Monday, May 28, 2012

A Thanks On This Memorial Day

Today was just another normal day for me so I don't have much to say.  But I will say again: God Bless the troops who fought for our freedoms.  Freedoms like the ability to sleep soundly at night, to wake up and go to work, to speak your mind without fear of arrest, and to play video games.  And on this Memorial Day, we especially remember those who have died and assure that their work will not be in vain.  Thank you very much.  They're bigger men than I'll ever be.  They're the true heroes in our society.

As always, may God continue to bless the troops and this great country, the United States.  Pray for safety and perseverance in these perplexing times.  Just be more aware of this--have a moment of silence, thank a veteran, etc.  That is all I have to say for now.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In Defense Of Super Sprint & Electronic Arts

Edit: Moved the racing conclusions to the previous post.

You may notice I've been posting more often recently.  So far in this Summer semester, we've been free-floating a bit.  Haven't had any other work other than to work on our capstone games/portfolio stuff.  Chilling out with other people.  It's good but it's like we're organelles free-floating in the cytoplasm.  Now's the time to prep for future careers.  And hence, another long-winded discussion on my future career plans on tap for you guys.

So, about Super Sprint.  I've still been working on this thing.  I've added plenty of features such as track selection (as seen above), better collision detection with "realistic" physics (so you can't overlap the other cars, see above again), better keyboard controls, more settings & improved menus, real-time position tracking, general improvements to code/performance, and, of course, network play (complete with a chat window).  I'll probably give a more detailed explanation of how this stuff is done in future posts.

Right now, I've got basic online working but there's so many kinks to work out to keep a server & multiple client session moving from race to race while accommodating for any minor holes that could crash the server.  It's incredibly tedious and all I can really do is chip away at it.  I could possibly release an off-line only version of Super Sprint with the new stuff but I have to get the online portion solid as soon as possible.

The reason I keep bringing up Super Sprint, much to the chagrin of everyone reading this, is not to rub it in anyone's faces or to get a million downloads.  The main reason why is because I want to have at least one "solid" racing game on my portfolio heading towards the future.  Honestly, I don't know how many racing games I'll get to work on in the future.  Between the combination of game studios to choose from AND the abysmal failures of the racing genre in recent times, odds are slim to none that I'll get the chance to work on a racing game that I'll truly like ever again.  So before I enter the workplace, now's my chance to "cherish" a racing game for the very last time.

This brings me to my next point and that is job opportunities.  In about a month or two, several companies, such as EA, Electronic Arts, EA Tiburon, EA Sports, and Electronic Arts in Maitland, FL, will come around doing internship interviews with students.  My pickings will be very slim and there's no getting around that.

I had a sad, pitiful goal as soon as I entered the game industry that you all know too well.  As I hit the floor running, I make a bee-line towards Sega of America.  Get Sega of Japan/Yu Suzuki/Toshihiro Nagoshi on the phone.  Make another Sega racing game, particularly Daytona 3.  Then the game gets made and the world is eternally blessed for our efforts.  The problem is THIS IS NEVER HAPPENING (at least not right away).  Sega is an inept company which is hardly on the move.  They're developing fewer games and hiring fewer employees.  They don't even develop their own games in the US anymore.  See the Sega post I made earlier.

But there's always a home at EA...  I already burned bridges with EA in the past with my incredible "EA sucks" post.  But now I may have to rethink that opportunity.

For some reason, the best analogy involves the 2005 movie Lord of War, featuring everyone's favorite Caucasian male celebrity, Nicholas Cage.  The movie is about an arms dealer (Cage) who buys weapons from the Soviets and sells them to African mercenaries/terrorists/militia men.  He's a wealthy, well-to-do man but his job is clearly dangerous, illegal, and immoral.  But when Cage's character is confronted with his decision to aid in the death & destruction of other people, one of his quotes (and I paraphrase) is "I'm a necessary evil...if I don't sell weapons to terrorists, then others will, so what's the difference?"

So let's say I remain the little rebel that I am.  I reject the EA propaganda and turn down any offers that they  give me as I storm out the building seething from the mouth in a fine display of bravado and swagger.  Okay, fine.  You got 'em that time, boss.  I can go work for some other local studios like N-Space which specialize in hallmark titles such as Call of Duty and Hannah Montana games for the Nintendo DS.  Radical!  Then some other schmuck in the long line of EA wishfuls hops on-board with them and The Powers That Be continue to bang out Madden, Tiger Woods, and other Origin crap titles that continue to settle in the morass known as the video game marketplace.  So by me refusing to work at EA, does that change anything???  I put myself in a worse position and nothing is gained from it.  Way to go, me!!  You held out...for nothing.

Crap picture of the EA HQ in Maitland, Florida.

Let's look at the benefits of working at EA Tiburon.  First of all, it's close to where I live now so I don't have to sweat it out moving half-way across the country for someplace completely unknown.  Lots of old FIEA classmates will be working there as well.  The studio isn't a bad place to be--the working conditions and pay are pretty good.  They got rid of the yearly contracts so now you get paid healthcare (I think).  The experience of working at a top-notch studio looks great on my resume.  Plus, I'll be working on Madden or Tiger Woods.  In all honestly, I'd MUCH rather work on something innocuous like a sports title rather than something that would grind my gears, such as RAGE, Diablo, or Mass Effect (yes, I said it).

But like I said before, that's not the point of going into the game be a subservient lackey for EA for the majority of my career.  We must get out of here and work on actual good racing games.  One problem is that to game studios, their workforce is their greatest asset.  Unlike other goods produced such as cars & furniture, the value of video games drop rapidly a year or two after release so all they've got is their workforce.  Therefore, big studios like EA can be a bit "clingy" when it comes to keeping their employees.  If a person quits, it takes much time to bring in new employees to fill the position and get them up to speed.  In other words, studios hate people who move from studio to studio a heck of a lot.  It looks like crap on your resume.  So when you pick a job, be prepared to spend at least a year there.  I don't want to spend too much time at EA while Sega continues to whither away like a dying rose!

