Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

Atari: Game Over

Genre: Video Game, Documentary
Publisher: Microsoft X-Box
Release Date: November 20th 2014

Starting off with an epic feel, visions of mountains and canyons, its clear that Atari: Game Over is gearing up to tell this legendary “urban legend.” The movie quickly transitions into its main concept of finding the rumored legions of Atari 2600 E.T. games buried deep in the Alamogordo Landfill in New Mexico. Not to mention speculating between whether or not the event even happened in the first place. The crew spends the beginning of the film going after where exactly the games may have been dumped, and why they were buried there to begin with.

The team spent over 3 years researching as to where the games were dumped, if they even were. One of the largest concerns of the crew was the possibility of the games being at the very bottom, and had been covered in concrete, requiring large equipment to unearth them. They had to cut through a lot of thick red tape to get permission to do the dig. Originally the crew was met with hostility, but eventually the city found it to be a good idea and allowed them to do the dig.

Atari was the original system that everyone loved. It was a staple in millions of homes across america and was the gateway to the computer revolution. Most people forget that Atari not only made home gaming consoles but also home computer systems as well. So when I think of Atari to me its a computer company, because when it comes down to it, even game consoles are computers. They focus a fair amount on Atari as a company and how it began. From its original launch item, Pong, to the birth of the 2600 (1977) debuting with only 9 carts. An instant hit across the board, this was the first time people were able to bring the arcade into their living rooms and the 2600 grew widely in popularity. The movie eventually leads up to the point where Atari acquires the licensing for E.T. at 22 million dollars. Atari took some time to do this, so when they eventually were able to get permission to make the game, they only had 5 weeks to program it, in order to make it in time for the holiday season. Typical games at this time took 5 to 6 months to create, and with only 5 weeks before the holiday dead line they needed their best programmer, Howard Warshaw.

Atari2600

Howard Warshaw was the developer and programmer for the E.T. game. He also was responsible for several of Atari’s first big hits like Yars Revenge and Indiana Jones, each selling millions of copies. So its not like he was the worst programmer at Atari, to the contrary he was their best. E.T. for the 2600 itself was a really hard game. Hard to understand, and very unforgiving, most people didn’t give it the chance that it deserved. Even today, most people speak badly about a game that they truly never have played.

The movie eventually tells the story of how Atari saw a 500,000,000 dollar loss the same fiscal year as E.T.’s release for the 2600 in 1983. This caused over 8000 jobs to be dissolved and essentially the end of Atari. The E.T. game is largely credited for its demise… But remember what I said earlier about how when I think of Atari I think of computers? At the time, Atari had flooded the market with a line of home computers that had failed terribly. Yes of course a 22 million dollar investment in a game that sold horribly doesn’t help any, but when you take into account everything else Atari was dealing in, this as well effected the overall success of the company.

“You never go to a dump unless you’re throwing something away, we’re here looking for buried treasure.” – Dig Attendant

Atari: Game Over also documents several peoples “pilgrimage” to the dig site in Alamogordo, New Mexico. These people have not only an overall devotion to gaming but to the urban legend itself. When watching the movie I was surprised to see the large turnout at the dig, several thousand people surrounded the site waiting for the first glimpse at what may or may not be there. Most notable was the wind during the dig, kicking up the loose white sands of the desert, apparently record setting. The first thing found was an Atari 2600 joystick top by one of the many onlookers. Eventually they find a boxed copy of E.T. and then subsequently several copies after that. When it really comes down to it though, E.T. only made up 10% of the games found, most were popular games of the time like Adventure, Pac-Man and Asteroid.

In the end, it comes down to a “myth” that was actually already documented in the some cases. I guess since it was 30 years ago its hard to tell if its true or not is up for question. Because of its severity, dumping 100’s of thousands of video game merchandise seems drastic so therefore how could it be true? The movie even ends in some ominous way leaving you wondering what was to happen with all these games that were found. Were they to be boxed up in some hangar in the desert for another 30 years? No, nothing that epic, shady or conspiracy theory like. Other than the ones given out and donated to various different people involved with the dig and video game history, they were later sold by the town of Alamogordo via EBay for $1500 a pop.

EBay ET

Watch Atari: Game Over

Special Edition Exclusive Metal Gear Solid Playstation 1 Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

Special Edition Exclusive Metal Gear Solid Playstation 1 Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

Demos seal the deal when it comes to whether or not I’m going to pull the trigger on a new video game, but these days; you’re hard pressed to find a playable demo before buying. I’ve been a victim of buying a game that looked great in the trailer, sounded great in the description, and even got some really good reviews, but once purchased and installed one of the biggest mistakes of my life. A good example of this would be Rogue Legacy which looked like a ton of fun, but realistically is nothing more than a beefed up mobile app.

Ever since playable discs have existed there has been the demo. In the late 90s this is how a great deal of PlayStation, Xbox and dare I say Dreamcast games were sold. The PC era was no exception. Many Blizzard games have playable demos that stop you at a certain point in-game prompting you to buy the complete version to continue. Now a days the mobile market has divided this into two separate pieces. Where you can usually download a free version of the game that is playable to a certain point, at which time there is always the option to buy a paid version with more unlockables and game play.

One of the downfalls of having a cartridge based console like the Nindendo 64 at the time was the inability to produce playable demos with the system. So this would force you into the lines at the video game, rental, and toy stores only to play that ONE game that some 45 year old manager choose which always seemed to be one of the latest sports titles of the time. All of the different stores that offered games to try or at least watch as some red-headed douche bag kid hogged the controller until you had to leave.

