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  • GameSpy: The Perfect Arcade, Part 1: Walking the Retro Road - Page 1
    Jessica stands mesmerized and gives the spinner a series of slow near sexual twists I hand her a quarter Inexplicably it s three months until I propose As geek overlord Wil Wheaton has written about repeatedly and speechified at two different Penny Arcade Expo keynotes a real arcade is was a special place And while attempts to recapture the mid 80s feel of a real arcade exist in magical spots around the country like New Hampshire s Funspot or the retro room at Penny Arcade Expo East they suffer not just from a lack of hygiene and me not being 13 they re also very far away Catering to my sad demographic the purveyors of console games have milked this retro lust through hundreds of retreads repackagings and nostalgia turds It s extraordinarily rare that any are worthy of their source material In the case of Tempest I ve owned no fewer than six crappy versions and ports on top of the original cabinet Atari ST Microsoft Arcade PlayStation 2 Nintendo DS and twice on Xbox Live Arcade Atari ST Tempest image courtesy Typhoon 2001 a freeware Tempest clone The Third Posture I recall a very clear moment when I stepped over the line from nostalgic old dude into obsessive get off my lawn retro nutcase The scene PAX East March 2010 A dozen or so stand up arcade machines and four pinball cabinets have been assembled by the American Classic Arcade Museum the non profit arm of the aforementioned Funspot In meatspace it s just a darkened conference room In a few days the space will likely be filled with 17 pharmaceutical reps ignoring a presentation on how to sell cholesterol medication But today it s a portal to a dark arcade in 1984 Every person in the room

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/110/1103044p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: The Perfect Arcade, Part 2: From Sawdust to Space Invaders - Page 1
    expensive than MDF a bit less than plywood In short It was a perfect compromise One thing that wasn t available from my local lumberyard was the all important T molding that goes around the edges of the side panels You ve seen this stuff your whole life but likely never noticed it It s what gives an arcade cabinet that certain feel that and the cigarette stained tempered glass I ordered the 3 4 black from T molding com I already had most of the tools I needed all told my total between the lumberyard and T molding com went something like this Item Cost 2 4x8 foot sheets of 3 4 MDO for the sides and structural bits 90 2 4x8 foot sheets of 1 2 inch MDO control panels non structural bits 70 4 2x4x8s for the base and blocking 12 1 box of 1 1 2 inch wood screws 5 T molding 20 Lumberyard T molding Total 197 While I waited for the wood to show up I placed the orders for various parts I would need to make this giant piece of furniture actually do something Initially I planned on reusing that PC I used as a test bed a decision I would later change But regardless I knew what I needed four joysticks lots of buttons a spinner two trackballs and an analog joystick I d also need a USB hub and some sort of encoder to take all those buttons and turn them into keyboard commands For the latter I found two main competitors Ultimarc a vendor in the UK makes a wide range of products just for projects like this including the iPac A very similar product is available through GroovyGameGear com I chose the Ultimarc version primarily because of the constant presence of Ultimarc s founder Andy Warne on various arcade nut forums solving real people s problems and providing what seemed to be excellent customer service I also ordered my two trackballs and my spinner the most expensive single control from Ultimarc along with various wiring bits I thought I d need Item Cost Wiring bits 36 Spinner with knob and weight 98 2 trackballs with mounting hardware 168 iPac 4 takes 56 inputs 65 Ultimarc Total 367 And last I needed buttons and joysticks I certainly could have ordered these through Ultimarc as well but I wanted to cast my net a bit wider and see how the rest of the cottage industry was getting along Based on recommendations from the arcadecontrols com forums I placed an order for buttons and joysticks from two different vendors My first stop was Xgaming who makes full blown pre wired control panels Xgaming also sell simple sets of two joysticks and 20 black buttons for 40 I ordered those and rounded out the rest of the panel from arcadeemulator net Item Cost 2 joystick 20 button set 40 2 Happ 8 way competition joysticks 16 2 Happ 4 way ultimate joystick 9

