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Gaming History You Should Know – Eric and the Dread Gazeebo April 16, 2017

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It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for another story of Gaming History You Should Know.  The pen-and-paper RPG series Dungeons & Dragons has been around for decades and like with anything popular among nerds it has inspired its share of humor.  That’s right, in fact it has inspired so much humorous content it would take me a week just to feature everything I could find in a single Google search that I thought was funny!

Among all of these jokes and all this humor, people wonder what is the story that is probably the most recognized in all of D&D lore?  The answer to that question would be the story of Eric and the Gazebo, or as its more often called online, Eric and the Dread Gazebo.

The original story of Eric and the Gazebo was written by Richard Aronson and was printed in 1985 or 1986.  It detailed a team of adventurers who come across a gazebo for the very first time. While the story is fictionalized it was based on real events from a D&D session Richard had once played.  It was later copied online some time in the 1990s under the name of Eric and the Dread Gazebo where it was further recopied and spread like wildfire.  If you aren’t familiar with the story, here’s a pretty good version of it presented as voice over.

So there you go, the history behind Eric and the Gazebo, that same story your RPG group will occasionally reference during games.  If you’d like us to highlight more of our favorite Dungeons & Dragons inspired humor, post a comment below!


Gaming History You Should Know – The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter April 9, 2017

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It’s Sunday and it is time for us to bring back our now weekly feature Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight the great work of content creators from all across the internet.  Today, we will be discussing something pretty special, a theme park attraction.  Let me tell you a story about ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, one of Walt Disney World’s most controversial and yet still fondly remembered rides over a decade after it closed for good.

Back in the mid-90s the then CEO of Disney, a man named Michael Eisner was bringing the company back from a near bankruptcy and into a whole new era of dominance.  Disney owned bi-costal theme parks, and while they were considered by many to be the finest theme parks in the world, Eisner felt they could be doing even better.  He wanted to build thrill rides that would appeal to teenagers inside the Magic Kingdom and had some bold ideas for making it happen.  In 1994, Disney unveiled their plans for what would become the scariest ride in the Magic Kingdom, the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.

This Sounds like a lot of information, but I have to admit that’s just a tiny sliver of the ride’s complete history for you.  I’ll let Rob from the YouTube Channel Rob Plays talk about the full history behind the ride.  Rob really did his homework and you can tell he misses the ride when you hear him talk about it.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter went through several changes as the imagineers fine tuned it for the general public. I’ll let the guys from Park Ride History tell you more about it.  It’s a very detailed video which breaks down the ride’s history and even includes examples of the new audio which was added to improve the ride.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter opened in 1995 and after such a massive promotional campaign, there was no shortage of people who wanted to ride it.  For those of you who didn’t get the chance to go on the ride while it was in operation, here’s a look at the full ride and preshow courtesy of Martin’s Videos.

The video is fantastic but video alone really can’t get across how scary it was to actually sit in one of those chairs.  After the ride opened to the public, everyone was talking about it.  How many people were people I knew talking about this ride?  Let me tell you something, I remember my sixth grade science teacher talking about it during class one day, and she had enjoyed it too!

What does this now defunct theme park ride have to do with gaming? In retrospect, a whole lot!  The same technology which helped make the ride such a thrilling experience is now very commonly found in home gaming setups.  The ride’s atmosphere was a lot more than what you saw when you walked in, sound played a big part in the experience. The creative use of stereo speakers built into the theater’s chairs could easily make a ridegoer believe a hungry, vicious alien was hunting them down.  Nowadays I don’t know any gamers who won’t play games without surround sound equipment of some kind, and speaker equipped gaming chairs can easily replicate that same type of setup!

One other thing to remember is both Rob Plays and Park Ride History talked about how Alien Encounter could have been an interactive shooting game similar to MIB: Alien Attack at Universal Studios Orlando.  We don’t know how long that design was in place, but it made me wonder if this experience could be replicated with modern VR headsets?

Now you’re probably going to ask me if I was lucky enough to go on the ride myself, and sadly the answer is no.  I visited Disney World in 1995, when Alien Encounter was just beginning operation, but I didn’t go on it. By this point the word was out just how scary this ride was, and thought I was way too young at the time to enjoy it.  I had heard stories later on about parents dragging their kids onto this ride, but my parents never forced me to go on it.  I planned to eventually check it out a few years later when I was older, but I didn’t go back to Disney World again until 2007, and by that point the ride had been replaced with Stitch’s Great Escape, one of the worst rides in the history of the park.  Take my advice, if you get the chance to go on a ride, take it because you’ll never know how much longer it’ll be around!

