Sunday, May 22, 2011

Back To The Point

Eventually I do plan to get back to the point and start doing “elements” posts again. Today however, I'm just not up to it. I'm working on a book (Shhhh, that's not exactly public knowledge.) and I feel written out in a lot of ways. It's one thing to get on here and blabber about whatever I'm thinking as I think it. It's another to lay out a philosophical position point by point underlining some running theme. So, for a second Sunday in a row I fall down on the job.

In truth I have got to give myself a vacation soon. It probably looks like I'm not doing anything from you guys point of view, but there's always a lot going on in the background. This video thing really eats up a lot of time, but it really is working. Honestly we've only touched the surface with it as well. We plan to do more even soon. It is like I don't have enough hours in the day though. I get up at six, even on weekends, and before I know it it's time to head to bed. I was waiting to take a week off when SWTOR came out, but it doesn't look like it's going too this spring. If it's not out in June I am taking a week off anyways.... I am worn down, lol.

This week I really hope to get another video or two up. We have the funny one we are working on and if Daggerdale comes out this week we hope to get it up as well. There's more going on than that, but I am going to cut it here. I just started playing Dwarf Fortress this weekend. It is CRAZY and it's calling to me. I'm sure you all understand what I mean, lol.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Congratulations Guys!

Well, Tim and b5a0ed44-6ada-11e0-ae5e-000bcdcb2996 (if that is your real name...) both of you have won a copy of Star Raiders. Shoot an e-mail to me here: and I'll send you your keys.

I do wish we had had a few more entries, but I guess it worked out for you guys. I think we may have to up our prize packages to bring a little more attention to all this, lol.

Either way, once you guys have played the game a bit post your thoughts here if you don't mind. I'd like to know what you think of the game.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Know, Just Hanging Out

In truth I've been doing a lot more than that although you guys can't really see what's going on in the background. That's why I decided to take the time to do a full blog post about it. The number one thing eating my time right now is playing games. Yep, that's right. I have spent countless hours playing a number of games getting ready for overview videos and something else we're planing.

In fact I've decided to tell you faithful few about the other project. I wanted to call it “To Hack With It”, but that got booed down, so now it's “The Video Project Without A Title”.... Anyways, one of the things I do for fun (when I ever have the time) is hack games that I've played in the past to add some interesting element or facet to the game. For instance what I've started with is Dragon Warrior. You all may remember how the game goes on FOREVER and how you start with nothing, not even clothes. Well, it struck me as funny when I was playing it for the overview. You are the decedent of Erdrick, who was the greatest warrior in the world. Apparently your family blew all his money on cheap wine because you start with nothing. So, I hacked the game and with the change of one byte I went from starting with nothing to starting with Erdrick's Armor, Erdrick's Sword and the Silver Shield. Believe it or not even starting with that it still takes HOURS to top out your character.

Anyways, the point is that I want to make funny videos where I hack some game to add something cool to it. Like starting Final Fantasy with the grown up versions of your characters. What do you guys think? Can anyone think of a title better than “Fun Time With Aaron”? Post a comment and let me know something...

In other news Atari has already told me that I can get a copy of Daggerdale to review when it comes out, so that's cool. The new game reviews seem to be bringing in more traffic than anything else. I honestly think we need to start trying to do one new game review a week, but I'm not sure we can fit it into the current time table. Plus I really want to continue to tie things into the whole “classic” theme around here. Of course with Daggerdale I feel like it's a D&D game and that probably appeals to a lot of our fans anyway. How many D&D games do we have on the site? A lot...

I also need to get those games moved into the new boxes. So far I haven't gotten one game moved... I need more time or more help or if I can get it both... Either way, I'll try to let you guys know when when I make measurable progress on any of this stuff.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Win A Copy Of Star Raiders

Once more Atari has been generous enough to throw a couple of copies of their newest release our way. Star Raiders is a reinvention of the original classic. It's a space combat simulator with a couple of new twists. We've actually already done a review of the game for our YouTube channel. If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to check it out.

In spite of my controller rant it's still an interesting game. We've got two copies of the Xbox 360 version to give away. So, how can you win a copy? Just comment on this post with the first space combat game you ever played. For example, the first one I ever played was the Star Wars arcade game. (If you can remember that far back.)

