Gamer Culture: OverClock Remix

Overclocked Remix logo

OverClock Remix

In this new editorial series I wanted to go over different aspects of gamer culture. When video games you could play in your own home came on the scene a whole new world was created. Today there are so many different communities and groups within gaming that you could spend your entire life discovering and experiencing them. From blogs, to LAN parties to institutions dedicated to everything gaming, if you have a niche you can easily find a haven for it.

Now ever since the earliest games on the Atari as far as consoles and the Commodore as far as personal computers, music has been a very important part of the gaming experience. As gaming evolved the music did as well and entire scores were created for games performed by those self-defined as novice musicians to orchestra led presentations of music.

I personally became a fan of video game music after listing to some of the tracks from popular games such as Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy. In the past it was almost impossible to find the music from video games and if a soundtrack was created it was often only available in Japan.

Slowly but surely websites began to emerge that offered downloads of game music in the midi format. While it was not an exact representation of the music from the video game it at least gave fans something to keep of their own.

Later, more websites were born offering wav files of music. This was a golden age for game music fans as often the music was spot on and could be burned onto a CD. Almost at the same time specialty websites were created offering the direct sound file from a game meaning it was taken from the programing itself so it sounded exactly as it would on the game. For these files you would often need a specifically created program to play it although many created Winamp plugins so you could listen to authentic game music on your media player.

Then came something that for me personally changed the face of video game music. It started with a friend playing a song from Megaman 2 but it was slightly different with added beats and sound effects. When I asked what it was I was told it was a remix. From there I was introduced to the website Overclock Remix.

Overclock Remix was founded in 1999 and was created to showcase video game music as the art form that it is. OC Remix offers fans of video game music a place to remix and re-mastered their favorite video game music arrangements from all across the video game spectrum.  OCR showcases hundreds of re-mixers that have created thousands of remixed versions of video game music all free to download.

From there the site grew to what it is today, a place where fans, fanatics and students of video game music can go to listen, create, learn and remix video game music. You can even learn how to create remixes of your own and read the profiles of the original and remix composers.

I fell in love with this site and spent countless hours listening and downloading remixed versions of my favorite songs many that I play in my home, at the office and even in my car. OC Remix’s artists do not just take a song and make a few changes here or there. Sometimes a song is totally re-envisioned creating a completely new piece of music. These are true fans of video game music and offer it to the world free of change. In addition the remixes help preserve the essence of the original music and credit is always given to the original composer.

David “djpretzel” Lloyd is the founder of the site and after seeing many specialty music sites wanted to create a place where music from all gaming could be found so you can find music from platforms ranging from the Amiga to current systems today and everything in-between.

Music is undeniably a part of gaming culture and the remixes and mix masters from OverClock Remix have made their mark on it. If you like video game music you will love OC Remix and Obsolete Gamer recommends you check it out. They are an important part of gaming culture and gives us fans yet another outlet to enjoy our favorite past time.

Here is an arrangement of a few of my favorite OverClock Remixes.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 8

Build vs Buy PCs
Build vs Buy PCs

The topic of building a pc or having it built for you is not new, in fact I wrote about that very subject earlier this year. However we wanted to ask some of the people who make a living offering custom built systems what they thought of the building versus buying debate and so we reached out and ended up having three great conversations on the subject.

We began the show with my recounting my first showing up at the Red-Eye Lan party with my Compaq PC and being almost laughed out of the building and from there learned that being a real gamer meant building your own PC. Then I began working at Alienware and from that side I saw how having a great team put together and support your own rig is pretty awesome in itself. Both Ignacio and I agreed that while it is true that almost anyone can put together a system it takes a little bit more to build a great gaming or high end PC and if you can find a good company who will offer you support and a reasonable price then why not go for it.

We wanted to get our guests take on it and were happy to be joined by Chris Morley, chief technical officer for Maingear PC, Justin Melendez, co-founder of LanSlide PC and John Blain, consumer public relations for Dell/Alienware.

