I’ve long wanted a name for the dot-dot-dot-dot sound effects that have stood in for speech in video games since the early NES days — here described as “beep speech” which works for me! This video is a great roundup on how those beeps function, how they’ve been used over the years (up through Simlish and the even more recent Animal Crossing hybrid speech, which is actual vocalization skewed into psuedo-gibberish), and how they’ve been tweaked when games are translated and localized for different cultures’ languages.
Notes about video games
A fan-made port of the pixel font built into the adventure game classics The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. As a bonus, a separate version is available that is properly kerned and hinted. (double bonus: opening the .ttf file in Font Book reveals that the demonstration string for the font reads “You fight like a dairy farmer!”)
A post combining Lucasfilm Games and typography? Immediate reblog!
Steve Kordek, the guy who revolutionized the world of pinball by introducing a machine with the now-familiar electromechanical flippers at the bottom of the playfield (imagine: a player can somewhat control the game!), passed away this week at the age of 100. His 6-decade career started off with remarkable serendipity. From the NY Times obit:
On a visit to his hometown in 1937, he was walking down a street without an umbrella when a torrential rain forced him to step into the lobby of a building he was passing. It was the Genco company. A receptionist asked if he was looking for a job.
“I had never seen a pin game before in my life,” Mr. Kordek told The Chicago Tribune in 2009. For 45 cents an hour, he was soon doing soldering on the company’s production line. …
Mr. Kordek never got tired of the clang, clack and buzz of pinball. “I had more fun in this business than anyone could believe,” he told The Tribune.
OMG OMG, some kind soul is posting good-quality, full-page scans of all of the old LucasFilm Games / LucasArts Adventurer magazines! Created at the company’s artistic height, these gems were half retail catalog, half inside scoop trivia treasure trove, decked out with never-to-be-seen-again Steve Purcell art (including single-page Sam & Max comics parodying the major Lucas game release featured that issue). They now sell for an arm and a leg on eBay.
I used to have every one of these, but they all vanished to whatever corner of the landfill my triangular Day of the Tentacle box and Dial-A-Pirate wheels ended up in…
If you’re a fan of the old Lucasfilm Games (and the kind of video game nerd that likes this sort of weird find…), don’t let your week go by without watching this internal Lucasfilm Games parody video unearthed by Mix n’ Mojo. Shots of Skywalker Ranch, Ron Gilbert, Larry Holland, jokes riffing off of the “Bo Knows” and “Spielvergnügen” (erm, Fahrvergnügen) ads, and even a song sung on the Ranch’s porch about their adventure games. It doesn’t get much more 1990 then this, folks!
(Bonus: watch for the boxed copy of King’s Quest V on the desk at around 8 minutes in — how’d that get in there??)
Awesome full sets of sprites and backgrounds ripped from Konami’s 1991 Simpsons arcade game are available over at The Spriters Resource. I could have bought one of those machines with all of the quarters I lost playing it at the bowling alley or pizza parlor or wherever else grubby kids hung out in 1990s suburbia.
I’ve trimmed down Marge’s action sprites here because I’m fascinated by one detail that I’m pretty sure is otherwise depicted nowhere else in the rest of Simpsons canon: Marge’s Life in Hell rabbit ears hidden inside her hair!
(Via The Spriters Resource: Simpsons. I owe someone source attribution, but I can’t remember where I saw this link recently…help!)
The handsome logo for Segagaga, one of my absolute favorite video game concepts: you run a fantasy RPG version of Sega, the ailing game console company, fending off rival electronics behemoth
SonyDOGMA (at the time, the Sega Dreamcast was facing its untimely demise). A surrealist, sarcastic, postmodern metafiction of the Japanese game industry from the inside, satire on a shoestring budget with a bit of loving apology for what was about to happen with Sega and the business in general.
From Edge magazine’s nice interview with SGGG’s developer, Tez Okano:
“The Japanese bubble burst in 1993 – that was the start of the recession and the economic downturn. At the very same time, the gaming industry was keeping going just as if it was the boom time. In 1999, it was becoming clear that the boom was fading fast for the industry. Coincidentally, we were making SGGG at this very turning point. Near the end of the game, the hero is fired because his company closes, and he finds refuge in a game store near Sega that actually existed! The store manager is Alex Kidd – he was also fired from Sega, when Sonic arrived. The message to the hero is that no matter how bad things look, there is no point in crying over the industry. You have to carry on – just like Alex Kidd, who is working hard.“
Know who assembled the retail boxes and whatnots for the original Secret of Monkey Island launch (including putting together the Dial-A-Pirate™ codewheels, as seen above)? The actual developers! I believe that’s Hal Barwood in the red glasses, and maybe that’s Dave Grossman on the left? If you have positive ID’s on anyone in the photo, let me know! The GameCola blog scored these photos of launch assembly from Tim Schafer’s Facebook page, including this good bit of trivia:
In one of these boxes, the developers slipped a five-dollar bill, signed by the whole team. It hasn’t been seen since.
The game industry’s definitely a bit different these days.
Nobuyoshi Sano (composer on the arcade series Ridge Racer and Tekken) and Yasunori Mitsuda (who worked on Secret of Mana and composed the music for Chrono Trigger, along with a number of other Square games) have started a new studio called Detune to continue their work on bringing synthesizer emulators to the Nintendo DS. Here Sano demos their upcoming KORG M01 release, which replicates the late 1980’s sounds of the KORG M1.
