Archive for May, 2006

Retro Scan of the Week: "Authentic Sega Gear"

Monday, May 29th, 2006
Authentic Sega Gear
This entertaining scan is from a fold-out catalog poster that came with many Sega Genesis games in the mid-1990s. My favorite items are the "2 Dudes with Atti2udes" t-shirt and the sleeveless Sonic & Knuckles denim jacket. Real classy stuff.

Dude — I've not seen this much attitude in years.

If you use this image in a blog post, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

This Week's Game Ads A-Go-Go: Visual Hyperbole

Thursday, May 25th, 2006
Visual Hyperbole
This is just a friendly reminder that this week's Game Ads A-Go-Go on GameSetWatch is dedicated to visual hyperbole in game ads. Check it out now, funk soul brother.

Retro Scan of the Week: "How to Make Your Computer Even More Boring"

Monday, May 22nd, 2006
Boring Computer
Sounds awesome! Where do I sign up?

No, this is not a Photoshop job. Midwest Scientific Instruments really wanted to make your computer more boring, presumably by making you have to do less work to load a program into system memory. If this is the standard of "boring," then I suppose my current computer is about 2000% more boring than the average computer in 1977. In fact, according to Moore's Law of Boredom, this trend should continue well into the future. Moore famously postulated in 1968 that the Integral Boredom Factor (IBF) of computing devices will double every 12-24 months. So far his postulate has impressively held true. Only time will tell if bloated software companies such as Microsoft can complicate things enough to reverse the trend.

[Scanned by VC&G from Byte Magazine, February 1977]

If you use this image in a blog post, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

Weekend Projects for Armchair Developers: Text Misadventuring (Part II)

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Zork I[Editor's Note: Apologies for not getting this up sooner. Johnny had it ready a few weeks ago, but as you all probably know, I was busy moving. Anyway, here it is.]

(This'll be a short read.)

I hope you've all saved your coupons. After an epic battle with the foul beast known as Procrastination, I've completed WPfADs: The Game, my first stab at the text adventure genre. To the best of my play-testing knowledge, it's bug-free and entirely playable. And because I like you, I'll give the link to download it right at the top of this article:

Weekend Projects for Armchair Developers: The Game

From my experience writing the game, I've learned a few things. First of all, Weekend Projects for Armchair Developers is an agonizingly clunky name. It's really just something I made up for the first article because I thought it sounded funny. Although it could be worse — my first idea was "Programming for Fun and Non-Profit." Let's just make a mutual agreement right now to call the thing by its slightly less ridiculous acronym, "WPfADs."

Secondly, Inform is a great programming language, and one that I've barely scratched the surface of with the game and Part I of this writing. With considerable time and effort (and patience), you can create a truly epic, sprawling work, with plenty of polish. My game isn't that expansive, as I wanted to complete within a reasonable deadline (say, within the year), but I'm now itching to learn some of the finer points of the language and make something more ambitious.

The thing that makes Inform such a good programming language is that it's actually quite cathartic at times. It has a leisurely learning curve, and games-without-reasonable-deadlines can be built up at your own pace. Also, did I mention that it's very easy to learn? I'd encourage anybody reading this to try their hand at their own text adventure, and let me know how it turns out.

Speaking of comments, as always I'm putting the requisite "I'd love to hear some feedback" line at the end. If you find any bugs with the game (I'm sure there's probably one or two small ones that escaped me), tell me.

That's all. Try Inform for yourself. You'll probably enjoy it.

Retro Scan of the Week: Epyx 500XJ Joystick

Monday, May 15th, 2006
Epyx 500XJ Joystick
This is from a late-80s Epyx catalog. The Epyx 500XJ joystick is actually my favorite Atari 2600-compatible joystick. It uses microswitches exclusively (instead of conductive rubber pads or metal "domes"), making it responsive with a great tactile feel, and yet rugged to stand up to lots of playing. The design of the stick's base is very ergonomic, fitting perfectly in your left hand. The only awkward thing about it is the button placement: repeatedly hitting the button by "curling" your index finger upward can get painful fast. Still, if you build up your finger muscles, it's a gem of a joystick. I'd love to get a NES version of this stick just for novelty's sake.

