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Quakecon 2012 Dates Announced January 24, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The official Quakecon site has announced that the 2012 Quakecon will take place August 2nd-5th, 2012 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.

Quakecon is the yearly event which is a celebration of all things id Software created. There is always a major bring your own computer gaming tournament, and previews for upcoming games.  Best of all it is free and open to the public. In order to participate in any competition you simply just need to register. Signups are not yet posted, but I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on when they do.

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A Perfect Platform for FMV Game Resurgence, The iPhone January 22, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Back in the early 00s I was reading an article which listed various classic games from the various gaming genres and what at the time were considered the best most recent games of those genres. In that article, instead of listing a modern game alongside King’s Quest, they simply had the headline “Adventure Gaming is Dead.” Now in the early 2000s that certainly may have been true, but it sure isn’t anymore.

In my opinion, adventure gaming saw a resurgence in the latter half of the last decade primarily fueled by the episodic gaming experiment of 2006. While it was expensive and time-consuming to make a shooter and release it episodically, there was something about adventure games that lended itself well to an episodic formula. Telltale Games were probably the only survivors of the episodic experiment that I can think of, and it is still their preferred business model. However, they weren’t the only ones doing well with this new generation of adventure games. New adventure games started to see retail release and not only see decent review scores but sell pretty well. Quantic Dream released Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit) and started a whole new model of adventure games and called them interactive movies. They followed Indigo Prophecy up one generation later with Heavy Rain, which also saw great sales, had very high review scores, and personally convinced me to be an early adopter of the Playstation Move controller system.

However, in the 90s the adventure game was a staple of the PC platform before the FPS craze took over. There are a lot of classic adventure games that people have been talking about for the past twenty years that some people were never able to play. A lot of them were shot in Full-Motion Video (FMV). While the FMV trend was universally hated after it left us towards the end of the 90s, there are a lot of people talking about these games again, and inspired by internet personalities like The Spoony One, want the chance to play these games. Boxed copies of older games (especially unopened ones) can cost large amounts of money, or you could hope that they could see a downloadable release through an online service like STEAM or Good Old Games, but there’s still the chance of compatibility issues. You could have an older computer still lying around that could play the game, but the chances of them having long since broken down is very high. You could try to emulate the older operating systems that the game requires, but that would require either having a copy of the older OS in your archives still or buying a new boxed copy off eBay or Amazon.

All these problems beg for these games to see a re-release on a new platform better suited to handle an adventure game’s interface. When you think about what translates a mouse’s point and click interface the best the answer becomes obvious, it’s the touch screen. A modern iPhone nowadays has more processing power than a computer made at the time these classic adventure games were released and the downloadable marketplace can take advantage of the low filesize of some of the older games, and their expanded internal storage capacity can certainly fit the large filesizes of the larger games that used multiple CD-ROMs.

Adventure games are already out for the iPhone and iPad. In fact I remember shortly after the app store launched someone released the original game Adventure from the Atari. The tilt sensor translated perfectly as a control system in lieu of the lack of a directional pad. Telltale releases many of their adventure games to the iPhone/iPad since the third season of Sam & Max.

Older adventure games like Myst and The 7th Guest have already been ported to the platform, where they have access to a wide customer base with no fear of running out of product. There’s been a demand over the past two years to see more of these games get re-released for the iPhone, I think the most vocal demand has probably been to Konami and Kojima Team for a Snatcher iOS re-release, but I can think of a bunch of more games that would work perfectly ranging from Policenauts, to The Daedalus Encounter. Also I think a lot of people want the chance to play some of the games that reviewers have been bringing back into the limelight like Ripper, Phantasmagoria (and it’s sequel), and Johnny Mnemonic.

Having played (or seen played) some of these games personally I can attest they would work perfectly with a touchpad interface, and could probably be remade with just some minor tweaking to the game’s interface (like occasionally bringing up a keyboard/keypad). While its possible that many of the companies that made these games originally have long since gone out of business, someone must have those original game assets lying around in a vault somewhere. While these developers may not exist anymore the publishers certainly do, or have had their assets absorbed by other currently existing publishers. It would be a lot more profitable to work with already existing assets and release them to guaranteed sales in a market where they can’t sell out than build more full priced retail games from scratch.

Inside The Dragon’s Lair Director Interview January 20, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Interviews.
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I recently reported that the gaming documentary Inside the Dragon’s Lair, a documentary about the history and enduring legacy of the famous Dragon’s Lair franchise, had just released its first teaser.  I’ve been looking forward to seeing this documentary since it was in pre-production as I have recently become a bit of a Dragon’s Lair convert with the more recent arcade accurate ports, but have been disappointed to learn that up to this point there has been very little coverage about this game, its fanbase, and what may be to come from it.  This is the documentary that I’ve been waiting for.

