Have you ever wondered why the ZX Spectrum never had the same loading screen for a particular release (usually big budget/film tie-in games). Well, I came across this quite recently when I wondered why World of Spectrum has different versions of the same game, but those different versions sometimes had different "encoding schemes" and its those encoding schemes that determine the type of loader that you'll get!
Here's a small guide, with examples:
Version 1 (from World of Spectrum) shows a normal white box loader that loads a query box showing normal load or turbo load. The turbo load is a timer version similar to Speedlock 7 but with a progress bar instead of the counting numbers. Version 2 of Star Wars (with the same Haxpoc-Lock encoding scheme) is just the stright up timer version.
It is a normal white box loader following with the black box loader and red/black and blue/black loading bars then a timer.
It is a normal white box loader, then normal black box loader (for a sec) then as Speedlock 7 but without the timer, just the loading bars.
Does the white box loader (twice) then a black loader with multi coloured loading bars.
So the big question is why have these different encoding mechanisms for these releases? Who wrote them and why aren't they available on all releases instead of being on certain ones? Why is the sky blue? If the answer is 42, is the question still the same? What is the Matrix??
All these questions (and more) need solving, maybe this is something that the boys over at Retro Gamer can help answer?
For the first time, last weekend, I actually bought a game from Steam that wasn't specifically Value related - like Halflife Episode #Whenever we can be arsed to make it or Left 4 Dead. It was an indie game called VVVVVV for a whopping £3.99! I had intended to use Steam for this very purpose, as in downloading indie games, since I'm a bit too much of an oldie and still prefer physical media for my mainstream games but I was rather impressed with the title.
This reminded me of another site, similar in style to Steam, but offered older games like the oooold DOS/Win 95 era games, such as Alone in the Dark, Total Annihilation, Blake's Stone and more for prices from $9.99 and lower. Better still is that these games are modified to run on Win XP and Windows 7 (both 32 and 64-bit versions).
The site? Good Old Games or GoG for short
So I decided to pick up Dark Reign and it's expansion Rise of the Shadowhand for $9.99. I do have a physical version of these games but....they won't install properly on XP. Dark Reign moans that I don't have DirectX 3, despite that I have version 9.0c. Luckily, after downloading the setup file from GoG, it installed without a hitch and plays wonderfully. But the difficulty setting seems to be horrendous as the AI units are pretty relentless and brutal at times! I had to restart the 3rd mission 5 times before I fathomed a workable strategy that allowed me a chance at winning the scenario for more than 10 minutes of playtime.
Their game catalogue is pretty impressive and I wondered just how on eath they managed this feat, after a bit of investigation, i.e. one search on the magic Google-about, I found that most of these games are either pre-patched, used open-sourced engines or have some sort of compatibility mode.
Now, this got me thinking.
I've seen *a lot* of decent open source engines:
Here they have the perfect opportunity to still sell their older titles (which comes as a bonus when they revive a franchise) as I bet the new generation of gamers would love to have a go at the older games in the series. True, you could argue that these games have lost their monetary value over the years, since gaming technology has moved on since then. But when you see a multitude of "AAA" games that only rely on graphics alone to sell the game, that excuse becomes a mute point!
I haven't updated this in a while!
Almost 6 months! That's about the time I start working on my projects again since after the last time I updated them. I don't mean to but life sucks y'know!
So, lately I've been busy but I have made some new years resolutions, one is to keep this site updated regulary (Gamers has been a tad - when I finally started it, the Cynical Gamer needs another show putting up) and the other is to actually finish 3 homebrew games this year - I've started work again on ET quite recently, so thats a start.
So please bear with me.
I know, I know. I'm getting on with it, ok?
Just to let you know that it isn't dead/abandoned
Yes, it's true. The first I heard of it was last night when a mate of ours said he'd been around the set, a day before they started shooting. They'd allowed people to have a look as long as noone misbehaved.
Where??? I hear you cry? Around Dale Street to be precise:
Also Johnny Depp decided to make an appearance in the rainy city of Manchester, we presumed he'd be around to see his mates (Tommy Lee Jones?) and, well, its a superhero film isn't it!
