Monthly Archives: September 2013

Matt Chat 209: Howard Sherman

Hi, folks! I finally got a chance today to post the latest Matt Chat. Since I’m now on a private server (courtesy of Shane Stacks), I’ll just post the YouTube video and upload an MP3 of the audio for those on iTunes. I have no way of knowing how many people are watching the iTunes version anyway, so please let me know if this solution doesn’t work for you. My commentary on the interview is below.

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I really enjoyed this interview with Mr. Sherman. I’ve always enjoyed meeting, shall we say, “colorful” people who don’t mind ruffling feathers, and Howard certainly fits that bill. What really impresses me is how well he’s been able to market his interactive fiction, a genre that many of us probably assumed was defunct. I also like his willingness to travel to the locales of his games, absorbing the atmosphere and reflecting it back in his text. He strikes me more as an author than a game designer–more reader than gamer–which makes sense given his pursuit of text adventure games.

You can learn all about Howard and his games at malinche.net. While you’re there, be sure to check out his blog and the various developer diary blogs he keeps for each of his game projects.

If you enjoy text adventures, I highly recommend Nick Monfort’s excellent book Twisty Little Passages. It gives a lot of great history as well as criticism of the genre. It’s a must-read for fans of Infocom and anyone else wanting to know more about the later IF scene and culture.

Gameplay: The Movie Update

John RomeroHi, all, fabulous news! Richard G. emailed a copy of the Gameplay “premix” to me the other day, and boy, is it something. He’s told me that they’re planning to output the film this December. In case you aren’t familiar with this project, it’s basically a movie adaptation of my book Vintage Games, but with pretty substantial rewriting to make it fit the movie format. It will definitely be far more inclusive than anything like it before–let’s face it, most of these game history documentaries are so shallow and poorly researched they don’t even mention key systems like the Commodore 64 or ColecoVision. Not so here.

There are also lots of interview clips in here from greats like John Romero and David Crane. The film is being edited by Richard Goldgewicht for Lux Digital Pictures.

 

Collaboration: The Bad and the Ugly

Writing a book, developing a game, or hosting a website can be lots of fun, but also very stressful, particularly when you’re up against deadlines and things get hectic at work and home. If you’re collaborating with someone else, that stress level is precisely double. Even if you’re on the best of terms going into it, it’s easy to get angry over seemingly frivolous things, especially with workload, quality, and respect issues.

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Interview with Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games

blackwell-bundle-titlebarHi, folks! I just finished conducting my interview of Dave Gilbert, president of Wadjet Eye Games. We discussed his lineup as well as his thoughts on point-and-click adventures in general. He’s encouraging–the market seems to be in full resurgence, though he makes a good point that, for whatever reason, people seem obsessed with the idea of adventure games “dying” and being reborn–you don’t hear the same sort of bombast about other genres such as SHMUPs and roguelikes. I’m definitely looking forward to playing more of his games, especially the Blackwell series. He’s currently offering the first three games in a bundle for only $14.99.

Dave uses Adventure Game Studio to make his games, which seems like a great choice. The only real limitations are portability and some outmoded engine details. I love it when people are able to use tools like this to actually  make commercially successful games.

Updates on Book and Upcoming Matt Chat Stuff

Hi, all. I’m finally getting some time freed up to dedicate to developing this site, so expect to see new blog posts, podcasts, and more. I thought it was time to give a little update on all my various game-related activities!

People always ask me what games I’m currently playing. Right now, I’m working my way through four different games: BioShock Infinite, Jack Keane 2, Shadowrun Returns, and Tales of Illyria. I’m really excited about the new Saint’s Row game, and will probably end up playing GTA 5 in the near future. At any rate, I’m impressed with BioShock, not so impressed with Jack Keane 2, and feeling pretty solid about Shadowrun Returns. I’d been saying that someone should take the X-Com reboot engine and turn it into an RPG, and as far as I can see, that’s exactly what the team has done here. It’s solid, though I don’t like having to recruit people to my party. I like it better when I get to create my own party, or at least get to stick with the same stable of characters (as in KOTOR).

Tales of Illyria is a game from my good friend Chad and “Little Killers.” I’m fairly inexperienced with the Android platform, so this game has been quite an introduction for me. I’d compare it to a cross between Betrayal at Krondor and Oregon Trail. Very, very solid and quite a bit of fun, to the point where I’m staying up at night to squeeze in that “one extra turn” (in this case, one extra trip). I highly recommend it.