Since the release of the teaser I have had so many questions about the project.  Fortunately, I was able to get an interview with the documentary’s director, Martin Touhey.

Maniac: What is your documentary about and what do you plan to show your audience?

Martin:  The short answer on this is the documentary will cover the past, present and future of Dragon’s Lair. Vague, I know. There are many facets to this game beyond the game itself. I want to give some insight on how the game was conceived and created from its initial concept to its production and manufacture. It will cover the animation, music, and programming involved. This will include the technology of the laserdisc player and how it was groundbreaking at the time. I wish to show its importance in video game history as it was inducted into the Smithsonian. I’ll touch upon how the video game crash came and Dragon’s Lair was a hopeful addition to struggling arcades. I also want to give insight to the fan base that Dragon’s Lair had and still has to this day, along with new fans that constantly pop up. Showing the various merchandise, tv shows, and general hype that was created back in its heyday in the 80’s should be interesting as well. The home versions of the game will be covered and show the differences between them and the arcade version. The Daphne emulator will also be included in that list. I want to delve more deeply into the emotional impact it had on the creators as they struggled to meet deadlines and started running short on investment capital. I want to look into how a game that is nearly 30 years old is still ported to new consoles and devices and still sells well. The one thing that I want to know along with many other fans is what is going on with the 2d animated feature film. As I said, many facets. The trick to all of this is being able to make a film which will flow as a steady stream of consciousness. This in no way is a complete list, just what I can think of in one sitting. Besides I don’t want to give everything away.

I have a few goals I’d like to meet in regards to the audience. I’d like them to come away with a thorough knowledge of Dragon’s Lair, even if they’ve never heard of it before, I’d want people to seek out and play the game, and I want the audience to feel good about what they saw and to be excited about the long-awaited 2d animated feature film.

Maniac: What inspired you to make this documentary?

Martin:  What inspired me to make this film was simply a love of the game. My story is a familiar one to many fans I’m sure. I was only 9 years old in ’83 and I loved video games. Anywhere I went I sought out an arcade, restaurant, or laundromat to play them. As I was in the mall one day I walked into the arcade and that’s when I saw it. A crowd of people standing around one game that completely threw me for a loop. It was Dragon’s Lair. Atop the machine was a monitor and what I saw was the most surreal and fantastic thing ever. An animated cartoon of a bumbling knight fighting his way through all kinds of perils and monsters. I was almost in disbelief that this animated film was a game. It blended two of my favorite things, animation and video games. I felt that childlike wonder and amazement and knew that this was something special. As time went on my love for video games never diminished and when versions of the game came out on computers and consoles I started flashing back to those childhood memories and bought version after version hoping the next would be better than the last. It took a number of years, but eventually the technology of home computers supported faster and more vibrant graphics, enabling a more authentic Dragon’s Lair experience. As I grew older I kept the memories of Dragon’s Lair alive and, with the advent of the internet, I found that I wasn’t the only one who had the same experiences. Growing up with an appreciation for art and film, I wanted to create movies of my own. I was particularly fascinated in documentaries and especially video game documentaries after the release of The King of Kong. In the beginning of 2009 I googled “Dragon’s Lair documentary” and found references to a french documentary short and a video which was an inclusion on the 20th anniversary dvd, but nothing that was feature length. I felt that Dragon’s Lair was a great subject for such a project so I decided to take it on.

Maniac: Who do you have scheduled for interview?

Martin:  At this point there is a long list of potential interviews. The ones I seek in particular are Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy, Rick Dyer and David Foster. There is an open communication going on between myself and Dragon’s Lair LLC to shoot these interviews. Although there is nothing set in stone quite yet, I am optimistic and have had an encouraging conversation with the director of marketing at Bluth Films. Shooting dates are tentative and will be announced as soon as details are hashed out. Other interviews that will be scheduled will be with Syd Bolton, who is a great resource of information on the game, Dragon’s Lair music composer Chris Stone, Walter Day of Twin Galaxies, Daphne emulator creator Matt Ownby, Dragon’s Lair superfan Jason Finn. There are many others, many of whom have worked on the game as artists, sound engineers, or programmers. Effects animator Dorse Lanpher was to be interviewed, but sadly he recently passed away.

Maniac:  What equipment are you using to make the documentary?

Martin:  To shoot we’re using a Panasonic HDX-900 and a Canon 7D. Editing and graphics are done on Macintosh computers running Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects.

Maniac:  What do you expect the final runtime to be?

Martin:  Final run time will be approximately 90 minutes.

