Descent to Undermountain

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Descent to Undermountain

Back in the holiday season in 1997, Interplay Productions released Descent to Undermountain, a new Dungeons & Dragons PC game hotly anticipated not only because it was a new AD&D game, but because it promised to be a 3D roleplaying experience using the Descent 3D game engine.  Many gamers did not bother to wait for the magazine reviews, as the last true AD&D RPG had been Strategic Simulations, Inc.’s 1995 classic, Ravenloft: Stone Prophet, and the intervening years had seen only fighting and strategy games released based on TSR’s many game worlds.  They were to be sorely disappointed.

Descent to Undermountain

Descent to Undermountain began well enough with a deep, multi-screen character generation program.  The player began the process by choosing one of six character races (human, elf, dwarf, half-elf, halfling, and drow) in either gender.  As this was AD&D 2nd Edition rules, each race had restrictions or benefits, with humans being the only race with unlimited advancement (but unable to gain racial bonuses or multi-classing).  Elves and Drow received +1 on their Dexterity score, but suffered -1 on their Constitution score, as well as near-immunity to sleep spells. Half-Elves received partial immunity to sleep spells, no special pluses or minuses to their ability scores, but the most possible class combinations.  Dwarfs gained +1 on their Constitution score, some resistance to magic, and -1 to their Charisma score.  Finally, halflings gain +1 to their Dexterity score, some resistance to magic, and -1 to their Strength score.

Descent to Undermountain

The player next chose which of the four character classes they wanted: Fighter, Priest, Mage, or Thief.  Multi-class characters were possible for all races (except humans), but there were also some class limitations: Elves and Drow could choose Fighter/Mage, Fighter/Thief, Mage/Thief or any of the stand-alone classes; Dwarfs could choose Fighter/Priest or Fighter/Thief (or simply a Fighter, Thief, or Priest), but not a Mage; Halflings could be a Fighter, Priest, Thief or a Fighter/Thief (but not a Fighter/Priest); and Half-Elves could be any class, as well as the Fighter/Priest, Fighter/Mage, Fighter/Thief, and Mage/Thief combinations.  Congratulations, you’ve got through the first two Character Generation screens!

Descent to Undermountain

After choosing the gender, race and class of their character, the player then worked up his or her ability scores (the standard Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma) on the third screen in the character generation process.  The stats were randomly generated (you could discard them and refresh for a new set as many times as you wished), and each individual score could be swapped out with another.  For instance, if you chose to play a Mage and your Wisdom score came up 18 and your Intelligence score came up a 10, you could switch them.  In addition, each character was given an extra 5 ability points to distribute as desired.  Once completed, the player moved on to the fourth and final character generation screen, where they were able to chose the Name, Portrait, and Alignment of their character.

Descent to Undermountain

Besides a rich character generation process, Descent to Undermountain also had a decent storyline and pacing.  You began the game determining what in AO’s name are you supposed to be doing in Waterdeep.  As the game map only showed Khelben’s Tower as a clickable item, it was off to visit the Blackstaff to see if he could enlighten you.  It seemed that kobolds were bothering Waterdeep’s merchants, and had been spotted just outside the main entrance to Undermountain.  (Bear in mind that this entrance was guarded by one of the most powerful Lords of Waterdeep, but, hey, it’s an AD&D RPG, so you should suspend all disbelief at the splash screen.)  The Lord Mage of Waterdeep even passed you a quick couple of gold pieces to pay your way in and out of Undermountain, and sent you on your way to the Yawning Portal Inn.  (Tip for anyone daring to play this game: it”s a good idea to stop at the marketplace just prior to entering the inn.)

Descent to Undermountain

Up to this point players were seeing some decent high-res screens, and some good voice acting. Khelben’s voice in particular, performed by either Jim Cummings (the voice of the Terror Mask in Splatterhouse, among many other things) or Frank Welker(the original voice of Megatron) – the credits are a bit unclear on who did the actual work – was very crisp.  (Actually, Khelben sounds more like Jim Cummings.) And with all the prior work done on establishing your character, you’d expect playing the game would be worth the effort.  Ha ha ha.  No.

Descent to Undermountain

Sometimes it’s easier to show a few pictures rather than attempt to describe how bad something is with mere words. Yes, that’s a torch.  It flickered, but the closer you got, the more pixelicious it became.  And it got worse, much worse.  Although the box stated Pentium 90 MHz with 32 MB RAM were the minimum system requirements to run Descent to Undermountain, I remember using my Pentium 200 MHz system (that handled some sweet-looking games with aplomb) yet this game ran like a Descent-engine slug.   The problem was that Descent to Undermountain was a DOS game masquerading as a Windows game, with all the system resource management problems that entailed.  Worse, the 3D objects were being software rendered, not taking advantage of the then-existing technology of 3D graphics cards.  It seemed like an old game because it was: Windows 95 had already been on the market for years; the developers had no excuse for foisting a DOS game on their RPG audience.

