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Anklesock Littlegirlsocks's blog

Pantyhose And Joysticks?

How often do we hear that videogames are damaging to our children? It is a familiar mantra that points the blame for much of society's ills firmly at the door of the video game maker. Personally, I think this attitude underestimates the intelligence of the younger generation who are firmly capable of differentiating gaming fantasy from the real world.

However, in a press report today, a real and genuine health problem to playing video games has been revealed. Such is the addictive qualities of many games adults and children have been spending long hours hunched in front of a computer screen with little or no exercise. And now it appears that even children are at risk of deep vein thrombosis, normally associated with airline passengers sitting in a seat for prolonged periods and referred to as "economy class syndrome" The good news is that prevention can be aided by the use of tights/stockings/pantyhose that assist the legs.

Lord Of My Own Domain

I find something deeply satisfying about city-building and RTS (real-time strategy) games so over the weekend I renewed my acquaintance, with a marathon session covering a number of games. Age of Mythology, Age Of Empires (all incarnations), Zeus, Pharoah, Children Of The Nile, Cleopatra and Populous and Warcraft 3 all got aired for a few hours on my trusty PC.

The genre on domestic machines can trace its lineage all the way back to Powermonger, one of the first commercial releases by Peter Molyneux, when his Populous title was still an idea on paper. Oh how I loved getting my little men chopping wood and building their base before sending them out across the landscape on suicidal missions against a computer controlled enemy. Nearly 20 years later I still find myself doing the same thing, I am still sending out hordes of little people to chop wood! My little men have become more detailed but the basic game premise remains unchanged across countless RTS games.These games are themselves based on resource management games that hark back to the mainframes of the 1960s so the concept has been with us a long time indeed!

Brain Not Brawn Please!

I wonder when it happened, but it certainly has. The adventure game has degenerated into a simplified hack and slash.

I remember a time when adventure games actually involved a concept of adventuring. How many of you share fond memories of the Scott Adams Adventures, or the Level 9 games, Collossal Adventure et al. In my opinion, this was the golden age of adventuring. As players we had to use our brain to solve puzzles that furthered the plot. There were no graphics to get in the way of a healthy imagination and I often found the text would suck me in deeply into a world like a fine novel. There were of course clunkers, with single line descriptions for locations, but the carefully crafted adventures would have reams of evocative stimulating text that would lift me from reality and carry me into the world of the author's devising.

Coding For Our Future?

Rumours are persisting of plans by Microsoft to offer discount developers kits for the XBOX 360. Over the years development kits offered by the console manufacturers have become increasingly expensive; prohibitively so unless you happen to be a lottery winner or a large publishing house!

This is not accidental. Hardware manufacturers have been keen to cherry pick their developers, forging alliances with key publishers and teams. The high pricing policy reflecting not only the high unit cost of development equipment but a strategy to deter the casual developer, providing tools only for those financially able to support the burden of developing a title. The system effectively filtered product development opportunities to those who were serious, committed and were intent on finishing a product.

Licenced Games, The Path To Rags Or Riches?

I read with interest this morning the plans for the new game based on the TV series "Lost". The idea of spinning of a TV series or movie is not new to the industry but we have come a long way since the early attempts at licenced products.

The pioneers of licenced product were the publishers Elite and Ocean Software way back in the early 1980s in the days when I was earning a living making games for the Spectrum and Commodore 64. Initially the fledgling games industry saw TV/movie adapation as a licence to make money. I remember visiting Ocean Software in Manchester on a social visit to an executive there who was a friend. His main topic of conversation over lunch was the acquisition of various properties including Knight Rider, Streethawk, the Stallone movie "Cobra" and a whole range of popular television releases of the day.

Middle Earth And Bulging Shelves

In my first year of not attending E3 you may be wondering how I have been occupying my time, here at home on the farm.

Alternatively, you may not gives a rats posterior as to what I have been doing. Well, I will tell you anyway! I have spent a huge amount of time re-reading the Lord Of The Rings, Hobbit, Silmarillion, and countless Tolkien reference books that I have collected over the years. I had a shelf bending under the weight of Tolkien reference long before that guy in New Zealand had the idea of making a flick. This is all part of my preparation for the gaming event of the year and the unveiling of Lord Of The Rings Online. (Turbine reps please note I accept beta invites most graciously ;) )

Sprinkling The Pixie Dust

Even a month into release I am still finding Oblivion deeply satisfying. Call me sad, but I am now the proud owner of both the PC and the 360 versions of the game. What is it that makes the game so much fun? the rich graphics.. the fun quests.. despatching an Imp with a well placed blow from the sword or maybe working some magic to explain to that arrogant bandit just who is boss as he finds himself at the receiving end of a tirade of fireballs. In reality, the appeal of the game is all this and more.. but what makes a good game or better yet a great game?

Our industry, like its feature film industry cousin, has no magic formula to success. We certainly have a checklist of items that we aspire to in every product we develop. We spend a great deal of money and assign skilled development teams to deliver cutting edge graphics, carefully worked out gameplay and all the nuances that we expect will make a hit game. A further significant amount of money is then spent in advertising and hype courting the consumer and critic that this game is the one that will change their lives. We put the product in a pretty box with a manual and fill the warehouse hoping to sell a million copies of our new masterpiece.

My PS2 Goes Into Retirement

I was flattered to receive an email today from a gentleman asking if I would be willing to allow one of my old console games, developed many years ago, to be on display in a console museum. Despite making me sound old enough to be a beta tester for Noah's Ark I took the compliment as intended.

The whole idea of a console museum makes me realise how far we have come in gaming from the original Atari console and Pong to the current XBOX 360 with a raft of consoles sitting between these hardware bookends.

It seems only yesterday that I was happily playing games that consisted of only two rectangles as bats and a square as a ball moving across the screen with fuzzy motion blur. And yet today, here we are with machines such as the XBOX 360 and real time graphics that only a few short years ago would have required an array of equipment and cooling fans that would have more than filled the floor space of a domestic house. It is a sobering thought to think that a single 360 has more processing power than the entire Apollo missions!

MMO or MM oh no?

I have to admit to being completely underwhelmed by most of the massively multiplayer online (MMO) games currently on the market. I have fought Kobolds in World Of Warcraft, killed more rats in Everquest 1 and 2 than I can care to count, had my lightspeeder in Star Wars Galaxies and killed galactic rats but I find myself always wanting more.

My first involvement in the roleplay genre was way back in the late 80s with the development of a series of titles called "Midwinter" (anyone remember them?) with my friend Mike Singleton (the great "Singo" who singlehandely brought us one of the first RPGs to grace a domestic computer with his landmark Lords Of Midnight game). In Midwinter and its followup titles we had interactions with game characters who spawned a series of quests and tasks. If you add the quality of todays graphics, add other players and hey presto you have just about every MMORPG on the market.

A Short Introduction

I started in the games industry way back when in 1980. In those days not only did you have to write your own games, you had to build the machine to play them on from a kit! After building my machine I was bitten by the programming bug, at the tender age of 12. I wrote games that were shared amongst family and friends and then it was suggested to me I might sell them mail order, through the range of magazines that were springing up. Leaving school 4 years later I found myself at a software house making games for those old diehards, the Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum. Some 26 years later I am still in the business and have developed a range of games for just about every machine that ever existed,picked up some awards and chart success and even made games for some machines that did not exist in the marketplace, such as the ill-fated 3DO M2 console!

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