Tag Archives: Commodore 64

Gaming ‘after silence’ or ‘pre noise’?

Well, I am back after a few days of silence. You see, I found a few links that were massively worry some. Yet, nothing could be confirmed in any way shape or form. It is all linked to the Australian submarine deal and the issues that are escalating in France. So it is indeed worthy to note and report on. Yet at present there are too many question marks, too much is unknown, more important too much of the material I saw remains speculation, so this is not going to be about the shipyards on Brest and Cherbourg, until I get my fingers on something a lot more reliable.

So what does one do when you need an hour of relaxation from stress and life in general? Well, until No Man’s Sky arrives on June 22nd, I need to find something to help me forget about it all. This is why June 10th the game Batman: Return to Arkham will be a nice distraction, which is the Next Gen editions of Arkham Asylum, and Arkham City, so the Batman fans can go nuts on that part. The two games are close to perfect as Batman games and the initial Arkham Asylum showed a level of gaming on PS3 and XB360 that was so high that not having it could be considered a crime (unless you do not care for Batman, which is fine too).

There have been noises in the past by bloggers and reputable sites on ‘remastered’ games. I remain on the fence. When you can replay God of War, Batman or the Last of Us, games that had set a new level of quality gaming, how can this be a bad thing? I have had my issues with Mass Effect (mostly the last one), but that will not stop me from rushing the queues to get a remastered edition of that trilogy, especially when the achievement bugs of the first game and the sloppiness of the third game are removed.

The second game was near perfect, which is why your shy Lawlordtobe.com (read: me) was part of that adventurous vacation all over the Universe (see photographic evidence below; the photo of me with a Justicar was removed on grounds of censorship).

LVR_MassEffect2 - twitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet is this it? Is there nothing more? You see, that is indeed the issue gamers face nowadays. I have been a part of gaming and its industry since 1984, so I have seen it all (well almost all at least). No Man’s Sky could be one of the last true new games I will play for several reasons.

If we look back into our memories than the term ‘god’ game is not new. The idea goes all the way back to the 80’s. The idea hit me initially from a comic as it was published in Computer and Video Games (C+VG) magazine. The Comic was a reason to get it, the other reason for the magazine is that it was in the early days one of a few good magazines that informed gamers on games (remember those pre internet times)? The reference is found at http://www.weirdretro.org.uk/the-bug-hunters-the-forgotten-80s-comic-series.html. The actual comic can also be seen (at https://archive.org/stream/Bug_Hunters_The_1990_Trident_Comics_GB#page/n21/mode/2up), in my case that page gave me the idea of a ‘god game’, which at that time (the age of Commodore 64) was not really realistic.

Much later we would be treated to Black & White, but it is not until 2016, June 22nd before the world gets a first glimpse of a galactic exploration game the way we used to dream of. Consider the three comic quotes “It’s only when your world made in detail that it gets to you“, “When you start playing god with the people in it” and “Some players get the whole world worshipping them as the deity“. You might laugh at these quotes, but consider these statements and now consider Minecraft, Black & White, Populous and now No Man’s Sky. The statements and the games touch deep within any gamer a truth that many others deny. We don’t just want to be better than anyone else, to be the one who survives, we want to bend others to our fictive will (either openly or hidden). This is a dangerous statement in light of gaming, because I am making the danger of relating to Bicameralism and in specific The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes, 1976). I believe that it actually goes a lot deeper. Good vs Evil, Light vs Dark, Commanding vs Obeying, Order vs Chaos. In this light we tend to see a correlating alliance between Evil, Dark, Obeying and Chaos. The statement that control comes from order is equally unsettling. We, our person, our being is more often than not about balance. We are the seesaw of ourselves and as such we keep a preconceived version of order though the balance as we see it. So, there it is, a deeper reflection on the gaming need. When you pick up a game and play an hour every now and then, it tends to be to unwind. When you (like me) have spent thousands of hours in the Bethesda worlds of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout, it tends to be a little different.

I hope that you see how these elements connect. I believe that part of this is subconscious, when we play Minecraft there is a subconscious part that gives us the drive to play it again and again. It goes beyond the sandbox part, it taps into our creative side, like LEGO did when we were kids. Now, not everyone feels that way and I personally believe that there is a group of people ignoring the game as they are in denial because the graphics are not high end. Some are not comfortable tapping into their creative side. I can relate to that latter group, my grasp of drawing is pathetic to say the least. The lack of one element of a creative side does not make a person non-creative. That part is a side many ignore. This links to the games.