I'm sure many of you are also familiar with the Epyx Fast Load Cartridge, which is also on this catalog page. Feel free to share and discuss your memories of your C64 past…while I unpack more computers.

This Week's Game Ads A-Go-Go: Bad Game Ad Puns

Thursday, May 11th, 2006
Rune Your Day
This week's Game Ads A-Go-Go on GameSetWatch is dedicated to bad video game advertisement puns.

Ach! Back to moving.

Update: Moving a Mountain / New Mac Shelf

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

Corner MacFor those of you who didn't know or don't remember, the reason why VC&G has been quiet lately is because I'm in the middle of moving to a new house. After I'm settled, things will be back to normal (I also got married on May 1st. So you can imagine that I've been quite busy). Until then, I've got a few pictures for you. The first picture (above) is of the first computer I set up in my new house. It's a Mac Color Classic that I'm currently slowly playing The Secret of Monkey Island on (great game, by the way). I set it up in a little dormer nook in an otherwise empty room upstairs. In lieu of proper furniture, it gets the next best thing: the floor. When the hustle and bustle of all the moving gets to me, I can retreat to my "Mac room" and relax. But not for very long, of course, because there are plenty more computers to move! Chop chop!

New Mac ShelfRemember my "Compact Mac Shelf?" Well, I've had to leave that luxury behind. The closest I can get to that in my new place is what you see here. The previous owners left this wall-mounted TV stand in the kitchen, and upon first seeing it, I didn't think "TV." I thought…well, you can tell what I thought, because the picture illustrates it quite vividly. Anyway, if the wife lets me, I might rig up some sort of useless-but-fun interactive Mac art installation. Then again, it's likely that we'll actually just put a color TV up there (if we ever get one that size). Still, I thought the new "Mac Shelf" was worth a picture.

That's all for now. I'll still be chatting some in the VC&G Forums before I get back up to full steam again, so join in the fun (Haven't joined yet? Why not?). And don't worry — more interesting and original VC&G articles are definitely on the way.

Retro Scan of the Week: "Permanent Video Game Instructions"

Monday, May 8th, 2006
Permastruct
Wow — these instructions are so permanent that they have outlived the rugged plastic case they were grafted onto! The instructions in question are actually stuck like a sticker on the flip side of the piece you see here. I bet if a set of Permastruct ™ instructions got caught in a nuclear blast, you'd inspect the site later to find only a smoldering pile of radioactive gravel and, of course, a concise guide on how to play Bionic Commando.

Of particular note is the presumed Permastruct ™ mascot– we'll call him Permaman — with his back to the camera, throwing an awkward, off-balance punch at absolutely nothing while shouting vague sardonic threats at the Permastruct ™ logo. Tony the Tiger would get committed if found pulling a similar stunt on a box of Frosted Flakes. But then again, Tony's not permanent. Permaman ain't gotta take no crap from nobody.

Retro Scan of the Week: "10 Megabyte Hard Disk: $3,495″

Monday, May 1st, 2006
NES Power Glove Manual
Before you get excited about the low, low price for ~10,000,000 bytes of random-access magnetic data storage, make sure you read the fine print. Turns out the $3,495 price is for a refurbished unit only. The new 10 megabyte hard disk retails for a whopping $4,495. Oh, and there's another catch: the price is in 1980 dollars (US). Adjusted to 2005 dollars, that comes to around $11,415.77. Ouch.

And this isn't one of your 3.5″, half-height 5 1/4″ or even full-height 5 1/4″ hard drives either. No; it's a hulking, old-school, non-Winchester jobbie that takes interchangeable disk cartridges.

I want one.