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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. 

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How a game designed in a week helped to change everything — for the company that made it, for a local industry in turmoil, and for a global industry in transition.  Features interviews with Defiant Development co-founder Morgan Jaffit and Firemint founder / Flight Control creator Rob Murray, along with a clip of former Touch Arcade editor Eli Hodapp. LINKS You can't get Flight Control on iOS or Android anymore, but the HD Mac and Windows port is still available on Steam — if your computer is old enough to run it. The clip of Eli Hodapp speaking on The Touch Arcade Show is from episode 222, published in September 2015 — shortly after Flight Control (along with many other EA-owned games) was delisted from the App Store For more from me on the early mobile games business, be sure to check out episode 1 - Race to the bottom as well as the extended interview I posted with Pocket Gamer co-founder Jon Jordan after that episode came out. I also briefly touched on early iPhone hit Trism in episode 6 - ROM Hack — which featured Trism creator Steve Demeter talking about his stint in the ROM hacking and translations community. If you're curious what these guys are up to nowadays, you'll find Eli at GameClub carving out deals to pull more old iOS and Android games out of purgatory and into their subscription catalogue. Rob is a stay-at-home dad, years deep in a bigger-than-he'd-expected project to design his family's new house. And Morgan is also enjoying the home life after winding down Defiant in 2019, happy that it had served its purpose and was no longer needed. He says he's also writing a script for a new game some ex-Defiant people are building, consulting on various upcoming game projects, and writing short stories (which he describes as a "very nice" change of pace, as he can get a story done in days rather than the years most games he's worked on took to complete). Thank you to my Patreon supporters for making this episode possible — especially my producer-level backers Joel Webber, Vivek Mohan, Seth Robinson, Simon Moss, Carey Clanton, Scott Grant, Wade Tregaskis, and Rob Eberhardt. 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. (I also accept commissions and the like over email, if you're after something specific or just don't want to deal through those platforms.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When I interviewed the legendary game designer and GDC founder Chris Crawford for episode 30, on his famous Dragon Speech, I asked him if he'd have pursued this dragon had he known he'd still be chasing it three decades later. He admitted that he probably would have not. He'd have instead put his energy into making more simulations, teaching people to think in a way that he only recently realised is rare. He calls it process-intensive thinking, and here, in this excerpt from our interview, he explains what that means, why he thinks it's rare, and how he believes it will eventually reshape our society. He's also written multiple short essays about this idea on his website. Here are links to a couple of them: https://www.erasmatazz.com/personal/self/i-really-blew-it.html https://www.erasmatazz.com/library/course-description-2018/object-versus-process.html You can find a full transcript of this soundbite at lifeandtimes.games/episodes/files/soundbite-chris-crawford-2 To support The Life and Times of Video Games, please remember to share your favourite episodes with other people. You can also donate to the show via paypal.me/mossrc or sign up for a monthly subscription on patreon.com/lifeandtimesofvideogames (which will get you various tier-dependent bonus perks like an ad-free podcast feed and research and production notes). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What about the games that never make it to market? Do they have stories worth telling, or lessons worth learning? These are the ghosts of games that never were. With help from The Video Game History Foundation's Frank Cifaldi, The Strong Museum of Play's Andrew Borman, Games That Weren't author/curator Frank Gasking, Tomb Raider superfan Ash Kaprielov, and a couple of old developer interviews, I round out season four by looking at the life and death (and afterlife) of Half-Life for Mac, Desert Bus, Citizens, and Core Design's Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition — along with the strange fascination we have with games that didn't get published. LINKS PtoPOnline YouTube channel Tomb of Ash page about Core Design's cancelled Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition (with instructions on how to play it) Ash's highlights video from his Twitch livestream (and his Twitch channel) The Games That Weren't book Desert Bus for Hope The Video Game History Foundation blog (which includes stories of a few cancelled games as well as a cancelled Sega VR headset) Episode 7 - The Tomb Raider Grid Thank you to my patreon supporters for making this episode possible — especially my producer-level backers Chaun Huff, Carey Clanton, Rob Eberhardt, Simon Moss, Seth Robinson, Scott Grant, Vivek Mohan, and Wade Tregaskis. 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. (I also accept commissions and the like over email, if you're after something specific or just don't want to deal through those platforms.) Thank you also to my sponsor, Richard Bannister, for his support. You can check out his modern reimaginings of classic arcade games at retrogamesformac.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