SimCity, SimLife, SimWorld, SimTown and Minecraft gives us “It’s only when your world made in detail that it gets to you“. The first part gives us the evolution of games from the limits of systems with 640Kb and VGA displays until Mojang took it into another direction and gave us Minecraft. Your world, making it as ‘detailed’ as possible. This game intersects with the option (read: need) of exploration.

Little Computer People, Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Godus gives us “When you start playing god with the people in it“. This is a game type that is not always appreciated, let’s be honest, some work from a tactical point of view and as such they do not like it. That’s fair enough! There is no negativity towards the game or those who do not like them. I was never one for GTA, plenty of fans there. We play whatever makes us happy as gamers. These games evolved over time and remained a niche style of games.

Black and White (1 and 2) which gets us “Some players get the whole world worshipping them as the deity“, as well as the statement of the previous topic. The smallest of niches, Godus falls in this one too. Worshipping has been an element in several games, yet in that it reflects on one player in the game, in more true godlike games, you are just the element behind the screens.

These games are about control (aren’t they all), so whether you go from the premise of a trader (Elite Dangerous) or an open world exploration (No Man’s Sky), I see the near completion of an area of gaming in a new light. In this No Man’s Sky, as far as I see it at present, is not just an element, it has become the defining moment in time for a large share of gamers.

Let me explain this!

If we see the past with games like Seven Cities of Gold (1985), where it was truly about ‘exploring’ the ‘new’ world. Now we get to explore the ‘known’ universe. This goes beyond the mere sandbox approach. As I see it, the elements of No Man’s Sky have the option to change gaming, especially Role Playing Games forever, If I see the IP correctly (for as far as I saw it), it is worth millions. When we consider the video’s we saw, especially the behind the screens part, than we can consider that the ‘random’ formula part works in two directions. The side we have not seen yet would be the future ability to turn cartographical data into an equation. Once this works the IP of No Man’s Sky will be worth billions. Consider the initial part and that the limited worlds we have had so far in Oblivion, Skyrim, Morrowind and Ultima. Now consider the inverted engine to actually build Tamriel and Sosaria from detailed maps. Worlds where we can actually spend our times in, in real time in a 1:1 environment. This is the ‘after silence’ we are about to experience, the need to grow worlds to play in; a new level of playing. Not just for Hello Games, but consider the options when the gaming map has no further limits, almost like Phantom of Pain, but now with entire Afghanistan mapped. In the last party we can clearly argue whether it brings additional gaming pleasure, yet in our hearts we all know that the thought crossed all our minds. SimCity (older versions) with planetary constraints, the Sims with biological constraints, Sniper 3 with biological constrains but absent of geographical constraints. Games are evolving because we can now surpass constraints we were never able to surpass before and remove them where they were/are limitations. These elements will grow gaming hardware to facilitate and the IP will facilitate the possibilities we never had.

Now we reflect back to Mass Effect. Consider that same game, but now in an evolved setting where the Citadel is 100% available. Where mining and hunting on Gemini Sigma is not on a x*y grid, but planetary. It resets these games in true challenges to get them done in a lifetime (which could become the next hurdle).

Is this a good path?

I believe that size is an issue and overall games at large skipped that part for the most. Witcher 3 is the massive exception and it has opened doors towards the gamer’s expectation. No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous are changing it further still. David Braben showed that his re engineered idea from the BBC Micro B (48Kb) becomes a massive platform of gaming on the PC and Xbox One. A game from 1985 as addictive and fulfilling as the original was then, now with the latest graphics and a massive increase of depth.

We are moving towards true open world gaming. The hardware is there, some of the old idea’s fit and now the imagination of the creator(s) needs to evolve the next stage. That is taking into account that the game, fits the description that defines the game. If we want to race all over America we might see that the Crew ‘addresses’ that need, but when we see a 60% score, we see a clear indication that the game did not address the initial need of the gamer. Here is the part that does bring it forward. The growing need that we get when we play games with a 92% score or higher. The RPG’s I mentioned fill them all. We want more, it is there that I see the growing need for true open world. If someone tells me that this is just me, than this might be right, yet in all this consider those who like more than merely RPG, consider the multiplayer Mass Effect 3 part. How many of you (who played the game) want that element to be played out on a much larger scale? When we consider Firebase Glacier, but now the size of a proper base with a full complement of staff. Not a mere trigger point with waves of hostiles, but a base set with security a complement of personnel. Perhaps that is not what people want? I am not certain. I think the appeal in For Honor is set a lot wider than just hack and slash. I think that Evolve (4 vs 1) was initially too limiting from the bat (but great in looks and originality) with a new original approach to teamwork and of course with the option to play as the monster so you can ‘slay’ your friends. For Honor is the next step and perhaps Battlefield 1 takes that a step further still (time will tell). This is not me saying that For Honor is already surpassed. This is me saying that if For Honor is truly the victory I hope it to be, that it will start the growth of an ‘open world’ edition. As we hit the edge of our current games, we feel the need to surpass them, that has always been the case and I personally believe that No Man’s Sky is an essential step forward towards this reality.