The first person to respond will get a copy, plus we're going to pick a random winner from the other replies Friday morning. Go ahead and let us know how you cut your teeth in space combat. Good luck everyone!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Getting Back On It

I plan to get back on it starting tomorrow. It's been a busy week for me and I don't feel up to an elements post today. I just thought I would do a quick post to let you know what's up. I'm still working on video stuff in the background. I should be able to get to a real post in the morning. It's just been very busy and I am basically too tired to think right now... So, that's about the state of things at the moment, lol.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bogged Down

Guys this is just a quick post to let you know that I haven't forgotten to post, I've just been busy. We were working on the Star Raiders review until 8PM last night. (The sound ended up having some problems after we were done as well. We have got to do something about our sound setup and QA, lol) Anyways, you can check out the video below. I plan to do a regular post on Sunday. I have got some non-CC work I have to handle Saturday and for the rest of today I plan to be making more game video.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You know... Keeping Myself Busy

So, as usual there is a load going on this week. It's only Tuesday and I'm already tired, lol. To start with I'm going to be recording hours of video each week for the for next few months at least. Now, I am sure that playing twenty to thirty hours a week sounds like a dream job, but there's a catch to it. I have to try to keep up with all the other things I'm working on around here as well. Plus, of course, we want to take on some more interesting and entertaining video projects. For instance we'd like to start doing video blogs once in a while. They would save some time and that's a big factor around here. We really need a better camera (or at least mic) before we can start doing that. Either way it's something we're looking at for the future.

I'm supposed to get the site skin stuff from Atari for the up and coming Star Raiders. Our contact has been out of the office for close to a week so we haven't been sent the stuff yet. Which means it will probably come in this afternoon and I'll need to get it ready for tomorrow morning. (At least that's what they're telling me.) We are planning to do a review of Star Raiders like we did with Yar's Revenge. That review has already had over a thousand views and it's still climbing. Plus, of course, we've just started the whole YouTube thing really. As time goes by we should get more and more subscribers making massive views easier to get.

That's another thing that is really going to eat time this week. Believe it or not the last review took close to ten hours to do. We have to capture the footage we are going to use, write a load of notes about the game and compile them into a logical voice over and then edit the video so you can literally see what we're talking about from one moment to the next. It's a lot of work, but I think it's worth it. I'm honestly considering trying to start doing one new game a week. As new games come out that the retro-gamer may be interested in we need to weigh in with our opinion.

In addition to all this we really need to work on updating the inventory soon. I'm sure you guys have seen the Domino video by now. Well, part of the reason behind that was that we want to move the games from cheap plastic bins into the nice wooden ones. The first batch of wooden crates have arrived and, in theory, we should be moving the games from one place to another, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen this week...

Anyways, the point is that things are moving along. We hope to have at least one new video up this week if not more. We keep working away, there's just a lot to do. I plan to post again near the end of the week and you let you know how things are going.

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Elements of a Great Game – Story

Here again I may seem to be touching on something that is rather optional in gaming. After all, where is the story in Tetris? OK, OK... Yes, there is no story in Tetris and Teris is a great game. However, what I'm talking about is the starting chords, the fundamental palette, the base elements if you will of gaming. Not every game uses every element. I know I've basically said that before, but I wanted to underline it after I had strayed out as far as optional supporting characters in my last post. Story really is one of the basic building blocks of gaming and most games make use of some kind of back story.

To start with I want to look at a game where the story was there but had very little to do with gameplay and was never really filled out. Space Invaders is a perfect example. After all you're not playing a little dot trying to hit other little dots with a third little dot. You play someone guarding the Earth from evil invading aliens with a weapon that can blast them out of the sky. That is certainly story! However, that's as far as it went. The developers never built on the idea and, since the story went no where so did the game. Now, I know some of you may be hoping up and down screaming at me through the screen right now “Space Invaders is a timeless classic!!!!” OK, I agree, but let's look at a couple of screenshots. Take a look at the Atari 2600 Version and the new PSP version. See any similarities?

The game hasn't changed, it hasn't evolved. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but Space Invaders just doesn't have the following that it once did. Arcade games have moved on and it's a throw back to the past. At first it may not seem like the kind of game where story could have added much to it, but I don't agree. Games like Fire Emblem have deep story lines that have nothing to do with how the game plays. The characters in the story, although well developed, don't necessarily pass from one game in the series to the next, but the story continues on. What is the result? A long running series that keeps growing and changing while still remaining true to it's original form. The story is used as a motivator to keep the player playing and it works.

