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Archive for "Games"

February 9, 2009

A Brief History of Internet Gaming

[While trying to help one of my nieces with a school project, I dug up the bit I contributed to EGM’s award-winning Future of Videogames piece from early 2007. But after looking at it again, I realized they had to cut my Brief History of Internet Gaming sidebar down quite a bit to fit it into the mag. This is the original version.]

1969The first ARPANET link is created, building the first strand in what would eventually become the Internet.

1978 – The first multi-user dungeon (MUD) is created. Little more than a customizable chatroom, the MUD is nevertheless the predecessor to today’s MMORPGs.

1985 – Quantum Computer Services launches Quantum Link, an online hub for the Commodore 64, featuring simple multiplayer board games. The service is later renamed America Online.

1991 – Neverwinter Nights, the first MMORPG with graphics, is launched on AOL. It costs $6 an hour to play. Its server capacity: 50 players.

1996 – Quake is released, shortly followed by QuakeWorld, a client for playing the game over the Internet. The era of the online FPS is born.

1997 – Ultima Online is launched. 100,000 subscribers sign up within the first six months, only to be brutally PKed and have their boats stolen.

1998 – The Dreamcast is released in Japan, becoming the first game console to launch with a built-in modem. Also, the last.

1999 – EverQuest and Asheron’s Call are launched, completing (with UO) the unholy triumvirate that has strongly influenced MMORPGs to this day.

2002 – Xbox Live is launched on the original Xbox, setting new standards for communication both in-game (with standardized voice chat) and cross-game (with a unified login and friend list). PS2 and Gamecube also debut online functionality, but neither approaches XBL in popularity.

2003 – EverQuest is ported to PS2 in the form of EverQuest Online Adventures. The gaming world notices, yawns, and goes back to hunting for new Final Fantasy XI screens.

2004 – Halo 2 is released, featuring one of the most popular online components in any console game. Within the next two years over half a billion games of Halo 2 will be played online. Also this year: World of Warcraft launches. You may have heard of it.

2006 – PS3 and Wii are launched. Xbox Live takes note of the systems’ respective online offerings, heaves a sigh of relief, and returns to lounging on its jewel-encrusted throne.

2007 – Halo 3 launches. A crippled Internet limps along under the strain of a few million players all getting online at the same time.

2008 – “Internet2” is completed, offering researchers and universities 100 Gbps transfer speeds.

2009 – Debut of 100-Gbps streaming porn.

2010 – Most metropolitan areas now offer free Wi-Fi within city limits. All that shared bandwidth makes users nostalgic for the dial-up days.

2029 – The Internet, now self-aware, sends a T-800 back in time to kill Sarah Connor.

2050 – Humans move to an internet-only existence, uploading their brains to permanently live in the electronic world.

2112 – Attention, all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control.

January 14, 2009

Selling Out

Not too long ago, the New York Times ran an article about the rise of music licensing. It’s an interesting article, and it makes a lot of good points about the growing importance of licensing to musicians’ careers. I imagine if you thought about it you’d probably agree that a well-chosen commercial can make a big impact on a musician’s career these days. Just think of any recent Apple commercial: Would Feist be enjoying the popularity she currently has if Apple hadn’t used “1 2 3 4” to relaunch the Nano? Somehow I doubt it. I imagine, at least, that she probably wouldn’t have been on Sesame Street.

So I agree with the article up to a point. But then the author starts dishing out gems like this one:

What happens to the music itself when the way to build a career shifts from recording songs that ordinary listeners want to buy to making music that marketers can use? That creates pressure, subtle but genuine, for music to recede: to embrace the element of vacancy that makes a good soundtrack so unobtrusive, to edit a lyric to be less specific or private, to leave blanks for the image or message the music now serves.

I’m sorry, Mr. Pareles, but that is just so very much bullshit.

Continue reading “Selling Out” »

January 13, 2009

Writing About Music Games

Hey, did you know I do a weekly column over at Green Pixels? It’s about music games. You should check it out. This link to their music games tag listing should include all the columns, now and going forward. Why not hop over there, check them out, and leave me a comment?

January 12, 2009

New Review: Bounce Trap

You can read my review for one of the iPhone’s least interactive games over at Mac|Life. Hope you enjoy it.