This is just my view on it and I expect to be proven correct before the end of 2018, possibly even sooner.

 

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Wackadoo for a game

The E3 is done, the 2015 San Diego Comic Con is on and I am missing out on all of it this year. Whether it is addiction, compulsion or enslavement. It might be the last one, yet my feelings for Elite: Dangerous are no less than the same feeling I had when I had when the original  on the Commodore 64 was released in 1985. There was one shop who had it on the first day, which meant a 4 hour train ride, two hours there, and two hours nail biting trip back. Yes, it was one hell of a day, but the result was exceeding expectations, the game would be my number one game to play for a very very long time, all because a friend showed it to me on his BBC Micro B one year earlier (1984).

Enslavement is what I have in common with Greece on several levels. Like Greece, I did this to myself, whether my DNA made me desire this videogame more than sex or whether it is just the animation of pretty pictures that move because of my interaction does not matter, it was all me! Now it is so simple to blame David Braben (like calling him ‘Jerry’), but it is me, only me and I very much realize that.

It seems that the press and many others (like Greek Politicians) cannot see that. So I feel miffed when I see ‘The euro ‘family’ has shown it is capable of real cruelty‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/13/euro-family-angela-merkel-greek-bailout) by Suzanne Moore. In January 30th 2013, I wrote ‘Time for another collapse‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/01/30/time-for-another-collapse/). In there I stated “Greece is fighting just about everything from no longer payable debts and unemployment figures to phantoms of their past“, in February 2013 in ‘The Italian menace?‘ I wrote “Politicians are also to blame. For that I would like to mention papers like “Investing in Greece: an Olympic opportunity”. It came from Costas Bakouris in 2001. The thoughts were all fair enough. However, how much came to happen? How much money did come in?” This list goes on and on, I reported on it well over two years ago, no one truly dug into these matters and everyone seems to live by the credo: ‘if Goldman Sachs can hide it and the press does not report on it, it does not exist‘.

Now, the Greek people will get a harsh dose of the consequences of not holding its politicians to account.

Than 22nd January 2014 ‘Cooking the Books?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/01/22/cooking-the-books/), where the quote by Business Week “Europe’s having a bond rally and the PIGS are playing host. Portugal, Ireland, Spain—and even Greece, where Europe’s debt crisis began—are heading back to the bond markets and enjoying their lowest borrowing costs in years, as investors appear reassured that the region’s sickest economies are on the mend” is centre in all this, the part ‘investors appear reassured that the region’s sickest economies are on the mend‘ is the delusion to outrank all other delusions. In all this there is a link of power players promoting one another through unnamed sources. Greece should have known better! And in all this, as I stated before, these power players will sell Greece down the river in a heartbeat, because the fallout of Italy and France would be massively worse (10 times worse). All what we see now is the direct consequence of inaction, inaction for 3 Greek administrations and especially these last 6 months when the Greeks gave faith to what I regard to be a rock star (Varoufakis) and a paper tiger (Tsipras), all this, a mere consequence of inaction.

Was all this inevitable? Yes, personally I believe so, even though I believe that Antonis Samaras was on the right path, yet overall, that path was just prolonging a bad situation that had no long term future path.

In all this the Press is equally to blame, in conjunction with economic forecasters, power players and political whatever you want to call them. They were all about demonising ‘austerity’, it was all about how bad austerity is. The plain, bland and bitter truth is that austerity is nothing more than keeping a proper budget, yet several of the previous parties are ALL ABOUT SPENDING! Which is delusional! Just like I cannot speed up the release of Elite: Dangerous or No Man’s Sky, they cannot write away debts, there will be a consequence.