These game demos were everywhere at one point. I remember video games coming in cereal boxes, with your Happy Meal, local video stores, toy stores; the list is endless. Both PlayStation and Xbox magazines respectively gave out demo discs with their issues. Although now a way to supply the gamers with access to new games, these discs would later become what is known as a “Rolling Demo” rather than a playable version of the game. Containing only CGI clips of a game that is “Coming Soon,” teasing games that haven’t even seen a production team yet… Although sometimes these demos would actually contain playable content that wouldn’t later be featured in the complete version of the game. A good example of this would be the demo for Half Life, known as Half Life: Uplink.

Another benefit of the demo but mainly on the PC, is your ability to gauge whether or not your system can handle the current game in questions output. For this reason especially for the newer and more demanding video games that are coming out, no one wants to spend 20-50 dollars on a game that their PC wont play. Something to mention while I’m talking about the PC is current Indie developers that give Early Access. Early Access, which is essentially an evolving playable demo, giving the player Beta or even Alpha access to the freshest and newest games in development.

The 1st Playstation Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

The 1st Playstation Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

In my opinion, not offering a playable demo to the person buying the game prior to purchase, shows me as the consumer, the developers lack of confidence in their product. Personally I feel as if most developers know they would lose close to 50% of their sales if people were able to test the game first. Most companies understand that offering a playable version of their game will draw in not only that player, but the people around him or her. A great example of this would be Blizzard when it comes to the World of Warcraft series, you a given the chance to play up to a certain point and then have to continue to play, but are given discounts if you recruit your friends to play the game as well.

I remember during the 5th gen console era playing demo discs. Mainly a PlayStation, Xbox, and Sega Dreamcast marketing strategy, spreading out past the 5th gen and began fading when the newer systems like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 came out. I remember my first demo disc, it came with the PlayStation 1 that I had gotten for Christmas that year. Only receiving 2 games with the system, this demo disc had close to 6 playable demos on it and made it seem like I got way more out of the gift. As for the games I liked on that demo disc, it made me want them, and the ability to play further with friends.

magicite


Genre: 
Action, Adventure, RPG, Indie
Developer: Smash Games
Publisher: Smash Games
Release Date: Jun 9, 2014

Getting this game gifted to me on Steam last week was the best thing that happened to me this month game wise, and those are some big shoes to fill and I’ll tell you why. Magicite is a piece of procedurally generated genius, packed with hours of fun and intuitive game play. If it wasn’t for DOTA 2 I would have jumped on this game months ago, but that was consuming all of my time along with my Steam wallet. I saw this game in the Steam Greenlight forums and investigated further and found a very generously funded Kickstarter.

I was attracted by Magicite and its pixel graphics immediately, hard for me to compare, leaving Magicite in a field of its own. Since my affair with Terraria, these 2-D platformer games always seem catch my eye. Much like Terraria but even more like Castelvania: Symphony of The Night, Magicite is addicting like that first bite of sriracha covered chicken. Rougelike, with a crafting system and the ability to build weaponry and utilize merchants in town to make armor or melt ore, this semi-sandbox game is brilliant.

“Explore, craft, and survive in this Multiplayer RPG Platformer with permanent death. Featuring many Roguelike elements, Magicite randomly generates each underground dungeon for you and your friends to delve deep into. Chop trees, mine ores, and hunt beasts in order to collect the resources and materials you need to survive in the harsh and unforgiving environment. With a ton of character traits, stats, companions, and classes, players will have a different experience each play through. Be prepared to die… A LOT.” – Magicite

Each world and town being randomly generated along with your characters starting stats keeps this game fresh. Before you begin each game, you decide what character you want to play. Depending on which hero you choose, you’re given select attributes that go along with that characters race. Another thing keeping Magicite fresh and new is the unlockable item system. The more you play, the more races, items and companions you unlock.  Each of the unlockable items have a boost attributed to them, so when equipped to your hero it stacks not only with with his stats, but the randomly generated ones as well.

For every item you craft and enemy you kill, you gain experience points and levels. When you level up, like most games your stats are buffed, and every 5 levels you are able to choose a magic ability. These abilities are divided into 3 different categories; Melee, Magic and Ranged. With 5 special abilities per category every 5 levels offers something new aiding in your quest. Certainly a complex game, you must keep track of your health, weapon durability, and much like real life you need to stay fed. In early game, you will find it hard when trying to attack enemies, so focusing on gathering materials before engaging in a fight is usually a good strategy. Enemies can be as easy as a pig or murderous as a toxic lava ball spitting dinosaur, and everywhere in between. But watch out for the scourge, they leave no one alive in their wake, and are only summoned after spending too much time in a stage.

Magicite is a fast paced game, and its good for hours of fun, or a few minutes trying to kill time before work. One of the best things about a rougelike is its ability to pull you in for hours and watch you fall violently from grace after building an epic hero. Even more fun is the multiplayer aspect of Magicite, easily its best feature so far. Playing with your friends and sharing finds is even more fun. My first play through was with one of my former DOTA 2 team mates, so it was a blast from the start, as he was able to give me a few pointers to ease me into the game. A money system is also present in Magicite and certainly serves a purpose. The gold is obtained from killing enemies, found in treasure chests, or when selling unneeded items in town. Town is where you will craft your gear and cook your food, but if you choose not to, you can save up enough for some gnarly sword that does serious damage.

When you die, and the game ends you are given a score. This also is a layout detailing your gameplay with everything from kills to potions brewed. I love games that do this, because after 45 minutes of gaming you find yourself looking to improve and get better for the next round. Their is no word that describes this game other than fun. With every character having his own back story, all the different biomes and unbelievable imagery; like I always say, it’s the little things make a game as truly awesome as it is.

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 7/10
Story: 8/10
Challenge: 8/10
Replay Value: 9/10