four. Characters know groups of spells, and will never learn new ones. As
    they level up, the individual spells get stronger, and you can alter the
    strength of individual spells within a group by visiting a special store and
    paying a trivial fee.

     

    One problem with this system is that the only worthwhile spells are the ones
    in the healing group. I barely even know what the other 12 spells do, because
    they're basically worthless. In fact, you can gauge the difficulty of each
    third-generation party by counting the number of party members with access to the
    healing group.

     

    Another issue is that there are no "wizard" type characters in the game, which
    gives you little reason to explore the non-healing spells. Each character's
    weapon is far more effective than any of the spells they have access to,
    there's just no point.

     

    The Phantasy Star III world is incredibly compelling, for all its
    shortcomings. There's a whole lot of history that's referred to but never really
    explored in-game, and I would love to someday make my own game that fleshed it
    out. This recent playthrough has made me sad for what this game could have
    been. I'll probably still play it, since it's part of one of my favorite
    series of games, but it just doesn't have the magic for me that it used to.

     

     

  9. I have totally forgot I have started a blog here as well. :)

    Last video:
    [media=Youtube]

    [/media]

    Playlist:
    https://www.youtube.com/embed/yqN1KR9Y29k?list=PLRiYYfr6zccw_dfV3wLpGwvcknZBVPkbP

    After two years I have reached the 20th episode, of course the first ones lacks video and audio quality, but I try my best with hard work. I mostly work with the years before 1983 (prenintendo era) and review everything, going to exhibitions with the theme in Hungary. I talk in hungarian, but you can enable the english subtitles of course on every episode. (vlog like videos are mostly not subbed due the lack of time) I recommend the four episodes about the crisis of 1983 first, the 21th will be Secret Quest, so stay tuned and tell me if you are interested. :)
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    I guess its time for a small update on this game. Its been a long time coming (too long in fact :() but the game is now at Release Candidate #1 status (RC#1). The final game now features :-
    • Never before seen graphics from nonner242
    • Five awesome tunes from Mystery Musician
    • Three difficulty levels: Easy, Medium and Hard
    • Eight enemy types to avoid/shoot
    • Four different enemy attack styles
    • Four "Evil Otto style" invincible bosses and their shots
    • Five rocket ships to build up and collect fuel pods for
    • Animated rocket launch/land sequence
    • Eight different collectable items
    • Procedurally generated planet names, graphics and colour schemes
    • An animated "New Game" intro sequence
    • An animated "New Planet" intermission
    • Four "New Ship" animated intermissions
    • HSC league and player initials entry (saved/restored to/from cart)
    • Fully adjustable volume for both music and special effects (settings saved/restored to/from cart)
    • A selection of graphical screens and animated screen wipes done in Coloured Squares mode
    • All tunes are PAL and NTSC compatible.
    • Piggy Bank also makes an appearance too :rolling:

    Take a look at the sneak peek video of RC#1 here :-



    Difficulty levels
    There are three difficulty levels in the game that are selected by pressing 1, 2, or 3 during the game's attract sequence:
    • Easy - The next rocket part to collect is identified briefly (it flashes blue)
    • Medium - No rocket part identification and an "Evil Otto style" boss
    • Hard - No rocket part identification, an "Evil Otto style" boss and weapon overheating

    A new life is awarded every 10K points too. I'm not a great believer in giving the player a bunch of things to tweak because all those parameters should have be worked out in the balancing phase of the game development in my opinion.

    Procedurally generated planets
    The procedurally generated planet's names, graphics and their colours allows for far more level variety in the game than I could come up with manually e.g.
    post-21935-0-39859400-1489064140_thumb.png<---- Click to enlarge
    post-21935-0-26476400-1489064132_thumb.png<---- Click to enlarge
    post-21935-0-68589500-1489064151_thumb.png<---- Click to enlarge
    Yep! The game generates ice/snow planets just for Rev :lol:.

    Bosses
    These are screenshots of two of the four bosses (the video contains a snippet of the first boss in action):
    post-21935-0-18295400-1489064568_thumb.pngpost-21935-0-89398600-1489064574_thumb.png

    "New Ship" intermissions
    There are four "New Ship" intermissions in the final game (only two are shown in the video above). Each intermission contains some random elements so that you won't always see the exact same thing every time you play. The intermissions are chosen randomly too, just to mix it up a bit.

