Gamer Profile: James C. Burns

I blew a lot of lunch money on that bad boy,  but what really hooked me was when I got my first GAMEBOY…  I loved the game for a simple reason….endless ammo!!! and endless replays..well… until he battery dies…    I came out of the pin ball era where all you got for a quarter (thats about $50 in present day rates) was five metal spheres and it got really expensive really fast just learning how to play….

James C Burns

I could’ve bought a mustang  with the cash I stuck in that tin box. With a Game boy I could play SI all night and all day…I have no memory of any traveling I did for about 18 months because my head was bent over the GB perfecting the hold and sweep tactic…whole smoking of incoming…I loved the hold and sweep technique….similar to a spray and pray  in and FPS…just hold the trigger and move the canon back and forth…chicks just did not understand that  their love would not have cured me. ~James C. Burns

Favorite Classic Game: Space Invaders

Current Project: Coldwater

Inspired by true events. A teenage boy is sent to a juvenile reform facility in the wilderness. As we learn about the tragic events that sent him there, his struggle becomes one for survival with the inmates, the counselors, and with the retired war colonel in charge.

Coldwater will be in theaters and on iTunes August 15th.

Gamer Profile: Jay Mohr

I loved Donkey Kong Jr. and spent so many rolls of quarters on it. There was also Dig Dug at my local Ihop and I wore that out too. I wasn’t particularly good at Dig Dug but I loved digging and digging and planning on how the rocks would fall and blowing dudes up with my air pump. Donkey Kong Jr. I loved because it had it all for the time. great graphics. Jumping, swinging, timing and a mission to save someone. ~Jay Mohr

jay_mohr_blizzcon

Favorite Classic Games: Donkey Kong Jr. and Dig Dug

Leisure Suit Larry Box Office Bust Jay Mohr Trailer

Jay mohr

Jay Mohr at Blizzcon 2010

 

Make sure to check out Mr. Mohr’s website at: http://www.jaymohr.com/

And follow him on Twitter @jaymohr37

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: Ryan Culver

[youtube id=”sLUpwTBscLU” width=”633″ height=”356″]

For the arcade, don’t ask me why, but for some reason I was always drawn to Gyruss.  Every time I would hit an arcade, I’d play a bunch of games but always look for Gyruss.  Maybe it was something to do with wanting to fly but I also liked how the ship moved in that cool arc around the outside of the screen and everything came flying out of the middle.  I don’t know anyone else who actually liked that game, but I was bummed when I stopped being able to find it at the arcades. ~Ray Culver

Ryan_Culver

Favorite Classic Arcade Game: Gyruss

Favorite Classic Console Game: Super Mario Bros.

As far as my favorite classics, I have two, an arcade game and a console game.

Now one of my most memorable video game experiences was playing the original NES at my friend’s house as a kid and working every night to beat Super Mario Bros.  It was by far the most popular and talked about game at that time and the big challenge then was to beat that dragon.  We had gotten there a couple times before but got killed, so every time you made it to the last part, you’d get nervous, like something real was actually on the line.  You would get all set and sit up straight, ready to go, and then you would just go and go and go and then all of a sudden it’s over and we got to see what the end was like and how it all wrapped up.  I still remember exactly the night we beat that game for the first time.  We talked about it a lot at school that next week.

I got into Zelda and Metroid and Punch Out and others after that, but even after finishing those games, nothing stuck with me like that night I first beat SMB.  The funny thing is, back then it felt like it took forever to get through one of those games.  But a few months ago I sat down with a girlfriend to play some old school NES and we pulled out Contra.  I think it was less than an hour and we had gotten all the way to the end of that game.  I hadn’t played the old stuff in a long time and it made me appreciate how far gaming has come over the years.

I see some of the stuff now and I don’t think we ever thought it could look like it does now back then.  Getting to be a part of that process was blast and I look forward to doing more in the future.

More on Ryan:

Ryan on The Obsolete Gamer Show

[youtube id=”54LqqC5mcco” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Ryan Culver is an actor who among many other projects played Nathan Drake for the PlayStation commercial for PlayStation’s All-Star Battle Royale. The guys not only nails the look for Nathan Drake, but is actually a man of action and adventure himself flying people all over the world.

Check out his commercial:

[youtube id=”dulo2E7cz0E” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Check out our podcast with Ryan here.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: Cambria Edwards

[youtube id=”6j87tqcQ” width=”633″ height=”356″]

I didn’t have gaming consoles growing up, but my cousins did and I was over there all the time. Donkey Kong was one of the first games I ever played and I fell in love. Whenever a new console came out, of course my cousins had it and monopolized it. So I would go in the other room and play my Donkey Kong on the Nintendo. Even in the early 2000’s I would always ask to play until they finally got rid of their system. I was a bit heartbroken and it still remains one of my favorite games to this day. ~Cambria Edwards

Cambria Edwards

Favorite Classic Video Game: So I don’t know if this counts, but my favorite is Nintendo’s, Donkey Kong.

