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Found 16 results

  1. Earlier this year Atari announced that they were in the process of developing a new console for the first time in decades. There was a 20-second teaser that showed off vague contours of the console before fading into a logo for the classic gaming giant. Now we finally have a good look at the console and know a bit about what it will be able to do. Two different versions of the console will be available when it launches: A retro-inspired wood panel design and a more modern red and black option. Lights indicating the positions of various cable and card ports shine through the console's materials along with the company's logo. The Ataribox console will sport an SD card reader, an HDMI port, and four USB ports. Atari has stated that Ataribox will be supporting classic Atari games as well as more "current content." They did not elaborate as to what that more current content might be, but the concept of Atari pulling an NES Classic-type console that can also download and play more modern titles certainly comes across as intriguing. The company also did not clarify if the console would be limited to Atari titles, if there might be third party support, or if the console might be a more open-source device. Atari made all of this public in emails to their community stating that their goal with this Ataribox is “to create something new, that stays true to our heritage, while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari.” They seem to know that people want to know more about the device, so their email went on to clarify that, “We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, pricing, timing. We’re not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we’ve opted to share things step by step as we bring this to life, and to listen closely to the Atari community feedback as we do so.” What do you think? Are we ready for a new Atari console? Is there space in the market for one to succeed? View full article
  2. Earlier this year Atari announced that they were in the process of developing a new console for the first time in decades. There was a 20-second teaser that showed off vague contours of the console before fading into a logo for the classic gaming giant. Now we finally have a good look at the console and know a bit about what it will be able to do. Two different versions of the console will be available when it launches: A retro-inspired wood panel design and a more modern red and black option. Lights indicating the positions of various cable and card ports shine through the console's materials along with the company's logo. The Ataribox console will sport an SD card reader, an HDMI port, and four USB ports. Atari has stated that Ataribox will be supporting classic Atari games as well as more "current content." They did not elaborate as to what that more current content might be, but the concept of Atari pulling an NES Classic-type console that can also download and play more modern titles certainly comes across as intriguing. The company also did not clarify if the console would be limited to Atari titles, if there might be third party support, or if the console might be a more open-source device. Atari made all of this public in emails to their community stating that their goal with this Ataribox is “to create something new, that stays true to our heritage, while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari.” They seem to know that people want to know more about the device, so their email went on to clarify that, “We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, pricing, timing. We’re not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we’ve opted to share things step by step as we bring this to life, and to listen closely to the Atari community feedback as we do so.” What do you think? Are we ready for a new Atari console? Is there space in the market for one to succeed?
  3. Atari was once the standard-bearer for the video game industry, helping establish the home console market into what it is today. But after a decline in business and a constant reshuffling of executive leaders (among other factors), the company fell from its lofty perch in favor of publishing and other ventures. But after two decades, Atari has apparently gotten the itch to leap back into the home console scene with its new Atari Box. A 21-second teaser offers no information, showing only close-up glimpses at what could potentially be the hardware's form factor. Most notable is the wood paneling, a design trademark of the Atari 2600. The Atari Box would be the first Atari console since the Jaguar, which released in 1993 and discontinued in 1996. Plans for the new console were confirmed by Atari CEO Fred Chesnais during an exclusive interview with GamesBeat reporter Dean Takahashi during E3. “We’re back in the hardware business,” said Chesnais. What do you think about Atari re-entering the console business? What does the Atari Box need to do to compete with modern hardware? What games do you hope will be released with the new console? View full article
  4. Atari was once the standard-bearer for the video game industry, helping establish the home console market into what it is today. But after a decline in business and a constant reshuffling of executive leaders (among other factors), the company fell from its lofty perch in favor of publishing and other ventures. But after two decades, Atari has apparently gotten the itch to leap back into the home console scene with its new Atari Box. A 21-second teaser offers no information, showing only close-up glimpses at what could potentially be the hardware's form factor. Most notable is the wood paneling, a design trademark of the Atari 2600. The Atari Box would be the first Atari console since the Jaguar, which released in 1993 and discontinued in 1996. Plans for the new console were confirmed by Atari CEO Fred Chesnais during an exclusive interview with GamesBeat reporter Dean Takahashi during E3. “We’re back in the hardware business,” said Chesnais. What do you think about Atari re-entering the console business? What does the Atari Box need to do to compete with modern hardware? What games do you hope will be released with the new console?
