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The Life & Times of Video Games

The Life & Times of Video Games

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An award-nominated documentary and narrative audio series about video games and the video game industry — as they were in the past, and how they came to be the way they are today. History doesn't just vanish into the distance behind us; it casts a very long shadow that affects everything that comes after it, and so with The Life and Times of Video Games journalist and historian Richard Moss draws those through lines to tell fascinating stories about the past that link right back to the present. 

48 Episodes
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On the rise and, um...fade out(?) of Chris Sawyer, the genius creator of bestselling, critically-acclaimed simulation games Transport Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon — who made a career out of working at the cutting-edge, in bare metal assembly code that he wrote and optimised (and optimised again) on his own, until the cutting-edge left him behind. Chris was only a design consultant on 2004 game RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, but its remastered "Complete" edition has just come out on Nintendo Switch and the PC version is free on the Epic Games Store right now (until October 2). The original two games are also still sold via the likes of Steam and GOG. Transport Tycoon, meanwhile, lives on in open-source project OpenTTD and in a mobile port (Android, iOS) of the original game by Chris's company 31X.  Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Carey Clanton, Rob Eberhardt, Simon Moss, Vivek Mohan, Wade Tregaskis, and Seth Robinson. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. Or for one-off donations you can use paypal.me/mossrc. Please remember to tell other people about the show, and to leave a review by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. I'm currently writing a new book called Shareware Heroes: Independent Games at the Dawn of the Internet. You can learn more and/or pre-order your copy from Unbound.
Former Links, PGA Championship Golf, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour lead Vance Cook explains how and why his team(s) created new ways to swing a virtual golf club — beginning with the C-shaped gauge in Links and leading into "TruSwing" on Front Page Sports Golf and PGA Championship, and then ending with the motion-controller (Wiimote) swing in Tiger Woods Wii. Also listen for insights into the difference between sports games that aim for simulation versus those that aim for the "emotional experience". This soundbite uses leftover material from Episode 27 - Links, though that story's not a pre-requisite for listening. Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Carey Clanton, Seth Robinson, Wade Tregaskis, Simon Moss, Rob Eberhardt, and Vivek Mohan. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. Or for one-off donations you can use paypal.me/mossrc. Please remember to tell other people about the show, as word-of-mouth is the main way my audience grows, and if you'd like to leave a review you can do so by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. I'm currently writing a new book, Shareware Heroes: Independent Games at the Dawn of the Internet. You can learn more and/or pre-order your copy from Unbound.
27 - Links

27 - Links

2020-08-3041:40

In 1990, in a bid to move ahead of their rivals, Access Software reinvented virtual golf. Their game Links set the template for golf games over the next decade, with a technological tour de force, and along the way it dominated bestselling PC games charts month after month, year after year. Until suddenly it didn't. This is the story of Links and the huge shadow it cast over its genre. If you'd like to play the original Links for yourself and would like to see it the way people saw it at the time, don't forget to turn down the CPU speed in DOSBox — a 386 was still a high-end machine when it came out, and so you want to go somewhat slower than that.  TruGolf  EA got out of golf games after Rory McIlroy PGA Tour in 2015, but 2K picked up the PGA Tour licence this year and has taken over publishing duties for former EA Sports contractors HB Studios' golf series The Golf Club — now renamed PGA Tour 2K. Their first game together, PGA Tour 2K21, just came out on Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 (disclosure: those are Amazon affiliate links). Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Seth Robinson, Wade Tregaskis, Rob Eberhardt, Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, and Eric Zocher. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. Or for one-off donations you can use paypal.me/mossrc. Please remember to tell other people about the show, and to leave a review by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. I'm currently writing a new book, Shareware Heroes: Independent Games at the Dawn of the Internet. You can learn more and/or pre-order your copy from Unbound.
26 - The Nostalgia Box

26 - The Nostalgia Box

2020-08-0339:35

I go inside Australia's only permanent video game console museum and find that what makes it special is more than just the size of its collection — or the fact that it exists. Links The Nostalgia Box website  The Nostalgia Box is @nostalgia_box on Twitter  And @nostalgiabox on Instagram  Jessie Yeoh interview snippet taken from this WAtoday article There are some photos from my trip on the episode page To support my work, so that I can uncover more untold stories from video game history, you can make a donation via paypal.me/mossrc or subscribe to my Patreon. Learn more at lifeandtimes.games/donate (I also accept commissions, if you're after something specific.)  Also remember to rate this podcast on whatever podcasting platform you prefer.
25 - Pimps at Sea