Each company has a different way of doing things, but the overall goal is the same and that is to give the customer the best computer they can at a price they can afford with a support staff they can depend on. In fact they will tell you that if you have a love of building a PC then go for it. However, it is not for everyone and if you decide you want a well-built system then do you research and be informed before you make your final choice.

Obsolete Gamer would like to thank our guests for coming on the show and we covered much more than just PC building and buying. So have a listen and tell us what you think.

Click here to listen to the podcast on the OGS page

Or download our podcast from Itunes

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 7

PVP vs non-pvp PVE
PVP vs non-pvp PVE

Player versus Player and Player versus Environment was the topic for this week’s show. We were happy to have our good friend Edwin in the studio with us and had a great conversation via Skype with longtime Obsolete Gamer fan, Liz Poisonkiss.

We started off with a recap of last week’s show which featured MMO’s and then moved into our Facebook fanpage question of the week which asked which our fans preferred to play PVE or PVP type games. From there we talked about our Insider Discussion question of the week which asked our panel which had a bigger impact on PC gaming RTS or FPS games.

From there we dove right into the main topic discussing the differences between a FPS mindset playing games such as Quake 2 and the strategy side of RTS games such as the original Warcraft game. Edwin also talked about his online Street Fighter games and said that he preferred to play again a human which we all agreed.

We premiered a new feature on OGS called Skype with a fan where we talk with people who have participated on our Facebook page and Forums and our first guest was longtime fan Liz. Who shared her thoughts on being a gamer girl, fps versus rts and pvp versus pve.

In our final segment Ignacio, Edwin and I discussed our various experiences in PVP from MMO’s to X-box live to arcades. Overall we had a good discussion about an important subject in the world of gaming. So give us a listen and we will be back next week with a brand new show.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 7

Which genre had a bigger impact to PC gaming RTS or FPS games?

Panel Discussion microphones
Panel Discussion microphones

What pulled you into PC gaming was it the fact that a new type of gameplay was created that just couldn’t be found on console systems? For many PC gaming took time to get into not only because of the cost of the systems, but that some of them took work to get running. However, the rewards were great for those who ventured into the world of PC gaming and through today some feel consoles are killing the PC gaming market (besides MMO’s) there are still millions of PC gamers out there.

If you look past the MMO’s and Flash games what would you find on these systems. Which would you find more of FPS, First Person Shooter Games or RTS, Real Time Strategy Games? Obviously with the recent release of Star Craft II I am sure you will see a Battlenet icon on many gamer’s task bars, but overall, who had the bigger impact on the PC gaming world?

In my opinion it is FPS games and this is coming from someone who loved to play RTS games and even turn based games. For me it was games like Wolfenstein, Rise of the Triad and of course Doom that had me going to Egghead software to slam three hundred dollars on the table for a Western Digital 750mb hard drive to build my first custom rig.

When I went to my first LAN party here in Florida it was the guys from Red-Eye that showed me how to use mouse look in order to properly use the hook in Lithium Quake 2. Now don’t get me wrong, StarCraft, Warcraft, Total Annihilation were also a big part of our LAN gaming, but it was games like Tribes, Duke Nukem, Shogo and Doom 2 that ruled our playtime.

We asked our panel of industry insiders their opinion on the question.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

I would have to go with FPS. Granted in the PC platform, RTS is bigger than it is on other platforms like the consoles. But even so I’d go with FPS having a bigger impact.

Juan Gril from JoJu Games wrote:

In my opinion, Starcraft on RTS, and Quake on FPS.

Chris Skaggs from Soma Games wrote:

I’d say RTS. Where FPS had a huge impact on hardware and game design. I think RTS brought a ton of previous non-gamers to the table for the first time and kept them there.

Danny Greig from XGEN Studios wrote:

I would say the FPS has had a larger impact on PC gaming but not by much. Doom/Doom 2 and Quake had just too much impact on PC gaming to ignore; I don’t think any RTS has had the impact of those games.  Blizzard has basically owned and dominated the RTS genre which has had a very large impact on the PC gaming industry but falls just short of what the FPS has done in my opinion.

