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The CompuServe Game Developer forum

The CompuServe Game Developer forum

Reading the name Diana Gruber in Evan Robinson's blog entry mentioned below brought back a lot of good memories of hanging out on the Game Developer forum on CompuServe from 1995 to 1997. I made a lot of friends there, some of whom I still have contact with (like Mark Barrett and Lee Sheldon), and some of whom I haven't seen in years - which reminds I should send them an email... And I should also find a way to decode those old CompuServe threads. I still have all of them... in the format used by the CompuServe Information Manager 3.0... for the Mac... argh argh. If someone can help me with this, please let me know. Otherwise I'll try to hack the format myself on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Evan Robinson's Mischievous Ramblings

I briefly met Evan Robinson in 1997 at a conference organized by Chris Crawford, and then I saw him again at a roundtable at this year's GDC, but didn't have the opportunity to talk to him. But since then, I have discovered his blog (as he has discovered mine), and I've been wanting to mention it here for a while. So, while the blog entries I'm referring to are not entirely topical anymore, here goes.

He talks about Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball - which I am not mentioning to increase the traffic on this site, even though it will undoubtedly have that effect - and I agree with what he says. I kinda like DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball, for similar reasons. (I don't have a nude patch! Go away.)

He has also written two posts (one and two) about his impressions of this year's GDC.

He reacts to Greg Costikyan's rant on the dire state of the games industry here. Basically he says he's heard similar discussions many times before and that he sees various signs of hope. I can only agree.

Most interestingly, Evan talks about why he's back in the industry after a 6 year hiatus, and why he left in the first place. It turns out he was involved during the very ugly time when the CGDC, as it was then called, went from being run by a couple of developers to being a run by a large corporation. In the process, a very large amount of money changed hands, and some people disagreed strongly with how this played out. Most notably, Chris Crawford exposed his view of the whole affair in great detail on the Game Developer forum on CompuServe (where I hung out a lot back in those days). Some of the accused and various other people gave some counter-arguments, but no-one managed to convince me that a few people did not receive six figure amounts of cash and that this was not a bit shady, to say the least. But it's been a while, I wasn't involved, and I can't read those old CompuServe threads anymore - which is a pity, because there was some good stuff there. Anyway, Evan mentions his side of this, and how it affected him personally to the point of feeling cast out from the industry - understandably, I must say. Chris basically felt and reacted the same way.

Nobody talks about that time much nowadays.

The US mobile game market

The US mobile game market

Wired has an article on recent developments in the US mobile phone game market. It includes some coverage of this year's mobile section of the GDC. I was surprised by the buzz mobile games got at this year's GDC, but the title of the article, "U.S. Set for Mobile Game Invasion", may hold an explanation.

The article also quotes Fred Condolo, a former co-worker at Kalisto Entertainment, who now works for In-Fusio, one of the bigger companies in this market, and, since Kalisto's collapse, the biggest game-related company in Bordeaux.

Meanwhile, in Europe, people are gambling using their mobile phones.

The politics of Command & Conquer: Generals

I haven't played Command & Conquer: Generals myself, but from what I've heard so far, I don't want to. It is more than questionable, especially in the current geopolitical situation. If you play the terrorists, one mission has you fighting civilians for UN food supplies. If you finish the terrorist campaign, you see a missile, armed with a chemical payload, take off and strike an unnamed city, covering it in toxic green smoke.

Sounds like fun... yet people get worked up over Grand Theft Auto III, a game about an average guy trying to make his way in the world. Aren't both games about the American Dream?

Politics and war in video games

CNN has an article on the popularity of war-themed games in the light of the war in Iraq. Best-selling PC game in the US: Delta Force: Black Hawk Down. Number two: Command & Conquer: Generals. Battlefield 1942 and its expansion pack Road to Rome are also in there.

Wired has an article about the same topic, and about war and politics in video games. It mentions America's Army and Hezbollah-designed Special Force (the link did not work when I tried it).

You may already have heard of Underash, the FPS developed in Syria, where you play a young Palestinian stone-thrower, Ahmed, fighting Israeli soldiers and settlers. Here's what the developers of Underash say about the political message of the game.

The subject of ideology and political messages in computer games gets a fair amount of interest from the academic community, judging from the DiGRA mailing list.

Kagero: Deception II

Curmudgeon Gamer recently wrote an article about Kagero: Deception II, a game for the PlayStation 1 that I had never heard of before (in fact, I'd never heard of any of the games in the series). You play an evil character who lures victims into your castle and then spring traps on them - a little bit like Dungeon Keeper. Apparently, the game is flawed, but it sounds intriguing. Reviewers' opinions range from great (Gamespot, IGN) to mediocre ( The average score is 84%, which is not bad.