25 - Pimps at Sea

2020-04-1639:39

It began as an impromptu April Fools' Day gag, but Pimps at Sea was the joke that kept on giving. This is the story of how a chance encounter on the streets of Chicago led to a semi-annual tradition, an industry/fan-favourite insider joke, and a cult classic multiplayer game. As you'll hear in the episode, Pimps at Sea went through many iterations and received several "development" updates. You can find the original website archived on the Wayback Machine at https://web.archive.org/web/20011107122402/http://www.bungie.com/products/pimps/pimpsatsea.htm and see a few highlights from the years that followed at the episode page on The Life and Times of Video Games website. Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, Wade Tregaskis, Eric Zocher, and Seth Robinson. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. Or for one-off donations you can use paypal.me/mossrc. Please remember to tell other people about the show, and to leave a review by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. For more episodes on humorous moments in gaming history, check out Wololo, Bug Salad, and Hogs of War. My book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info. And if you'd like to commission me to do some games history or consulting work for you, in whatever form, and for this show or for your own thing, don't hesitate to email me on richard@lifeandtimes.games.
I speak to librarian, games critic, and blogger Phil Salvador about his website The Obscuritory and his research and writing on games unplayed and unknown. In a far-reaching interview, conducted in late February, 2020 (and thus before the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the West), we explore the challenges, rewards, and lessons we've each found in writing about little-known areas of games history, as well as the importance of being kind and much, much more. This is the third entry in a new series of interviews I'm running alongside the main show — every month(ish) I'll talk to a different person who's exploring games history, in one way or another, to learn about the many ways people are preserving the games industry's past as well as to further our understanding of how this wonderful medium (and the industry that's built around it) has come to be the way it is now. Follow the "games history explorers" tag or the Interviews category on my website to see them all. (Or just search the show feed in your podcast player for episodes that begin with "Interview:".) Links: Carly Kocurek (she's been researching the girl games movement, amongst other things) Control Monger freeware shooter game on Obscuritory Bring on the Old and Obscure at Archive.vg Bad Game Hall of Fame MobyGames user review of Destiny, a game that's like Civilization but terrible Knights of the Crystallion on The Obscuritory The Colony developer memoir; my book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, tells more of the story behind the game Phil's article on one of Cyberflix's games, Lunicus; my book has some general info and a few insider quotes on the company's rise and fall Phil's interview with Bob Stein of the Voyager Company Millennium Auction article on Obscuritory The CRPG Book Mystery Science Theater on Wikipedia SimHealth article on The Obscuritory Video Game History Foundation co-director Kelsey Lewin's tweet about a pregnancy tracker for Wonderswan Treasure Quest Wikipedia entry Continuum (I also have a video about it and I covered it in my book) Emily Reid's Speculation Jam My talk on the rise and fall of Ambrosia Software Secret Writer's Society article on The Obscuritory Angst: A Tale in Urban Survival download Freedom: Rebels in the Darkness article on The Obscuritory Magfest Mysterium Keeping the Game Alive article/community profile on Eurogamer GTA Secret Hunters article/community profile on Ars Technica Tecmo Super Bowl fan and modding community Hamster Republic RPG engine Phil's Twitter handle is @ItsTheShadsy My book: https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com/  Life & Times of Games on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/lifeandtimesofvideogames  Twitter: @LifeandTimesVG  Instagram: @lifeandtimesvg Podcast website: https://lifeandtimes.games   Please remember to tell other people about the show, and to leave a review by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. Thank you to all of my wonderful supporters on Patreon for making this possible, but especially to my $10+ backers Eric Zocher, Seth Robinson, Wade Tregaskis, Simon Moss, and Vivek Mohan. You can help, too — a contribution as little as $1 a month makes a big difference towards ensuring this show has a bright future ahead of it. (And as a Patron you'll get to skip those pesky cross-promotions from other shows on my network, among various other bonuses like transcripts and extra content.)
How 2006 PS2 hit Bully (aka Canis Canem Edit) showed an alternate future for Rockstar and the open-world genre, with its compromised-yet-brilliant schoolyard satire — here I dive deep into the game, not for its overblown controversies but rather for its struggles against technological limitations and its triumphs in world-building, satire, and focused, more intimate and structured open-world game design. And I wonder why, nearly 15 years on, open-world games continue to strive for bigger and bigger playgrounds filled with more and more trivial collectibles rather than building on the legacy of Bully's deliberate, glorious smallness. Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, Wade Tregaskis, Eric Zocher, and Seth Robinson. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. Or for one-off donations you can use paypal.me/mossrc. Please remember to tell other people about the show, and to leave a review by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. My book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info.
I speak to the creator of Shmuplations.com, a large repository of translated interviews with Japanese game developers, about his approach to doing the translations, his insights on the Japanese games industry, and the highs and lows (and struggles) of running a time-intensive side hustle. This is the second entry in a new series of interviews I'm running alongside the main show — every month(ish) I'll talk to a different person who's exploring games history, in one way or another, to learn about the many ways people are preserving the games industry's past as well as to further our understanding of how this wonderful medium (and the industry that's built around it) has come to be the way it is now.  Links: Castlevania – Developer Commentary Kazuko Shibuya - Square Developer Interview Mega Man - 2011 Developer Interview Women and the Famicom – 1991 Special Interview Women of Game Design - 1990 Developer Interview — Yuki Ikeda; Hisako Takizawa; Reiko Oshida; Yuko Tataka; Sanae Nito; Kanae Saeda; Kaori Ikeda; Meiko Wada; Capcom Sound Team What is Game Design? Three Perspectives — Hideo Kojima; Kouichi Nakamura; Satoshi Tajiri Super Mario Kart - 1992 Developer Interview Rez - 2001 Developer Interview Shmuplations Patreon My book: https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com/  Life & Times of Games on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/lifeandtimesofvideogames  Twitter: @LifeandTimesVG  Instagram: @lifeandtimesvg Podcast website: https://lifeandtimes.games   Please remember to tell other people about the show, and to leave a review by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. Thank you to all of my wonderful supporters on Patreon for making this possible, but especially to my $10+ backers Wade Tregaskis, Simon Moss, Vivek Mohan, and Seth Robinson. You can help, too — a contribution as little as $1 a month makes a big difference towards ensuring this show has a bright future ahead of it. (And as a Patron you'll get to skip those pesky cross-promotions from other shows on my network, among various other bonuses like transcripts and extra content.)
23 - The Fog of War