It’s been several months now since I’ve played World of Warcraft, and am starting to feel that itch again. My pattern with that game is to max out a char’s level and get up to “raid ready” gear before losing interest. Still, there’s just something soothing about the game that I’ve always appreciated. I normally play with a good friend of mine, but his computer is busted, so it looks like it’s going to be awhile before I get to play with him. Still, I have been pining for the howling fjords. :)

Bill and I just finished our manuscript for Vintage Game Consoles last week. Hopefully, the publisher will be getting the copy-editing part done soon. I must say, I’m really excited about this one. I think we’ve really nailed just the right mix of techie and behind-the-scenes, general interest stuff on each system. We’ve also “gone there” with emulation and abandonware info–stuff you probably won’t see in similar books! Indeed, I’m a bit shocked the publisher was okay with it.

As always, I’m very grateful to you guys for all your help and support. It means so much to me that you’re willing to follow me into my new web realm and continue to make Matt Chat a fun weekly event for all of us.

Stay tuned for more info on Matt Chat and much more!

 

 

Audio Interview with History of Sierra On-Line Documentary Makers

Hi, folks! This is an interview I recorded back in August with Luke Yost and Patrick Clark of Molotov Angel Productions. The two have been doing great work on a Sierra On-Line Documentary. As this interview makes clear, it’s a real shame that their efforts to get this funded through Kickstarter have failed. The project sounds amazing, and would certainly be must-see viewing for any fan of Sierra classics. Luke and Patrick share a lot of their behind-the-scenes stories about doing their interviews, many of which were recorded in the designer’s own homes. Hopefully Luke and Patrick won’t lose hope! I, for one, would love to see this.

http://mattchat.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/sierra_interview.mp3

Games for Healing Presentation Coming Up

In October, I’ll be presenting a workshop on games at Survive & Thrive, a cool festival/conference hosted by my good friend and colleague Rex Veeder. I plan to talk about games for healing purposes, starting off with my favorite example of Re-Mission. I’m glad I checked the website; I didn’t even know they’d created 6 more games! Time to do some “research.” :)

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Re-Mission 2 features 6 different games.

Have you guys heard of any more recent high-profile examples like this one? Ideally, I’d like to give participants a chance both to play these games and take a crack at designing one. I think the goal itself is worthy of study: how can a game, something supposedly frivolous and for entertainment purposes only, actually help heal a sick gamer? It seems like the approach here is to use the games to educate the gamer, boosting confidence, promoting good habits, and reducing fear. Other health games, such as Ruckus Nation, promote good exercise or eating habits. These are all fine, but I wonder if more radical things could be done with games to promote healing.

About the craziest one I could come up with was an augmented reality game that would help you administer first aid, perhaps working in conjunction with a camera and microphone to diagnose what’s wrong with someone and suggest treatment. The game could also monitor your own heart rate, etc., and play appropriate music and relaxation instructions if you were panicking. Instead of freaking you out with realistic images and a “life and death” vibe, this thing would be designed to keep you relaxed and in control during the crisis, keeping you focused on easy, manageable (and timed) tasks Cooking Mama style. More conceivable, perhaps, would be a game that would train you in first aid, letting you use your friend (or perhaps a dummy with special sensors) to learn the techniques.

 

Welcome to the Matt Chat Blog

Hi, guys! I hope you enjoy my new blogging and podcasting site. YouTube is great, but sometimes you need a place to write out your thoughts instead of just making videos. I intend to use this blog to talk about game history and game-related issues, my game development efforts, and all the behind-the-scenes Matt Chat stuff that doesn’t make it onto the air. I’ll also be posting my audio podcasts here, so go ahead and bookmark it if you want to get the full Matt Chat experience.

There are so many exciting things going on this semester! For one thing, I’m the faculty advisor for the SCSU Videogame Design Club. They’re an awesome group, so hopefully I’ll be able to get them involved in Matt Chat and vice versa. I love the idea of the work I’m doing with the show making an impact on young people, who will hopefully leave the school and make games that folks like us will actually enjoy playing!

You know that I am a strong advocate of game history. I don’t see how anyone can seriously call him or herself a “game designer” without a thorough knowledge of the great games and systems of the past. I also think it’s vital for the new generations to know something about the people who made their favorite games.

If you have ideas for topics you’d like to see me cover here, just let me know!