With Stitch’s Great Escape now getting put into a high capacity only phase, people have started to talk about what will replace it. I say they should bring back Alien Encounter. Disney still has nothing like it on any of their properties, and the demand is there from people who would take a trip to Florida just for the chance to experience the ride for the first or even next time!

What do you think Disney should do?  Post a comment below with your thoughts and thanks again to everyone who contributed to this article!

Gaming History You Should Know – Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Buyers Guide April 2, 2017

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CT GamerCon Day 2 starts in a few hours and among the video games being played at the event is a loyal segment of pen and paper games.  I’ve been trying to get into the legendary pen and paper RPG Dungeons & Dragons for at least a few years now. In fact, I recently picked up the 5th Edition Starter Set with the intention to finally begin playing the game, but after buying the Starter Set I had no idea what 5th Edition books I should buy next.  Thankfully, someone online has produced a great video of exactly what I needed to know, and that person is WASD20.

This 5th Edition Buyer’s Guide video includes a deep look at all of the current books published by Wizards of the Coast, including the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual and several different modules. I highly recommend it to prospective role players interested in 5th Edition, so give it a watch!

Thanks so much to Nate from WASD20 for posting this video because it has pointed me in the right direction for which books I should seek out.  You can check out his YouTube Channel here.

If you’d like access to the PDF files featuring the 5th Ed Players Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide mentioned in the video, you can find them to view, download and print right here.  These files are hosted on the official Dungeons and Dragons website and Wizards of the Coast freely offers these files to view, print and copy for personal use only.  If your computer can’t read the documents, you might need to download the Adobe Reader.

Gaming History You Should Know – Video Game VHS Tapes March 26, 2017

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I wasn’t planing to make the Gaming History You Should Know series a Sunday staple on this website but I’ve been so impressed by a lot of great video content that has been coming out recently, I may end up making this a weekly feature.

For as long as video games have existed, there has always been a supplemental market for game videos. These game videos can function either to promote upcoming games or to assist players in completing a game that’s already out. Producing a video back in the 90s was no small feat, and so gaming-centric videos required some production value and a unique style which should be further explored.  Let’s face it, showing live game play on video is a great idea.

Nowadays, when video game publishers want to drum up interest in an upcoming game, they’ll simply release a video of it online, but that hasn’t always been an option. You have to remember this was before the wide adoption of the internet and even people who had internet access at the time suffered with unbearably slow download speeds (trust me I know).  What to do?

Well, while not everyone had decent quality internet access in the 90s, practically everyone had a VCR.  After winning the format war against Beta, VHS was the dominant media format for home video, and because of that the format had a very high home install base.  VHS tapes were cheap enough to mass produce at this time, and the prices of new VCRs were quite cheap throughout the decade.  It was the perfect time to release video game content on VHS.

My Life in Gaming did a really in-depth look at video game VHS tapes that were released in the 90s. These guys really did their homework, as they got their hands on nearly every VHS promo tape I had heard of, and even talked about some videos I was completely unaware of.

If you have any interest in 90s nostalgia, you should give this video a look.

If you want to see more of this VHS content, My Life in Gaming has archived all of it on a backup YouTube Channel.

Gaming History You Should Know – Halo…Years Later March 19, 2017

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I absolutely love watching independently created video game retrospectives, and recently I have been addicted to watching the …Years After video series produced by Raycevick.  The series was originally released on the COGconnected YouTube Channel, but it has now become a staple of Raycevick’s personal YouTube Channel, and new episodes are being released on a regular basis.

In this unique series, Raycevick looks at every single part of a game, and talks about what worked and what doesn’t work. Whenever he can, he will shed some light on the history behind the game’s development to try to figure out why a game has turned out the way it has, and if it still holds up so many years later.

So without further ado, here is his analysis of the first Halo game, Halo: Combat Evolved.

Here’s his analysis of its sequel and my personal favorite game in the franchise, Halo 2.

Here’s his video about Halo 3.

After he concluded his look at the original Halo trilogy, he talked about the other two Halo games produced by Bungie, and the first was Halo 3: ODST.

The final game produced by Bungie Studios, Halo Reach.

Now we are going to get into the work done by 343 Industries, here’s his look at Halo 4.

And most recently, here’s his in-depth analysis of Halo 5: Guardians.

If you’re a fan of Raycevick’s videos, I recommend checking out his official YouTube Channel to watch his new analysis on the Mass Effect Trilogy!  With the imminent release of the new Mass Effect game, Mass Effect Andromeda, this is the best time to give those videos a watch.

Halo 5: Guardians Title Update Released March 8, 2017

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A major patch filled with bug fixes has been released for Halo 5: Guardians on the Xbox One.  Windows 10 users will also notice the Halo 5: Guardians Forge app has also been updated as well.