 The Tomb Raider Project:

Tell us about working on the Tomb Raider Project: It was brilliant! Being able to play the most iconic female video game character, having all of her gear and rolling around in the mud (there was a LOT of dirt involved, half of which doesn’t even register on camera). I got to wield my pickax, hang from trees, and I even build a fire for one of the shots. I do archery, so luckily that came in handy as well. In July I went to Comic Con as Lara and it was fantastic.  A lot of people recognized me from the videos and even more were astounded with the costume. It meant a lot to see so many people as passionate about the character and game as I am.

See more of her Tomb Raider work here.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: Ashly Burch

[youtube id=”WchqxXHUgW0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

I really like games that are deceptively complex and that don’t hold your hand at all. One of my favorite modern games is Spelunky, as a point of reference. Harvest Moon is actually incredibly nuanced and difficult (I failed miserably the first time I played it), but — potentially unlike Spelunky — it’s an absolute joy to play no matter how well or poorly you’re doing. It does an awesome job of creating a simplistic but deep world that feels real and is filled with secrets and possibilities that aren’t apparent on the surface. Also, I think competing in festivals and courting a potential wife is empirically fun no matter who you are. ~Ashly Burch

Ashly-Burch_headshot

My favorite classic game: Harvest Moon 64

Boarderlands 2: Tiny Tina

On playing Tiny Tina in Boarderlands 2: As you might imagine, Tiny Tina is an incredibly fun character to play. I got the role because my brother — Anthony Burch — was brought on as the lead writer at Gearbox software and had me participate in a blind audition process. The team ended up picking me (hooray!) and the rest is history. Tina’s a really interesting character to play because, throughout the course of the main game and the DLCs, we’ve uncovered some pretty dark and sad aspects to her personality. Her insanity and energy is born out of trauma. She uses really elaborate coping mechanisms to deal with grief. But none of this detracts from how fun and absurd she is. I’ve got to explore a much broader emotional range than I anticipated with Tina. It’s been a really fun experience.

Ashly Burch Film Reel

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: William Watterson

[youtube id=”Zu3DYHm7qlw” width=”633″ height=”356″]

4-player Warlords tournaments are the most fun you can have with any gaming system. That grinding sound effect and flashing screen when you toast someone? Brutal. Empowering. Priceless. Unforgettable. Just don’t get stuck being the purple king, you’ll never dig your way out of last place. ~William Watterson

William Watterson

Favorite Classic Game: Warlords for the Atari 2600

Here is a trailer from William’s latest video game role voicing the main protagonist Jim Peyton in Lost Planet 3.

William ‘Bill’ Watterson Dramatic Reel from Bill Watterson on Vimeo.

Our interview with William Watterson on The Obsolete Gamer Show

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: Sandeep Parikh

sandeep_parikh_legend_of_neil_effin_funny_the_guild

Name: Sandeep Parikh

Known as: Zaboo, the Warlock

Series: The Guild

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ6hgzzk_o8[/youtube]

Favorite Classic Video Game: Galaga and The Legend of Zelda

Quote: I played Galaga with my older brothers, they would steer and I would shoot. Happy memories there. And then Zelda is what truly transformed me into a gamer. I made a whole show about it! www.legendofneil.com it’s about a guy who get sucked into Zelda and has to fight his way out.

Bio: Sandeep Parikh acts in fun stuff like The Guild only when he doesn’t have to audition. (thanks Felicia!) He’s primarily a writer/director. His latest creation is the Comedy Central produced webseries, The Legend of Neil which is about a guy who gets sucked into Zelda. Sandeep also founded and runs EffinFunny, a stand up and sketch comedy community. He’s currently in talks with everybody about producing everything. He’s repped at William Morris. They’re busy so don’t call. Unless its about Sandeep, then do call.

Gamer Profile: Pamela Horton

[youtube id=”J7hzHlIsjwY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

 My favorite classic game would have to be Chrono Trigger for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems. ~Pamela Horton

Pamela Horton

Favorite Classic Game: Chrono Trigger

The great thing about the culture of gaming is the variety of people you meet from all over the world with their own stories and history. Then you find out they love some of the same games you do and there is an instant connection. In our Gamer Profile Series we explore the love of classic gaming that people have from a Major computer company founder to a Major League Baseball Player, to a baseball player to a Playboy Playmate of the month.

Pamela Horton is 25, hails from Wichita Kansas and is Playboy’s October 2012 Playmate of the Month. She is also featured on the cover of the magazine’s October 2012. Now what could possibly be hotter than a Playboy Playmate, one who is a true gamer as well.