Descent to Undermountain

Hidden within this morass of poor graphics was a fairly bland RPG.  The story was very similar to a standard AD&D adventure module from the Gary Gygax days: go gather the parts to re-create the Flamesword – an ultimate Drow weapon – to prevent Lolth, the evil Drow Goddess from enacting her master plan to enslave the world of Faerun.  Along the way, the player battled kobolds, skeletons, zombies, the Shadow Thieves, a mummy, orcs, ogres, a lich, drow fighters and priestesses, a beholder, and finally the avatar of Llolth herself.  Unfortunately, a terrible AI made the creatures ignore you or move in a bizarre fashion until you disposed of them, and then, due to programming glitch, they sometimes floated nearby.   As for the story, Descent to Undermountain used a fairly linear formula:  Khelben assigned you your task, and you went down into Undermountain to complete it.  Upon successful completion of said tasks, new parts of Undermountain would become accessible, although you could return to areas you already explored, too.

Descent to Undermountain

As you might infer from the overall tone of the previous paragraphs, critics crushedDescent to Undermountain like it was roadkill on the freeway.  Computer Games Magazine gave the game a whopping 1 out of 5 in its March 1998 review, whileAdrenaline Vault thought the game marginally better with a 2.5 out of 5 score in its December 1997 review.  Gamespot gave the game a hardy 3.7 (out of 10), with an article subtitled, “How could the company that produced Fallout also be responsible for one of the lousiest games to come down the pike in quite a while?”  And that seems to be a good place to end this look back at one of the many Retrogaming Ruins to have graced my gaming systems.  Full disclosure: I finished the game twice, just to make certain I wasn’t being too unkind the first time I played it.  The things we do to ourselves in the pursuit of retrogaming!

Battle Chess

battlechess

Battle Chess

I barely remember this one but it was in a way the first PC game I ever played and  that is why I am putting it here. Of course today there are countless chess games for the PC but this one was my first and I still remember how entertaining it was to watch the battles play out in front of your screen

What is Battle Chess

battlechess

Battle Chess is obviously a chess game developed and released way back in 1988. The cool thing about it was that all the pawns where animated and you could see them killing each other in interesting and funny ways. When I was playing it I was still a kid so I didn’t know what I was doing but I was trying desperately to discover all the killing animations that were available.

Why it’s Great
battlechessIts a nostalgia thing I guess but you can’t deny that it’s cool to watch the pieces come to life to kill each other (maybe I have low entertainment standards)

Where you Can Get it

You can find the special edition at Gog.com, the special edition includes the original Battle Chess, Battle Chess 2: Chinese Chess and Battle Chess 4000, if you are interested you can buy it HERE

The Last Express

The Last Express
I do know that the precious reader of Gnome’s Lair has been quite aware of my interest (or is that fascination?) with The Last Express. I have after all been constantly mentioning the thing both via Twitter and Facebook, and have also grabbed a digital copy via gog.com, which I promptly installed. But should I review it? I really don’t think so. More than a few excellent reviews and retrospectives for this truly unique, groundbreaking, gorgeous and amazing adventure game are readily available and are way better written than anything I could hope to come up with. That’s why I have chosen to do something I’ve never really done on this blog; namely write a series of posts more or less detailing my experiences through the game.
Here I go now…
Being a traditionalist, I didn’t immediately start playing after downloading and installing the game. Oh no. I read through the manual, watched the mostly spoiler free making-of video and even had a glance at the digital version of the Quick Reference Guide. The manual was unsurprisingly the best part, what with it trying to explain the intricacies of the game’s non-standard interface and features, while wisely providing minimal only information on the plot and some interesting insights to the Orient Express -the setting of The Last Express– itself.
The Last Express
The game itself starts off with an impressive if short intro movie that managed to immediately set the tone and introduce me to the amazing visuals on offer, though intriguingly failed to also introduce me to my apparently Irish avatar and his motives. This lack of knowledge has so far proved an excellent idea, as I slowly get to uncover who I’m guiding (most probably to his doom), discovering his shady -hopefully revolutionary, what with Mr. Robert Cath being Irish a few years before Ireland’s war for independence- past and finding out what it is I’m supposed to be doing. As for the newspaper clipping discovered in my pocket, the same clipping that let me know I was a wanted man, was too vague to enlighten me, but intriguing enough to get me hooked.
The Last Express
The game’s interface, on the other hand, is rather intuitive and more or less straight forward, despite the rather odd way the inventory works. Also, the fact that The Last Express is played in real time and comes complete with an incredibly handy rewind time feature, allows for complete freedom of exploration, true in-game choice and a relaxed pace. There simply is no anxiety for dead ends, which I thought -and still think- is necessary to enjoy such an investigation heavy adventure.
The first few hours are, after all, far from action-packed. As Robert Cath I fought a guy, sneaked around, eavesdropped and enjoyed the excellent French, Serbian, English, African and Russian accents, disposed of a body, got a feel for the train, helped an ageing aristocrat make it through the night, met some surprising characters and even hid in a toilet while waiting for a policeman to leave the train. I particularly enjoyed reading through a 1914 newspaper, that ominously foreshadowed the Great War.
The Last Express
Importantly I also found out that I’d better get the passenger list, some papers and a certain suitcase from the off-limits luggage compartment. Following characters and trying to either chat them up or spy on them proved quite a bit revealing too, whereas climbing in and out of my cabin’s window has not been particularly enlightening though incredibly fun, but, I’ll admit, hardly as elating as breathing the atmosphere of the turbulent and politically tense times before the First World War.
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A Russian anarchist arguing with a young lady of a Czarist affiliation, a German capitalist that wants to purchase gold, Serbian patriots that had something to do with my deceased (and inelegantly disposed) comrade and some sort of colonial royalty make for an incredible assortment of characters, that turn the confined space of the train into a vibrant setting as lively as you’d imagine it. Oh yes, I might have not progressed as much as I’d hoped, but I’m definitely enjoying myself.