So when I read “Alexis Tsipras has fought tooth and nail for something resembling the debt restructuring that even the International Monetary Fund acknowledges is needed. The incompetence of a succession of Greek governments and tax evasion within Greece is not in doubt. But the creditors of the euro family knew this as they upped their loans, and must now delude themselves that everything they have done has been for the best” which is nicely written Miss Moore, but the following parts remain an issue “something resembling the debt restructuring” is not even close to a reality unless you keep your spending in order, which has not been done for decades.

It is her last paragraph that bothers me the most “The euro family has been exposed as a loan sharking conglomerate that cares nothing for democracy. This family is abusive. This “bailout”, which will be sold as being a cruel-to-be-kind deal is nothing of the sort. It is simply being cruel to be cruel“, in all this governments are to blame, in all this the press took a back seat to ignore what needed to be done, keep a proper budget, in all this close to ALL EEC nations failed. You see debt, even governmental one needs to be paid back, that part has been ignored for too long. The EEC now has an accumulated debt that is closing in on the size of the US debt. It almost looks like a plan by the banks in global charge to equalise all debts making them in charge of everything. Is that such a large leap? You see the debt only seems to go down in Malta, Czech Republic and Belgium. Belgium is essential because its debt is already too large, but at least they are making a positive change, only them and no one seems bothered about this. As per today they are all bothered with the upcoming consequences, now as Greece has seemingly pulled the bunny out of the hat, we will see changes of another nature, because Marine Le Pen will not let the momentum she can gain from this unanswered issue and as France is down 2.6 trillion, she will now emphasize on the benefit of moving away from the EEC, which heralds future for France, the French product and the all-round future of France. Is she right? I cannot tell as there are a few too many unknown factors here, but beyond Suzanne Moore there is more to see.

For that we need to look at gung-ho go-getter Helena Smith of the Guardian, who writes “It will take years – decades perhaps – for Greeks to get over this crisis. Catastrophe may have been averted, but it comes at the expense of conscious national failure: an overriding recognition that the state formed after the fall of military rule provided 40 years of peace and stability, but has ended in extraordinary ignominy. The promise of unending progress did not occur. Of all the truths that Greeks must now confront, that will be the hardest“, personally she writes well, but the truth is (as I see it), that the Greek issue will take generations, likely 3 of them to get it all under true control, in all this the deadly issue was not changing when it was possible. A hard-line change in 2005 would have made all the difference, now we get the added pain of a decade of spills whilst the economy is down further and more people are unemployed, all factors changing the game.

Helena writes “In return for a third bailout – this time staggered over three years and amounting to €53bn – Greeks essentially have been told to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And that is the good scenario. The alternative – Grexit – would have bypassed purgatory but taken crisis train passengers straight to hell“, even that is not completely on par. Yes Helena is correct, but what she (validly) abstains from, is the part that is depicted by ‘the valley of the shadow of death‘ is a road of reformation of administrative law, criminal law, taxation law and taxation regulation. In addition there will be pension reformation and consumer taxation. If any of these matters are not initially resolved in 18 months, with this I mean proper reformation design from day 1 (tomorrow), not a collection of empty meetings with governmental paid lunches and dinners.

It will take long working weeks (50 hours plus) to make this happen in 18 months and that draft will be decent enough to truly change the tides. If any of these changes are not done by then (so even if they get all but one done), than the Greeks will only have hell to look forward to, the Purgatory station will not be an option at that point. Changes that if Syriza had seriously started talking and started on changing them, the last week would never have happened. In all this there is one other advice the Greeks need to take home, no matter how proud they are, their survival will now depend on changing their family structure.

Let me explain, as time is now too short for those who have an option, the Greeks have one option left to survive (if at all). Consider a family with grandparents, parents and children. We call them iteration 1, 2 and 3. They need to sit down and see where the lowest debt is. If at all possible, make to all debts the minimum payments then, take every coin they have left and place that on the lowest debt. Do not hide behind pride and time and just pay them all. Get rid of them one by one as fast as possible. Banks will all state that this will not work, but they need these people all enslaved. Create safety by removing the first debt, then the second and so on. As the debts fall away, so does the interest, Greeks need to make momentum and the banks are ALL about longevity. They will twist, spin and make all kinds of brazen projections, but Greece will be in a bad place well beyond 2020. So the Greek people, if possible need to move away from all debt, after that, whomever has shed the debt, they can move forward, they can acquire and grow.