Never mind Sega for a moment.  We're looking for racing game studios in particular (EA and NFS DOES NOT COUNT).  Too bad that the only racing games that are made nowadays are dinky little $2 games (I tilt the iPhone and the car steers!!!) or big-budget dreck that we've seen for the last 5-10 years such as Need for Speed, Burnout, DiRT, and Forza.  Hell, even being able to work on ANY racing game would be nice but which studios specialize in racing development nowadays?  Uh, EA (sort of, they're outsourcing NFS games every which way).  Then there's Codemasters though I'm not a fan of many of their games (DiRT).  Then there's Sumo Digital, probably my best secondary target besides Sega and will always be high up on the list.  Don't forget Slightly Mad Studios (Shift series) and...uh, Eutechnyx (NASCAR: The Game)?  Kind of running out of options here.  Gotta keep my eyes peeled for all racing job opportunities that crop up here and there and hope the interview process is successful.

...there is one option left on the table that's really not worth mentioning but here goes.  We start our own company.  Hire some guys (preferably ex-classmates or online Sega fans) and make the games we want.  But that would require so much business & legal work that I'd need tons of help.  And assuming you do make it to the "big leagues" (more than half of all start-ups fail miserably), most of your projects will be menial tasks from EA/Activision--the games that are so irrelevant they are too lazy to make on their own (i.e. Madden on the 3DS).  If you could wheel & deal with Sega it would be worth it but it's not likely so it's hardly worth the entrepreneurial effort.

I've made the hiring analogy of a NFL Draft before in the past.  Basically, as an employee, you have very little choice in where you want to go, especially when you are just starting out.  You may hate the company/organization/team/colors you play for, but you gotta make it work for the betterment of everyone around you.  And if somehow Sega manages to wither away in the next 5-10 least I hope the good little drones that buy the EA titles are more "blessed" due to my work.  If Sega is "doomed" anyway, then why not help other people?  It's not my dream but it's better than nothing.  So you must make do with what you got.

This has gone on way too long...I'm done.  Gonna keep plugging away at Super Sprint.  Hopefully, we'll be able to catch Sega's eye though unconventional means besides working there.  That's one reason why this blog exists too.  And Happy Memorial Day, we support the guys in uniform that gave their lives for our freedom.  I've said this plenty of times before and I'll say it again.  Already made the "official" Memorial Day post so it's alright.

BTW guys, you gotta buy this to help save Sega:

Greatest Day In Motorsports

Sup people, just wanted to let you know this May 27, 2012 is going to be awesome.  There will be THREE big races today: Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, and Coca-Cola 600.

Monaco in the morning, Indy in the afternoon, Coca-Cola in the evening.  Gonna be tough waking up at 7:30 AM to see the Monaco race!  I live in Eastern time so if you live west of me...well, it's gonna be rough.  I'll sleep on the couch with the TV on if it need be.

There's big significance in each of these races.  The Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 are two of the three "Triple Crown of Motorsport."  And the Coke 600 is the longest race of the NASCAR season.

I don't have much to say about any race yet.  I talked about Indy Car/Formula 1 in general a year ago.  After the races are though, I'll probably append my thoughts to this post later.

Oh yeah, just a friendly reminder.   Try not to run out of gas on the final that right, Junior???

Anyway, one more thing.  The Nationwide race was today, as usual.  And Joey Logano drove the Gamestop car complete with Hitman hood decals and jumpsuit.

Joey's hood has sported many video game decals in the past, such as Modern Warfare 2, Little Big Planet, Bioshock 2, God of War some number, and Lego Batman.  I wonder if this'll loosen gamers up to NASCAR even the slightest since we all know that NASCAR is about rednecks, turning left, and wrecks, right???  I don't think hardcore gamers care but whatever--this'll remains the SOUTH'S sport and dem city boy noobs can't take that away from us...

EDIT: Here's my response after seeing all three of Sunday's races.  The pre-race ceremonies were awesome.  Monaco was funny because there was a wreck within the first five seconds.  Always funny when cautions come out 5 seconds into a race (see Martinsville 2012).  When Webber won, he sprayed champagne on the cameramen/photographers, lol.  Indy 500 was good--Sato's ballsy maneuver on the last lap was crazy...he cut inside Franchitti on Turn 1 but spun out cause he hit the Forza "insta-spin" white strip.  And Coke 600--loved the Memorial Day stuff.  Kasey Kahne won so at least someone "new" got the trophy.  Junior predictably finished in the Top 10 without a win.  So that satisfies my racing fix for now.  Expect more racing stuff in the future.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Model 3 SUPER Widescreen Mode

We knew that the Supermodel emulator permitted Widescreen (16:9 ratio) view without having to distort the screen, as such:

Another way you can tell it's widescreen if the HUD items don't conform to the screen edges, hence the gap.   But what some of us certainly didn't know about the aspect ratio is that you can go further than that.  Here, check this out.  Triple-screen, 16:3 ratio, 5760 x 1080 resolution!!!!!

It really is incredible.  And what makes it so unusual is that the game still renders objects way out of the normal field of view.  Technically, you could turn off the two side screens and still play the game like normal.  It doesn't "stretch to screen" like many other games do.  You're not supposed to have peripheral vision that wide yet it still draws the objects anyway.  But why???

I've been working with the UDK game engine for some time now.  It's rather flexible with whatever game resolution you choose but remember--this isn't UDK, this is Model 3.  Did Sega deliberately include this somehow?  And for what purpose?  There's only three Daytona 2 cabinets and they are the single, double, and deluxe versions, all of which use the standard 4:3 screen ratio.

Perhaps Sega was planning some sort of "widescreen" versions of Daytona 2/Scud Race.  A big fancy cabinet like the Virtua Formula or Initial D machines at Gameworks/Joypolis but with a wider screen.  Something so frickin cool & insane that only Sega could pull off. 

Unfortunately, if I played Daytona 2 like this with full audio, I think I'd black out from the excitement.