Ms. October is multitalented, from a League of Legends player to an avid comic book fan and artist:

“I’ve delved into everything—acrylics, pastels, sculpting and even glassblowing,” said Miss October in a previous interview.  “I’ve also always loved video games and comic books, so when I paint in oil, I start with something realistic, but it inevitably scoots off into cartoon territory.  I’m definitely prone to the fantastic!”

Now she is on the cover of Playboy and we had a chance to chat with her about her love of gaming, her artistic side and being a Playmate of the Month.

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

Tell us about your gaming past, what games you started out playing?

I’ve been playing since I was about 5 years old. The first game I ever played was Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES. 🙂

What would you say your favorite classic game is?

My favorite classic game would have to be a tossup between Chrono Trigger and Earthbound for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems.

When did you first get into MMO’s?

A boyfriend in high school made me make a character on his FFXI account. I made a little Tarutaru Red Mage. I was hooked from there!

Tell us about how you got into League of Legends and about the characters you play and your playstyle?

I heard about it from my group of friends who had read articles on it back in 2009. The very first character I ever played was Janna. I was really good with her (or so I thought.) The second character I played was Teemo. It was love at first mushroom kill. He’s so cute! With Teemo I play AP hybrid, starting with boots and pots, building into a malady and a wits end.

I always built Magic Resist because I was usually mid with Teemo. I was hard on banks top too. 🙂 I also play an AP support Soraka so my heals and skills do more than your typical support. It tricks the enemy team to blowin their ults and CDs thinking they are going to get a kill. Then they see their target full health and start focusing me. 😀

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

What other games do you play?

I play World of Warcraft, (still) play Final Fantasy XI, I just got Pokemon Black 2, Theathrythm, Final Fantasy, Mark of the Ninja… I play a lot of stuff at one time haha

Now being a gamer girl is hard enough, but in your case do you find it even harder to be a gamer girl? What is the reaction if/when people find out?

It’s usually 50/50. When they are negative, they are super negative. When its positive, I make new friends who appreciate my talents as a gamer!

What coming books are you into?

My friend just had me start reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I love it so far. But whenever a new Dean Koontz book comes out I get it immediately!

Tell us about your art and the items you offer on your site?

I do art commissions and work on a lot of “cartoon” art. My personal comic style has a likeness to Jhonen Vasquez (the creator of Invader Zim). I can do realistic work but I always end up doing something cartoony!

You also consider yourself a gym rat, can you tell us about your workout routine?

I’m not a gym rat. That was another one of those tailored statements. I go to the gym maybe the week before a photoshoot. Other than that I don’t really go. Hahaha

What led you to Playboy?

Playboy actually came to me! One of their submitting photographers wanted to send me in for Cyber Girl but his editor wanted me to test for Playmate and here I am!

What is it like to be on the cover of Playboy and be the playmate of the month?

It is the biggest honor I have ever had. Each playmate is hand-picked by Hugh Hefner, and to have that sincere pleasure I will be forever grateful.

Thanks to Playboy for the images and video.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.
If you’d like to send us your own gamer profile e-mail us.

Gamer Profile: Vincent Caso

VincentCaso - bladezz - the guild

Name: Vincent Caso

Known as: Bladezz

Series: The Guild

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia8bhFoqkVE[/youtube]

Favorite Classic Game: Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Quote: It’s one of the games I grew up with, and I was fortunate enough to be able to play it on the system that it was released for.

Gamer Profile: Amy Okuda

[youtube id=”Cx5XGOQVx-4″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

We didn’t have one at home but my grandparents in San Francisco had one and when I was little I remember running into their house and that would be the first thing I’d turn on/play when I got there. ~Amy Okuda

Amy Okuda - Tinkerballa

Favorite Game: Duck Hunt

 The_Guild_Tinkerballa_Amy_Okuda

Known as: Tinkerballa

Series: The Guild

[youtube id=”XTd2fCqulKM” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Gamer Profile: Jeff Lewis

Jeff Lewis - Vork - The Guild

Name: Jeff Lewis

Known as: Vork

Series: The Guild

Favorite Game: Battle Tanx (Nintendo 64)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXpmE2jx1_0[/youtube]

 Quote: It’s my favorite game because, even though the graphics are quite awful, I love tanks and the multiplayer version is soooo fun with a couple friends especially when you have these weapon pick ups you can get that are randomly spread throughout the map. I wish I could get it on xbox but I still don’t see it available yet.

