Been super busy with school and work. I still plan on doing a recap of the entire show, or at least what I saw of it, but it’ll have to wait till near the end of May. Till then, game on.
Archive for April, 2011
Found this hard to believe myself, since she was only 63, but Elisabeth Sladen passed away on 04/19/11! She was one of my favorite actors on Doctor Who, classic and new shows, and she will be missed. 🙁
(And yeah, this kind of doesn’t fit my UC blog, but I know lots of gamers that like Dr. Who – and I do too – thus the post).
You can see the official BBC bulletin on their site.
I forgot to really put anything in here about the music I had playing for the UC ’11 display. Normally it is just a backdrop, but I turned up the volume in 2011, and added the iTunes visualizer on a 17″ monitor. The selection this year was mostly 80’s, with other stuff mixed in, all picked out by Erica (thanks). It goes some attention, and I even noticed some people getting into the music now and then, which is a good thing in my book. Best scene, which I think was late on Sunday, was just too cool. There was a group of gamers walking past the T/S 1500 display, with the iTunes screen, and the Birdhouse In Your Soul video came up from They Might Be Giants (yeah, there were videos mixed in with just the visualizer). This group stopped to watch the whole video, along with myself and Erica. Turned out, the group of about 5 people were all TMBG fans, and they simply loved seeing the video. That reason along will bring that feature back in 2012, hopefully with more videos, as I’ve been working on getting them into iTunes. And in case your wondering, I own the videos, they are not bootleg! I don’t pirate, which I’m damn proud of. Musicians needs to make a living too. Rock on!
The Quake LAN is the final recap for the UC ’11 display. The Underdog area itself opened at 11am on Saturday, as I have in the past, so I can shop for any hour to get some deals (not that I found much of what I was looking for – good stuff was for sale, just not what some special stuff I wanted). It was amazing when we (Greg, Erica, and myself) opened the UC doors at 11am. In less than 30 seconds, the entire 11-player Quake LAN was filled up from gamers who were waiting in the hall. Totally and utterly outstanding! 😀
For a Mac game from 1997, and the original too (no Mods or such), this game just does better and better each year. I bumped the LAN up to 11-player for 2011, and the seats were full for the majority of the show (except for those moments when gamers leave the room, and new folks filter in). It was a bit of a bummer when one iMac lost video late on Saturday, as I just got this machine recently too (and thankfully it will be fixed soon). Sunday morning another iMac got a corrupt system disk, so it was down to 9-player Quake on Sunday, but no one seemed to mind. As long as it was there to play and have fun doing so! Nothing like fragging your friends! It is also just cool to see an old blocky looking 1st-peson shooter that is still so much fun to play. A true classic.
On that note, was this the last year for the Quake LAN? At this point, I honesty can’t say. I’ve been meaning to upgrade it (to OS X), or replace it for years now (with something a bit more modern), but it just doesn’t happen (yet). But I’ll be honest in that something will change for 2012, and not just Quake either. I’ll let folks know when it happens. It is in the works, and I’ve been getting parts in place since last Summer (better hard drives, more memory, better iMacs, and PowerMac tower units too). We shall see! 😉
(And with that out of the way, I’ll recap MGC ’11 itself when I get the chance. May not be till this coming weekend, but it’ll happen.)
Up at the top for console and computer systems (excluding the Quake LAN), there is the Sega Dreamcast system. As I expected, this system did very well in the UC area for its first appearance, and easily topped all other gaming systems that I had running this year.
While the Dreamcast only lasted a few years, back from 1999, I still think this is an outstanding gaming console. Too bad Sega didn’t stick with this thing, but there still is a good library for the Dreamcast, even from its show lifespan. For the UC ’11 area, I ran a portion of the small group of games I currently have to this system. Crazy Taxi was cool, but it confused people, as they weren’t sure what to do, so this was not up for long. Demolition: No Exit was the favorite, as anyone could get into this cool racing game, with that nice tough of smashing into things as part of the game. House of the Dead 2 attracted teenagers like kids to candy, while Speed Devils was another nice racing game that anyone could get into. I may try to vary the games a bit more next year, but I’ve found that just a few games goes a long way for one weekend.
Will the Dreamcast return? Do pigs not fly? When though, I cannot say. I vary it up every year, and it will remain that way (more than likely). Variety is the spice of life after all.
(One more thing to recap, then I’ll post comments on the rest of the show, or that which I actually saw).
2nd from the top in popularity between consoles and computers in the UC area for 2011 was a nice surprise for me this year, that being the Odyssey2! Note once again that this was not by a wide margin, compared to most other systems, but still #2. This old system from the late 70’s and early 80’s had a nice selection of games running. People were playing Attack of the Timelord, as this was recognizable as a shooting type game. Q*bert got some play, along with Turtles and few other games. Frogger, as has been the case in prior years, got the most play on the Odyssey2. The only issue, being the Brazil version, is that you have to land at the end on land not water. This did confuse a few folks, and I honestly don’t know why they (Parker Brothers) switched this between the Brazil and Euro versions. Go figure.
Seeing a decent amount of people playing games on the Odyssey2 was a treat for me, as it is not normally a real popular system (but not totally unpopular either). Sad but true. I did get some folks asking about the system, but not many though. However, with the attention that it got, I’m more than satisfied with how it worked out. Of course, being my favorite older system, this will be at the show every year. I did par it down though for 2011, as it was just the basic console, but with real Odyssey2 joysticks for the first time. I did hear a few people commenting on how ‘new’ the system looked, and that was become it practically was (this was the cleanest and most preserved Odyssey2 I’ve ever come across). Next year, I might try to do a system Mod that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’ve got the stuff to do it, I just need to do it. 😉
Here’s to the Odyssey2! 😀
Getting even higher in popularity for the UC ’11 exhibit, there is the Philips CD-i system, borrowed from JD Norman (thanks). This rather low-key system, as it did not sell that well during its time, was introduced in 1991. With a relative high price, Philips found itself stuck between PC gaming and regular console gaming of the time. Thus, it became a true underdog system, lasting for a while before being dropped by Philips.