But maybe the inclusion of widescreen wasn't deliberate at all.  Maybe it was a useless feature included with the engine.  The HUD items don't move at all when you change ratios so that suggests Sega wasn't trying to set up anything fancy--they were anticipating 4:3 ratio always.  But after the recent discoveries such as 16-player car colors, Grand Prix modes, and Live Vision Cam, I don't doubt there's a few more trivial things left to discover with these games.  Maybe they had planned widescreen at some point but it was never used until now.  Who knows, I'm throwing out ideas here.

EDIT: NVM, it's due to third-party tool: check out this website here.  Would've been great if Sega could've implemented widescreen somehow but I guess it didn't cross their minds.  OH THE POSSIBILITIES!!!!!!

And it is still A DAMN SHAME that the fans beat Sega to the punch here.  We're the ones who brought Model 3/Daytona 2/Scud Race home, not Sega.  I can't believe we've had to put up with this crap for years.  Sega is such a sorry company and we're the only ones who can bail them out.  Nuff said.  To all you "cool" kids out into the Triple-B's (Blizzard, Bethesda, Bioware), just go play your platinum sellers and let me mourn in peace...I suppose.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How To Be A Race Car Driver (According To The Sims)

Ok, I'm fairly certain that everyone's heard of The Sims, the 2000 Maxis/evil Electronic Arts "classic."  I found this game fascinating many years ago but then it hit me like a pile of bricks that this game is awfully redundant and that I should stop and never play it again.  Barely dabbled in the Sims 2 and haven't touched Sims 3.  I'm a SimCity guy anyway but EA put the kibosh on that so let's never mention Maxis ever again after this post.

If you don't know about The Sims, you can get jobs in one of twenty career tracks (10 in original Sims, 5 in Livin' Large expansion, 5 in Unleashed expansion).  Tracks include typical stuff Business, Law Enforcement, Entertainment, Politics, Science, etc.  Each track consists of a ladder of ten jobs increasing in income with each level.  To get promoted, you have to improve your Sims' talents (charisma, body, logic, creativity, mechanical, and cooking), make family friends, and go to work in a good mood.  If you keep at it, you'll make it to the top level of your career track and become a bazillionaire, or something.

Though it sounds cool on paper, your job description hardly has anything to do with the gameplay.  A carpool shows up every day at a specific time to take your Sim to work.  You never see him again until the carpool brings him back.  So you can be something badass like a "major league athlete" or a "criminal mastermind" but you never get to see any of the action.  Only thing that differs is the job hours, the wage, the job uniform, and the car that picks you up (ranging from junker cars to limos).

Only time you see a damn car in this game.

Anyway, it's worth mentioning there's a job out there called the "Grand Prix Driver" which sounds right up our alley!  But to get to that job, you must jump through a bunch of hoops in the Xtreme Career Track.  Here are all the jobs you must accomplish before becoming the next Michael Schumacher or Mario Andretti:


1. Daredevil (§175)
You've turned a bar bet into the foundation of an extreme career.  In short, you'll try anything, the crazier, the better.  Swim under the surface of a frozen lake, leap between rooftops with a bicycle, beat a train to a crossing, juggle a chainsaw while whistling "Dixie."  Your workday is short, but intense.

Holy mackerel, Batman, you're a Joe Schmoe looking through the newspaper and they need people to do dumbass stunts (for Dumbest Stuff on Wheels, apparently)?  And you don't need any skills, training, or experience whatsoever?  Good, cause I enjoy the idea of cracking my head for chump change.  And to severely hurt yourself, you don't really need talent at all so that's good!  Might as well film your own Jackass/MTV/Spike TV show while you're at it.

2. Bungee Jump Instructor (§250)
The salary sinks - but whoever thought that you'd get paid to do this?  Body skills are critical here; nutrition and fatigue must be carefully monitored at home.  You might invest in home gym equipment as well, to keep in the best shape possible.

It's bungie-jumping, not much else to say.  At least I'm watching other people suffer besides me.

3. Whitewater Guide (§325)
You're in charge of the rafts bobbing down the river in Sim Canyon.  Hope your body skills are sufficient - to advance here, your paying riders need to have confidence in your strength.  Never know when you might have some boat repairs to do, so mechanical aptitude is a plus.

Um, whitewater rafting.  At this point in my career, I ask "WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH RACING!!!"  Nuff said...

4. Xtreme Circuit Pro (§400)
Snowboards in winter, mountain bikes in spring, kayaks in summer, and skateboards in fall - you've entered the year-round pro circuit.  Strategies for winning can be helped by developing your logic skill.  Since you're burning mega-calories, learning a few cooking tricks is a good idea, too.

Congrats, you're a Dick's Sporting Goods/Academy poster-boy now.  This job makes sense since we've seen pros like Bucky Lasek, Travis Pastrana, Ricky Carmichael, and Shaun White go race cars before (apparently, they are used to extreme danger/speed).  But HOLY COW is being a skateboarder (or any of those other things) on a professional level is insanely hard.  Takes a ton of patience to learn how to ollie/kickflip/grind a rail.  Made it that far already?  How about you go to the pros, compete in X-Games, film movies, and overall try not to kill yourself.  If being a pro skateboarder is a necessary requirement to being a race car driver, then bitch please...I'm done.  Back to video games.  Besides, you deserve a lot more money for doing this work.  Why it's at #4, I have no clue.

5. Bush Pilot (§475)
Piloting that antique plane of yours demands some serious mechanical skill if you're going to safely dive through dense cloud cover and land on dangerous terrain.  And you'd better be in great physical shape in case you can't get out the same way you got in.  Of course, the danger does yield high pay.

I'M FLYIN A PLANE, WHOOOOPIEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!  LOOK MA, NO HANDS!!!!!!  Can we go skydiving now??  Your move, Maxis.  If not, we can always DO A BARREL ROLL!!!!

6. Mountain Climber (§550)
You've become a renowned climber of unscaled peaks, and there's lots of cash to be made by filming your expeditions for television.  Mechanical and creativity skills will be important - a failure in your ascent gear or strategy could be devastating.

Stuck in this lousy career track, better drink my own piss, indeed.

7. Photojournalist (§650)
Creative skills will help you here.  Work time is divided between taking photos and writing articles at the Sim Times newspaper office.  You need to make sure you allow enough time to write without social distractions, in order to meet deadlines and collect a nice, fat fee.  Maybe you should practice charisma.  Who knows when you may be called upon to narrate your photos?