Gamer Profile: Chris Getz

[youtube id=”9oWfR9ZDqzY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

My friends had been requesting that I used the RBI Baseball theme song for years as my walk-up music, so I finally decided to give it a shot.  So far it’s been a hit, the fans seem to like it. Some guys use their songs for motivation and change them all the time, and for different situations, I just like to have fun with it.  I love the nostalgia of the old games, and RBI was one my favorites. ~Chris Getz

Chris Getz

Position: (#)17 Second baseman: Kansas City Royals

Favorite Classic Games: RBI Baseball. Some of my other favorites were Blades Of Steel and the Power Pad, I loved the Olympic games you could play with that.

Chris Getz Walk on Music

[youtube id=”YPQt2t4PKTI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: Amanda MacKay

[youtube id=”QZkBPWWpdHE” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Super Mario 3 was huge for me. I was the first person in my family to finish that game. I can still feel the triumph that I felt over my cousins that day. (Another) classic game that may not be at the top of everyone’s list but that I loved was Paperboy. We actually bought it for my little brother for Christmas but he was young enough not to know so leading up to Christmas we would take it out of the pack and play. (Also) The Legend of Zelda, amazing, I think about it right now so I will always come back to those three. ~Amanda MacKay

Amanda MacKay

Favorite Classic Game: Paperboy, Super Mario Bros. 3 & The Legend of Zelda

Amanda MacKay’s Video Gamer Profile

[youtube id=”SIVYOlAnN6Y” width=”633″ height=”356″]

 Game Trailers/Spike TV

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: Johnathan “Fatal1ty”Wendel

[youtube id=”q9e_w_CYrrk” width=”633″ height=”356″]

The game was the most brutal head to head skilled game. ~Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel

fatal1ty

Favorite Classic Game: Mortal Kombat

The Interview

Tell us about your early days of gaming. What was your first video game experience?

First video game experience was playing games like Microsoft Flight Simulator on PC and some Ikari Warriors on the Nintendo.  I did mess around with Atari, but I never owned one.  Mostly played it when I went to friends’ houses, etc.

At what point did you realize you had the talent and want to become a professional gamer?

I guess when I was 18. One of my good friends, Eric Paik, who was a pro gamer and traveled a lot, told me I was very talented and should definitely go to a tournament.  You will win money for sure!  So I saved up about $500 and went off to Dallas, TX and won a qualifier and took 3rd at my very first pro tournament winning $4,550.

Johnathan Wendel -Fatal1ty

So your first professional match was playing Quake 3, what was it like your first time playing competitively? 

Exhilarating!  I was amp’ed every second and wanted to play to my full potential.  It was a do or die experience for my gaming career as I was putting all my money on the line.

Tell us about how you train and prepare for tournaments?

Play about 8 hours a day in the virtual world working on my movement, timing, strategies, fighting skills and hearing the sounds of the game.  I want to be so knowledgeable about the game that if I hear a pin drop or an item picked up from anywhere on the map, I know exactly where my opponent is at all times and where he could be in the next 5 seconds.  Predicting your opponent’s moves is very important.

Personally, what differences do you notice between playing in a tournament solo versus with your team?

I’ve done both extremely heavily but I feel, in a solo environment, you can only blame yourself if you lose.  When you win, you know you won and when you lose, you know you lost.  I enjoy it the best, when the game is in my hands to win or lose.

Johnathan Wendel -Fatal1ty - Motherboard

Tell us about a day in the life when you were actively entering tournaments?

My routine was to play 4 hours, go run 2-3 miles, have lunch, play another 2 hours, relax and play another 2 hours before 4 AM so I could wake up and repeat it the next day.

Many people still don’t understand professional gamers, are there any myths or stereotypes you would want to address?

Most professional gamers are actually in shape and have a pretty good social life in their virtual and real life.  We mostly come from some other competitive sports that we played forever as kids and we’re able to use our skills of hand eye coordination and out thinking our opponents just like we do in our traditional sports.

Which game did you like competing in the most?

PainkilleR was a great game to play because we had a full season where we traveled for almost 18 months, continuously playing all over the world and winning loads of money.  It was also the biggest payday of my career in competitive gaming, taking home $150,000 for the World Tour Finals in NYC.

Johnathan Wendel -Fatal1ty

Do you still have people trying to challenge you to this day?

Yes, I actually go on tour promoting my products to distributors and buyers in different regions of the world, and I do exhibition/show matches for the crowd/press at these events.

What made you want to start Fatal1ty Inc?

I wanted to create a brand that a gamer who lived in the battlefield understood what competitive gamers wanted and needed in order to experience their game at the highest level.  When people shop at the store or online, I want them to know that when they buy a Fatal1ty product, they’re buying a Gaming product.