In all this, it will be another Greece, one that has a retirement system which can no longer work in the previous path, there will be a Consumer tax setting that will up the cost of living and the health care system in Greece will remain a matter of nightmares, possible it can only be accessed through the purgatory station the Greeks hopefully avoided, but in all this, taxation laws will have to change at first light, it will also mean that the very wealthy Greeks will move to another place, not unlike Gerard Depardieu. There is no telling where they will end if they want to avoid taxation of that what they avoided for so long and it is equally wrong to speculate how much taxation is due, I lack the pure data on that. What is cause to all is the dire need for the Greeks (and many EEC politicians) to stop spending money they did not have and money they were unlikely to receive. all this is centre to the fall of Greece and it is not over yet because even though Greece when over the edge, France and Italy are right there with Greece (which is why they were so opposed to Grexit) and with these two we face a 5 trillion Euro tumble, 10 times the debt of Greece.

So are we wackadoo for a video game, are we going wackadoo for the game of economics or are we just wackadoo for a totalitarian enabling of banks through debt?

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The future of gaming

My life, for the most have been about gaming in one way or another. My fascination with computers started when I was just a young man (an annoying brat to be more precise). I saw the magic of computers when I saw my first Star Trek Episode, which was around 1972 or 1973 (Dutch Television). Computers were magic from that point onwards. You, the reader will not believe or imagine this, but in those days, computers were massive, there were actual career sessions on becoming a Computer Operator. I would not get my fingers on a computer until 1981, but it was more than just love at first sight. Whilst everyone around me was looking at it, if it were a dragon that needed to be carefully prodded with a stick, my journey started in earnest. I could go around the systems in mere minutes. Where sergeants were destroying their own work by not remembering the difference between the ‘write in’ and ‘write out’ buttons on their text processor (Oce), I was circumventing the Defence servers by entering specific parts of the entire logistical system giving the ‘MDETnnnn’ commands at the system prompt. Whilst some were sitting at their desk with their ‘bankgirocent’, holding on to ‘keys’ for their keyboard, so that no one could start certain programs. I was going around the entire system with the entire defence logistical system to explore. But it was not all me, often I was sitting in a corner, listening to a Colonel, who was at that point working on a project called ‘VAB3’. I was helping out, his sergeant; a rather pretty woman thought I was after her. If only (she was really good looking). No, the colonel was the first person where I ACTUALLY learned from, the man had insight and was brilliant, It took me a few days, but then I had a clear grasp of the entire Defence payment system, the codes, the settings and the individual programs, the microfiches taught me the rest.

There was no want for money, for wealth. It was simple learning and exploration. We all learn and grasp in our own ways. Do not worry; it is all still linked to gaming!

My weakness is that I never had any commercial inspiration; I never cared too much about money (other than paying my bills). I was always interested in the Puzzle! In my time I have designed my applications, I made them for friends, I made them as assignments, to make a little cash. I once had the option to automate cinemas, but after one afternoon I dropped it. Not because I could not do it, but because it was too easy. I had solved all parts in less than three hours but I did not write it as it had become a mere exercise. It was my only real flaw and to the smallest extent it still is.

I did actually also do other things (like actual work) with mainframes and at times, with those dinky weird contraptions called PC’s. The IBM PC was bulky, and had two boxes the size of the Google OUYA flat side forward, one slot was for the 360Kb floppy the other slot was for the 10 Mb disk drive, which was priced at $2999. Yes, I did say 10 Megabyte! On the disk was a program called Lotus Symphony version 1.1, which I used to create a program to manage the numbers and information of dangerous cargo on container ships (in those days the fines for too much IMCO 5.1, whilst entering Singapore were truly massive). It took me 3 days to work it out and after that they could find the information in minutes, which before that moment took hours and sometimes up to 2 days to check the containers of a carrier at times having a load of almost 1750 containers. So, I did achieve plenty, but it was always the puzzle that pushed me forward.

masterelite1 So, how does this relate to gaming? To get this, you have to consider the days of non-graphics, where a game like Elite was high resolution graphics (in those days).

It was the first game I actually played for some time on the BBC micro B computer (which was not mine), but I was hooked ever since. I moved from Vic-20 (second hand) to a Commodore 64 and from there on, whatever work I did, it was the console at home that satisfied my need for ‘puzzles’ and exploration.