E3 2011: My E3 Guide

E3 2011: My E3 Guide by Ignacio/honorabili

E3 2011

Guide:

Before going, the first thing to do is see if you can get in there for free! Well, the way I did it is by having this website and registering as soon as I could for the event. Starting this year, E3 was capping the number of passes they would give out to media, requiring your website to have 8000 unique visits per month per media pass given out. If you don’t even get 8000 a month then they would make you buy your ticket instead, which could making going to the event really expensive.

Like most of these kind of events, try to book as early as possible, both your travel arrangements and lodging. We booked 9 months before and paid 700 dollars a person for 6 days. We used Orbitz and that price included complete air fare (flew American Airlines), lodging (we stayed at the Ramada Inn in Koreatown, which I found to be a great place and neighborhood), and a rental car (Avis, which broke down and then they tried to rip us off when we returned the car; listen to the podcast to hear Laraque complaining about that!). I really recommend going to E3 especially if you already live in California or nearby, so it’s much cheaper.

When you get to the event, get one of the free magazines that is pretty much a quick guide to the event plus the IMPORTANT PART is the map in the center of the magazine. You can simply look at the map and see which booths interest you the most. If you mainly go there to see the next big game, you can easily find them on the main floor in megabooths. If you have media passes, you can go talk to their reception desk and they give you priority to test them, instead of making you wait in line most of the time.

E3 2011 - Konami

Some people like to go to E3 to demo the new games and hardware, mainly from the megacorps. Other people like to go to see what small companies are there and to see what big thing they brought to the show. Many of the small companies or the companies that are not coming out with a big product usually have a booth in the meeting rooms in the Concourse Hall. Those are better for you if you are into networking and seeing more unique things that the public usually cannot. There’s a more private version of that area on the second floor that you can only access if you have a VIP pass. There’s where you can see unreleased stuff more and negotiate business deals.

If you go, don’t expect to sleep much. You pretty much walk and stand most of the day and after the show, if you have connections expect to go to a ton of after parties (there’s one pretty much every day); this is where you can really make connections with developers, vendors, etc. If you go there trying to setup some business deals, bring a stack of business cards and some nice clothes. I made more contacts wearing dress clothes than simply the Obsolete Gamer T-Shirt.

As far as being in L.A., bring a lot of money because things there are PRETTY EXPENSIVE. Most places we went to charge a bare minimum of 3-5 dollars an hour to park, with many places having a 15-30 dollar parking fee, even like going to a local mall. Food at most restaurants will cost you about 20 dollars a person unless you want to eat a lot of fast food. At E3, the food is very expensive and we’re talking like 6 dollars for a pizza slice kind of expensive and 5 dollars for a can of Monster (no Red Bull, which is my crack). A cheapskate trick is to go to the Concourse Hall and munch on the snacks (cookies mainly) and free soft drinks that a lot of the companies have there. Hey! You wanted a real guide, now you know how cheap I am!