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/110/1104616p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: The Perfect Arcade, Part 3: Seeking Professional Help - Page 1
    of John St Clair author of the excellent and sadly out of print Project Arcade Build Your Own Arcade Machine The book is still available for the Amazon Kindle but it s a pain to read that way as it s a highly visual guide to building a MAME cabinet Most of the information in the book is scattered around this site however and the forum is the most active and helpful community I found during my research The subforum dedicated to build logs is particularly useful on that board you ll find hundreds of blow by blow reports of folks just like you making the same mistakes and learning the same lessons ArcadeControls com was my go to site every time I ran into a snag whether it was routing the slots for T molding or configuring Windows 7 VPForums org A kind of sister site for virtual pinball enthusiasts Virtual Pinball is the deep deep end of the arcade retro pool Here you ll find information on building a true replica pinball cabinet assuming you ve got three flatscreen LCDs ranging from 19 to 40 inches and a powerful PC you don t mind sticking in the box I d love to tell you that I had no interest in this but I d be lying The recreation of classic pinball is a combination of artistry and engineering and the creation of a true virtual pinball cabinet goes well beyond the insanity dedication and expense of a simple MAME cabinet Maybe next year The International Arcade Museum While not specifically about MAME or emulation the International Arcade Museum has a massive collection of information about classic arcade games including the Killer List of Videogames KLOV for short and the Video Arcade Presentation Society VAPS which catalogs the collections of real collectors around the world It s a great place to answer questions like how many versions of Defender were there and what did the control panel really look like Slagcoin I love the Internet No matter how bored and obsessed you are someone out there has even MORE free time and deeper OCD issues Slagcoin features what must be 20 000 words on the nature of joystick and button layouts You want sub millimeter precise diagrams to print out for your Sega Astro City cabinet Slagcoin will show you that button 2 and button 3 should be precisely 35 5mm apart The site also includes excellent and perhaps less obsessive discussions on button and joystick manufacturers and the subtle differences between say leaf switch buttons and micro switch buttons and their relative merits for different game types MAMEWorld This is primarily a news and aggregation site for the MAME community It s a good jumping off point although it like much of the broader MAME web is a bit plagued with old information The site features frequent updates from the various user groups actively buying old hardware and dumping ROMs and good information about getting troublesome games to

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/110/1106439p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Coming Attractions: Behind the Curtain of the Opening Cinematic - Page 2
    If so how much Many big console titles get proper television advertising for this purpose more akin to how movies are sold They are one part of a marketing push and may help a game develop long retail legs well after the buzz dies down Berman points out that some gamers are late adopters and might come to a game after seeing a video online a good intro might help that long tail Breaking the Mold For the most part opening cinematics are two to three minute clips before the main menu You punch Escape or the Start button to skip past it Increasingly however developers are beginning to use the opening cinematic as something more Valve is often cited as the modern master of the opening trailer Half Life s train ride remains a classic of the form but the most oft cited opening in my survey of readers and friends was from Left 4 Dead 2 Opening cinematics rarely show gameplay and this one is no different It does however show how the game is played demonstrating all of the major actions a player can take Weapons and skills are displayed Characters are introduced The point of the game is clear your mission is obvious L4D2 s opening goes far beyond merely setting a scene This is not a mood trailer but one that serves as a mini tutorial The controls aren t explained but this is the most game you usually get in an opening cinematic that is still divorced from the game itself It is in many ways a thrilling opening with a lot of action strong characterization and no doubt about what the player is in for Remarkably few opening movies present this sort of joy and value Role playing game intros for example are more likely to give you back story than any real information on class differences or what types of enemies to expect The really big change in opening cinematics however is the complete drop in in game scenes that flow seamlessly into the action itself And of these BioWare s Mass Effect 2 opening is in a league of its own When I spoke to Mass Effect 2 Project Director Casey Hudson about this opening it prompted a bit of mutual confusion between us about what I precisely meant by opening cinematic Did I want to talk about the part just before the player takes control of the hero ine or everything up to the character creation about 10 minutes in That very confusion shows how BioWare approached the entirety of ME2 s prologue in a cinematic way When we create the beginning of a game says Hudson we don t think of it so much as an opening cinematic but rather how through a series of cinematic moments that alternate with gameplay we can hook you into the story The goal is to make it as interactive as possible In ME2 s opening you start with two new characters talking

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/109/1093052p2.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Coming Attractions: Behind the Curtain of the Opening Cinematic - Page 3
    at any great length in the opening but it s the main menu theme What we get in the intro is a prologue for that theme full of majesty I got involved with Civ IV after lead designer Soren Johnson an old Stanford roommate of mine contacted me about doing the music for the opening Tin recalls They wanted an African feel and Johnson knew that Tin had worked with the a capella group Talisman Oftentimes you ll see something an image a film clip and the notes will just immediately start flowing says Tin Right away when they showed me the opening shot of Earth from outer space I knew that I wanted to start with a low female vocal something serene and motherly That opening theme came almost immediately The composition leads into the main menu music of which Tin says The song was meant to play over footage of the Earth as seen from outer space with the occasional sunrise bursting over the horizon I knew that I wanted to give it a cyclical structure But the sum effect of the music is so powerful and works so well with the imagery that something was lost when developer Firaxis Games crafted new opening videos for the expansion packs For the Civ 4 expansion videos Firaxis went with the montage a series of historical images that reflect material from the game without really demonstrating what separates this new history from the old one Where Tin s music was enough to uplift otherwise pedestrian imagery the score for the expansions openings does nothing to make you want to revisit a movie you ve seen before Fin Circling back to my friend s love of the Rhapsody intro it s hard not to see what she finds so enjoyable and

