Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Dungeon Season Opens

When my love of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon began to waver, I was a little worried that my epic review and subsequent inclusion of the title in every single discussion of the best games on the DS may have been premature.

But as the days have turned cooler and the sun has trouble getting out of bed in the morning, I find that my fancy is once again turning toward the sport of dungeon crawling. Team Nash is once again open for business after a long hiatus, taking on rescue missions of all kinds, from Tiny Woods to Sky Tower.

But no escort missions. Oh God, no. Not after what happened last time. Never again.

So yeah. Just kind of interesting how my tastes in video games change with the seasons. Probably has a lot to do with the season when I first played that particular game/genre.

And just to pad this article out a little more, I haven't been updating Electric Dilintia a lot lately, but it's not for a lack of things to write about. I want to write reviews for Jam Sessions, the Nintendo DS Web Browser, and Wario Ware Smooth Moves, not to mention this draft I've been picking away at for months now, the Top 35 Bottomlessly Fascinating Video Games of All Time. I find myself craving more and more new video games, but I think it's simply a symptom of the fact that I don't have enough time to play anymore. There's only so many hours in the day, and there's so many responsibilities to fill them with as it is. Like, right now, I should totally be exercising instead of playing around with my blog that no one's ever going to read.

Le sigh.

The good news is that Melbourne Tatty continues production with zero effort on my part. I guess it's just kind of nice to know that something's getting done without me worrying about it. And since we're far enough off topic, this article is over.


Thursday, September 06, 2007


In Which Electric Dilintia Becomes a Platform for Narcissistic Self-Promotion

So a new video game has unexpectedly hit my radar, due for release in November. But as exciting as it's been to find out about Harvey Birdman (and as heartbreaking as it's been to find out that Capcom is publishing the title, rather than producing it), this news is even bigger than that. For me, anyway.

There's a new homebrew game called Melbourne Tatty being produced for the Atari 2600. And it's really only significant because I wrote it.

Thanks to a door prize that my dad won at a company picnic when I was little -- an old Timex/Sinclair TV computer whose RAM cleared out if you touched it wrong -- I've been programming pretty much since I learned how to read. It's always been an ambition of mine to make real video games -- as in, games that enjoyed popularity beyond the people I ate lunch with in high school and/or games that had more than just a text-based interface. It just so happened that getting an Atari Flashback 2 led me to the homebrew community, which in turn led me to a ludicrously simple system for Atari programming, which led to an output of three or four games over the past year, which led to an email from someone in the Atari Age forums who wanted to produce and sell one of the games I wrote.

And you know, it would be neat if I could write the article about what it's like to be a self-made software developer, churning out cutting edge games from my basement, but the truth is, I feel like I'm just an accessory to this process that's just exploding all around me.

First, of course, there's one of my best friends, James Cliffe, who inspired me with the premise and also named the game for me. As I was putting it together, I posted rough drafts of the binary to the Atari Age forums, where I received no end of helpful suggestions on how to turn my ill-formed piece of crap into something playable. So I went on sort of... scotch taping features onto it until it resembled something that could be confused for a video game.

And then I lost interest in it for about a year.

That's when I got the email from a guy who calls himself neotokeo. He got Fred Quimby, the creator of the programming language I use, to fix all of the bugs and clean up all of the sound and graphics issues that I just plain couldn't be bothered with. The end result is beautiful, at least as cool looking as some of Atari's earliest games. Took him three days to fix stuff I'd been sitting on for a year. And then he got a guy who calls himself Atariboy to create label art and a full-page comic strip ad for the game. He turned my vague back story and blocky sprites into real characters and basically single-handedly invented the setting.

And all the time, I'm just sitting here, oooing and ahhhing. I'm not paying these guys anything -- in fact, I'm getting royalties for every cartridge that sells. The whole experience has been very humiliating, in the sense that it's given me a profound sense of humility. I've always thought that homebrewers were essentially tiny gods, creating these awe-inspiring projects through an act of sheer will, but here I find myself surrounded by people who are much more talented than me, who all seem to have some sort of mysterious affection for this weird little game I made.

The whole thing's just beyond cool. Certainly a reason for me to drag my Atari out of the closet again.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Life is Beautiful

Serendipity. Everything was in the right place at the right time.

Capcom is developing the Harvey Birdman game, presumably in the style of the Phoenix Wright series.

My hands were shaking just writing that.

If they put half the care and attention into the writing that they do with Phoenix Wright, we could very well see the very greatest television license to video game conversion ever conducted in the history of the universe.

Luckily, Duck Amuck counts as a theatrical license.


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