Thanks for the interview and game on,

-Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: William D. Volk

[youtube id=”NgkhC0XGFjs” width=”633″ height=”356″]

I liked Choplifter (1981) on the Apple II because it had simple engaging play and you actually started to empathize with the little people on the ground.   You WANTED to rescue them. ~William D. Volk

William Volk

Favorite Classic Game: Choplifter

Company: PlayScreen

PlayScreen Video Playlist

The Interview

Obsolete Gamer: Would it be fair to say you did not grow up playing games but once you were into your college years you found your love of gaming?

William Volk: I was playing games at the arcade in High School.  Pong showed up in the early ’70’s.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that you were exposed to?

William Volk: Probabily Pong.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that hooked you?

William Volk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Wars On a PDP-8 at University of Penn … original Startrek  and the Classic Adventure.

Obsolete Gamer: How does the process for transferring a strategic board game to computer software work and what was it like testing these games?

William Volk: Very few of Avalon Hills Computer Games were based on the board games in 79-82.  I wanted to tackle “Iron Men and Wooden Ships” but by then I had taken a position with Rising Star.  I also proposed an online version of Squad Leader.

Conflict 2500

Obsolete Gamer: Any gamers today have never seen much less played a text game, can you give us a little insight into how text base games were at that time?

William Volk: Everyone was hooked on the Infocom games.  You can still play them today.  Lords of Karma was Avalon Hill’s best text adventure IMHO.

Obsolete Gamer: During your work with Avalon Hill you began to create your own titles, can you tell us about the thought process of coming up with a game and then trying to create it?

William Volk: Conflict 2500: I was renting a place in Baltimore during the summer of 1980 and was a huge fan of Star Raiders (Spaceship Yamato).  I had played the Startrek game and wanted a more complex version of that.

Voyager I: Saw a maze program on an Apple II.  At UNH in 1981 I did a class project using a random maze generator that displayed a solid wall 3D maze on some incredibly expensive Textronix terminal.  The game was kinda based on the end of the original Alien film.  The getting off the ship because you set self-destruct part.

Controller: Was working at a video game store in Portsmouth NH and the owner (Frank D Kelley) had been an air-boss in the navy (controller).  He wanted a simple game to land aircraft.  Reagan fired the air-traffic controllers and Avalon Hill picked up the game.  I KICK MYSELF for not porting that to the iPhone on day one, given the success of Flight Control.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the atmosphere at Avalon Hill like?

William Volk: Very congenial.  There were people who had started there in the 1950’s!  The board game people were absolute experts on military history.  I would have conversations with a WWII vet who worked there and had witnessed a ME262 attack on a B17.

PlayScreen logo

Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to see the work done at Avalon hill released to the public?

William Volk: Funny, I was in Baltimore for a meeting last week.  Had dinner in the harbor area about 200 ft from the location of a shop (probably not there) where I saw Conflict on a shelf for the first time.

Obsolete Gamer: You were able to avoid what is called the great video game crash when you moved to Epson and was offered a great position, what were those years like moving forward as many other companies and the industry as a whole suffered?

William Volk: I felt compelled to take a ‘real’ job in 1982 because I had been in college and grad school for almost 8 years by that point.  So when I showed some folks at Epson my little 3D rendering system on the Atari 800 they referred me to Rising Star in California.  I was hired at the COMDEX show in Vegas in Nov. 1982.

Rising Star was great but leaving independent game development was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  It did teach me about technical management and the Val Draw program I wrote was probably my greatest technical achievement.  A full 2D drafting system in 58 kilobytes of FORTH.  Lines, arcs, splines, associative dimensions, virtual memory, zoom, snap, automatic parallel lines … the stroke font was packed into a byte per stroke.  I don’t even know how I pulled it off.  In real dollars I made more $$$ in 1984 than I may have since, but I really should have just continued building games as an independent.  I didn’t realize that I was doing pretty good and I had some nice stuff I wanted to do.

Controller

Obsolete Gamer: The Pyramid of Peril was a 3D adventure inspired by some of your previous work and Raiders of the Lost Ark, can you tell us about the creative process when developing that game?

William Volk: Obviously based on Voyager 1.  Pyramid shaped puzzle.  David Barrett helped with the writing.  The Mac was new and exciting.  The entire game from concept to heat shrinking the boxes – 30 days.  Coded on a 128kb Mac.

Obsolete Gamer: Completing a project of the scope of “Pyramid” in 30 days was impressive, how was it done so quickly?

William Volk: I had the maze generating and display algorithms from Voyager and people to help on the artwork.

Obsolete Gamer: Most people know of the fate of the Philips CD-I, but can you tell us your thoughts on why in the end the company failed?

William Volk: Delayed launch to add MPEG Video.  AIM (American Interactive Media) decided that they didn’t need the video game industry to back the system.  EA and others, who had spent serious money building development systems, abandoned it because of the delays.

Obsolete Gamer: When you became director of technology and began pushing for Activision to publish “The Manhole” how did you know this would be the right move?