  5. With the recent release of the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, another game looms large in the background: The original Legend of Zelda, the 1986 title that started it all and taught us all that it's dangerous to go alone. Nintendo's open world adventure forced players to think beyond the limitations of previous console games, forced Nintendo to change how it made games, almost single-handedly created the Nintendo Power magazine, and became both a cultural and game design touchstone. Does The Legend of Zelda, with all of its 1986 technical limitations, still hold up over 30 years later? Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 'The Imprisoning War' by smartpoetic (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03308) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! A Patreon has been created for those looking to support the show. You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  6. With the recent release of the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, another game looms large in the background: The original Legend of Zelda, the 1986 title that started it all and taught us all that it's dangerous to go alone. Nintendo's open world adventure forced players to think beyond the limitations of previous console games, forced Nintendo to change how it made games, almost single-handedly created the Nintendo Power magazine, and became both a cultural and game design touchstone. Does The Legend of Zelda, with all of its 1986 technical limitations, still hold up over 30 years later? Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 'The Imprisoning War' by smartpoetic (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03308) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! A Patreon has been created for those looking to support the show. You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  7. The documentary, World 1-1, aims to cover the origins of video games and to that end has lined up an impressive array of interviews. Now it just needs funding. Video games have the unique distinction, at least for now, of having many of the people who created the medium still alive. Jeanette Garcia and Daryl Rodriguez figure that now is the time for someone to catalog the origins of video games while those creators are still around and able to share their experiences. The result of their effort is World 1-1, the first in a series of documentaries about the history of video games. World 1-1 tells the story of Atari, the business deals, the technological innovations, and the raging personalities that smashed together and formed video games as we know them, and how video games were almost lost forever. A selection from their Kickstarter page explains their approach: #1 The business deals: A question that is often asked is whether video games are art. They definitely are, but they're also a business. In the creation of this industry, it was ultimately the businessmen and the deals they made that took video games out of the universities and out of the hands of the select few who had access to computers at the time. Engineers had the creativity, knowledge, and ingenuity, but their innovations had to make business sense. World 1-1 will look further into the business deals that got video games out of the garages of the elite and into everyone's home. #2 The personalities of the pioneers: Atari exec Ray Kassar once called the game designers "high-strung prima donnas". While that's certainly one perspective and not true for all game designers, it's a testament that creative individuals are often perceived differently due to their intriguing personalities. This film will provide firsthand accounts from the game designers and explore who they really were and who they are today. #3 The creations of the engineers: The innovations of the time were a break through in technology. The creators had the incredible technical challenge of making a video game without a microprocessor. The early companies developed the design of putting the games on external chips, which has remained the same until today. World 1-1 will highlight the legendary titles and the lesser-known games that were precursors to the games we play today. In addition to their enthusiasm for the project, Garcia and Rodriguez have lined up interviews with a number of the video game industry's pioneers and prominent figures. These include: Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, Activision co-founder David Crane, Adventure creator Warren Robinett, co-creator of Centipede Dona Bailey, creator of Night Driver Dave Shepperd, and Garry Kitchen a programmer for the original Donkey Kong. Other industry professionals are lending their talents such as, IGN's Colin Moriarty and Peer Schneider, video game personality Patrick Scott Patterson, and Rick Medina, owner of Arcade Odyssey. The goal of the Kickstarter is to raise $15,000 to fund expenses such as travel and equipment costs. Currently, the project is sitting at $2,563 with 14 days until the Kickstarter is over. For more information, check out their Kickstarter page or Facebook. Honestly, a someone with a huge interest in the history of video gaming, I would love to see something like this made. I think it is an interesting project and both Garcia and Rodriguez seem to have done their homework and lined up what could be some really amazing interviews. Many of these people won't be around for much longer and capturing their stories on film in an amazing opportunity. Contribute if you think World 1-1 is something worthwhile.
  8. A Brief History of Horror - Part 1

    With Halloween right around the corner and fright-filled games like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Outlast lurking on store shelves, we here at Extra Life thought it would be a great opportunity to delve into the origins of video game horror and get some insight into how the genre has evolved. Though people debate over what exactly constitutes the very first horror game, the earliest one argued for is Mystery House, an Apple II adventure game from 1980. The title was one of the first adventure games to feature graphics and was the first game created by Roberta Williams, who later went on to make the long-running King’s Quest series. Mystery House locked players in an old, Victorian mansion with several other people and a murderer on the loose. The player must figure out the identity of the psychopath before he or she is the last victim. In what became a trend for following games attempting creepy atmosphere and visuals, the story was based on a pre-existing property, in this case Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The other game most often credited as one of the first games designed to scare players was Haunted House (where are people finding all of these scary houses?) released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. Due to the limitations of the system, the game didn’t look like much