23 - The Fog of War

2020-01-2927:48

In war, no information is complete. No intelligence absolute. No view of the enemy unobstructed. There’s no such thing as perfect knowledge. It is a realm of uncertainty, where decisions are made on flawed and often outdated data — as though looking through a fog. Hence the term, the fog of war, a military phrase with origins in the musings of a 19th century Prussian general called Carl von Clausewitz. A phrase that’s since found its way into video game lexicon, and video game design, as we explore here. (Featuring interview clips with former Blizzard lead programmer Patrick Wyatt about the fog of war in Warcraft II and StarCraft.) *** Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, Wade Tregaskis, Eric Zocher, and Seth Robinson. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. Or for one-off donations you can use paypal.me/mossrc. I've also recently added a third way that you can donate to the show — a premium, ad-free feed on Breaker, where you'll get all the bonus audio that goes to Patreon (but none of the non-audio Patreon perks) for a monthly subscription of US$2.99. Head to https://www.breaker.audio/the-life-and-times-of-video-games-premium for more info. Please remember to tell other people about the show, and to leave a review by following the links at ratethispodcast.com/ltvg. The Life & Times of Video Games on the Web and social media Website: lifeandtimes.games Twitter: @LifeandTimesVG Instagram: @lifeandtimesvg YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCov7SwnAUcAUHFV8XxQW8HA My book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info.
Here's some great game design wisdom from one of the legends of the business. This interview excerpt is plucked from my set of Age of Empires history interviews that I did while putting together an oral history on the AoE series for Ars Technica a while back. Bruce Shelley has been in the industry for some 30-odd years, with credits including co-creator of Sid Meier's Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, and Age of Empires, as well as key roles in Halo Wars and F-19 Stealth Fighter, among other games. If you enjoy the Life and Times of Video Games, please remember to rate/review it and to share it with other people — the more listeners I get, the more I'll be able to improve the show and release more great content. You can also support the show financially — and get some bonus, ad-free content as a reward — with monthly donations on Patreon or Breaker, or either one-off or monthly donations on PayPal. Head to lifeandtimes.games/donate for more information.
22 - Wololo