William Volk: I could see true greatness in the creativity of Rand and Robyn Miller (Cyan).  The User Interface was just breakthrough.  I was also a bit pissed at the delay of CD-I and wanted to send a message about that.  Activision was recovering from the video game crash and wanted something that was ground breaking.  Finally Stewart Alsop suggested that the Manhole would be an ideal CD-ROM title.  He was right.

Obsolete Gamer: What were the main challenges in moving away from the Midi format to actual recordings?

William Volk: We didn’t want to use CD-Audio tracks on the Mac (first) version, because we wanted to be able to pull data from the CD, we had to … because of Hypercard.  So we had to come up with a way of paging in 8 bit, 22khz audio chunks.  The CD-Emulator said it wouldn’t work, so we burned a test CD ($500 at that time!) and it worked.  Using live musicians was very cool.  I believe $20k of the budget was just for the music.  Russell Lieblich composed most of the music.

When we did the PC CD-ROM title we had our own engine …. MADE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia_Applications_Development_Environment) so we could force a cache of data in a scene and use CD-Audio (redbook) tracks.

Return to Zork

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like behind the scenes at Activision during its troubled time of the late 80’s?

William Volk: Fall of 1989 was one of Activison’s good years: Mech Warrior I, Death Track, Ghostbusters II, The Manhole, etc… The financial mess started in 1990 with the judgement on the Magnavox patent case.  Funny thing in 1990 is we coped with massive Nerf Gun wars and RC car ‘racing’ (consisting of running RC10’s into each other at 40mph+ … each car … in the parking lot).  In a strange way the coping made the place very fun to be at.  I still have a scar on my head from playing that game from “Sam and Max” where you hit full beer cans with some sort of post-nuclear-apocolyptic club.  Yeah, Fizzball http://samandmax.wikia.com/wiki/Fizzball Other local companies would come and watch us play this at lunchtime.

It wasn’t fun to see everyone go though.  Down to about 13 when we made the move to LA.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your feeling of using full motion video in games?

William Volk: It was clever but got overused eventually.  I do think we were heading in the right direction with RTZ’s emotional response system and intricate conversation interfaces.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the interface you created for Return to Zork?

William Volk: The Diamond Reverse Parser was inspired by an article Eddie Dombrower had seen from MIT.  I just used Taxicab Geometry with diamonds because it made the hit-detect faster.  We had used this sort of hit detect trick on “Tongue of the Fatman”.   So the idea you could use any object on any object and have the reverse parser show you what the action was came out of the disappointing reception we got with LGOP2.    We wanted INSANELY DIFFICULT and UNFAIR puzzles.  Yes, there really was a “Chris Lombardi Memorial Puzzle” in the game (internal object name), dedicated to a writer at CGW who had panned LGOP2.  I believe it was the sliding stone – sentences puzzle.

It’s not clear how we came up with it all the character interactions, but we were trying to make the video more than just “Interruptible Media”.  So the idea of being able to ask characters about objects, pictures, and even what other characters had to say … that was the goal.

The Manhole box art

Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to save a company with the release of a great game?

William Volk: Great, but frustrating that we couldn’t get the studio to just let us run with that UI and style.  Everyone wanted to copy Myst.  Ironic, when you consider I helped to get Cyan their first publishing gig.  I am very proud of RTZ.

Obsolete Gamer: What are the differences in your feelings about mobile gaming from then to today?

William Volk: Well, Mobile Gaming from 2001 to 2007 was very much like games of the early 1980’s.  Very small games.  Then the iPhone shows up and we now have one of the most innovative sectors in gaming.  Just playing Match 3D (Sherri Cuono’s design) game is Sci-Fi like with the multitouch interfaces.

We haven’t even begun to exploit augmented reality, social interactions and other possibilities.

Obsolete Gamer: Of all your time in the industry do you have a favorite story about that time?

William Volk: Yeah.  Producer (John Skeel) goes to comic show in NYC in 1989 or so.  Likes a new comic book so he negotiates a deal to get the video game rights for $20k.   Activision does a weekend focus group on the concept with kids, soda and pizza.  The result?

TEENAGE BOYS SHOW LITTLE INTEREST IN  ANTHROPOMORPHIC  TURTLES.

Activision logo

Obsolete Gamer: Overall what was your favorite computer or game system?

William Volk: The FM Towns.  Really.   The Amiga a close second.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your favorite classic game?

William Volk: Choplifter.

Obsolete Gamer: Was there a game you had in your head that you wanted to release, but never did/could?

William Volk: I seriously wanted to release a Wing Commander type game … where after hours of play, many missions and incredible skill you would end up crashed on some planet (otherwise you would be killed) … and then end up in an elaborate adventure involving learning how to interact with native people … and have us DENY THAT THE ADVENTURE GAME EXISTED.  Like only 1 in 10,000 players would stumble upon that game within a game.  Yeah, that sounds crazy, but it’s what I wanted to do in the early 1990’s.