This now comes back to the game we see getting more and more attention. The game is called ‘No man’s sky’ and the person giving it the visibility it deserves (and more) is Danny O’Dwyer (at http://www.gamespot.com/no-mans-sky/). This game takes me back to several games. First, there was Elite, where we travelled the cosmos, trading and shooting wars from Harmless to Elite. The game is at times mindless get through it, simple, but the trades, the encounters, the jumps to a new place and especially in the beginning, docking with a station, had me and many like me glued to the screen. Later on the Commodore Amiga, some German person made something that looked like a Star Trek simulator, where we could fly to planets, get into orbit and (that was it at the time, the game was not complete). After that Origin (the people behind Ultima and Wing Commander) give is a higher graphics version of Elite and they called it Privateer. Later still Peter Molyneux gave us Black and White, a god creation game. I could go into a lot more detail, but I do not want to bore the reader with my gaming life.

There is one reference that is missing. In the 80’s, there was a comic strip in a magazine called ‘Computer and Video Games (CVG)’ about a ‘god-creation simulator’. Here we have the elements of the puzzle. Here we see the elements of No Mans Sky united. The exploration of a planet, from there we can see and visit the planets in the cosmos and grow in wealth, menace and trade as we find larger and better means for travelling. This game has all the elements of gaming I always loved and this game is close to giving us the almost perfect exploration game, where we are mere travellers in all the freedoms we ever wanted. We are not limited by the confines of Tamriel or Sosaria. This game is close to promising a journey where our own imagination is slowly becoming the only remaining limit in gaming.

That would make this game the most enticing form of gaming we are ever likely to meet and see. It is quite literally Minecraft on an epic scale!

We will always want our Scribble Shooter (or its smoother brother Halo), but gaming is more than a race, a fire fight or even a quest. No Man’s Sky is trying to meet the promise some of the older gamers have waited for, for a lifetime. Will we get that experience? I truly hope so!

I have had good days, even great days in many of the games on nearly all of the platforms. Even today, as we see new games trying to fend for the ‘top’ spot of gaming, some gamers are still yearning back to the games that actually delivered a sense of wonder. Whether it was one of the Ultima games, a Metal Gear Solid, the original thief or even a game like System Shock (both one and two) delivering that sense of joy. Some will desire the days of Mass Effect and would want to walk around the Citadel beyond the few levels we saw. No Man’s land is currently implying that it will offer all of that. That makes the days of Danny O’Dwyer one of the sweetest jobs around, because he could be sitting on the hottest gaming potato of an entire generation of gaming.

Time will tell whether NoMansSkyFieldSean Murray ends up being the greatest marketeer or the greatest game developer. I am hoping for the second one. The only critical view I have (for now) is that it is good to know that it is coming, the fact that the game is still more than a year away is less interesting if we get to see too much of the game so far in advance.

 

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First day peril

What do you do when you like a game? The initial answer is to buy and play it. Yet, this was not the case in the past and there are now growing issues that allows for the creation of a situation where might soon be the case again.

In my youth I had hundreds of games on my Commodore 64, many of them were less hindered by original packaging. I knew it was not quite right, but I did not think I was breaking any laws. Reasoning? I did buy original games, however many of them were not for sale and would never be for sale.

When I look back at my second computer I was happy to have bought the Commodore 64 with a 1541 disk drive for the price of almost $1500 dollars, those were the days! I also bought four games in the first 3 weeks. Loderunner by Broderbund, Suspended by Infocom, US Mail by US Gold and the Flight Simulator 2. The FS2 was the big one at $200, the other games were $90 each and I do not regret buying these games. US gold was a low level entry into flying, the FS2 was a high end flight simulator with all kinds of maps and Infocom was a challenge unlike any I would play for a long time. Loderunner was the odd duck in that list. I got so hooked on it that I had to take a sickie, so that I could play through the entire game in one go (no save and continue options in those days), all 150 levels, level 151 was the first level on a higher speed. It took the best part of a day and most of the night to get through it all. When I stopped I had well over 65 million points, 80 lives and no physical energy left, those were the days. In those days I also learned the hard way how distribution exploitation worked. The games that we all read about we could never order and the some games were 200%-500% more expensive in the Netherlands then they were in the US. So for a long time, there were no games to get. I remember these issues, because I was truly happy to get the original game (Ultima 3 by Origin) 2 years after I had already finished the game. This is however not about the legality of gaming.