I've covered wars you kn--wait, WHAT AM I DOING AT THIS LOUSY JOB AGAIN???  At least I get to live out my lifelong dream of running around a mall in my underwear.

8. Treasure Hunter (§725)
You've moved on to salvaging wrecks off the Sim City coastline.  You need friends in the right places to secure all those permits.  Hone that creative talent to get an edge in the search.

According to the job requirements, you need 5 logic points to attain this job.  BULLS***.  You need 11 logic points for this job.  A SECRET MESSAGE ON THE BACK OF THE DECLARATION THAT TELLS ME TO GO TO SOME ARBITRARY LOCATION WRITTEN IN A BUNCH OF HIEROGLYPHICS???  BETTER GET SOME LEMON JUICE!!!

9. Grand Prix Driver (§825)
Your latest job involves laying rubber on Sim City's racetracks.  It is important that you leave home in a good mood with high spirits - you'll drive your best race that way.  Playing an Electronic Arts racing game on your home computer might sharpen your reflexes, too.

BOOGITY BOOGITY BOOGITY, WE MADE IT BOYS!!!!  WE'RE FINALLY RACE CAR DRIVERS!!!!  But no, you don't drive--err...ride to work in an F1 car, just a Dodge Viper.  The pay sucks for a professional driver.  As for my response to an "Electronic Arts racing game"...

HEY JIMMIE!!!  How'd you become such a great driver??

"Just worked hard all these years...rode bikes, went bungee jumping, rafting, skateboarding, flew planes, climbed mountains, took pictures, and and looked for buried treasure.  Any questions???"

For the record, your "extreme" career is not over!  Prepare to be whisked out of your cockpit seat to...

10. International Spy (§925)
You've become a "secret agent" on assignment for your government in Sim City.  To survive this highly lucrative business, you must keep yourself in top mental and physical condition.  Spies are also irrestible - which can cause problems with your mate.

That's right--you go from a friggin race car driver to mutha-f***in James Bond (or Ethan Hunt, if you're feeling picky).  I have no idea how that works so for all terrorist/criminal organizations out there...keep tabs on Formula 1, NASCAR, Indy Car, Le Mans, Rally, Grand Tourer drivers out there since there's your man right there.  SECRET AGENTS...

Oh, that's right.  James Bond is such a great driver because he was once a professional race car driver!  It all makes sense now!!!  007 doesn't even need a steering wheel to drive!!!


But we all know the real way to be a race car driver and that is to race dirt cars/go-karts a frickin hell of a lot, win a lot of races, build your own cars, and get a car owner to hire you.  Either that or you pay a crapton of money.  Being a "risk taker" conditions you for the danger and sharpens your reflexes.  You've already seen the fear so you're well-prepared.  Otherwise, these menial jobs are meaningless.

Go driving with a cougar (the animal type) and skip the first 8 steps.  Easy!

Just for s***s and giggles, let's take a look at some other jobs from The Sims:


(Journalism) 2. Game Reviewer (§200)
The lowliest writing job you can get, but your name is in the byline.  Game companies send you free beta builds, and you get to play them (game and company), deciding on a whim whether you'll give them good press or not.

LAWL GAMESPOT AND IGN, BUNCH OF NOOBS.  "Deciding on a whim whether to give them good press or not"?  You're saying you never play the games before reviewing them?  Or that someone pays you off instead?  No s***, Sherlock.

(Hacker) 1. Beta Tester (§200)
Put the next version of the software through its paces, and try to crash the software as often as possible.  The Company is depending on you to make sure this code arrives on the store shelves in the cleanest possible condition, provided you don't rack up too many late-night pizza bills.

Full Sail grads.

(Hacker) 6. Game Designer (§610)
Good thing you've gotten so creative as of late - turns out your ideas for games have caught the eyes and ears of the Powers That Be.  Now the pressure's on for you to develop a game script that will capture the public's interest, as well.  That also means you get to work nights, since that's when the engineers are at the office.

Aw hell naw, that ain't right.  Creativity gets you jack s*** at EA, remember?  Get back to work, programmers!!!  The working nights part is spot on, though.  And why is this track called "Hacker" anyway--wouldn't the name "Computer Science" make more sense?

(Hacker) 9. Venture Capitalist (§1300)
All those stock options paid off - now that you've gotten more liquid, you can pick and choose which struggling little startups will earn your magnanimity, as well as the prestige for your name as a backing of their work.


BTW, there is technically a Formula 1 car in The Sims the uber DLC "Sims 3: Fast Lane Stuff" for more cool cars that all you can do is stare at!  Unfortunately, it's a open cockpit single-seater so no woohoo allowed.  Why can't this be in Forza 4 instead?  I'm done here, this post sucks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sega Was Quite The Prolific Contributor!

Sup super brothers, this wasn't meant to showcase new material/opinions but I've got stuff to share anyway.  So here's a new IGN article that has sprung up lately which is surprisingly flattering towards Sega!  Sega: A Soothsayer of the Games Industry.  What a lot of you noobs didn't know about Sega so I'm gonna recap any achievements thus far whether it was a hit or miss.  I'm going to do this in timeline format and add a few things of my own so here goes:

1976: Let's go ride some bikes!  Fonz was not the first racing game Sega released (that would be Moto-Cross, a game relatively identical to this) but it was the first game to feature force feedback controls and also the first to be based off a TV character.

1985: Let's go ride some bikes...again!  Hang-On was a motorcycle game that boasted the world's first full-body experience gameplay (steer by leaning left & right on the special bike cabinet).

1986: Embark on a beautiful journey!  OutRun was the first racing game to combine multiple soundtracks and non-linear routes.  Most of the landscapes were derived by memories accrued by the eclectic Yu Suzuki during his European tour.

1987: Early attempts at lousy 3D gaming!  Sega revealed an add-on for the Mega Drive...a pair of black 3D glasses with LCD shutters that would project 3D full-color images from the screen.  It was a flop, of course.