If you've listened to episode 30 of the show, even if you weren't previously aware of his work, you'll know what a brilliant orator Chris Crawford is. The Dragon Speech, that famous moment where he charged out of the games industry — by literally charging out of the room — was arguably his magnum opus. And it was only possible thanks to Chris's mastery of the spoken word. Here he describes his approach to public speaking and gives tips on how everyone can give better speeches. To learn more about Chris, his Dragon Speech, and his immense importance to the early years of the games industry, be sure to listen to episode 30, 'The Dragon Speech, and Chris Crawford's improbable dream'. You can support The Life and Times of Video Games by sharing your favourite episodes with others and by making a donation, either in the form of a one-off payment via paypal.me/mossrc or a recurring payment (with some reward perks!) via patreon.com/lifeandtimesofvideogames Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It was "the greatest speech he ever gave in his life", and it marked a turning point in his pursuit of his dream, but it had the note of a eulogy. This is the story of how — and why — the legendary designer Chris Crawford left the games industry in an opening-day lecture at the 1993 Game Developers Conference, an event that he had founded just six years prior. *** Chris is still at it, still chasing his dragon, now with a more stripped-back storyworld and storyworld engine. You can read about these — and perhaps have a go at making your own interactive storyworld — at his website, which is full of essays, reflections, development diaries, and educational materials from the past 30+ years of his life. Thank you to my patreon supporters for making this episode possible — especially my producer-level backers Scott Grant, Carey Clanton, Wade Tregaskis, Simon Moss, Seth Robinson, Vivek Mohan, and Rob Eberhardt. 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. (I also accept commissions and the like over email, if you're after something specific.) Thank you also to my sponsor, Richard Bannister, for his support. You can check out his modern reimaginings of classic arcade games at retrogamesformac.com. I've just added one more way you can listen to and share the show — it's now available on the audio sharing platform Vurbl at https://vurbl.com/station/3Ul4MkAwo7Z/ To find other ways to listen, head to lifeandtimes.games/listen Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When Don Daglow pitched management at Mattel on an Intellivision game about trying to build a perfect society, he thought he was just creating a "line filler" in their product calendar. Instead he made one of the most important games of all time. Don wrote a book in 2018 about the business and design insights he's gained from his long career making video games (nearly 50 years if you include his mainframe games!). If you buy it on Amazon via my affiliate link, I get a small percentage of the sale price. It's also worth noting, for anyone up for some further reading, that I've done in-depth genre histories for Ars Technica on two of the genres that Utopia influenced — city-building games and real-time strategy. I'll also have more content from my two (so far!) interviews with Don in the coming weeks and months — probably a "soundbite" in mid-November and a full episode in 2021, plus maybe more of each of those. Utopia is one of several Intellivision games slated for re-release on the upcoming Intellivision Amico console. In the meantime, you can grab a fan-made remake on Itch.io (Mac or Windows), track down a copy of the Intellivision Lives! collection from some years back, boot it up in an emulator, or just watch some videos of it on YouTube. All music in this episode was my own, except selected clips from Santa Paravia, Astrosmash, Fascinating Fruit, and Utopia, and the IBM mainframe playing a song. Thanks to my sponsor for this episode, Richard Bannister. You can find out more about his Retro Games for Mac collection at his website or by listening to my Indie Spotlight interview with him. 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. (I also accept commissions and the like over email, if you're after something specific.)    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
23 - The Fog of War

23 - The Fog of War

2020-01-2927:28

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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
22 - Wololo

22 - Wololo

2019-12-2423:27

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 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 ...Or share the show on social media and leave reviews in Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, and everywhere else. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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