E3 2011

When at E3, try not to take breaks. Be smart and go have a meeting where you can sit down to rest, while you keep working and networking. Again, I mainly recommend going to the event if you are in the industry, whether you have a game company, gaming website, resell video games, blog, shoot funny videos (like Mega64), otherwise, you can pretty much watch everything at the show for free on the internet on some of the mega video game sites or directly from the main companies websites, in the form of trailers.

If you are media/press, pick up every free bag of goodies they give you. The best stuff I got was from World of Tanks, which gave me a bunch of toy tanks, a special bag, a World of Tanks T-Shirt, mouse pad, and special game bag, as far as the main floor went, and the biggest gift I got was from Topware which gave me a Collector’s Edition of Two Worlds 2 and a ton of T-shirts. Even if you don’t like a game, who knows, a friend of yours might like it! If you have a gaming website, some of this swag would be great to giveaway in the form of a contest.

My Experience:

E3 2011 - Cooking Mama

The day before E3 I was rushing to get some Obsolete Gamer shirts over to J.A. Laraque’s house as well as a camera I bought him and some micro SD memory cards when the engine of my 1998 Mustang GT decided to die a block away from my house. After pushing the car with some neighbors up my driveway, I had my mom help me to drop the OG gear off at JA’s house. I stayed up pretty late playing League of Legends with my brother and his friends until we lost so badly that I had to go do something else. I remember drinking some rum while watching episodes of The Three Stooges on Hulu.

My old man took J.A. and I to the airport like around 5 PM EST on Tuesday, the first open-to-the-public day for E3 2011 and we quickly met up with Alienware’s Patrick Theodore and Ashley Brito. Even though Orbitz booked us on Alaskan Air, we quickly had to go running with all our luggage to the American Airlines concourse and go through the TSA checkpoint. After seeing old ladies from Miami Beach get checked to see if they have C4 in their shoes, the terrorists won! Anyways, they let us through and after a short while we were on the plane. I played the living shit out of Solitaire on the plane, which going to L.A. we had a 777 (great ride). Laraque played a lot of games on his iPad like Streets of Rage and some Homer Simpson game which was a lot like the original Simpsons arcade game. I slept on the plane but for the duration of this trip I was pretty much tired a lot.

As soon as the plane landed we hauled ass to Avis, and then drove fast to the show. Parked (see me bitch above about the parking, which in this case was 15 dollars cash [be sure to bring a lot of cash]) and then we got some of the food they sell there (again see above if you want to hear me bitching). Afterwards, we walked off into the main floor. My first impression was that this was a huge arcade. Colors and colors everywhere. We saw the Sony Online Entertainment booth, which we have been trolling on the podcast a lot lately, and I got a bunch of the free mints they had there. The only games they had which interested me were Payday (co-op bank robber game) and some Magic The Gathering strategy game, but that game looked pretty dated. I hit up Capcom, then Kalypso, which to my surprise is remaking (and this is much needed) Jagged Alliance and is making Tropico 4, another sequel to one of my favorite dictator sims of all time.

E3 2011 - Square Enix

I had a meeting with Indiecade, which showed me a lot of board games, which we will probably review later on The Inverted Paradox and a couple of Indie games. I got to play this experimental game project called Deep Sea where the game has no graphics and its just you attacking a sea monster based on what you hear only. Pretty original idea and it generates a feeling of solace and dread being stuck on a submarine with a leviathan around you. I also saw a game that was a rogue-like clone and also a cute strategy game called Skulls of the Shogun which is a like like Shining Force and Ogre Battle.

We went to the after the show parties for AMD and also for S2 Games, the makers of Heroes of Newerth. Both parties had free bars and the AMD party had AMAZING food! =P It was fun talking to AMD about the new APU that already got released by now as well as talking about old hardware with some of the people who helped design it, like Marc who helped design my favorite CPU the AMD K6-3. 😀 The AMD party was also very special for me because I got to speak in person with my friend Alfred Giovetti who runs The Computer Show. In the middle of people talking about the latest and greatest we sat for a good while talking about stuff like the rise and fall of Microprose and Interplay and games such as Darklands by Microprose. I recommended he try out Mount & Blade which is a lot like Defender of the Crown mixed with Darklands.

E3 2011

Back to the show, I got to meet up with the people from Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends which let me see upcoming champions (hero units) for that game, one of my current addictions.

The people from World of Tanks gave us some goodie bags which was put to good use in-game (another one of our addictions now).

I got to meet (finally in person) with my long time internet friend Seth Sternberg (8 Bit Weapon) and got to hear them live. We interviewed both band members and you can check out the 8 Bit Weapon interview here.

We stayed in L.A. for 4 days after the show and it was a nice vacation for us.