22 - Wololo

2019-12-2424:08

The sound designers from Age of Empires I and II, brothers Chris and Stephen Rippy, tell the story behind the iconic "wololo" priest chant — for converting enemy units to your side — that's since become a popular meme, as I delve into its strange legacy. All sound effects in this episode come from Age of Empires or Age of Empires II, except when otherwise noted. Music is a mix of my own stuff and a few tracks from the Age of Empires soundtrack, plus snippets from Babes Wodomu's Wololo, R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion, Microsoft's Age of Empires: Definitive Edition launch date trailer, and a random fan-made wololo song I found. Most of those t-shirts I mentioned are available at https://www.redbubble.com/shop/wololo+t-shirts, though you can also find some at various other print-on-demand-type clothing stores. Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, Wade Tregaskis, Eric Zocher, and Seth Robinson. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. I've also just added a third way that you can donate to the show — a premium, ad-free feed on Breaker, where you'll get all the bonus audio that goes to Patreon (but none of the non-audio Patreon perks) for a monthly subscription of US$2.99. Head to https://www.breaker.audio/the-life-and-times-of-video-games-premium for more info. For more information about the show or how you can donate, as well as where to listen links, a web player, and partial transcripts to the episodes, head to my website at lifeandtimes.games
While I'm away on my honeymoon, here's my complete talk from PAX Australia 2019, on the rise and fall of legendary shareware publisher Ambrosia Software — the most underrated of the '90s indie publishing giants. You can find accompanying slides at https://tinyurl.com/paxausambrosiatalk as well as my full script on the accompanying blog post at lifeandtimes.games. So please, enjoy, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks. The synopsis: For Mac gamers in the 90s, the people of Ambrosia Software were rockstars. Heroes. And with brilliant games like Maelstrom, Escape Velocity, Harry the Handsome Executive, Apeiron, and more, plus a company newsletter that spoke directly to the fans, they could do no wrong. In light of Ambrosia's recent closure (finally!), Secret History of Mac Gaming author Richard Moss recounts the studio's high and lowpoints and tells the stories behind its best games. *** Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, Wade Tregaskis, Eric Zocher, and Seth Robinson. And a very big thank you (and warm welcome!) to my five new patrons this month. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. I've also just added a third way that you can donate to the show — a premium, ad-free feed on Breaker, where you'll get all the bonus audio that goes to Patreon (but none of the non-audio Patreon perks) for a monthly subscription of US$2.99. Head to https://www.breaker.audio/the-life-and-times-of-video-games-premium for more info.
It’s strange to think of a time before jumping was a standard video game action, to be expected whenever and wherever you have control over an individual character. A time before you could hop onto enemies’ heads and not die, or swing on ropes, or move back and forth across a vast level — many times wider than the screen. But these ideas were rare, and just beginning to find their way into video game lexicon, when David Crane came along and with one single game turned them into tropes. With just one game that had begun as a simple tech demo of a running man. One game that would go on to define a console generation, amid 64 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard bestsellers chart and a whopping four million lifetime sales on a gaming system that itself sold 30 million units.  That one game is Pitfall!, or Jungle Runner, as it was called during development, an Indiana Jones-like adventure distilled into the (home console) video game technology of the era. This is the story of Pitfall!'s creation and its phenomenal legacy, pieced together from myriad sources — interviews, reviews, history articles, promo videos, book chapters, retrospectives, and a 2011 postmortem delivered at the Game Developers' Conference by none other than David Crane himself. Relevant links: David Crane's 2011 GDC Classic Game Postmortem on Pitfall!  