This is about gaming itself. When I go through the ages of the games I bought on the CBM-64, Atari ST and CBM Amiga. The games had a massive amount of value. This only increased when the Nintendo N-64 and the PlayStation arrived. I am talking about good quality graphics (for those days) and the amount of game time a game offered. The Ultima series offered weeks of fun (if you are into RPG games), Ultima 3 on CBM-64 and Ultima 4 on Atari ST. I will go one step further stating that this last game had so much depth and story line that it is still for the most equaled, but not surpassed on today’s RPG games. If you are into a more active role in gaming then we had Boulder Dash, Ghosts and Goblins, Sentinel, Green Beret, Iridium and Rambo, each of these games offering well over 20 hours of gaming pleasure. Not to mention the pleasure you got from replaying at times.

So here it is: How come that a new PS4 game named Infamous: Second Son only offers 15 hours (1 play through) at $109? I did this in one weekend and I am not the best when it comes to action shooter games. This is at the heart of gaming now. Marketing gives us the ‘flim-flam’ of graphics, the storyline is decent, but the amount of play time is basically in the basement. With the engine in place, they could have offered an easy 10-20 hours of additional game play, so why are they not giving the consumer that? More important, as this is the first year for the new PlayStation, why is Sony not taking a better look at the games that are slowly pushing people to the Xbox One?

Yes, I did read that Sony is happy about the 6 million consoles and they think they are the clear winner now. This is an error that could prove to be fatal! Consider the PS2 (over 150 million), the PlayStation (the first one) over 100 million. The PS3 only sold 80 million, which is roughly the same as the Xbox 360, so 6 million consoles is no victory. The current lack of releases, the delays and now the released games are not the incentive Sony should be hoping for.

There is an overall lack of quality gaming and both big players (Sony and Microsoft) need to get their thinking caps on and consider the implications that a lack of quality brings. No matter how secure you make your system, people have almost no money to spend and spending $100 for something that represents less than a day of fun will not cut it. People (read students) will find a way around it. They do not just want to play games, they are quite right to demand value for money and that is what is found lacking more and more, no matter how good the graphics are.

I understand that an RPG is not for all, but then consider the amount of time it took just to finish the very first Tomb Raider. The second Tomb Raider took almost the same amount of time, each offering well over 300% of the fun that current games seem to bring (including the latest Tomb raider). Next gen consoles are one, but a regression of gaming quality is not what we wanted to see. This evidence can also be seen when we see the launch of remastered games from one console to the other one. The fact that Banjo had a huge following was shown as many bought the game on Microsoft Live Arcade (I reckon many of them former N-64 owners). So when we consider the games of Rare (a truly rare high quality developer for the Nintendo) and the need for gaming, compared to the pale imitations of games we see nowadays, I cannot stop wondering who is behind the lacking vision of some games and why some games just do not make a decent quality cut.

This last part can be countered or defended when we look at what I regard to be a questionable game. Metal Gear Solid 5, Ground Zero is an introduction game that is coming out this week for $50. Now, I still consider MGS4: Games of the patriot to be one of the best games the PS3 ever released and it was released in the first year of the PS3. With MGS5 however, there is a video out that completes the main game in only 10 minutes (when bypassing cut scenes and side missions), it is at http://www.gamespot.com/articles/you-can-finish-metal-gear-solid-5-ground-zeroes-in-10-minutes/1100-6418384/

I get that MGS fans might have missed their favourite character, but can anyone explain how a game can remain interesting when the main mission is so small? It comes down to a $300 an hour game and that is asking us to hand over cash for all the wrong reasons.

Gaming is taking a turn for the worst for now. Yes, better games will come, but how? We see more and more games relying on micro transactions. Either, you pay $3-$5 for additional outfits, weapons and downloads that give you additional missions at $5-15, yet when we add this to the base game, does the consumer still get value for money? In this day and age of economic hardship, that is the true issue that counts for families having a console and that demand is not being met, not even close. There is a reason for giving the spotlight to Metal Gear Solid in this case. The fact that a franchise that had a game that ended up being regarded as the best on a console twice is not a fluke. MGS on PS1 and MGS4 on PS3 showed that the makers knew games; they understood their gamers and they drove a console forward. It is slightly worrying that the bosses at Sony behind the PS4 have not been on top of this, because games do not appear overnight, it took more than a year of planning. When we see the amount of delays now, we can only conclude that someone was not paying attention and we are all paying the price for that.

So what will happen to console gaming next?

I do not pretend to have the answer here, but consider the releases and the marketing we saw on new Sony games, then consider the amount of time Infamous is offering us; what else will we learn after the fact?