In conclusion, the E3 experience was a good one and I highly recommend it, especially if you can go there cheap or get somebody to sponsor your trip! ;-]

Descent 2 Music

Descent 2 Music

If you love techno, heavy metal, and music like in the cartoon Batman Beyond then the soundtrack to Descent 2 is for you!

I remember when I first saw the first Descent while I was in high school I thought that it was light years ahead of Doom and other FPS games that were popular at the time like Duke Nukem 3D. Although they kind of faded into obscurity the Descent series always had a special place in my heart for causing epilepsy and nausea in its players.

Descent 2 box

Although the Interplay that brought us this game pretty much disappeared you can still get Descent 2 from Good Old Games at this link. If you ever played them, I seriously recommend Descend 2 if you want to play a game that’s a real challenge, especially at the higher difficulties.

Anyways, here is the Descent 2 music, ripped from my original game CD. The soundtrack is an excellent blend of techno and heavy metal. It’s particularly effective the louder you play it, even with some other games! Enjoy it!

The Interview: Chris Tremmel

Boogerman game
Boogerman game

Chris Tremmel

There are thousands of great games across all platforms that we as gamers have enjoyed for many years of our lives, but what about the people behind them. Just as there are fans of games there are the game makers themselves who weave a concept into code to be displayed on your system of choice. Many times the idea that became the mega-hit game of the year came to the developer or designer in the middle of the night, but from there it was many sleepless nights to turn that vision into reality.

One of Obsolete Gamer’s main purposes is to get the story behind the game and we do this by speaking with the designers, developers and publishers who helped bring us oh so many hours of enjoyment. Sometimes it begins with a gamer profile where we just find out a game they like and from there a dialog starts and soon you find out all kinds of wonderful information.

This is what happened with our gamer profile of Chris Tremmel. I discovered him through his clothing store, Gamer Cultoure and when he submitted his gamer profile with the game BoogerMan I wanted to find out why he liked that game and what I found out was he was one of the main creators of it. After that I had to learn more and Chris was very accommodating in answering our questions.

Gamer Cultoure logo
Gamer Cultoure logo

Obsolete Gamer: Let’s start with a little history, what was it that got you into gaming and working in the gaming industry?

Chris Tremmel: When I was a kid, my parents hooked me up with a Texas Instruments\99-4A computer. I was already a gamer thanks to PONG, and the AT2600, but the TI-99 allowed me to begin making my own games! I think I started with “porting” my choose your own adventure books into interactive form. 🙂

Obsolete Gamer: When did you begin working at Interplay?

Chris Tremmel: I officially started working at Interplay in 1992 I believe. It’s funny because I first interviewed for a tester spot. I didn’t get the job because my “autoexec.bat, and config.sys” knowledge was a bit rusty. I went home, studied up, and returned for a 2nd interview a month or two later. This time I got the job. The 1st games I tested were the original Alone in the Dark on PC, and the Lost Vikings on the Amiga.

Obsolete Gamer: Who else did you work with primarily at Interplay?

Chris Tremmel: I initially worked in the testing department but quickly made friends with a couple of designers and producers, primarily Mike Stragey and Alan Pavlish.

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like working for them?

Chris Tremmel: I hate to sound really cliche’, but working at Interplay in 1992\1993 was “magical”. I was in awe of everything being made and was thrown right in to working with some of the brightest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. It was an amazing time as I was being taught my core design fundamentals by great guys like Mike and Alan. I knew this is what I wanted to do forever.

Obsolete Gamer: When did you first start working on Boogerman?

Chris Tremmel: I believe we started Boogerman in early 1993? It’s hard to remember exactly.

Obsolete Gamer: Who else worked with you on Boogerman?

Chris Tremmel: My boss, and the man that hired me out of test Michael Stragey. 🙂 Also Alan Pavlish was the executive producer who we would run stuff by on a regular basis. We also worked with an external animation house called Little Gangster, as well as some in-house artists, and additional programming support, but primarily it was Mike and myself.

Obsolete Gamer: How did you come up with the concept and story behind Boogerman?

Chris Tremmel: Interplay came to Mike and said “we want to make a gross-out game that appeals to the Garbage Pail Kids demographic.”

Interplay logo
Interplay logo

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us a little bit about the development process?

Chris Tremmel: Conceptually we knew we wanted to make a “gross” game. Mike came up with the idea of a gross Superhero and off we went! The ideas just starting pouring out from Michael and myself, I would say we were never short of ideas for characters, locations, etc.

As for the design of the characters, we worked very closely with Little Gangster and went through dozens of designs until we finally settled on what you see today. Funny enough, several of the bosses in the game including the main boss BoogerMiester were originally design concepts for Boogerman himself.

Obsolete Gamer: When Boogerman was ready to launch did you believe you had a hit on your hands?