with pixels roughly the size of fists. The player, represented by a pair of eyeballs, has entered a haunted house to retrieve pieces of an urn that belonged to the late Zachary Graves. Spooky things like spiders, bats, and ghosts hid around the house and had to be avoided at all costs. The unnerving mechanic which separated this title from others of the time consisted of the character’s use of matches as a light source. The matches gave vision for a few seconds before they would go out or whenever an enemy entered the same screen as the player. This gave Haunted House a feeling of tension and suspense as you never knew when you might be in danger. Over the following years, there was a period of games which, though they drew heavily on horror imagery, weren’t necessarily horror games in the true sense. Many of them were simply cash-ins on famous movies, going for shock value with depictions of violence that hadn’t been seen in video games at that point (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Evil Dead). Other attempts at horror games during this time were adventure games attempting to capitalize on famous horror properties like Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, and Wolfman. One of the few original games to attempt horror between 1982 and 1989 was the 1986 arcade light-gun shooter called Chiller which places players in the role of a torturer with the goal of torturing people in the most efficient and gruesome manner possible. The game ended up being less horror and more horrible, falling into the same camp as the movie cash-ins going for shock rather than substantial scares. The game wasn’t widely known due to how few arcades were willing to host the cabinets on their premises due to its distasteful content. People can debate the first “real” horror game prior to 1989, but that year the genre undeniably solidified around two video games: Project Firestart in the West and Sweet Home in Japan. Project Firestart hit the Commodore 64 toward the end of the console’s lifespan after a long and troubled development process in the hands of Dynamix. In an effort to create durable laborers to work in space mines, the nations of Earth began dabbling with genetic engineering. What could possibly go wrong? When the research space station in charge of safely producing space mining monsters stops responding, it becomes the player’s job to find out why. Upon reaching the station, it basically becomes a side-scrolling Dead Space, almost 20 years before Dead Space was a twinkle in the eyes of its development team. The player is tasked with figuring out what went wrong on the station and search for survivors. Firestart introduced numerous concepts such as limited ammo, terrifyingly strong enemies, and journal entries that fleshed out the events and world; ideas still present in many games of the horror genre today. The Japan-only Sweet Home released in late 1989 for the Famicom as a spin-off of a movie of the same name. Rather than being an attempt to milk money out of the relative success of the film, the game attempted to be a genuinely unnerving game. Following the plot of the film, Sweet Home begins with five people arriving at the Mamiya mansion to recover valuable paintings that had been left there by its previous owners. Upon entering, they become trapped by a malevolent spirit and must battle their way through ghosts and monsters to find an exit without being crushed by the crumbling building. Each character has a special ability or item that helps traverse the environment or aids in the random battles. Each character also could be permanently killed and there were five different endings depending on how many people survived their ordeal in the mansion. Additionally, each character had a very limited inventory to carry items for combat or puzzle solving, creepy journal entries were scattered around to flesh out the story of mansion, and the narrative was certainly creepy and unexpectedly dark for a game at that time. For the next few years the genre wouldn’t see any development outside of more video game adaptations of horror films like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, in 1992 Alone in The Dark became the first widely successful horror game, exploding the genre out of its niche. Developed by Infogrames (that isn’t a typo) and released on PC, Alone in The Dark was the first 3D horror game. It added its own innovations to the horror formula through the addition of “tank controls,” false audio cues to alert players to non-existent danger, and dramatic fixed camera angles. Infogrames understood that having elements of unpredictability could toy with players’ expectations to effectively deliver scares. The story, from either the perspective of a private investigator or an inquisitive niece, was also fittingly dark dealing with death, hangings, and other gruesome monsters. After entering the old Derceto Mansion to investigate a recent suicide, the player becomes trapped and evil begins to manifest throughout the mansion. Gameplay focused on solving puzzles and managing limited inventory space, as well as some light combat elements. After clearing a portion of the mansion, the entire mansion became open for exploration leading to an unnerving sense of freedom as enemies stalked the building. After the success of Alone in The Dark, the video game industry began to realize that some players actually wanted to be scared by their games. What followed could be seen as the blossoming of the horror genre, a growth that included memorable successes, forgotten gems, and many hilarious failures.
  9. How I Found Extra Life

    I can honestly say that I’ve grown up alongside the video game industry. My best friend down the street had an Atari 2600, so we began there with Centipede, Frogger, and the gang, before my family got a Nintendo (the original Nintendo Entertainment System). Spending countless hours with the likes of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, and friends was the best thing I could do with my day. Then Contra appeared. The limitation of three lives made for a series of insane levels. This was our first exploration into the concept of “I don’t care how ridiculous this is, I will get past this!” Today, I could challenge any gamer from my generation what the code was and be met with that look of, "Really? You have to ask?" Say it with me: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. As the years passed, the procession of systems continued: Sega Genesis, Game Boy, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and Xbox, to name a few. I am proud to say I experienced many of these, playing a variety of games, from the good to the horrible and many in between. The extensive achievement lists of today’s games are a far cry from the simplicity that Pong or Dig-Dug offered. Sometimes a good card game or tabletop RPG can be as exciting as the latest release. While some will scoff at the notion of playing