At the UC exhibit, there was just a selection of five games. Tetris did poorly from the start, so I switched to Dragon’s Lair II and Space Ace, which actually faired well in terms of game play from those at the show (I avoided Dragon’s Lair due to the fact that it did not have visual clues, making it too hard to play). There was even one guy at various time during the weekend who did very well at these games, having played them years ago, when I asked why he was so good at them. It was rather cool to see someone get really far in these types of games.
The most surprising thing to me was the small but enthusiastic group of gamers that asked for Hotel Mario throughout the weekend. This by far was the most popular game on the CD-i, and is the main reason this system nudged into 3rd place in regards to system popularity in the UC area (excluding Quake of course). As mentioned before though, most systems were pretty close in popularity, with only the bottom and top systems standing apart more than the others. Still, it was nice to see a somewhat rare system get its due attention.
Will the CD-i ever return to the UC area. That is doubtful, but you never know.
Going even a bit farther up the popularity list of computers and consoles for UC 2011, we have the (Fairchild) Channel F. Yes, you read the correctly, the Channel F did fairly well for its first time in the UC exhibit. I had a total of 3 games I was going to show off on this old 1978 system, but ended up just running two game, Alien Invasion on Saturday and Dodge It on Sunday.
The Channel F system I have is the model II, which allows sound out of the TV set, which is nice in that you can control the volume. I had the system setup at the entrance to the UC room, and it got a fair amount of people checking it out. The odd (compared to today’s) controllers were one thing that attracted people, and it was the age and two old games running that did the rest. Alien Invasion did well, being a Space Invaders ripoff, which made it recognizable (but a bit hard to start – as you pull up on the joystick, instead of pressing ‘start’ to start the game – I didn’t write this software, so don’t blame me). Sunday was the big day for the Channel F, when I switched the game to Dodge It. In this simple game, you are a small blue square, and simple must dodge red squares as they enter the play field. The longer you last, the higher your score. Very, very simple to play, which is why I think it did pretty good on Sunday. Kids passing by got the hang of the game immediately, and knew exactly what to do. Simplicity at its best, and much to my surprise as well, as I just didn’t see this game or system doing too well. Just shows you how things can surprise anyone.
Will the Channel F return? Probably, but wether it it next year or two years from now, that I cannot say. But it will return, as it has proven itself worthy (and to think I hated this system just over a year ago – things do change, and people too [blame this change on Jeff – who proved to me that there are some good games for the Channel F])! 🙂
Farther up the popularity list, about midpoint between zilch and outstanding, we have two systems from the UC ’11 exhibit.
First off is the Apple IIe, which did moderately well, especially with such games as Load Runner and Crisis Mountain. (Other games didn’t fair as good). I’d have to say that Load Runner was the best game running on the old Apple IIe, which I know got moderate attention due to its age. Those that played it did so because they remembered the few games I had running on it, as I could see them play the games with little difficulty. I did put up Battle Zone for a while, and that did fairly well, but it does run at tad too slow on the IIe. Some people did ask questions about the IIe, but not to any major extent, but it was still nice to talk about the old Apple II.
A slight notch up and we have the Timex/Sinclair 1500, which I simply had running digitized iTunes commercials (along side the iSkull and a monitor running music with the iTunes visualizer). As is the case almost every year, people are fascinated by this old computer running a recognizable commercial (even at the low resolution of the T/S 1500). I even fielded some questions about the system, and the software too (from my online friend Ted). Overall I’d call it just above average for its popularity for 2011, and that is cool with me. As for future years, not sure if I’m bringing this system back. I may give it a rest for a bit, or I may try to get Ted to digitize some different commercials than the few I currently have (I only have two).
And that is it as far as computer systems go. Still up, recaps for the remaining 4 console systems, one of which did rather well considering its age!
Moving up the popularity list for UC ’11, we have the Atari 5200 system, from the early 80’s. I setup this system specifically using the roller controller and with games that used the two controllers together. However my intentions where though, the system did not draw much attention to itself. This came as a bit of a surprise, as Atari consoles usually do rather well, at least from past experience.
I think part of the reason for the 5200 not doing really well in ’11 was that many of the game would not reset to a title screen when the game ended (I noticed this issue with folks on a few systems I had on display). Of the small selection of games I had on display, Missile Command did the best of them all. While somewhat let down by the low attention that the 5200 received, I’ll probably bring it back in a year or two, maybe with a different set of games and layout to boot. There are some darn good games for the 5200, and I refuse to let this one drop from the show that easily.
The Atari Jaguar system was just a tad more popular for 2011, with a setup that also had a limited selection of games (I didn’t want to compete against Jagfest too much). Missile Command and Tempest did the best on this early 90’s system. I did notice that some gamers were confused on what to press in each game. This is something that I would like to fix in future years, if possible, by putting up some type of small sign showing what does what in the game. Darn thing is, myself, I just figure it out. Guess some folks just don’t have that true gaming spirit (have to say it – I don’t read the manuals normally – and I play these games just fine).
Oh well. Both Atari systems faired somewhat poorly for 2011, but they weren’t bombs, not like the Arcadia. They will return, eventually (I’ll probably bring back the 7800 next year – or something special – we’ll see).