Chris Tremmel: Ya know, this is a weird thing… I was so new to the industry and so excited and stoked every day to be making games that I never really thought about “hits”. We knew we had something fun, and we knew people responded to the content the way we wanted, so that was enough for me. I still remember our very 1st magazine preview EVER. It was in Diehard Gamefan, they dubbed it an “instant classic”, we were happy.

Now some gaming sites and magazines game you high marks while others gave you more middle of the road scores. Do you think they just didn’t get it or what was the disconnect?

I think we were pretty happy with the reviews. We had some serious competition that year with Earthworm Jim being released at the same time. I think Boogerman got the scores it deserved, it was a good game, just not everyones cup of tea.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your feeling about winning the grossest character of 1994 award from Electronic Gaming monthly?

Chris Tremmel: Honored for sure. The entire Boogerman universe is still very close to our hearts to this day (Mike and myself). I still believe the franchise has a lot of potential.

Obsolete Gamer: Was there a plan to make more Boogerman related games?

Chris Tremmel: Yes, absolutely. AND a cartoon. The cartoon was actually started, at least script writing, character design, etc. but I believe in the end Universal went with the Earthworm Jim cartoon that was in development at the same time. Which btw, I am a massive EWJ fan and I loved loved loved the cartoon.

There were clocks made, t-shirts, and even a Boogerman phone. In addition we DID start the sequel on the Sega Saturn. We had a basic design document done and had contracted some amazing matte painters to start working on backgrounds. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition. Michael and myself left Interplay to pursue work with another company, I think we both wish Boogerman 2 could have been made. We had some really fun ideas.

Obsolete Gamer: How was it to see Boogerman released for the virtual console in 2008?

Chris Tremmel: Neither Mike or myself were involved in this. I believe this happened after Interplay changed hands. We were incredibly happy to see it up there though, downloaded it immediately!

Obsolete Gamer: Did you play Boogerman a lot yourself and do you still play it today?

Chris Tremmel: Absolutely! Mike and I both played all the time while making the game, AND after the game was released. Out of all the games I have made, this one probably got played the most. I definitely still bust it out once or twice a year. I like looking back and try to figure out what the heck I was thinking with a particular layout, or just to laugh at some of the character designs. Lot’s of laughing during the development.

Obsolete Gamer: After Boogerman what came next for you?

Chris Tremmel: Mike and I left Interplay to make a game for EA based on a Saturday morning TV show called “Bump in the Night”. Unfortunately this game was never finished\released, although we did have a rad demo running on the Saturn. I ended up at Virgin Interactive after that working on the N64.

Gamer Cultoure dog tag
Gamer Cultoure dog tag

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us a little about Gamer Cultoure?

Chris Tremmel: Sure! Gamer Cultoure is a side project I have started that is clothing centric. It’s really a basic line of T-shirts, hoodies, etc. that are gaming themed. The line is really small right now, but I intend to continue to grow it over the next year or two. After leaving Activision early in the year I decided to take a little time off and try something different for a little while. It has been a fun, rewarding process for sure.

Obsolete Gamer: What do you think of gaming today in comparison to gaming back in the early to mid nineties?

Chris Tremmel: Oh no, this is a loaded question. 🙂 It is definitely different. The process has become more complicated, usually requiring a large number of people to make something significant. The money involved in some of the triple A games is staggering with some budgets now reaching 100 million dollars. That naturally changes everything in terms of peoples priorities, and agendas. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. One of the nice things though as of late is seeing the rise of the “indie” studios, small teams executing on great ideas. It is very easy to get distracted now a days when making something. The bar has been raised so high, and with so much money involved it takes some serious planet-aligning powers to take something killer to market. All of that being said, I hope the younger guys and girls that are in the industry today feel the same sense of magic that I felt in 1992.

Obsolete Gamer: Are you working on any video games at the moment?

Chris Tremmel: As of right this second, no. Expect that to change very soon. I will definitely keep you posted any news. 🙂

I quickly wanted to give a shout out to all the people I worked with at Interplay. Thanks Mike, Alan, Brian, Rusty, Tim, Burger, Kerry, and way too many more to list. All of you guys helped me get started on this amazing journey and I appreciate it to this day.

Obsolete Gamer would like to thank Chris Tremmel for taking the time to answer our questions.

CDW Nintendo – Earthworm Jim

Black nintendo DSI
Black nintendo DSI

Coming to your DSi today is the classic game Earthworm Jim. This platform action shooter came to fame on the Super NES though it was released almost a year earlier for the Genesis. You play as Jim an ordinary earthworm until you come in contact with the super powerful cyber-suit that turns you into a superhero. When Jim finds out Psy-Crow’s evil plans he sets out to stop them and save the lovely Princess What’s-her-name.