Dungeons & Dragons, I have enjoyed adventuring into the random imagination of several dungeon masters over the years. My first exploration was in high school with a group of buddies, where literally anything could happen. If our dungeon master thought we were getting even slightly too bold, he had no issues with bringing out an epic level creature to wipe our characters completely. Few things are more humbling than having to start from scratch, with additional limitations because of your own behavior. My second party was in college, and had an interesting array of characters, both in game and out. It is awesome to see the varying degrees of how different people will play their characters. The meekest person you know may command a ferocious barbarian in game; or the local quarterback may skulk around as a pocket-picking rogue. Almost a year ago now, I was thinking to myself, “I have played enough games of varying styles, I should find an outlet to share my opinion of games with others. I should be a game reviewer. Surely I have a valid opinion.” Let's be honest; who hasn't had that thought once or twice (a day) when they're in the middle of one campaign or another? Well, I found my outlet in a growing website by the name of BrutalGamer. They were kind enough to let me join, and now I can say that I write news and reviews for video games and comic books. Yay. We have seen everything; from a brotherly duo working in their basement for years to produce an exciting story all the way up to the AAA studio’s annual record-breakers. You never know what style of game will come across your desk next. Shortly after I joined BrutalGamer, one of my new teammates was asking who signed up for the Extra Life marathon in November. I had no clue this marathon was even a thing. So I did what we do best these days; I googled Extra Life. Lo and behold, I found that there are charitable organizations in the gaming community. Child’s Play, AbleGamers Charity, and Extra Life are only a few. Groups of gamers that will continue doing what they love to do while also lending their collective power to help those less fortunate. Extra Life in particular, has a push to host a 24-hour gaming marathon, and the money each participant raises goes to a Children's Miracle Network Hospital of their choosing. I figured something had to be amiss here. There is always a loophole, or some catch. I tell you, there is no loophole, nor any catch. Last year I raised $115 of my $150 goal, and helped support my niece and nephew's hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. I have met other Extra Lifers and gained some additional thoughts on raising money. Did you know you could have your own marathons, any time of year? Beyond that, some belong to Guilds and have regularly scheduled events! These angels raise money year-round! I had a friend dye his black hair a vibrant shade of orange for reaching his Extra Life fundraising goal. Now, to be honest, this can easily sound overwhelming: Guilds, marathons, and fundraisers. If you break it down, it sounds that much more exciting. Guild is a lofty name for a bunch of like-minded gamers in your area that want to get together and play games. How bad can that be? Marathons, well who would dislike the thought of playing their favorite game(s) for hours on end? As for the fundraisers, take a few moments to get on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to let your friends and family that you want to raise money for children. That’s right, raising money for children in hospitals. In addition, you want to do it by playing games with friends. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? You can choose any game or games you want, and you can decide what date works best for you. What’s not to like about that? Last year was my wife and my first time participating in the 24-hour Extra Life marathon, and we are planning to do so again this coming November. In fact, my wife just asked me last week when the sign-ups began, so we would not miss out. We have learned that several of our friends are board game and card game fans, so we may have to see if we can recruit them to our team this year. If you are like me and you think this seems like a great way to raise money for a good cause while also having a good time, then you should check out Extra Life. They can be found in-person at almost any comic or gaming convention around the country. More than that though, you probably know more people that either participate or fund the group than you realize. When I go to Chicago’s Comic Convention next month, I look forward to stopping by the Extra Life booth and meeting new friends. So what are you waiting for? Check out Extra Life today! I'm Patrick Mackey and I play for Kosair Children's Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. If you don’t have a team, you are welcome to join or donate to ours! --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  10. I can honestly say that I’ve grown up alongside the video game industry. My best friend down the street had an Atari 2600, so we began there with Centipede, Frogger, and the gang, before my family got a Nintendo (the original Nintendo Entertainment System). Spending countless hours with the likes of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, and friends was the best thing I could do with my day. Then Contra appeared. The limitation of three lives made for a series of insane levels. This was our first exploration into the concept of “I don’t care how ridiculous this is, I will get past this!” Today, I could challenge any gamer from my generation what the code was and be met with that look of, "Really? You have to ask?" Say it with me: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. As the years passed, the procession of systems continued: Sega Genesis, Game Boy, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and Xbox, to name a few. I am proud to say I experienced many of these, playing a variety of games, from the good to the horrible and many in between. The extensive achievement lists of today’s games are a far cry from the simplicity that Pong or Dig-Dug offered. Sometimes a good card game or tabletop RPG can be as exciting as the latest release. While some will scoff at the notion of playing Dungeons & Dragons, I have enjoyed adventuring into the random imagination of several dungeon masters over the years. My first exploration was in high school with a group of buddies, where literally anything could happen. If our dungeon master thought we were getting even slightly too bold, he had no issues with bringing out an epic level creature to wipe our characters completely. Few things are more humbling than having to start from scratch, with additional limitations because of your own behavior. My second party was in college, and had an interesting array of characters, both in game and out. It is awesome to see the varying degrees of how different people will play their