January 10, 2009

More iPhone App Reviews

Another heaping pile of iPhone App reviews can be found for your reading pleasure over at Mac|Life.

Hero of Sparta

Warfare Incorporated


Toy Bot Diaries 2 and 3

If you like what you read, please drop a comment on the review, rather than here. Comments closed by way of encouragement.

January 8, 2009

One Up, Down

Though I alluded to it in yesterday’s Lyric of the Day, I haven’t yet spoken about the purchase of 1UP, the closing of EGM, and the laying off of about 40 of the industry’s top writers, editors, and art staff.

The reason why I haven’t spoken about it is that, honestly, I just have no fucking clue what to say about it. I mean, here you have this amazing group of people putting out these two amazing products. (I’m talking about and EGM, but of course 1UP also comprised a ton of podcasts and video shows and blogs and on and on.) And rumors had been percolating for awhile that EGM was not long for this world. With the internet being what it is, I found those rumors disappointing but not surprising. EGM is a great magazine, but when your target audience is exactly the sort of person who a.) hates to pay for stuff, and b.) knows how and where to get it for free, you’re on thin ice. Add in a recession and a sale and, well: disappointing, but not surprising.

But I felt optimistic for all my friends and colleagues because 1UP had recently gone through this major reorganization, where all (or nearly all) the staff of EGM got hybridized into 1UP. As annoying as this may have been to the people involved, I thought it was a very smart move; I believe I may have even expressed to some of my colleagues that it should protect them in the case of EGM closing.

Yeah, sorry about that, guys. What I didn’t take into account is that 1UP would be bought by a company that wasn’t interested in the things that I always considered to be the site’s biggest strengths. 1UP was, to me, a site about personalities and personality. The previews and reviews were fine, they worked, they did their jobs. But the site really showed its stuff when it came to the podcasts and the 1UP Show and Broken Pixels and all that other wacky, irreverent shit those people put together every week. To me, that was 1UP. You could ditch all the reviews, previews, and feature stories, but if you still had the 1UP Show and 1UP Yours, you still had 1UP.

So what does new owner UGO do? They get rid of most of the people involved in both of those properties. I just don’t get that. I am genuinely confused.

And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe that’s why, even after rambling on for six paragraphs, I still don’t know what to say. Because I just don’t understand it. I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s like a force of nature; you can’t explain it or control it, all you can do is try to accept it and work with it and move on.

But I do know this: I wish nothing but the best for my colleagues and former co-workers. I’m sure you all know this, but I’ll say it anyway: You didn’t deserve this. Here’s hoping everyone lands quickly and adroitly on their feet. Lord knows they’re owed at least that much.

November 19, 2008

New(ish) Reviews

Oh, hi there. Here’s a piping-hot selection of iPhone App reviews I did for Mac|Life:

Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab


Netter’s Anatomy Flashcards

Live Poker 40K

Please feel free to pop over, check them out, and comment. Comments closed here to, y’know, facilitate that.

November 11, 2008

New Review: SOCOM Confrontation

The new SOCOM came out and it was a disaster. A week later, it was pretty good. Check out a review and re-review of SOCOM Confrontation over at 1UP. Please enjoy.

November 3, 2008

New Review: Guitar Hero World Tour

Oh man do I love music games.

For example, did you know that I was the first person ever to write about the original Guitar Hero? It’s true — I was down at RedOctane doing a completely unrelated story and they asked if I wanted to see the game.

I did. And I got to write about it before anyone else in the world. I still think that’s pretty neat.

Anyway, that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came to talk about my review of Guitar Hero World Tour, which has just gone up at Green Pixels. Head on over and check it out, won’t you?

October 30, 2008

New How-to: Stream Media to Your Wii

OK, look, I just want you to know that I’m intentionally avoiding any childish juxtapositions of the words “stream” and “Wii.” You’re welcome.

But what I wanted you to know is that Green Pixels has put up another one of my how-tos, this one about streaming media from a PC to a Wii. Yes, it’s possible! Yes, it’s even fairly easy. But no, it’s not as intuitive as using either a 360 or PS3. And no, I won’t buy you a pony.

I’m not even sure why you’d ask that.