Maniac:  What is your projected release date?

Martin:  The final release date is up in the air. I’d love to release it on June 19, 2013. That would be exactly 30 years from the date that Dragon’s Lair made its debut. Realistically that probably won’t happen and the date may be closer to the end of 2013 if not early 2014.

Maniac:  How do you plan to release the finished product?  Any chance of a DVD or Blu-Ray release?

Martin:  Releasing the film is a tricky business. Once finished, I’ll be submitting the film to various film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca. Most films that show at festivals are without a distributor and are there to seek distribution. At this point it’s too early to tell whether or not I’ll have a distributor lined up before the festival release. A theatrical release is possible, but may not be likely as the cost to do such a release is in excess of $35,000. It’s going to depend on how successful the film is and if there’s a possibility of it turning a profit. A DVD and Blu-Ray release has been a goal from the start. Releasing the film on various digital platforms such as Netflix and Itunes are also possibilities.

Maniac:  Thank you for your time, really looking forward to seeing the finished film.

Well there you have it folks.  Be sure to check out the film’s official Twitter feed for any updates on the project.  Thanks again to Director Martin Touhey for taking my questions.  If you haven’t seen that teaser yet you can check it out here!

A Con Follow Up January 19, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Uncategorized.
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Just after completing a post lamenting the loss of the UCON at UCONN I was informed that there was a new local convention that would be free and open to all ages.  Called the Quinni-Con, it is being hosted at the Quinnipiac University York Hill Campus.  It looks to have a focus on gaming and anime, and there will be a cosplay contest as well.

A full schedule of events has not yet been posted but I’m really excited about this development.  Quinni-Con will be hosted April 28th-29th, 2012.  You can pre-register at the convention’s official website.

Playstation Network Undergoing Maintenance Today January 19, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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I noticed that when trying to log in to play Global Resistance that the Playstation Network login page was down. There was a little blurb that the PSN was undergoing some routine maitenance and logins would not be possible during the downtime.

This also extends to the rest of the Playstation Network. Until the service is brought back up you will not be able to play PS3 games online or purchase anything on the Playstation Store.

Service is scheduled to be restored at 9PM PST

Maniac Plays The Darkness II Demo January 18, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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The Darkness II released its demo for the Xbox 360 yesterday to Xbox Live Gold Subscribers and Maniac gave it a play on camera.  While on the surface it may seem like the same content that was shown at the New York Comic Con, it’s actually a much more refined and expanded version of that section of the game with tighter controls.

The demo will be released to all regular Xbox 360 users next week, as well as the Playstation Network and Steam, but if you can’t wait that long, take a look.

If you’re interested in seeing more of The Darkness II, 2KGames will be streaming the first hour of the game next Thursday, the 26th of January at this site.

Max Payne 3 Delayed Until May January 17, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Well, I’m done with preordering anything for quite a while as this makes the second game delay reported for the second game I’ve preordered this month. Might as well wait for them to hit shelves.

Max Payne 3, which was originally slated for release in March, has been delayed until May 15th for the Xbox 360 and PS3 in North America. The PC version is coming a little bit after that, on May 29th. International releases will be just a few days after the North American release dates for each platform.

My interest in this game sparked up after seeing it demoed at the New York Comic Con. A Collector’s Edition is still coming but required advance preorder. There was no mention what the delay will do to the preorder cutoff date for the CE but if there’s any mention of that I will be sure to post it up.

A Home Without a UCON January 17, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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I’m unfortunate enough to live in an area where, while there’s a perfectly large population in it, is completely ignored by the mainstream media. Up until recently, the western United States was the only place to go when it came to any major gaming events. The Electronic Entertainment Expo has been in Los Angeles for the past twelve years, PAX was in Seattle, GDC in San Jose, and Quakecon takes place in Texas. If I wanted to attend any of these events I was going to need hotel arrangements, a rental car, and airfare, all of which are quite expensive. Yes I know there are some great fan created conventions like Magfest, but those were still pretty far away from me and would have required hotel arrangements and a lot of gas money. I longed for the day that I could attend some kind of major convention which would be within a reasonable distance of where I lived, and be affordable to attend.

Two years ago, that changed. I heard musings from several peers that a new convention was going to be held at the University of Connecticut, which, while not super close, was within a reasonable distance. Called the UCON at UCONN, the organizers were creating a new by fans for fans convention anyone could attend. There would be panels ranging from the debate on should anime be subtitled or dubbed, lectures by prominent professors on comparing the games of Halo to the work of Homer, and several viewing rooms showing all sorts of classic animation and science fiction shows. Best of all, it was free to everyone, and you didn’t have to be a student to attend.