characters. The meekest person you know may command a ferocious barbarian in game; or the local quarterback may skulk around as a pocket-picking rogue. Almost a year ago now, I was thinking to myself, “I have played enough games of varying styles, I should find an outlet to share my opinion of games with others. I should be a game reviewer. Surely I have a valid opinion.” Let's be honest; who hasn't had that thought once or twice (a day) when they're in the middle of one campaign or another? Well, I found my outlet in a growing website by the name of BrutalGamer. They were kind enough to let me join, and now I can say that I write news and reviews for video games and comic books. Yay. We have seen everything; from a brotherly duo working in their basement for years to produce an exciting story all the way up to the AAA studio’s annual record-breakers. You never know what style of game will come across your desk next. Shortly after I joined BrutalGamer, one of my new teammates was asking who signed up for the Extra Life marathon in November. I had no clue this marathon was even a thing. So I did what we do best these days; I googled Extra Life. Lo and behold, I found that there are charitable organizations in the gaming community. Child’s Play, AbleGamers Charity, and Extra Life are only a few. Groups of gamers that will continue doing what they love to do while also lending their collective power to help those less fortunate. Extra Life in particular, has a push to host a 24-hour gaming marathon, and the money each participant raises goes to a Children's Miracle Network Hospital of their choosing. I figured something had to be amiss here. There is always a loophole, or some catch. I tell you, there is no loophole, nor any catch. Last year I raised $115 of my $150 goal, and helped support my niece and nephew's hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. I have met other Extra Lifers and gained some additional thoughts on raising money. Did you know you could have your own marathons, any time of year? Beyond that, some belong to Guilds and have regularly scheduled events! These angels raise money year-round! I had a friend dye his black hair a vibrant shade of orange for reaching his Extra Life fundraising goal. Now, to be honest, this can easily sound overwhelming: Guilds, marathons, and fundraisers. If you break it down, it sounds that much more exciting. Guild is a lofty name for a bunch of like-minded gamers in your area that want to get together and play games. How bad can that be? Marathons, well who would dislike the thought of playing their favorite game(s) for hours on end? As for the fundraisers, take a few moments to get on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to let your friends and family that you want to raise money for children. That’s right, raising money for children in hospitals. In addition, you want to do it by playing games with friends. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? You can choose any game or games you want, and you can decide what date works best for you. What’s not to like about that? Last year was my wife and my first time participating in the 24-hour Extra Life marathon, and we are planning to do so again this coming November. In fact, my wife just asked me last week when the sign-ups began, so we would not miss out. We have learned that several of our friends are board game and card game fans, so we may have to see if we can recruit them to our team this year. If you are like me and you think this seems like a great way to raise money for a good cause while also having a good time, then you should check out Extra Life. They can be found in-person at almost any comic or gaming convention around the country. More than that though, you probably know more people that either participate or fund the group than you realize. When I go to Chicago’s Comic Convention next month, I look forward to stopping by the Extra Life booth and meeting new friends. So what are you waiting for? Check out Extra Life today! I'm Patrick Mackey and I play for Kosair Children's Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. If you don’t have a team, you are welcome to join or donate to ours! --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  11. Favorite Old School RPG??

    Hey guys! I was wondering what some of your favorite old school rpgs are??? Lets say anything ps1 and older! Mine are: Chrono trigger, lunar silver star story complete, legend of dragoon, shining force and a few others!!!
  12. What Happened to Gaming Mystery?

    Do you remember the last time you discovered something in a game without looking up an answer online or unlocking an achievement? It has been too long for me, and I don’t think I’m alone. There’s value in uncovering secrets via clues, random luck, or just natural progression of story. The internet community and completionists are winning out and persuading developers to dumb down these elements or remove them entirely. There are some diamonds in the rough, and these become instantly popular because mystery in gaming is something that shouldn’t be forgotten or lost. In-game mysteries come in many forms, but we’re going to focus on a few of the more common occurrences. The first and most prevalent is the puzzle. A puzzle comes in many shapes and sizes, and neither factor directly impacts the difficulty. But, in all cases the difficulty of puzzles has decreased over the years. How long are you willing to try solving a puzzle before researching the answer? A development team can make a great puzzle that takes hours of play to figure out (ex. Braid, The Stanley Parable, Majora’s Mask), but if you can google the answer two days after it releases then all those folks are taking away from their art. So instead they make the puzzle simpler. Now it takes no more than a few minutes to solve. More complex puzzles require a mechanic that points you to the answer, such as Lara Croft’s “Survival Instincts” in Tomb Raider. When did it become more important to complete the game than it did to enjoy the experience? Next, and perhaps most coveted, the Easter Egg. An Easter Egg is a bonus feature hidden in a game by its designers. Often a simple picture or message, they are a way for the designer to share an inside joke with a player who goes the extra mile to find it. The Easter Egg has its own variance in difficulty and scale. Some are meant to be found by any player willing to take a few more minutes. Others still are buried deep, deep in the code, deeper than the first Easter Eggs such as the key in Atari’s Adventure. They can be mysteries buried to the point that only a select few will find it without looking up the answers. In order to encourage players to explore their world and find the hidden gems, some more recent releases such as Halo have incorporated a gameplay feature into the Easter Egg. Now, in order to experience the hardest difficulty or ‘real’ ending, you must find them. So, to the