The film stars Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel. L. Jackson and Chris Evans....no not THAT Chris Evans
Pictures?? Oh yeah, why not
The wall at the far end is actually a painted fake wall
Love the clocks
Nice authentic 1940's style cars!
RED SHIRT!!! ;p
As we were walking around we heard the simulated gun fire, not long after seeing the sign that warned of gunfire and explosions.
Amusingly, when my girlfriend told a couple of lads who'd queried what film was being filmed the response from them was a blank expression.
YOU'RE GUYS. THIS IS CAPTAIN MOTHERFUCKING AMERICA - surely you should show *some* enthusiasm?
I was reading in this months Retro magazine about good old Lucasarts, who were famous for great games like, Sam & Max: Hit the Road, Day of the Tentacle and Secret of Monkey Island, and they were discussing the demise of two sequels, namely Full Throttle 2 and Sam & Max: Freelance Police (naturally when fans heard of the canning there was outrage, pitchforks, burning of witches, politicians and more witches). This also led to the demise of the adventure genre with Lucasarts wanting to move into mainstream gaming.
Basically that meant that every game that Lucasarts would focus on, from then on, would be Star Wars related.
Star Wars games would never get to their previous reputation
But the best thing was that it was HOW they managed to can the games. In order for Lucasarts to get what they wanted, they went to extreme measures. Firstly they replaced the marketing department with new folks, who then did research on the adventure genre and effectively came back with:
You know our biggest demographic being europe?? Well they've dropped dead!
Just like that.
I couldn't believe that was pretty much said. Could you imagine the letters from this demographic?
A dead and disgruntled fan.
This from Lucasarts with most of their adventures being a guaranteed sell! Even Grim Fandango (the last of the adventure games from Lucasarts) managed to sell well!
I've heard some bullshit excuses from publishers, in my time, but this is probably the worst!
Speaking of Lucasarts and adventure games, did you know that the first adventure game was based on a film tie-in? And that film being Labyrinth - the one with David Bowe as the Goblin King, Sarah and Hogwart.
It's HOGGLE not Hogwart!!!
It was written for the Apple IIe/IIc, Commodore 64/128 and MSX2 and here is a link for the online Apple 2 emulator with Labyrinth.
Thats one thing I can never work out about the modern games industry, as a lot of things have changed in the past 20 years and mostly that is in the size and complexity in gaming, but nothing has changed about the AI (artificial intelligence).
Quite simply it still sucks
The only game that I can think of with some decent AI in it is Epic Megagame's Unreal (1998). Y'know back before they started selling the Unreal Engine like candyfloss. The enemies, Skarrj especially, would react to your attacks by rolling and jumping around. Mercenaries would throw up arm/full body shields (when they used the arm shields I remember being forced to use the sniper rifle just to get a shot in!)
Skarrj - Annoying beaties, but a joy to fight
Mercenary - Ability to use shield belts and buckler style shields, also uses a few different weapons
And what do we get now? Laughable AI that makes FPS's and other games a breeze to play. All because some asshole MBA thinks tried and tested, jizz faced graphics and the same damn engine is all that gamers want.
There's also the problem behind "Hollywood Scripting", I'll get to that another time.
Just recently marks the first time, in 15yrs, that I've actually bought a sound card, a Creative Audigy SE, in fact. Back in my day (queue rocking chair and smoking pipe) sound cards were required to do most things, including gaming. The setup I had was:
TFX (Tatical Fighter Experiment) - There you go! 2MB and it still looks great!
Then technology moved on so that sound chips were better integrated into the motherboard meaning that you didn't have to buy a sound card anymore. The only reason I did was because of The Cynical Gamer needing me to record my games via screen capture.
Unfortunately it seems that laptops have better sound chips than desktop motherboards and that is to be expected and in a lot of ways, after testing the new card with some games, it was a worthwhile investment.
I suppose you are expecting me to post my new TCG vid....
Well, the suspense will be killing you more than me, so I'll make you wait a little longer!