Jason Shankel from Stupid Fun Club wrote:

In terms of technology and broadening the appeal of the PC as a platform for gamers, I’d have to go with FPS.  In the early days, FPS highlighted the power of the PC as a gaming platform with superior performance to consoles.  There simply was no other way to play DOOM or Quake except on a PC.  The RTS on the other hand highlighted the power of the keyboard and mouse as an input control, but was not fundamentally limited to the PC.  It would have been possible to play Dune II on a console.

In terms of creating a genre that is uniquely PC, I’d have to go with RTS.  Today, consoles perform roughly as well as PCs and there are many shooters available on console.  And even though FPS controls are still superior on a PC, FPS is certainly no longer a PC-only genre.  Yet no one has really cracked the RTS nut on consoles.  With no technological barriers to clear,  RTS is a genre that’s simply best played sitting up with a keyboard and mouse, not reclining with a console controller.

If I have to pick one answer, I’m going with RTS.  The FPS made a bigger initial splash, but the RTS has endured as a uniquely PC genre and thus had a longer lasting impact on that platform.

David Warhol from Realtime Associates wrote:

I’d say first person shooters.  They survived longer as a genre, and people talk about Quake and Doom a lot more than they do Starcraft (I).   Me, I’m not a fan of the FPS genre.  I think there are more first person shooters as there are Phil Collins ballads… and they are largely just as indistinguishable from one another 🙂 .

Gary Manica from Smashing Ideas wrote:

Easy answer for me.  I want to say RTS games because I prefer them, but realistically they don’t come close to FPS games to me.

FPS games in general have been one of the (if not the biggest) pushers of hardware development on a PC for many years running.  Dev houses constantly refine massive engine libraries to push more and more polygons and maintain the minimum framerate that crazy FPS players demand.   Engines like CryEngine, Unreal, Source, idTech, etc provide a platform for, and push developers (hardware and software) to really go above and beyond while being able to use a mostly pre-built framework.  The tech they build in these engines has been filtering down to other gaming genres for decades now.  And there is a reason that other genres are adopting FPS aspects to them.

There are many instances of amazing RTS games out there, with a lot of really good ideas.  But I don’t think they affect the industry as a whole to the scale FPS games do.

So what is your take? Let us know your answer by posting in our forums below. See you next week.

The Obsolete Gamer Show 4

J.A. Laraque and Ignacio/honorabili from Obsolete Gamer

This week the production value on OGS has gone up 100%. The boys of classic video gaming are back with a brand new podcast featuring an interview with Origin PC co-founder Hector Penton.

We started out the show looking back at a clip from the previous week then dove right in to the OGS question of the week which was, “When was the golden age of video gaming.” We weighed in with our own thoughts and briefly discussed the great video game crash of the eighties with our producer Joe Cassara.

Our Gamer profile of the week was from Michael Jorgensen of Zombie studios and his take on XCOM UFO defense and how it was far from the easy mode of many of today’s games. From there we moved onto a developing story within a story.

During Obsolete Gamers gaming profile of Alienware co-founder Alex Aguila he talked about a Tecmo Bowl challenge between himself and current Alienware president Arthur Lewis. After playing the clips it was clear the rematch has not yet taken place and we hope to make that happen soon.

Our first interview was with fan, writer and long time gamer Paul Hernandez. We talked with Paul about StarCraft II and fact that Acti-Blizzard does not allow LAN play for its game and discussed the worth of the collector’s edition.

In our main interview we talked with Origin PC co-founder Hector Penton on his days at Alienware and starting Origin PC. From there the topic turned to gaming where we asked what game he would play if he was sent to hell and could only pick one. All in all it was a great interview with a lot of laughs and some good information to boot.

We will be back next week with an all new show, until then let us know what you think.

State of the LAN Party IV

LAN Party sign
LAN Party sign

 

If you missed it you can read part 1 here , part 2 here and part 3 here.