internet! Instead of spending quality time in the world, players just watch how-to videos and skip any exploration. I use Halo to bring up a personal reference. I found my first hidden skull in Halo 3 on my own. I saw a small corner and the desire to explore sent me off on a few minute long quest to reach an odd ledge. Reaching that skull myself was so rewarding I yearned to go find all of them, with no help. In the end I failed and could not find two despite my best efforts. I refused to look them up on the internet. The developers had bested me twice. Looking up the answer would cheapen their victory. All of that is lost as we become less adventurous and focus more on completion. Let’s look at another example, P.T. I think this single level demo proves the value of mystery and also shows how the current gaming culture dilutes it. It contained a series of exploration-based puzzles with clues that led to the Easter Egg that was the project’s purpose, the relation between this game and an upcoming (now cancelled) Silent Hills. Adventure-horror is not my cup of tea, so I never played it. However, by the time I would’ve had a chance the entire mystery had been solved, analyzed, and shared to the point of a decrease in the value of trying it. In short, it was spoiled. Hideo Kojima himself expected it would take a week to be solved, but it ended up taking half a day. I praise the folks who completed it so quickly. However, the rapid spreading of the answers takes away from Kojima’s and Guillermo del Toro’s creation, minimizing the number of people that can enjoy and discover its mysteries on their own time. Most of the above focuses on video games, but tabletop gaming has its own form of mystery. Take Magic: the Gathering. I am a Johnny, a type of player that focuses on creating combos more than optimized strategy. As such, discovering card combinations built into a set, maybe even finding some the designers never intended, brings me great joy. However, when I do any research on cards in current sets I find dozens of potential combos and pre-built decks that will utilize and destroy my newfound discovery. It’s great that the community shares these, even in a competitive world like M:tG. Unfortunately, I left the world of Magic and sold my cards mainly because of the devaluation of the parts I enjoyed the most. We live in a “no spoiler” culture for nearly all forms of media. In years past, motivated players could purchase a strategy guide to reach the coveted 100%. However, the explosion of free walkthroughs, guides, faqs, and demos on the internet has removed the financial barrier. Why are these mysteries the exception to the rule? Has the need to win become more important than the play? Imagine a movie that gave hints and reminders to previous clues or a book that allowed you to skip exposition in order to get to the juicy combat chapter. That mentality is far too common and encourages developers to focus on gameplay more than complex plot or mystery. In a perfect world shouldn’t there be room for both? The truth is I’m likely in the minority. Market research and statistics would likely reveal that most gamers don’t care about mystery as much as me. Thankfully the indie market provides some great products that utilize mystery in new and engaging ways. To those of you out there that have never immersed yourself in a game and picked out all the secrets and answers yourself, I encourage you to try it soon. The experience will both show you new ways to enjoy our hobby and stimulate your brain in ways that will benefit you outside of the gaming world. --- This post was authored by Extra Life community member Bobby Frazier. Thank you very much, Bobby! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  13. Do you remember the last time you discovered something in a game without looking up an answer online or unlocking an achievement? It has been too long for me, and I don’t think I’m alone. There’s value in uncovering secrets via clues, random luck, or just natural progression of story. The internet community and completionists are winning out and persuading developers to dumb down these elements or remove them entirely. There are some diamonds in the rough, and these become instantly popular because mystery in gaming is something that shouldn’t be forgotten or lost. In-game mysteries come in many forms, but we’re going to focus on a few of the more common occurrences. The first and most prevalent is the puzzle. A puzzle comes in many shapes and sizes, and neither factor directly impacts the difficulty. But, in all cases the difficulty of puzzles has decreased over the years. How long are you willing to try solving a puzzle before researching the answer? A development team can make a great puzzle that takes hours of play to figure out (ex. Braid, The Stanley Parable, Majora’s Mask), but if you can google the answer two days after it releases then all those folks are taking away from their art. So instead they make the puzzle simpler. Now it takes no more than a few minutes to solve. More complex puzzles require a mechanic that points you to the answer, such as Lara Croft’s “Survival Instincts” in Tomb Raider. When did it become more important to complete the game than it did to enjoy the experience? Next, and perhaps most coveted, the Easter Egg. An Easter Egg is a bonus feature hidden in a game by its designers. Often a simple picture or message, they are a way for the designer to share an inside joke with a player who goes the extra mile to find it. The Easter Egg has its own variance in difficulty and scale. Some are meant to be found by any player willing to take a few more minutes. Others still are buried deep, deep in the code, deeper than the first Easter Eggs such as the key in Atari’s Adventure. They can be mysteries buried to the point that only a select few will find it without looking up the answers. In order to encourage players to explore their world and find the hidden gems, some more recent releases such as Halo have incorporated a gameplay feature into the Easter Egg. Now, in order to experience the hardest difficulty or ‘real’ ending, you must find them. So, to the internet! Instead of spending quality time in the world, players just watch how-to videos and skip any exploration. I use Halo to bring up a personal reference. I found my first hidden skull in Halo 3 on my own. I saw a small corner and the desire to explore sent me off on a few minute long quest to reach an odd ledge. Reaching that skull myself was so rewarding I yearned to go find all of them, with no help. In the end I failed and could not find two despite my best efforts. I refused to look them up on the internet. The developers had bested me twice. Looking up the answer would cheapen their victory. All of that is lost as we become less adventurous and focus more on completion. Let’s look at another example, P.T. I think this single level demo proves the value of mystery and also shows how