Super Mario Bros. from Andreas Heikaus on Vimeo.
Super Mario Bros. speedrun matchmoved onto a real-life wall. Fun to think about.
BIT.TRIP.RUNNER, one of the best games I’ve played this summer. A hypnotically synaesthetic music platformer, something like an inspired cross between Vib-Ribbon and Michel Gondry’s Star Guitar video. Well worth the few bucks if you’ve got a Wii.
(Seen above is a run of level 1-11 by YouTube user NintenDaan1, the level that I’m currently stuck playing over and over again trying to get all of the bonus gold…)
Might not be the prettiest thing I’ve seen lately, but it’s a point-and-click remake of Infocom’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! It was released on May 25th, just in time for towel day. More about the new version here and here.
Old school NES musician Neil Baldwin of Duty Cycle Generator has released a native NES music tracker called NTRQ as a downloadable ROM. Even better, you can now get it in real NES cartridge form (songs you create are saved to the battery backup), with proceeds going to charity!
(Via O’Reilly Radar)
WTFLG? Maybe my washing machine needs some power pellets.
(Originally from this Posterous post? It’s the earliest example I can find. Via Back of the Cereal Box)
It might feel like simple nostalgia at first, but pinball is more than that. Pinball is hyper-personal. A pinball machine invites you to shove quarters into it so that you can challenge this physical piece of hardware in a game that’s based on the best physics engine ever, physics itself.
Researchers from the Berlin Brain-Computer Interface project demonstrate their research into mind-control pinball, which is an important field of study if ever there was one. BUT HOW DO YOU NUDGE?
Also, the Addams Family table is a great choice for such a project (Fester would approve), but how cool would it have been if they’d hooked him up to the one-of-a-kind Sega/Stern museum table The Brain?
A private school principal once told me that in the history of literature, the greatest translation of all time was the English translation of Waiting for Godot, because Samuel Beckett had personally translated it from French, in which he’d originally written it, into English, his mother tongue. Well, Steve Purcell just might be the Samuel Beckett of comic book video games.
Illustrator Vanja Mrgan is updating various game and cartoon characters (and some non-imaginary folks, too) with thick, full beards. I particularly like this version of Nintendo’s Mr. Game and Watch.
“GET THE LAMP”
“MOVE THE RUG”
“OPEN THE TRAP DOOR”
“LIGHT LAMP”,“D”,“S”,“E”, “GET THE PAINTING”, “N”, “U”, “U”, “GET KNIFE AND ROPE”, “D”, “W”, “OPEN CASE”, “PUT PAINTING IN CASE”, “DROP KNIFE”, “GET SWORD”, “OPEN TRAP DOOR”, “D”, “N”, “KILL TROLL WITH SWORD”, “DROP SWORD”, “E”, “E”, “SE”, “E”, “TIE ROPE TO RAILING”, “CLIMB DOWN ROPE”, “S”, “E”, “GET COFFIN”, “W”, “S”, “PRAY”, “DOUSE LAMP”, “S”, “N”, “E”, “D” TO THE CANYON BOTTOM, “N”, “DROP COFFIN”, “OPEN COFFIN”, “GET SCEPTRE”, “WAVE SCEPTRE”, “LOOK”, “GET GOLD AND COFFIN”, “SW”, “U” TO CANYON VIEW, “NW”, “W”, “ENTER HOUSE AND OPEN BAG” “GET GARLIC”, “W”, “PUT COFFIN, SCEPTRE, AND GOLD IN CASE” “OPEN THE TRAP DOOR”, “AND LIGHT THE LAMP”.
From a short essay by elTee on Mixnmojo considering “The Secret of Monkey Island” as a satire of and rebuke to Sierra’s adventure games, a major shift in the genre that would signal the end of the (strangely death-obsessed) Quest series:
Did any of you ever play Police Quest? It was an interesting game because it actually expected you to act like a real police officer. I didn’t realise that cops had to perform a 360-degree vehicle check every morning (duh) and so when I drove away, I got a flat tyre outside of the station. If that were LucasFilm Games’ The Secret of The Death Angel, I’d probably be able to get out of the car and change the tyre, but not so in Police Quest with its grimly predictable ‘game over’. But in a weird way, it was more annoying when I finally managed to get that first day at work under my belt and it was time to get changed and head home. There’s a locker room, and I realise I have no idea which one of the lockers is mine – and then I further realise that the game isn’t going to help me out because of the logic that… the character knows which locker it is.
The Secret of Monkey Island throws that kind of crap out from the opening line. Guybrush doesn’t know shit, and that puts him and us on a level playing field. It’s subtle and incredibly liberating.
Very true. You could learn a lot about storytelling and game writing, good and bad, by studying the early adventure games.
デカリス [Giant] Tetris, from Sega.
(Via Arcade Heroes)
Darn kids ripping off the operators with their slugs and string tricks, playing Ms Pac-Man and Zaxxon for free! Check out a handful of vintage 1981 mechanical coinslot devices available to prevent scamming at the arcades.
Wow, a surprisingly faithful version of the incredible Eric Chahi game Another World (aka Out of this World) recreated using Little Big Planet on the PS3. The only thing that would have made it better is if LBP let the creator script along your alien buddy.