We saw how the LAN party evolved with new technology and how it inspired Alienware and how Alienware helped change the look of many LAN parties. With faster, more portable systems we saw LAN parties rise. With high-speed internet and MMO’s we watched as membership diminished.  Everyone grew older, but we were still gamers, the question was, what games will be played and how will that affect the LAN party.

When the XBOX360 was introduced, Microsoft realized with the success of XBOX Live on the XBOX that pushing forward with online community gaming was the future of console gaming. If there were a few gamers who still did not utilize the online universe of gamers beforehand, once the 360 hit the shelves even they joined in.

The 360 also brought a new type of LAN to gamers, the Console LAN or Local Play Lan was established where people would bring together multiple XBOX systems and connect them in order to multiplay. This allowed gamers to use separate television screens since for many the split screen was not a viable option.

What made XBOX live so successful was the variety it brought to gamers. You could play the hottest games like Halo 3 or classic favorites such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  For better or worse you could chat online with fellow friends and gamers which gave console gamers pretty much all the tools a LAN member would use when gaming at a LAN party.

Software developers also realized the market created by the 360 and the Playstation 3. More computer titles were being ported over to the console. Not only that, but there were much more FPS and RTS games developed for consoles than ever before.

Many in the industry knew that computer gamers also owned a console and wanted the switch from the PC to the console to not be a shock to the system. Both 360 and PS3 were designed with top end processors and video cards. This allowed players to experience games on par and sometimes better than their PC counterparts.

Those looking for a lower cost gaming system turned to consoles to experience high end graphics and gaming without the high end price tag of computer gaming units. With online play complete with patches, demos and downloads, the console gamer had everything they needed.

By the time consoles invaded my LAN party we had reduced in size to just a few friends, but the new presence was noticed. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero replaced the twitch action games we played before. It saddened me at first. I believed some of us were getting too old for fast paced FPS games. Honestly I thought it was a fad, but numbers don’t lie. Interactive party games are as hot now as FPS games were ten years ago.

I embraced the change. I enjoyed playing those games (even those on the Wii) and I remembered the point of the LAN was to have fun with friends which we did have. The connectivity we have today can bring us closer together if used correctly. Having access to your friends 24/7 through XBOX Live, IM programs, FaceBook and Ventrilo can be a wonderful thing even if it does lessen the need for LAN parties.

In the end those of us who grew up during the gaming revolution will continue to be gamers for a long time to come. The games may change and the way we play them. Friends come and go and places we play will change, but the main goal stays the same, have fun.

The future of the LAN party may be more virtual, larger groups of gamers playing from their home with others across the world. With gadgets such as the iPhone sporting multiplayer capabilities, we may find ourselves having impromptu LAN parties from our phones while waiting for our oil to be changed or at the doctor’s office.

The great thing about technology is it adapts and changes the landscape. More and more people will have access to the tools to allow them to play the games they want and with that will come a community to join and interact with. The LAN party is ever changing, but will never die. As long as there are gamers there will be games and a means to play them.

State of the LAN Party III

LAN Party dark
LAN Party dark

If you missed it you can read part 1 here , part 2 here .

Everyone thought that growing older, getting married and having kids would be the only thing to bring an end to the LAN party. While it was true that as we got older we did not have LAN parties every two weeks, we still had them once a month. What did risk putting ours and many LAN parties to an end was Massively Multiplayer Online Games or MMOs.

By the time the game Everquest had come out our LAN party was in full swing. We had met with many other LAN groups across Florida and made a name for ourselves. I personally found working atAlienware, that the growing attendance to LAN parties translated into more buzz around our products.

One effect was peoples request for a smaller more LAN friendly sized system. People were torn between the massive power and size of our Dragon case and the prospect of having a small portable case to take. Remember, at this time there really wasn’t a gaming laptop and smaller form factor cases were not widely known of or used.

In the midst of larger LAN’s and more attention to networked gaming, a new fully 3D massive multiplayer role playing game was being released to the public. Now Everquest was not the first MMO, but it was the first to do fully interactive three dimensional game play and it brought in gamers who loved Dungeons and Dragons and the other successful MMO at the time, Ultima Online.