We can even look at arcade games like Mortal Kombat and see that story does matter. A new MK game just came out and, of course, it has a story mode. Why? Because the story pulls you through and keeps you playing. The series started with a story and it has grown and changed and although the game has evolved to some extent it is still basically what it was when it started with more bells and whistles. The makers of Mortal Kombat gave people a reason to keep on fighting and they do. Now, some could claim that the story isn't important and that it would have been a smash series without it, but I don't believe that. I can't think of a series that has had such a prolonged arcade life, but that doesn't have such a compelling story. (If you can think of one let me know.)

If I seem to be missing the obvious story driven genre that is RPG games, be assured, I didn't overlook it. For the most part RPGs ARE stories, so there seemed to be no reason to mention it here. In time I intend to take a look at each genre and will talk about my thoughts on RPG stories, the good, the bad and the ugly, but now's not the time for it. My point here wasn't that some games are story based, but that most games can get a little something extra out of story. What would have happened to Tetris as a series if there was some compelling story based reason to line up those little blocks? The world may never know....

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Console Classix Videos – Take 1

So, this week has been loaded with video. I don't know how many hours of gameplay I've recorded this week, but it's been a lot. We're working on getting more overviews up and we're also doing a little recording for an idea I got the other day while playing Dragon Warrior for hours and hours.

That actually brings a point to mind. It's been suggested that my overviews need background music. Now, I generally agree with that. My voice isn't unmelodious, lol, but when I am reading an overview and trying to keep the time reasonable I do have a rather quick and to-the-point dialect. So, all in all, background music would be great. Enter the problem: We can't rip music out of the gameplay footage and use it as background music!

Why? I'm glad you asked! As is usually the case when we can't do something we want around here the answer is copyright law. Why can't we translate games from Japanese into English? Copyright Law. Why can't we show a picture of Link playing Console Classix on the home page? Copyright Law. Why can't we sell bootleg DVDs out of the trunk of our car up at the mall? Copyright Law! Wait... strike that last one, I would never want to do that anyway. Now, I want to say that I agree with the limitations of copyright and I'm not really complaining that we can't do those things. (Well, not being able to translate a game is stupid and the law should allow that, but that's another subject.)

Anyways, back to background music. You see, when we record video of a game it's not the game itself. The video is it's own artistic work that is, in fact, copyrighted by Console Classix. Now, we could almost certainly leave the background music playing in the video without any problems as long as we didn't modify it. (Imagine how chopped up it would be in the our Dragon Warrior video...) However, if we pull the music out separately and use it, say as background music for a video we are making, that would be a copyright infringement. You understand? We can show video of a copyrighted game, but we can't just take and play copyrighted music wherever we want.

So, the questions are: Where can we get background music? Should we use background music? Can we find a range of music to work with different games? Should I do the voice overs with an Australian accent?

There is a lot to think about there. In any event, we are going to be working on video for the next few weeks at least. If you guys have ideas or suggestions let us know. We're listening!

Oh, and thirteen followers! Hooray!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So, What's Up?

A lot really. That's why I decided to do this blog post. The last couple of weeks have been a little crazy and I'm running short on hours this week. You may have noticed that we didn't do a contest Monday. Well, there are a couple of reasons for that. One, we don't want to beat it to death even though I enjoy them. Two, time, time, time. There just isn't enough of it.

Last week we spent close to twenty hours all told pulling out the inventory, laying out that giant domino pattern, filming the great fall and then cleaning everything up. On top of that we put up another video review and, for the most part, kept up with the blogging, forums, facebook, etc. There are only so many things I can work on personally at a time. So, I have to be very careful about how I choose to spend the time that I've got.

Right now I am working on Console Classix number one problem. No one has ever heard of us. Now, I know you have, but look to your right. Now up just a tad. You see that number of blog subscribers? It's eleven guys. You can feel as if I'm talking to you all personally, because I DO talk to you all personally. The truth is that as AWESOME as our product is for the most part we are unknown. The thing is that we have got to fix that. How can we?

Well, I'll start by telling you what doesn't work:
Adding more games! Believe me, we've tried. The difference between offering 1,000 games and over 3,500 really matters to people who already know. However, It doesn't do anything for people that have never heard of us.
Adding more systems! For the longest time I thought this was going to be the fix. We have added system after system and everybody around here loves it. Here again, however, it doesn't do anything for people that haven't heard of us.
Adding more features! No seriously guys... It just doesn't work. I still think that it will in the long run, but it doesn't now. Why? Well, because we offer so much for $5.99 that very few people are saying to themselves “I'd signup if they offered _______”. Most people who are going to be interested ARE as soon as they find us. The problem is that very few people manage to find us.