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/109/1093052p3.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Bad Romance: Love in the Time of Videogames - Page 2
    Uncanny Valley altogether by taking a more stylized approach to the game s visuals Recent examples include the new cel shaded Prince of Persia reboot or Braid s cartoony 2D graphics I Did It All for the Love Score Far trickier than the technical hurdles however is the task of actually writing a believable love story When you re talking romance it s about appealing to the player personally rather than simply on an aesthetic level says Gaider But the kind of romance that a player will respond to is very subjective and there s no way around that Romance in games usually falls into one of two categories The first follows the traditional model put forth in books or film in which the player character falls for a static love interest Sometimes that character asks the player to go on quests to prove his love a la Princess Peach other times he or she is an ally in a larger adventure But either way the player cannot choose the object of the protagonist s affection Some games instead offer players the choice of romantically pursuing one or more characters via optional conversations or quests thus lowering or raising an affection meter or love score This generally results in a romantic cut scene with that character or some additional stat boosts Harvest Moon famously used this mechanic but it s been featured in everything from Final Fantasy VII to Sid Meier s Pirates both new and original vintage Both approaches have their pros and cons With a single character you get to focus your resources so you have a lot more leeway for quality scenes and plots says Gaider But you re going to miss out on a lot of players he adds who may not emotionally connect to the predetermined romantic subplot Final Fantasy VII s Clod and Aeris on a hot date Multiple potential partners on the other hand allow players to tailor their protagonist s love interest to their own tastes the bad boy or the girl next door the noble knight or the charming rogue It also opens up the possibility of same sex pairings a still touchy subject that has been increasingly explored in newer games like The Sims and Dragon Age Origins All romances in our games gay or straight are completely optional and require active interest in order to occur says Gaider A player is only going to experience the kind of content they want to The player s act of choosing a love interest inherently imbues that character with some of the player s own wants and desires which inevitably gets him or her more emotionally involved It can lead to intimacy that goes beyond a scripted experience says Gaider A Personal Connection In the end that intimacy is really what matters most says Hennig not a game s graphics Well crafted animations and character models may strengthen an in game romance but only insofar as they convince the player to suspend

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/108/1087383p2.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Loss of Death: Suicide in Videogames - Page 2
    like a mirror put before gaming Your simulated suicides are a summation of how all games work Without death and rebirth most games could not function It seems to be so much a part of games that we can t think of making a game without it says Jesse Venbrux an independent developer on the way that games have had us dying repeatedly ever since we pumped coins into arcade cabinets Many of Venbrux s games the Karoshi series Deaths Execution and the just released They Need to Be Fed read like commentaries on the plasticity of game life The best known Karoshi Suicide Salaryman is a puzzle platformer where you exit levels by finding a way to kill yourself The avatar is a suited businessman the levels are full of office furniture and the word karoshi is a Japanese term that means death from overwork But these references are beside the point What matters in Karoshi is that many of its puzzles make you work to die Its less interesting puzzles have you jump onto a bed of spikes or electrified panels no differently than you would one of Mario s flagpoles But others require you to ricochet a bullet into your face position a metal safe to fall onto you when released or design a cascade of explosions that will propel an object directly onto your head As Venbrux puts it a Karoshi player might do something that turns out was the opposite of what he had to do We are used to dodging bullets not chasing them Unlike virtually every platformer all roads in Karoshi ultimately point back to the self Your exit in each level is your own body The further you go in Karoshi the more that body feels like a burden and the more

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/108/1081824p2.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Loss of Death: Suicide in Videogames - Page 3
    you ll finish the game without committing suicide At some point you will open a path you shouldn t have and get stuck between surfaces your only recourse will be to hit the K key the kill button and begin anew The void comes in and swallows your character whole This button is not a new concept any game open enough to let you trap yourself needs to give you the power to suicide But in Closure it feels bad to take this option Glaiel says that most players when stuck shuffle the lights around to kill themselves manually For example they might open a hole in the ground and jump into oblivion They do that since it s more natural and fits with the game he says In line with Glaiel s expectations killing yourself comes with a psychological burden Because the game is so tense and the premise so existential if you fall into black you literally stop existing suiciding instead of solving the puzzle feels like giving up You Don t Succeed Even id Software s seminal deathmatch game Quake III Arena had a kill button at one point As in Closure it was a way for the player to get unstuck from the level architecture Tim Willits creative director at id says it was removed because committing suicide became like a cheat When we added some of the space maps we discovered that if you fell off and eliminated yourself quickly you could get right back in he says In contrast suicide had been allowed as a formal technique by which Capture the Flag players could instantly return to home base in the event that their team s flag was stolen The fastest way to get back is to kill yourself eliminate yourself and you respawn back to the beginning What we were finding was that people would jump off into the pit of death or would blow themselves up with rockets It would take four rockets Willits says If you hit kill you lose a point In team games it doesn t matter you re trying to capture the flag With the kill button people wouldn t have to throw grenades at the floor and blow themselves up It s not that suicide wasn t accepted in Quake III but that it was used unfairly to give the player s next life an extra edge In id Software s games life and death cycle through as rapidly as figures on a stock exchange So why do the stakes still feel so high When your character dies it s really that you failed Willits says We had no intention of making people feel like they ve lost everything It s part of the challenge Games like Doom and Quake are the very image of death The former occurs in Hell the latter in a Lovecraftian alternate dimension But players dive into these morbid visions This is because they are embracing victory not death It s not

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/108/1081824p3.html (2016-02-16)
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