Obsolete Gamer: If you could rerelease any game you’ve worked on using today’s technology what would it be?

William Volk: Return to Zork in a “Grand Theft Auto” type engine and fairer puzzles.

Currently William Volk is the co-founder and CEO of PlayScreen and an avid cyclist.

William Volk on Beneath the Surface

[youtube id=”f7V-_PzbG_I” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Gamer Profile: Alex Aguila

Alex Aguila

There are those who play video games, those who immerse themselves in the video game culture and then those for who gaming is really a part of them. There are millions of fans, but when you truly have a love for all things gaming it sets us apart from the rest. I was honored to spend a few hours with one such person for whom gaming had touched at an early age and stayed with him throughout his life.

Alex Aguila’s love of all things electronic gaming led him to co-founding Alienware, but his love of gaming began long before.  From a very early age he became fascinated with video games, so much so, that after seeing the Atari 2600 in action he saved up money  From there he began collecting games from Colecovision to the Commodore 64. Even before the success of Alienware, Alex had an impressive gaming collection that has continued to grow over the years.

I was able to personally view his collection and it was awe inspiring. It was much more than the sheer volume, but the care he took in preserving them and the joy he had in talking about them. Many older games were still wrapped in their original plastic. Others though opened were in pristine condition and we talked about how classic games had a collectors feel long before expensive over bloated collectors’ editions of games became the norm.

What made me smile like a child in Electronics Boutique was that I could hear in his voice that he truly cared about the gaming industry. There was excitement in his voice when we talked about the past and how in the 90’s a golden age of gaming began when there was so much choice in gaming in arcades, home console systems and the emerging PC gaming market.

Simply put when you convert a shower into a display case for your collection of console systems you know you have a true gamer before you. Besides the normal Sega Genesis and Nintendo Entertainment System, Alex also had systems I was not aware of like the Vectrex which is an all in one video game system that used vector graphics. Alex then showed me an Atari that was unopened and joked about how he posted on Atari Age that he was considering opening it so he could play. He told me many people offered to send him opened Atari systems just so he would keep his sealed.

In addition to console systems Alex also had an impressive collection of handheld videos games. Long before the Gameboy, these simple but addictive games ruled the market. Then I took a look at his clone’s collection. Clones are systems made by third parties that can play games from systems such as the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Some, like the FC twin allow you to play both Super and classic Nintendo games on the game console. Another cool device was the Retro Mini portable, a device that used the original NES cartridges, but allows you to take it on the go.

Alex is a complete fan of all things electronic gaming meaning that he can enjoy playing the original Atari 2600 using the original cartridge as well as utilizing modern equipment and technology such as emulators. He stressed the importance of those in the community who work to not only preserve classic gaming, but allow new fans to enjoy games of the past. Using programs such as DOSBox allows many gamers to play classic PC games that just won’t run correctly on today’s operating systems.

When I walked into Alex’s arcade room I almost fainted. It was like something out of my childhood dreams except for the large Dallas Cowboys star on the wall. Right away what caught my eye was the M.A.M.E. arcade cabinet next to the air hockey machine. However, something else that caught my eye was the collection of pinball machines. Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect between pinball fans and video game fans and it was good to see that Alex enjoyed both.

On the back wall were several classic arcade cabinets including Defender, Joust and Robotron. The systems were all from Retrocade and Alex explained that originally he wanted to keep the classic original cabinets, but it is truly a lot of work dangerous even to care and maintain due to the circuit boards and electronics used in those older systems.

Alienware-Logo-Wallpaper

After my tour I sat down with Alex and we talked about his own gaming history from his first console to meeting game designers and developers with Michael Dell. I was even able to instigate a challenge between Alex and Arthur Lewis, Alienware’s general manager.

This began during my coverage at E3 where I was able to talk to Arthur over at the Alienware booth. In addition to telling me about his own love of gaming he mentioned getting together with Alex to play Tecmo Bowl and that they were scheduled to have a game soon.

Arthur Lewis @ E3

Alex tells a story about a classic gaming of Tecmo Bowl against Arthur where the loser would have to walk around the hotel halls in their underwear. Alex lost and believed the underwear thing was just a joke, unfortunately it was not. Alex said that it has been a while since they had played and that if a rematch did come about Arthur would find himself on the losing end. Of course, I plan to press this to see if a rematch will happen though I doubt the loser will have to do anything too embarrassing.

Alex Aguila Interview

PlayPlay

Saying goodbye I felt slightly sad to be honest. Being there and seeing someone love video gaming as much as I do reminded me of my summer days of spending hours doing nothing but gaming. On the other hand it is truly nice to find people who continue doing something they love even as they mature and their lives change. My day with a true gamer, Alex Aguila is not one I will soon forget.

