Tag Archive for 'video games'

Super MAGFest this weekend!

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I will be at Super MAGFest (Music and Gaming Festival) this weekend, Jan. 4-7, Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD, talking about two of my favorite things: writing and video games.

I will be participating in two panels:

The Retro Aesthetic and the Power of Abstraction
Friday Jan. 5, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
MAGES1 – Chesapeake G, H, I
Panelists: Vince Kuyatt, Luke Johnston, Oliver Surpless, E.C. Myers
Despite the gains in graphical capabilities, games continue to turn to the faux 8 and 16 bit aesthetics. Why is this, and how does this form impact our playing experience? Why is it that games like Five Nights at Freddy’s intentionally switch between 8-bit and 3D rendering for specific moments, and what effects does this create in the player? How would games like Lone Survivor, Undertale and Beat Cop function differently with a different aesthetic. What can we learn about using the retro aesthetic to create a powerful response in our players? Come listen to a panel discuss our favorite examples of retro game design, and why we continue to love this aesthetic.

Gaming Writers: Translating Gaming Culture Onto the Page
Sunday, Jan 7, 10-11 a.m.
FORGE – Baltimore 3, 4
Panelists: Meg Eden, TE Carter, Luke Johnston, Lynn Almengor, E.C. Myers
Writers will describe how games and gaming culture have inspired their original projects, how they break and subvert stereotypes about gaming culture, and why they turned to writing as a medium for translating their gaming experiences.

Let me know if you’ll be attending, and if you’d like to meet up, the best way to contact me is through Twitter. (I know, I can’t believe I wrote that either, but it’s true.)

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RetroUSB Wireless Gamepad for NES and AVS Consoles

I’ve committed another video review — this time for a new wireless controller just released by RetroUSB.IMG_20170720_185051205

Designed by Brian “Bunnyboy” Parker, who also designed the RetroUSB AVS, a console that clones Nintendo Entertainment System hardware via a field programmable gate array (FPGA) for maximum accuracy and authenticity, the RetroUSB Wireless Gamepad (RET-GP) controller has been in the works for a while. It was worth the wait. Some of its highlights:

  • Retails for $65, available now for immediate shipping at www.retrousb.com
  • Wireless over RF, rather than Bluetooth, for minimum input lag
  • Microswitch/tactile buttons vs. traditional rubber membranes in OEM controllers
  • Rechargeable battery that lasts 100 hours
  • Instant on — no need to sync with the wireless receiver
  • Receivers can be assigned to up to four controllers for simultaneous play

I go into a lot of detail and test the controller out in my video review. Check it out if you’re wondering how those buttons sound!

IMG_20170720_185106572In the video, I noted that the casing was slightly separated below the lefthand grip. After I opened it up (see the teardown pics below) and reassembled it, the separation was less noticeable. It seems this isn’t a common occurrence, but it doesn’t bother me too much now.

Some other observations about the controller that didn’t make it into the video:

  • Although I never noticed lag using the 8Bitdo NES30 on my RetroN 5, when I used the RET-GP on the RetroN 5, I suddenly noticed a lack of lag. In other words, it seems ever so slightly more responsive than the NES30; the start of 2-1 in Ninja Gaiden III was a bit easier than it usually is. I’ll have to test more with this controller on my HDTV and a CRT, and I may do record a short video comparing its response times with the NES3o.
  • When using the turbo buttons, the red LED flashes to show you what speed setting you’re on. I’m just so impressed with the whole implementation of turbo on this controller, even if I rarely, if ever, use it.
  • When recharging the controller, you have to press a button to turn it on while it’s plugged in. The red LED will flash slowly to show that it’s recharging, and will glow steady when it is fully charged. I don’t know if it will charge while off, but I assume it will.
  • There’s no manual on/off switch for the controller. As soon as you press a button, it’s on — pretty much instantaneously. It powers off if it doesn’t receive any inputs for a while. I actually found this was really nice because I didn’t have to hold down a button combination for a few seconds like I do with the NES30 on my RetroN 5 (for Bluetooth pairing). I sometimes have trouble pairing the NES30 to the receiver on my NES Classic, and I wonder if people with NES30 receivers on their original console have the same problem. I’m considering getting an adapter to use original controllers on the NES Classic, so I can test whether the RET-GP works with it too.

Apparently you can transplant the guts of the RET-GP into an original NES controller, after modifying the shell. I don’t think I’ll bother with that, because I like the retro design and form factor of the RET-GP more, but here’s what’s inside for the curious:

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IMG_20170720_185252130

IMG_20170720_185259714

So what do you think? Will you pick one of these up?

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buy 1985 today!

My new book, 1985: STORI3S FROM SØS, is out today! This slim edition collects three stories related to The Silence of Six series: “SOS”, which features Evan (R.I.P.); “DoubleThink”, which tells Penny’s story between The Silence of Six and Against All Silence; and 1985, a brand-new novella featuring Max’s parents as teenagers at Columbia University in New York City. You can buy it now only at Barnes & Noble. I’m immensely grateful that my publisher Adaptive allowed me to write these stories, and I’m very proud of them, so I hope you’ll check out the collection. If you enjoy them, or even if you didn’t, reviews are always appreciated.

To celebrate my book launch in true 1985 style, you’re invited to watch me play Gyromite for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), just like Brad and his friend Nick in 1985. Check out my YouTube Channel tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern, where I’ll be playing the game (on an original console and tube TV!) and answering viewers’ questions live. Please consider subscribing for a reminder and if you like watching that sort of thing, because I play NES games just about every week.

WeeklyStream_Gyromite_SOS_Socialv2

 

Reference list for SOS

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Homeland by Cory Doctorow

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

The PERSEF0NE series by Michelle Gagnon

This Machine Kills Secrets: How Wikileakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information by Andy Greenberg

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World by David Kirpatrick

The Vanishing by Tim Krabbé

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin D. Mitnick

The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin D. Mitnick

The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers by Kevin D. Mitnick

We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson

Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s by John Elder Robinson

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter

 

The Fifth Estate (2013), directed by Brian Condon

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014), directed by Brian Knappenberger

Citizenfour (2014), directed by Laura Poitras

Hacker Wars (2014), directed by Vivien Lesnik Weisman

Deep Web (2015), directed by Alex Winter

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Kirk out.

*crickets*

It’s been a little quiet around here… Too quiet, I know. But I’ve been hunting wabbits edits, revising my novel. So that’s coming along.

Happily, my blogging hiatus is nearly over, though; I have a slew of posts planned, and a wee bit of “free” time opening up soon, because (drum roll) the Star Trek Animated Series Re-Watch has just concluded! It’s been a hell of a ride*, and fortunately the series ended on a high note with “The Counter-Clock Incident.” You can read our reflections on the entire series here, and of course, check out all our reviews of the cartoon and the original series over at The Viewscreen.

“What’s next?” you might ask. I’ll pretend you did, anyway. Torie and I are planning to continue our Star Trek re-watch with the films, probably beginning in September. In the meantime, we’ll have a few open discussion threads running on the site and we’re hosting virtual viewing parties for the movies so we can share the delights and pain of the even and odd installments, respectively. So let us know if you’d like to join us for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on Saturday, August 27 at 2 p.m.

It hasn’t been all work and no play, even if it often feels that way. I finally started The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (on the Wii)–not much progress yet, but it’s fun–and have been working my way through Mad Men and Skins (UK) and various other shows whenever I can justify the downtime. I’ve also been reading great books, most recently The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey and The Magicians by Lev Grossman (finally!).

So what have you been up to while I’ve been gone? Have any good television or book recommendations?

_____________

*That could really mean anything, right? Take it however you like.

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