1989: HOOOOOOO!!!  Sega released the arcade version of Moonwalker, an isometric beat-em-up featuring none other than music legend Michael Jackson.  A 1990 version was released for Genesis that featured drastically different gameplay (2D action sidescroller).

1990: Go buy some DLC!  Sega released a network system exclusive to Japan dubbed the Sega Net Work System.  Download games using a modem attached to the MegaDrive for a sizeable monthy fee (unfortunately, you had to redownload the games after you shut the console off).

Also that year, you could now watch TV on your handheld system!  The Sega Game Gear came with a backlit color screen and a TV tuner.

1991: Save your files on internal console memory!  The Sega CD (of all consoles, geez) was the first to include this feature.  The Saturn in 1994 also did the same thing as well.

Also this year, Sega released the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game which would later become Sega's official mascot and spawn one of the most largest game franchises in history.

1992: Play racing games in 3D!  While Virtua Racing wasn't the first 3D racing game (predated by Namco's Winning Run and Atari's Hard Drivin' by '88 and '89 respectively), it was the first of the Model 1 arcade series and the beginning of Sega's 3D arcade dominance.  It was also the first racing game to feature multiple view points--cockpit, bumper, chase, and far chase views.

1993: Play fighting games in 3D!  Virtua Fighter was the first 3D fighting arcade game.

Also that year, we said screw the Kinect--let's play hands-free gaming Sega-style!  The Sega Activator was an octagon-shaped Genesis controller that was placed on the floor and read player inputs as they waved around like idiots.  It was a piece of crap but kudos for trying.  Over a decade later, the Kinect has no excuse to suck.

And yet again for that year, Night Trap was released for Sega CD, an abysmal game that was presented during US Senate hearings which eventually ushered in the ratings system.

1994: Highest grossing arcade game of all time!  Well, at least the highest-grossing arcade racing game of all time.  Daytona USA, ladies and gentlemen.  It requires no introduction.

Also, Sega would continue their online exploits by releasing a similar online service for the Genesis known as the Sega Channel.  This time, it was available in North America.  Pay the subscription to download games, cheats, manuals, unreleased content, and demos off the server hosted by Time Warner Cable.

1995: Play Mega Drive & Genesis games outdoors!  The Sega Nomad was a portable Genesis/Mega Drive system with a 3.25 inch color LCD screen and an A/V out plug for connecting to another TV (you could watch a video game on two screens).  Also came with AC adapters and battery packs (with abysmal life, of course). Was supposed to have a touch screen but Sega ditched that feature due to a high price tag (over $250).

1997: Play more games online!  Sega released the 28K NetLink attachment for the Sega Saturn, complete with keyboard and mouse compatibility.  Unfortunately, only five games were playable online, one of which was a special version of Daytona USA: Championship Edition.

1998: Carry your saved games around with style!  For the Dreamcast, Sega ditched internal memory in favor of those "evil memory cards" that Sony profited from.  But the Dreamcast memory cards (Visual Memory Unit or VMU) also functioned as a second screen during gameplay AND as a mini handheld gaming device elsewhere.  Everyone knows this but it's a neat idea that's so clever it's worth mentioning multiple times.

1999: Show the Wii who's boss!  Sega released the Dreamcast Fishing Controller which was quite versatile for a mere fishing game peripheral.  It could be used to play other games...such as Virtua Tennis or Soul Calibur!

Also that year, Yu Suzuki released the most expensive game ever produced for its time, Shenmue, at $47 million (in 1999 money).  This and its 2001 sequel Shenmue 2 both cost $70 million (in 2001 money) to make.  It was also the first game to use Quick Time Events and also spawned one of the most delayed yet anticipated threequels in history (Shenmue 3).

2000: Play with even more fun Dreamcast toys!  Shake the maraca controllers to Samba de Amigo.  Also talk to Seaman the fish with your microphone.

Also this year, SegaNet (or Dreamarena in Europe) was released for Dreamcast consoles.  The Dreamcast was the first online-ready console which ran over a 56K dialup connection.  It also had its own built-in web browser with keyboard & mouse support.

2002: The legend will never die!  First game company ever (to my knowledge) to survive a total loss of over $1.5 billion (from 1998 to 2002) and still survive.  Partially due to one of the greatest altrustic moves in gaming history--former Sega Chairman Isao Okawa donated $695 million that same year just before his death.

2003: Listen to video game music LIVE!  The infamous Takenobu Mitsuyoshi performed the Shenmue soundtrack at the first Symphonic Game Music Concert in Leipzig, Germany--the first video game music concert held outside of Japan.

2004 onward: Sega did nothing worth noting (except a few racing games).  Cause they suck and are an embarrassment to us all.  I give them props for staying alive this whole time but that's it.

2012: The Dreamcast homebrew scene still forges ahead.  Sturmwind was the most recent Dreamcast game released this very year, thus proving the Dreamcast is still "alive."

What a damn shame.  To see all these achievements go to waste after the post-Dreamcast era.  Seriously, listen to the New Sega Theme Song--it sums up everything perfectly.  This post has gone on way much longer than it should've so I'll end with a few choice quotes from the IGN article that sums up Sega all too well:

Unfortunately for SEGA, offering future tech in the present is expensive, and I would chalk up a majority of Sega’s commercial failures to prohibitive price tags with minimal returns. This is in stark contrast to the company’s ancient rival, Nintendo, which is historically quite content to sit on emerging technologies until they become affordable, and by extension, profitable.

It is little wonder SEGA was the prime mover for video games for so long: with teams AM1 through to AM7 during the 1990s, surely SEGA burned through an insane amount of money in research and development alone. Like a dog digging holes in the backyard, SEGA leapt from the Mega CD to the 32X to the Saturn within the span of three years. This did nothing to build up consumer confidence in the SEGA brand, but in retrospect, it’s hard not to admire the excitement for the medium that SEGA so clearly shared with its fans, and demonstrated with its business decisions. Its devil-may-care attitude towards game development in the Saturn and Dreamcast eras is something that we simply do not see outside of the indie scene today. The Dreamcast read like a love letter to gaming itself.