In the end, good games might come, but realise that the two anticipated games (Thief and Infamous) are mediocre to fair at best. Sony still has the lead in regard of number of games released, yet, if the next one is found to be mediocre then Microsoft could take the lead in next gen gaming. Let’s not forget that the 360 became a contender because of the games they offered, the tables could turn on Sony with this system before the end of 2014. My personal belief is that Sony could pull through; it just takes some quality daylight (pardon the pun) to make all the difference.

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Previous Generation towards future Games

At this point it feels important to me to take a look at the lighter side of life. This article is also slightly more intended who remember gaming on systems like the Commodore 64, Atari ST/Amiga and the pre Pentium 1 gaming days. I remember those days well. Simple days! It was all about working the absolute minimum one had to do and the rest of the time was about enjoying the outside life (to some extent) and then to go home and enjoy a video game…..or two. In those days if a boss required you to work overtime, then you went to the chemist at lunchtime and bought him some Valium or Xanax, so he could relax. Good Times!

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon something called D-Fend reloaded, which is a DOS emulation program, with an additional link to a place called ‘My Abandoneware’ at http://www.myabandonware.com

These two places allow you to play the old original games from those early gaming days. The fun part is that I had several of them, yet the advanced options of D-Fend allowed me to slow down the processor to such an extent that those games finally worked again and they worked flawlessly.

Now, for most this is not new, or in some cases they think that these games have nothing to offer.

I beg to differ. The X-Com games and The Ultima series are more than most realise. These games brought a level of original gaming that even today can hardly be surpassed. You see, a good game is not about smooth graphics. It is all about playability. This is without a doubt a lesson we can learn for free so it seems, so this is a number one trip for all readers. The abandoneware site had actually a second option. Each game has a link where the original owner can identify himself, should he object to his game being freely available here. I found one such game, and I bought it for the iPad at the Apple store.

The interesting part is that these games still touch me in some way. These were the original titles and they are part of gaming history. More important, this list of over 4000 games will show you one clear thing. These people were innovators in more than one way. They were able to deliver a game that was able to run on a 640Kb system (yes, I know that most do not even have a memory card that small).

So, consider how the bulk could be transferred to something as ‘simple’ as the Nintendo DS. Add slightly better graphics and several of these titles will soon be more coveted then several high marketed products on the game store shelves today. After 20-25 years that is some achievement.

Of course many of these 4000 games are below par by most standards, but that is the consequence these games have, some were from, or meant for the Commodore 64. It only had 64Kb to work with. It was not until 1990 that this world changed for the personal computer. The main reason was the coming of the SoundBlaster. The SoundBlaster was a soundcard that went to places the Adlib card could not reach (the ruling soundcard in those days). It gave the PC sound abilities that surpassed the initial 16-bit home computers like the Amiga and the Atari ST.

Yes, many will not be swayed as they are so into ‘graphics’, yet these games depended on game play, which is not that far-fetched when you are limited to 640Kb high-end computing powerhouses (as they were then).

Legally this group of games is interesting too. Even though many might not bother or realise this but these games still have copyrights. More important considering the term of copyright, and it currently goes to figure why some of these games are not reset for the new and smaller systems. This is where the one owner option on that games site comes into play. The game that was removed from the system as per request by the original owner was a game called Ascendency. It has a tactical and it has a strategical side to it. I will not go into the game itself, but what is clear is that he made an excellent export to the iPad. Most of the game remained the same. Only small changes were made to get this game to run on my iPad 1. The result is one enjoyable journey into a game thought was lost to me. It works great! Consider that I had no problem dishing over those $7, even though I still have the original PC disk. This version is a happy addition to my collection.

The two big winners here would be Sid Meier and Richard Garriott. Their old games are still as fun and rewarding to play as the moment I got these games in the early 90’s. A dozen games all almost ready to be ported to handhelds and tablets. All ready for a new generation of gamers who will quickly learn that these games filled with game play can easily outlast some high end graphic game we conquer in 20 hours for $99 retail. Comparing new games against transferred game I can see a dozen games, each having 50-100 hours of gaming value at $10 each. That comes down to almost 1000% more game play for the amount of one new game. I say that makes it a win-win for us.

A win one as we get great game play, and win number two as the game industry needs to start thinking long and hard on how their marketing hypes are winning less and less, whilst we the gamer become ever weary on what we are offered and for the amount it is offered for.

Will this stop games like Elder Scrolls 6 or a new God of war? No! Good games will always get our attention.

Their question should be what makes it a good game for us!

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