Pitfall Harry in Raiders of the Lost Shark is part of this Saturday Supercade episode  Pitfall TV commercials (I only ended up using two of these): https://archive.org/details/Pitfall_1982_Activision https://archive.org/details/Pitfall_1982_Activision_US.mp4 https://archive.org/details/Pitfall_-_Atari_2600_-_Australian_Commercial_1983 https://archive.org/details/Pitfall_1982_Activision_US_a.mp4 X-Play: Know Your Roots with David Crane  All music is my own work, except for the clips from Pitfall II and Jungle Hunt. Sound effects come from Atari 2600 versions of Pitfall I + II, Adventure, Superman, Dragster, Pong, Combat, Jungle Hunt, and Grand Prix, and from Utopia for the Intellivision. (Plus some stock tennis sound.) Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, Wade Tregaskis, Eric Zocher, and Seth Robinson. And a very big thank you (and warm welcome!) to my four new patrons this week. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. I've also just added a third way that you can donate to the show — a premium, ad-free feed on Breaker, where you'll get all the bonus audio that goes to Patreon (but none of the non-audio Patreon perks) for a monthly subscription of US$2.99. Head to https://www.breaker.audio/the-life-and-times-of-video-games-premium for more info.
How a quest to put sound in a couple of games in the mid-1980s led to a revolution in computer game audio design and production. *** These are, in a sense, the sounds of a revolution in video game history, the sounds of a change so profound that it opened the door to entirely new genres. They’re digitised audio samples, a recorded analogue waveform converted into a digital signal — and then back into analogue audio through your headphones, in this case, via a couple of Macintosh games from 1985 and 86.  We take this capability for granted nowadays, as we use our voice calling apps and record videos with our smartphones. But you only have to roll back the clock 35 years to get to a time when this sort of technology was beyond the reach of the masses — when digital audio was something only used by specialist researchers and archivists and cutting-edge or experimental sound engineers. And when the thought of using it on an off-the-shelf personal computer was almost unheard of.  But then the Apple Macintosh came out in January 1984. And Apple's so-called "computer for the rest of us" had a secret capability that would unlock this door to digital audio for the masses.  Featuring interviews with tech entrepreneur Charlie Jackson (Silicon Beach Software founder and Airborne designer) as well as former Silicon Beach Software VP of R&D Eric Zocher (who later worked as an executive at the likes of Adobe and Microsoft). Adapted from a chapter on Silicon Beach Software in my book The Secret History of Mac Gaming. You can find more of Dick Noel's music via Discogs and the Internet Archive. And about his life in a brief obituary at The Hollywood Reporter. A partial transcript of this episode is available at https://lifeandtimes.games/episodes/files/20, along with all of the show notes and past episodes. Music and Sound Effects credits: A Dreamer's Holiday by Dick Noel with Ray Anthony and His Orchestra Explosion Crowd noise Continental Airlines ad from 1969 Game audio clips taken from: Airborne (Mac, 1985) Dark Castle (Mac, 1986) The Three Stooges in Brides is Brides (arcade, 1984) Galaga (arcade, 1981) Donkey Kong (arcade, 1980) Ground Zero (Mac, 1984) Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (DOS, 1992) Dragon's Lair (arcade, 1983) PowerMonger (Amiga, 1990) Phrase Craze Plus (Mac, 1986) Spaceship Warlock (Mac, 1991) Spike (Vectrex, 1982) Sinistar (arcade, 1983) Shufflepuck Café (Mac, 1988) Elite (BBC Micro, 1984) Alley Cat (Atari 8-bit, 1983) Choplifter (Apple II, 1982) Ant Attack (ZX Spectrum, 1983) King's Quest (PCjr, 1984) The Black Cauldron (DOS, 1986) Manic Miner (ZX Spectrum, 1983) The Manhole (Mac, 1988) At the Carnival (Mac, 1989) Air Ace 2 (Amiga, 1989) Uncharted 2 (PS3, 2009) Mercenaries 2 (PS3/Xbox 360, 2008) Everything else is my own work Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon — especially my $10+ backers Vivek Mohan, Simon Moss, Wade Tregaskis, and Seth Robinson. You guys keep me going, and we never would have gotten close to this point without your help and encouragement. If you'd like to become a supporter, for as little as $1 a month, head to my Patreon page and sign up. Support The Life & Times of Video Games PayPal donations (any amount) — paypal.me/mossrc Patreon subscription (minimum $1 a month) — https://www.patreon.com/lifeandtimesofvideogames Breaker premium feed subscription ($2.99 a month) — https://www.breaker.audio/the-life-and-times-of-video-games-premium ...Or share the show on social media and leave reviews in Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, and everywhere else.
19 - Premier Manager