Even stranger for Sega, a retired prize fighter sitting on the sidelines. Watching Nintendo grapple with the internet; watching Sony outfit handhelds like Swiss Army knives; watching Microsoft struggle to make full body control viable; and being able to say, “been there, done that.”

Yeah, that's right.  Sega kicks ass and now you know why.  Yes, they were a very foolish company but when they did something right, it was awesome.  The end.

If you have any Sega "firsts" that I forgot to mention, please let me know cause I want to learn more too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Hi guys, I'm back in Orlando in front of the computer and I can't really post anymore.  So I'm winging it--here goes.

I had a good two weeks with the family in the nice big house.  I was sad to go.  These breaks I have off are a real reality check, man.  One day, you're with your family, pets, and old friends staring at the water and the trees.  Next day, you're back in the cell again locked up with a bunch of homies who rave nonstop about Mass Effect and drinking beer.  Okay, that was low, sorry dudes.  But really, just strange to see people that aren't in that 25-35 age bracket for once.

Anyway, I flew home on Delta Airlines and I had a layover at Atlanta's Hartsfeld-Jackson Airport.  Yeah, reppin' the ATL, ya dig.  I was the guy with the Daytona Speedway hat.  Missed the 9:50 pm flight to Orlando cause the previous flight swerved out of the way of bad weather and took forever to let people off the plane.  Yeah, try running to another terminal while carrying two laptops in one bookbag.  So I ate a Burger King cheeseburger (that must've taken 10 minutes to make, so much for fast food) then I sweated it out, waiting for standby as the packed me into the 10:50 flight to the same destination.  So that's great.  I didn't lose my bag with the Xbox 360 & Rock Band Keyboards so that's a great, great success.

I really want to know what's the deal with these fancy airports.  They're like high class malls but you can't just park and chill out--you gotta fly somewhere or get lost.  So they have the food court and the book stores--I get it, but there must be a BILLION book stores, phone accessory stores, jewelry stores--they sell all the small things.  And they manage to cram these fancy restaurants like steakhouses or sushi bars in these narrow little concourses surrounded by boarding gates.  You see that Chili's over there?  Feels just like home!!  It seems awfully sporadic but I'll take it cause I like malls so yeah, it's cool.  Too bad you're usually hauling ass to the gate so you have time for nothing, not even a shoe shine.

On both flights, you get schooled on safety instructions.  Which makes sense--guess it's some sort of federal mandate.  But you can't simply fly anymore without being reminded "oh, you're gonna crash."  It's like trying to eat McDonald's without someone tapping you on the shoulder, "oh, you're gonna be get fat."  Debbie Downers.  On the flight to Orlando, stand-by put me right next to the emergency exit and I was like "ooohhhh noooo..."  I gotta rehearse opening the door!  And when do I open it?  I didn't ask for this!!

I can't believe they put the Delta In-Flight video on YouTube but they did.  My life is complete.  Nooooo smoking!!

I was listening to music on the plane.  First up was Steve Miller Band!  Fly Like an Eagle!  Jet Airliner!  Next up is Tom Petty.  Free Fallin!  Yeah, that was weird.  What's weirder was how the flight attendants took my Coke away and made everyone turn off the electronic devices 10 minutes before landing.  What's the big deal guys???  Breakin' my stride.  At least I got to show you fools what's up by playing Super Sprint at 30,000 feet!  Wait, should've busted out the Supermodel emulator...what a wasted opportunity.  They have the Mile High Club--well I got the Mile High...Video Game Design Club.

Considering the cost to fly, the hassle of having to bring all the stuff, waiting at the terminal, and sitting next to random strangers, it's much cheaper and about just as quick to drive home for 8 hours.  I haul my own damn luggage--no bag fees, no size restrictions, nothing.  Crank the volume up and take those interstate exits OutRun-style.  Just need to get behind the wheel of that bad boy and cruise on home, not slowing down for anybody (except the toll booths and the occasional state trooper my radar detector picks up).

Back in Orlando, I already miss home.  Made my rounds about the mall and got to pet the dogs one more time.  I had my doubts before leaving and I sure have a lot more of an emotional bond with things than my fearless teammates who work anywhere and on anything without question.  But that's okay because as you get older, you start to get used to these things.  I've been through high school for 4 excruciating years.  Been through Southeastern Louisiana University for another 4 years.  Now I'm here.  3rd time I left the house for FIEA.  This ain't new--I can make it.  And we're closer to finishing those super l33t games.  Plus I might get to go to the second Daytona race on July 7.  Also I don't have to worry about my little brother getting on my 360, embarrassing my good name on XBL by dying a lot on Black Ops Zombies so that is good news too.

So I'm spending a lot of my time now working on Super Sprint and Battle Fortress Tortoise so I may not post as much in the future.  It's not that this semester is hard but I'm also feeling glum about Sega.  Not that they're doing bad, but when you look at the games, I'm having a hard time getting into it.  Sonic & Mario at the Olympic Games sold 3.3 million copies.  Who's buying this?  Lots of kids and Sonic fanboys.  I saw next to nothing in terms of enthusiasm on the sites I visit.  But then again, the ability to shoot stuff as Vector the Crocodile almost makes it worthwhile.

Then after that, there's Sonic Generations, Yakuza, Football Manager, etc.  Sales are good but I'm having a hard time getting hyped about any game, Sega games included.  Yeah, there's Sonic & Sega Racing 2 (I refuse to call it by its actual title) but I still have slight doubts that it'll cater to hardcore racing fans like me and the OutRun 2 gang or is it all the Sonic/Dreamcast scenery porn at the oh-so-lousy 30 fps?  Let's see what you got, Sumo--make that damn racing game.

Well, that's it.  I got a lot of stuff on the stack of stuff to talk about, Super Sprint included, if only I have the time & focus to do it in a cohesive manner.