So, what does work? Well, we're working on that. You may have noticed that we've started to take an interest in videos. Why? Well, because they are a very viral way of sharing information. The dominoes video really has nothing to do with what Console Classix does, but it gets our name out there. So far it is working. Believe it or not our number of “Likes” on the homepage has started going up a lot faster since we started regularly posting videos. It's a way for us to get word of mouth advertising.

Anyways, the point of all that rambling is that I am spending a lot of my time doing video editing. Now we get to the ways you can help:

First, tell everyone you know about what we're doing.
Second, share our videos all over.
Third, if you like us “Like” us.
Forth, feel free to click the subscribe button on this blog if you haven't already. It encourages me, lol.

What Console Classix really needs is more traffic. We are working hard to get it. Once we have it we will be able to add more games, more systems and more features. It's all tied together guys!

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Elements of a Great Game – Atmosphere – Supporting Characters–Part 2

OK, I have to admit that in this post I am stepping way beyond the basic elements of gaming. If I was laying out a artist's palette I would have started these posts with basic blue and red and I with this post I have moved on to teal or mauve. So, why have I strayed so far from my original concept. Well, to be honest, I've just kind of meandered over to this point. In my next post I intend to get back on track with “A Study in Yellow” if you will. However, I want to finish my look at supporting characters first. So, with your permission, I'll continue.

What I am considering today is the way that supporting characters really fill out RPG games. In the first place there are simple NPC characters that the player has no direct influence on. They can be considered as much a part of the atmosphere as the artwork or the music. However, they can be used to inspire the emotions and get the player really involved in the story. Here I have to mention Champions of Krynn once again because I feel it has one of the best examples of this I've ever played through. As the game unfolds you get to know an honorable knight name Sir Karl. He dies a little over half way through the game. By that point you really feel like you know him. To play up the drama the woman he loves is with you when you find him dying in a pool of his own blood. (Of course, you could have just healed him if the game would have let you, which does let some of the air out of the drama balloon. Still, sometimes you just have to suspend disbelief.) You instinctively feel sorry for the woman and her lost love and it drives you on through the rest of the game. In the sequel the story continues as Sir Karl is brought back as evil undead. You have to kill him to give him rest. It's all very deep and it makes the entire game memorable. NPC back stories that grow as you play pull you in and make the world feel more real.

Supporting characters are also used to fill out the “party” in RPG games. This particular aspect has changed a great deal over the years. When we look at games like Bard's Tales and Final Fantasy we see the party represented as nothing more than a combat group. When anyone talks to the party they are talking to you, the player. They don't talk to party member A and then party member B, they just talk to the entire party. The part has only one personality and, for all intents and purposes, might as well be one person with four to six bodies. Even this unarguably added something to the atmosphere, however. You ended up with fighters and wizards and thieves that each had their own skills even if they didn't have their own voices. In many games you could customize the look of these characters and at least make believe that your party had more than one person. In fact, we used to play Final Fantasy as a multi-player game. We would each pick a character and then announce what we wanted “our guy” to do in combat. It certainly added a great deal to the game.

As time went by this idea expanded. We began to see games with a single main character who would gather a party of actual NPCs with them as they traveled along. Here I can't help but mention Bio-Ware. One of the first games I ever played with this kind of main character/NPC party members formula was Baldur's Gate. As soon as think of that game I think “Go for the eyes, Boo!” The party members had personalities, they had goals, they were full fledged characters. There were even side quests related to what was going on in these character's fictional lives. You could help them out as if you were helping a friend. This idea was expanded on with games like Knights of the Old Republic where you had a real influence on your party as the game played out. Wherever they started from they were going to end up more like you were by the end of the game. Were you going to be a hero and inspire them to be people of moral courage or were you going to be the villain and teach them all to look out for number one? (This choice between good and evil is actually another element in RPG games, but we'll touch on that when we get fully into RPGs.) Filling out the NPCs in this way made them feel more like real people and, as a result, made the game world feel more deep and real. For RPG games at least, these supporting characters added a great deal to the atmosphere.

I've run long again... In the next post I'm going to try to get back to the roots of the thing and take a look at something that applies to all games. This tangent just sort of popped up.

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