19 - Premier Manager

2019-09-0330:20

On the rise and fall of the Premier Manager series of soccer management games — a former PC gaming juggernaut that lost its way amidst a shuffle of developers and publishers — and the part it played in the broader consolidation/homogenisation of sports games (of all kinds) over the past 20 years or so. All music and sound effects in this episode were composed and performed by me, except for the bits that came from the Premier Manager games (the football commentary clips and a couple of songs). And the clip from Highlander. If you'd like to try one of the Premier Manager games, the easiest option is to use the in-browser emulators on Archive.org — which has the DOS, Amiga, and Sega Mega Drive versions of the earlier titles all playable. The early Championship Manager games — which eventually evolved into today's monster Football Manager series — are also playable on there, in DOS and Amiga formats. Remember to share this episode on social media and to leave a review of the show on Apple Podcasts or whatever podcasting app you prefer. If you enjoyed this episode, you might like to also listen to the previous entry this season, Hogs of War, or one of the many other game design/development-focused stories I've done — consider, for instance, the episodes on Lode Runner, Midwinter, FIFA 3DO, the grid-based level editor of the original Tomb Raider games, or the graphical innovations of pixel artist Mark Ferrari. Or for a change of pace, perhaps you'd like to learn about the origins of the "boss button" or of the App Store's race to the bottom in game pricing? There are "soundbites", too — short clips from interviews I've conducted over the years, like with Tetris Company co-founder Henk Rogers, former Microsoft executive Jon Kimmich, and legendary puzzle designer Scott Kim. *** The Life & Times of Video Games on the Web and social media:Website: lifeandtimes.gamesTwitter: @LifeandTimesVGInstagram: @lifeandtimesvgYouTube: lifeandtimes.games/youtube You can make a donation to help cover running costs and allow me to rely less on freelance income viaPatreon: lifeandtimes.games/patreonor PayPal: paypal.me/mossrc My book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info.
18 - Hogs of War

18 - Hogs of War

2019-07-2428:50

Far from a mere "Worms in 3D", Hogs of War was its own breed of madness. Hear the story of how it evolved from a concept of "Command and Conquer with pigs", what made it such a well-designed satire, and how this underrated PlayStation game saw the funny side of serious global conflict. All music and sound effects in this episode were composed and performed by me, except for the bits that I lifted out of Hogs of War. Hogs of War is available for Playstation 3/Vita/PSP via PSN, and its PC port (slightly better graphics but solo campaign AI is broken and lots of glitches) is on GOG. If you'd like to play it, I suggest either grabbing the PSN release or tracking down a copy of the PS1 original. Remember to share this episode on social media and to leave a review of the show on Apple Podcasts or whatever podcasting app you prefer. If you enjoyed this episode, you might like to consider listening to the previous entry this season, Super Mario Kart, or one of the many other game design/development-focused stories I've done — consider, for instance, the episodes on Lode Runner, Midwinter, FIFA 3DO, the grid-based level editor of the original Tomb Raider games, or the graphical innovations of pixel artist Mark Ferrari. Or for a change of pace, perhaps you'd like to learn about the origins of the "boss button" or of the App Store's race to the bottom in game pricing? There are "soundbites", too — short clips from interviews I've conducted over the years, like with Tetris Company co-founder Henk Rogers, former Microsoft executive Jon Kimmich, and legendary puzzle designer Scott Kim. *** The Life & Times of Video Games on the Web and social media:Website: lifeandtimes.gamesTwitter: @LifeandTimesVGInstagram: @lifeandtimesvgYouTube: lifeandtimes.games/youtube You can make a donation to help cover running costs and allow me to rely less on freelance income viaPatreon: lifeandtimes.games/patreonor PayPal: paypal.me/mossrc My book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info.
17 - Super Mario Kart