EDIT: There's one more thing I forgot to mention.  I sat in a window seat on the night flight home (twice actually...the flight going home two weeks ago).  Got to see the city lights as far as the horizon.  Very rarely do you get to see the forest from the trees.  Roads, window lights, parking lots, cars all lit up.  Outstanding--reminds me of a Billy Joel song.  I only imagine what it looks like at Christmas.  I only wish I had brought my camera so I'm gonna steal one from Google.  (Attribution)

Orlando at night.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cool Sonic Commercial Not Involving Hedgehogs

Could it be?  A Sonic restaurant/drive-in commercial.  That's an ode to a Sega franchise.  That is NOT SONIC THE HEDGEHOG???



Cool commercial, bro.  If this gets aired on TV and I actually see it, I'm buying 100 chocolate shakes, they're good.  Sorry, but all I watch is Speed Channel which is too busy airing commercials about General Insurance and the Scottish guy with the lawn stuff.

Also while you're at it, check out this wacky OutRun contraption:

And here's an OutRun painting, from this Kotaku article:

EDIT: One more thing since I've had this adorable pic for a while and I don't know when or where to post it.  It's Virtua Fighter being played by our huggable, loveable, little fuzzball:

Oh and one more cause I can't help it:

Haw haw Sawnik, go get that actual Sonic drive-in chillie dog



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How To Save G4 Television (Not Really)

This is on the heels of Adam Sessler's and Kevin Periera's departures from the so-called-titular gaming cable channel known as G4.  The 4 G's stand for Games, Gear, Gadgets and Gigabytes, BTW.

Now, I don't watch G4.  Used to watch it a bit years ago but now I stay the hell away.  I'm not even a TV person anymore.  I leave the TV on Speed Channel and listen to it as I work.  But I still have some pity on G4 since I'm a "gamer" and so is G4.

The main problem I have with G4 is that I always felt like it insulted my intelligence.  Whatever original programming that station has consists of a bunch of gloating airheads who use dumb catchphrases like "fus-do-rah" or "the cake is a lie" or "epic fail."  And they oogle over models at Comic-Con (yes, I'm talking about Olivia Munn and the "Olivia's Rack" segment).  And then they air reruns of Cops, Cheaters, and The Man Show.  Literally, I just checked G4's schedule for the next six hours and there's X-Play, Revenge of the Show, and 3 hours worth of Cops.  That's all you got???

I'm sorry, but I'm not a toolbag.  Not all of us are energy drink hopped-up nerds who sit around in our underwear playing World of Warcraft or Xbox Live 10 hours a day.  Gimme a break.  Even though I found Adam Sessler irritating in the past, at least the dude knew his stuff and brought some new ideas to the table.  He made you think a little.

 Yes, Adam, you may be a bastard, but at least you're a magnificent bastard.  Like me.

Browsing through sites like Kotaku, Reddit, and GameFAQs, I doubt I'm going to heavily invest in another "mainstream" gaming channel.  But these are some common sense ideas I'm going to throw out a Top 10, no, Top 14 list of ideas to help you guys out.  Since I know very little about what G4's airing these days, they may doing a few of these things anyway.  Here goes:


1.  Ditch Cops, Cheaters, The Man Show, etc.  Literally, I just checked the channel's lineup for the next six hours and it was all Cops, all the time.  This is a gaming channel, not Spike TV.  Try to focus in on shows that have to do with  gaming and technology, not dudes running around with guns or women.  Also, no more juvenile jokes like "Revenge of the Kha'ak" from X-Play a few years ago.  Yes, this is real.  And yes, the "kha'ak" was blurred out.

 If I wanted to watch crap on TV, I'd sit through a To Catch A Predator marathon.  It's got cops, girls, and's got it all.
2. Channel the old TechTV/early G4.  Bring back some decent shows like Icons.  Documentaries help!  We want shows that are both educational, fun, and not idiotic.  Even if the show is old, at least try to keep it interesting.  Like Angry Video Game Nerd--it's meant to be informative as well as entertaining in the long run.  But here's some an episode of Icons you should like:

Wow, Yu Suzuki on cable TV.  It's a miracle.

Holy cow, Yuji Naka's got some nice wheels (Lotus Elise).

3. There are three things that many websites/news channels focus on--News, Opinions, and Fan Stuff.  Focus on this.  There needs to be more "radio-esque" shows.  Have one or a roundtable of pundits report the news, take in some calls, give out some fan polls, make it feel like we're getting involved in the process.  Even if they dish out game reviews, allow some fans to offer a counter-opinion so the hosts don't develop this superiority complex.  Sites like GameSpot, Kotaku, and Joystiq get gamer feedback all the time--why can G4TV air some of their feedback too?

4. You can't cover ALL gaming with just one or two shows.  Gaming is such a BIG thing so you gotta break it down into many pieces.  How about some shows that are dedicated to specific aspects of gaming?  How about a show on FPSes.  Another on RTSes.  Another on MMO's.  Another on RPG's.  Another on sports games.  Another on--dare I say--racing games!  Throw out some news, a few reviews, get some fan involvement in there.  Also throw in some shows on gaming hardware, computers, new gadgets, etc.  Revenge of the Show doesn't count.  Air a new episode at least once a week, even if it's just for 30 minutes.  Get gamers of ALL interests involved.  Show 'em some love.

5. Channel some of the more successful online brands that have sprouted up recently.  Like Giant Bomb.  Or Machinima.  Or Mega64/Rooster Teeth.  They've put out some clever stuff.  There's a reason why people are browsing them more than your channel.  Like check out these YouTube vids--they're pretty interesting:

Warning: Bad language.

Dumbass kids on Xbox Live

Stuff about Black Ops

6. Gaming competition shows.  Holy cow--who would've thunk it?  Isn't gaming about competing against other people???  Get some MLG, EVO, or CPL coverage in here.  These events go on all the time.  Seriously, I have a friend at FIEA who watches Starcraft 2 competitive streams all day.  Or if the pro circuit is too heavy for you, make a casual gaming show like the old Button Mashing on GameSpot.