the current gaming culture dilutes it. It contained a series of exploration-based puzzles with clues that led to the Easter Egg that was the project’s purpose, the relation between this game and an upcoming (now cancelled) Silent Hills. Adventure-horror is not my cup of tea, so I never played it. However, by the time I would’ve had a chance the entire mystery had been solved, analyzed, and shared to the point of a decrease in the value of trying it. In short, it was spoiled. Hideo Kojima himself expected it would take a week to be solved, but it ended up taking half a day. I praise the folks who completed it so quickly. However, the rapid spreading of the answers takes away from Kojima’s and Guillermo del Toro’s creation, minimizing the number of people that can enjoy and discover its mysteries on their own time. Most of the above focuses on video games, but tabletop gaming has its own form of mystery. Take Magic: the Gathering. I am a Johnny, a type of player that focuses on creating combos more than optimized strategy. As such, discovering card combinations built into a set, maybe even finding some the designers never intended, brings me great joy. However, when I do any research on cards in current sets I find dozens of potential combos and pre-built decks that will utilize and destroy my newfound discovery. It’s great that the community shares these, even in a competitive world like M:tG. Unfortunately, I left the world of Magic and sold my cards mainly because of the devaluation of the parts I enjoyed the most. We live in a “no spoiler” culture for nearly all forms of media. In years past, motivated players could purchase a strategy guide to reach the coveted 100%. However, the explosion of free walkthroughs, guides, faqs, and demos on the internet has removed the financial barrier. Why are these mysteries the exception to the rule? Has the need to win become more important than the play? Imagine a movie that gave hints and reminders to previous clues or a book that allowed you to skip exposition in order to get to the juicy combat chapter. That mentality is far too common and encourages developers to focus on gameplay more than complex plot or mystery. In a perfect world shouldn’t there be room for both? The truth is I’m likely in the minority. Market research and statistics would likely reveal that most gamers don’t care about mystery as much as me. Thankfully the indie market provides some great products that utilize mystery in new and engaging ways. To those of you out there that have never immersed yourself in a game and picked out all the secrets and answers yourself, I encourage you to try it soon. The experience will both show you new ways to enjoy our hobby and stimulate your brain in ways that will benefit you outside of the gaming world. --- This post was authored by Extra Life community member Bobby Frazier. Thank you very much, Bobby! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
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    Come find Extra Life Austin at Classic Game Fest, the BIGGEST Retro Video Game Convention in Texas! We'll be at Booth #100 telling people what Extra Life does for the kids here in Central Texas! Sign up for a chance to win swag or a pair of tickets to RTX!
  15. The documentary, World 1-1, aims to cover the origins of video games and to that end has lined up an impressive array of interviews. Now it just needs funding. Video games have the unique distinction, at least for now, of having many of the people who created the medium still alive. Jeanette Garcia and Daryl Rodriguez figure that now is the time for someone to catalog the origins of video games while those creators are still around and able to share their experiences. The result of their effort is World 1-1, the first in a series of documentaries about the history of video games. World 1-1 tells the story of Atari, the business deals, the technological innovations, and the raging personalities that smashed together and formed video games as we know them, and how video games were almost lost forever. A selection from their Kickstarter page explains their approach: #1 The business deals: A question that is often asked is whether video games are art. They definitely are, but they're also a business. In the creation of this industry, it was ultimately the businessmen and the deals they made that took video games out of the universities and out of the hands of the select few who had access to computers at the time. Engineers had the creativity, knowledge, and ingenuity, but their innovations had to make business sense. World 1-1 will look further into the business deals that got video games out of the garages of the elite and into everyone's home. #2 The personalities of the pioneers: Atari exec Ray Kassar once called the game designers "high-strung prima donnas". While that's certainly one perspective and not true for all game designers, it's a testament that creative individuals are often perceived differently due to their intriguing personalities. This film will provide firsthand accounts from the game designers and explore who they really were and who they are today. #3 The creations of the engineers: The innovations of the time were a break through in technology. The creators had the incredible technical challenge of making a video game without a microprocessor. The early companies developed the design of putting the games on external chips, which has remained the same until today. World 1-1 will highlight the legendary titles and the lesser-known games that were precursors to the games we play today. In addition to their enthusiasm for the project, Garcia and Rodriguez have lined up interviews with a number of the video game industry's pioneers and prominent figures. These include: Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, Activision co-founder David Crane, Adventure creator Warren Robinett, co-creator of Centipede Dona Bailey, creator of Night Driver Dave Shepperd, and Garry Kitchen a programmer for the original Donkey Kong. Other industry professionals are lending their talents such as, IGN's Colin Moriarty and Peer Schneider, video game personality Patrick Scott Patterson, and Rick Medina, owner of Arcade Odyssey. The goal of the Kickstarter is to raise $15,000 to fund expenses such as travel and equipment costs. Currently, the project is sitting at $2,563 with 14 days until the Kickstarter is over. For more information, check out their Kickstarter page or Facebook. Honestly, a someone with a huge interest in the history of video gaming, I would love to see something like this made. I think it is an interesting project and both Garcia and Rodriguez seem to have done their homework and lined up what could be some really amazing interviews. Many of these people won't be around for much longer and capturing their stories on film in an amazing opportunity. Contribute if you think World 1-1 is something worthwhile. View full article