17 - Super Mario Kart

2019-07-0127:09

How Nintendo and its mascot created a genre, and a combat-racing franchise heavyweight, and in the process gave us a masterclass in game balance, with the best-selling 1992 Super Nintendo game Super Mario Kart. All music and sound effects in this episode were composed and performed by me, except for the bits that I lifted out of Super Mario Kart. If you enjoyed this episode, you might like to consider listening to the previous entry this season, on Sega Rally Championship. Or for other development-focused stories I've done, consider the episodes on Lode Runner, the Tomb Raider grid (and part 2), Midwinter, Dogz, FIFA 3DO, colour cycling/palette shifting, and Airfight — some of which feature interviews with the creators. The Life & Times of Video Games on the Web and social media Website: lifeandtimes.gamesTwitter: @LifeandTimesVGInstagram: @lifeandtimesvgYouTube: lifeandtimes.games/youtubeYou can make a donation to help cover running costs and allow me to rely less on freelance income via Patreon: lifeandtimes.games/patreonor PayPal: paypal.me/mossrcMy book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info. Can't afford to give me money? Consider listening via the RadioPublic app for Android or iOS. It's free. And if you enable analytics then I get paid a couple of cents each time you listen to my show. Head to RadioPublic.com for more info. Support The Life & Times of Video Games
Sega Rally Championship changed everything for the racing genre, and the 1995 off-road arcade hit was an incredible game too. This is the story of its development, critical reception, and long-term legacy. If you're keen to grab one of the Sega Rally games on Amazon, please use my affiliate link so that I get a small portion of the sale price. The Life & Times of Video Games on the Web and social media Website: lifeandtimes.gamesTwitter: @LifeandTimesVGInstagram: @lifeandtimesvgYouTube: lifeandtimes.games/youtubeYou can make a donation to help cover running costs and allow me to rely less on freelance income via Patreon: lifeandtimes.games/patreonor PayPal: paypal.me/mossrcMy book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info. Can't afford to give me money? Consider listening via the RadioPublic app for Android or iOS. It's free. And if you enable analytics then I get paid a couple of cents each time you listen to my show. Head to RadioPublic.com for more info. Support The Life & Times of Video Games Links: Amazon.com: sega rally
For the 35th anniversary of Tetris' original Russian version, I pulled out this clip from my interview with Henk Rogers — co-founder of The Tetris Company and the dude who got Tetris handheld and console publishing rights back in the 1980s (and also creator of what was arguably the first JRPG, The Black Onyx).  Listen for Henk's memories about the strategy inherent in the game's scoring system and the story of how they fixed a bias in the Game Boy version's random number generator. The interview was originally conducted for my Polygon feature on the Game Boy's (and Pokémon's) introduction in the West. (Also, Game Boy Tetris turns 30 next week, so happy birthday to that version too!) The Life & Times of Video Games on the Web and social media Website: lifeandtimes.gamesTwitter: @LifeandTimesVGInstagram: @lifeandtimesvgYouTube: lifeandtimes.games/youtubeYou can make a donation to help cover running costs and allow me to rely less on freelance income via Patreon: lifeandtimes.games/patreonor PayPal: paypal.me/mossrcMy book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info. Can't afford to give me money? Consider listening via the RadioPublic app for Android or iOS. It's free. And if you enable analytics then I get paid a couple of cents each time you listen to my show. Head to RadioPublic.com for more info. Support The Life & Times of Video Games
15 - The Boss Button

15 - The Boss Button

2019-05-1624:16

Before computers had proper multitasking support and quick shortcuts for changing apps, playing games when you're not supposed to be could be super risky. But if there's one thing that's been a constant in technology, it's that wherever there are computers, there are also games. And for a while, in the 1980s and 90s, many game developers actually put in a special key command that would bring up a fake productivity screen. This is the story of the rise and fall of the boss button. If you buy Steven Levy's Hackers on Amazon via this link, I get a small percentage of the sale price. (I highly recommend reading the book, if you haven't already — it's a fascinating look into the early computer industry through the eyes of free-thinking and idealistic programmers, with a good bit of backstory as well on the beginnings of Sierra Online.) The Life & Times of Video Games on the Web and social media Website: lifeandtimes.gamesTwitter: @LifeandTimesVGInstagram: @lifeandtimesvgYouTube: lifeandtimes.games/youtubeYou can make a donation to help cover running costs and allow me to rely less on freelance income via Patreon: lifeandtimes.games/patreonor PayPal: paypal.me/mossrcMy book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, is available in bookstores in the UK and Australia, as well as online from the likes of Book Depository and Amazon. See the official website for more info. Can't afford to give me money? Consider listening via the RadioPublic app for Android or iOS. It's free. And if you enable analytics then I get paid a couple of cents each time you listen to my show. Head to RadioPublic.com for more info. Support The Life & Times of Video Games Links: Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution: Steven Levy: 9781449388393: Amazon.com: Gateway — This 25th anniversary edition of Steven Levy's classic book traces the exploits of the computer revolution's original hackers -- those brilliant and eccentric nerds from the late 1950s through the early '80s who took risks, bent the rules, and pushed the world in a radical new direction. With updated material from noteworthy hackers such as Bill Gates, Mark Zukerberg, Richard Stallman, and Steve Wozniak, Hackers is a fascinating story that begins in early computer research labs and leads to the first home computers.
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