    Options
    I noticed that the game's Options screen wasn't using the right font after I posted the video. Its corrected in this screen shot :-
    post-21935-0-33021000-1489067732_thumb.png
    Its been quite a while since I coded that screen and the 'S' and 'Z' font characters were changed a long time afterwards.

    Bee3s
    I have plenty of blank Bee3 PCBs to populate :-
    post-21935-0-40409400-1489064879_thumb.png

    Shells
    I have several crates of these things to clean and prepare :-
    post-21935-0-48146700-1489065988_thumb.png
    If I run out of them, I know a man with far more (*cough* BBWW *cough*) :lol:

    Wrapping up
    The plan going forward is as follows :-
    - Get some more Bee3s built up and programmed for the final phase of testing.
    - Beta testers to test the game on real hardware for a couple of months and for any bugs found to be subsequently fixed and their carts swapped out.
    - Ship JasonlikesINTV his early copy (as I promised ages ago).
    - Ship it out! :lol:
    - Make the game available to anybody who missed out.

    Testing
    I have tested the game on several of my own NTSC Inty II and PAL units and it behaves as expected. Having said that, there is no substitute for testing "out there" on different hardware.

     

    As always, if anybody wants a refund just drop me a PM.


    Source: New homebrew called "Rocketeer"
  10. I'm seriously considering selling my Coleco ADAM. I never hook it up anymore, last time I did the video had a lot of glitches, and the tape drives don't work.

     

    I may bring it to MGC to see if anyone wants it.

  11. I feel a little bit bad if I don't finish a game I paid for. It's like I have let that tiny investment in entertainment go to waste. However, I have beaten some games. Let me do a rough list of games I can think I have beaten off of hand, in reverse chronological game release(rough) order.

    Fallout 4(all DLC)
    Dishonored 1(no DLC)
    GTA 5(the only GTA I beat)
    Skyrim

    Saints Row 4(not proud of this)
    Saints Row 3
    Deus Ex: Human Revolution
    RAGE
    Mass Effect 1
    Mass Effect 2
    Mass Effect 3
    Borderlands 2
    Borderlands
    Lego Batman - high percentage
    Lego Star Wars(all but episode 7) - high percentage
    Lego Indiana Jones
    Lego Harry Potter (first years) - high percentage
    Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
    Fallout: New Vegas(all DLC)
    Falout 3:(all DLC)
    Fallout Tactics
    Fallout 2
    Fallout 1
    Crash & Burn(all golds except Detroit track)
    Deus Ex: Invisible War
    Deus Ex
    Crime Wave

    And there's others, but I honestly can't think of them right now.

    Now I don't feel so bad for not finishing XYZ game, for I have beaten others.

  12. Stephen
    Latest Entry

    First time I have ever taken a non-converting image, and fixed it, such that a suitable conversion is possible.

    Before I reduced the detail in "certain" areas, this is the best result. Note the terrible tell-tale "horizontal banding".
    blogentry-650-0-45573900-1485572388_thumb.png

    Seeing that the image was struggling with two specific areas, I went in and removed most of the detail. Below will detail the before and after images.

    1. Reduce the image to indexed 8-bit colour, using an Atari palette file (in this case, I used the default palette from Atari 800 Win+). I chose to use no dithering at this stage
    2. I went in highly zoomed, and reduced problem areas down to basically 4 colours. This freed up additional colours for detail and completely eliminated any horizontal banding.


    Before:
    blogentry-650-0-93996500-1485619201.jpg

    After:
    blogentry-650-0-60926900-1485619439.jpg

    Here's the final conversion:
    blogentry-650-0-57801200-1485619282.png
    Stephen_LaSexorcisto.xex

  13. Captain's Blog

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    I can't get the Pitfall II song out of my head....

  14. GemWare Games
    Latest Entry

    *sigh* Just another day without the Coleco Chameleon. I would have TOTALLY bought it. If it were actually here. I hope another group releases a similar console in the same vein. If only...

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    blog-0955711001476982702.jpg

    Coleco

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