  16. With Halloween right around the corner and fright-filled games like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Outlast lurking on store shelves, we here at Extra Life thought it would be a great opportunity to delve into the origins of video game horror and get some insight into how the genre has evolved. Though people debate over what exactly constitutes the very first horror game, the earliest one argued for is Mystery House, an Apple II adventure game from 1980. The title was one of the first adventure games to feature graphics and was the first game created by Roberta Williams, who later went on to make the long-running King’s Quest series. Mystery House locked players in an old, Victorian mansion with several other people and a murderer on the loose. The player must figure out the identity of the psychopath before he or she is the last victim. In what became a trend for following games attempting creepy atmosphere and visuals, the story was based on a pre-existing property, in this case Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The other game most often credited as one of the first games designed to scare players was Haunted House (where are people finding all of these scary houses?) released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. Due to the limitations of the system, the game didn’t look like much with pixels roughly the size of fists. The player, represented by a pair of eyeballs, has entered a haunted house to retrieve pieces of an urn that belonged to the late Zachary Graves. Spooky things like spiders, bats, and ghosts hid around the house and had to be avoided at all costs. The unnerving mechanic which separated this title from others of the time consisted of the character’s use of matches as a light source. The matches gave vision for a few seconds before they would go out or whenever an enemy entered the same screen as the player. This gave Haunted House a feeling of tension and suspense as you never knew when you might be in danger. Over the following years, there was a period of games which, though they drew heavily on horror imagery, weren’t necessarily horror games in the true sense. Many of them were simply cash-ins on famous movies, going for shock value with depictions of violence that hadn’t been seen in video games at that point (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Evil Dead). Other attempts at horror games during this time were adventure games attempting to capitalize on famous horror properties like Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, and Wolfman. One of the few original games to attempt horror between 1982 and 1989 was the 1986 arcade light-gun shooter called Chiller which places players in the role of a torturer with the goal of torturing people in the most efficient and gruesome manner possible. The game ended up being less horror and more horrible, falling into the same camp as the movie cash-ins going for shock rather than substantial scares. The game wasn’t widely known due to how few arcades were willing to host the cabinets on their premises due to its distasteful content. People can debate the first “real” horror game prior to 1989, but that year the genre undeniably solidified around two video games: Project Firestart in the West and Sweet Home in Japan. Project Firestart hit the Commodore 64 toward the end of the console’s lifespan after a long and troubled development process in the hands of Dynamix. In an effort to create durable laborers to work in space mines, the nations of Earth began dabbling with genetic engineering. What could possibly go wrong? When the research space station in charge of safely producing space mining monsters stops responding, it becomes the player’s job to find out why. Upon reaching the station, it basically becomes a side-scrolling Dead Space, almost 20 years before Dead Space was a twinkle in the eyes of its development team. The player is tasked with figuring out what went wrong on the station and search for survivors. Firestart introduced numerous concepts such as limited ammo, terrifyingly strong enemies, and journal entries that fleshed out the events and world; ideas still present in many games of the horror genre today. The Japan-only Sweet Home released in late 1989 for the Famicom as a spin-off of a movie of the same name. Rather than being an attempt to milk money out of the relative success of the film, the game attempted to be a genuinely unnerving game. Following the plot of the film, Sweet Home begins with five people arriving at the Mamiya mansion to recover valuable paintings that had been left there by its previous owners. Upon entering, they become trapped by a malevolent spirit and must battle their way through ghosts and monsters to find an exit without being crushed by the crumbling building. Each character has a special ability or item that helps traverse the environment or aids in the random battles. Each character also could be permanently killed and there were five different endings depending on how many people survived their ordeal in the mansion. Additionally, each character had a very limited inventory to carry items for combat or puzzle solving, creepy journal entries were scattered around to flesh out the story of mansion, and the narrative was certainly creepy and unexpectedly dark for a game at that time. For the next few years the genre wouldn’t see any development outside of more video game adaptations of horror films like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, in 1992 Alone in The Dark became the first widely successful horror game, exploding the genre out of its niche. Developed by Infogrames (that isn’t a typo) and released on PC, Alone in The Dark was the first 3D horror game. It added its own innovations to the horror formula through the addition of “tank controls,” false audio cues to alert players to non-existent danger, and dramatic fixed camera angles. Infogrames understood that having elements of unpredictability could toy with players’ expectations to effectively deliver scares. The story, from either the perspective of a private investigator or an inquisitive niece, was also fittingly dark dealing with death, hangings, and other gruesome monsters. After entering the old Derceto Mansion to investigate a recent suicide, the player becomes trapped and evil begins to manifest throughout the mansion. Gameplay focused on solving puzzles and managing limited inventory space, as well as some light combat elements. After clearing a portion of the mansion, the entire mansion became open for exploration leading to an unnerving sense of freedom as enemies stalked the building. After the success of Alone in The Dark, the video game industry began to realize that some players actually wanted to be scared by their games. What followed could be seen as the blossoming of the horror genre, a growth that included memorable successes, forgotten gems, and many hilarious failures. View full article