I first heard about the UCON at UCONN while visiting Doug Walker’s site, That Guy with the Glasses. He announced that he was going to be at the convention for that weekend doing a panel and signing autographs with his brother Rob. When I started to do some research on just what the event was I was floored. A free convention within close proximity and some awesome events planned for it? I signed up.

I attended the first day’s events with a close friend who was a UCONN alumni. Arriving just in time for the opening ceremonies, the organizer (a friend of my friend) kicked off the event and showed a funny little video he made of some of the things that would be at the con. It was a great way to kick off the show. After the opening I sat in for a lecture on Halo by one of UCONN’s professors and then hit the screening rooms to watch some episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.

That night I was really excited for the chance to watch the screening of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s most infamous episode, Space Mutiny, starring Reb Brown. I had never seen it before and was really excited to finally get the chance to watch it. Right before the episode started, Doug and Rob came in and sat down. They were really nice guys and we talked for a bit before they started running the movie. I told them to feel free to say whatever they wanted while it ran but they said the episode was funny enough without their comments added to it. We did however join together in a group sing-a-long of the theme song as the episode began. It was a great night, and to top it all off I think at one point I was hit on by a college girl dressed as Sailor Moon.

That Saturday was just as great when the panel kicked off with Doug and Rob Walker’s Q&A, there was a live improv show, and later on I kicked back and watched some episodes of Invader Zim. The night ended with a video game tournament, but while there was a pretty wide selection of games they were having tournaments for (various fighting games, etc) there wasn’t much of a presence for the particular multiplayer games that I was any good at so I didn’t play. I asked Doug and Rob what their plans were and they said they had every intention to get into one of the gaming tournaments.

It was a fantastic weekend that I very rarely get to have in my home state, and I was really looking forward to the next year’s event. When the next year’s started up I felt that second UCON was just not as good as the first. I attended the first day and left very disappointed. The show started a lot earlier than the last year’s had and the panel slotted for the prime time slot never happened because the host of the panel was MIA. It also ended really early, much earlier than the last year. Doug and Rob were delayed and didn’t arrive until that Saturday for their panel. After the disappointment of the first day, I didn’t attend the other days, although I did later regret not attending on Saturday because I heard that was the day General Zod announced he was running for President.

All good things must end and I’m sad to say that UCON at UCONN will not happen this year. My insider has informed me that the UCON student organizer was a senior at the time of the first event and graduated the year after. The organizer of the second UCON was someone different, and they also graduated after the event. Now it seems that with no guiding light, the convention will not happen. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to operate like this. Wouldn’t you want to keep the successful organizers of the events to continue their good work?

The world is a lot different now, as major convention organizers have started hosting events on the East Coast. PAX has an extremely successful second show in Boston. The New York Comic Con in NYC has hosted panels ranging from a preview of the upcoming Avengers movie to live demos of The Darkness II.

Now, I know there is another by fans for fans convention in my state that predates UCON, but I’ve never actually attended it due to cost or scheduling problems. UCON, being free and open to the public, had a charm about it that made me feel quite welcome. If they decide to bring it back, I’d love to give it another look.

Podcast 5 – Resistance January 16, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Podcasts, Site Videos.
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Since the last podcast I’ve done covered a currently Xbox 360 exclusive game, I decided to do a Sony exclusive property this time around and talk about the Resistance series, which has currently released three games for the Playstation 3, one for the Playstation Portable, an online social game, and one is currently in development for the Playstation Vita.

The very first Resistance game, Resistance: Fall of Man, was a launch title for the Playstation 3 and was considered by everyone to be the must have game for anyone interested in buying the Playstation 3 and the later games in the series were heavily anticipated (and in some cases controversial).

As I usually do with these podcasts I talk a little bit about the history of the game series, how it affected me personally, and what I’m looking forward to.  Check it out!

By popular request, next up will be the multiplatform game series Dead Space by EA.

The Darkness II Demo Announced January 12, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The official 2K Games Twitter Feed has announced that The Darkness II will see a demo release starting January 17th.

It will release worldwide on the Xbox Live Marketplace and Gold Subscribers will get access to it on January 17th.  On Tuesday the 24th, it will be released on the North American Playstation Network and Worldwide for the PC through Steam.  This will also be the day free Xbox Live accounts will be able to download the demo.  Worldwide Playstation Network release will follow on the 25th.  You can read all the specific platform details here on their official website.

I was lucky enough to play The Darkness II while at the New York Comic Con and had a lot of fun with it.  I have no idea what part of the game the demo will show off but if it’s anything like what I demoed earlier I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it.

The Darkness II will release Feb 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.