Gamer Profile: Chris Tremmel

Chris_Tremmel

Name: Chris Tremmel

Title: Video Game Designer and owner of Gamer Cultoure

Gamer Cultoure logo

Company: Gamer Cultoure

Boogerman - sega genesis

Favorite classic game: BoogerMan 

Quote: It’s the first game I ever made, back in the day at Interplay Productions. It was one of the most exciting rewarding times of my life as I was just starting out in the biz!


Gamer Profile: Jace Hall

[youtube id=”_v9D_vDBE40″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

Kaboom is my favorite because it is literally the personification of the adage, “Easy to learn, difficult to master.” Plus, no one can beat me at it. 🙂 ~Jace Hall

 Jace Hall

Favorite Classic Game: KABOOM

 The Jace Hall Show: Season 5: Felicia Day Returns & I Play WoW Redux

[youtube id=”D1MOICO7B50″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

The Interview

Obsolete Gamer: The concept for the Jace Hall show came from the intertwining of Hollywood and the video game culture, but could you tell us a bit more about the reason you decided to do this show?

Jace Hall: I spent 15 years creating and developing video games. I grew up playing video games. I still play video games to this day. Since I truly am from the “video game culture” it has always bothered me that the “mainstream” media culture tends to depict the video game industry in somewhat superficial and negative ways.

The truth is that people who either play or make games are just like everyone else! There is a wide range of people who are gamers, and most of them don’t look like the way Hollywood depicts them.

So I thought, here I am leaving the active game development industry to attempt to make movies and television shows in traditional Hollywood, while at the same time continuing to play games and hang out with my game industry friends… I was experiencing a unique culture clash between two industries and I thought it might be interesting to capture some of the moments with a video camera. And so The Jace Hall Show was born!

To me, the culture of video games is all about lifestyle and attitude. Its not about any one particular game. It’s more about the shared experience of gaming and people bonding and communicating through that common experience.

For instance, the desire to throw a video game controller is a common experience for any game player. We all know this, and this tiny little fact becomes part of the greater tapestry of gamer culture. It is literally thousands of these kinds of unique understandings that combine to support the lifestyle and attitude that I call “GamerLife.”

Traditional Hollywood does not have the same reference points. Hollywood culture is fundamentally different, and a lot of it can sometime be rooted in fear and image control. This results in a cult of personality type of lifestyle and attitude.

It’s been fascinating and a great learning experience to be able to watch these two different cultures interact, and The Jace Hall Show attempts to show a tiny window into this new frontier.

The Jace Hall Show

Obsolete Gamer: What is the process for finding people to interview both celebrities and people in the industry?

Jace Hall: It just a natural process of what is happening around me and my company. The Jace Hall Show follows the interests of Jace Hall! So if somebody somewhere is doing something that me or my team thinks is cool, we will see if we can go check it out and possibly interview whomever that is.

Our show is not journalism. It is not unbiased. It’s whatever we happen to want it to be at the time, and is fairly free form. The consistency that you see in the show is nothing more than a reflection of the fact that every episode is made by the same people. We are just glad that the audience seems to like what we do.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your favorite interview?

Jace Hall: The Dolph lundgren / Carl Weathers interview was awesome because here are two guys sitting next to me who directly influenced my childhood, but generally speaking I don’t have a favorite. I like them all and I’m really appreciative of anyone who is nice enough to take the time to come be on the show in the first place.!

Obsolete Gamer: Name someone you haven’t interviewed yet, but would really want to for your show?

Jace Hall: Arnold Schwarzenegger, because, I mean come on, his last name is built into the Microsoft Word Spell Checker for goodness sakes! I’d also include Sylvester Stallone, because he is very underrated considering his accomplishments and I’d want to highlight just how amazing his work is (and then whip his ass in MORTAL KOMBAT.)

Obsolete Gamer: If you could do a Jace Hall show with anyone whom would it be with?

Jace Hall: It would be me, Vin Diesel, Dwanye Johnson (The Rock), and Ludacris – and we would all be driving fast cars and be tough and stuff… Oh wait, I was thinking of the upcoming movie FAST FIVE. My Bad.

The-Jace-Hall-Show

The Jace Hall Show

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Gamer Profile: Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor - Gas Powered Games

Name: Chris Taylor

Title: Game designer.

Company: Gas Powered Games.

atari-2600-robotron-2084-box-front

Favorite classic game: Robotron 2084 to name one, from the eighties, Populous, both easily classics!

Quote: Well, my measurement is based on how many hours I spent playing… because the game was original, and tapped into that deep, chewy, inner part of my soul…