Here is the official release information:

Earthworm Jim
Publisher: Gameloft
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older) — Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points
Description: The classic action platformer you used to play on the Super NES system is back in a remake that offers the essence and core game play of the original, plus a never-before-seen feature available exclusively on the Nintendo DSi system. Play as the grooviest earthworm in the galaxy. Run, gun, swing from hooks with your head, launch cows, bungee jump and rocket through speed levels in a dozen crazy universes. Earn bonuses with facial-expression-based challenges that track your face using the system’s built-in camera. Put on a smile, frown or make a variety of other faces to mimic Jim.

GOG Sale – Interplay Action-comedy Games

MDK1 Cover
MDK1 Cover

GOG Sale – Interplay Action-comedy Games

This weekend only, you can pick up MDK 1, MDK 2, and Giants: Citizen Kabuto for $4.19 each from Good Old Games. These are the finest action-comedy games made by the old Interplay (back when it was good and run by Brian Fargo!).

MDK 1 is a 3rd person shooter that is a ton of fun! You take the role of a janitor that works in a space station and this crazy scientist commissions you to get into this badass powerarmor, morphing suit and go down to the surface of the planet and blow up a bunch of asshole aliens. The game involves a shitload of bullets being fired, jumping, sniping, and gliding with your morphing suit. It is simply BADASS! On top of that, the game is hilarious.

This game came out in 1997 both on PC and Playstation 1. It was the first game I remember seeing from Shiny. The Good Old Games version of the game comes with the manual, hi-res wallpaper, the original soundtrack, and avatar.

MDK 2 is the sequel to the awesome MDK 1. It’s longer, looks much better, but it’s a lot like the previous game. Difference here is that you don’t just play as the janitor but also as the professor and as his doggie, which has 4 arms and can fire 4 guns (pistols, uzis, etc) at the same time. More boom boom! MDK 2 is also much, much harder!

The Good Old Games version of MDK 2 comes with the manual, hi-res wallpapers, the soundtrack, artworks from the game, the storyboard artwork, and avatar.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto is the last kind of game of these action-comedies that Interplay put out. There are three different factions to play in this game: space rangers which crash landed their ship in these world while drunk flying, a super-hot heiress to an evil sea kingdom that cuts everything apart with scimitars, and the Kabuto (a giant Godzilla-like monster that goes around terrorizing the citizens of these worlds). There is just so much variation of gameplay in this game that it is such a classic, since it is basically like 3 games in one, each of those being a great game itself. The humor in the game makes fun of other kind of similar games as well and some of it is pretty braindead in a good way.

Conclusion:

You will like these games if you like action games. You will like these games if you are a fan of games like Ratchet and Clank. If you like off the wall humor in games and want to blow shit up, you will also like these games. You will like these games if you like Psychonauts. You will also like these games if you like the game Armed and Dangerous.

Click here to go to the sale!

I only recommend sales for games that are worth owning and that are actually worthwhile. 😀

Memories of Gaming 1997-2003

3dfx logo - a symbol of quality
3dfx logo – a symbol of quality

Memories of Gaming 1997-2003 by Honorabili

Around the year 1997, I started to go a lot to ebgames to buy a lot of PC games. Rather than go for whatever was the top title that week, I would always check out what games they had for sale in their bargain bin. I did buy hit games like Carmageddon, Fallout 1, Master of Orion 2, and Grand Theft Auto 1 but for the most part from 1997 til about 2003, I stuck to buying cheap games. The bargain bin had a lot of failed games that were either bad or had failed in their marketing and distribution and nobody knew about them or they were simply budget titles that did not have the best graphics but had awesome enough gameplay that they got released.

My criteria for buying these games was that they had to cost usually about $1-10. For me to buy one that was $15, it had to have been highly recommended or praised. This shopping included buying used copies of games as well. I also bought a lot of stuff based on the brands of developers and publishers. Almost anything that got made by Microprose and Interplay was bought for sure. They were my favorite company in those years up until Brian Fargo lost control of the company and Herve Caen destroyed the company. Because I would still play the popular titles at the time but I would also played a ton of obscure and lost titles, I gained a good understanding as to why games and gaming companies fail. As far as Microprose goes, went they got liquidated I remember buying all of their games (multiple copies too) for 25 cents a piece!