Over the next few months hundreds of thousands of people began to play EQ. At first this did not change the attendance of our LAN parties, but it did change much of the conversation within them. Many of us got into EQ and spent much of the LAN talking about our characters. We did continue to play normal LAN games like FPS’s and RTS’s, but somehow we always came back to talking about Everquest.

This was not just an occurrence at my LAN group. All across the U.S. people were talking about how Everquest, or as it was soon to be known as, EverCrack, was taking away gamers from their normal LAN games.

In our LAN group there was actually a divide between those who played EQ and those who did not. The pure gamers, as they called themselves, hated the fact that we talked so much about EQ and one said our LAN party officially died the day we connected a DSL line and played EQ at the LAN.

From my and many other EQ players point of view nothing really changed. We still played other games and interacted. MMO’s were just a new part of the landscape that we enjoyed, but we did find some took to EQ more than others. On the EQ main boards there were daily discussions of people becoming less active in work, school, their social life and LAN parties due to EQ. However, I felt in the end we became even more social because of it.

As high speed internet became easier to come by many LAN goers opted instead to play online. Gaming clans regained much of their strength because of this and LAN parties grew smaller and less frequent. Some of this was also blamed on MMO’s, but also because many companies decision to hold massive yearly LAN parties. It was felt that there was no longer a need to have a LAN party ever month when you could play over the net and then go to the larger sponsored LAN events.

Oddly enough, the EQ players were the ones to stay in touch the most. Since we all played on the same server in the game guild, we would often meet outside of EQ to talk and hang out. We found that many of our non-MMO playing LAN members did not want to attend these social gatherings. Perhaps it was because we talked about EQ, but we were skeptical.

As time went on many EQ and MMO players found themselves going back to LAN parties to get away from MMO’s and to do something different. LAN parties became much more social and private, except for the company sponsored ones.

At Alienware, we knew what our customers wanted and launched several gaming laptops which helped many LAN party members return to their LAN’s now being able to quickly and easily transport their gaming system.

In part 4 of the series I will talk about the evolution of the console and the affect new technology has had on the LAN party and the future of the LAN and its place in computer history.

State of the LAN Party I

LAN party
LAN party

Originally posted by me on the Direct2Dell Blogs

A good friend of mine asked me what would become of LAN parties with so many people having access to high-speed internet and online games like, World of Warcraft. To answer his question I thought back to when I first arrived in Miami.

I did not know anyone my age, so I asked my mother for a computer; this led to me buying Warcraft for the PC. I did not know much about online gaming so I did an Alta-Vista search and found a site called Dawango.

Dawango, called that because it stood for, “Dialup Wide-Area Network Game Operation” allowed people to dial in and play with other people over their network. The big games at the time were Doom and Duke Nukem 3D.

It was in the Miami channel that I met my first real online friends. Over the next few weeks we played a ton of games together and then one day they told me about a LAN party they were going to start called Red-Eye.

Now I had never taken my PC out of the house and with all the warnings about giving out information to people you meet online the idea of going to some warehouse with my PC to meet people I never had seen in person was just crazy. However, I decided to give it a chance and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The LAN party allowed me to meet great new people and make lifelong friends. In fact, if it was not for the LAN party I would not have become an Alienware employee. It was at that LAN that I learned how important a person’s computer is to them and where I saw my first Alienware. It was a jet black hydraulic case and had everyone there asking about it.

The LAN however, is more than just gaming and competition. I thought of it as a fraternity for gamers. Often you had people who were more seasoned in gaming or had been with the LAN group longer and so they were looked upon as elders.

You earned your place not only by how well you played, but your rig (computer), your knowledge of gaming and computers and your overall personality. When I showed up I had a small computer I purchased from a discount store and knew little about the inner workings of a computer. Less than a year later, I knew how to build my own PC and how to connect and troubleshoot networks without ever stepping into a classroom.

In part 2, I will talk about how personal a person’s computer is to a LAN member and the debate between buying and building your own. Also I will cover the evolution of the LAN and the friendships created within.