The new update is referred to as the March 7th, 2017 Maintenance Update and weighs in at around 2GB. It contains no new content or map packs, but a whole lot of bug fixes and optimizations. Check out the full list of updates here.

Halo 5: Guardians is out now exclusively on the Xbox One. The dedicated Halo 5: Guardians Forge Editor is out now on the Windows 10 Store.

Gaming History You Should Know – Ura Zelda February 23, 2017

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YouTube Channel Yesterworld Entertainment has recently been wowing me with an incredible series of analysis into the past of video games, movies and even theme park rides!  Earlier today, they released their most recent video, a look at a game Nintendo announced but sadly never released in its original form. Gamers today would know it by its working title, Ura Zelda for the Nintendo 64DD.

I’m sure many of you knew that the Nintendo 64 was originally planned to offer an expansion accessory in the form of the 64DD, but I bet most people don’t know that the game that went on to get released as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was originally going to require the 64DD to play.  While Ocarina of Time was eventually released without requiring the 64DD, many believed that the failure of the 64DD resulted in Zelda game content and features that never saw the light of day.

Is that true?  Was Ura Zelda something we missed out on?  Let’s let Yesterworld Entertainment fill in the rest.

Like the video?  Check out more content from Yesterworld Entertainment!

Rest In Peace, Carrie Fisher December 27, 2016

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It is my unfortunate duty to inform all of you that actress Carrie Fisher has died at the age of sixty.

Like many of you, I’ll always remember her as Princess Leia, an iconic character that has grown beyond anything any actor/actress could imagine. I also loved her as the mystery woman in The Blues Brothers.  She has be featured in many different film and television projects, and she would occasionally poke fun at her fame in those roles.

Rest In Peace.

Gaming History You Should Know – What Happened to DOOM 4? December 14, 2016

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Excluding expansion packs, ports and mods, a lot of people recognize the newest game to bear the title DOOM as the fourth game in the Doom franchise.  They would be correct, but did you know that the newest DOOM game that has been considered a phenominal critical hit was not the game it was originally designed to be?

Doom 3 on PC and Xbox was considered a remake of the original Doom. It has cutting-edge graphics for its time and a deep engaging story.  Its sequel was original planned to be a remake of Doom 2, showing how the people of planet Earth would react to an invasion from Hell itself. That’s not the game we ended up getting earlier this year.

So how did Doom 4 become the new DOOM, the critical and commercial multi-platform hit we just weren’t expecting?  Danny O’Dwyer of Noclip recently released this incredible three-part documentary about the making of DOOM. If you’re like me and you’re a long-time fan of id Software, you have to give this series a watch!

DOOM is out now on the PC, Xbox One and PS4.

Gaming History You Should Know: The Sega Channel November 18, 2016

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Nowadays we take our digital broadcasts for granted when it comes to entertainment content. Those coaxial cables currently running throughout our houses can provide us all sorts of entertainment content ranging from HD Cable, High-Speed Internet or Satelite TV, provided we use the proper decoder or modem to make use of it.  However, it didn’t always used to be that way.

As recently as two decades ago, those same coaxial lines could only carry analog video signals. While they typically didn’t need decoder boxes to function, there wasn’t a lot you could actually do with them. The original cable services were limited in a lot of ways.  It couldn’t provide internet access just yet, so users who wanted internet would have to get it through their phone line at exceptionally slow speeds or have to pay for an expensive fiber service.  Finally, analog picture quality could easily become distorted with interference and there were a lot of factors that could cause it.

In the early to mid 90s, Nintendo and Sega were fighting the 16-bit gaming war to a near standstill. However, both companies provided great products with quality exclusive games, making both companies successful.  Then, riding the enormous success of the Genesis console, Sega announced the Sega Channel, a games-on-demand service offered through your cable provider!  I’m not kidding, here’s the actual infomercial cable providers would broadcast to promote the service. I remember seeing it twenty years ago while I was cycling through TV channels and it blew my mind!

So that was just a tease for was offered to gamers through the Sega Channel in the mid-90s. Meanwhile, we’ve only had digital games-on-demand rental services for modern games within the past five years.  I never used the Sega Channel service back in the day but I had a good friend at the time who did and I can attest that the service worked exactly as advertised.  How was Sega able to do it?

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how the hell analog cable companies with so many technical limitations could offer such a robust service two decades ago!  Heck, my local cable provider couldn’t even offer me high-speed internet until nearly half a decade after everyone else did, and yet my area had the Sega Channel in the 1990s!  How was that possible?

I have been waiting quite a while for someone to produce an in-depth video about this service and the great guys over at Retro Game On finally answered that question. I hope you all enjoy this video as much as I did!