Back in 97-03, my life consisted of going to college, hanging out with my friend Bruce and little brother, watching a ton of VHS movies which we usually rented from Future Video or Hollywood video (both are out of business now), playing a ton of video games, and buying video games almost every weekend. Usually Bruce or my brother and I would go and scout out 3-4 stores at a time seeing which ones had the best deals and stock. We would go a lot to The Falls, Miami International Mall, Dadeland, and later Dolphin Mall. I usually had a policy of buying at least one game each time I went into those stores, even if it was a crappy $1-2 game (of which I bought plenty of!). I remember one time that Bruce and I went in to buy what was either Fallout 2 or Carmageddon 2 and we ended up walking out with about $300-400 of cheap games.

After buying a bunch of these games, we would test out a bunch on the crappy LAN we built using our main machines which were initially powered by AMD K6-2’s and our bitch computers usually were a bunch of trade-ins I got from my PC repair/building business that were Celerons or Pentium I’s or 686’s. Sometimes we would just setup multiplayer games of a specific game to see if we could get it to run because maybe the multiplayer component of a game was utter crap.

I remember very well when I tried to run Carmageddon 1 on my AMD 486 DX-4 100 Mhz and the game was a slide-show. Quickly after that I jumped to my AMD K6-2 266 Mhz with 128 MB of RAM and a Diamond Stealth 2000 video card tied to a Creative 3dfx Voodoo 2 with 4 MB of RAM. I got addicted to Glide games quickly… Thanks to my gaming I got a lot of orders for gaming computers which paid for my college and taught me more about the real business world than many classes I took and books I read ever were able to show me.

What I like about 97-03 was that I saw the explosion of graphics acceleration for PCs. We also experienced the graphics acceleration and CPU wars. Some casualties of the graphics acceleration were were 3dfx, S3 and PowerVR. Some victims of the CPU wars were Centaur, Cyrix, and VIA. I remember the race to hit 1 Ghz with AMD hitting it stable with their Athlon and Intel’s 1 Ghz P3 being a complete mess that melted. A lot of hardware that comes to mind of these days are: 3dfx, the TNT 2, Voodoo 2 and 3, AMD K6-2 and K6-3, Pentium 2 & 3, Athlon and Athlon XP, Matrox, ATI vs nVidia, Radeons vs GeForce cards, AMD vs Intel, SDRAM & DDR, PC100 & PC133, introduction of SATA drives, introduction of RAID to gaming PCs.

Around these years we also started to see a differentiation between the kind of gamers that were attracted to PC gaming vs console gaming. I also began to see that for PC gaming some years were good strong years and some years just about nothing good came out.

In these years we also saw a giant growth in the availability of better broadband and the explosion of the internet (and the dot com bubble burst). In terms of gaming this improved multiplayer games and the availability of pirated software and games. We saw stuff like Scour and Napster and WinMX rise and fall. Then came torrents, which are still going strong.

Apart from the usual pirated games, we saw the rise of emulation. Emulation has always been around just about, even in the 60s and 70s with mainframes trying to emulate rival companies operations. Certainly around the time the AMD K6-2 and Intel Pentium II were commonly available we saw a lot of good NES and SNES emulation, as well as Sega Genesis, and even c64 (which doesn’t take much to run) and the Amiga emualators (which took a lot to run when they first came out). Playstation 1 emulators were out, as well as Nintendo 64 but initial performance and availability of these was terrible. Around this time I got to know well sites such as zophar.net. You also saw the growth of MAME and ROMs for all sorts of systems going around.

These years also saw an explosion in video game and computer music remixing. I even took part of this, even killing RKO, the home of c64 remixes. General video game remixing blew up on sites such as OverClocked Remix. I made a lot of good friends at remix64 and micromusic.

Some PC gamers in 1997-2003 were either of the camp that cared only for framerates (FPS junkies) or image quality. Around the late 90s, I felt that 3dfx had the best graphics but lowest frame rates, then came ATI, and with nVidia having highest frame-rates but lower quality renders.

We also saw around these years the rise of the mp3/ogg files. Many games before used proprietary sound formats and also a lot of MOD tracker formats. CD quality audio became a standard for games around this time. Initial games at this time had actual CD audio tracks incorporated into the game CDs.

Other trends include the further increase of popularity of first person shooters in the form of the Doom games, Quake series, Unreal Tournament series, Half-Life, Counterstrike, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, Far Cry, etc. We saw just about the death of turn based strategy games and the explosion of more real time strategy games. Although Ultima Online was around, then came the explosion of Everquest (which made me a lot of money), and other MMOs.

Conclusion:

These were great times for gaming for my friends and I because back then we had the time to do it. Later on complications such as girlfriends and wives and shitty jobs and children interfered with our hobby. The equivalent of me getting cheap games these days are the Steam sales and the gog.com sales. I have enough old games that I can relive parts of the old days any day I want! (well, except having my old friends to LAN it up with)