Button Mashing aired back in GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann/Alex Navarro days (before Giant Bomb).  Basically, three people near the GameSpot offices came in for three rounds of competition.  First round--go through three console games and accomplish menial tasks like "kill 2 guys on Mega Man" or "get in a car in Grand Theft Auto" as quick as possible.  Fastest 2 players go to the next round where they try to identify a bunch of games from a bunch of spliced game clips.  The player with more correct answers goes to the final round where they challenge one of three GameSpot editors at their favorite game (i.e. Tecmo Super Bowl, Guitar Hero, Street Fighter II).  Beat the editor and you win some GameSpot swag.  Lose and you go home with just the GameSpot t-shirt.  Still a fun, simple idea that wouldn't take much effort to produce.

EDIT: There was once an old G4TV show called "Arena" which featured LAN events between teams of gamers.  It aired from '02 to '04.  Don't know why they canned it but that's G4 for you.  Making room for more Cops reruns.

7. Do your convention event/interview footage.  Like E3, Comic-Com, Blizz-Con, GDC, whatever.  But be rational report the news.  Talk with big shots like Gabe Newell or Cliff Bleszinski.  EDIT: Try to get interviews with Japanese guys too--yes, do the translator interviews with guys like Miyamoto or Inafune.  Then you can gloat but don't act like nerds.  Seriously, if you didn't get the memo by now--act like men, not like geeks with the mentality "I am nerd, hear me roar."  Avoid phrases like "noob" or "epic fail."

8. Bring in a show that contains nothing but user-created & submitted content off of YouTube.  Like some Super Mario Bros. movies, a gaming speedrun, a Minecraft creation, or a funny glitch.  Just some cool stuff for us to watch.  But no YouTube Poops, just say no.

9. No more Bit Monkeys.  The concept is okay but the humor is so juvenile...guys calling each other douchebags and hitting each other in the head with bats.  A missed opportunity.  This coming from a guy who's a game programmer who longs for the games of the 80's/90's.

10. AND ESPECIALLY NO AWARDS SHOW LIKE THE SPIKE VGA'S.  HELL F***ING NO.  If you want to do an awards show, don't blow it out with a bunch of self-gloating celebrities and other talking heads.  You'll make gaming look bad.

11. Air the old Mario & Sonic Cartoons, but only at 1 am since they can be cringe-inducing for 20+ year olds to watch at times.  And air The Wizard or some other vidya game movie like Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, etc. once a month.  HA, scratch the movie part.

12. Follow these steps:

1. Make the Mass Effect cartoon a reality.
2. Get lots of viewers.
3. ???

13. LAST DITCH EFFORT TO GET VIEWERS.  BREAK GLASS ONLY IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.  Air My Little Pony.  I'm not a Brony but it will help you guys out, I swear.  At least it's not The Man Show so I'll let it pass...reluctantly of course.

 That's some EPIC WIN right there.

14. The Golden Rule: What will non-gamers think of our channel?  Will they look at us like we're serious about games like any other everyday interest (cars, sports, food, travel, politics, etc.)?  Or will they look at us like a bunch of morons caught up on a massive nerd-gasm orgy of crappy memes, Comic-Con cosplayers, and Mountain Dew?  Think about it.


That's the list, have fun and please don't "frag the messenger."  If you do all these things, Adam may come back and you may restore some sanity to gamer culture.  Now get working, G4, cause times are changin'.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Working At Home Feels Good

Hi guys, sorry for the hiatus in posts.  The last few days I've been at home with my family, my pets, and my old friends.  It's great to see the old town of Slidell, LA that never changes (maybe for the best).  Unfortunately, I'm flying back to Orlando on Sunday (six days).  Not that Orlando is bad--I've become accustomed to my apartment and feel good there, but I miss being here very much.  Too bad I won't be coming back much in the future since I'm getting that internship gig in the Fall and afterwards...well, time to get a real job in far away lands...

I've been working on Super Sprint online for most of my time though, usually pulling all-nighters since I can't turn away and I want to complete this or that feature.  The main reason is because it's my "Personal Portfolio Project" (or PPP for short, if you like dumb abbreviations) for school.  I don't feel too well though--I feel a bit nauseous.  This has always happened when I work on Super Sprint.  And I hope the guys at school can understand why I'm splitting my time between this and Battle Fortress Tortoise.  Sorry about any problems we've had in the past.  I like you guys--I want to be your friend and help out.

...Anyway, I wish I had at least another week to spend with my family in this nice house.  I can do work at home but going back to the cube...err, hexagon-shaped cubicle farm in the windowless room with dim lights...don't like it too much.  Yeah sure, it's not a bad place to be with its groovy curved walls and whatnot but it's just too much like a game studio (if that makes sense).  Like I want to go someplace "normal" to the rest of the world if I want to pull long hours on stuff.  We should aspire for more.

As a matter of fact, if I ever started my own game studio, I'd probably get a house/cabin/mansion in a very scenic area.  Like the Swedish Alps or the Colorado Rockies.  Better yet, how about Gatlinburg, Tennessee!!  Near the Great Smoky Mountains and the Airsoft Gun Black Market Capital of the World.

It'd be like living in a house, but it would have a couple of computers here and there.  Then you work in a nice house, feel comfortable at home, breathe in fresh outdoor air, stand in the sun in mild temperatures, maybe get some snow once in a while.   You always get a great view of the blue skies, hills, forest, river, flower garden, etc.  It would be very therapeutic.  It would be like programming in Heaven.  Or in a happy Sega world where everyone is your "buddy" and a jingle plays whenever you do something good or collect 100 of some arbitrary item.

 That's me watching NASCAR on TV.  I've been on a NASCAR kick lately, it's awesome.

And there's a waterfall.

Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, nice view.

Best of all, there would be GO KARTS!!!!  There'd be multiple levels with various Sega-themed scenery props scattered around (go away, Mario Kart).  All the karts will go the same speed.  And there will be no jerkoff guys yelling at you to stop bumping into other drivers.  Or pull into the pit because your 3 minutes of driving is up.  Would be lots of fun.

One can dream, huh?  Still though, the goal is to WORK AT SEGA AND AID IN THE GLORIOUS RETURN OF BLUE SKIES.  Remember that.

Also, if you're ever in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, remember to visit the NASCAR Speedpark, Ober Gatlinburg, and any other arcades along the main strip or go kart tracks.  There should be one or two Daytona USA 1/2 cabinets still in operation.