It won’t happen right away, but sometime soon, this blog will change. I’ve been undertaking the slow process of moving it to a new home for a while. It will look different, because, well, everything needs a change sometime. It will work in a slightly different way. If anyone is subscribed through rss I will try to make it seamless, or at least provide some forewarning before everything changes.
There is one other change that will be the biggest one, at least for me. This blog may not post every Monday like it has in the past. Usually it will. I am moving from a web based hosting wysiwyg editor to a markdown based system. That in itself isn’t a big problem. I can deal with writing a few markdown tags. The problem might be that if I happen to not have a usable dev environment available on any given Monday, or I haven’t managed to schedule my post beforehand, they might not get posted up until I get back to my pc.
I know that not many people read this blog. Most likely, no one will notice if a post goes up on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m not too worried about it. I think I like the idea that I will have more freedom with how I create posts. Sometimes I might have to be okay with them not getting posted at the same time every week.
Regardless of when posts go up, I still plan on posting once a week until further notice. This post marks 526 weeks. That’s over 10 years. If I was going to quit writing, I would have done it a long time ago.
One of the benefits of having a massive library of classic arcade roms literally at my fingertips, is the art. Each of these games, thanks to all the people who preserve these sorts of things, has associated screenshots, flyers, cabinet art, and marques.
It is pretty common for me to go through the game collection just to look at the different marque art.
I was thinking about it, and arcades sometime between the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s are probably one of the most unique collections of visible commercial art.
Places like grocery stores and department stores absolutely hold the record for most publicly viewable commercial art, what with every product having a logo or package design. But the difference with an arcade is that the art is there to sell you more art. Every game is, inherently, art. Every marque, every piece of cabinet decoration, is enticing you to come forward and look at a screen that will continue to provide more art. Visual art, audio art, animation, interaction. All art.
Maybe a music or video store comes close, but neither of those are as immediate, as responsive. Arcades were a cacophony of art, and all of that art was made by people.
A lot of video games came out between 1980 and the mid 90s. Every single one of them had marque art and backglass art. A lot of them had art up the sides of the cabinet. Some of this art is amazing. You know what wasn’t very good then? Illustration software.
I have made a lot of logos. Designed a lot, redrew a lot, modified a lot. I have worked with massive font libraries and I’ve even made a few fonts myself. Every single one of them was created with the help of a computer. I have used Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw and some more exotic illustration software that almost no one uses. I can’t imagine what it took to come up with the design for the Pac-Man logo.
That’s not entirely true. I have some idea. I have done some screen printing. I have hand cut vinyl and rubylith masks. None of that is particularly important, but trust me when I say that making the Pac-Man logo wasn’t just a simple drawing or painting job. It would have been a very labour intensive and technical multi-step process. Of course, the digital files I look at know have been vector traced, color matched, and cleaned up when compared to the originals. Still, there is something wonderful about all of these designs and text treatments that had to be worked on by hand.
I would never give up my Affinity Designer or other design tool. I have become accustomed to how they work, but I can appreciate how things were done before. The Pac-Man logo or the Galaxian logo, both amazing examples of modifying text to create something unique and eye-catching.
If you go to a site like www.arcadeartwork.org and start poking around, you will likely be astonished at the amount of artwork produced for these games over the years. Peripheral art, for a game, that is, in itself, art. Stunning.
This is just one particular venue for commercial art. Keep your eyes open and you will probably see so many more. Everything item that was made by people probably has some art associated with it. Somewhere, somewhen, somebody made a thing, and now you get to look at it. That’s worth appreciating.
Best Games - Warlords
Do you like pong? Yeah, that two player tennis type game that you play by twisting a knob.
Do you like Breakout? Yeah, that single player pong type game where you systematically smash a wall using a paddle and ball.
Did you have more than one other friend?
Warlords is what you get if you combine all of those things. It’s pong, it’s breakout, it’s four players. It’s great.
In Warlords you control a small shield defending one of four castles nestled neatly in the corners of a regular TV monitor. A dragon sweeps in at the start of each game and let's loose a fireball. If the fireball hits a shield, it bounces off at fairly controllable angles. If the fireball hits a castle wall, it takes out chunks before bouncing off unpredictably. The harder the fireball hits, the more of the castle wall it destroys.
Each player has a button that lets you catch the fireball and, more or less, direct the angle that you release it. This lets you turn another player’s attack into a focused counterattack.
When a wall has a large enough gap in it, and a fireball makes its way inside the castle, that player is out.
The game continues until there is one Warlord left standing.
Warlords is so simple you will pick it up in seconds. By the end of your first game you will already have started to develop strategies and, more than likely, rivalries.
By the tenth game alliances will form. One player will be singled out as the strongest and everyone will gang up to take them out early. Deals will happen where two players will agree not to attack each other until one of the others is out.
Warlords will turn friends into enemies and mild-mannered souls into monsters.
You will likely enjoy every minute of it.
Warlords is elemental and primal.
Warlords works just as well today as it did in 1980 because it relies on the one part of the video game experience that hasn’t changed. Other people.
There is an AI that you can play against, and it’s useful for filling out the board in the case that you are missing one of your four, but the game is ultimately unsatisfying when played against a computer. You need another person there that you can kick under the cabinet when they mercilessly toss fireballs at you.
Because it exists solely to facilitate a good time, Warlords is one of the best games.
I’ve got a few stories out for consideration at different outlets right now. They keep getting to the second or even third read stage before getting rejected. Most of the story review process is pretty opaque to writers submitting stories, and I think that is something that could definitely change with better metrics and tools, but the Submission Grinder gives you a pretty good idea of how far along in the review process a particular outlet is.
The Submission Grinder is an amazing tool and probably the only reason I have been able to find and submit to as many outlets as I have. It depends on writers to track their own submissions, rejections, and acceptances, but even with incomplete data you can usually get a pretty good idea where your particular piece is in the process.
You can see how fast they are moving through submissions, and in the case of a couple I have out right now, how far past the usual rejection window they are. If it’s only a few days, that’s probably just normal lag, and it might be that no one has read it yet. If it’s a week or more, it’s probably being reviewed by another person on their editorial team. If it’s months passed the usual cutoff, either they lost it or you’re going to be receiving a personal rejection letter with comments and maybe an explanation why they passed on it. While an acceptance would always be preferable, those rejection letters are better than the usual form letters.
One could easily wonder why anyone would do this. Why would you spend weeks or even months writing a story just to have it be rejected over and over. I honestly can’t say that I would recommend it. But, and this is a huge but, I think I am ok at this story writing thing. I think if I keep doing it, I could be very good at it. I haven’t run out of ideas yet, and it doesn’t look like I ever will. I might as well write them down and send them out. They aren’t doing anyone any good if I just think about them.